Chapter 17: Lying to Cecil
He was bewildered. He had nothing to say. He was not even angry,
but stood, with a glass of whiskey between his hands, trying to
think what had led her to such a conclusion.
She had chosen the moment before bed, when, in accordance with
their bourgeois habit, she always dispensed drinks to the men.
Freddy and Mr. Floyd were sure to retire with their glasses,
while Cecil invariably lingered, sipping at his while she locked
up the sideboard.
"I am very sorry about it," she said; "I have carefully thought
things over. We are too different. I must ask you to release me,
and try to forget that there ever was such a foolish girl."
It was a suitable speech, but she was more angry than sorry, and
her voice showed it.
"I haven't had a really good education, for one thing," she
continued, still on her knees by the sideboard. "My Italian trip
came too late, and I am forgetting all that I learnt there. I
shall never be able to talk to your friends, or behave as a wife
of yours should."
"I don't understand you. You aren't like yourself. You're tired,
"Tired!" she retorted, kindling at once. "That is exactly like
you. You always think women don't mean what they say."
"Well, you sound tired, as if something has worried you."
"What if I do? It doesn't prevent me from realizing the truth. I
can't marry you, and you will thank me for saying so some day."
"You had that bad headache yesterday--All right"--for she had
exclaimed indignantly: "I see it's much more than headaches. But
give me a moment's time." He closed his eyes. "You must excuse me
if I say stupid things, but my brain has gone to pieces. Part of
it lives three minutes back, when I was sure that you loved me,
and the other part--I find it difficult--I am likely to say the