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“What's up? Where are you going?” he demanded. “Has anything happened?"
“Everything," she said, and it was then, suddenly, that she felt the store of her resolution begin to ebb, and she trembled. "Howard, I am going away."
He stopped short, and thrust his hands into the pockets of his checked trousers.
“Going away,” he repeated. “Where?”
As though to cap the climax of tragedy, he smiled as he produced his cigarette case. And she was swept, as it were, by a scarlet flame that deprived her for the moment of speech.
"Well,” he said complacently, "there's no accounting for women. A case of nerves eh, Honora? Been hitting the pace a little too hard, I guess." He lighted a match, blissfully unaware of the quality of her look. “All of us have to get toned up once in a while. I need it myself. I've had to drink a case of Scotch whiskey out West to get this deal through. Now what's the name of that new boat with everything on her from a café to a Stock Exchange? A German name.
"I don't know," said Honora. She had answered automatically.
To the imminent peril of one of the frailest of Mrs. Forsythe's chairs, he sat down on it, placed his hands on his knees, flung back his head, and blew the smoke towards the ceiling. Still she stared at him, as in a state of semi-hypnosis.
"Instead of going off to one of those thousand-dollar-aminute doctors, let me prescribe for you,” he said. “I've handled some nervous men in my time, and I guess nervous women aren't much different. You've had these little attacks before, and they blow over-don't they? Wing owes me a vacation. If I do say it myself, there are not five men in New York who would have pulled off this deal for him. Now the proposition I was going to make to you is this: that we get cosey in a cabin de luxe on that German boat, hire an automobile on the other side, and do up Europe. It's a sort of a handicap never to have been over there."
“Oh, you're making it very hard for me, Howard,” she cried. “I might have known that you couldn't understand, that you never could understand why I am going away. I've lived with you all this time, and you do not know me any better than you know--the scrub-woman. I'm going away from you—forever.
In spite of herself, she ended with an uncontrollable sob.
“Forever!” he repeated, but he continued to smoke and to look at her without any evidences of emotion, very much as though he had received an ultimatum in a business transaction. And then there crept into his expression something of a complacent pity that braced her to continue. “Why?” he asked.
“Because because I don't love you. Because you don't love me. You don't know what love is—you never will."
“But we're married,” he said. “We get along all right."
“Oh, can't you see that that makes it all the worse!” she cried. “I can stand it no longer. I can't live with you I won't live with you. I'm of no use to you—you're sufficient unto yourself. It was all a frightful mistake. I brought nothing into your life, and I take nothing out of it. We are strangers have always
I am not even your housekeeper. Your whole interest in life is in your business, and you come home to read the newspapers and to sleep! Home! The very word is a mockery. If you had to choose between
you wouldn't hesitate an instant. And 1-I have been starved. It isn't your fault, perhaps, that you don't understand that a woman needs something more than dinner-gowns and jewels and-and trips abroad. Her only possible compensation for living with a man is love. Love --and you haven't the faintest conception of it. It isn't your fault, perhaps. It's my fault for marrying you. I didn't know
She paused with her breast heaving. He rose and walked over to the fireplace and flicked his ashes into it before he spoke. His calmness maddened her.
“Why didn't you say something about this before?” he asked.
“Because I didn't know it I didn't realize it until now."
“When you married me,” he went on, “you had an idea that
you were going to live in a house on Fifth Avenue with a ballroom, didn't you?”
“Yes,” said Honora. “I do not say I am to blame. I was a fool. My standards were false. In spite of the fact that my aunt and uncle are the most unworldly people that ever lived-perhaps because of it_I knew nothing of the values of life. I have but one thing to say in my defence. I thought I loved
you could give me what every woman “You were never satisfied from the first,” he retorted. “You wanted money and position--a mania with American women. I've made a success that few men of my age can duplicate. And even now you are not satisfied when I come back to tell you that I have money enough to snap my fingers at half these people you know.' ”
“How," asked Honora, “how did you make it?” “What do you mean?” he asked. She turned away from him with a gesture of weariness. “No, you wouldn't understand that, either, Howard.” It was not until then that he showed feeling.
“Somebody has been talking to you about this deal. I'm not surprised. A lot of these people are angry because we didn't let them in. What have they been saying?” he demanded.
Her eyes flashed.
"Nobody has spoken to me on the subject,” she said. “I only know what I have read, and what you have told me. In the first place, you deceived the stockholders of these railways into believing their property was worthless, and in the second place, you intend to sell it to the public for much more than it is worth.
At first he stared at her in surprise. Then he laughed.
“By George, you'd make something of a financier yourself, Honora,” he exclaimed. And seeing that she did not answer, continued: “Well, you've got it about right, only it's
easier said than done. It takes brains. That's what business isma survival of the fittest. If you don't do the other man, he'll do you.” He opened the cigarette case once more. “And now," he said, "let me give you a little piece of advice. It's a good motto for a woman not to meddle with what doesn't concern her. It isn't her business to make the money, but to spend it; and she can usually do that to the queen's taste.
“A high ideal!” she exclaimed.
“You ought to have some notion of where that ideal came from,” he retorted. “You were all for getting rich, in order to compete with these people. Now you've got what you want
“And I am going to throw it away. That is like a woman, isn't it?”
He glanced at her, and then at his watch.
“See here, Honora, I ought to go over to Mr. Wing's. I wired him I'd be there at four-thirty.”
“Don't let me keep you,” she replied.
“By gad, you are pale!” he said. “What's got into the women these days? They never used to have these confounded nerves. Well,
bent on it, I suppose there's no use trying to stop you. Go off somewhere and take a rest, and when you come back you'll see things differently."
She held out her hand.
“Good-by, Howard,” she said. “I wanted you to know that I didn't-bear you any ill-will—that I blame myself as much as you. More, if anything. I hope you will be happy_I know you will. But I must ask you to believe me when I say
that Í shan't come back. I-I am leaving all the valuable things you gave me. You will find them on my dressing-table. And I wanted to tell you that my uncle sent me a little legacy from my father-an unexpected one
that makes me inde
He did not take her hand, but was staring at her now, incredulously.
“You mean you are actually going?” he exclaimed. “Yes.”
“But-what shall I say to Mr. Wing? What will he think?"
Despite the ache in her heart, she smiled.
“Does it make any difference what Mr. Wing thinks?” she asked gently. “Need he know? Isn't this a matter which concerns us alone? I shall go off, and after a certain time people will understand that I am not coming back.”
“But-have you considered that it may interfere with my prospects?” he asked.
“Why should it? You are invaluable to Mr. Wing. He can't afford to dispense with your services just because you will be divorced. That would be ridiculous. Some of his own associates are divorced.”
“Divorced!” he cried, and she saw that he had grown pasty white. “On what grounds? Have you been—"
He did not finish.
"No," she said, "you need fear no scandal. There will be nothing in any way harmful to your-prospects.”
“What can I do?” he said, though more to himself than to her. Her quick ear detected in his voice a note of relief. And yet he struck in her, standing helplessly smoking in the middle of the floor, chords of pity.
“You can do nothing, Howard,” she said. “If you lived with me from now to the millennium you couldn't make me love you, nor could
way I must be loved. Try to realize it. The wrench is what you dread. After it is over you will be much more contented, much happier, than you
have been with me. Believe me.” His next remark astonished her.
“What's the use of being so damned precipitate?” he de. manded.
“Because I can stand it no longer. I should go mad," she answered.
He took a turn up and down the room, stopped suddenly, and stared at her with eyes that had grown smaller. Suspicion is slow to seize the complacent. Was it possible that he had been supplanted?