Utu: A Story of Love, Hate and Revenge
Perplexity, deepening into horror, blanched Eleanor's face as she rapidly scanned the lines, while, with a sneering smile, her husband took in every shade in her gamut of expression. Raising her eyes she encountered his look, and her bloodless face crimsoned, while haughtily erecting herself she asked:
‘How long have you had this letter, sir?’
‘It arrived yesterday, Madame, as the postmark will show you,’ and he handed her the envelope covered with the imprints of foreign travel. ‘It has come by a roundabout route, probably owing to our change of plans. Permit me, ma chere, to hand you the other.’
She forced herself to read it with outward calmness, while he watched her as before.
‘Since my hasty note,’ it ran, ‘written in the first hour of your marriage. I have seen Mr Radcliffe, and also Miss Tabitha. I now take the liberty of writing again, partly to withdraw any expressions in my former note which may have pained you, partly in vindication of my own honour. It is due to myself that I prove my own steadfastness, and this I cannot do better than by returning to you all the letters purporting to come from you, which I received while in Ireland. That you did not write those letters, nor receive my replies, is beside the main point. They came to me ostensibly from you, and in good faith I received and responded to them, knowing your handwriting too well—as I thought—ever to dream of foul play. With those who thus impersonated you in pursuance of a vile conspiracy to separate us, it is for you to deal, supposing you think the matter of sufficient moment. I now know that you received but one letter from me, and that one I never penned, and I therefore page 48 make all allowance for your natural indignation at my seeming negligence. But that you could believe me faithless, without absolute proof, argues little for your insight into character, and that you could in a moment of pique throw yourself so hastily into the arms of another, proves your own heart a slighter thing than I had supposed. But I write not to reproach you, merely to clear myself with you. The past is past. For all time we are strangers. May you find in your chosen lot the happiness which under other conditions would have been my care.