The Legacy of Cain HTML version

25. Helena's Diary
They all notice at home that I am looking worn and haggard. That hideous old maid, Miss
Jillgall, had her malicious welcome ready for me when we met at breakfast this morning:
"Dear Helena, what has become of your beauty? One would think you had left it in your
room!" Poor deluded Eunice showed her sisterly sympathy: "Don't joke about it, Selina:
can't you see that Helena is ill?"
I have been ill; ill of my own wickedness.
But the recovery to my tranquillity will bring with it the recovery of my good looks. My
fatal passion for Philip promises to be the utter destruction of everything that is good in
me. Well! what is good in me may not be worth keeping. There is a fate in these things. If
I am destined to rob Eunice of the one dear object of her love and hope--how can I resist?
The one kind thing I can do is to keep her in ignorance of what is coming, by acts of
affectionate deceit.
Besides, if she suffers, I suffer too. In the length and breadth of England, I doubt if there
is a much more wicked young woman to be found than myself. Is it nothing to feel that,
and to endure it as I do?
Upon my word, there is no excuse for me!
Is this sheer impudence? No; it is the bent of my nature. I have a tendency to self-
examination, accompanied by one merit--I don't spare myself.
There are excuses for Eunice. She lives in a fools' paradise; and she sees in her lover a
radiant creature, shining in the halo thrown over him by her own self-delusion, Nothing
of this sort is to be said for me. I see Philip as he is. My penetration looks into the lowest
depths of his character--when I am not in his company. There seems to be a foundation of
good, somewhere in his nature. He despises and hates himself (he has confessed it to me),
when Eunice is with him--still believing in her false sweetheart. But how long do these
better influences last? I have only to show myself, in my sister's absence, and Philip is
mine body and soul. His vanity and his weakness take possession of him the moment he
sees my face. He is one of those men--even in my little experience I have met with them--
who are born to be led by women. If Eunice had possessed my strength of character, he
would have been true to her for life.
Ought I not, in justice to myself, to have lifted my heart high above the reach of such a
creature as this? Certainly I ought! I know it, I feel it. And yet, there is some fascination
in having him which I am absolutely unable to resist.
What, I ask myself, has fed the new flame which is burning in me? Did it begin with
gratified pride? I might well feel proud when I found myself admired by a man of his
beauty, set off by such manners and such accomplishments as his. Or, has the growth of