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It was with great reluctance that Jouffroy acceded to Hadria’s wish to return home alone. She watched the river banks, and the boats coming and passing, with a look of farewell in her eyes. She meant to hold out to the utmost limits of the possible, but she knew that the possible had limits, and she awaited judgment at the bar of destiny.

She hurried home on arriving at the quay, and found Henriette waiting for her.

“What is it? Tell me at once, if anything is wrong.”

“Then you knew I was here!” exclaimed Miss Temperley.

“Yes; M. Jouffroy told me. He found me at St. Cloud. Quick, Henriette, don’t keep me in suspense.”

“There is nothing of immediate seriousness,” Henriette replied, and her sister-in-law drew a breath of relief. Tea was brought in by Hannah, and a few questions were asked and answered. Miss Temperley having been installed in an easy chair, and her cloak and hat removed, said that her stay in Paris was uncertain as to length. It would depend on many things. Hadria rang for the tray to be taken away, after tea was over, and as Hannah closed the door, a sensation of sick apprehension overcame her, for a moment. Henriette had obviously come to Paris in order to recapture the fugitive, and meant to employ all her tact in the delicate mission. She was devoted to Hubert and the children, heart and soul, and would face anything on their behalf, including the present disagreeable task. Hadria looked at her sister-in-law with admiration. She offered homage to the prowess of the enemy.

Miss Temperley held a commanding position, fortified by ideas and customs centuries old, and supported by allies on every side.

It ran through Hadria’s mind that it was possible to refuse to allow the subject to be broached, and thus escape the encounter altogether. It would save many words on both sides. But Henriette had always been in Hubert’s confidence, and it occurred to Hadria that it might be well to define her own position once more, since it was thus about to be directly and frankly attacked. Moreover, Hadria began to be fired with the spirit of battle. It was not merely for herself, but on behalf of her sex, that she longed to repudiate the insult that seemed to her, to be involved in Henriette’s whole philosophy.

However, if the enemy shewed no signs of hostility, Hadria resolved that she also would keep the truce.

Miss Temperley had already mentioned that Mrs. Fullerton was now staying at the Red House, for change of air. She had been far from well, and of course was worrying very much over these money troubles and perils ahead, as well as about Hadria’s present action. Mrs. Fullerton had herself suggested that Henriette should go over to Paris to see what could be done to patch up the quarrel.

“Ah!” exclaimed Hadria, and a cloud settled on her brow. Henriette had indeed come armed cap a pie!

There was a significant pause. “And your mission,” said Hadria at length, “is to recapture the lost bird.”

“We are considering your own good,” murmured Miss Temperley.

“If I have not always done what I ought to have done in my life, it is not for want of guidance and advice from others,” said Hadria with a smile and a sigh.

“You are giving everyone so much pain, Hadria. Do you never think of that?”

There was another long pause. The two women sat opposite one another. Miss Temperley’s eyes were bent on the carpet; Hadria’s on a patch of blue sky that could be seen through a side street, opposite.

“If you would use your ability on behalf of your sex instead of against it, Henriette, women would have cause to bless you, for all time!”

“Ah! if you did but know it, I am using what ability I have on their behalf,” Miss Temperley replied. “I am trying to keep them true to their noble mission. But I did not come to discuss general questions. I came to appeal to your best self, Hadria.”

“I am ready,” said Hadria. “Only, before you start, I want you to remember clearly what took place at Dunaghee before my marriage; for I foresee that our disagreement will chiefly hang upon your lapse of memory on that point, and upon my perhaps inconveniently distinct recollection of those events.”

“I wish to lay before you certain facts and certain results of your present conduct,” said Henriette.

“Very good. I wish to lay before you certain facts and certain results of your past conduct.”

“Ah! do not let us wrangle, Hadria.”

“I don’t wish to wrangle, but I must keep hold of these threads that you seem always to drop. And then there is another point: when I talked of leaving home, it was not I who suggested that it should be for ever.”

“I know, I know,” cried Henriette hastily. “I have again and again pointed out to Hubert how wrong he was in that, and how he gave you a pretext for what you have done. I admit it and regret it deeply. Hubert lost his temper; that is the fact of the matter. He thought himself bitterly wronged by you.”

“Quite so; he felt it a bitter wrong that I should claim that liberty of action which I warned him before our marriage that I should claim. He made no objection then: on the contrary, he professed to agree with me; and declared that he did not care what I might think; but now he says that in acting as I have acted, I have forfeited my position, and need not return to the Red House.”

“I know. But he spoke in great haste and anger. He has made me his confidante.”

“And his ambassador?”

Henriette shook her head. No; she had acted entirely on her own responsibility. She could not bear to see her brother suffering. He had felt the quarrel deeply.

“On account of the stupid talk,” said Hadria. “That will soon blow over.”

“On account of the talk partly. You know his sensitiveness about anything that concerns his domestic life. He acutely feels your leaving the children, Hadria. Try to put yourself in his place. Would you not feel it?”

“If I were a man with two children of whom I was extremely fond, I have no doubt that I should feel it very much indeed if I lost an intelligent and trustworthy superintendent, whose services assured the children’s welfare, and relieved me of all anxiety on their account.”

“If you are going to take this hard tone, Hadria, I fear you will never listen to reason.”

“Henriette, when people look popular sentiments squarely in the face, they are always called hard, or worse. You have kept yourself thoroughly informed of our affairs. Whose parental sentiments were gratified by the advent of those children Hubert’s or mine?”

“But you are a mother.”

Hadria laughed. “You play into my hands, Henriette. You tacitly acknowledge that it was not for my gratification that those children were brought into the world (a common story, let me observe), and then you remind me that I am a mother! Your mentor must indeed be slumbering. You are simply scathing on my behalf! Have you come all the way from England for this?”

“You won’t understand. I mean that motherhood has duties. You can’t deny that.”

“I can and I do.”

Miss Temperley stared. “You will find no human being to agree with you,” she said at length.

“That does not alter my opinion.”

“Oh, Hadria, explain yourself! You utter paradoxes. I want to understand your point of view.”

“It is simple enough. I deny that motherhood has duties except when it is absolutely free, absolutely uninfluenced by the pressure of opinion, or by any of the innumerable tyrannies that most children have now to thank for their existence.”

Miss Temperley shook her head. “I don’t see that any ‘tyranny,’ as you call it, exonerates a mother from her duty to her child.”

“There we differ. Motherhood, in our present social state, is the sign and seal as well as the means and method of a woman’s bondage. It forges chains of her own flesh and blood; it weaves cords of her own love and instinct. She agonizes, and the fruit of her agony is not even legally hers. Name me a position more abject! A woman with a child in her arms is, to me, the symbol of an abasement, an indignity, more complete, more disfiguring and terrible, than any form of humiliation that the world has ever seen.”

“You must be mad!” exclaimed Miss Temperley. “That symbol has stood to the world for all that is sweetest and holiest.”

“I know it has! So profound has been our humiliation!”

“I don’t know what to say to anyone so wrong-headed and so twisted in sentiment.”

Hadria smiled thoughtfully.

“While I am about it, I may as well finish this disclosure of feeling, which, again I warn you, is not peculiar to myself, however you may lay that flattering unction to your soul. I have seen and heard of many a saddening evidence of our sex’s slavery since I came to this terrible and wonderful city: the crude, obvious buying and selling that we all shudder at; but hideous as it is, to me it is far less awful than this other respectable form of degradation that everyone glows and smirks over.”

Miss Temperley clasped her hands in despair.

“I simply can’t understand you. What you say is rank heresy against all that is most beautiful in human nature.”

“Surely the rank heresy is to be laid at the door of those who degrade and enslave that which they assert to be most beautiful in human nature. But I am not speaking to convince; merely to shew where you cannot count upon me for a point of attack. Try something else.”

“But it is so strange, so insane, as it seems to me. Do you mean to throw contempt on motherhood per se?”

“I am not discussing motherhood per se; no woman has yet been in a position to know what it is per se, strange as it may appear. No woman has yet experienced it apart from the enormous pressure of law and opinion that has, always, formed part of its inevitable conditions. The illegal mother is hounded by her fellows in one direction; the legal mother is urged and incited in another: free motherhood is unknown amongst us. I speak of it as it is. To speak of it per se, for the present, is to discuss the transcendental.”

There was a moment’s excited pause, and Hadria then went on more rapidly. “You know well enough, Henriette, what thousands of women there are to whom the birth of their children is an intolerable burden, and a fierce misery from which many would gladly seek escape by death. And indeed many do seek escape by death. What is the use of this eternal conspiracy of silence about that which every woman out of her teens knows as well as she knows her own name?”

But Henriette preferred to ignore that side of her experience. She murmured something about the maternal instinct, and its potency.

“I don’t deny the potency of the instinct,” said Hadria, “but I do say that it is shamefully presumed upon. Strong it obviously must be, if industrious cultivation and encouragements and threats and exhortations can make it so! All the Past as well as all the weight of opinion and training in the Present has been at work on it, thrusting and alluring and coercing the woman to her man-allotted fate.”

Nature-allotted, if you please,” said Henriette. “There is no need for alluring or coercing.”

“Why do it then? Now, be frank, Henriette, and try not to be offended. Would you feel no sense of indignity in performing a function of this sort (however noble and so on you might think it per se), if you knew that it would be demanded of you as a duty, if you did not welcome it as a joy?”

“I should acknowledge it as a duty, if I did not welcome it as a joy.”

“In other words, you would accept the position of a slave.”

“How so?”

“By bartering your womanhood, by using these powers of body, in return for food and shelter and social favour, or for the sake of so-called ‘duty’ irrespective of perhaps in direct opposition to your feelings. How then do you differ from the slave woman who produces a progeny of young slaves, to be disposed of as shall seem good to her perhaps indulgent master? I see no essential difference.”

“I see the difference between honour and ignominy,” said Henriette. Hadria shook her head, sadly.

“The differences are all in detail and in circumstance. I am sorry if I offend your taste. The facts are offensive. The bewildering thing is that the facts themselves never seem to offend you; only the mention of them.”

“It would take too long to go into this subject,” said Henriette. “I can only repeat that I fail to understand your extraordinary views of the holiest of human instincts.”

That catch-word! And you use it rashly, Henriette, for do you not know that the deepest of all degradation comes of misusing that which is most holy?”

“A woman who does her duty is not to be accused of misusing anything,” cried Miss Temperley hotly.

“Is there then no sin, no misuse of power in sending into the world swarms of fortuitous, poverty-stricken human souls, as those souls must be who are born in bondage, with the blended instincts of the slave and the master for a proud inheritance? It sounds awful I know, but truth is apt to sound awful. Motherhood, as our wisdom has appointed it, among civilized people, represents a prostitution of the reproductive powers, which precisely corresponds to that other abuse, which seems to most of us so infinitely more shocking.”

Miss Temperley preferred not to reply to such a remark, and the entrance of little Martha relieved the tension of the moment. Henriette, though she bore the child a grudge, could not resist her when she came forward and put up her face to be kissed.

“She is really growing very pretty,” said Henriette, in a tone which betrayed the agitation which she had been struggling to hide.

Martha ran for her doll and her blue man, and was soon busy at play, in a corner of the room, building Eiffel Towers out of stone bricks, and knocking them down again.

“I don’t yet quite understand, Henriette, your object in coming to Paris.” Hadria’s voice had grown calmer.

“I came to make an appeal to your sense of duty and your generosity.”


“I came,” Henriette went on, bracing herself as if for a great effort, “to remind you that when you married, you entered into a contract which you now repudiate.”

Hadria started up, reddening with anger.

“I did no such thing, and you know it, Henriette. How do you dare to sit there and tell me that?”

“I tell you nothing but the truth. Every woman who marries enters, by that fact, into a contract.”

Miss Temperley had evidently regarded this as a strong card and played it hopefully.

Hadria was trembling with anger. She steadied her voice. “Then you actually intended to entrap me into this so-called contract, by leading me to suppose that it would mean nothing more between Hubert and myself than an unavoidable formality! You tell me this to my face, and don’t appear to see that you are confessing an act of deliberate treachery.”

“Nonsense,” cried Henriette. “There was nothing that any sane person would have objected to, in our conduct.”

Hadria stood looking down scornfully on her sister-in-law. She shrugged her shoulders, as if in bewilderment.

“And yet you would have felt yourselves stained with dishonour for the rest of your lives had you procured anything else on false pretences! But a woman that is a different affair. The code of honour does not here apply, it would seem. Any fraud may be honourably practised on her, and wild is the surprise and indignation if she objects when she finds it out.”

“You are perfectly mad,” cried Henriette, tapping angrily with her fingers on the arm of her chair.

“What I say is true, whether I be mad or sane. What you call the ‘contract’ is simply a cunning contrivance for making a woman and her possible children the legal property of a man, and for enlisting her own honour and conscience to safeguard the disgraceful transaction.”

“Ah,” said Henriette, on the watch for her opportunity, “then you admit that her honour and conscience are enlisted?”

“Certainly, in the case of most women. That enlistment is a masterpiece of policy. To make a prisoner his own warder is surely no light stroke of genius. But that is exactly what I refused to be from the first, and no one could have spoken more plainly. And now you are shocked and pained and aggrieved because I won’t eat my words. Yet we have talked over all this, in my room at Dunaghee, by the hour. Oh! Henriette, why did you not listen to your conscience and be honest with me?”

“Hadria, you insult me.”

“Why could not Hubert choose one among the hundreds and thousands of women who would have passed under the yoke without a question, and have gladly harnessed herself to his chariot by the reins of her own conscience?”

“I would to heaven he had!” Henriette was goaded into replying.

Hadria laughed. Then her brow clouded with pain. “Ah, why did he not meet my frankness with an equal frankness, at the time? All this trouble would have been saved us both if only he had been honest.”

“My dear, he was in love with you.”

“And so he thought himself justified in deceiving me. There is indeed war to the knife between the sexes!” Hadria stood with her elbows on the back of a high arm-chair, her chin resting on her hands.

“It is not fair to use that word. I tell you that we both confidently expected that when you had more experience you would be like other women and adjust yourself sensibly to your conditions.”

“I see,” said Hadria, “and so it was decided that Hubert was to pretend to have no objections to my wild ideas, so as to obtain my consent, trusting to the ponderous bulk of circumstance to hold me flat and subservient when I no longer had a remedy in my power. You neither of you lack brains, at any rate.” Henriette clenched her hands in the effort of self-control.

“In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, our forecasts would have come true,” she said. “I mean

“That is refreshingly frank,” cried Hadria.

“We thought we acted for the best.”

“Oh, if it comes to that, the Spanish Inquisitors doubtless thought that they were acting for the best, when they made bonfires of heretics in the market-places.” Henriette bent her head and clasped the arms of the chair, tightly.

“Well, if there be any one at fault in the matter, I am the culprit,” she said in a voice that trembled. “It was I who assured Hubert that experience would alter you. It was I who represented to him that though you might be impulsive, even hard at times, you could not persist in a course that would give pain, and that if you saw that any act of yours caused him to suffer, you would give it up. I was convinced that your character was good and noble au fond, Hadria, and I have believed it up to this moment.”

Hadria drew herself together with a start, and her face darkened. “You make me regret that I ever had a good or a pitiful impulse!” she cried with passion.

She went to the window and stood leaning against the casement, with crossed arms.

Henriette turned round in her chair.

“Why do you always resist your better nature, Hadria?”

“You use it against me. It is the same with all women. Let them beware of their ‘better natures,’ poor hunted fools! for that ‘better nature’ will be used as a dog-chain, by which they can be led, like toy-terriers, from beginning to end of what they are pleased to call their lives!”

“Oh, Hadria, Hadria!” cried Miss Temperley with deep regret in her tone.

But Hadria was only roused by the remonstrance.

“It is cunning, shallow, heartless women, who really fare best in our society; its conditions suit them. They have no pity, no sympathy to make a chain of; they don’t mind stooping to conquer; they don’t mind playing upon the weaker, baser sides of men’s natures; they don’t mind appealing, for their own ends, to the pity and generosity of others; they don’t mind swallowing indignity and smiling abjectly, like any woman of the harem at her lord, so that they gain their object. That is the sort of ‘woman’s nature’ that our conditions are busy selecting. Let us cultivate it. We live in a scientific age; the fittest survive. Let us be ‘fit.’”

“Let us be womanly, let us do our duty, let us hearken to our conscience!” cried Henriette.

“Thank you! If my conscience is going to be made into a helm by which others may guide me according to their good pleasure, the sooner that helm is destroyed the better. That is the conclusion to which you drive me and the rest of us, Henriette.”

“Charity demands that I do not believe what you say,” said Miss Temperley.

“Oh, don’t trouble to be charitable!”

Henriette heaved a deep sigh. “Hadria,” she said, “are you going to allow your petty rancour about this well, I will call it error of ours, if you like to be severe are you going to bear malice and ruin your own life and Hubert’s and the children’s? Are you so unforgiving, so lacking in generosity?”

You call it an error. I call it a treachery,” returned Hadria. “Why should the results of that treachery be thrust on to my shoulders to bear? Why should my generosity be summoned to your rescue? But I suppose you calculated on that sub-consciously, at the time.”


“This is a moment for plain speaking, if ever there was one. You must have reckoned on an appeal to my generosity, and on the utter helplessness of my position when once I was safely entrapped. It was extremely clever and well thought out. Do you suppose that you would have dared to act as you did, if there had been means of redress in my hands, after marriage?”

“If I did rely on your generosity, I admit my mistake,” said Henriette bitterly.

“And now when your deed brings its natural harvest of disaster, you and Hubert come howling, like frightened children, to have the mischief set straight again, the consequences of your treachery averted, by me, of all people on this earth!”

“You are his wife, the mother of his children.”

“In heaven’s name, Henriette, why do you always run into my very jaws?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Why do you catalogue my injuries when your point is to deny them?”

Henriette rose with a vivid flush.

“Hadria, Hubert is one of the best men in England. I

“When have I disputed that?”

Hadria advanced towards Miss Temperley, and stood looking her full in the face.

“I believe that Hubert has acted conscientiously, according to his standard. But I detest his standard. He did not think it wrong or treacherous to behave as he did towards me. But it is that very fact that I so bitterly resent. I could have forgiven him a sin against myself alone, which he acknowledged to be a sin. But this is a sin against my entire sex, which he does not acknowledge to be a sin. It is the insolence that is implied in supposing it allowable for a man to trick a woman in that way, without the smallest damage to his self-respect, that sticks so in my throat. What does it imply as regards his attitude towards all women? Ah! it is that which makes me feel so rancorous. And I resent Hubert’s calm assumption that he had a right to judge what was best for me, and even to force me, by fraud, into following his view, leaving me afterwards to adjust myself with circumstance as best I might: to make my bitter choice between unconditional surrender, and the infliction of pain and distress, on him, on my parents, on everybody. Ah, you calculated cunningly, Henriette! I am a coward about giving pain, little as you may now be disposed to credit it. You have tight hold of the end of my chain.”

Hadria was pacing restlessly up and down the room. Little Martha ran out with her doll, and offered it, as if with a view to chase away the perturbed look from Hadria’s face. The latter stooped mechanically and took the doll, smiling her thanks, and stroking the child’s fair curls tenderly. Then she recommenced her walk up and down the room, carrying the doll carefully on her arm.

“Take care of dolly,” Martha recommended, and went back to her other toys.

“Yes, Henriette, you and Hubert have made your calculations cleverly. You have advocates only too eloquent in my woman’s temperament. You have succeeded only too well by your fraud, through which I now stand here, with a life in fragments, bound, chafe as I may, to choose between alternative disasters for myself and for all of us. Had you two only acted straightly with me, and kindly allowed me to judge for myself, instead of treacherously insisting on judging for me, this knot of your tying which you naively bring me to unravel, would never have wrung the life out of me as it is doing now nor would it have caused you and Hubert so much virtuous distress.”

Hadria recommenced her restless pacing to and fro.

“But, Hadria, do be calm, do look at the matter from our point of view. I have owned my indiscretion.” (Hadria gave a little scornful cry.) “Surely you are not going to throw over all allegiance to your husband on that account, even granting he was to blame.” Hadria stopped abruptly.

“I deny that I owe allegiance to a man who so treated me. I don’t deny that he had excuses. The common standards exonerate him; but, good heavens, a sense of humour, if nothing else, ought to save him from making this grotesque claim on his victim! To preach the duties of wife and mother to me!” Hadria broke into a laugh. “It is inconceivably comic.”

Henriette shrugged her shoulders. “I fear my sense of humour is defective. I can’t see the justice of repudiating the duty of one’s position, since there the position is, an accomplished fact not to be denied. Why not make the best of it?”

“Henriette, you are amazing! Supposing a wicked bigamist had persuaded a woman to go through a false marriage ceremony, and when she became aware of her real position, imagine him saying to her, with grave and virtuous mien, ’My dear, why repudiate the duties of your position, since there your position is, an accomplished fact not to be denied?’”

“Oh, that’s preposterous,” cried Henriette.

“It’s preposterous and it’s parallel.”

“Hubert did not try to entrap you into doing what was wrong.”

“We need not discuss that, for it is not the point. The point is that the position (be that right or wrong) was forced on the woman in both cases by fraud, and is then used as a pretext to exact from her the desired conduct; what the author of the fraud euphoniously calls ‘duty.’”

“You are positively insulting!” cried Henriette, rising.

By this time, Hadria had allowed the doll to slip back, and its limp body was hanging down disconsolately from her elbow, although she was clutching it, with absent-minded anxiety, to her side, in the hope of arresting its threatened fall.

“Oh, look at dolly, look, look!” cried Martha reproachfully. Hadria seized its legs and pulled it back again, murmuring some consolatory promise to its mistress.

“It is strange how you succeed in putting me on the defensive, Henriette I who have been wronged. A horrible wrong it is too. It has ruined my life. You will never know all that it implies, never, never, though I talk till Doomsday. Nobody will except Professor Fortescue.”

Henriette gave a horrified gesture. “I believe you are in love with that man. That is the cause of all this wild conduct.”

Miss Temperley had lost self-control for a moment.

Hadria looked at her steadily.

“I beg your pardon. I spoke in haste, Hadria. You have your faults, but Hubert has nothing to fear from you in that respect, I am sure.”

“Really?” Hadria had come forward and was standing with her left elbow on the mantel-piece, the doll still tucked under her right arm. “And you think that I would, at all hazards, respect a legal tie which no feeling consecrates?”

“I do you that justice,” murmured Henriette, turning very white.

“You think that I should regard myself as so completely the property of a man whom I do not love, and who actively dislikes me, as to hold my very feelings in trust for him. Disabuse yourself of that idea, Henriette. I claim rights over myself, and I will hold myself in pawn for no man. This is no news either to you or to Hubert. Why pretend that it is?”

Henriette covered her face with her hands.

“I can but hope,” she said at length, “that even now you are saying these horrible things out of mere opposition. I cannot, I simply cannot believe, that you would bring disgrace upon us all.”

“If you chose to regard it as a disgrace that I should make so bold as to lay claim to myself, that, it seems to me, would be your own fault.” Henriette sprang forward white and trembling, and clutched Hadria’s arm excitedly.

“Ah! you could not! you could not! Think of your mother and father, if you will not think of your husband and children. You terrify me!”

Hadria was moved with pity at Henriette’s white quivering face.

“Don’t trouble,” she said, more gently. “There is no thunderbolt about to fall in our discreet circle.” (A hideous crash from the overturning of one of Martha’s Eiffel Towers seemed to belie the words.)

Miss Temperley’s clutch relaxed, and she gave a gasp of relief.

“Tell me, Hadria, that you did not mean what you said.”

“I can’t do that, for I meant it, every syllable.”

“Promise me then at least, that before you do anything to bring misery and disgrace on us all, you will tell us of your intention, and give us a chance of putting our side of the matter before you.”

“Of protecting your vested interests,” said Hadria; “your right of way through my flesh and spirit.”

“Of course you put it unkindly.”

“I will not make promises for the future. The future is quite enough hampered with the past, without setting anticipatory traps and springes for unwary feet. But I refuse this promise merely on general principles. I am not about to distress you in that particular way, though I think you would only have yourselves to blame if I were.”

Miss Temperley drew another deep breath, and the colour began to return to her face.

“So far, so good,” she said. “Now tell me Is there nothing that would make you accept your duties?”

“Even if I were to accept what you call my duties, it would not be in the spirit that you would desire to see. It would be in cold acknowledgment of the force of existing facts facts which I regard as preposterous, but admit to be coercive.” Henriette sank wearily into her chair.

“Do you then hold it justifiable for a woman to inflict pain on those near to her, by a conduct that she may think justifiable in itself?”

Hadria hesitated for a moment.

“A woman is so desperately entangled, and restricted, and betrayed, by common consent, in our society, that I hold her justified in using desperate means, as one who fights for dear life. She may harden her heart if she can.”

“I am thankful to think that she very seldom can!” cried Henriette.

“Ah! that is our weak point! For a long time to come, we shall be overpowered by our own cage-born instincts, by our feminine conscience that has been trained so cleverly to dog the woman’s footsteps, in man’s interest his detective in plain clothes!”

“Of course, if you repudiate all moral claim ” began Henriette, weakly.

“I will not insult your intelligence by considering that remark.”

“Are you determined to harden yourself against every appeal?” Hadria looked at her sister-in-law, in silence.

“Why don’t you answer me, Hadria?”

“Because I have just been endeavouring, evidently in vain, to explain in what light I regard appeals on this point.”

“Then Hubert and the children are to be punished for what you are pleased to call his fraud the fraud of a man in love with you, anxious to please you, to agree with you, and believing you too good and noble to allow his life to be spoilt by this girl’s craze for freedom. It is inconceivable!”

“I fear that Hubert must be prepared to endure the consequences of his actions, like the rest of us. It is the custom, I know, for the sex that men call weaker, to saddle themselves with the consequences of men’s deeds, but I think we should have a saner, and a juster world if the custom were discontinued.”

“You have missed one of the noblest lessons of life, Hadria,” cried Miss Temperley, rising to leave. “You do not understand the meaning of self-sacrifice.”

“A principle that, in woman, has been desecrated by misuse,” said Hadria. “There is no power, no quality, no gift or virtue, physical or moral, that we have not been trained to misuse. Self-sacrifice stands high on the list.”

Miss Temperley shrugged her shoulders, sadly and hopelessly.

“You have fortified yourself on every side. My words only prompt you to throw up another earthwork at the point attacked. I do harm instead of good. I will leave you to think the matter over alone.” Miss Temperley moved towards the door.

“Ah, you are clever, Henriette! You know well that I am far better acquainted with the weak points of my own fortifications than you can be, who did not build them, and that when I have done with the defence against you, I shall commence the attack myself. You have all the advantages on your side. Mine is a forlorn hope: a handful of Greeks at Thermopylae against all the host of the Great King. We are foredoomed; the little band must fall, but some day, Henriette, when you and I shall be no more troubled with these turbulent questions some day, these great blundering hosts of barbarians will be driven back, and the Greek will conquer. Then the realm of liberty will grow wide!”

“I begin to hate the very name!” exclaimed Henriette.

Hadria’s eyes flashed, and she stood drawn up, straight and defiant, before the mantel-piece.

“Ah! there is a fiercer Salamis and a crueller Marathon yet to be fought, before the world will so much as guess what freedom means. I have no illusions now, regarding my own chances, but I should hold it as an honour to stand and fall at Thermopylae, with Leonidas and his Spartans.”

“I believe that some day you will see things with different eyes,” said Henriette.

The doll fell with a great crash, into the fender among the fire-irons, and there was a little burst of laughter. Miss Temperley passed through the door, at the same instant, with great dignity.