'No; because it isn't in your power to call dead love to life again. I think perhaps you never loved me. Jasper, I could give my right hand if you had said you loved me before--I can't put it into words; it sounds too base, and I don't wish to imply that you behaved basely. But if you had said you loved me before that, I should have it always to remember.'
'You will do me no wrong if you charge me with baseness,' he replied gloomily. 'If I believe anything, I believe that I did love you. But I knew myself and I should never have betrayed what I felt, if for once in my life I could have been honourable.'
The rain pattered on the leaves and the grass, and still the sky darkened.
'This is wretchedness to both of us,' Jasper added. 'Let us part now, Marian. Let me see you again.'
'I can't see you again. What can you say to me more than you have said now? I should feel like a beggar coming to you. I must try and keep some little self-respect, if I am to live at all.'
'Then let me help you to think of me with indifference. Remember me as a man who disregarded priceless love such as yours to go and make himself a proud position among fools and knaves--indeed that's what it comes to. It is you who reject me, and rightly. One who is so much at the mercy of a vulgar ambition as I am, is no fit husband for you. Soon enough you would thoroughly despise me, and though I should know it was merited, my perverse pride would revolt against it. Many a time I have tried to regard life practically as I am able to do theoretically, but it always ends in hypocrisy. It is men of my kind who succeed; the conscientious, and those who really have a high ideal, either perish or struggle on in neglect.'
Marian had overcome her excess of emotion.
'There is no need to disparage yourself' she said. 'What can be simpler than the truth? You loved me, or thought you did, and now you love me no longer. It is a thing that happens every day, either in man or woman, and all that honour demands is the courage to confess the truth. Why didn't you tell me as soon as you knew that I was burdensome to you?'