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|The Touchstone||Edith Wharton|
|Page 3 of 5||
"No," she said; and after a moment which seemed given to the weighing of alternatives, she added: "No one told me."
"You didn't know then?"
She seemed to speak with an effort. "Not until--not until--"
"Till I gave you those papers to sort?"
Her head sank.
"You understood then?"
He looked at her immovable face. "Had you suspected--before?" was slowly wrung from him.
"At times--yes--" Her voice dropped to a whisper.
"Why? From anything that was said--?"
There was a shade of pity in her glance. "No one said anything-- no one told me anything." She looked away from him. "It was your manner--"
"Whenever the book was mentioned. Things you said--once or twice-- your irritation--I can't explain--"
Glennard, unconsciously, had moved nearer. He breathed like a man who has been running. "You knew, then, you knew"--he stammered. The avowal of her love for Flamel would have hurt him less, would have rendered her less remote. "You knew--you knew--" he repeated; and suddenly his anguish gathered voice. "My God!" he cried, "you suspected it first, you say--and then you knew it-- this damnable, this accursed thing; you knew it months ago--it's months since I put that paper in your way--and yet you've done nothing, you've said nothing, you've made no sign, you've lived alongside of me as if it had made no difference--no difference in either of our lives. What are you made of, I wonder? Don't you see the hideous ignominy of it? Don't you see how you've shared in my disgrace? Or haven't you any sense of shame?"
He preserved sufficient lucidity, as the words poured from him, to see how fatally they invited her derision; but something told him they had both passed beyond the phase of obvious retaliations, and that if any chord in her responded it would not be that of scorn.
He was right. She rose slowly and moved toward him.
"Haven't you had enough--without that?" she said, in a strange voice of pity.
He stared at her. "Enough--?"
"Of misery. . . ."
An iron band seemed loosened from his temples. "You saw then . . .?" he whispered.
"Oh, God----oh, God----" she sobbed. She dropped beside him and hid her anguish against his knees. They clung thus in silence, a long time, driven together down the same fierce blast of shame.
When at length she lifted her face he averted his. Her scorn would have hurt him less than the tears on his hands.
She spoke languidly, like a child emerging from a passion of weeping. "It was for the money--?"
His lips shaped an assent.
"That was the inheritance--that we married on?"
She drew back and rose to her feet. He sat watching her as she wandered away from him.
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