“Then are you giving up diplomacy because you are fed up with it? or for Yae Smith’s sake? I don’t quite understand,” said Geoffrey.
He was still pondering over the scene of last evening, and he found considerable comfort in ascribing Yae’s behaviour to excitement caused by her engagement.
“Yae is the immediate reason: utter fed-upness is the original cause,” replied Reggie.
“Do you feel that you are very much in love with her?” asked his friend.
The young man considered for a moment, and then answered,—
“No, not in love exactly. But she represents what I have come to desire. I get so terribly lonely, Geoffrey, and I must have some one, some woman, of course; and I hate intrigue and adultery. Yae never grates upon me. I hate the twaddling activities of our modern women, their little sports, their little sciences, their little earnestnesses, their little philanthropies, their little imitations of men’s ways. I like the seraglio type of woman, lazy and vain, a little more than a lovely animal. I can play with her, and hear her purring. She must have no father or mother or brothers or sisters or any social scheme to entangle me in. She must have no claim on my secret mind, she must not be jealous of my music, or expect explanations. Still less explain me to others,—a wife who shows one round like a monkey, what horror!”
“But Reggie! old chap, does she love you?”
Geoffrey’s ideas were stereotyped. To his mind, only great love on both sides could excuse so bizarre a marriage.
“Love!” cried Reggie. “What is Love? I can feel Love in music. I can feel it in poetry. I can see it in sunshine, in the wet woods, and in the phosphorescent sea. But in actual life! I think of things in too abstract a way ever to feel in love with anybody. So I don’t think anybody could really fall in love with me. It is like religious faith. I have no faith, and yet I believe in faith. I have no love, and yet I have a great love for love. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed!”
When Reggie was in this mood Geoffrey despaired of getting any sense out of him, and he felt that the occasion was too serious for smiles.
They were walking back to the hotel in the direction of breakfast.
“Reggie, are you quite sure?” said his friend, solemnly.
“No, of course I’m not, I never could be.”
“And are you intending to get married soon?”
“Not immediately, no: and all this is quite in confidence, please.”
“I’m glad there’s no hurry,” grunted Geoffrey. He knew that the girl was light and worthless; but to have shown Reggie his proofs would have been to admit his own complicity; and to give a woman away so callously would be a greater offence against Good Form than his momentary and meaningless trespass.
“But there is one thing you have forgotten,” said. Reggie, rather bitterly.