His book must stand aside now—it might be forever. Henceforward he must count his success upon a cash-register. But to-night his pencil labored and dragged. What he wrote he saw was not good. He could do harder things than force himself to sit at a table and put writing upon paper; but over the subtler processes of his mind, which alone yields the rich fruit, no man is master. In an hour he put out his lamp, undressed in the dark, and went to bed.
He lay on his back in the blackness, and in all the world he could find nothing to think about but Sharlee Weyland.
Of all that she had done for him, in a personal way, he had at least tried to give her some idea; he was glad to remember that now. And now at the last, when he was nearer worthy than ever before, she had turned him out because she believed that he had stooped to dishonor. She would have forgiven his sonship; he had been mistaken about that. She had felt sympathy and sorrow for Henry Surface’s son, and not repulsion, for he had read it in her face. But she could not forgive him a personal dishonor. And he was glad that, so believing, she would do as she had done; it was the perfect thing to do; to demand honor without a blemish, or to cancel all. Never had she stood so high in his fancy as now when she had ordered him out of her life. His heart leapt with the knowledge that, though she would never know it, he was her true mate there, in their pure passion for Truth.
Whatever else might or might not have been, the knowledge remained with him that she herself had suspected and convicted him. In all that mattered their friendship had ended there. Distrust was unbearable between friends. It was a flaw in his little lady that she could believe him capable of baseness.... But not an unforgivable flaw, it would seem, since every hour that he had spent in her presence had become roses and music in his memory, and the thought that he would see her no more stabbed ceaselessly at his heart.
Yes, Surface’s son knew very well what was the matter with him now. The knowledge pulled him from his bed to a seat by the open window; dragged him from his chair to send him pacing on bare feet up and down his little bedroom, up and down, up and down; threw him later, much later, into his chair again, to gaze out, quiet and exhausted, over the sleeping city.
He had written something of love in his time. In his perfect scheme of human society, he had diagnosed with scientific precision the instinct of sex attraction implanted in man’s being for the most obvious and grossly practical of reasons: an illusive candle-glow easily lit, quickly extinguished when its uses were fulfilled. And lo, here was love tearing him by the throat till he choked; an exquisite torture, a rampant passion, a devastating flame, that most glorified when it burned most deeply, aroar and ablaze forevermore.
He sat by the window and looked out over the sleeping city.