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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 555 pages of information about The Egoist.

“And love of compliments.”

“Possibly.  I was not conscious of paying them”

“And a disposition to rebel?”

“To challenge authority, at least.”

“That is a dreadful character.”

“At all events, it is a character.”

“Fit for an Alpine comrade?”

“For the best of comrades anywhere.”

“It is not a piece of drawing-room sculpture:  that is the most one can say for it!” she dropped a dramatic sigh.

Had he been willing she would have continued the theme, for the pleasure a poor creature long gnawing her sensations finds in seeing herself from the outside.  It fell away.  After a silence, she could not renew it; and he was evidently indifferent, having to his own satisfaction dissected and stamped her a foreigner.  With it passed her holiday.  She had forgotten Sir Willoughby:  she remembered him and said.  “You knew Miss Durham, Mr. Whitford?”

He answered briefly, “I did.”

“Was she? . . .” some hot-faced inquiry peered forth and withdrew.

“Very handsome,” said Vernon.

“English?”

“Yes; the dashing style of English.”

“Very courageous.”

“I dare say she had a kind of courage.”

“She did very wrong.”

“I won’t say no.  She discovered a man more of a match with herself; luckily not too late.  We’re at the mercy . . .”

“Was she not unpardonable?”

“I should be sorry to think that of any one.”

“But you agree that she did wrong.”

“I suppose I do.  She made a mistake and she corrected it.  If she had not, she would have made a greater mistake.”

“The manner. . .”

“That was bad—­as far as we know.  The world has not much right to judge.  A false start must now and then be made.  It’s better not to take notice of it, I think.”

“What is it we are at the mercy of?”

“Currents of feeling, our natures.  I am the last man to preach on the subject:  young ladies are enigmas to me; I fancy they must have a natural perception of the husband suitable to them, and the reverse; and if they have a certain degree of courage, it follows that they please themselves.”

“They are not to reflect on the harm they do?” said Miss Middleton.

“By all means let them reflect; they hurt nobody by doing that.”

“But a breach of faith!”

“If the faith can be kept through life, all’s well.”

“And then there is the cruelty, the injury!”

“I really think that if a young lady came to me to inform me she must break our engagement—­I have never been put to the proof, but to suppose it:—­I should not think her cruel.”

“Then she would not be much of a loss.”

“And I should not think so for this reason, that it is impossible for a girl to come to such a resolution without previously showing signs of it to her . . . the man she is engaged to.  I think it unfair to engage a girl for longer than a week or two, just time enough for her preparations and publications.”

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