The price of love

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TheProjectGutenbergeBook,ThePriceofLove,byArnoldBennett ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith almostnorestrictionswhatsoever Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.net Title:ThePriceofLove Author:ArnoldBennett ReleaseDate:July14,2004[eBook#12912] Language:English Charactersetencoding:ISO-8859-1 ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE PRICE OF LOVE*** E-textpreparedbyJonathanIngram,BillHershey, andtheProjectGutenbergOnlineDistributedProofreadingTeam THEPRICEOFLOVE ATALE BY ARNOLDBENNETT 1914 CONTENTS CHAPTERI MONEYINTHEHOUSE CHAPTERII LOUIS'DISCOVERY CHAPTERIII THEFEAST CHAPTERIV INTHENIGHT CHAPTERV NEWSOFTHENIGHT CHAPTERVI THEORIESOFTHETHEFT CHAPTERVII THECINEMA CHAPTERVIII ENDANDBEGINNING CHAPTERIX THEMARRIEDWOMAN CHAPTERX THECHASM CHAPTERXI JULIAN'SDOCUMENT CHAPTERXII RUNAWAYHORSES CHAPTERXIII DEAD-LOCK CHAPTERXIV THEMARKET CHAPTERXV THECHANGEDMAN CHAPTERXVI THELETTER CHAPTERXVII INTHEMONASTERY CHAPTERXVIII MRS TAMS'SSTRANGEBEHAVIOUR CHAPTERXIX RACHELANDMR HORROCLEAVE CHAPTERI MONEYINTHEHOUSE I In the evening dimness of old Mrs Maldon's sitting-room stood the youthful virgin, Rachel Louisa Fleckring The prominent fact about her appearance was that she wore an apron Not one of those white, waist-tied aprons, with or without bibs, worn proudly, uncompromisingly, by a previous generation of unaspiring housewives and housegirls! But an immense blue pinafore-apron, covering the whole front of the figure except the head, hands, and toes Its virtueswerethatitfullyprotectedthemostfragilefrockagainstalltheperilsof the kitchen; and that it could be slipped on or off in one second, without any manipulationoftapes,pins,orbuttonsandbuttonholes—forithadnofastenings of any sort and merely yawned behind In one second the drudge could be transformed into the elegant infanta of boudoirs, and vice versa To suit the coquetry of the age the pinafore was enriched with certain flouncings, which, however,onlyintensifieditsunshapenugliness Onaplain,middle-agedwomansuchapinaforewouldhavebeenintolerableto thesensitiveeye ButonRachelitsimplyhadapiquantandperverseair,because shewasyoung,withtheincomparable,theuniquecharmofcomelyadolescence; itsimplyexcitedtheimaginationtoconceivetheexquisitetreasuresofcontour and tint and texture which it veiled Do not infer that Rachel was a coquette Althoughcomely,shewashomely—a"downright"girl,scorningandhatingall manner of pretentiousness She had a fine best dress, and when she put it on everybodyknewthatitwasherbest;astrangerwouldhaveknown Whereasofa coquettenonebutherintimatecompanionscansaywhethersheiswearingbest or second-best on a given high occasion Rachel used the pinafore-apron only withherbestdress,andherreasonfordoingsowasthesound,sensiblereason thatitwastheusualandproperthingtodo She opened a drawer of the new Sheraton sideboard, and took from it a metal tubethatimitatedbrass,aboutafootlongandaninchindiameter,coveredwith black lettering This tube, when she had removed its top, showed a number of thinwaxtapersinvariouscolours Shechoseone,lititneatlyattheredfire,and then, standing on a footstool in the middle of the room, stretched all her body and limbs upward in order to reach the gas If the tap had been half an inch higher or herself half an inch shorter, she would have had to stand on a chair instead of a footstool; and the chair would have had to be brought out of the kitchen and carried back again But Heaven had watched over this detail The gas-fitting consisted of a flexible pipe, resembling a thick black cord, and swingingattheendofitaspecimenofthatwonderfulandblessedcontrivance, the inverted incandescent mantle within a porcelain globe: the whole recently adopted by Mrs Maldon as the dangerous final word of modern invention It wassafertoignitethegasfromtheorificeatthetopoftheglobe;butevenso there was always a mild disconcerting explosion, followed by a few moments' uncertaintyastowhetherornotthegashad"lightedproperly." When the deed was accomplished and the room suddenly bright with soft illumination,Mrs Maldonmurmured— "That'sbetter!" She was sitting in her arm-chair by the glitteringly set table, which, instead of beinginthecentreofthefloorunderthegas,hadaplacenearthebow-window —advantageous in the murky daytime of the Five Towns, and inconvenient at night The table might well have been shifted at night to a better position in regard to the gas But it never was Somehow for Mrs Maldon the carpet was solidconcrete,andthelegsofthetableimmovablyembeddedtherein Rachel,gentle-footed,kickedthefootstoolawaytoitslairunderthetable,and simultaneouslyextinguishedthetaper,whichshedroppedwithascarceaudible click into a vase on the mantelpiece Then she put the cover on the tube with anotherfaintestclick,restoredthetubetoitsdrawerwitharatherlouderclick, and finally, with a click still louder, pushed the drawer home All these slight sounds were familiar to Mrs Maldon; they were part of her regular night life, partofanunconsciouslylovedritual,andtheycontributedintheirdegreetoher placidhappiness "Nowtheblinds,mydear!"saidshe world was full of strange phenomena She wondered what "Shells" were, and whythewritersshouldkeeponwritingtoawomanwhohadbeendeadforages Shecarefullyburntboththecircularandtheenvelope And then she looked at the post-card, which was addressed to "Louis Fores, Esq."Asitwasapost-card,shewasentitledtoreadit Sheread:"Shallexpect youattheworksinthemorningatten Jas Horrocleave."Shethoughtitrather harshandoppressiveonthepartofMr HorrocleavetoexpectLouistoattendat the works on Bank Holiday—and so soon after his illness, too! How did Mr HorrocleaveknowthatLouiswassufficientlyrecoveredtobeabletogotothe worksatall? Louiscame,rubbinghishands,whichforaninstanthewarmedatthefire He was elegantly dressed The mere sight of him somehow thrilled Rachel His deportment, his politeness, his charming good-nature were as striking as ever Theoneortwostripes(flesh-colourednow,notwhitish)onhisfacewerenottoo obvious, and, indeed, rather increased the interest of his features The horrible week was forgotten, erased from history, though Rachel would recollect that even at the worst crisis of it Louis had scarcely once failed in politeness of speech Itwasshewhohadbeenimpolite—notonce,butoften Louishadnever raged She was contrite, and her penitence intensified her desire to please, to solace,toobey Whensherealizedthatitwasshewhohadburntthatenormous suminbank-notes,shewentcoldinthespine Notthatshecaredtwopencefortheenormoussum,really,nowthatconcordwas established! No, her little flutters of honest remorse were constantly disappearingintheimmenseexultantjoyofbeingaliveandofcontemplatingher idol Louis sat down She smiled at him He smiled back But in his exquisite demeanourtherewasafaintreserveofmelancholywhichpersisted Shehadnot yetthatmorningbeenabletoputittoflight;shecounted,however,ondoingso verysoon,andinthemeantimeitdidnotdaunther Afterall,wasitnotnatural? Shebegan— "Isay,whatdoyouthink?Mrs Tamshasgivenmenotice." Shepretendedtobeaggrievedandtobeworried,butessentialjoyshonethrough theseabsurdmasks Moreover,shefoundacertainnaïvesatisfactioninbeinga mistresswithcares,amistresstowhom"notice"hadtobegiven,andwhowould have to make serious inquiry into the character of future candidates for her employment Louisraisedhiseyebrows "Don'tyouthinkit'sashame?" "Oh,"saidhecautiously,"you'llgetsomebodyelseasgood,andbetter What's sheleavingfor?" RachelrepeatedMrs Tams'srigmarole "Ah!"murmuredLouis He was rather sorry for Mrs Tams His good-nature was active enough this morning Buthewasgladthatshehadtakentheinitiative Andhewascontent thatsheshouldgo Afterthesceneofthepreviousnight,theirrelationscouldnot againhavebeenexactlywhattherelationsbetweenmasterandservantoughtto be Andfurther,"youneverknewwhatwomenwouldn'ttelloneanother,"even mistress and maid, maid and mistress Yes, he preferred that she should leave Headmiredherandregrettedthehardshipontheoldwoman—andthatwasan endofit!Whatcouldhedotoeaseher?Theonlythingtodowouldbetotellher privatelythatsofarashewasconcernedshemightstay Buthehadnointention ofdoingaughtsofoolish Itwasstrange,buthewasentirelyunconsciousofany obligationtoherfortheimmenseserviceshehadrenderedhim Hisconclusion wasthatsomepeoplehavetobemartyrs Andinthishewasdeeplyright Rachel,misreadinghisexpression,thoughtthathedidnotwishtobebothered with household details She recalled some gratuitous advice half humorously offered to her by a middle-aged lady at her reception, "Never talk servants to your men." She had thought, at the time, "I shall talk everything with my husband."Butsheconsideredthatshewaswisernow "Bytheway,"she saidinanewtone,"there'sapost-cardforyou I'vereadit Couldn'thelp." Louisreadthepost-card Hepaled,andRachelnoticedhispallor Thefactwas thatinhismindhehadsimplyshelved,andshelvedagain,thethreatofJames Horrocleave He had sincerely desired to tell a large portion of the truth to Rachel,takingadvantageofhersoftmood;buthecouldnot;hecouldnotforce his mouth to open on the subject In some hours he had quite forgotten the danger—hewascapableofsuchfeats—thenitreasserteditselfandhegazedon it fascinated and helpless When Rachel, to please him and prove her subjugation, had suggested that they should go to church—"for the Easter morning service"—he had concurred, knowing, nevertheless, that he dared not failtomeetHorrocleaveattheworks Onthewhole,thoughitgavehimashock, hewasrelievedthatHorrocleavehadsentthepost-cardandthatRachelhadseen it Buthestillwasquiteunabletodecidewhattodo "It's a nice thing, him asking you to go to the works on a Bank Holiday like that!"Rachelremarked Louisanswered:"It'snotto-morrowhewantsme It'sto-day." "Sunday!"sheexclaimed "Yes Imethimforasecondyesterdayafternoon,andhetoldmethen Thiswas justareminder Hemusthavesentitofflastnight Agoodthinghedidsendit, though I'dquiteforgotten." "Butwhatisit?WhatdoeshewantyoutogoonSundayfor?" Louisshruggedhisshoulders,asiftointimatethatnothingthatHorrocleavedid oughttosurpriseanybody "Thenwhataboutchurch?" Louisrepliedonthespurofthemoment— "Yougotherebyyourself I'llmeetyouthere Icaneasilybetherebyeleven." "ButIdon'tknowthepew." "They'llshowyouyourpewallright,neverfear." "Ishallwaitforyouinthechurchyard." "Verywell Solongasitisn'training." Shekissedhimferventlywhenhedeparted Longbeforeitwastimetoleaveforchurchshehadapracticalandbeautifulidea —oneofthoseideasthatoccurtoyoungwomeninlove Insteadofwaitingfor Louisinthechurchyardshewouldcallforhimattheworks,whichwasnotfifty yards off the direct route to St Luke's By this means she would save herself fromthepossibilityofinconveniencewithintheprecinctsofthechurch,andshe would also prevent the conscienceless Mr Horrocleave from keeping Louis in theofficeallthemorning ShewonderedthattheideahadnotoccurredtoLouis, whowasverygiftedinsuchmattersasthearrangementofrendezvous She started in good time because she wanted to walk without hurry, and to ponder Themorning,thoughimperfectandsunless,hadinitsomequalityofthe spring, which the buoyant youth of Rachel instantly discovered and tasted in triumph Moreover,thespiritofafestivalwasabroad,andvisibleinthecostume and faces of passers-by; and it was the first festival of the year Rachel respondedtoiteagerly,minglingherhappinesswiththegeneralexultation She wasintensely,unreasonablyhappy Sheknewthatshewasunreasonablyhappy; andshedidnotmind When she turned into Friendly Street the big black double gates of the works wereshut,butinoneofthemalittledoorstoodajar Shepushedit,stooped,and entered the twilight of the archway The office door was shut She walked uncertainupthearchwayintotheyard,andthroughadirtywindowonherleft she could dimly discern a man gesticulating She decided that he must be Horrocleave She hesitated, and then, slightly confused, thought, "Perhaps I'd bettergobacktothearchwayandknockattheofficedoor." III In the inner office, among art-lustre ware, ink-stained wood, dusty papers, and dirt,JimHorrocleavebangeddownapetty-cashbookontoLouis'desk Hishat wasatthebackofhishead,andhiseyesblazedatLouis,whostoodsomewhat limply,withahesitant,foolish,faintsmileonhisface "That's enough!" said Horrocleave fiercely "I haven't had patience to go all throughit Butthat'senough Ineedn'ttellyeIsuspectedyelastyear,butyeput meoff AndIwastoobusytotakethetroubletogointoit However,I'vehada fairchancewhileyou'vebeenaway."Hegaveasneeringlaugh "I'lltellyewhat put me on to ye again, if you've a mind to know The weekly expenses went downassoonasyethoughtIhadsuspicions Yeweren'tcleverenoughtokeep 'em up Well, what have ye got to say for yeself, seeing ye are on yer way to America?" "InevermeanttogotoAmerica,"saidLouis "WhyshouldIgotoAmerica?" "Askmeanother Thenyeconfess?" "Idon't,"saidLouis "Oh! Ye don't!" Horrocleave sat down and put his hands on his outstretched knees "Theremaybemistakesinthepetty-cashbook Idon'tsaytherearen't Anyone who keeps a petty-cash book stands to lose If he's too busy at the moment to enterupapayment,hemayforgetit—andthereyouare!He'soutofpocket Of course,"Louisadded,withacertainloftiness,"asyou'remakingafussaboutit I'llpayupforanythingthat'swrong whateverthesumis Ifyoumakeitoutto beahundredpoundsI'llpayup." Horrocleavegrowled:"Oh,soye'llpayup,willye?AndsupposeIwon'tletye payup?Whatshallyedothen?" Louis,nowquiteconvincedthatHorrocleavewasonlybullyingretorted,calmly: "It'sIthatoughttoaskyouthatquestion." Theaccuserwasexasperated "Acoupleo'yearsinquodwillbeaboutyourmark,I'mthinking,"hesaid WhereuponLouiswassuddenlyinspiredtoanswer: "Yes AndsupposingIwastobegintotalkaboutillicitcommissions?" Horrocleave jumped up with such ferocious violence that Louis drew back, startled TherecentActofParliament,makingacrimeofsecretcommissionsto customers'employees,hadbeenablowtothetradeinart-lustreware,anditwas nosecretintheinnerofficethatHorrocleave,resentingitsinterferencewiththe natural course of business, had more than once discreetly flouted it, and thus technicallytransgressedthecriminallaw Horrocleaveusedtodefendandjustify himself by the use of that word "technical." Louis' polite and unpremeditated threatenragedhimtoanextremedegree Hewasthesavageinfuriate Hecared for no consequences, even consequences to himself He hated Louis because Louiswasspickandspan,andquiet,andbecauseLouishadbeenpalmedoffon himbyLouis'unscrupulousrespectablerelativesasanhonestman "Nowthou'stdoneforthyself!"hecried,inthedialect "Thou'stdoneforthyself! And I'll have thee by the heels for embezzlement, and blackmail as well." He wavedhisarms "MayGodstrikemeifIgivetheeanyquarterafterthat!I'll—" He stopped with open mouth, disturbed by the perception of a highly strange phenomenonbeyondthewindow HelookedandsawRachelintheyard Fora moment he thought that Louis had planned to use his wife as a shield in the affair if the worst should come to the worst But Rachel's appearance simultaneously showed him that he was wrong She was the very mirror of happyconfidence Andsheseemedsoyoung,andsoobviouslyjustmarried;and sogirlishandsowomanishatthesametime;andherfrockwassofresh,andher hat so pert against the heavy disorder of the yard, and her eyes were unconsciously so wistful—that Horrocleave caught his breath He contrasted Rachel with Mrs Horrocleave, her complete antithesis, and at once felt very sorry for himself and very scornful of Mrs Horrocleave, and melting with worshipfulsympathyforRachel "Yerwife'sintheyard,"hewhisperedinadifferenttone "Mywife!"Louiswasgravelyalarmed;allhismanneraltered "Hasttoldheranythingofthis?" "IshouldthinkIhadn't." "Yemustpayme,andI'llgiveyenoticetoleave,"saidHorrocleave,quickly,ina queer, quiet voice The wrath was driven out of him The mere apparition of Rachelhadsavedherhusband Asilence Rachel had disappeared Then there was a distant tapping Neither of the men spokenormoved Theycouldheartheouterdooropenandlightfootfallsinthe outeroffice "Anybodyhere?"ItwasRachel'svoice,timid "Comein,comein!"Horrocleaveroared Sheentered,blushing,excusingherself,glancingfromonetotheother,andby herspotlessEasterfineryemphasizingthesqualoroftheden InafewminutesHorrocleavewassayingtoRachel,ratherapologetically— "Louis and I are going to part company, Mrs Fores I can't keep him on His wagesaretoohighforme Itwon'truntoit Th'truthis,I'mgoingtochuckthis artbusiness Itdoesn'tpay Art,astheycallit,'snogoodinth'potterytrade." Rachelsaid,"Sothat'swhatyouwantedtoseehimaboutonaSundaymorning, isit,Mr Horrocleave?" She was a little hurt at the slight on her husband, but the wife in her was persuaded that the loss would be Mr Horrocleave's She foresaw that Louis wouldnowwanttousehiscapitalinsomecommercialundertakingofhisown; andshewasafraidoftheprospect Still,ithadtobefaced,andshewouldfaceit Hewouldprobablydowellashisownmaster Duringawholehorribleweekher judgmentonhimhadbeenunjustlysevere,andshedidnotmeantofallintothe samesinagain Shethoughtwithrespectofhisartisticgifts,whichshewastoo inartistictoappreciate Yes,thechanceswerethathewouldsucceedadmirably Shewalkedhimofftochurch,givingHorrocleaveaperfunctorygood-bye And as,shouldertoshoulder,theydescendedtowardsSt Luke's,shelookedsideways at Louis and fed her passion stealthily with the sight True, even in those moments,shehadheartenoughlefttothinkofothersbesides ShehopedthatJohn'sErnestwouldfindasuitablemate Sheremembered that shehadJulian'scurtainstoattendto ShecontinuedtothinkkindlyofThomas Batchgrew, and she chid herself for having thought of him in her distant inexperiencedyouth,ofsixmonthsearlier,asthatman And,regrettingthatMrs Tams—atherage,too!—couldbesofoolish,shedeterminedtolookafterMrs Tams also, if need should arise But these solicitudes were mere downy trifles floatingonthesurfaceofherprofoundabsorptioninLouis Andinthedepthsof that absorption she felt secure, and her courage laughed at the menace of life (thoughthenotionofbravingachurchfullofpeopledidintimidatethebride) Yet she judged Louis realistically and not sentimentally She was not conspicuously blind to any aspect of his character; nor had the tremendous revulsion of the previous night transformed him into another and a more heavenlybeingforher Sheadmittedfranklytoherselfthathewasnotblameless inthe darkaffairofthebank-notes Shewouldnotdenythatinsomewayshe wasuntrustworthy,andmightbecapableofactsofwhichtheconsequenceswere usuallyterrible Hisirresponsibilitywasnotorious And,beingimpulsiveherself, shehadnomercyforhisimpulsiveness Asforhiscommonsense,wasnother burningofthecircularaddressedtoMrs Maldonasufficientcommentaryonit? ShewaswellawarethatLouis'sinsofomissionandcommissionmightviolently shock people of a certain temperament—people of her own temperament in particular These people, however, would fail to see the other side of Louis If she herself had merely heard of Louis, instead of knowing him, she would probably have set him down as undesirable But she knew him His good qualities seemed to her to overwhelm the others His charm, his elegance, his affectionateness, his nice speech, his courtesy, his quick wit, his worldliness— shereallyconsidereditextraordinarythataplain,bluntgirl,suchasshe,should havehadthelucktopleasehim Itwasindeedalmostmiraculous Ifhehadfaults—andhehad—shepreferredthem(proudlyandpassionately)to thefaultsofscoresofotherwomen'shusbands Hewasnotabrute,norevena boor nor a savage—thousands of savages ranged free and terror-striking in the Five Towns Even when vexed and furious he could control himself It was possibletosharehisdailylifeandseehiminallhissocialmoodswithoutbeing humiliated He was not a clodhopper; watch him from the bow-window of a morningashewalkeddownthestreet!Hedidnotdrink;hewasnotabeast He wasnotmean Hemightscattermoney,buthewasnotmean Infact,exceptthat onesinisterstreakinhisnature,shecoulddetectnofault Therewasdangerin that streak Well, there was danger in every man She would accept it; she wouldwatchit Hadshenotlongsincereconciledherselftotheprospectofan everlastingvigil? Shedidnotcarewhatanyonesaid,andshedidnotcare!Hewasthemanshe wanted;thewholerestoftheworldwasnothingincomparisontohim Hewas irresistible Shehadwantedhim,andshewouldalwayswanthim,ashewas She had won him and she would keep him, as he was, whatever the future might hold Thepastwasthepast;theopeningchapterofhermarriagewasdefinitely finished and its drama done She was ready for the future One tragedy alone could overthrow her—Louis' death She simply could not and would not conceiveexistencewithouthim Shewouldfaceanythingbutthat Besides,he was not really untrustworthy—only weak! She faltered and recovered "He's mineandIwouldn'thavehimalteredfortheworld Idon'twanthimperfect If anything goes wrong, well, let it go wrong! I'm his wife I'm his!" And as, slightly raising her confident chin in the street, she thus undertook to pay the priceoflove,therewassomethingdivineaboutRachel'sface ***END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE PRICE OF LOVE*** *******Thisfileshouldbenamed12912-h.txtor12912-h.zip******* Thisandallassociatedfilesofvariousformatswillbefoundin: http://www.gutenberg.net/1/2/9/1/12912 Updatededitionswillreplacethepreviousone theoldeditionswillberenamed Creatingtheworksfrompublicdomainprinteditionsmeansthatnooneownsa UnitedStatescopyrightintheseworks,sotheFoundation(andyou!)cancopy and distribute it in the United States without permission and without paying copyrightroyalties Specialrules,setforthintheGeneralTermsofUsepartof this license, apply to copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark ProjectGutenbergisaregisteredtrademark,andmaynotbeusedifyoucharge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission If you not charge anything for 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CHAPTERI MONEYIN THE HOUSE CHAPTERII LOUIS'DISCOVERY CHAPTERIII THE FEAST CHAPTERIV IN THE NIGHT CHAPTERV NEWS OF THE NIGHT CHAPTERVI THEORIES OF THE THEFT CHAPTERVII THE CINEMA CHAPTERVIII... which, instead of beingin the centre of the floorunder the gas,hadaplacenear the bow-window —advantageous in the murky daytime of the Five Towns, and inconvenient at night The table might
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