those unkind words back. She had uttered no syllable of reproach–
and that cut him. Not one suggestion that he look at his own record–
and she could have made, oh, so many, and such blistering ones!
Her generous silence brought a swift revenge, for it turned his
thoughts upon himself, it summoned before him a spectral procession,
a moving vision of his life as he had been leading it these past
few years of limitless prosperity, and as he sat there reviewing
it his cheeks burned and his soul was steeped in humiliation.
Look at her life–how fair it was, and tending ever upward; and look
at his own–how frivolous, how charged with mean vanities, how selfish,
how empty, how ignoble! And its trend–never upward, but downward,
He instituted comparisons between her record and his own. He had found
fault with her–so he mused–HE! And what could he say for himself?
When she built her first church what was he doing? Gathering other
blas’e multimillionaires into a Poker Club; defiling his own palace
with it; losing hundreds of thousands to it at every sitting,
and sillily vain of the admiring notoriety it made for him.
When she was building her first university, what was he doing?
Polluting himself with a gay and dissipated secret life in the
company of other fast bloods, multimillionaires in money and paupers
in character. When she was building her first foundling asylum,
what was he doing? Alas! When she was projecting her noble Society
for the Purifying of the Sex, what was he doing? Ah, what, indeed!
When she and the W. C. T. U. and the Woman with the Hatchet,
moving with resistless march, were sweeping the fatal bottle from
the land, what was he doing? Getting drunk three times a day.
When she, builder of a hundred cathedrals, was being gratefully
welcomed and blest in papal Rome and decorated with the Golden Rose
which she had so honorably earned, what was he doing? Breaking the
bank at Monte Carlo.
He stopped. He could go no farther; he could not bear the rest.
He rose up, with a great resolution upon his lips: this secret
life should be revealing, and confessed; no longer would he live
it clandestinely, he would go and tell her All.
And that is what he did. He told her All; and wept upon
her bosom; wept, and moaned, and begged for her forgiveness.
It was a profound shock, and she staggered under the blow, but he
was her own, the core of her heart, the blessing of her eyes,
her all in all, she could deny him nothing, and she forgave him.
She felt that he could never again be quite to her what he had
been before; she knew that he could only repent, and not reform;
yet all morally defaced and decayed as he was, was he not her own,
her very own, the idol of her deathless worship? She said she
was his serf, his slave, and she opened her yearning heart and took
One Sunday afternoon some time after this they were sailing the
summer seas in their dream yacht, and reclining in lazy luxury under
the awning of the after-deck. There was silence, for each was busy
with his own thoughts. These seasons of silence had insensibly
been growing more and more frequent of late; the old nearness and
cordiality were waning. Sally’s terrible revelation had done its work;
Aleck had tried hard to drive the memory of it out of her mind,
but it would not go, and the shame and bitterness of it were
poisoning her gracious dream life. She could see now (on Sundays)
that her husband was becoming a bloated and repulsive Thing.
She could not close her eyes to this, and in these days she
no longer looked at him, Sundays, when she could help it.
But she–was she herself without blemish? Alas, she knew she was not.
She was keeping a secret from him, she was acting dishonorably
toward him, and many a pang it was costing her. SHE WAS BREAKING
THE COMPACT, AND CONCEALING IT FROM HIM. Under strong temptation
she had gone into business again; she had risked their whole
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