The Open Question by Elizabeth Robins (1898), Chapter 16
DRISCOLL was better next morning, and able to eat breakfast. Gano had got into the habit of making coffee in the invalid's room in the morning as well as at night. Driscoll had waked with an appetite.
"Ha! cream! Did Mary bring that?"
"Yes; Mrs. Burne."
"No; I got it. I thought we deserved cream to-day."
"How long was Mary here?"
"Oh, pretty late, I should say."
"H'm! That woman's had a damned hard time," Driscoll said, ruminating between his sips of coffee; "does those colored things for the Semaine Illustrée. She's drawn ever since she was a baby. Never had a lesson in her life till two years ago. I met her at Julien's. She was working like the devil."
"Making up for lost time?"
"Yes, poor girl! Married a brute of a Melbourne shipbuilder when she was seventeen. Stood him till three years ago, and then--Lord! the audacity of these women--came to Paris to study art, if you please. Thirty, and never had a lesson in her life!"
He laughed, and held out his coffee-cup.
"Ship-builder dead?" asked Gano, filling it up.
"Dead! No! alive and kicking, or I'd have made her marry me."
"Lord! the audacity of these men," laughed his friend.
When Driscoll got definitely worse, Mrs. Burne stayed with him through the day, and Gano sat up with him at night.
"If you can do it, it's best so," she said, simply.
"Of course--of course," agreed Gano, hastily, his Puritan mind involuntarily considering the proprieties, even in these haunts.
"You see, while you sleep I can look after him, and do my work too if I have daylight. You can write by lamplight."
And the practical sense of the arrangement shamed his first interpretation of her plan. He found himself during their brief meetings, morning and evening, watching the woman with a deepened interest.
"Am I in love with her, too?" he wondered, as he caught himself following with something like envy her ministering to his friend.
But all she did was strangely lacking in any hint of the supposed relation between Driscoll and herself. There was infinite gentleness in her, but no happy confusion. Gano never saw in her quiet eyes that look he was always dreading to surprise.
"She doesn't care about him in the way he thinks, poor devil!" he said, at last, to himself.
The only time he ever ventured to speak of her goodness to the sick man, "Oh, Mr. Driscoll has been kind to me," she said. "He got me my place on the Semaine Illustrée."
Why, it was a sheer case of extravagant gratitude! Gano was conscious this explanation pleased him.
"How's the club getting on?" Driscoll asked her one evening, as she was leaving.
Gano was spreading out his writing materials on the rickety table.
"Oh, all right," she said, pinning her brown hat firmly on her coil of black hair.
" You haven't had the honor of being admitted to the club," said Driscoll, laughing and nodding over at Gano. " You aren't considered worthy."
" You weren't considered worthy," said Mrs. Burne, smiling faintly, "but you would come."
"And if I adopted the same tactics," suggested Gano.
"No, no," she said, hastily; "it's really only for women."
She hunted about for her gloves. It was the first time Gano had ever seen a look of embarrassment on the calm face.
"What kind of a club?" he asked.
"A--debating club," she answered. "Good-night."
"Ha, ha, ha! I like that."
But she was gone with a look of pleading cast on Driscoll as she went--a look that was like a prayer.
Gano felt absurdly piqued to know more, not of the foolish club, but of this fellow-being.
"You say you've been?"
He fitted a new pen in the holder.
"Oh yes; but they didn't do anything very remarkable the night I was there. They meet in Mary's lodging. There were only three then. She says there are sixteen now, two or three of 'em men, in spite of it's being 'only for women.' Can't think where she puts 'em."
"What did they debate?"
"Oh, some rot about social duties. They really go to sit by a fire and get a cup of hot tea. But it's a very good thing," he added, with a sudden rush of loyalty. "It's grown out of Mary's keeping one or two from going the primrose path to the everlasting bonfire."
His desire to "guy" the club seemed to have gone out with the founder's going. The same thing has happened before.
"Lots of English and Americans let loose here, you know, without a notion--"
He made an expressive movement of his big hands.
"I see. The club's a rescue party."
"Something of the sort. She doesn't say much about it."
"Funny place, Paris."
"Yes; all kinds here."
Gano knew to the hour when the tide of his ill-luck and apathy had changed. His new interest in Mary Burne did
not blind him to the fact that life had suddenly grown endurable, even attractive, decent in his eyes, from the moment he had fully realized and fully accepted the fact that he was under no nightmare of obligation to go on with it. It was as if the noisome prison-house of his soul were flung open once and forever to the blessed life-giving air. No more misgiving, no more shrinking from the deep insecurity of things. He began to write with a new vigor and resiliency. There came into his work not only buoyancy, but a fine temper it had lacked before. The love of literature took hold on him again as it had done in those first years of awakening abroad. He came to care again about his own little performances, and by degrees did more and more work for the paper. The editor had several times complimented him warmly. Presently he was offered a regular position on the staff. He paid back Henri de Poincy in full, and would have moved into better quarters but for--but for--Driscoll, he would have said. Driscoll was still very ill--worse, indeed, than ever.
"Never could do anything well in a hurry," he repeated his dreary old quip. "Have patience, and I'll make a thorough job of this."
Gano felt more and more that whatever had been their relation in the past, Mary Burne was absorbed now, not by Driscoll, but by Driscoll's illness and dire need of her ministry. If she had not exactly encouraged, she certainly had not repelled, Gano's growing devotion. Her demeanor was perfect, he said to himself. How could she give her new lover a sign by the death-bed of the man who had adored her for years, who had befriended her, and who was in such need himself of befriending? Gano schooled himself to keep the growing assurance and victory out of his face and manner. He would follow Mary's lead, and when in the gray unpromising life of the sick-room they found some dumb way of communicating, some unasked aid to give, some slight unnoticed contact in the common service rendered, Gano would school his thrilling nerves to keep the secret of his gladness as calmly as Mary Burne kept hers.
As he grew worse, Driscoll grew more exacting, and more variable in temper. He had less and less compassion on his friends, and demanded Herculean labors of wakefulness--watching, reading aloud, etc. No invalid had ever a more comfortable confidence in the boundless strength and amiability of those who are well. Gano tried with scant success to save Mary from bearing the brunt of the sick man's exactions.
He hurried up-stairs to relieve the watch a little earlier than usual one evening.
"Once more I appeal to you," he heard Driscoll saying, with raised voice, before the door was opened. The turning of the knob had either drowned or prevented the reply. Driscoll lay breathing heavily, and Mary, with impassive face, was drawing on her gloves. She looked up and nodded to Gano.
"Good-bye," she said, after a moment. But on the threshold she stopped. "Dick," she said, without turning to face Driscoll, "I think I won't come to-morrow."
"Yes, you will," he shouted. She turned and looked at him.
"Good-bye," was all she said.
"Damned selfish women are!" Driscoll growled as the sound of her steps died.
"I shouldn't call her exactly a case in point," observed his friend.
"Well, she is. She sees how hopeless this is, and how damnably I'm suffering, and she won't help me to get out of this cursed hole. You won't either," he added, defiantly, and yet with a gleam of hope, almost lunatic in its cunning and its greed.
"I won't what?" said Gano.
"Get me some morphine, or fetch me a pistol, or light some charcoal."
"Lord, no! You'll be better yet, old man."
"Rot! and you know it; and so does she. But she pretends to care, and yet she won't help me. Damned selfish--damned selfish!" He turned over in bed, and went on cursing under the bedclothes.
Gano wondered how long the idea had been in his head, and how long Driscoll had worn a beard, and whether there was a razor in the dressing-case. He shuddered as he glanced surreptitiously about. Wasn't it a little odd that he should find the notion so ghastly? Ah yes, the ugly violence of it! When the sick man got to sleep his friend rummaged his room from end to end, finding nothing to confiscate; and, after all, Driscoll had a fair night. The morning was gray. A fine drizzle shot spitefully down out of a leaden sky. Mary did not appear at the usual hour. Towards noon Gano went down to his own room, worn out, and flung himself on his bed without undressing. He was waked by the noise of a dull fall overhead. He sprang up in a horror of apprehension, broad awake on the instant. He rushed up-stairs and burst in on Driscoll, to find him angrily pushing books off the table on to the floor, as a summons to his friend below.
"You sleep like the dead," was his greeting. "Where's Mary?"
"Great Cæsar! I don't know."
"My watch has run down," Driscoll went on, querulously. Gano set it by his. It was five o'clock.
"Don't go to sleep again; let's have some coffee."
"All right," answered Gano, yawning. "I believe I'm hungry. I'll go and forage."
When he came back with the provisions he brought up some letters and papers. He tumbled everything down on the table. There was nothing for him but some proof from the office, and two letters from America, sent on by Monroe & Co.
"Birthday greetings from New Plymouth," he said to himself, as he recognized the familiar old-fashioned hand, the violet ink, and the brown five-cent stamp that had grown to seem foreign to him. He hadn't the curiosity to read birthday commonplaces till the impromptu meal was finished, and Driscoll had become a bore, asking him to look out and see if Mary wasn't coming, the only variation being, "Hark! isn't she on the stairs?"
It was only then that, turning the letters over, it occurred to him to doubt if the second was a cousinly salutation.
"No, by Jove! Boston postmark!"
He tore it open. A brief note from the legal firm of Bostwick & Allen, announcing the death of their client, Aaron Tallmadge, and the bare fact that his entire estate was left to his sole surviving heir and grandson, whose instructions they awaited. The letter had been to Nice and back. It was nearly two weeks old.
"By Jove!" Gano dropped the letter on the table among the coffee-cups and bits of brioche.
"What! is she here?" Driscoll sat up in bed.
"No, no; I don't know. Listen to this." He read the letter aloud.
" That's all right! Mille félicitations! Look out, like a good fellow, and see if she isn't coming across the court."
Gano went over to the window and looked out with an ironic consciousness that, even in the face of such news, he was scarcely less concerned than Driscoll for the coming of that enigmatic woman across the lamplit, reeking court. The drizzle had turned into long gray rods of rain; they streaked the gaslight and pricked the shallow pools unceasingly. And he had all that money! and it was just as he had always known it would be. The essentials of existence were unchanged. Was she never coming? It's the child surviving somewhere in most men, he argued with himself, that gives a woman like that a charm beyond beauty. But she's beautiful, too, he protested silently. Aloud he said:
"No, I don't see her."
"Look here, Gano; do me a favor, old man! Go and fetch her."
"Oh, I hardly think--"
"I tell you I must see her! Only for five minutes. Tell her that. If I don't see her, I'll have a hell of a night. I'd do as much for you, Gano."
"Oh, all right." He turned on his heel.
"Hold on! you don't know where she lives."
Gano knew perfectly, but he said, "Oh-h."
"Going off like that without--you're full of your millions! Small blame--small blame!" Driscoll wrote down the address and handed it to his friend. "Bring her back with you, if you can; but it'll do if she's here by ten."
Outside the court Gano hailed a fiacre and drove barely five minutes before he was set down at a door in a tenement not conspicuously different from his own. A shabby man with long hair, wearing a velveteen jacket, had just stopped, closed his dripping umbrella, and rung.
When the door opened he passed in without question.
"Madame Burne?" asked Gano.
"Au quatrième. Encore de la boue dans mon escalier!" muttered the concierge. "Faudra qu'elle s'en aille à la fin."
Gano ran up two flights, passing three girls in the dim light, who were coming down. He almost overtook the shabby man, who seemed in feverish haste. Gano slackened his pace at the foot of the third flight. The shabby man hurried up without looking back, fled round the passage to the left, and knocked at a door facing the banisters. Without pausing for permission, he turned the knob and went in, letting out a gush of light and the confused sound of voices. Gano was conscious of a glow of comfort in the assurance of his heart that the room entered by such a creature, with ceremony so scant, was certainly not Mary Burne's. The shabby fellow had flung the door to, but the worn-out fastening didn't catch. The door rebounded and stood partly open. Two-thirds of the way up this last flight Gano turned his head in the direction of the voices, and saw through the banisters and the open door Mary Burne shaking hands with the man who had just entered. Gano stopped dead. He didn't hear anything she said; he wasn't conscious of trying to do so. He stood staring, incredulous. Presently she passed out of his range of vision. He could see some of the others now, and caught here and there a single unenlightening word. He wondered vaguely at hearing a room full of persons speaking English again. Should
he go in, or should he go back? He felt an indescribable shrinking from meeting Mary among that shady lot. Men, too--more than one! What was a woman like Mary Burne doing with such disreputable-looking-- He had lately been killing time for Driscoll by reading aloud that original story, Beggars All. It came to him like a form of nightmare that their Madonna Mary was a confidence woman. This gathering was a grim kind of thieves' tea-party, but they had left the door open! As he gave up straining to catch a glimpse of Mary, and looked closer at those nearest the door, he saw there were one or two women he would not have thought suspicious under other circumstances. Then one of these moved away, and revealed a creature with raddled cheeks and pencilled eyes, wearing her dingy finery with a clumsiness not French, and speaking now to Mary Burne, who had come to her side--speaking with a cockney tongue, and eying her hostess with mixed suspicion and curiosity. A man, as obviously American, looking like a broken-down billiard-marker, stood behind, and sitting by the door was a well-dressed gray-haired woman, with frightened, shifty eyes. Obvious tramps and beggars would have fitted better into any preconceived scheme of benevolence. But these people of some former decency, some present alertness of intelligence, like the dregs of the foreigner class in any land, lower than the outcast born, because these aliens had once ambition, had initiative enough to venture forth to better their estate, and had not fallen so low without desperate clutching at foul means to keep afloat. On each face that undefinable stamp of failure. What is it? Where is it? Not always in the eyes or on the lips, not always expressed in dress or even bearing--in no one thing that one may lay a finger on and say, "I know him by this mark!" There is no name for that elusive, eloquent, yet indelible sign life sets upon the faces of the lost. Yet all men know it when they see it, and instinctively turn away their eyes.
In the group that closed about Mary, some one was protesting about something.
"Perhaps Jean Latreille was right," said a man Gano couldn't see.
"Of course he was. You need not to blame him."
Some one was speaking with a strong French accent.
"Well, well," said the woman with the gray hair. "I don't feel sure it ought to be encouraged openly."
"Zen, ought you not to belong to zis club?"
The woman turned up an anxious face.
"I've sent the girls away, Mrs. Pitman," said Mary, gently. "I think those of us that are left here, even the new members, have borne so much that they are able to bear the truth." There was a rustle and a noise of sitting down. "M. Pernet is right, I think, although I'm sorry Jean should have deserted his wife and child. It would have been manlier not to buy his liberty at the price of others' suffering."
"That's what I say."
The gray-haired woman nodded at some one out of sight.
"But who can decide the problems of another soul?" Mary Burne's white face grew weary. "We have enough with our own."
"You may be sure," she went on, nodding gravely at her dingy audience, "a young man in vigorous health doesn't wrench himself out of the world without good cause. It's grown too common to be any longer a distinction"--she smiled bitterly-- "and yet it's not common enough to be any easier, or any less reviled." Her eyes travelled from one forlorn face to the other with a kindling compassion. "But let us take courage, friends; we who have done without bread can do without approval--except of one kind." She paused an instant; a look of fanaticism leaped into the white face. "No matter what we have done in the past, we will not live, from this time on, without self-respect. Two or three of us have talked a good deal here about our duties to each other. Let us think tonight of the ultimate duty we owe ourselves. You know already how some of us cannot find courage to live till we
have first assured ourselves of courage to die, if need be. I've told you, one or two of you, that it was like that with me; that when hideous things drove me away from home, things I'd borne for years, and should never have borne a moment" --she flung up her head with swelling nostrils-- "when my awakening came, I said to myself, 'I'll go away and work; I'll go to Paris; and if I can't live there decently, I shall die there.' All through the long voyage I kept thinking that I was probably going, as fast as the ship could carry me, towards my grave. When one has lived days like that, life doesn't daunt one any more, nor death either."
"No, no!" murmured a voice behind the door.
"How shall any of us justify the desperate clinging to life for the mere sake of living?" She asked the question as if she were addressing a drawing-room full of prosperous people who had the merest speculative interest in the inquiry. "How many instances do we see of men and women who have outlived not only their usefulness, but their satisfactions? And yet they drag along their gray existence, a dreary penance to themselves, and a menace to those who still can hope. There are those who cling to the pleasant fiction that every one is of some good use in the world. If that is so, it is equally true that every one does some ill, stands in somebody's light, and bars his way to progress. But it is not with the real or imaginary 'helpers' we have to deal, but with those who through misfortune have lost their grip on circumstance, and whose whole remaining energy is absorbed in an animal-like clinging to existence. Many of the world's sick and wounded are capable of feeling the attraction of the idea of suicide, and are held back from freedom by two superstitions. One was made current by the people who lacked the courage to 'go and do likewise,' and who, therefore, have branded all suicides 'lunatics' or 'cowards.' The other superstition was given the world by the priests, who would have been less zealous and less astute than history shows them if they'd not barred this escape with mighty threats and penalties."
"Bah!" "Priests!" "Oh yes!"
A little undercurrent from the crowd crept through her words.
"Many a gentle soul in the past," she went on, "has endured years of needless agony rather than buy release at the price of public execration--being denied decent burial, and flung into a ditch at the cross-ways with a stake driven through the body. We don't treat these refugees quite that way now, but in being less violent we are not less cruel. When we hear of a suicide, the first insult we offer him is to ask, 'Were his accounts right?' Next, 'Was he a victim to bad habits?'"
"Exactly!" cried the voice, in broken English. "What Babin said of Jean--"
"If it is found the dead man was a defaulter or an opium-eater, the most aimless cumberer of the earth experiences a certain sense of justification. If a man is a villain, he must want to get out of the world; but for honest folk life cannot be too long. Consequently, to support existence (or let some one else do it) seems in some way a tribute to a man's personal worth or mental poise. If it is found that the suicide had the audacity to leave the world without the urging of some vulgar misdeed to account for his unpleasant independence, then up goes the universal cry, 'He was insane!' Without doubt! The world is good enough for his betters, why not for him? 'Oh, the fellow was crazy!' And that settles it. As a proof we are mentally sound, we will live on at any cost, be it our own souls or our brothers'. No, no. I tell you this thirst for life cannot be proved so worthy an instinct that makes the brute world one vast slaughter-house. 'One must live' is in the roar of the Bengal tiger, and the jackal's cry. I do not see but the greed of life is the strongest survival in man of primitive animal instinct. But it is not the noblest of our legacies. Over many an unworthy page of human history is that legend, 'One must live.'" She stretched out her
hands, crying, " It is not true! One must live worthily, or one can die! I feel a passionate sense of the wrong and ruin wrought by the general view. I feel it"--she dropped her eyes--"when I hear that a man steals to keep from starving, when"--her voice was heavy with shame--"when I see wide thoroughfares full at night of young girls and brazen women 'who must live.' 'Why don't they see there is an escape?' I think." She threw back her head with a quick movement, and just as suddenly the look of courage dimmed. "Then I realize that some of them, even if they could rise above the animal instinct to prolong life at any price, would remember priestly warnings, and fancy their chances in the hereafter brighter if they lived on--vile scavengers on the highways of the world!--than if they were brave enough to disdain an evil heritage, and wise enough not to fear death. Those who are so lustful of life"--far beyond the little company she gazed, as one gathering in a survey all the peoples of the earth--"they are like beggars at a feast. They glut themselves indiscriminately, afraid to let a single dish go by. They sit stupid and gorged, still mechanically taking of everything passed them, with dulled taste and jaded appetite, eating and drinking, with sense left to think only, 'Who knows? we may never be at such a feast again.' I tell you"--she was back now with her dingy guests--"it is the beast in us that clings so fiercely to life. In the case of the unfortunate, the hard-pressed, the ancient instinct often outlives hope, principle, innocence--all that's best in humanity."
"But there are a good many--" interrupted the gray-haired woman, feebly.
"Yes, yes, thank Heaven!" Mary Burne agreed, in the old gentle voice. "For those happy ones who have found, or think they have found, a chance of doing some service, or to those who for any reason find the world or themselves an interesting and compensating study, there are only congratulations, and a plea for fairer judgment of less fortunate, maybe not less sane or noble, men."
"Like ze poor Jean Latreille," lamented the Frenchman behind the door. "No work; only me for friend."
"Yes, yes," assented Mary Burne, as if she knew the story, and others to cap it. "No one who is in sympathetic touch with his kind can honestly affirm that every man and woman has something worth living for, and can, if he and she choose, make an honest livelihood. It is frankly untrue! Life is becoming more and more difficult to the majority; worldly success is more and more bought at the price of personal dignity. Mere existence for the million is secured only by a warfare in which he who does not slay is slain. But it is idle to enlarge upon the results of our civilization; every one with eyes sees how the conflict rages, and how the weak and often finer-natured go to the wall. It is not for me to urge that it is sad, or wasteful, but only that it is. My plea, as some of you know, is that more should realize there is honorable retreat this side moral overthrow."
The gray-haired woman move uneasily. The speaker, glancing at her, seemed to answer an unuttered protest:
"Let no one say God would have a man yield bit by bit his faith and charity, accepting any terms, so that he may be allowed to draw his coward breath a little span the more. There is a kind of spiritual cannibalism among us, more appalling than the simpler sort we shudder to think is practised in Darkest Africa, or the islands of the South Sea. It flourishes on our fairest hopes, and fills its witch's caldron with the consciences of men and the honor of our women. 'We must live!' the victims cry, and give up all that makes life worth the living. Maimed, stripped of grace and dignity, they wander forth into the world, to deaden the public sense of moral decency by the spectacle of their shame. The people who are shocked that one should think of suicide permit themselves a mild enthusiasm that long ago a blind King of Bohemia could care so much for his cause that he gathered a sheaf of his enemies' spears in his breast rather than face defeat. We are told there was once a Brutus, too, and many another in the brave old time, who
showed there was a refuge this side dishonor. But the world had forgotten, and ancient valor is renamed modern cowardice."
Her scorn-filled eyes dropped an instant on the gray-haired woman's fingers fumbling feebly under her mantle. Below it the end of a rosary could be seen twitching against her gown. Mary Burne lifted quiet eyes from the dangling crucifix.
"Looking at the question from the religious standpoint," she said, "it is impious to suppose we can take the Creator by surprise or defeat His ends. If He sent us into the world, He knew just what weapons He put into our hands, where the weak spots in our armor were, and what foes would meet us. In the case of the suicide, He knew just how many hard blows he could meet like a soldier and a man, as well as He knew there would some day come a stroke that would cut him down. Does God sleep while the battle rages?" she cried, with swelling but uneven cadence--"while the wounded man drags himself away from the dying, pursued by visions of captivity and the loss of all he fought for?" She shook her head with slow, pitying solemnity. "Believers must think the eye of God is on this child of His, as he creeps wearily out of the strife and turns into a dark by-way, groping along to the little gate at the end. The fugitive looks back an instant"--into her own clear eyes came a curious filminess--"he is too calm to seem heroic, and the pain is fading out of his face. 'Good-bye, my enemies'" --she made the faintest little gesture of farewell to some world without her walls-- "'good-bye, my friends'" --she nodded to the dingy crew within, and lifted haggard eyes above their heads-- "'temptations, ghosts of failure and of grief, good-bye!' Silently turning, he passes out through the little gate and shuts it fast behind him. Wherever he goes, no believer can suppose he has defeated God, or strayed outside the limits of His mercy."
As she ended she came forward. Gano, forgetting the dusk of the staircase, and thinking on the spur of the mo-
ment that she had caught sight of him, turned and made his way noiselessly down the three flights. He reached the street before he realized that Mary's motion forward had been to the gray-haired woman with the crucifix. But why had he been so afraid she should speak to him? He leaned against the lintel of the open door watching the rain. What strange thing had befallen his tender interest in this woman? It was gone. Simply wiped out. In its place a shrinking of his very soul. He had thought her so "womanly," full of protecting tenderness and steadfast cheer; and, behold! this abyss of hoplessness, this dark, iron resolution, this unshrinking acceptance of the tragedy of life.
The opinions she had given out, to be sure he shared them more or less; but it hurt him to think women shared them, above all the woman he-- A woman without hope--better she were without heart! Away, away with this unfeminine acceptance of the worst. It made the underlying horror of things more real, more unescapable! Away with such views, except for the occasional philosophic mood of man. Who wanted to have them daily, hourly brought to mind? He knew he should never see Mary Burne again without seeing that dingy circle of the lost, and the look of unshrinking despair that hardened and whitened in her face.
Her old sheltering mother-gentleness, where was it? His old tenderness for the tenderness in her, where was that? Gone, gone, and in its place this staggering dislike! He tried to think that, unselfconscious as she had been in manner, she had been theatrical in thought; he recalled some of her sentences--she was a phrase-maker! She liked standing up there, even before such an audience, listening to the sound of her own voice, and airing views that she no doubt thought original and bold. He did not for a moment realize that just because he in the main agreed with her "beyond refuge," he shrank from hearing himself echoed back to himself from the imagined haven of a woman's heart. It was a situation meet for wry,
ironic laughter that the woman he had been drawn to for her supposed embodiment of man's soothing ultra-feminine ideal should be caught playing the part of a dingy nineteenth-century Joan of Arc, urging men to battle and to death.
End Chapter 16
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