to deceive you: she gave me full liberty to do so if I should see anything reprehensible or suspicious in her conduct--I have seen nothing; and I trusted she had altered her course.
He continued gazing from the window while I spoke, and did not answer, but, stung by the recollections my words awakened, stamped his foot upon the floor, ground his teeth, and corrugated his brow, like one under the influence of acute physical pain.
`It was wrong--it was wrong!' he muttered, at length. `Nothing can excuse it--nothing can atone for it,--for nothing can recall those years of cursed credulity--nothing obliterate them!--nothing, nothing!' he repeated in a whisper whose despairing bitterness precluded all resentment.
`When I put the case to myself, I own it was wrong,' I answered; `but I can only now regret that I did not see it in this light before, and that, as you say, nothing can recall the past.'
Something in my voice or in the spirit of this answer seemed to alter his mood. Turning towards me and attentively surveying my face by the dim light, he said in a milder tone than he had yet employed,--
`You too have suffered, I suppose.'
`I suffered much, at first.'
`When was that?'
`Two years ago; and two years hence you will be as calm as I am now,--and far, far happier, I trust, for you are a man, and free to act as you please.'
Something like a smile, but a very bitter one, crossed his face for a moment.
`You have not been happy lately?' he said with a kind of effort to regain composure, and a determination to waive the further discussion of his own calamity.
`Happy!' I repeated, almost provoked at such a question.--`Could I be so, with such a husband?'
`I have noticed a change in your appearance since the first years of your marriage,' pursued he: `I observed it too that infernal demon,' he muttered between his teeth-- `and he said it was your own sour temper that was eating away your bloom: it was making you old and ugly before your time, and had already made his fire-side as comfortless as a convent cell.--You smile Mrs. Huntingdon--nothing moves you. I wish my nature were as calm as yours!'
`My nature was not originally calm,' said I: `I have learned to appear so by dint of hard lessons, and many repeated efforts.
At this juncture Mr. Hattersley burst into the room.
`Hallow, Lowborough!' he began.-- `Oh! I beg your pardon,' he exclaimed on seeing me; `I didn't know it was a tête-a-tête. Cheer up, man!' he continued, giving Lord Lowborough a thump on the back, which caused the latter to recoil from him with looks of ineffable disgust and irritation. `Come, I want to speak with you a bit.'
`But I'm not sure it would be quite agreeable to the lady, what I have to say.'
`Then it would not be agreeable to me,' said his lordship, turning to leave the room.
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