PHINEAS AGAIN IN LONDON.
Too Long; Didn't ReadPhineas, on his return to London, before he had taken his seat in the House, received the following letter from Lady Laura Kennedy:—
Dresden, Feb. 8, 1870.
I thought that perhaps you would have written to me from Harrington. Violet has told me of the meeting between you and Madame Goesler, and says that the old friendship seems to have been perfectly re-established. She used to think once that there might be more than friendship, but I never quite believed that. She tells me that Chiltern is quarrelling with the Pallisers. You ought not to let him quarrel with people. I know that he would listen to you. He always did.
I write now especially because I have just received so dreadful a letter from Mr. Kennedy! I would send it you were it not that there are in it a few words which on his behalf I shrink from showing even to you. It is full of threats. He begins by quotations from the Scriptures, and from the Prayer-Book, to show that a wife has no right to leave her husband,—and then he goes on to the law. One knows all that of course. And then he asks whether he ever ill-used me? Was he ever false to me? Do I think, that were I to choose to submit the matter to the iniquitous practices of the present Divorce Court, I could prove anything against him by which even that low earthly judge would be justified in taking from him his marital authority? And if not,—have I no conscience? Can I reconcile it to myself to make his life utterly desolate and wretched simply because duties which I took upon myself at my marriage have become distasteful to me?
These questions would be very hard to answer, were there not other questions that I could ask. Of course I was wrong to marry him. I know that now, and I repent my sin in sackcloth and ashes. But I did not leave him after I married him till he had brought against me horrid accusations,—accusations which a woman could not bear, which, if he believed them himself, must have made it impossible for him to live with me. Could any wife live with a husband who declared to her face that he believed that she had a lover? And in this very letter he says that which almost repeats the accusation. He has asked me how I can have dared to receive you, and desires me never either to see you or to wish to see you again. And yet he sent for you to Loughlinter before you came, in order that you might act as a friend between us. How could I possibly return to a man whose power of judgment has so absolutely left him?