“I’m ashamed of myself,” said he humbly. “I’m not fit to touch a person like you. I—I—”
She was not so mean as she had thought she would be. “It was nothing,” said she pleasantly, if distantly. “Is dinner ready?”
Once more she had him where she wished—abject, apologetic, conscious of the high honor of merely being permitted to associate with her. She could relax and unbend again; she was safe from his cyclones.
Her opportunity definitely to begin her campaign to lift him up out of politics finally came. She had been doing something in that direction almost every day. She must be careful not to alarm his vanity of being absolute master of his own destiny. The idea of leaving politics and practising law in New York, must seem to originate and to grow in his own brain; she would seem to be merely assenting. Also, it was a delicate matter because the basic reason for the change was money; and it was her cue as a lady, refined and sensitive and wholly free from sordidness, so to act that he would think her loftily indifferent to money. She had learned from dealing with her grandmother that the way to get the most money was by seeming ignorant of money values, a cover behind which she could shame Madam Bowker into giving a great deal more than she would have given on direct and specific demand. For instance, she could get more from the old lady than could her mother, who explained just what she wanted the money for and acted as if the giving were a great favor. No, she must never get with him on a footing where he could discuss money matters frankly with her; she must simply make him realize how attractive luxury was, how necessary it was to her, how confidently she looked to him to provide it, how blindly, in her ignorance of money and all sordid matters, she trusted to him to maintain her as a wife such as she must be maintained. She knew she did not understand him thoroughly—“we’ve been so differently brought up.” But she felt that the kind of life that pleased her and dazzled him must be the kind he really wished to lead—and would see he wished to lead, once he extricated himself, with her adroit assistance, from the kind of life to which his vociferous pretenses had committed him.
Whether her subtleties in furtherance of creating a sane state of mind in him had penetrated to him, she could not tell. In the earliest step of their acquaintance she had studied him as a matrimonial possibility, after the habit of young women with each unattached man they add to their list of acquaintances. And she had then discovered that whenever he was seriously revolving any matter he never spoke of it; he would be voluble about everything and anything else under the sun, would seem to be unbosoming himself of his bottommost secret of thought and action, but would not let escape so much as the smallest hint of what