Henley Telegraph (1919) - The Woman's Part
THE WOMAN'S PART
Curse you! — Winnie, you devil... I'll...
"Bah!" He shook her off, roughly, and she fell, a crumpled heap at his feet. Roy Fleming saw it all. — Saw his own wife thus treated by a man who was little more than a fiend. — His wife, who, scarcely an hour ago had kissed him, as she lingered caressingly over the dainty cradle cot, where the centre of their universe lay sleeping. Scarcely an hour ago — and now he saw her, the prostrate object of another man's scorn; the discarded plaything of a villain's brutish passion.
She rose to her knees, and stretched her delicate white arms in passionate appeal toward the man who had spurned her.
"Arnold, don't you understand? You never really cared for her. It was a moment's fancy — a madness, and will pass away. It is I you love. Think of those days in Paris. Do you remember when we went away together, Arnold, you and I, and forgot everythingf How we went down the river, drifting with the stream as it wound its way like a coil of silver across the peaceful pasture lands. Oh, the scent of the may and lilac blossoms that morning! The songs of the birds, the joy of watching the swallows sweeping across the river before us — Arnold, you have not forgotten? It was the first day you kissed me. — Hidden in that sheltered sweetness where only the rippling sunbeams moved upon the myrtle-tinted stream — Arnold, you have not forgotten!"
The man crossed the room, and leaned upon a table, not far from where she crouched, gazing down at her with a look from which she shrank away.
"No," he said bitterly, "I have never forgotten!"
Still kneeling, she moved nearer, and laid a trembling hand on his knee:— "Arnold, don't you understand? I must leave England at once. I must go into hiding somewhere — anywhere — a long way from here. I killed her, Arnold, for your sake. 1 killed her because she had taken you from me. They will call it murder. But if only you will come with me, I do not care. In a new country we will begin all over again — together, you and I." Roy Fleming saw and heard it all. This abandoned murderess was the woman who had sworn to love and honour him until death should part them. So this was — yes, and more than that. But Roy made no movement.
Was he adamant? Had the horror of the scene stunned him?
Or was it just that he realised his own impotence?
The man she called Arnold raised her suddenly, and drew her to him in a passionate embrace.
"There is something in your eyes," he said fiercely, "that would scare off most men. It's there now, and it's one of the things that make me want you. You are right, Winnie. I am ready. We will go to Ostend by the early morning boat, and seek a hiding place from there."
She nestled close to him, and their lips met in a long, sobbing kiss. And still Roy Fleming gave no sign — raised no hand to defend his wife's honour — uttered no word of denunciation — sought no vengeance against the man who had stolen her affections. Was it that he did not care? No... not that, only... don't you realise? He was in the second row of the stalls!