It was one of the altogether satisfying things about her, this abundant treasure of intimacy which could not be guessed at or even suspected by the ordinary passer-by. “That is the woman with the lovely hair? I never know what to talk to her about,” he had heard people say, and exultantly, reverently, he had pressed her image to his heart. She never talked much. Seeing her in imagination to-day, he saw her leaning back, everything about her drooping and relaxed, her arms, her hands, her feet—they had all abdicated—only from the depths of her infinite tiredness she was smiling faintly and her smile was the dedication of this moment to him. Every now and then she would ask him a question and he would answer—rather shortly—or she would make a statement which he would seal with a monosyllable. There were never any comments between them. In the absoluteness of their understanding, explanations and amplifications had become impossible.
And she would get up slowly, giving herself a little shake to wake herself up into reality while he gave her her hat, her hat-pins, her veil, her gloves, her bag, one by one, and taking her hands, he would kiss them first on the backs and then on the palms and then give them too back to her.
And she would say, “Thank you,” and look slowly all round the room, as she always did, wanting to take it away with her without one detail missing, for it was to this room that her soul retreated in its moments of unbearable loneliness.
With difficulty, she would make her way to the door and rather hurriedly, because she knew it was a weakness—she who was so deliberate and so strong—she would say, “Write to me,” and then she would open and shut the door herself because she liked to take away the picture of him standing in the middle of his sanctuary—her sanctuary....
* * * * *
He opened his eyes. The room was so full of her that he took a deep breath, breathing the certainty of her into his soul. And he seemed to hear the words, “Write to me.” He smiled very tenderly. He loved her to have this one little wish—she was so far above and beyond concrete manifestations—she who had such a deep contempt for imprisoning forms. And he remembered her once looking at a cheque and saying, “The figures, after all, are a limitation.” And suddenly in front of him he saw the blank sheet of paper. “She shall have the most wonderful love-letter ever written by man to woman,” he said to himself and at the very bottom of the page, he put one initial. Then very tenderly he folded it up and addressed it, remembering that it was thus that his first novel had been dedicated—“To Mrs. ——.” “The difference is,” he thought, “that this is a masterpiece.”
[To SYLVESTER GATES]