Part 6 out of 6
"And blame the husband for it."
"That's a shame! She took to drinking in Julian's studio. She was
going to be an artist, you know, but she didn't succeed. When they
rejected her picture at the exhibition, she threw herself at the head
of this poor devil and married him to hide her defeat."
"Yes, I know, and made his life a burden until he is but the shadow of
his former self. They started with a home of their own in Paris, and
he kept two maids for her; still she called herself his servant.
Although she was mistress over everything, she insisted that she was
but his slave She neglected the house, the servants robbed them right
and left, and he saw their home threatened with ruin without being
able to move a finger to avert it. She opposed every suggestion he
made; if he wanted black, she wanted white. In this way she broke his
will and shattered, his nerves. He broke up his home and took her to a
boarding-house to save her the trouble of housekeeping and enable her
to devote herself entirely to her art. But she won't touch a brush and
goes out all day long with her friend. She has tried to come between
him and his work, too, and drive him to drink, but she has not managed
it; therefore she hates him, for he is the better of the two."
"But the husband must be a fool," remarks the other man.
"He is a fool wherever his wife is concerned, but he is no exception
to the rule. They have been married for twelve years and he is still
in love with her. The worst of it is that he is a strong man, who
commanded the respect of Parliament and Press, is breaking up. I
talked to him this morning; he is ill, to say the least."
"Yes; I heard that she tried to have him locked up in a asylum, and
that her friend did everything in her power to assist her."
"And he works himself to death, so that she can enjoy herself."
"Do you know why she treats him so contemptuously? Because he cannot
give her all the luxury she wants. 'A man who cannot give his wife all
she wants,' she said the other day at dinner, 'ce n'est pas grand'
chose.' I believe that she counted on his booming her as an artist.
Unfortunately his political views prevent him from being on good terms
with the leading papers, and, moreover, he has no friends in artistic
circles; his interests lie elsewhere."
"I see; she wanted to make use of him for her own ends; when he
resisted she threw him over; but he serves his purpose as a breadwinner."
Now, I, alone in silence and in pain,
Weep for the ache of well-remembered bliss....
comes her voice from the drawing-room.
"Bang!" the sound came from behind the walnut tree. It was followed by
a snapping of branches and a crunching of sand.
The talkers jumped to their feet.
The body of a well-dressed man lay across the road, with his head
against the leg of a chair.
The song stopped abruptly. The ladies rushed into the garden. The
friend poured a few drops of eau de Cologne which she held in her
hand, on the face of the prostrate man.
When she realised that it was no fainting fit, she started back.
"Horrible!" she exclaimed, putting her hand up to her face.
The elder of the two men, who was stooping over; the dead body, looked
"Be silent, woman!" he exclaimed.
"What a brute!" said the friend.
The dead man's wife fainted, but was caught in the arms of her friend
and tenderly nursed by the rest of the women.
"Send for a doctor!" shouted the elder of the two men. "Run!"
Nobody took any notice; everybody was busy with the unconscious wife.
"To bring such grief on his wife! Oh! what a man! What a man!" sobbed
"Has no one a thought for the dying man? All this' fuss because a woman
has fainted! Give her some brandy, that will revive her!"
"The wretched man has deserved his fate!" said the friend emphatically.
"He indeed deserved a better fate than to fall into your, hands alive.
Shame on you, woman, and all honour to the breadwinner!"
He let the hand of the dead man go and rose to his, feet.
"It's all over!" he said.