What? you would rather keep your love, your reprehensible love which never can be satisfied, and bear its slings and arrows, and die hugging a shadow to your heart, straining your eyes into the darkness of that beyond whither you shall go—murmuring with your pale lips that there you will find reason and fulfilment? Why it is folly. What ground have you to suppose that you will find anything of the sort? Go and take the opinion of some scientific person of eminence upon this infatuation of yours and those vague visions of glory that shall be. He will explain it clearly enough, will show you that your love itself is nothing but a natural passion, acting, in your case, on a singularly sensitive and etherealised organism. Be frank with him, tell him of your secret hopes. He will smile tenderly, and show you how those also are an emanation from a craving heart, and the innate superstitions of mankind. Indeed he will laugh and illustrate the absurdity of the whole thing by a few pungent examples of what would happen if these earthly affections could be carried beyond the grave. Take what you can now will be the burden of his song, and for goodness’ sake do not waste your precious hours in dreams of a To Be.
Beatrice, the world does not want your spirituality. It is not a spiritual world; it has no clear ideas upon the subject—it pays its religious premium and works off its aspirations at its weekly church going, and would think the person a fool who attempted to carry theories of celestial union into an earthly rule of life. It can sympathise with Lady Honoria; it can hardly sympathise with you.
And yet you will still choose this better part: you will still “live and love, and lose.”
“With blinding tears and passionate beseeching, And outstretched arms through empty silence reaching.”
Then, Beatrice, have your will, sow your seed of tears, and take your chance. You may find that you were right and the worldlings wrong, and you may reap a harvest beyond the grasp of their poor imaginations. And if you find that they are right and you are wrong, what will it matter to you who sleep? For of this at least you are sure. If there is no future for such earthly love as yours, then indeed there is none for the children of this world and all their troubling.
LADY HONORIA TAKES THE FIELD
Geoffrey hurried to the Vicarage to fetch his baggage and say good-bye. He had no time for breakfast, and he was glad of it, for he could not have eaten a morsel to save his life. He found Elizabeth and her father in the sitting-room.
“Why, where have you been this wet morning, Mr. Bingham?” said Mr. Granger.
“I have been for a walk with Miss Beatrice; she is coming home by the village,” he answered. “I don’t mind rain, and I wanted to get as much fresh air as I could before I go back to the mill. Thank you—only a cup of tea—I will get something to eat as I go.”