'But if only it should come to something! You don't know what it would mean to me, Marian.'
'Yes, father; I know very well how you think and feel about it.'
'Do you?' He leaned forward, his features working under stress of emotion. 'If I could see myself the editor of an influential review, all my bygone toils and sufferings would be as nothing; I should rejoice in them as the steps to this triumph. Meminisse juvabit! My dear, I am not a man fitted for subordinate places. My nature is framed for authority. The failure of all my undertakings rankles so in my heart that sometimes I feel capable of every brutality, every meanness, every hateful cruelty. To you I have behaved shamefully. Don't interrupt me, Marian. I have treated you abominably, my child, my dear daughter--and all the time with a full sense of what I was doing. That's the punishment of faults such as mine. I hate myself for every harsh word and angry look I have given you; at the time, I hated myself!'
'No, no; let me speak, Marian. You have forgiven me; I know it. You were always ready to forgive, dear. Can I ever forget that evening when I spoke like a brute, and you came afterwards and addressed me as if the wrong had been on your side? It burns in my memory. It wasn't I who spoke; it was the demon of failure, of humiliation. My enemies sit in triumph, and scorn at me; the thought of it is infuriating. Have I deserved this? Am I the inferior of--of those men who have succeeded and now try to trample on me? No! I am not! I have a better brain and a better heart!'
Listening to this strange outpouring, Marian more than forgave the hypocrisy of the last day or two. Nay, could it be called hypocrisy? It was only his better self declared at the impulse of a passionate hope.
'Why should you think so much of these troubles, father? Is it such a great matter that narrow-minded people triumph over you?'
'Narrow-minded?' He clutched at the word. 'You admit they are that?'
'I feel very sure that Mr Fadge is.'