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IV.1. Miss Gwilt's Diary
"NAPLES, October 10th.--It is two months to-day since I declared that I had
closed my Diary, never to open it again.
"Why have I broken my resolution? Why have I gone back to this secret friend of
my wretchedest and wickedest hours? Because I am more friendless than ever;
because I am more lonely than ever, though my husband is sitting writing in the
next room to me. My misery is a woman's misery, and it will speak--here, rather
than nowhere; to my second self, in this book, if I have no one else to hear me.
"How happy I was in the first days that followed our marriage, and how happy I
made him! Only two months have passed, and that time is a by-gone time already!
I try to think of anything I might have said or done wrongly, on my side--of
anything he might have said or done wrongly, on his; and I can remember nothing
unworthy of my husband, nothing unworthy of myself. I cannot even lay my
finger on the day when the cloud first rose between us.
"I could bear it, if I loved him less dearly than I do. I could conquer the misery of
our estrangement, if he only showed the change in him as brutally as other men
would show it.
"But this never has happened--never will happen. It is not in his nature to inflict
suffering on others. Not a hard word, not a hard look, escapes him. It is only at
night, when I hear him sighing in his sleep, and sometimes when I see him
dreaming in the morning hours, that I know how hopelessly I am losing the love
he once felt for me. He hides, or tries to hide, it in the day, for my sake. He is all
gentleness, all kindness; but his heart is not on his lips when he kisses me now;
his hand tells me nothing when it touches mine. Day after day the hours that he
gives to his hateful writing grow longer and longer; day after day he becomes
more and more silent in the hours that he gives to me.
"And, with all this, there is nothing that I can complain of--nothing marked
enough to justify me in noticing it. His disappointment shrinks from all open
confession; his resignation collects itself by such fine degrees that even my
watchfulness fails to see the growth of it. Fifty times a day I feel the longing in
me to throw my arms round his neck, and say: 'For God's sake, do anything to me,
rather than treat me like this!' and fifty times a day the words are forced back into
my heart by the cruel considerateness of his conduct; which gives me no excuse
for speaking them. I thought I had suffered the sharpest pain that I could feel
when my first husband laid his whip across my face. I thought I knew the worst
that despair could do on the day when I knew that the other villain, the meaner
villain still, had cast me off. Live and learn. There is sharper pain than I felt under
Waldron's whip; there is bitterer despair than the despair I knew when Manuel
deserted me.
"Am I too old for him? Surely not yet! Have I lost my beauty? Not a man passes
me in the street but his eyes tell me I am as handsome as ever.