And out of the semi-intoxicated trance came the answer:

`Destroying myself.'

Then a dull, live feeling, gone in an instant, told him that it was wrong. After a while, suddenly came the question:

`Why wrong?'

Again there was no answer, but a stroke of hot stubbornness inside his chest resisted his own annihilation.

There was a sound of a heavy cart clanking down the road. Suddenly the electric light went out; there was a bruising thud in the penny-in-the-slot meter. He did not stir, but sat gazing in front of him. Only the mice had scuttled, and the fire glowed red in the dark room.

Then, quite mechanically and more distinctly, the conversation began again inside him.

`She's dead. What was it all for -- her struggle?'

That was his despair wanting to go after her.

`You're alive.'

`She's not.'

`She is--in you.'

Suddenly he felt tired with the burden of it.

`You've got to keep alive for her sake,' said his will in him.

Something felt sulky, as if it would not rouse.

`You've got to carry forward her living, and what she had done, go on with it.'

But he did not want to. He wanted to give up.

`But you can go on with your painting,' said the will in him. `Or else you can beget children. They both carry on her effort.'

`Painting is not living.'

`Then live.'

`Marry whom?' came the sulky question.

`As best you can.'


But he did not trust that.

He rose suddenly, went straight to bed. When he got inside his bedroom and closed the door, he stood with clenched fists.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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