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Then the grind began. It would have been easier for the McTeagues to have
faced their misfortunes had they befallen them immediately after their marriage,
when their love for each other was fresh and fine, and when they could have
found a certain happiness in helping each other and sharing each other's
privations. Trina, no doubt, loved her husband more than ever, in the sense that
she felt she belonged to him. But McTeague's affection for his wife was dwindling
a little every day—HAD been dwindling for a long time, in fact. He had become
used to her by now. She was part of the order of the things with which he found
himself surrounded. He saw nothing extraordinary about her; it was no longer a
pleasure for him to kiss her and take her in his arms; she was merely his wife. He
did not dislike her; he did not love her. She was his wife, that was all. But he
sadly missed and regretted all those little animal comforts which in the old
prosperous life Trina had managed to find for him. He missed the cabbage soups
and steaming chocolate that Trina had taught him to like; he missed his good
tobacco that Trina had educated him to prefer; he missed the Sunday afternoon
walks that she had caused him to substitute in place of his nap in the operating
chair; and he missed the bottled beer that she had induced him to drink in place
of the steam beer from Frenna's. In the end he grew morose and sulky, and
sometimes neglected to answer his wife when she spoke to him. Besides this,
Trina's avarice was a perpetual annoyance to him. Oftentimes when a
considerable alleviation of this unhappiness could have been obtained at the
expense of a nickel or a dime, Trina refused the money with a pettishness that
was exasperating.
"No, no," she would exclaim. "To ride to the park Sunday afternoon, that means
ten cents, and I can't afford it."
"Let's walk there, then."
"I've got to work."
"But you've worked morning and afternoon every day this week."
"I don't care, I've got to work."
There had been a time when Trina had hated the idea of McTeague drinking
steam beer as common and vulgar.
"Say, let's have a bottle of beer to-night. We haven't had a drop of beer in three
"We can't afford it. It's fifteen cents a bottle."