“Ghastly. Are all women alike, I wonder, Gwen?”

“I think you ought to know what kind of woman I am by this time,” retorted his wife, tossing up her head.

Martin Disney and his wife were alone in their sitting-room at the hotel, somewhat bare and unhomelike, as hotel rooms must always be, despite the march of civilization which has introduced certain improvements. He had made a pretence of dining in the coffee-room below, and she had taken some tea and toast beside the fire; and now at ten o’clock they were sitting on each side of the hearth, face to face, pale and thoughtful, and strangely silent.

“Isola, have you forgiven me?” he asked at last.

“With all my heart. Oh, Martin, I could never be angry with you—never. You have been so good to me. How could I be angry?”

“But you have the right to be angry. I ought not to have doubted. I ought to have believed your word against all the world; but that man raised a doubting devil in me. I was mad with fears and suspicions, wild and unreasonable—as I suppose jealousy generally is. I had never been jealous before. Great God! what a fearful passion it is when a man gives himself up to it. I frightened you by my vehemence, and then your scared looks frightened me. I mistook fear for guilt. Isola, my beloved, let me hear the truth from your own lips—the assurance—the certainty,” he cried with impassioned fervour, getting up and going over to her, looking down into the pale, upturned face with those dark, earnest eyes which always seemed to search the mysteries of her heart. “Let there be no shadow of uncertainty

or distrust between us. I have heard from your sister that you were with her when you said you were. That is much. It settles for that vile cad’s insinuated slander; but it is not enough. Let the assurance come to me from your lips—from yours alone. Tell me—by the God who will judge us both some day—Are you my own true wife?”

“I am, Martin—I am your own true wife,” she answered,[Pg 195] with an earnestness that thrilled him. “I have not a thought that is not of you. I love you with all my heart and mind. Is not that enough?”

“And you have never wronged me? You have been true and pure always? I call upon God to hear your words, Isola. Is that true?”

“Yes, yes; it is true.”

“God bless you, darling! I will never speak of doubt again. You are my own sweet wife, and shall be honoured and trusted to the end of my days. Thank God, the cloud is past, and we can be happy again!”

She rose from her low seat by the fire, and put her arms round his neck, and hid her face upon his breast, sobbing hysterically.

“My own dear girl, I have been cruel to you—brutal and unkind; but you would forgive me if you knew what I have suffered since noon yesterday; and, indeed, my suffering began before then. That man’s harping on Lostwithiel’s name in all his talk with you—his air of meaning more than he said—and your embarrassment, awakened suspicions that had to be set at rest somehow. Remember the disadvantages under which I labour—the difference in our ages; my unattractiveness as compared with younger men. These things predisposed me to doubt your love. I have not had a moment’s peace since the night of that odious dinner-party. Yes; I have felt a new sensation. I know what jealousy means. But it is past. Praise be to God, it is past. I have come out of the cloud again. Oh, my love, had it been otherwise! Had we been doomed to part!”

“What would you have done, Martin?” she asked, in a low voice, with her face still hidden against his breast, his arms still round her.

“What would I have done, love? Nothing to bring shame on you. Nothing to add to your dishonour or sharpen the agony of remorse. I should 佛山桑拿按摩会所 have taken my son—my son could not be left under the shadow of a mother’s shame. He and I would have vanished out of your life. You would[Pg 196] have heard no more of us. The world would have known nothing. You would have been cared for and protected from further evil—protected from your own frailty. So far, I would have done my duty as your husband to the last day of my life; but you and I would never have looked upon each other again.”

Colonel Disney and his wife stayed in London two days; perhaps to give a colour to their sudden and in somewise unexplained journey; but Isola refused all her sister’s invitations, to lunch, to drive, to dine, to go to an afternoon concert at the Albert Hall, or to see the last Shakespearean revival at the Lyceum. She pleaded various excuses; and Gwendolen had to be satisfied with one visit, 佛山洗浴按摩论坛 at afternoon teatime, when husband and wife appeared together, on the eve of their return to Cornwall.

“It was too bad of you not to come to me yesterday morning, as you promised,” Gwendolen said to her sister. “I stayed indoors till after luncheon on your account; and the days are so short at this time of year. I couldn’t do any shopping.”

Mrs. Hazelrigg was one of those young women for whom life is flavourless when they have nothing to buy. She was so well supplied with everything that women desire or care for that she had to invent wants for herself. She had to watch the advertisements in order to tempt herself with some new wish; were it only for a patent toast-rack, or a new design in ivory paper-knives. The stationers helped to keep life in her by their new departures in writing-paper. Papyrus, Mandarin, Telegraphic, 佛山夜生活好玩的地方 Good Form, Casual, mauve, orange, scarlet, verdigris green. So long as the thing was new it made an excuse for sitting in front of a counter and turning over the contents of a show-case.

“You never came to look at my drawing-room by daylight,” she went on complainingly. “You can’t possibly judge the tints by lamplight. Every chair is of a different shade. I think you have treated me shamefully. I have[Pg 197] sent you more telegrams than I could count. And I had such lots to talk about. Have you heard from Dinan lately?”

“Not since August, when mother wrote in answer to our invitation for her and father to spend a month with us. I felt it was hopeless when I wrote to her.”

“Utterly hopeless! Nothing will tempt her to cross the sea. She writes about it as if it were the Atlantic. And Lucy Folkestone tells me she is getting 佛山桑拿会所全套一龙 stouter.”

“You mean mother?”

“Yes, naturally. There’s no fear of Lucy ever being anything but bones. Mother is stouter and more sedentary than ever, Lucy says. It’s really dreadful. One doesn’t know where it will end,” added Gwendolen, looking down at her own somewhat portly figure, as if fearing hereditary evil.

“I shall have to take Isa and the boy to Dinan next summer,” said Disney. “It is no use asking the father and mother to cross the channel; though I think they would both like to see their grandson.”

“Mother raved about him in her last letter to me,” replied Gwendolen. “She was quite overcome by the photograph you sent her, only she has got into such a groove—her knitting, her novel, her little walk on the terrace, her long consultations with Toinette about the smallest domestic details—whether the mattresses shall be 佛山夜生活美女qq unpicked to-day or to-morrow, or whether the lessive shall be a week earlier or a week later. It is dreadful to think of such a life,” added Gwendolen, as if her own existence were one of loftiest aims.

Life flowed on its monotonous course, like the Fowey river gliding down from Lostwithiel to the sea; and there seemed nothing in this world that could again disturb Martin Disney’s domestic peace. Vansittart Crowther made no[Pg 198] further attempt to avenge himself for the night attack upon his gates; nor did he demand any apology for the vulgar abuse which he had suffered in the sanctuary of his own library. This he endured, and even further outrage, in the shape of the following letter from Colonel Disney:—


“As you have been pleased to take a certain 佛山南海桑拿体验 old-womanish interest in my domestic affairs, I think it may be as well to satisfy your curiosity so far as to inform you that when your solicitor travelled in the same train with my wife, she was returning from a visit to her married sister’s house, a visit which had my sanction and approval. I can only regret that her husband’s modest means constrained her to travel alone, and subjected her to the impertinent attentions of one cad and to the slanderous aspersions of another.

“I have the honour to be,

“Yours, etc.,

“Martin Disney.”

Mr. Crowther treated this letter with the silent contempt which he told himself it merited. What could he say to a man so possessed by uxorious hallucinations, so steeped in the poppy and mandragora of a blind affection, that reason had lost all power over his mind.

“I spoke plain 佛山南海区桑拿娱乐会所 enough—as plain as I dared,” said Mr. Crowther. “He may ride the high horse and bluster as much as he likes. I don’t think he’ll ever feel quite happy again.”

Yet in spite of hints and insinuations from the enemy at his gates, Martin Disney was happy—utterly happy in the love of his young wife, and in the growing graces of his infant son. He no longer doubted Isola’s affection. Her tender regard for him showed itself in every act of her life; in every look of the watchful face that was always on the alert to divine his pleasure, to forestall his wishes. Mrs. Baynham went about everywhere expatiating on the domestic happiness of the Disney family, to whom she was more than[Pg 199] ever devoted, now that she felt herself in a manner related to them, having been elevated to the position of godmother to the firstborn—a very different thing to being godmother to some sixth or seventh link in the family-chain, when all thought of selection has been abandoned, and the only question mooted by the parents has been, “What good-natured friend can we ask this time?”

Captain Hulbert took his yacht to other waters in November, only to come sailing back again in December, when he finally laid up the Vendetta in winter quarters, and took up his abode at the Mount, where he availed himself of his brother’s stud, which had been reduced to two old hunters and a pair of carriage-horses of mediocre quality. And so the shortening days drew on towards Christmas; baby’s first Christmas, as that small person’s adorers remarked—as if it were a wonderful thing for any young Christian to make a beginning of life—and all was happiness at the Angler’s Nest. All was happiness without a cloud, till one morning—Allegra and her brother being alone in the library, where she sometimes painted at her little table-easel, while he read—she put down her palette and went over to him, laying her hand upon his shoulder as he sat in his accustomed place in the old-fashioned bow-window.

“Martin, I want to speak to you about Isola,” she said, rather tremulously.

“What about her? Why, she was here this minute,” he exclaimed. “Is there anything amiss?”

“I do not think she is so strong as she ought to be. You may not notice, perhaps. A woman is quicker to see these things than a man—and she and I used to walk and row together—I am able to see the difference in her since last year. She seems to me to have been going back in her health for the last month or two, since her wonderful recovery from her illness. Don’t be anxious, Martin!” she said, answering his agonized look. “I feel sure there is nothing that a little care cannot cure; but I want to put you on your guard. I asked her to let me send for Mr. Baynham, and she refused.”

[Pg 200]

“Why, he sees her two or three times a week—he is in and out like one of ourselves.”