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Annette had found her mother

Francis laid his hand on Bennett’s arm and turned with him down the street. They passed up and down on the side opposite the house, Francis explaining as best he could how and why he had come to strike his son-in-law. He was very frank, and pointed out those elements of Bennett’s conduct of which, as a gentleman, he could not approve, but made it clear that they should not stand in the way of a friendly acceptance of the inevitable.




Upstairs in the drawing-room Annette had found her mother alone with Serge. Mrs. Folyat was knitting a never-ending woollen vest, and Serge was unwinding a skein for her round the back of a chair. Annette told her news. Serge went on winding the skein. Mrs. Folyat dropped her knitting, took off her spectacles, put them on again, pushed them up to her forehead and looked Annette up and down. Then very slowly, as though she was groping for her words, she said:


“I am thinking only of your father. This will bring his white hairs in sorrow to the grave.”


“I have told father,” said Annette


[Pg 253]


Mrs. Folyat was too far gone in sentimentality—forged sentiment—to feel anything. She had chosen what she thought the most appropriate and effective method of attack, only to find it parried. She clutched blindly at the first seemingly fit words that came to her mind, those which had already been used by Mrs. Lawrie:


“As you have made your bed, so you must lie on it.”


Serge rose and said:


“That is no reason why you should try to make it more uncomfortable, mother.”


Mrs. Folyat hardly heard him. She had begun to think (the specially ordained scourge of the sentimentalist) what people would say of her; not what they would say of Annette: she was incapable of seeing the affair from Annette’s point of view. One of her darling fictions, that of her perfect motherhood, was menaced. She was a she-lioness to protect it: her fictions were to her what her children might have been. With incisive and bitter sarcasm she assailed Annette for the space of two minutes. She predicted that Bennett would take to drink, that he would desert her, that there would be a scandal, and she (Mrs. Folyat) would never be able to hold up her head again. When she could find no more baneful prognostications to throw at her offending daughter’s head, she took refuge in tears and began to declare that she wished that she were dead, since all the love she had lavished on her children was to be returned with such ingratitude. They were all ungrateful, all, all—except dear Frederic—and she wished she had never had a daughter. . . . Annette bore it all meekly, though she was very near breaking down. It had all seemed so simple to her: she loved, she was obeying her love, and all this made it so complicated. . . . Serge’s blood boiled, but he said nothing. He saw that Annette was in an impregnable position, not to be undermined.

Publicerat klockan 11:30, den 19 september 2016
Postat i kategorin Okategoriserat
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