The Price of Things

Produced by Suzanne Shell, Mary Meehan and PG Distributed Proofreaders

THE PRICE OF THINGS

BY ELINOR GLYN

1919

FOREWORD

I wrote this book in Paris in the winter of 1917-18—in the midst of
bombs, and raids, and death. Everyone was keyed up to a strange pitch,
and only primitive instincts seemed to stand out distinctly.

Life appeared brutal, and our very fashion of speaking, the words we
used, the way we looked at things, was more realistic—coarser—than in
times of peace, when civilization can re-assert itself again. This is why
the story shocks some readers. I quite understand that it might do so;
but I deem it the duty of writers to make a faithful picture of each
phase of the era they are living in, that posterity may be correctly
informed about things, and get the atmosphere of epochs.

The story is, so to speak, rough hewn. But it shows the danger of
breaking laws, and interfering with fate—whether the laws be of God
or of Man.

It is also a psychological study of the instincts of two women, which the
strenuous times brought to the surface. “Amaryllis,” with all her
breeding and gentleness, reacting to nature’s call in her fierce fidelity
to the father of her child—and “Harietta,” becoming in herself the
epitome of the age-old prostitute.

I advise those who are rebuffed by plain words, and a ruthless analysis
of the result of actions, not to read a single page.

[Signature: Elinor Glyn]

THE PRICE OF THINGS

CHAPTER I

“If one consciously and deliberately desires happiness on this plane,”
said the Russian, “one must have sufficient strength of will to banish
all thought. The moment that one begins to probe the meaning of things,
one has opened Pandora’s box and it may be many lives before one
discovers hope lying at the bottom of it.”

“What do you mean by thought? How can one not think?” Amaryllis Ardayre’s
large grey eyes opened in a puzzled way. She was on her honeymoon in
Paris at a party at the Russian Embassy, and until now had accepted
things and not speculated about them. She had lived in the country and
was as good as gold.

She was accepting her honeymoon with her accustomed calm, although it was
not causing her any of the thrills which Elsie Goldmore, her school
friend, had assured her she should discover therein.

Honeymoons! Heavens! But perhaps it was because Sir John was dull. He
looked dull, she thought, as he stood there talking to the Ambassador. A
fine figure of an Englishman but—yes—dull. The Russian, on the
contrary, was not dull. He was huge and ugly and rough-hewn—his eyes
were yellowish-green and slanted upwards and his face was frankly
Calmuck. But you knew that you were talking to a personality—to one who
had probably a number of unknown possibilities about him tucked away
somewhere.

John had none of these. One could be certain of exactly what he would do
on any given occasion—and it would always be his duty. The Russian was
observing this charming English bride critically; she was such a perfect
specimen of that estimable race—well-shaped, refined and healthy. Chock
full of temperament too, he reflected—when she should discover herself.
Temperament and romance and even passion, and there were shrewdness and
commonsense as well.

“An agreeable task for a man to undertake her education,” and he wished
that he had time.

Amaryllis Ardayre asked again:

“How can one not think? I am always thinking.”

He smiled indulgently.

“Oh! no, you are not—you only imagine that you are. You have questioned
nothing—you do right generally because you have a nice character and
have been well brought up, not from any conscious determination to uplift
the soul. Yes—is it not so?”

She was startled.

“Perhaps.”

“Do you ever ask yourself what things mean? What we are—where we are
going? What is the end of it all? No—you are happy; you live from day
to day—and yet you cannot be a very young ego, your eyes are too
wise—you have had many incarnations. It is merely that in this one life
the note of awakening has not yet been struck. You certainly must have
needed sleep.”

“Many lives? You believe in that theory?”

She was not accustomed to discuss unorthodox subjects. She was
interested.

“But of course—how else could there be justice? We draw the reflex of
every evil action and of every good one, but sometimes not until the next
incarnation, that is why the heedless ones cannot grasp the truth—they
see no visible result of either good or evil—evil, in fact, seems
generally to win if there is a balance either way.”

“Why are we not allowed memory then, so that we might profit by
our lessons?”

“We should in that case improve from self-interest and not have our
faults eliminated by suffering. We are given no conscious memory of
our last life, so we go on fighting for whatever desire still holds
us until its achievement brings such overwhelming pain that the
desire is no more.”

“Why do you say that for happiness we must banish thought—that seems
a paradox.”

She was a little disturbed.

“I said if one consciously and deliberately desired happiness, one must
banish thought to bring oneself back to the condition of hundreds of
people who are happy; many of them are even elementals without souls at
all. They are permitted happiness so that they may become so attached to
the earth plane that they willingly return and gradually obtain a soul.
But no one who is allowed to think is allowed any continued happiness;
there would be no progress. If so, we should remain as brutes.”

“Then how cruel of you to suggest to me to think. I want to be

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