There was a woman who loved her husband, but she could not
live with him. The husband, on his side, was sincerely attached
to his wife, yet he could not live with her. They were both under
forty, both handsome and both attractive. They had the most
sincere regard for one another, and felt, in some odd way,
eternally married to one another. They knew one another more
intimately than they knew anybody else, they felt more known to
one another than to any other person.
Yet they could not live together. Usually, they kept a
thousand miles apart, geographically. But when he sat in the
greyness of England, at the back of his mind, with a certain grim
fidelity, he was aware of his wife, her strange yearning to be
loyal and faithful, having her gallant affairs away in the sun,
in the south. And she, as she drank her cocktail on the terrace
over the sea, and turned her grey, sardonic eyes on the heavy
dark face of her admirer, whom she really liked quite a lot, she
was actually preoccupied with the clear-cut features of her
handsome young husband, thinking of how he would be asking his
secretary to do something for him, asking in that good-natured,
confident voice of a man who knows that his request will be only
too gladly fulfilled.
The secretary, of course, adored him. She was very
competent, quite young, and quite good-looking. She adored him.
But then all his servants always did, particularly his
women-servants. His men-servants were likely to swindle him.
When a man has an adoring secretary, and you are the man's
wife, what are you to do? Not that there was anything 'wrong'--if
you know what I mean!--between them. Nothing you could call
adultery, to come down to brass tacks. No, no! They were just the
young master and his secretary. He dictated to her, she slaved
for him and adored him, and the whole thing went on wheels.
He didn't 'adore' her. A man doesn't need to adore his
secretary. But he depended on her. "I simply rely on Miss
Wrexall." Whereas he could never rely on his wife. The one thing
he knew finally about her was that she didn't intend to be
So they remained friends, in the awful unspoken intimacy of
the once-married. Usually each year they went away together for a
holiday, and, if they had not been man and wife, they would have
found a great deal of fun and stimulation in one another. The
fact that they were married, had been married for the last dozen
years, and couldn't live together for the last three or four,
spoilt them for one another. Each had a private feeling of
bitterness about the other.
However, they were awfully kind. He was the soul of
generosity, and held her in real tender esteem, no matter how
many gallant affairs she had. Her gallant affairs were part of
her modern necessity. "After all, I've got to live. I
can't turn into a pillar of salt in five minutes just because you
and I can't live together! It takes years for a woman like me to
turn into a pillar of salt. At least I hope so!"
"Quite!" he replied. "Quite! By all means put them in pickle,
make pickled cucumbers of them, before you crystallise out.
That's my advice."
He was like that: so awfully clever and enigmatic. She could
more or less fathom the idea of the pickled cucumbers, but the
'crystallising out'--what did that signify?
And did he mean to suggest that he himself had been well
pickled and that further immersion was for him unnecessary, would
spoil his flavour? Was that what he meant? And herself, was she
the brine and the vale of tears?
You never knew how catty a man was being, when he was really
clever and enigmatic, withal a bit whimsical. He was adorably
whimsical, with a twist of his flexible, vain mouth, that had a
long upper lip, so fraught with vanity! But then a handsome,
clear-cut, histrionic young man like that, how could he help
being vain? The women made him so.
Ah, the women! How nice men would be if there were no other
And how nice the women would be if there were no other men!
That's the best of a secretary. She may have a husband, but a
husband is the mere shred of a man, compared to a boss, a chief,
a man who dictates to you and whose words you faithfully write
down and then transcribe. Imagine a wife writing down anything
her husband said to her! But a secretary! Every and and
but of his she preserves for ever. What are candied
violets in comparison!
Now it is all very well having gallant affairs under the
southern sun, when you know there is a husband whom you adore
dictating to a secretary whom you are too scornful to hate yet
whom you rather despise, though you allow she has her good
points, away north in the place you ought to regard as home. A
gallant affair isn't much good when you've got a bit of grit in
your eye. Or something at the back of your mind.
What's to be done? The husband, of course, did not send his
"You've got your secretary and your work," she said. "There's
no room for me."
"There's a bedroom and a sitting-room exclusively for you," he
replied. "And a garden and half a motor-car. But please yourself
entirely. Do what gives you most pleasure."
"In that case," she said, "I'll just go south for the
"Yes, do!" he said. "You always enjoy it."
"I always do," she replied.
They parted with a certain relentlessness that had a touch of
wistful sentiment behind it. Off she went to her gallant affairs,
that were like the curate's egg, palatable in parts. And he
settled down to work. He said he hated working, but he never did
anything else. Ten or eleven hours a day. That's what it is to be
your own master!
So the winter wore away, and it was spring, when the swallows
homeward fly, or northward, in this case. This winter, one of a
series similar, had been rather hard to get through. The bit of
grit in the gallant lady's eye had worked deeper in the more she
blinked. Dark faces might be dark, and icy cocktails might lend a
glow; she blinked her hardest to blink that bit of grit away,
without success. Under the spicy balls of the mimosa she thought
of that husband of hers in his library, and of that neat,
competent but common little secretary of his, for ever
taking down what he said!
"How a man can stand it! How she can stand it,
common little thing as she is, I don't know!" the wife cried to
She meant this dictating business, this ten hours a day
intercourse, à deux, with nothing but a pencil
between them, and a flow of words.
What was to be done? Matters, instead of improving, had grown
worse. The little secretary had brought her mother and sister
into the establishment. The mother was a sort of
cook-housekeeper, the sister was a sort of upper maid--she did
the fine laundry, and looked after 'his' clothes, and valeted him
beautifully. It was really an excellent arrangement. The old
mother was a splendid plain cook, the sister was all that could
be desired as a valet de chambre, a fine laundress, an upper
parlour-maid, and a table-waiter. And all economical to a degree.
They knew his affairs by heart. His secretary flew to town when a
creditor became dangerous, and she always smoothed over
the financial crisis.
'He', of course, had debts, and he was working to pay them
off. And if he had been a fairy prince who could call the ants to
help him, he would not have been more wonderful than in securing
this secretary and her family. They took hardly any wages. And
they seemed to perform the miracle of loaves and fishes
'She', of course, was the wife who loved her husband, but
helped him into debt, and she still was an expensive item. Yet
when she appeared at her 'home', the secretarial family received
her with most elaborate attentions and deference. The knight
returning from the Crusades didn't create a greater stir. She
felt like Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth, a sovereign paying a
visit to her faithful subjects. But perhaps there lurked always
this hair in her soup! Won't they be glad to be rid of me
But they protested No! No! They had been waiting and hoping
and praying she would come. They had been pining for her to be
there, in charge: the mistress, 'his' wife. Ah, 'his' wife!
'His' wife! His halo was like a bucket over her head.
The cook-mother was 'of the people', so it was the upper-maid
daughter who came for orders.
"What will you order for to-morrow's lunch and dinner, Mrs.
"Well, what do you usually have?"
"Oh, we want you to say."
"No, what do you usually have?"
"We don't have anything fixed. Mother goes out and chooses the
best she can find, that is nice and fresh. But she thought you
would tell her now what to get."
"Oh, I don't know! I'm not very good at that sort of thing.
Ask her to go on just the same; I'm quite sure she knows
"Perhaps you'd like to suggest a sweet?"
"No, I don't care for sweets--and you know Mr. Gee doesn't. So
don't make one for me."
Could anything be more impossible! They had the house spotless
and running like a dream; how could an incompetent and
extravagant wife dare to interfere, when she saw their amazing
and almost inspired economy! But they ran the place on simply
Simply marvellous people! And the way they strewed palm
branches under her feet!
But that only made her feel ridiculous.
"Don't you think the family manage very well?" he asked her
"Awfully well! Almost romantically well!" she replied. "But I
suppose you're perfectly happy?"
"I'm perfectly comfortable," he replied.
"I can see you are," she replied. "Amazingly so! I never knew
such comfort! Are you sure it isn't bad for you?"
She eyed him stealthily. He looked very well, and extremely
handsome, in his histrionic way. He was shockingly well-dressed
and valeted. And he had that air of easy aplomb and good humour
which is so becoming to a man, and which he only acquires when he
is cock of his own little walk, made much of by his own hens.
"No!" he said, taking his pipe from his mouth and smiling
whimsically round at her. "Do I look as if it were bad for
"No, you don't," she replied promptly: thinking, naturally, as
a woman is supposed to think nowadays, of his health and comfort,
the foundation, apparently, of all happiness.
Then, of course, away she went on the back-wash.
"Perhaps for your work, though, it's not so good as it is for
you," she said in a rather small voice. She knew he
couldn't bear it if she mocked at his work for one moment. And he
knew that rather small voice of hers.
"In what way?" he said, bristles rising.
"Oh, I don't know," she answered indifferently. "Perhaps it's
not good for a man's work if he is too comfortable."
"I don't know about that!" he said, taking a dramatic
turn round the library and drawing at his pipe. "Considering I
work, actually, by the clock, for twelve hours a day, and for ten
hours when it's a short day, I don't think you can say I am
deteriorating from easy comfort."
"No, I suppose not," she admitted.
Yet she did think it, nevertheless. His comfortableness didn't
consist so much in good food and a soft bed, as in having nobody,
absolutely nobody and nothing to contradict him. "I do like to
think he's got nothing to aggravate him," the secretary had said
to the wife.
"Nothing to aggravate him!" What a position for a man!
Fostered by women who would let nothing 'aggravate' him. If
anything would aggravate his wounded vanity, this would!
So thought the wife. But what was to be done about it? In the
silence of midnight she heard his voice in the distance,
dictating away, like the voice of God to Samuel, alone and
monotonous, and she imagined the little figure of the secretary
busily scribbling shorthand. Then in the sunny hours of morning,
while he was still in bed--he never rose till noon--from another
distance came that sharp insect noise of the typewriter, like
some immense grasshopper chirping and rattling. It was the
secretary, poor thing, typing out his notes.
That girl--she was only twenty-eight--really slaved herself to
skin and bone. She was small and neat, but she was actually worn
out. She did far more work than he did, for she had not only to
take down all those words he uttered, she had to type them out,
make three copies, while he was still resting.
"What on earth she gets out of it," thought the wife, "I don't
know. She's simply worn to the bone, for a very poor salary, and
he's never kissed her, and never will, if I know anything about
Whether his never kissing her--the secretary, that is--made it
worse or better, the wife did not decide. He never kissed
anybody. Whether she herself--the wife, that is--wanted to be
kissed by him, even that she was not clear about. She rather
thought she didn't.
What on earth did she want then? She was his wife. What on
earth did she want of him?
She certainly didn't want to take him down in shorthand, and
type out again all those words. And she didn't really want him to
kiss her; she knew him too well. Yes, she knew him too well. If
you know a man too well, you don't want him to kiss you.
What then? What did she want? Why had she such an
extraordinary hang-over about him? Just because she was his wife?
Why did she rather 'enjoy' other men--and she was relentless
about enjoyment--without ever taking them seriously? And why must
she take him so damn seriously, when she never really 'enjoyed'
Of course she had had good times with him, in the past,
before--ah! before a thousand things, all amounting really to
nothing. But she enjoyed him no more. She never even enjoyed
being with him. There was a silent, ceaseless tension between
them, that never broke, even when they were a thousand miles
Awful! That's what you call being married! What's to be done
about it? Ridiculous, to know it all and not do anything about
She came back once more, and there she was, in her own house,
a sort of super-guest, even to him. And the secretarial family
devoting their lives to him.
Devoting their lives to him! But actually! Three women pouring
out their lives for him day and night! And what did they get in
return? Not one kiss! Very little money, because they knew all
about his debts, and had made it their life business to get them
paid off! No expectations! Twelve hours' work a day! Comparative
isolation, for he saw nobody!
And beyond that? Nothing! Perhaps a sense of uplift and
importance because they saw his name and photograph in the
newspaper sometimes. But would anybody believe that it was good
Yet they adored it! They seemed to get a deep satisfaction out
of it, like people with a mission. Extraordinary!
Well, if they did, let them. They were, of course, rather
common, 'of the people'; there might be a sort of glamour in it
But it was bad for him. No doubt about it. His work was
getting diffuse and poor in quality--and what wonder! His whole
tone was going down--becoming commoner. Of course it was bad for
Being his wife, she felt she ought to do something to save
him. But how could she? That perfectly devoted, marvellous
secretarial family, how could she make an attack on them? Yet
she'd love to sweep them into oblivion. Of course they were bad
for him: ruining his work, ruining his reputation as a writer,
ruining his life. Ruining him with their slavish service.
Of course she ought to make an onslaught on them! But how
could she? Such devotion! And what had she herself to
offer in their place? Certainly not slavish devotion to him, nor
to his flow of words! Certainly not!
She imagined him stripped once more naked of secretary and
secretarial family, and she shuddered. It was like throwing the
naked baby in the dust-bin. Couldn't do that!
Yet something must be done. She felt it. She was almost
tempted to get into debt for another thousand pounds, and send in
the bill, or have it sent in to him, as usual.
But no! Something more drastic!
Something more drastic, or perhaps more gentle. She wavered
between the two. And wavering, she first did nothing, came to no
decision, dragged vacantly on from day to day, waiting for
sufficient energy to take her departure once more.
It was spring! What a fool she had been to come up in spring!
And she was forty! What an idiot of a woman to go and be
She went down the garden in the warm afternoon, when birds
were whistling loudly from the cover, the sky being low and warm,
and she had nothing to do. The garden was full of flowers: he
loved them for their theatrical display. Lilac and snowball
bushes, and laburnum and red may, tulips and anemones and
coloured daisies. Lots of flowers! Borders of forget-me-nots!
Bachelor's buttons! What absurd names flowers had! She would have
called them blue dots and yellow blobs and white frills. Not so
much sentiment after all!
There is a certain nonsense, something showy and stagey about
spring, with its pushing leaves and chorus-girl flowers, unless
you have something corresponding inside you. Which she
Oh, heaven! Beyond the hedge she heard a voice, a steady
rather theatrical voice. Oh, heaven! He was dictating to his
secretary in the garden. Good God, was there nowhere to get away
She looked around: there was indeed plenty of escape. But what
was the good of escaping? He would go on and on. She went quietly
towards the hedge, and listened.
He was dictating a magazine article about the modern novel.
"What the modern novel lacks is architecture." Good God!
Architecture! He might just as well say: What the modern novel
lacks is whalebone, or a teaspoon, or a tooth stopped.
Yet the secretary took it down, took it down, took it down!
No, this could not go on! It was more than flesh and blood could
She went quietly along the hedge, somewhat wolf-like in her
prowl, a broad, strong woman in an expensive mustard-coloured
silk jersey and cream-coloured pleated skirt. Her legs were long
and shapely, and her shoes were expensive.
With a curious wolf-like stealth she turned the hedge and
looked across at the small, shaded lawn where the daisies grew
impertinently. 'He' was reclining in a coloured hammock under the
pink-flowering horse-chestnut tree, dressed in white serge with a
fine yellow-coloured linen shirt. His elegant hand dropped over
the side of the hammock and beat a sort of vague rhythm to his
words. At a little wicker table the little secretary, in a green
knitted frock, bent her dark head over her note-book, and
diligently made those awful shorthand marks. He was not difficult
to take down, as he dictated slowly, and kept a sort of rhythm,
beating time with his dangling hand.
"In every novel there must be one outstanding character with
which we always sympathise--with whom we always
sympathise--even though we recognise it--even when we are most
aware of the human frailties--"
Every man his own hero, thought the wife grimly, forgetting
that every woman is intensely her own heroine.
But what did startle her was a blue bird dashing about near
the feet of the absorbed, shorthand-scribbling little secretary.
At least it was a blue-tit, blue with grey and some yellow. But
to the wife it seemed blue, that juicy spring day, in the
translucent afternoon. The blue bird, fluttering round the pretty
but rather common little feet of the little secretary.
The blue bird! The blue bird of happiness! Well, I'm
blest,--thought the wife. Well, I'm blest!
And as she was being blest, appeared another blue bird--that
is, another blue-tit--and began to wrestle with the first
blue-tit. A couple of blue birds of happiness, having a fight
over it! Well, I'm blest!
She was more or less out of sight of the human preoccupied
pair. But 'he' was disturbed by the fighting blue birds, whose
little feathers began to float loose.
"Get out!" he said to them mildly, waving a dark-yellow
handkerchief at them. "Fight your little fight, and settle your
private affairs elsewhere, my dear little gentlemen."
The little secretary looked up quickly, for she had already
begun to write it down. He smiled at her his twisted whimsical
"No, don't take that down," he said affectionately. "Did you
see those two tits laying into one another?"
"No!" said the little secretary, gazing brightly round, her
eyes half-blinded with work.
But she saw the queer, powerful, elegant, wolf-like figure of
the wife, behind her, and terror came into her eyes.
"I did!" said the wife, stepping forward with those curious,
shapely, she-wolf legs of hers, under the very short skirt.
"Aren't they extraordinarily vicious little beasts?" said
"Extraordinarily!" she re-echoed, stooping and picking up a
little breast-feather. "Extraordinarily! See how the feathers
And she got the feather on the tip of her finger, and looked
at it. Then she looked at the secretary, then she looked at him.
She had a queer, were-wolf expression between her brows.
"I think," he began, "these are the loveliest afternoons, when
there's no direct sun, but all the sounds and the colours and the
scents are sort of dissolved, don't you know, in the air, and the
whole thing is steeped, steeped in spring. It's like being on the
inside; you know how I mean, like being inside the egg and just
ready to chip the shell."
"Quite like that!" she assented, without conviction.
There was a little pause. The secretary said nothing. They
were waiting for the wife to depart again.
"I suppose," said the latter, "you're awfully busy, as
"Just about the same," he said, pursing his mouth
Again the blank pause, in which he waited for her to go away
"I know I'm interrupting you," she said.
"As a matter of fact," he said, "I was just watching those two
"Pair of little demons!" said the wife, blowing away the
yellow feather from her finger-tip.
"Absolutely!" he said.
"Well, I'd better go, and let you get on with your work," she
"No hurry!" he said, with benevolent nonchalance. "As a matter
of fact, I don't think it's a great success, working out of
"What made you try it?" said the wife. "You know you never
could do it."
"Miss Wrexall suggested it might make a change. But I don't
think it altogether helps, do you, Miss Wrexall?"
"I'm sorry," said the little secretary.
"Why should you be sorry?" said the wife, looking down
at her as a wolf might look down half-benignly at a little
black-and-tan mongrel. "You only suggested it for his good, I'm
"I thought the air might be good for him," the secretary
"Why do people like you never think about yourselves?" the
The secretary looked her in the eye.
"I suppose we do, in a different way," she said.
"A very different way!" said the wife ironically. "Why
don't you make him think about you?" she added,
slowly, with a sort of drawl. "On a soft spring afternoon like
this, you ought to have him dictating poems to you, about the
blue birds of happiness fluttering round your dainty little feet.
I know I would, if I were his secretary."
There was a dead pause. The wife stood immobile and
statuesque, in an attitude characteristic of her, half turning
back to the little secretary, half averted. She half turned her
back on everything.
The secretary looked at him.
"As a matter of fact," he said, "I was doing an article on the
Future of the Novel."
"I know that," said the wife. "That's what's so awful! Why not
something lively in the life of the novelist?"
There was a prolonged silence, in which he looked pained, and
somewhat remote, statuesque. The little secretary hung her head.
The wife sauntered slowly away.
"Just where were we, Miss Wrexall?" came the sound of his
The little secretary started. She was feeling profoundly
indignant. Their beautiful relationship, his and hers, to be so
But soon she was veering down-stream on the flow of his words,
too busy to have any feelings, except one of elation at being so
Tea-time came; the sister brought out the tea-tray into the
garden. And immediately, the wife appeared. She had changed, and
was wearing a chicory-blue dress of fine cloth. The little
secretary had gathered up her papers and was departing, on rather
"Don't go, Miss Wrexall," said the wife.
The little secretary stopped short, then hesitated.
"Mother will be expecting me," she said.
"Tell her you're not coming. And ask your sister to bring
another cup. I want you to have tea with us."
Miss Wrexall looked at the man, who was reared on one elbow in
the hammock, and was looking enigmatical, Hamletish.
He glanced at her quickly, then pursed his mouth in a boyish
"Yes, stay and have tea with us for once," he said. "I see
strawberries, and I know you're the bird for them."
She glanced at him, smiled wanly, and hurried away to tell her
mother. She even stayed long enough to slip on a silk dress.
"Why, how smart you are!" said the wife, when the little
secretary reappeared on the lawn, in chicory-blue silk.
"Oh, don't look at my dress, compared to yours!" said Miss
Wrexall. They were of the same colour, indeed!
"At least you earned yours, which is more than I did mine,"
said the wife, as she poured tea. "You like it strong?"
She looked with her heavy eyes at the smallish, birdy,
blue-clad, overworked young woman, and her eyes seemed to speak
many inexplicable dark volumes.
"Oh, as it comes, thank you," said Miss Wrexall, leaning
"It's coming pretty black, if you want to ruin your
digestion," said the wife.
"Oh, I'll have some water in it, then."
"Better, I should say."
"How'd the work go--all right?" asked the wife, as they drank
tea, and the two women looked at each other's blue dresses.
"Oh!" he said. "As well as you can expect. It was a piece of
pure flummery. But it's what they want. Awful rot, wasn't it,
Miss Wrexall moved uneasily on her chair.
"It interested me," she said, "though not so much as the
"The novel? Which novel?" said the wife. "Is there another new
Miss Wrexall looked at him. Not for words would she give away
any of his literary activities.
"Oh, I was just sketching out an idea to Miss Wrexall," he
"Tell us about it!" said the wife. "Miss Wrexall, you
tell us what it's about."
She turned on her chair, and fixed the little secretary.
"I'm afraid"--Miss Wrexall squirmed--"I haven't got it very
clearly myself, yet."
"Oh, go along! Tell us what you have got then!"
Miss Wrexall sat dumb and very vexed. She felt she was being
baited. She looked at the blue pleatings of her skirt.
"I'm afraid I can't," she said.
"Why are you afraid you can't? You're so very
competent. I'm sure you've got it all at your finger-ends. I
expect you write a good deal of Mr. Gee's books for him, really.
He gives you the hint, and you fill it all in. Isn't that how you
do it?" She spoke ironically, and as if she were teasing a child.
And then she glanced down at the fine pleatings of her own blue
skirt, very fine and expensive.
"Of course you're not speaking seriously?" said Miss Wrexall,
rising on her mettle.
"Of course I am! I've suspected for a long time--at least, for
some time--that you write a good deal of Mr. Gee's books for him,
from his hints."
It was said in a tone of raillery, but it was cruel.
"I should be terribly flattered," said Miss Wrexall,
straightening herself, "if I didn't know you were only trying to
make me feel a fool."
"Make you feel a fool? My dear child!--why, nothing could be
farther from me! You're twice as clever, and a million times as
competent as I am. Why, my dear child, I've the greatest
admiration for you! I wouldn't do what you do, not for all the
pearls in India. I couldn't anyhow--"
Miss Wrexall closed up and was silent.
"Do you mean to say my books read as if--" he began, rearing
up and speaking in a harrowed voice.
"I do!" said the wife. "Just as if Miss Wrexall had
written them from your hints. I honestly thought she
did--when you were too busy--"
"How very clever of you!" he said.
"Very!" she said. "Especially if I was wrong!"
"Which you were," he said.
"How very extraordinary!" she cried. "Well, I am once more
There was a complete pause.
It was broken by Miss Wrexall, who was nervously twisting her
"You want to spoil what there is between me and him, I can see
that," she said bitterly.
"My dear, but what is there between you and him?" asked
"I was happy working with him, working for him! I was
happy working for him!" cried Miss Wrexall, tears of
indignant anger and chagrin in her eyes.
"My dear child!" cried the wife, with simulated excitement,
"go on being happy working with him, go on being happy
while you can! If it makes you happy, why then, enjoy it! Of
course! Do you think I'd be so cruel as to want to take it away
from you?--working with him? I can't do shorthand and
typewriting and double-entrance book-keeping, or whatever it's
called. I tell you, I'm utterly incompetent. I never earn
anything. I'm the parasite of the British oak, like the
mistletoe. The blue bird doesn't flutter round my feet. Perhaps
they're too big and trampling."
She looked down at her expensive shoes.
"If I did have a word of criticism to offer," she said
turning to her husband, "it would be to you, Cameron, for taking
so much from her and giving her nothing."
"But he gives me everything, everything!" cried Miss Wrexall.
"He gives me everything!"
"What do you mean by everything?" said the wife, turning on
Miss Wrexall pulled up short. There was a snap in the air, and
a change of currents.
"I mean nothing that you need begrudge me," said the
little secretary rather haughtily. "I've never made myself
There was a blank pause.
"My God!" said the wife. "You don't call that being cheap?
Why, I should say you got nothing out of him at all, you only
give! And if you don't call that making yourself cheap--my
"You see, we see things different," said the secretary.
"I should say we do!--thank God!" rejoined the
"On whose behalf are you thanking God?" he asked
"Everybody's, I suppose! Yours, because you get everything for
nothing, and Miss Wrexall's, because she seems to like it, and
mine because I'm well out of it all."
"You needn't be out of it all," cried Miss Wrexall
magnanimously, "if you didn't put yourself out of it
"Thank you, my dear, for your offer," said the wife, rising,
"but I'm afraid no man can expect two blue birds of
happiness to flutter round his feet, tearing out their little
With which she walked away.
After a tense and desperate interim, Miss Wrexall cried:
"And really, need any woman be jealous of me?"
"Quite!" he said.
And that was all he did say.