They parted with distant civility, and Reardon closed the door behind his visitor.
He knew that his character was seen through a distorting medium by Amy's relatives, to some extent by Amy herself; but hitherto the reflection that this must always be the case when a man of his kind is judged by people of the world had strengthened him in defiance. An endeavour to explain himself would be maddeningly hopeless; even Amy did not understand aright the troubles through which his intellectual and moral nature was passing, and to speak of such experiences to Mrs Yule or to John would be equivalent to addressing them in alien tongues; he and they had no common criterion by reference to which he could make himself intelligible. The practical tone in which John had explained the opposing view of the situation made it impossible for him to proceed as he had purposed. Amy would never come to him in his poor lodgings; her mother, her brother, all her advisers would regard such a thing as out of the question. Very well; recognising this, he must also recognise his wife's claim upon him for material support. It was not in his power to supply her with means sufficient to live upon, but what he could afford she should have.
When he went out, it was with a different purpose from that of half an hour ago. After a short search in the direction of Edgware Road, he found a dealer in second-hand furniture, whom he requested to come as soon as possible to the flat on a matter of business. An hour later the man kept his appointment. Having brought him into the study, Reardon said:
'I wish to sell everything in this flat, with a few exceptions that I'll point out to you'.
'Very good, sir,' was the reply. 'Let's have a look through the rooms.'
That the price offered would be strictly a minimum Reardon knew well enough. The dealer was a rough and rather dirty fellow, with the distrustful glance which distinguishes his class. Men of Reardon's type, when hapless enough to be forced into vulgar commerce, are doubly at a disadvantage; not only their ignorance, but their sensitiveness, makes them ready victims of even the least subtle man of business. To deal on equal terms with a person you must be able to assert with calm confidence that you are not to be cheated; Reardon was too well aware that he would certainly be cheated, and shrank scornfully from the higgling of the market. Moreover, he was in a half-frenzied state of mind, and cared for little but to be done with the hateful details of this process of ruin.
He pencilled a list of the articles he must retain for his own use; it would of course be cheaper to take a bare room than
furnished lodgings, and every penny he could save was of importance to him. The chair-bedstead, with necessary linen and blankets, a table, two chairs, a looking-glass--strictly the indispensable things; no need to complete the list. Then there were a few valuable wedding-presents, which belonged rather to Amy than to him; these he would get packed and send to Westbourne Park.
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