“You yourself. The real you.”
In the increasing solitariness of his married life, it came to be something into which he could retire, as into a private chamber; which he could put on, as a garment: and in the privacy of the chamber, or within the sleeves of the garment, he received a sense of detachment from normal life in which, vaguely, he pondered things.
Vaguely,—without solution of most of the problems that puzzled him, and without even definite knowledge of the line along which solution might lie. Here, in these cloisters of another world—his own world—he paced among his ideas as a man might pace around the dismantled and scattered intricacies of an intricate machine, knowing the parts could be put together and the thing worked usefully, not knowing how on earth it could be done.... “This goes in there, and that goes in there, but how on earth—?” Here, into these cloisters, he dragged the parts of all the puzzles that perplexed him; his relations with Mabel; his sense, in a hundred ways as they came up, of the odd business that life was; his strong interest in the social and industrial problems, and in the political questions from time to time before the public attention.
He could be imagined assembling the parts, dragging them in, checking them over, slamming the door, and—“How on earth? What on earth?” There was a key to all these problems. There was a definite way of cooerdinating the parts of each. But what?
He began to have the feeling that in all the puzzles, not only, though particularly, of his own life as he had come to live it, but of life in general as it is lived, some mysterious part was missing.
That was as far as he could get. He was like a man groping with his hand through a hole in a great door for a key lying on the other side. Nothing was to be seen through the hole, and only the arm to the elbow could get through it. Not the shape of the key nor its position was known.
But he was absolutely certain it was there.
One day he might put his hand on it.
Mabel was two years younger than Sabre, twenty-five at the time of her marriage and just past her thirtieth birthday when the separate rooms were first occupied. Her habit of sudden laughter, rather loud, which Sabre first noticed in connection with their differing views on the mean streets visit, was rather characteristic of her. Her laugh came suddenly, and very heartily, at anything that amused her and without her first smiling or suggesting by any other sign that she was amused. And it came thus abruptly out of a face whose expression was normally rather severe. Probably of the same mentality was her habit of what Sabre called “flying up.” She “flew up” without her speech first warming up; but of her flying up, unlike her sudden burst of laughter, Sabre came to know certain premonitory symptoms in her face. Her face what he called “tightened.” In particular he used to notice a curious little constriction of the sides of her nose, rather as though invisible tweezers were pressing it.