“Men have lived such lives,” she said quietly, “and found happiness.”
“Ay, but there is the other side,” he continued, quickly. “Sometimes it seems as though the love for these things is a beautiful delusion, a maddening, unreal thing. Then I know that my God is not their God, that my thoughts would be heresy to them. I feel that I want to cast off the strange passionate love for the place which holds me here, to go out into the world and hold my place amongst my fellows. Cicely, surely where men do great works, where men live and die, that is the proper place for man? I have no right to fritter away a life in the sensuous delight of moving amongst beautiful places. I want to come into touch with my kind, to feel the pulse of humanity, to drink the whole cup of life with its joys and sorrows. Contemplation should be the end of life—its evening, not its morning.”
“Douglas,” she cried, “you are right. You know that you have power. Out into the world and use it! Oh, if I were you, if I were a man, I would not hesitate for a moment.”
His hand fell upon her shoulder. He pointed downwards.
“How far am I bound,” he asked hoarsely, “to do your father’s bidding?”
The glow passed from her cheeks. She moved imperceptibly away from him.
“Douglas,” she said, “it is of that I came to speak to you to-night. You know that I have a brother who is eternally banished from home, whose life I honestly believe my father’s severity has ruined. I saw him in London not long ago, and he sent a message to you. It is very painful for me to even think of it, Douglas, for I always believed my father to be a just man. He has let you believe that you were a pauper. My brother told me that it was not true—that there was plenty of money for your education, and that there should be some to come to you. There, I have told you! You must go to my father and ask him for the truth!”
He was silent for a moment. It was a strange thing to hear.
“If this is true,” he said, “it is freedom.”
“Freedom,” she repeated, and glided away from him whilst he stood there dreaming.