Ruth was frightened. Not until this moment did she realize what she had done; not until now did the teeth of remorse clench upon her. To marry her—because he loved her—this boy at her side must suffer this. It was her doing. ...She had cheated him into it. She had cost him this and was giving nothing to pay for it. He had foreseen it. Last night he had cut adrift from his parents because of her— willingly. She knew he would have made, would make, any sacrifice for her. ...And she had married him with no love in her heart, married him to use him for her own ends!
She dared not doubt that what she had done was right. She dared not question her act, nor that the end justified the means she had used. ...But the end was not to be attained. By the act of marrying Bonbright she had made it impossible for herself to further the Cause. ...It was a vicious circle of events.
As she watched his face she became all woman; revolutionist and martyr disappeared. Her heart ached for him, her sympathy went out to him. “Poor boy!...” she said, and pressed his arm again.
“It was to—be expected,” he said, slowly. “I’m glad it’s over. ...I knew what would happen, so why should the happening of it trouble me? ...There have been six generations in my family that would do that thing. ... Ruth, the Foote Tradition is ended. It ended with me. Such things have no right to exist. ... Six generations of it. ...”
She did not speak, but she was resolving silently: “I’ll be good to him. I’ll make him happy. I’ll make up to him for this. ...”
He shook himself. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “We sha’n’t let it interfere with our evening. ...Come, Miss Frazer, where shall we lunch?”
All of Ruth’s life had been spent in contact with the abnormal, the ultraradical. The tradition which time had reared about her family— as powerful in its way as the Foote Tradition, but separated from it by a whole world—had brought acquaintanceship and intimacy with strange people and strange cults. In the parlor of her home she had listened to frank, fantastic discussions; to lawless theories. These discussions, beginning anywhere, ended always with the reform of the marriage relation. Anarchist, socialist, nihilist, atheist, Utopian, altruist—all tinkered with the family group, as if they recognized that the civilization they were at war with rested upon this and no other foundation.
So Ruth was well aware how prone the individual is to experiment with the processes of forming and continuing the relations between men and women which have for their cardinal object the peopling of the earth. But in spite of the radicalism which was hers by right of inheritance and training, she had not been attracted by any of them. A certain basic sense of balance had enabled her to see these things were but vain gropings in the dark; that they might flower successfully in abnormal individual cases—orchid growths—but that each was doomed to failure as a universal solution. For mankind in bulk is normal, and its safety lies in a continuance of normality. Ages had evolved the marriage relation as it existed; ages might evolve it into something different as sudden revolution could not. It was the one way, and she knew it to be the one way.