“I don’t like it!” exclaimed Bressant, stirring his foot impatiently. “I’d rather put my whole life into one strong, resistless shooting upward, even if it lasted only a minute.”
“The poor little fountain is happy enough,” said well-balanced Sophie.
“To do any thing there must sometimes be a heat and fury in the blood; or a whirl and passion in the brain. Volcanoes reveal the earth’s heart!” returned he, sententiously.
“They’re very objectionable things though,” suggested Sophie, arching her eyebrows.
“They make beautiful mountains, whole islands, sometimes; in a man, they show what stuff is in him. It would be better to commit a deadly crime than to dribble out a life like that fountain’s!”
“Even to speak of sin’s bringing forth good, is a fearful and wicked thing,” said Sophie; and, although tears rose to her eyes, her voice was almost stern. “But you don’t know what you say: only think, and you will shudder at it.”
But Bressant was perverse. “I think any thing is better than to be torpid. I’d rather know I could never hope for happiness hereafter, than not have blood enough really to hope or despair at all.”
“Why do you speak so?” asked Sophie, with a look of pain in her grave little face. “Do you fear any such torpor in your own life? My love, this hasn’t always been so.”
“I feel too much in me to manage, sometimes,” said he, leaning forward on his knees, and working in the sanded path with his foot. “I’m not accustomed to myself yet: it will come all right, later. My health and strength, too, so soon after my weakness—they intoxicate me, I think.”
Sophie looked at his broad back and dark curly head, and brown, short beard, as he sat thus beside her, and she grew pale, and sighed, “It isn’t right, dear,” said she, shaking her head. “There is a quiet and deep strength—not demonstrative—that is better than any passion: it is less striking, I suppose, but it recognizes more a Power greater than any we have.”
“It’s true—what you say always is true!” responded Bressant, throwing himself back in the seat. “Sophie,” he added, without turning his eyes upon her, “if I shouldn’t turn out all you wish, you won’t stop loving me?”
“I couldn’t, I think, if I tried,” replied she; and there was more of regret than of satisfaction in her tone as she said it. “Or, if I could, it would tear me all to pieces; and there would be nothing left but my love to God, which is His already. All of me, except that, is love for you.”
“God and heaven seem unreal—unsubstantial, at any rate—compared with you,” said Bressant, striking his hand heavily upon the arm of the rustic bench. “My love for you is greater than for them!”
“Oh, stop! hush!” cried Sophie, flinching back as if she had received a mortal thrust. The light of indignation and repulse in her gray eyes was awful to Bressant, and his own dropped beneath it. “Have you no respect for your soul?” she continued, presently. “How long would such love last? in what would it end? it would not be love—it would be the deadliest kind of hate.”