'Well, practically you have answered. Of course I remember those words of yours that you refer to. Whether you were right or wrong doesn't affect what I say.'
He spoke with a dull doggedness, as though mental fatigue did not allow him to say more.
'It's impossible to argue against such a charge,' said Milvain. 'I am convinced it isn't true, and that's all I can answer. But perhaps you think this extraordinary influence of mine is still being used against you?'
'I know nothing about it,' Reardon replied, in the same unmodulated voice.
'Well, as I have told you, this was my first visit to Mrs Yule's since your wife has been there, and I didn't see her; she isn't very well, and keeps her room. I'm glad it happened so--that I didn't meet her. Henceforth I shall keep away from the family altogether, so long, at all events, as your wife remains with them. Of course I shan't tell anyone why; that would be impossible. But you shan't have to fear that I am decrying you. By Jove! an amiable figure you make of me!'
'I have said what I didn't wish to say, and what I oughtn't to have said. You must misunderstand me; I can't help it.'
Reardon had been walking for hours, and was, in truth, exhausted.
He became mute. Jasper, whose misrepresentation was wilful, though not maliciously so, also fell into silence; he did not believe that his conversations with Amy had seriously affected the course of events, but he knew that he had often said things to her in private which would scarcely have fallen from his lips if her husband had been present--little depreciatory phrases, wrong rather in tone than in terms, which came of his irresistible desire to assume superiority whenever it was possible. He, too, was weak, but with quite another kind of weakness than Reardon's. His was the weakness of vanity, which sometimes leads a man to commit treacheries of which he would believe himself incapable. Self-accused, he took refuge in the pretence of misconception, which again was a betrayal of littleness.