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“We haven't the same taste, nor-nor the same way of looking at things the same views about making money --for instance. We became absolute strangers. What more is there to say?” she added, a little defiantly.

“Your husband committed no-flagrant offence against you?” he inquired.

“That would have made him human, at least,” she cried. “It would have proved that he could feel-something. No, all he cares for in the world is to make money, and he doesn't care how he makes it. No woman with an atom of soul can live with a man like that."

If Peter Erwin deemed this statement a trifle revolutionary, he did not say so.

“So you just-left him,” he said.

“Yes,” said Honora. “He didn't care. He was rather relieved than otherwise. If I had lived with him till I died, I couldn't have made him happy."

“You tried, and failed," said Peter. She flushed.

“I couldn't have made him happier,” she declared, correcting herself. “He has no conception of what real happiness is. He thinks he is happy,-he doesn't need me. He'll be much more contented without me. I have nothing against him. I was to blame for marrying him, I know. But I have only one life to live, and I can't throw it away, Peter, I can't. And I can't believe that a woman and a man were intended to live together without love. It is too horrible. Surely that isn't your idea of marriage!"

“My idea of marriage isn't worth very much, I'm afraid," he said. “If I talked about it, I should have to confine myself to theories and and dreams.”

“The moment I saw your card, Peter, I knew why you had come here,” she said, trying to steady her voice. “It was to induce me to go back to my husband. You don't know how it hurts me to give you pain. I love you, I love you as I love Uncle Tom and Aunt Mary. You are a part of me. But oh, you can't understand! I knew you could not. You have never made any mistakes you have never lived. It is useless. I won't go back to him. If you stayed here for weeks you could not make me change my mind.”

He was silent.

“You think that I could have prevented—this, if I had been less selfish,” she said.

“Where you are concerned, Honora, I have but one desire,” he answered, "and that is to see you happy-in the best sense of the term. If I could induce you to go back and give your husband another trial, I should return with a lighter heart. You ask me whether I think you have been selfish. I answer frankly that I think you have. I don't pretend to say your husband has not been selfish also. Neither of you has ever tried, apparently, to make your marriage a success. It can't be done without an honest effort. You have abandoned the most serious and sacred enterprise in the world as lightly as though it had been a piece of embroidery. All that I can gather from your remarks is that you have left your husband because you have grown tired of him.”

“Yes,” said Honora, “and you can never realize how tired, unless you knew him as I did. When love dies, it turns into hate."

He rose, and walked to the other end of the room, and turned.

"Could you be induced,” he said, "for the sake of your aunt and uncle, if not for your own, to consider a legal separation?”

For an instant she stared at him hopelessly, and then she buried her face in her hands.

"No," she cried. “No, I couldn't. You don't know what

you ask.”

He went to her, and laid his hand lightly on her shoulder. “I think I do,” he said.

There was a moment's tense silence, and then she got to her feet and looked at him proudly.

“Yes,” she cried, “it is true. And I am not ashamed of it. I have discovered what love is, and what life is, and I am going to take them while I can.”

She saw the blood slowly leave his face, and his hands tighten. It was not until then that she guessed at the depth of his wound, and knew that it was unhealed. For him had been reserved this supreme irony, that he should come here to plead for her husband, and learn from her own lips that she loved another man. She was suddenly filled with awe, though he turned away from her that she might not see his face. And she sought in vain for words. She touched his hand, fearfully, and now it was he who trembled.

“Peter,” she exclaimed, “why do you bother with me? I-I am what I am. I can't help it. I was made so. I cannot tell you that I am sorry for what I have done for what I am going to do. I will not lie to you—and you forced me to speak. I know that you don't understand, and that I caused you pain, and that I shall cause—them pain. It may be selfishness—I don't know. God alone knows.

. Whatever it is, it is stronger than I. It is what I am. Though I were to be thrown into eternal fire I would not renounce it.

She looked at him again, and her breath caught. While she had been speaking, he had changed. There was a fire in his eyes she had never seen before, in all the years she had known him.

“Honora,” he said quietly, "the man who has done this is a scoundrel.”

She stared at him, doubting her senses, her pupils wide with terror.

"How dare you, Peter! How dare you!" she cried.

“I dare to speak the truth,” he said, and crossed the room to where his hat was lying and picked it up. She watched him as in a trance. Then he came back to her.

“Some day, perhaps, you will forgive me for saying that, Honora. I hope that day will come, although I shall never regret having said it. I have caused you pain. Sometimes, it seems, pain is unavoidable. I hope you will remember that, with the exception of your aunt and uncle, you have no better friend than I. Nothing can alter that friendship, wherever you go, whatever you do. Good-by.”


He caught her hand, held it for a moment in his own, and the door had closed before she realized that he had gone. For a few moments she stood motionless where he had left her, and then she went slowly up the stairs to her own CHAPTER X


The Price of Freedom Had he, Hugh Chiltern, been anathematized from all the high pulpits of the world, Honora's belief in him could not have been shaken. Ivanhoe and the Knights of the Round Table to the contrary, there is no chivalry so exalted as that of a woman who loves, no courage higher, no endurance greater. Her knowledge is complete; and hers the supreme faith that is unmoved by calumny and unbelief. She alone knows. The old Chiltern did not belong to her: hers was the new man sprung undefiled from the sacred fire of their love; and in that fire she, too, had been born again. Peter-even Peter had no power to share such a faith, though what he had said of Chiltern had wounded her-wounded her because Peter, of all others, should misjudge and condemn him. Sometimes she drew consolation from the thought that Peter had never seen him. But she knew he could not under. stand him, or her, or what they had passed through: that kind of understanding comes alone through experience.

In the long days that followed she thought much about Peter, and failed to comprehend her feelings towards him. She told herself that she ought to hate him for what he had so cruelly said, and at times indeed her resentment was akin to hatred: again, his face rose before her as she had seen it when he had left her, and she was swept by an incomprehensible wave of tenderness and reverence. And yet-paradox of paradoxes—Chiltern possessed her!

On the days when his letters came it was as his emissary that the sun shone to give her light in darkness, and she went about the house with a song on her lips. They were filled, these letters, with an elixir of which she drank thirstily to behold visions, and the weariness of her exile fell away. The elixir of High Purpose. Never was love on such a plane!

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