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W. Somerset Maugham: Of Human Bondage
71. CHAPTER LXXI
Philip, in return for Griffiths' confidences, had told him the details of his own complicated amours, and on Sunday morning, after breakfast when they sat by the fire in their dressing-gowns and smoked, he recounted the scene of the previous day. Griffiths congratulated him because he had got out of his difficulties so easily.
"It's the simplest thing in the world to have an affair with a woman, he remarked sententiously, "but it's a devil of a nuisance to get out of it."
Philip felt a little inclined to pat himself on the back for his skill in managing the business. At all events he was immensely relieved. He thought of Mildred enjoying herself in Tulse Hill, and he found in himself a real satisfaction because she was happy. It was an act of self-sacrifice on his part that he did not grudge her pleasure even though paid for by his own disappointment, and it filled his heart with a comfortable glow.
But on Monday morning he found on his table a letter from Norah. She wrote:
I'm sorry I was cross on Saturday. Forgive me and come to tea in the afternoon as usual. I love you. Your Norah.
His heart sank, and he did not know what to do. He took the note to Griffiths and showed it to him.
"You'd better leave it unanswered," said he.
"Oh, I can't," cried Philip. "I should be miserable if I thought of her waiting and waiting. You don't know what it is to be sick for the postman's knock. I do, and I can't expose anybody else to that torture."
"My dear fellow, one can't break that sort of affair off without somebody suffering. You must just set your teeth to that. One thing is, it doesn't last very long."
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