Amy turned scornfully away from him. Blows and a curse would have overawed her, at all events for the moment; she would have felt: 'Yes, he is a man, and I have put my destiny into his hands.' His tears moved her to a feeling cruelly exultant; they were the sign of her superiority. It was she who should have wept, and never in her life had she been further from such display of weakness.
This could not be the end, however, and she had no wish to terminate the scene. They stood for a minute without regarding each other, then Reardon faced to her.
'You refuse to live with me, then?'
'Yes, if this is the kind of life you offer me.'
'You would be more ashamed to share your husband's misfortunes than to declare to everyone that you had deserted him?'
'I shall "declare to everyone" the simple truth. You have the opportunity of making one more effort to save us from degradation. You refuse to take the trouble; you prefer to drag me down into a lower rank of life. I can't and won't consent to that. The disgrace is yours; it's fortunate for me that I have a decent home to go to.'
'Fortunate for you!--you make yourself unutterably contemptible. I have done nothing that justifies you in leaving me. It is for me to judge what I can do and what I can't. A good woman would see no degradation in what I ask of you. But to run away from me just because I am poorer than you ever thought I should be--'
He was incoherent. A thousand passionate things that he wished to say clashed together in his mind and confused his speech. Defeated in the attempt to act like a strong man, he could not yet recover standing-ground, knew not how to tone his utterances.
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