Mrs. Elton was amusingly bewildered by the occurrences of the evening. Her theories were something astounding; and followed one another with such alarming rapidity, that had they been in themselves such as to imply the smallest exercise of the thinking faculty, she might well have been considered in danger of an attack of brain-fever. As it was, none such supervened. Lady Emily said nothing, but seemed unhappy. As for Hugh, he simply could not tell what to make of the writing. But he did not for a moment doubt that the vision he had seen was only a vision — a home-made ghost, sent out from his own creative brain. Still he felt that Margaret’s face, come whence it might, was a living reproof to him; for he was losing his life in passion, sinking deeper in it day by day. His powers were deserting him. Poetry, usually supposed to be the attendant of love, had deserted him. Only by fits could he see anything beautiful; and then it was but in closest association of thought with the one image which was burning itself deeper and deeper into his mental sensorium. Come what might, he could not tear it away. It had become a part of himself — of his inner life — even while it seemed to be working the death of life. Deeper and deeper it would burn, till it reached the innermost chamber of life. Let it burn.
Yet he felt that he could not trust her. Vague hopes he had, that, by trusting, she might be made trustworthy; but he feared they were vain as well as vague. And yet he would not cast them away, for he could not cast her away.
More materialism and some spiritualism.
God wisheth none should wreck on a strange shelf:
To Him man’s dearer than to himself.
Ben Jonson. — The Forest: To Sir Robert Wroth.
At breakfast the following morning, the influences of the past day on the family were evident. There was a good deal of excitement, alternated with listlessness. The moral atmosphere seemed unhealthy; and Harry, although he had, fortunately for him, had nothing to do with the manifestations of the previous evening, was affected by the condition of those around him. Hugh was still careful enough of him to try to divert the conversation entirely from what he knew would have a very injurious effect upon him; and Mr. Arnold, seeing the anxious way in which he glanced now and then at his pupil, and divining the reason, by the instinct of his affection, with far more than his usual acuteness, tried likewise to turn it aside, as often as it inclined that way. Still a few words were let fall by the visitors, which made Harry stare. Hugh took him away as soon as breakfast was over.
In the afternoon, Funkelstein called to inquire after the ladies; and hoped he had no injury to their health to lay on his conscience. Mr. Arnold, who had a full allowance of curiosity, its amount being frequently in an inverse ratio to that of higher intellectual gifts, begged him to spend the rest of the day with them; but not to say a word of what had passed the day before, till after Harry had retired for the night.