But Edmonson went on talking, and Stephen, like the others, forgot everything in listening. He saw his father’s brows contract, and knew that he was biting his under lip hard, as he did when he was much troubled.
Edmonson still went on with his story. He certainly made it interesting. Stephen’s secret uneasiness passed into surprise, distrust, conviction, inward disturbance as he stood with his haughty air unchanged.
Elizabeth was alone at last, that is, as much as a thought pursuing like a personality lets one be alone. When she crossed her room in the silence it was a relief to hear no voices, not to be obliged to answer when she had not listened and was afraid lest she should not answer rightly. Yet the events of the last few hours, the stray words as they seemed to her that she had heard, the faces that had been before her kept moving on before her now and repeating themselves faintly for a little time, just as one whose head is throbbing with some continued sound still hears it through all his pulses, even when he has gone out of reach of the reality. She seemed to be driving home with Lady Dacre’s face full of tenderness opposite her. The sympathy had been almost too much for Elizabeth, her eyes had not met the compassionate glances. Sir Temple had conversed for three; he had been very kind, too, but the kindness hurt her, for she knew they pitied her.
Elizabeth had an humble way with her sometimes, and, as has been said, her own achievements seemed to her worthless. She had nothing of that blatant quality, vanity, which claims from others and by reason of its arrogance gets to be called pride; but her dignity strove above everything to be sufficient for itself. Such a spirit shrinks from claiming the appreciation it hungers for, shrinks back into itself, and passes for shyness, or humility, or anything but what it is, that supreme pride that seeks from the world its highest, the allegiance of love, in return for its own love of what is true and grand. Finding a denial in those it meets, it draws away in a silence that to people who rate assertion as power seems tameness, for its action is beyond them, like sights that need a telescope, or sounds out of reach of the ear. Pride like this has two possibilities. It is a Saint Christopher that will serve only the highest. That unfound, it grows bitter, and shrinks more and more into itself, and withers into hopelessness. But if it find the Highest and draw upon that love too great for change or failure, then all things have a new proportion, for grown up to the shelter of the eternities, human judgments dwindle, and human slights, however they may scar, cannot destroy.