“Yes, God is a great expense, but government would be impossible without him.”
Beclere’s answer jarred Owen’s mood a little, without breaking it, however, and he continued to talk of how words like “Nature,” and “God,” and “Liberty” are on every lip, yet none is able to define their meaning. Liberty he instanced as a word around which poems have been written, “yet no poet could tell what he was writing about; at best we can only say of liberty that we must surrender something to gain something; in other words, liberty is a compromise, for no one can be free to obey every impulse the moment one enters into his being.
“Good God, Beclere! it is terrible to think one knows nothing, and life, like the desert, is full of solitude.”
Beclere did not answer, and, forgetful that it was impossible to answer a cry of anguish, Owen began to suspect Beclere of thoughts regarding the perfectibility of mankind, of thinking that with patience and more perfect administration, &c. But Beclere was thinking nothing of the kind; he was wondering what sort of reason could have sent Owen out of England. Some desperate love affair perhaps, his wife may have run away from him. But he did not try to draw Owen into confidence, speaking instead of falconry and Tahar’s arrival, which could not be much longer delayed.
“After all, if you had not missed him in the desert we never should have known each other.”
“So much was gained, and if you ever come to England—” Beclere smiled. “So you think we shall never meet again, and that we are talking out our last talk on the edge of this gulf of sand?”
“We shall meet again if you come to the desert to hunt with eagles.”