he must often take such

WITH the best intentions in the world Francis could not overcome the inevitable dislike with which Frederic’s mere presence inspired him. He could not bring himself to speak more than three words to him or to make any inquiry into his affairs. Frederic also suffered under the constraint of the secret they shared, and relieved the situation by absenting himself as much as possible from the house. His fiancée made that easy by her extensive demands upon his time and he became more a member of her family than of his own Neo Derm Beauty Box .

Francis kept his word with Annie Lipsett, and every week sent her ten shillings, and, knowing that his wife opened his letters, got her to write, when she had anything to say, to Serge. His conscience was very uneasy about the whole affair, but he knew that if he did not do what he was doing no one else would, and he could not bring himself to righteous acceptance of the conclusions of his premises, that, after all, the girl had brought it on herself, and, like hundreds of others, must fight through the consequences alone and unaided Exuviance .

“If I knew the hundreds of others,” he said to himself, “I could not possibly help them all. I could not afford it. . . . Can I afford to help this young woman? . . . I cannot, but I must.”

He submitted to this moral imperative, but he could not away with the idea that he was encouraging immorality. That idea became fixed, an obsession. It worried him so much that he decided to go and see the young woman and [Pg 219]make quite sure as to the state of her mind, to demonstrate if necessary that though things were being made comfortable and easy for her in this world she could not hope to escape the punishment for her sin in the next bvi company .

Accordingly one Saturday he resolved to take the ten shillings himself instead of sending them by post. Annie Lipsett was staying in a farm labourer’s cottage near a village some fifteen miles away to the south. It was a keen autumn day when Francis walked along the lanes between hedges aflame with hips and haws and red blackberry leaves, and green with holly berries, and he asked himself why he did not devote every Saturday afternoon to a walk in the country. The cold air filled his lungs and the wind blew in his beard and brought the colour to his round cheeks. The trees were burning with colour, the sun shone scarcely warm through the soft mist that lay over the country-side. . . . Decidedly, he must often take such walks and bring Annette. How she would love the orchards, glowing with red apples and plums, and yellow with pears, and the cows and the green fields and the little rivers. Annette would love them all. They would make a habit of it, every Saturday, and they would see all the seasons come and live and pass.

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