Jasper's first impulse was to meet this accusation with indignant denial, but a sense of compassion prevailed. It was so painful to see the defeated man wandering at night near the house where his wife and child were comfortably sheltered; and the tone in which he spoke revealed such profound misery.
'That's a most astonishing thing to say,' Jasper replied. 'Of course I know nothing of what has passed between you and your wife, but I feel certain that I have no more to do with what has happened than any other of your acquaintances.'
'You may feel as certain as you will, but your words and your example have influenced my wife against me. You didn't intend that; I don't suppose it for a moment. It's my misfortune, that's all.'
'That I intended nothing of the kind, you need hardly say, I should think. But you are deceiving yourself in the strangest way. I'm afraid to speak plainly; I'm afraid of offending you. But can you recall something that I said about the time of your marriage? You didn't like it then, and certainly it won't be pleasant to you to remember it now. If you mean that your wife has grown unkind to you because you are unfortunate, there's no need to examine into other people's influence for an explanation of that.'
Reardon turned his face towards the speaker.
'Then you have always regarded my wife as a woman likely to fail me in time of need?'
'I don't care to answer a question put in that way. If we are no longer to talk with the old friendliness, it's far better we shouldn't discuss things such as this.'
'Well, practically you have answered. Of course I remember those words of yours that you refer to. Whether you were right or wrong doesn't affect what I say.'
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