Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
me. You are killing me now.’ His lips and cheeks turned white-
‘I should kill you-I am killing you? Your words are such as ought
not to be used: violent, unfeminine, and untrue. They betray an
unfortunate state of mind: they merit severe reproof: they would
seem inexcusable, but that it is the duty of man to forgive his
fellow even until seventy-and-seven times.’ I had finished the
business now. While earnestly wishing to erase from his mind the
trace of my former offence, I had stamped on that tenacious surface
another and far deeper impression: I had burnt it in.
‘Now you will indeed hate me,’ I said. ‘It is useless to attempt to
conciliate you: I see I have made an eternal enemy of you.’ A fresh
wrong did these words inflict: the worse, because they touched on
the truth. That bloodless lip quivered to a temporary spasm. I
knew the steely ire I had whetted. I was heart-wrung.
‘You utterly misinterpret my words,’ I said, at once seizing his
hand: ‘I have no intention to grieve or pain you-indeed, I have
not.’ Most bitterly he smiled-most decidedly he withdrew his
hand from mine.
‘And now you recall your promise, and will not go to India at all, I
presume?’ said he, after a considerable pause.
‘Yes, I will, as your assistant,’ I answered.
A very long silence succeeded. What struggle there was in him
between Nature and Grace in this interval, I cannot tell: only
singular gleams scintillated in his eyes, and strange shadows
passed over his face. He spoke at last.
‘I before proved to you the absurdity of a single woman of your
age proposing to accompany abroad a single man of mine. I proved
it to you in such terms as, I should have thought, would have
prevented your ever again alluding to the plan. That you have
done so, I regret-for your sake.’ I interrupted him. Anything like a
tangible reproach gave me courage at once.
‘Keep to common sense, St. John: you are verging on nonsense. You
pretend to be shocked by what I have said. You are not really
shocked: for, with your superior mind, you cannot be either so dull
or so conceited as to misunderstand my meaning. I say again, I will
be your curate, if you like, but never your wife.’ Again he turned
lividly pale; but, as before, controlled his passion perfectly.
He answered emphatically but calmly‘A female curate, who is not
my wife, would never suit me. With me, then, it seems, you cannot
go: but if you are sincere in your offer, I will, while in town, speak
to a married missionary, whose wife needs a coadjutor. Your own
fortune will make you independent of the Society’s aid; and thus
you may still be spared the dishonour of breaking your promise