Amy was stroking the back of her hand. After a long silence, she said in a very quiet, but very resolute tone:
'In that case, Amy, I must do without your consent. The rooms will be taken, and our furniture transferred to them.'
'To me that will make no difference,' returned his wife, in the same voice as before. 'I have decided--as you told me to--to go with Willie to mother's next Tuesday. You, of course, must do as you please. I should have thought a summer at the seaside would have been more helpful to you; but if you prefer to live in Islington--'
Reardon approached her, and laid a hand on her shoulder.
'Amy, are you my wife, or not?'
'I am certainly not the wife of a clerk who is paid so much a week.'
He had foreseen a struggle, but without certainty of the form Amy's opposition would take. For himself he meant to be gently resolute, calmly regardless of protest. But in a man to whom such self-assertion is a matter of conscious effort, tremor of the nerves will always interfere with the line of conduct he has conceived in advance. Already Reardon had spoken with far more bluntness than he proposed; involuntarily, his voice slipped from earnest determination to the note of absolutism, and, as is wont to be the case, the sound of these strange tones instigated him to further utterances of the same kind. He lost control of himself. Amy's last reply went through him like an electric shock, and for the moment he was a mere husband defied by his wife, the male stung to exertion of his brute force against the physically weaker sex.
'However you regard me, you will do what I think fit. I shall not argue with you. If I choose to take lodgings in Whitechapel, there you will come and live.'