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.‘Why did you run away?' he countered.She shook her head.‘No, I am not meaning to speak of blame; only why? Why marry a woman that you cared nothing about? Why marry at all?'‘I thought you were gone for ever.I thought I would never see you again.’‘That is still not a reason,' she said.‘Morland Place needed an heir,' he said next.She continued to look at him steadily, and at last he shrugged.‘To spite you.To punish you.Yes, I think I did it to punish you.You went away with your husband; you did not love me enough.'‘What else could I have done? He was my husband.’‘That creature? What duty could you owe him?'‘The same I would have owed you, if we had been married.Right is right for all, James, one cannot choose.’‘And what of love?'‘Ah, love,' she said.Her dark eyes were sad.'The law we live by takes no account of love.’He smiled painfully.'I love the way you pronounce "law".Oh my darling, I do love you so much! It isn't fair –it isn't fair!'‘Oh, as to that,' she shrugged, 'no-one ever promised it would be.' She thought a moment, and then said, 'Me, I do not think you married this nice girl to punish me.I think you did it to punish yourself.’He sighed, and took her hand, and she did not prevent him.The narrow, small-fingered hand rested in his and grew warm, and they were silent a while, their thoughts not touching, but close.‘I am nineteen years old,' she said after a while, 'and I have been twice an orphan and twice a widow, I have been rich and I have been poor, I have been a governess and a countess.This is a great deal for so few years, is it not? Tiens, think what I may do if I live to be eighty! And almost I have been married twice – in my heart, my James, quite twice, because, Our Lord forgive me, I loved you like my husband all the time I was with Vendenoir.Perhaps that is why I am being punished,' she added musingly.‘I don't believe that.I don't believe –' He didn't finish.‘All our lives – that's what Maman said, that we must say everything to each other now, or all our lives we would feel we had been cheated.But that frightens me so much James – those words! To be apart from you all the rest of my life –' She shook her head in dread, and he looked at her with alarm.‘What do you mean to do? I know you – you are plotting something bad! What is it?'‘I must go away,' she said simply.'I cannot live here at Morland Place with you and your wife and child – ça se volt.It is impossible.'‘But where do you think you can go?' he asked her desperately.‘Oh, as to that, I am a rich woman, you know.Cousin Charles has my money safe for me in the Funds, Maman told me, and a great deal of furniture that Papa sent from France before he – before they –' She stopped and started again.'I am very interested to see what there is.I hope some things from my own house in Paris.But at all events, I am sure there must be enough for me to live on, and so I shall find a little house, and Marie and I will live there quietly and be very –' She stopped again, and had to bite her treacherous lip to stop it quivering, and went on in a small voice, 'I am quite determined I shall not cry.There is not the least need.'‘Have you finished?' James asked.She nodded.'Good, because you are talking the greatest nonsense! Go away –find a little house – nonsense!'‘What else can you suggest?' she asked quietly.He looked at her despairingly, holding her hand in both of his.‘I don't know.Damn it, I don't know.'‘There is nothing else to do, James, you know it.I must go away.But we shall each know that the other is safe and well, and perhaps, perhaps sometimes we might see each other, at some party or public gathering where it is safe.It is all we can do, mon time.It is all there is.’James felt himself crying, and one part of his mind was astonished, that it was so easy, and that it eased nothing.'I know,' he said.'That's what's so unfair.’*Héloïse's return to London was very different from her quitting of it.A letter from Jemima to Charles recounting her arrival at Morland Place elicited a reply which spoke of his great joy and relief at the news, assured her that her financial affairs had been well looked after by him, and invited her to come as soon as she liked to Chelmsford House.He and Roberta were staying in London all winter.Spain, alarmed at the conquest of Italy by the French general Buonaparte, had joined the war on France's side, and with Austria beaten to her knees, England was left without an ally.The Mediterranean was virtually a French lake; Ireland was in ferment, and it was feared that the French were planning an invasion of England by way of her convenient shores.With matters standing thus, Charles said, it was impossible for him to leave the capital, even had Roberta's delicate condition not made it wiser for them not to travel [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]