So much for him. A girl of twenty-eight, whose wealth and brain and beauty, and that other something that has not yet been analysed and labelled, have made her a social star; who has come to wonder, then to resent, then to yawn at the general vanity of life, is suddenly swept out of her calm orbit by a mans passion; and, with the swiftness of decision natural to her, goes to Europe. She returns in less than three months. For these two people there is but one sequel. The second chapter will be written the first time they are alone. They will go to Europe. What will be the rest of the book?
First, there will be an ugly and reverberating scandal. In the course of a year or two she will compel him to return in the interest of his career. She will not be able to remain; so proud a woman could not stand the position. Again he will go with her. In a word, my friends career will be ruined.
So much for them. Consider the other victimsthe children. A morphine-mother in an asylum, a father in a strange land with a woman who is not his wife, the world cognisant of the facts of the case. They grow up at odds with society. Result, they are morbid, warped, unmoral. In trite old English, their lives are ruined, as are all lives that have not had a fair chance.
He returned to the bedside. He laid his finger on the womans pulse.
No morphine to-night and she dies. A worthless wretch is sent where she belongs. Four people are saved.
His breast swelled. His grey eyes seemed literally to send forth smoke; they suggested some noiseless deadly weapon of war. He exclaimed aloud: My God! what a power to lie in the hands of one man! I stand here the arbiter of five destinies. It is for me to say whether four people shall be happy or wretched, saved or ruined. I might say, with Nero, I am God! He laughed. I am famed for my power to save where others have failed. I am famed in the comic weeklies for having ruined the business of more undertakers than any physician of my day. That has been my rôle, my professional pride. I have never felt so proud as now.
The woman, who had been moving restlessly for some time, twitched suddenly and uncontrollably. She opened her eyes.
Give it to mequick! she demanded. Her voice, always querulous, was raucous; her eyes were wild.
No, he said deliberately, you will have no more morphine.
She stared at him incredulously, then laughed.
Stop joking, she said roughly. Give it to mequick. I am very weak.
No, he said.
Then her eyes expanded with terror. She raised herself on one arm.
You mean that? she asked.
He watched her critically. She would be interesting.
You are going to cure me with drastic measures; others have failed.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|