Spencer Brydon recognised it—it was in fact what he had absolutely professed. Yet he importantly qualified. “He isn’t myself. He’s the just so totally other person. But I do want to see him,” he added. “And I can. And I shall.”
Their eyes met for a minute while he guessed from something in hers that she divined his strange sense. But neither of them otherwise expressed it, and her apparent understanding, with no protesting shock, no easy derision, touched him more deeply than anything yet, constituting for his stifled perversity, on the spot, an element that was like breatheable air. What she said however was unexpected. “Well, I’ve seen him.”
“I’ve seen him in a dream.”
“Oh a ’dream’—!” It let him down.
“But twice over,” she continued. “I saw him as I see you now.”
“You’ve dreamed the same dream—?”
“Twice over,” she repeated. “The very same.”
This did somehow a little speak to him, as it also gratified him. “You dream about me at that rate?”
“Ah about him!” she smiled.
His eyes again sounded her. “Then you know all about him.” And as she said nothing more: “What’s the wretch like?”
She hesitated, and it was as if he were pressing her so hard that, resisting for reasons of her own, she had to turn away. “I’ll tell you some other time!”
It was after this that there was most of a virtue for him, most of a cultivated charm, most of a preposterous secret thrill, in the particular form of surrender to his obsession and of address to what he more and more believed to be his privilege. It was what in these weeks he was living for—since he really felt life to begin but after Mrs. Muldoon had retired from the scene and, visiting the ample house from attic to cellar, making sure he was alone, he knew himself in safe possession and, as he tacitly expressed it, let himself go. He sometimes came twice in the twenty-four hours; the moments he liked best were those of gathering dusk, of the short autumn twilight; this was the time of which, again and again, he found himself hoping most. Then he could, as seemed to him, most intimately wander and wait, linger and listen, feel his fine attention, never in his life before so fine, on the pulse of the great vague place: he preferred the lampless hour and only wished he might have prolonged each day the deep crepuscular spell. Later—rarely much before midnight, but then for a considerable vigil—he watched with his glimmering light; moving slowly, holding it high, playing it far, rejoicing above all, as much as he might, in open vistas, reaches of communication between rooms and by passages; the long straight chance or show, as he would have called it, for the revelation he pretended to invite. It was a practice he found he could perfectly “work” without exciting remark; no one was in the least the wiser for it; even Alice Staverton, who was moreover a well of discretion, didn’t quite fully imagine.