PEACE m SHOW AND PEACE IN TRUTH. 419
" Never mind my tone, but answei* me."
" What riglit have you to question me at all ? **
"Every right, so long as you choose to remain in niy
" You oblige me to remind you that the house is at least
as much mine as yours. For what am I beholden to you ?
If it comes to the bare question of rights between us, I must
meet you with arguments as coarse as your own. Do you
suppose I can pretend, now, to acknowledge any authority
in you ? I am just as free as you are, and I owe you no
account of myself."
Physical exhaustion had made her incapable of self-con-
trol. She had anticipated anything but such an address as
this with which Elgar presented himself. The insult was
too shameless ; it rendered impossible the cold dignity she
" What do you mean by ' free ' ? " he asked, less violently.
" Everything that you yourself understand by it. I am
accountable to no one but myself. If I have allowed you to
think that I held the old belief of a woman's subjection to
her husband, you must learn that that is at an end. I owe
no more obedience to you than you do to me."
" I ask no obedience. All I want to know is, whether it is
possible for us to live under the same roof or not."
Cecily made no reply. Her anger had involved her in an
inconsistency, yet she was not so far at the mercy of blind
impulses as to right herself by taking the very course she
had recognized as impossible.
"That entirely depends," added Elgar, " on whether you
choose to explain your absence last night."
" In other words," said Cecily, " it can be of no significance
to me where you go or what you do, but if you have a doubt
about any of my movements, it at once raises the question
whether you can continue to live with me or not. I refuse
to admit anything of the kind. I have chosen, as you put
it, to remain in your house, and in doing so I know what I
£ E 2
420 THE EMANCIPATED.
accept. By what right do you demand more of me than 1
of you ? "
" You know that you are talking absurdly. You know as
Well as I do the diffei'ence."
" Whatever laws I recognize, they are in myself only. Aa
regards your claims upon me, what I have said is the simple
truth. I owe you no account. If you are not content with
this, you must form whatever suppositions you will, and act
as you think fit."
" That is as much as telling me that our married life is at
an end. I suppose you meant that when you kindly
reminded me that it was your money I have been living on.
Very well. Let it be as you wish."
Cecily regarded him with resentful wonder.
" Do you dare to speak as if it were I who had brought
this about ? "
Reuben was not the man to act emotion and contrive
scenes. Whenever it might have seemed that he did so,
he was, in truth, yielding to the sudden revulsions which
were characteristic of his passionate nature. In him,
harshness and unreason inevitably led to a reaction in which
all the softer of his qualities rose predominant. So it was
now. Those last words of his were not consciously meant
to give him an opportunity of changing his standpoint.
Inconstant, incapable of self-direction, at the mercy of the
moment's will, he could foresee himself just as little as
another could foresee him. His impetuous being prompted
him to utter sincerely what a man of adroit insincerity would
have spoken with calculation.
"Yes," he exclaimed, "it is you who have done most
towards it ! "
" By what act ? what word ? " she asked, in astonishment.
"By all your acts and words for the year past, and longer.
You had practically abandoned me long before you went
abroad. When you discovered that I was not everything
you imagined, when you found faults and weaknesses in
PEACE IN SHOW AND PEACE IN TRUTH. 421
me, you began to draw away, to be cold and indifferent,
to lose all interest in whatever I did or wished to do.
When I was working, you showed plainly that you had no
faith in my powers ; it soon cost you an effort even to listen
to me when I talked on the subject. I looked to you for
help, and I found none. Could I say anything ? The help
had to come spontaneously, or it was no use. Then you
gave yourself up entirely to the child ; you were glad of that
excuse for keeping out of my way. If I was away from
home for a day or two, you didn't even care to ask what I
had been doing; that was what proved to me how com-
pletely indifferent you had become. And when you went
abroad, what a pretence it was to ask me to come with you !
I knew quite well that you had much rather be without me.
And how did you suppose I should live during your absence ?
You never thought about it, never cared to think. Don't
imagine I am blaming you. Everything was at an end
between us, and which of us could help it? But it is as
well to show you that I am not the cause of all that has
happened. You have no justification whatever for this tone
of offence. It is foolish, childish, unworthy of a woman
who claims to think for herself."
Cecily listened with strange sensations. She knew that
all this had nothing to do with the immediate point at issue,
and that it only emphasized the want of nobility in
Reuben's character, but, as he proceeded, there was so much
truth in what he attributed to her that, in spite of every-
thing, she could not resist a feeling of culpability. However
little it really signified to her husband, it was undoubtedly true
that she had made no effort with herself when she became
conscious of indifference towards him. To preserve love
was not in her power, but was he not right in saying that
she might have done more, as a wife, to supply his defects ?
Knowing him weak, should she not have made it a duty
to help him against himself? Had she not, as be said,
virtually "abandoned" him?
422 THE EMANCIPATED.
Elgar observed her, and recognized the effect of his
" Of course," he pursued, " if you have made up your
mind to be released, I have neither the power nor the will to
keep you. But you must deal plainly with me. You can't
both live here and have ties elsewhere. I should have
thovight you would have been the first to recognize that."
" Of what ties do you speak ? "
" I don't know that you have any ; but you say you hold
yourself free to form them."
" If I had done so, I should not be here."
" Then what objection can you have to telling me whei*e
you have been? "
How idle it was, to posture and use grandiose words !
Why did she shrink from the complete submission that
her presence here implied ? No amount of self-assertion
would do away with the natural law of which he had con-
temptuously reminded her, the law which distinguishes
man and woman, and denies to one what is permitted to
"I passed the night by a sick-bed," she replied, letting
her voice drop into weariness — " Madeline Denyer's."
" Did you go there directly on leaving home ? "
" Will you tell me where else you went ? "
" I went first of all to see Mr, Mallard. I talked with
him for a long time, and he gave me some tea. Then he
came part of the way back with me. Shall I try and
remember the exact spot where he got out of the cab ? "
" What had you to do with Mallard, Cecily ? "
" I had to tell him that my life was a failure, and to
thank him for having wished to save me from this fate."
Her answers were given in a dull monotone ; she seemed
to be heedless of the impression they made.
" Tou said that to Mallard ? "
" I'eg, It can be nothing to me what you think of it. I
PEACE IN SHOW AND PEACE IN TRUTH. 423
had waited here till I could hear loneliness no longer ; I
knew I had one true friend, and I went to him."
" You behaved as no self-respecting woman could ! "
Elgar exclaimed passionately.
'• If so," she answered, meeting his look, " the shame falls
only on myself."
" That is not true ! You yourself seem to be unconscious
of the shame ; to me it is horrible suffering. I thought
you incapable of anything of the kind. I looked up to you
as a high-minded woman, and I loved you for your superi-
ority to myself."
" You loved me ? " she asked, with a bitter smile.
" Yes ; believe it or not, as you like. Because I was
maddened by sensual j^assion for a creature whom I never
one moment resp)ected, how did that lessen my love for you ?
You complain that I kept away from you ; I did so because
I was still racked by that vile torment, and shrank in
reverence from approaching you. You might have known
me well enough to understand this. Have I not told you a
thousand times that in me soul and body have lived separate
lives? Even when I seemed sunk in the lowest depths, I
still loved you purely and truly ; I loved you all the more
because I was conscious of my brutal faults. Now you
have destroyed my ideal ; you have degraded yourself in my
esteem. It is nothing to me now, do what you may ! I
can never forgive you. By doing yourself wrong, you have
wronged me beyond all words ! "
Cecily could not take her eyes from him. She marvelled
at such emotion in him. But the only way in which it
affected her own feeling was to make her question herself
anxiously as to whether she had really fallen below her
self-respect. Had she led Mallard to think of her with like
Life is so simple to people of the old civihzation. The
rules are laid down so broadly and plainly, and the con-
science they have created answers so readily when appealed
424 THE EMANCIPATED.
to. But for these poor instructed persons, what a complex
affair has morality become ! Hard enough for men, but for
women desperate indeed. Each must be her own casuist,
and without any criterion save what she can establish by
her own experience. The growth of Cecily's mind had
removed her further and further from simplicity of
thought; this was in part the cause of that perpetual sense
of weariness to which she awoke day after day. Com-
munion with such a man as Elgar strengthened the natural
tendency, until there was scarcely a motive left to which she
could yield without discussing it in herself, cqnsciously
or unconsciously. Her safeguard was an innate nobleness
of spirit. But it is not to every woman of brains that this
"What I did," she said at length slowly, "was done, no
doubt, in a moment of weakness ; I gave way to the need
of sympathy. Had my friend been a man of less worth, he
might have misunderstood me, and then I might indeed
have been shamed. But I knew him and trusted him."
" Which means, that you were false to me in a way I
never was to you. It is you who have broken the vow we
made to be faithful to each other."
" I cannot read in your heart. If you still love me, it is
a pity ; I can give you no love in return."
He drew nearer, and looked at her despairingly.
" Cecily ! when I came last night, I had a longing to
throw myself at your feet, and tell you all my misery —
everything, and find strength again with your help. I
never feared ihis. You, who are all love and womanhness,
you cannot have put me utterly from your heart ! "
"I am your wife still ; but I ask nothing of you, and you
must not seek for more than I can give."
" Well, I too ask for nothing. But I will prove "
She checked him.
" Don't forget your philosophy. We both of us know
that it is idle to make promises of that kind."
PEACE IN SHOW AND PEACE IN TRUTH. 425
" You -mil leave London with me ? "
" I shall go wherever you wish."
" Then we will make our home again in Paris. The
sooner the better. A few days, and we will get rid of every-
thing except what we wish to take with us. I don't care if
T never see London again."
In the evening, Cecily was again at the Denyers' house.
Madeline lay without power of speech, and seemed gradually
sinking into unconsciousness. Mrs. Denver had been
telegraphed for ; a reply had come, saying that she would
be home very soon, but already a much longer time than
was necessary had passed, and she did not arrive. Zillah
sat by the bed weeping, or knelt in prayer.
"K your mother does not come," Cecily said to her,
" I will stay all night. It's impossible for you to be left
" She must surely come ; and Barbara too. How can
they delay so long? "
Madeline's eyes were open, but she gave no sign of
recognition. The look upon her face was one of suffering,
there was no telling whether of body or mind. Hitherto
it had changed a little when Zillah spoke to her, but at
length not even this sign was to be elicited. Cecily could
not take her gaze from the blank visage; she thought
unceasingly of the bright, confident girl she had known
years ago, and the sunny shore of Naples.
The doctor looked in at nine o'clock. He stayed only a
At haK-past ten there came a loud knocking at the house-
door, and the servant admitted Mrs. Dcnycr, who was alone.
In the little room above, the two watchers were weeping
over the dead girl.
426 THE EMANCIPATED.
THE TWO FACES.
Mallard, wlien lie had taken leave of Cecily by Eegent's
Park, set out to walk homewards. He was heavy-hearted,
and occasionally a fit of savage feeling against Elgar took
hold of him, but his mood remained that of one who
watches life's drama from a point of vantage. Sitting close
by Cecily's side, he had been made only more conscious of
their real remoteness from each other — of his inability to
give her any kind of help. He wished she had not come to
him, for he saw she had hoped to meet with wai-mer
sympathy, and perhaps she was now more than ever
oppressed with the sense of abandonment. And yet such a
result might have its good; it might teach her that she
must look for support to no one but herself. Useless to
lament the necessity ; fate had brought her to the hai*dest
pass that woman can suffer, and she must make of her life
what she could. It was not the kind of distress that a
friend can remedy ; though she perished, he could do
nothing but stand by and sorrow.
Coming to his own neighbovirhood, he did not go straight
to the studio, but turned aside to the Spences' house. He
had no intention of letting his friends know of Cecily's
visit, but he wished to ask whether they had any news of
Elgar. No one was at home, however.
The next morning, when surprised by the appearance of
Elgar himself, he was on the point of again going to the
Spences'. The interview over, he set forth, and found
Eleanor alone. She had just learnt from Miriam what news
Reuben had brought, and on Mallard's entrance she at once
repeated this to him.
THE TWO FACES. 427
" I knew it," replied the artist. " The fellow has been
" He ventured to come ? Before or after his coming
here ? "
" After. I think," he added carelessly, " that Mrs. Baske
suggested it to him."
" Possibly. I know nothing of what passed between
" Do you think Mrs. Baske has any idea on the
subject ? " Mallard inquired, again witliout special insist-
" She spoke rather mysteriously," Eleanor replied.
"When I said that Mrs. Lessingham probably could explain
it, she said she thought not, but gave no reasons."
** Why should she be mysterious ? "
" That is more than I can tell you. Mystery rather lies
in her character, I fancy."
" Would you mind telling me whether she is in the habit
of going out alone ? "
Eleanor hesitated a little, surprised by the question.
" Yes, she is. She often takes a walk alone in the after-
"Thank you. Never mind why I wished to know. It
throws no light on Cecily's disappearance."
They talked of it for some time, and were still so engaged
when Spence came in. In him the intelligence excited no
particular anxiety ; Cecily had gone to her aunt, that was
all. What else was to be expected when she foimd an empty
" But," remarked Eleanor, " the question remains whether
or not she has heard of this scandal."
Mallard could have solved their doubts on this point, but
to do so involved an explanation of how he came possessed
of the knowledge ; he held his peace.
It was doubtful whether Elgar would keep bis promise
428 THE EMANCIPATED,
and communicate any news lie might have. Mallard worked
through the day, as usual, but with an uneasy mind. In the
morning he walked over once more to the Spences', and
learnt that anxieties were at an end ; Mi's. Baske had re-
ceived a letter from her brother, in which Cecily's absence
was explained. Elgar wrote that he was making preparations
for departure ; in a few days they hoped to be in Paris,
where henceforth they purj^osed living.
He went away without seeing Miriam, and there passed
more than a fortnight before he again paid her a visit. In
the meantime he had seen Spence, who reported an inter-
view between Eleanor and Mrs. Lessingham; nothing of
moment, but illustrating the idiosyncrasies of Cecily's re-
lative. When at length, one sunny afternoon. Mallard turned
his steps towards the familiar house, it was his chance to
encounter Eleanor and her husband just hastening to catch
a train ; they told him hurriedly that Miriam had heard from
" Go and ask her to tell you about it," said Eleanor.
" She is not going out."
Mallard asked nothing better. He walked on with a
curious smile, was admitted, and waited a minute or two in
the drawing-room. Miriam entered, and shook hands with
him, coldly courteous, distantly dignified.
" I am sorry Mrs. Sj^ence is not at home."
"I came to see you, Mrs. Baske. I have just met them,
and heard that you have news from Paris."
" Only a note, sending a temporary address."
He observed her as she spoke, and let silence follow.
" Tou would like to know it — the address ? " she added,
meeting his look with a rather defiant steadiness.
" No, thank you. It will be enough if I know where they
finally settle. You saw Mrs. Elgar before she left ? "
" I'm sorry to hear that."
Miriam's face was clouded. She sat very stiffly, and
THE TWO FACES. . 429
averted ter eyes as if to ignore his remark. Mallard, who
had been holding his hat and stick in conventional manner,
threw them both aside, and leaned his elbow on the back of
" I should like," he said deliberately, "to ask you a ques-
tion which sounds impertinent, but which I think you will
understand is not really so. Will you tell me how you re-
gard Mrs. Elgar ? I mean, is it your wish to be still as
friendly with her as you once were ? Or do you, for what-
ever reason, hold aloof from her ? "
"Will you explain to me, Mr. Mallard, why you think
yourself justified in asking such a question ? "
In both of them there were signs of nervous discomposure-
Miriam flushed a little ; the artist moved from one attitude
to another, and began to play destructively with a tassel.
" Yes," he answered. " I have a deep interest in Mrs.
Elgar' s welfare — fhat needs no explaining — and I have
reason to fear that something in which I was recently con-
cerned may have made you less disposed to think of her as I
wish you to. Is it so or not ? "
Her answer was uttered with difficulty.
" What can it matter how I think of her ? **
" That is the point. To my mind it matters a great deal.
For instance, it seems to me a deplorable thing that you, her
sister in more senses than one, should have kept apart from
her when she so much needed a woman's sympathy. Of
course, if you had no true sympathy to give her, there's an
end of it. But it seems to me strange that it should be so.
Will you put aside conventionality, and tell me if you have
any definite reason for acting as if you and she were
strangers ? "
Miriam was mute. Her questioner waited, observing her.
At length she si^oke with painful impulsiveness.
"I can't talk with you on this subject."
" I am very sorry to distress you," Mallard continued, his
voice growing almost harsh in its determination, " but talk
430 THE EMANCIPATED.
of it we must, once for all. Your brother came to my studio
one morning, and demanded an explanation of something
about his wife which he had heard from you. He didn't say
that it came from you, but I have the conviction that it did.
Please to tell me if I am wrong."
She kept an obstinate silence, sitting motionless, her hands
tightly clasped together on her lap.
" K you don't contradict me, I must conclude that I am
right. To speak plainly, it had come to his knowledge that
Mrs. Elgar — no ; I will call her Cecily, as I used to do when
she was a child — that Cecily had visited my studio the
evening before. Tou told him of that. How did you \x^o^'
of it, Mrs. Baske ? "
Miriam answered in a hard, forced voice.
" I happened to be passing when she drove up in a cab."
" I understand. But you also told him how long she re-
mained, and that when she left I accompanied her. How
could you be aware of those things ? "
She seemed about to answer, but her voice failed. She
stood up, and began to move away. Instantly Mallard was
at her side.
" Tou must answer me," he said, his voice shaking. " If I
detain you by force, you must answer me."
Miriam turned to face him. She stood splendidly at bay,
her eyes gleaming, her cheeks bloodless, her lithe body in an
attitude finer than she knew. They looked into each other's
pupils, long, intensely, as if reading the heart there.
Miriam's eyes were the first to fall.
"I waited till she came out again."
" You waited all that time ? In the road ? "
" And when you heard that Cecily had not returned home
that night, you believed that she had left her husband for
ever ? "
Mallard drew back a little, and his voice softened.
THE TWO FACES. 431
"forgive me for losing sight of civility. Knowing this, it
was perhaps natural that jou should inform your brother of it,
Tou took it for granted that Cecily — however unwise it was
of her — had come to tell me of her resolve to leave home,
and that I, as her old friend, had seen her safely to the place
where she had taken refuge ? "
He uttered this with a peculiar emphasis, gazing steadily
into her face. Miriam dropped her eyes, and made no reply.
" You represented it to your brother in this light ? " he
continued, in the same tone.
She forced herself to look at him ; there was awed wonder
on her face.
" There is no need to answer in words. I see that I have
understood you. But of course you soon learnt that you had
been in part mistaken. Cecily had no intention of leaving
her husband, from the first."
Miriam breathed with difiiculty. He motioned to her to
sit down, but she gave no heed.
" Then why did slie come to you ? " fell from her lips.
"Please to take your seat again, Mrs. Baske."
She obeyed him. He took a chair at a little distance, and
answered her question.
" She came because she was in great distress, and had no
friend in whom she could confide so naturally. This was a
misfortune ; it should not have been so. It was to you that
she should have gone, and I am afraid it was your fault that
she could not."
" My fault ? "
" Yes. You had not behaved to her with sisterly kind-
ness. You had held apart from her ; you had been cold and
unsympathetic. Am I unjust ? "
" Can one command feelings ? "
" That is to say, yon felt coldly to her. Are you conscious
of any reason ? I believe religious i^rejudice no longer
influences you ? "
*32 THE EMANCIPATED.
" Then I am obliged to recall something to your mind.
Do yon remember that you were practically an agent in
bringing about Cecily's marriage ? No doubt things would
have taken much the same course, however you had acted.
But is it not true that you gave what help was in your
power ? You acted as though your brother's suit had your
approval. And I think you alone did so."
" You exaggerate. I know what you refer to. Eeubeu
betrayed my lack of firmness, as he betrays every one who
trust3 in him."
" Let us call it lack of firmness. The fact is the same,
and I feel very strongly that it laid an obligation on you.
From that day you should have been truly a sister to Cecily.
You should have given her every encouragement to confide
in you. She loved you in those days, in spite of all differ-
ences. You should never have allowed this love to fail."
Miriam kept her eyes on the floor.
" I am afraid," he added, after a pause, " that you won't
tell me why you cannot think kindly of her ? "
She hesitated, her lips moving uncertainly.
" There is a reason ? "
" I can't tell you."
" I have no right to press you to do so. I will rather ask
this — I asked it once before, and had no satisfactory answer
— why did you allow me to think for a few days, in Italy,