He might not have been so absolutely certain of her ignorance could he have looked into the Severances’ drawing-room just then. For Margaret, after a burst of hysterical gayety, had gone to the far end of the room on the pretext of arranging some flowers. And there, with her face securely hid from the half-dozen round the distant tea-table, she was choking back the sobs, was muttering: “I’ll have to do it! I’m a desperate woman—desperate!”
MR. CRAIG IN SWEET DANGER
It is a rash enterprise to open wide to the world the private doors of the family, to expose intimate interiors all unconscious of outside observation, and all unprepared for it. Such frankness tends to destroy “sympathetic interest,” to make delusion and illusion impossible; it gives cynicism and his brother, pharisaism, their opportunity to simper and to sneer. Still rasher is it to fling wide the doors of a human heart, and, without any clever arrangement of lights and shades, reveal in the full face of the sun exactly what goes on there. We lie to others unconsciously; we lie to ourselves both consciously and unconsciously. We admit and entertain dark thoughts, and at the first alarm of exposure deny that we ever saw them before; we cover up our motives, forget where we have hidden them, and wax justly indignant when they are dug out and confronted with us. We are scandalized, quite honestly, when others are caught doing what we ourselves have done. We are horrified and cry “Monster!” when others do what we ourselves refrain from doing only through lack of the bad courage.
No man is a hero who is not a hero to his valet; and no woman a lady unless her maid thinks so. Margaret Severence’s new maid Selina was engaged to be married; the lover had gone on a spree, had started a free fight in the streets, and had got himself into jail for a fortnight. It was the first week of his imprisonment, and Selina had committed a series of faults intolerable in a maid. She sent Margaret to a ball with a long tear in her skirt; she let her go out, open in the back, both in blouse and in placket; she upset a cup of hot cafe au lait on her arm; finally she tore a strap off a shoe as she was fastening it on Margaret’s foot. Though no one has been able to fathom it, there must be a reason for the perversity whereby our outbursts of anger against any seriously-offending fellow-being always break on some trivial offense, never on one of the real and deep causes of wrath. Margaret, though ignorant of her maid’s secret grief and shame, had borne patiently the sins of omission and commission, only a few of which are catalogued above; this, though the maid, absorbed in her woe, had not even apologized for a single one of them. On the seventh day of discomforts and disasters Margaret lost her temper at the triviality of the ripping off of the shoe-strap, and poured out upon Selina not only all her resentment