She spoke quietly and looked at the wilderness of sand and mist with steady, thoughtful eyes. I could see that her mind was too much occupied to feel the dreary impressions from without which had fastened themselves already on mine.

`I promised, Marian, to tell you the truth about my married life, instead of leaving you any longer to guess it for yourself,' she began. `That secret is the first I have ever had from you, love, and I am determined it shall be the last. I was silent, as you know, for your sake -- and perhaps a little for my own sake as well. It is very hard for a woman to confess that the man to whom she has given her whole life is the man of all others who cares least for the gift. If you were married yourself, Marian -- and especially if you were happily married -- you would feel for me as no single woman can feel, however kind and true she may be.'

What answer could I make? I could only take her hand and look at her with my whole heart as well as my eyes would let me.

`How often,' she went on, `I have heard you laughing over what you used to call your ``poverty!'' how often you have made me mock-speeches of congratulation on my wealth! Oh, Marian, never laugh again. Thank God for your poverty -- it has made you your own mistress, and has saved you from the lot that has fallen on me.'

A sad beginning on the lips of a young wife! -- sad in its quiet, plain-spoken truth. The few days we had all passed together at Blackwater Park had been many enough to show me -- to show any one -- what her husband had married her for.

`You shall not be distressed,' she said, `by hearing how soon my disappointments and my trials began -- or even by knowing what they were. It is bad enough to have them on my memory. If I tell you how he received the first and last attempt at remonstrance that I ever made, you will know how he has always treated me, as well as if I had described it in so many words. It was one day at Rome when we had ridden out together to the tomb of Cecilia Metella. The sky was calm and lovely, and the grand old ruin looked beautiful, and the remembrance that a husband's love had raised it in the old time to a wife's memory, made me feel more tenderly and more anxiously towards my husband than I had ever felt yet. ``Would you build such a tomb for me, Percival?'' I asked him. ``You said you loved me dearly before we were married, and yet, since that time --'' I could get no farther. Marian! he was not even looking at me! I pulled down my veil, thinking it best not to let him see that the tears were in my eyes. I fancied he had not paid any attention to me, but he had. He said, ``Come away,'' and laughed to himself as he helped me on to my horse. He mounted his own horse and laughed again as we rode away. ``If I do build you a tomb,'' he said, ``it will be done with your own money. I wonder whether Cecilia Metella had a fortune and paid for hers.'' I made no reply -- how could I, when I was crying behind my veil? ``Ah, you light-complexioned women are all sulky,'' he said. ``What do you want? compliments and soft speeches? Well! I'm in a good humour this morning. Consider the compliments paid and the speeches said.'' Men little know when they say hard things to us how well we remember them, and how much harm they do us. It would have been better for me if I had gone on crying, but his contempt dried up my tears and hardened my heart- From that time, Marian, I never checked myself again in thinking of Walter Hartright. I let the memory of those happy days, when we were so fond of each other in secret, come back and comfort me. What else had I to look to for consolation? If we had been together you would have helped me to better things. I know it was wrong, darling, but tell me if I was wrong without any excuse.'

I was obliged to turn my face from her. `Don't ask me!' I said. `Have I suffered as you have suffered? What right have I to decide?'

`I used to think of him,' she pursued, dropping her voice and moving closer to me, `I used to think of him when Percival left me alone at night to go among the Opera people. I used to fancy what I might have been if it had pleased God to bless me with poverty, and if I had been his wife. I used to see myself in my neat cheap gown, sitting at home and waiting for him while he was earning our bread -- sitting

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