Page 84

The Magician 'Did you think I didn't see? My heart bled when I looked at your poor wan face and your tortured eyes. Oh, you've changed. I could never have believed that a man could change so much in so few months, and it's I who've caused it all. Oh, Arthur, Arthur, you must forgive me. And you must pity me.' 'But there's nothing to forgive, darling,' he cried. She looked at him steadily. Her eyes now were shining with a hard brightness. 'You say that, but you don't really think it. And yet if you only knew, all that I have endured is on your account.' She made a great effort to be calm. 'What do you mean?' said Arthur. 'He never loved me, he would never have thought of me if he hadn't wanted to wound you in what you treasured most. He hated you, and he's made me what I am so that you might suffer. It isn't I who did all this, but a devil within me; it isn't I who lied to you and left you and caused you all this unhappiness.' She rose to her feet and sighed deeply. 'Once, I thought he was dying, and I helped him. I took him into the studio and gave him water. And he gained some dreadful power over me so that I've been like wax in his hands. All my will has disappeared, and I have to do his bidding. And if I try to resist ...' Her face twitched with pain and fear. 'I've found out everything since. I know that on that day when he seemed to be at the point of death, he was merely playing a trick on me, and he got Susie out of the way by sending a telegram from a girl whose name he had seen on a photograph. I've heard him roar with laughter at his cleverness.' She stopped suddenly, and a look of frightful agony crossed her face. 'And at this very minute, for all I know, it may be by his influence that I say this to you, so that he may cause you still greater suffering by allowing me to tell you that he never cared for me. You know now that my life is hell, and his vengeance is complete.' 'Vengeance for what?' 'Don't you remember that you hit him once, and kicked him unmercifully? I know him well now. He could have killed you, but he hated you too much. It pleased him a thousand times more to devise this torture for you and me.' Margaret's agitation was terrible to behold. This was the first time that she had ever spoken to a soul of all these things, and now the long restraint had burst as burst the waters of a dam. Arthur sought to calm her. 'You're ill and overwrought. You must try to compose yourself. After all, Haddo is a human being like the rest of us.' 'Yes, you always laughed at his claims. You wouldn't listen to the things he said. But I know. Oh, I can't explain it; I daresay common sense and probability are all against it, but I've seen things with my own eyes 12

82

The Magician  
The Magician  

W. Somerset Maugham

Advertisement