Sabre laughed. “Yes, that’s the feeling. But of course, all these books”—he indicated the shelves—“aren’t mine, not my children, more like my adopted children.”
She declared it was the same thing. “More so, in a way. You’ve invented them, haven’t you, called them out of the vasty deep sort of thing and brought them up in the way they should go. I do think it’s rather fine, Marko.”
She was at the shelves, scanning the books. Her fond, her almost tender sympathy made him, too, feel that it was rather fine. Her light words in her high, clear tone voiced exactly his feelings towards the books. Talking with her was, in the reception and return of his thoughts, nearer to reading a book that delighted him than to anything else with which he could compare it. There was the same interchange of ideas, not necessarily expressed; the same creation and play of fancy, imagined, not stated.
Her hands were moving about the volumes, pulling out a book here and there; she mused the titles. “‘Greek Unseens—Prose’; ’Greek Unseens—Verse’; ‘Latin Unseens—Verse.’ Marvellous person, Marko! ’The Shell Algebra’; ‘The Shell Latin Grammar’; ’The Shell English Literature’: ‘The Shell Modern Geography.’ That’s a series ‘The Shell,’ eh? I do call that a good idea. ‘The Six Terms Chemistry’; ’The Six Terms Geology.’”
“Yes, that’s another series,” he said. He was standing beside her. Delightful this! His pride in his work thrilled anew. “You see the idea of the thing. Gives the boy the feeling of something definite to get through in a definite time.”
She was reading one of the prefaces, signed with his initials. “Yes, that’s ever so good. I see what you’ve written here, ’...avoiding the formidable and unattractive wilderness that a new textbook commonly presents to the pupil’s mind.’ I call that jolly good, Marko. I call it all awfully good. Fancy you sitting in here and thinking out all those ideas. Or do you think them out at home? Do you talk them out with Mabel?”
He thought of Mabel’s expression. “Those lesson books.” He lied. “Oh, yes. Pretty often.”
“Show me which was the first one of all—the one you began with.”
He showed her. “Fancy!” She handled it. “How fearfully proud of it you must have been, Marko. And Mabel; wasn’t she proud? The very first!” She called it “Dear thing” and returned it to its place with a little pat, as of affection.
He turned away. “Oh, well, that’s enough,” he said.
She moved about the room, touching things, looking at things.
“Show me something else. Is that where the old trout basks? Can he hear us? I’m glad I’ve seen your room, Marko. I shall imagine you puzzling in here.”
Touching things, looking at things.... He thought the room would always look different—after this. He felt strangely disturbed. He could with difficulty reply to her. His mind threw back, in its habit, to some dim occasion when he had felt in some degree as he was feeling now. When? Certainly he had felt it before. When?