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The Magician speak. He put out his hands as does a blind man. Susie had to make an effort to go on. But she could not. Her voice was choked, and she began to cry. Arthur trembled as though he were seized with ague. She gave him the letter. 'What does it mean?' He looked at her vacantly. Then she told him all that she had done that day and the places to which she had been. 'When you thought she was spending every afternoon with Mrs Bloomfield, she was with that man. She made all the arrangements with the utmost care. It was quite premeditated.' Arthur sat down and leaned his head on his hand. He turned his back to her, so that she should not see his face. They remained in perfect silence. And it was so terrible that Susie began to cry quietly. She knew that the man she loved was suffering an agony greater than the agony of death, and she could not help him. Rage flared up in her heart, and hatred for Margaret. 'Oh, it's infamous!' she cried suddenly. 'She's lied to you, she's been odiously deceitful. She must be vile and heartless. She must be rotten to the very soul.' He turned round sharply, and his voice was hard. 'I forbid you to say anything against her.' Susie gave a little gasp. He had never spoken to her before in anger. She flashed out bitterly. 'Can you love her still, when she's shown herself capable of such vile treachery? For nearly a month this man must have been making love to her, and she's listened to all we said of him. She's pretended to hate the sight of him, I've seen her cut him in the street. She's gone on with all the preparations for your marriage. She must have lived in a world of lies, and you never suspected anything because you had an unalterable belief in her love and truthfulness. She owes everything to you. For four years she's lived on your charity. She was only able to be here because you gave her money to carry out a foolish whim, and the very clothes on her back were paid for by you.' 'I can't help it if she didn't love me,' he cried desperately. 'You know just as well as I do that she pretended to love you. Oh, she's behaved shamefully. There can be no excuse for her.' He looked at Susie with haggard, miserable eyes. 'How can you be so cruel? For God's sake don't make it harder.' There was an indescribable agony in his voice. And as if his own words of pain overcame the last barrier of his self−control, he broke down. He hid his face in his hands and sobbed. Susie was horribly conscience−stricken. 'Oh, I'm so sorry,' she said. 'I didn't mean to say such hateful things. I didn't mean to be unkind. I ought to have remembered how passionately you love her.'



The Magician  
The Magician  

W. Somerset Maugham