'I can understand,' put in Jasper, 'that there may be philosophical truth in all this. All the same, it's a great pity that you should occupy your mind with such thoughts.'
'A pity--no! I must remain a reasoning creature. Disaster may end by driving me out of my wits, but till then I won't abandon my heritage of thought.'
'Let us have it out, then. You think it was a mistake to spend those months abroad?'
'A mistake from the practical point of view. That vast broadening of my horizon lost me the command of my literary resources. I lived in Italy and Greece as a student, concerned especially with the old civilisations; I read little but Greek and Latin. That brought me out of the track I had laboriously made for myself I often thought with disgust of the kind of work I had been doing; my novels seemed vapid stuff so wretchedly and shallowly modern. If I had had the means, I should have devoted myself to the life of a scholar. That, I quite believe, is my natural life; it's only the influence of recent circumstances that has made me a writer of novels. A man who can't journalise, yet must earn his bread by literature, nowadays inevitably turns to fiction, as the Elizabethan men turned to the drama. Well, but I should have got back, I think, into the old line of work. It was my marriage that completed what the time abroad had begun.'
He looked up suddenly, and added:
'I am speaking as if to myself. You, of course, don't misunderstand me, and think I am accusing my wife.'
'No, I don't take you to mean that, by any means.'
'No, no; of course not. All that's wrong is my accursed want of money. But that threatens to be such a fearful wrong, that I begin to wish I had died before my marriage-day. Then Amy would have been saved. The Philistines are right: a man has no business to marry unless he has a secured income equal to all natural demands. I behaved with the grossest selfishness. I might have known that such happiness was never meant for me.'