The Garden of Survival HTML version

                                                       Chapter 2
THE brief marriage ran its course, depleting rather than enriching me, and I know you realized
before the hurried, dreadful end that my tie with yourself was strengthened rather than
endangered, and that I took from you nothing that I might give it to her. That death should
intervene so swiftly, leaving her but an interval of a month between the altar and the grave, you
could foreknow as little as I or she; yet in that brief space of time you learned that I had robbed
you of nothing that was your precious due, while she as surely realized that the amazing love she
poured so lavishly upon me woke no response--beyond a deep and tender pity, strangely deep
and singularly tender I admit, but assuredly very different from love.
Now this, I think, you already know and in some measure understand; but what you cannot
know--since it is a portion of her secret, of that ambushed meaning, as I termed it, given to me
when she lay dying--is the pathetic truth that her discovery wrought no touch of disenchantment
in her. I think she knew with shame that she had caught me with her lowest weapon, yet still
hoped that the highest in her might complete and elevate her victory. She knew, at any rate,
neither dismay nor disappointment; of reproach there was no faintest hint. She did not even once
speak of it directly, though her fine, passionate face made me aware of the position. Of the usual
human reaction, that is, there was no slightest trace; she neither chided nor implored; she did not
weep. The exact opposite of what I might have expected took place before my very eyes.
For she turned and faced me, empty as I was. The soul in her, realizing the truth, stood erect to
meet the misery of lonely pain that inevitably lay ahead--in some sense as though she welcomed
it already; and, strangest of all, she blossomed, physically as well as mentally, into a fuller
revelation of gracious loveliness than before, sweeter and more exquisite, indeed, than anything
life had yet shown to me. Moreover, having captured me, she changed; the grossness I had
discerned, that which had led me to my own undoing, vanished completely as though it were
transmuted into desires and emotions of a loftier kind. Some purpose, some intention, a hope
immensely resolute shone out of her, and of such spiritual loveliness, it seemed to me, that I
watched it in a kind of dumb amazement.
I watched it--unaware at first of my own shame, emptied of any emotion whatsoever, I think, but
that of a startled worship before the grandeur of her generosity. It seemed she listened
breathlessly for the beating of my heart, and hearing none, resolved that she would pour her own
life into it, regardless of pain, of loss, of sacrifice, that she might make it live. She undertook her
mission, that is to say, and this mission, in some mysterious way, and according to some code of
conduct undivined by me, yet passionately honoured, was to give--regardless of herself or of
response. I caught myself sometimes thinking of a child who would instinctively undo some
earlier grievous wrong. She loved me marvellously.
I know not how to describe to you the lavish wealth of selfless devotion she bathed me in during
the brief torturing and unfulfilled period before the end. It made me aware of new depths and
heights in human nature. It taught me a new beauty that even my finest dreams had left