MoboReader> Literature > Told in a French Garden / August, 1914

   Chapter 6 THE DIVORCéE'S STORY

Told in a French Garden / August, 1914 By Mildred Aldrich Characters: 33145

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


ONE WOMAN'S PHILOSOPHY

The Tale of a Modern Wife

As I look back, I remember that the next night was one of the most trying of the week.

As we came down to dinner we all had visions of the destruction of Louvain, and the burning of the famous library. It is hard enough to think of lives going out; still, as the Doctor was so fond of saying, "man is born to die, and woman, too," but that the great works of men, his bequest to the coming generations, should be wantonly destroyed, seemed even more horrible, especially to those who love beauty, and the idea of the charred leaves of the library flying in the air above the historic city of catholic culture, made us all feel as if we were sitting down to a funeral service rather than a very good dinner.

Matters were not made any gayer because Angéle, who was waiting on table, had rings round her eyes, which told of sleepless nights. And why? We were mere spectators. We had been interested to dispute and look on. But she knew that somewhere out there in the northeast her man was carrying a gun.

Yet all about us the country was so lovely and so tranquil, horses were walking the fields, and, even as we sat at dinner, we could hear the voices and the heavy feet of the peasant women as they went home from their work. The garden had never been more beautiful than it was that evening, with the silver light of the moon through the trees, and the smell of the freshly watered earth and flowers.

We had no doubt who was to contribute the story. The Divorcée was dressed with unusual care for the r?le, and carried a big lace bag on her arm, and, as she leaned back in her chair, she pulled one of the big old fashioned candles in its deep glass toward her, and said with a nervous laugh:

"I shall have to ask you to let me read my story. You know I am not accustomed to this sort of thing. It is really my very 'first appearance,' and I could not possibly tell it as the rest of you more experienced people can do," and she took the manuscript out of her lace bag, and, settling herself gracefully, unrolled it. The Youngster put a stool under her pretty feet, and the Doctor set a cushion behind her back, while the Journalist, with a laugh, poured her a glass of water, and the Violinist ceremoniously leaned over, and asked, "Shall I turn for you?"

She could not help laughing, but it did not make her any the less nervous, or her voice any the less shaky as she began:

* * *

It was after dinner on one of those rare occasions when they dined alone together.

They were taking coffee in Mrs. Shattuck's especial corner of the drawing-room, and she had just asked her husband to smoke.

She was leaning back comfortably in a nest of cushions, in her very latest gown, with a most becoming light falling on her from the tall, yellow-shaded lamp.

He was facing her-astride his chair, in a position man has loved since creation.

He was just thinking that his wife had never looked handsomer, finer, in fact, in all her life-quite the satisfactory, all-round, desirable sort of a woman a man's wife ought to be.

She was wondering if he would ever be any less attractive to all women than he was now at forty-two-or any better able to resist his own power.

As she put her coffee cup back on the tiny table at her elbow, he leaned forward, and picked up a book which lay open on a chair near him, and carelessly glanced at it.

"Schopenhauer," and he wrinkled his brows and glanced half whimsically down the page. "I never can get used to a woman reading that stuff-and in French, at that. If you took it up to perfect your German there would be some sense in it."

Mrs. Shattuck did not reply. When a moment later, she did speak it was to ignore his remark utterly, and ask:

"The Kaiser Wilhelm got off in good season this morning-speaking of German things?"

"Oh, yes," was the indifferent reply, "at ten o'clock, quite promptly."

"I suppose she was comfortable, and that you explained why I could not come?"

"Certainly. One of your beastly head-aches. She understood."

"Thank you."

Shattuck yawned lazily, and changed the subject, which did not seem to interest him.

"Do you mean to say," he asked, still turning the leaves of the book he held, "that this pleases you?"

"Not exactly."

"Well, amuses you? Instructs you, if you like that better?"

"No, I mean to say simply-since you insist-that he speaks the truth, and there are some-even among women-who must know the truth and abide by it."

"Well, thank Heaven," said the man, pulling at his cigar, "that most women are more emotional than intelligent-as Nature meant them to be."

Mrs. Shattuck examined her daintily polished nails, rubbed them carefully on the palm of her hand, as women have a trick of doing, and then polished them on her lace handkerchief, before she said, "Yes, it is a pity that we are not all like that,-a very great pity-for our own sakes. Yet, unluckily, some of us will think."

"But the thinking woman is so rarely logical, so unable to take life impersonally, that Schopenhauer does her no good. He only fills her mind with errors, mistrust, unhappiness."

"You men always argue that way with women-as if life were not the same for us as for you. Pass me the book. I wager that I can open it at random, and that you cannot deny the truth of the first sentence I read."

He passed her the book.

She took it, laid it open carelessly on her knees, bending the covers far back that it might stay open, and she gave her finger tips a final rub with her handkerchief before she looked at the page. She paused a bit after she glanced at it, then picked up the book and read: "'L'homme est par Nature porté à l'inconstance dans l'amour, la femme à la fidelité. L'amour de l'homme baisse d'une fa?on sensible à partir de l'instant où il a obtenu satisfaction: il semble que toute autre femme ait plus d'attrait que celle qu'il possède.'"

She laid the book down, but she did not look at him.

"Rubbish," was his remark.

"Yes, I know. You men always find it so easy to say 'rubbish' to all natural truths which you prefer not to discuss."

"Well, my dear Naomi, it seems to me that if you are to advocate Schopenhauer, you must go the whole length with him. The fault is in Nature, and you must accept it as inevitable, and not kick against it."

"I don't kick against Nature-as you put it-I kick against civilization, which makes laws regardless of Nature, which deliberately shuts its eyes to all natural truths in regard to the relations of men to women,-and is therefore forced to continually wink to avoid confessing its folly."

"Civilization seems to me to have done the best it could with a very difficult problem. It has not actually allowed different codes of morals to men and women, and it may have had to wink on that account. Right there, in your Schopenhauer, you have a primal reason, that is, if you chose to follow your philosopher to the extent of actually believing that Nature has deliberately, from the beginning, protected women against that sin of which so much is made, and to which she has, as deliberately, for economic reasons of her own, tempted men."

"I do believe it, truly."

"You are no more charitable toward my sex than most women are. Yet neither your teacher nor you may be right. A theoretic arguer like Schopenhauer makes good enough reading for calm minds, but he is bad for an emotional temperament, and, by Jove, Naomi, he was a bad example of his own philosophy."

"My dear Dick, I am afraid I read Schopenhauer because I thought what he writes long before I ever heard of him. I read him because did I not find a clear logical mind going the same way my mind will go, I might be troubled with doubts, and afraid that I was going quite wrong."

"Well, the deuce and all with a woman when she begins to read stuff like that is her inability to generalize. You women take everything home to yourselves. You try to deduct conclusions from your own lives which men like Schopenhauer have scanned the centuries for. The natural course of your life could hardly have provided you with the pessimism with which-I hope you will pardon my remark, my dear-you have treated me several times in the past few months. Chamfort and Schopenhauer did that. But these are not subjects a man discusses easily with his wife."

"Indeed? Then that is surely an error of civilization. If a man can discuss such matters more easily with a woman who is not his wife, it is because there is no frankness in marriage. Dick, did it ever occur to you that a man and woman, strongly attracted toward one another, might live together many years without understanding each other?"

"God forbid!"

"How easily you say that!"

"I have heard that most women think they are not understood, but I never reflected on the matter."

"You and I have not troubled one another much with our doubts and perplexities."

"You and I have been very happy together-I hope." There was a little pause before the last two words, as if he had expected her to anticipate them with something, and there was a half interrogative note in his voice. She made no response, so he went on, "I've surely not been a hard master-and I hope I've not been selfish. I know I've not been unloving."

"And I hope you've not suffered many discomforts on my account. I think, as women go, I am fairly reasonable-or I have been."

For some reason Shattuck seemed to find the cigar he was smoking most unsatisfactory. Either it had been broken, or he had unconsciously chewed the end-a thing which he detested-and there was a pause while he discarded the weed, and selected a fresh one. He appeared to be reflecting as he lighted it, and if his mind could have been read, it would have probably been discovered that he was wondering how it had happened that the conversation had taken this turn, and mentally cursing his own stupidity in making any remarks on the Schopenhauer. He was conscious all the time that his wife was looking rather steadily at him, and he knew that at least a conventional reply was expected of him.

"My dear girl," he said, "I look back on ten very satisfactory years of married life. You have been a model wife, a charming companion-and if occasionally it has occurred to me-just lately-that my wife has developed rather singular, to say the least, unflattering ideas of life, why, you have such a brilliant way of putting it, that I am more than half proud that you've the brains to hold such ideas, though they are a bit disconcerting to me as a husband. I suppose the development is logical enough. You were always, even as a girl, inclined to making footnotes. I suppose their present daring is simply the result of our being just a little older than we used to be. I suppose if we did not outgrow our illusions, the road to death would be too tragic."

For a moment she made no reply. Then, as if for the first time owning to the idea which had long been uppermost in her mind, she said suddenly: "The truth of the matter is, that I really believe marriage is foolish. I do believe that no man ever approached it without regretting that civilization had made it necessary, and that many men would escape, at the very last moment, if women did not so rigidly hold them to their promises, and if, between two ridiculous positions, marriage having been pushed nearest, had not become desperately inevitable."

"How absurd, Naomi, when you see the whole procession of men walking,-according to their dispositions-calmly or eagerly to their fate every day."

"Nevertheless, I think the pre-nuptial confessions of a majority of men of our class, would prove that what I say is true."

"Are you hinting that it was true in your case?"

"Perhaps."

Shattuck gave an amused laugh. "Do you mean to say that you kept me to the point?"

"Not exactly. At that time I had an able bodied father who would have had to be dealt with. Besides, a man does not own up even to himself-not always-when he finds himself face to face with the inevitable. I am not speaking of what men talk about in such cases, or of what they do, but of what they feel,-of the fact that, in too many instances, Nature not having meant men for bondage, after they have passed the Rubicon to that spot from which the code of civilized honor does not permit them to turn back, they usually have a period of regret, and are forced to make a real effort to face the Future,-to go on, in fact."

The smile had died out of Shattuck's face and he said quite seriously: "As far as we are concerned, Naomi, I have very different recollections of the whole affair."

"Have you? And yet, months before we were married, I knew that it would not have broken your heart if the wedding had not come off at all."

"My dear, the modern heart does not break easily in this age. We are schooled to meet the accidents of life with some philosophy."

"And yet to have lost you then, would have killed me."

Shattuck looked at her sharply, with, one might almost have said, a new interest, but she was no longer looking at him. She went on, hurriedly: "You loved me, of course. I was of your world. I was a woman that other men liked, and therefore a desirable woman. I was of good family-altogether your social equal, in fact, quite the sort of woman it became you to marry. I pleased you-and I loved you."

"Thank you, my dear," he said. "In ten years, I doubt if you have ever made so frank a declaration as that-in words." He was wondering, if, after all, she were going to develop into an emotional woman, and his heart gave a quick leap at the very thought-for there are hours when a woman who runs too much to head has a man at a cruel disadvantage.

"Things are so much harder, so much more complex for a woman," she went on.

"For the protection of the community?"

"Perhaps. Still, it is not always pleasant to be a woman,-and yet think; a woman whose reason has been mistakenly developed at the expense of her capacity to enjoy being a woman, and who is forced at the same time to encounter the laws of Nature, and pay at the same time, the penalty of being a woman, and the penalty of knowledge. For, just so surely as we live, we must encounter love.-"

"You might take it out," interrupted the husband, "in feeling flattered that it takes so much to conquer such as you."

"So we might, but that, once conquered, neither man nor Nature has any further use for us, and regret, like art, is long. Not even you can deny," she exclaimed, sitting up in some excitement, and letting her cushions fall in a mess all about her, "that life is very unfair to women."

"Well, I don't see that. Physically it is a little rough on you, but there are compensations."

"I have never been able to discover them. Love itself is hard on a woman. It seems to stir a man's faculties healthily. They seem the stronger and more fit for it. It does not seem to uproot a man's whole being. Does it serve women in that way?"

"I bear witness that it makes some of you deucedly handsome. And I have heard that it makes some of you-good."

"Yes, as chastisement does. No, Life seems to have adjusted matters between men and women very badly, very unjustly."

"And yet, as this life is the only one we know we must adjust ourselves to it as we find it."

"No, no. We had better have accepted the thing as Nature gave it to us. We came into this world like beasts-why aren't we content to live like beasts, and make no pretenses? Women would have nothing to expect then, and there'd be no such thing as broken hearts. In spite of all the polish of civilization, man is simply bent on conquest. Woman is only one phase of the chase to him-a chase in which every active virile man is occupied from his cradle to his grave. You are the conquerors. We are simply the conquered."

Shattuck tried to make his voice light, as he said: "Not always unhappy ones, I fancy."

"I suppose all men flatter themselves that way, and argue that probably the Sabine women preferred their fate to no fate at all."

"Don't be bitter on so old and impersonal a topic, Naomi. It is the law of life that one must give, and one must take. That the emotions differ does not prove that one is better than the other."

Shattuck took a turn up and down the long room, not quite at ease with himself.

Mrs. Shattuck seemed to be thinking. As he passed her, he stopped, picked up her cushions, and re-arranged them about her, with an idle caress by the way, a

kiss gently dropped on the inside of her white wrist.

She followed his every movement with a strange speculative look in her eyes, almost as if he were some new and strange animal that she was studying for the first time.

When she spoke again, it was to go on as if she had not been interrupted, "It seems to me that man comes out of a great passion just as good as new, while a woman is shattered-in a moral sense-and never fully recovers herself."

Shattuck's back was toward her when he replied. "Sorry to spoil any more illusions, dear child, but how about the long list of men who are annually ruined by it? The men in the prisons, the men who kill themselves, the men who hang for it?"

"Those are crimes. I am not talking of the criminal classes, but of the world in which normal people live."

"Our set," he laughed, "but that is not the whole world, alas!"

"I know that men-well bred, cultivated, refined, even honorable men,-seem to be able to repeat every emotion of life. A woman scales the heights but once. Hence it must depend, in the case of women capable of deep love-on the men whether the relation into which marriage betrays them be decent or indecent. What I should like to be able to discover is-what provision does either man or civilization propose to make for the woman whom Fate, in wanton irony, reduces, even in marriage, to the self-considered level of the girl in the street?"

There was amazement-even a foreboding-on Shattuck's face as he paused in his walk, and, for the first time speaking anxiously ejaculated, "I swear I don't follow you!"

She went on as if she had not been interrupted, as if she had something to say which had to be said, as if she were reasoning it out for herself: "Take my case. I don't claim that it is uncommon. I do claim that I was not the woman for the situation. I was an only child. My father's marriage had not been happy. I was brought up by a disappointed man on philosophy and pessimism."

"Old sceptics, and modern scoffers. I remember it well."

"Before I was out of my teens, I had imbibed a mistrust for all emotions. Perhaps you did not know that? You may have thought, because they were not all on the outside, that I had none. My poor father had hoped, with his teachings, to save me from future misery. He had probably thought to spare me the commonplace sorrows of love. But he could not."

"There is one thing, my child, that the passing generation cannot do for its heirs-live for them-luckily. Why, you might as well forbid a rose to blossom by word of mouth, as try to thwart nature in a beautiful healthy woman."

"It seems to me that to bring up a woman as I was brought up only prepares her to take the distemper the quicker."

"I do not remember that of you. But I do know that no woman was ever wooed as hotly as you were-or ever-I swear it-more ardently desired. No woman ever led a man the chase you led me. If ever in those days you were as anxious for my love as you have said you were this evening, no one would have guessed it, least of all I."

"My reason had already taught me that mine was but the common fate of all women: that life was demanding of me the usual tribute to posterity: that the sweetness of the emotion was Nature's trick to make it endurable. But according to Nature's eternal plan, my heart could not listen to my head-it beat so loud when you were by, it could not hear, perhaps. But there was something of my father's philosophy left in me, and when I was alone it would speak, and be heard, too. Even when I believed in you-because I wanted to-and half hoped that all my teaching was wrong, I made a bargain with myself. I told myself, quite calmly, that I knew perfectly well all the possibilities of the future. That if I went forward with you, I went forward deliberately with open eyes, knowing what, logically, I might expect to find in the future. Ignorance-that blissful comfort of so many women,-was denied me. Still, the spell of Nature was upon me, and for a time I dreamed that a depth of passionate love like mine, a life of loyal devotion might wrap one man round, and keep him safe-might in fact, work a miracle-and make one polygamous man monogamous. But, even while that hope was in my heart, reason rose up and mocked it, bidding me advance into the Future at my peril. I did it, but I made a bargain with myself, I agreed to abide the consequences-and to abide them calmly."

"And during all those days when I supposed we were so near together-you showed me nothing of this that was in your heart."

"Men and women know very rarely anything of the great struggles that go on in the hearts of one another. Besides, I knew how easily you would reply-naturally. We are all on the defensive in this life. It was with things deeper than words that I was dealing-the things one does-not says. Even in the early days of our engagement I knew that I was not as essential to you as you were to me. Life held other interests for you. Even the flattery of other women still had its charm for you. Young as I was, I said to myself: 'If you marry this man-with your eyes open-blame yourself, not him, if you suffer.' I do believe that I have been able to do that."

Shattuck was astride his chair again, his elbows on the back, his chin in his hands. He no longer responded. Words were dangerous. His lips were pressed close together, and there was a long deep line between his eyes.

"My love for you absorbed every other emotion of my life. But I seemed to lack some of the qualities that aid to reconcile other wives to life. I seemed to be without mother-love. My children were dear to me only because they were yours. The maternal passion, which in so many women is the absorbing emotion of life, was denied me. My children were to me merely the tribute to posterity which Life had demanded of me as the penalty of your love-nothing more. I must be singularly unfitted for marriage, because, when the hour came in which I felt that I was no longer your wife, your children seemed no longer mine. They merely represented the next generation-born of me. I know that this is very shocking. I have become used to it,-and, it is the truth. I have not blamed you, I could not-and be reasonable. No man can be other than Nature plans or permits, but how I have pitied myself! I have been through the tempest alone. In spite of reason,-in spite of philosophy-I have suffered from jealousy, from shame, from rage, from self contempt. But that is all past now."

She had not raised her voice, which seemed as without feeling as it was without emphasis. She carefully examined her handkerchief corner by corner, and he noticed for the first time how thin her hands had become.

"Naturally," she went on in that colorless voice, "my first impulse was to be done with life. But I could not bring myself to that, much as I desired it. It would have left you such a wretched memory of me. You could never have pardoned me the scandal-and I felt that I had at least the right to leave you a decent recollection of me."

Shattuck's head fell forward on his arms.-The idea of denial or protest did not occur to him.

The steady voice went monotonously on. "I could not bear to humble you in the eyes of others even by forcing you to face a scandal. I could not bear to humble you in your own eyes by letting you suspect that I knew the truth. I could not bring myself to disturb the outward respectability of your life by interrupting its outward calm. To be absolutely honest-though I had lost you, I could not bring myself to give you up,-as I felt I must, if I let any one discover-most of all you-what I knew. So, like a coward, I lived on, becoming gradually accustomed to the idea that my day was past, but knowing that the moment I was forced to speak, I would be forced to move on out of your life. Singularly enough, as I grew calm, I grew to respect this other woman. I could not blame her for loving you. I ended by admiring her. I had known her so well-she was such a proud woman! I looked back at my marriage and saw the affair as it really was. I had not sold myself to you exactly-I had loved you too much to bargain in that way; nevertheless, the marriage had been a bargain. In exchange for your promise to protect and provide for me,-to feed me, clothe me, share your fortune with me, and give me your name, I had given you myself,-openly sanctioned by the law, of course-I was too great a coward to have done it otherwise, in spite of the fact that the law gives that same permission to almost any one who asks for it."

"Naomi," he groaned from his covered mouth, "what ghastly philosophy."

"Isn't that the marriage law? How much better am I after all than the poor girl in the street, who is forced to it by misery? To be sure, I believe there is some farcical phrase in the bargain about promising to love none other,-a bare-faced attempt to outwit Nature,-at which Nature laughs. Yet this other woman, proud, high-minded, unselfish, hitherto above reproach, had given herself for love alone-with everything to lose and nothing to gain. I have come to doubt myself. I have had my day. For years it was an enviable one. No woman can hope for more. What right have I to stand in the way of another woman's happiness? A happiness no one can value better than I, who so long wore it in security. I bore my children in peace, with the divine consolation of your devotion about me. What right have I to deny another woman the same joy?"

Shattuck sprang to his feet.

"It's not true!" he gasped. "It's not true!"

The woman never even raised her eyes. She went on carefully inspecting the filmy bit of lace in her hands.

"It is true," she replied. "Never mind how I discovered it. I know it. That is why she has gone abroad alone. I did not speak until I had to. I am a coward, but not enough of one to bear the thought of her alone in a foreign country with mind and emotions clouded. I may be cowardly enough to wish that I had never found it out,-I am not coward enough to keep silent any longer."

A torrent of words rushed to the man's lips, but he was too wise to make excuses. Yet there were excuses. Any fair-minded judge would have said so. But he knew better than to think that for one moment they would be excuses in the mind of this woman. Besides, the first man's excuse for the first sin has never been viewed with much respect under the modern civilization.

He felt her slowly rise to her feet, and when he raised his head to look at her-not yet fully realizing what had happened to him-all emotion seemed to have become so foreign to her face, that he felt as if she were already a stranger to him.

She took a last look round the room. Her eyes seemed to devour every detail.

"I shall find means to give you your freedom at once."

"You will actually leave me-go away?"

"Can we two remain together now?"

"But your children?"

"Your children, Dick-I have forgotten that I have any. I have had my life. You have still yours to live."

She swept by him down the long room, everything in which was so closely associated with her. Before she reached the door, he was there-and his back against it. She stopped, but she did not look at him. If she could have read the truth in his face, it would have told her that she had never been loved as she was at that moment. All that she had been in her loyalty, her nobility, was so much a part of this man's life. What, compared to that, were petty sins, or big ones? He saw the past as a drowning man sees the panorama of his existence. Yet he knew that everything he could say would be powerless to move her.

It was useless to remind her of their happy years together. They could never be happy again with this between them. It would be equally useless to tell her that this other woman had known, but too well, that he would never desert his wife for her. Had he not betrayed her?

Of what use to tell her how he had repented his folly, that he could never understand it himself? There were the facts, and Nature, and his wife's philosophy against him.

And he had dared be gay the moment the steamer slid into the channel! Was that only this morning? It seemed to be in the last century.

She approached, and stretched her hand toward the door.

He did not move.

"Don't stop me," she pleaded. "Don't make it any harder than it is. Let me take with me the consolation of a decent life together-a decent life decently severed."

He made one last appeal-he opened his arms wide to her.

She shrank back with a shudder, crying out that he should spare her her own contempt-that he should leave her the power to seek peace-and her voice had such a tone of terror, as she recoiled from him, that he felt how powerless any protest would be.

He stepped aside.

Without looking at him she quickly opened the door and passed out.

* * *

The Divorcée nervously rolled up her manuscript.

The usual laugh was not forthcoming. No one dared. Men can't rough-house that kind of a woman.

After a moment's silence the Critic spoke up. "You were right to read that story. It is not the sort of thing that lends itself to narrating. Of course you might have acted it out, but you were wise not to."

"I can't help it-got to say it," said the Journalist: "What a horrid woman!"

The Divorcée looked at him in amazement. "How can you say that?" she exclaimed. "I thought I had made her so reasonable. Just what all women ought to be, and what none of us are."

"Thank God for that," said the Journalist. "I'd as lief live in a world created and run by George Bernard Shaw as in one where women were like that."

"Come, come," interrupted the Doctor, who had been eyeing her profile with a curious half amused expression, all through the reading: "Don't let us get on that subject to-night. A story is a story. You have asked, and you have received. None of you seem to really like any story but your own, and I must confess that among us, we are putting forth a strange baggage."

"On the contrary," said the Critic, "I think we are doing pretty well for a crowd of amateurs."

"You are not an amateur," laughed the Journalist, "and yours was the worst yet."

"I deny it," said the Critic. "Mine had real literary quality, and a very dramatic climax."

"Oh, well, if death is dramatic-perhaps. You are the only one up to date who has killed his heroine."

"No story is finished until the heroine is dead," said the Journalist. "This woman,-I'll bet she had another romance."

"Did she?" asked the Critic of the Divorcée, who was still nervously rolling her manuscript in both hands.

"I don't know. How should I? And if I did I shouldn't tell you. It isn't a true story, of course." And she rose from her chair and walked away into the moonlight.

"Do you mean to say," ejaculated the Violinist, who admired her tremendously, "that she made that up in the imagination she carries around under that pretty fluffy hair? I'd rather that it were true-that she had picked it up somewhere."

As we began to prepare to go in, the Doctor looked down the path to where the Divorcée was still standing. After a moment's hesitation he took her lace scarf from the back of her chair, and strolled after her. The Sculptor shrugged his shoulders with such a droll expression that we all had to smile. Then we went indoors.

"Well," said the Doctor, as he joined her-she told me about it afterwards-"was that the way it happened?"

"No, no," replied the Divorcée, petulantly. "That is not a bit the way it happened. That is the way I wish it had happened. Oh, no. I was brought up to believe in the proprietary rights in marriage, and I did what I thought became a womanly woman. I asserted my rights, and made a common or garden row."

The Doctor laughed, as she stamped her foot at him.

"Pardon-pardon," said he. "I was only going to say 'Thank God.' You know I like it best that way."

"I wish I had not told the old story," she said pettishly. "It serves me quite right. Now I suppose they've got all sorts of queer notions in their heads."

"Nonsense," said the Doctor. "All authors, you know, run the risk of getting mixed up in their romances-think of Charlotte Bront?."

"I'm not an author, and I am going to bed,-to repent of my folly," and she sailed into the house, leaving the Doctor gazing quizzically after her. Before she was out of hearing, he called to her: "I say, you haven't changed a bit since '92."

She heard but she did not answer.

* * *

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