I wondered if all the world was even as I, urged to this by one motive and to that by another, creatures of chance and impulse and unmeaning traditions. Had I indeed to abide by what I had said and done and chosen? Was there nothing for me in honour but to provide for Effie, go back penitent to Marion and keep to my trade in rubbish—or find some fresh one—and so work out the residue of my days? I didn't accept that for a moment. But what else was I to do? I wondered if my case was the case of many men, whether in former ages, too, men had been so guideless, so uncharted, so haphazard in their journey into life. In the Middle Ages, in the old Catholic days, one went to a priest, and he said with all the finality of natural law, this you are and this you must do. I wondered whether even in the Middle Ages I should have accepted that ruling without question. . . .
I remember too very distinctly how Effie came and sat beside me on a little box that was before the casement window of our room.
"Gloomkins," said she.
I smiled and remained head on hand, looking out of the window forgetful of her.
"Did you love your wife so well?" she whispered softly.
"Oh!" I cried, recalled again; "I don't know. I don't understand these things. Life is a thing that hurts, my dear! It hurts without logic or reason. I've blundered! I didn't understand. Anyhow—there is no need to go hurting you, is there?"
And I turned about and drew her to me, and kissed her ear. . . .
Yes, I had a very bad time—I still recall. I suffered, I suppose, from a sort of ennui of the imagination. I