The Egoist eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 707 pages of information about The Egoist.

Sir Willoughby nodded, unilluminated.  There was nothing of rogue in himself, so there could be nothing of it in his bride.  Elfishness, tricksiness, freakishness, were antipathetic to his nature; and he argued that it was impossible he should have chosen for his complement a person deserving the title.  It would not have been sanctioned by his guardian genius.  His closer acquaintance with Miss Middleton squared with his first impressions; you know that this is convincing; the common jury justifies the presentation of the case to them by the grand jury; and his original conclusion that she was essentially feminine, in other words, a parasite and a chalice, Clara’s conduct confirmed from day to day.  He began to instruct her in the knowledge of himself without reserve, and she, as she grew less timid with him, became more reflective.

“I judge by character,” he said to Mrs. Mountstuart.

“If you have caught the character of a girl,” said she.

“I think I am not far off it.”

“So it was thought by the man who dived for the moon in a well.”

“How women despise their sex!”

“Not a bit.  She has no character yet.  You are forming it, and pray be advised and be merry; the solid is your safest guide; physiognomy and manners will give you more of a girl’s character than all the divings you can do.  She is a charming young woman, only she is one of that sort.”

“Of what sort?” Sir Willoughby asked, impatiently.

“Rogues in porcelain.”

“I am persuaded I shall never comprehend it.”

“I cannot help you one bit further.”

“The word rogue!”

“It was dainty rogue.”

“Brittle, would you say?”

“I am quite unable to say.”

“An innocent naughtiness?”

“Prettily moulded in a delicate substance.”

“You are thinking of some piece of Dresden you suppose her to resemble.”

“I dare say.”


“You would not have her natural?”

“I am heartily satisfied with her from head to foot, my dear Mrs. Mountstuart.”

“Nothing could be better.  And sometimes she will lead, and generally you will lead, and everything will go well, my dear Sir Willoughby.”

Like all rapid phrasers, Mrs. Mountstuart detested the analysis of her sentence.  It had an outline in vagueness, and was flung out to be apprehended, not dissected.  Her directions for the reading of Miss Middleton’s character were the same that she practised in reading Sir Willoughby’s, whose physiognomy and manners bespoke him what she presumed him to be, a splendidly proud gentleman, with good reason.

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The Egoist from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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