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thought of a running sore, a something that for a time polluted her life. While you
are a man too good for her years ago, and a man too good for her now” — and this change has been wrought by my friend! Verily must the Devil in hell clap his palms together at the thought of you, O man of God. I sent you those letters as to one dead. I told the tale as one told in the confessional to a priest, and my priest used them as tools to turn the river of a woman's love, away from his friend and confidant, to irrigate the arid plain of his own life, leaving the man who trusted him to die of thirst.
For conspicuous gallantry, a cross is given; anything so superbly vicious as your act calls for decoration. Why should not an evil, so beyond the capacity of the mind of man to conceive, be acknowledged as of the great things of this earth?
I am curious to see you. Monstrosities were never in my line, but I suppose it is a duty to one's intelligence and desire of knowledge to see and contemplate, if only for a moment, something that is unique in sin. Your eyes must be different from other men's; the unholy light that flickers in them now has never shone forth from the eyes of the vilest thing yet created, you Knight of the Black Heart. And to think I loved you, next to her — in all the world, I loved you best, and now “I am shamed through all my nature to have loved so slight a thing."
You say in your letter, “If a man breaks up another man's home, the world breaks him.” Now if a man breaks another man's trust, then I think the punishments meted out by this earth are too small, and it is the next world that “breaks him."
Picture yourself on the Judgment Day, waiting until the last, as unfit even to join the ranks of the evilest, for you will be, to the greatest sinners, even as a leper to the living. Picture the face of the God, as He looks down upon you, you, whose prayers all these years have been insults. Were I to award your punishment, you should look for an eternity into my eyes, to read what you saw written there.
I have no doubt, in your new happiness, you will live long, for “those whom the gods love die young,” and those whom they despise, they let live to chasten the rest, and what greater punishment could she have, poor woman, than to be tied to you, to have your long, lean, pulseless hands caress the beauties you can't enjoy.
Have you thought of her in all this, and how the time will come when she will look
upon you as an upas-tree, the atmosphere of which destroys? — the time when the touch of your hand will leave a red scar; when the sight of your useless, crippled body will make her heart rise in revolt; when the touch of your lips will turn her to ice? Of the time when she first realises how you snared her, when pity for her husband, pity for the man she loved, merged into pity for you? When your very silence and helplessness seemed to cry aloud to her, and point the way of duty? Alas! a second Machiavelli has been found in a priest. I do not envy you, my friend in hell - I am only sorry for her — and myself; but why heap up words against you? “Your soul is not in my soul's stead," thank God. All I pray is that, when your "heart panteth and your strength faileth,” may God, in His infinite justice, be deaf and blind to your entreaties and your sufferings.
From Mrs. Billings to Douglas Dayton
Percy is dying. He wishes to see you without delay. Come immediately. Your letter killed him.
Some years after the events described as above, the body of Percy Dashiel was exhumed for family reasons, immaterial to the facts here recorded, and in his hand was found the following letter:
As I wrote to you in my brutal last, it was always to one I thought practically dead that I had written my many letters.