more than is usually supposed. Their giving and taking
"Gentlemen," said he as he ushered us once more into his studio, "you have presumed, and not without reason I should say, to infer that the original of this portrait and the woman who has so long occupied the position of sewing-woman in my house, are one and the same. You will no longer retain that opinion when I inform you that this picture, strange as it may appear to you, is the likeness of my wife."
"Wife!" We both were astonished as I take it, but it was my voice which spoke. "We were ignorant you ever had a wife."
"No doubt," continued our host smiling bitterly, "that at least has evaded the knowledge even of the detectives." Then with a return to his naturally courteous manner, "She was never acknowledged by me as my wife, nor have we ever lived together, but if priestly benediction can make a man and woman one, that woman as you see her there is my lawful wife."
Rising, he softly turned the lovely, potent face back to the wall, leaving us once more confronted by the dark and glowing countenance of his cousin.
"I am not called upon," said he, "to go any further with you than this. I have told you what no man till this hour has ever heard from my lips, and it should serve to exonerate me from any unjust suspicions you may have entertained. But to one of my temperament, secret scandal and the gossip it engenders is only less painful than open notoriety. If I leave the subject here, a thousand conjectures will at once seize upon you, and my name if not hers will become, before I know it, the football of gossip if not of worse and deeper suspicion than has yet assailed me. Gentleman I take you to be honest men; husbands, perhaps, and fathers; proud, too, in your way and jealous of your own reputation and that of those with whom you are connected. If I succeed in convincing you that my movements of late have been totally disconnected with the girl whose cause you profess solely to be interested in, may I count upon your silence as regards those actions and the real motive that led to them?"
"You may count upon my discretion as regards all matters that do not come under the scope of police duty," returned Mr. Gryce. "I haven't much time for gossip."
"O, he's safe where it profits him to be."
"Very well, then, I shall count upon you."
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