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He started down the road toward their house, but at the end of a
few yards he pulled up sharply, the blood in his face. For the first
time, in the light of the words he had just heard, he saw what he
was about to do. He was planning to take advantage of the Hales’
sympathy to obtain money from them on false pretences. That was
a plain statement of the cloudy purpose which had driven him in
headlong to Starkfield.
With the sudden perception of the point to which his madness had
carried him, the madness fell and he saw his life before him as it
was. He was a poor man, the husband of a sickly woman, whom
his desertion would leave alone and destitute; and even if he had
had the heart to desert her he could have done so only by
deceiving two kindly people who had pitied him.
He turned and walked slowly back to the farm.