Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works eBook

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Mr. Stone said:  “I want her mother!”

The form beside him ceased to struggle.

Finding out an old, forgotten way, Mr. Stone’s arm slid round that quivering body.

“I do not know what to say to her,” he muttered, and slowly he began to rock himself.

“Motion,” he said, “is soothing.”

The moon passed on.  The form beside him sat so still that Mr. Stone ceased moving.  His daughter was no longer sobbing.  Suddenly her lips seared his forehead.

Trembling from that desperate caress, he raised his fingers to the spot and looked round.

She was gone.

CHAPTER XXXIII

HILARY DEALS WITH THE SITUATION

To understand the conduct of Hilary and Bianca at what “Westminister” would have called this “crisax,” not only their feelings as sentient human beings, but their matrimonial philosophy, must be taken into account.  By education and environment they belonged to a section of society which had “in those days” abandoned the more old-fashioned views of marriage.  Such as composed this section, finding themselves in opposition, not only to the orthodox proprietary creed, but even to their own legal rights, had been driven to an attitude of almost blatant freedom.  Like all folk in opposition, they were bound, as a simple matter of principle, to disagree with those in power, to view with a contemptuous resentment that majority which said, “I believe the thing is mine, and mine it shall remain”—­a majority which by force of numbers made this creed the law.  Unable legally to, be other than the proprietors of wife or husband, as the case might be, they were obliged, even in the most happy unions, to be very careful not to become disgusted with their own position.  Their legal status was, as it were, a goad, spurring them on to show their horror of it.  They were like children sent to school with trousers that barely reached their knees, aware that they could neither reduce their stature to the proportions of their breeches nor make their breeches grow.  They were furnishing an instance of that immemorial “change of form to form” to which Mr. Stone had given the name of Life.  In a past age thinkers and dreamers and “artistic pigs” rejecting the forms they found, had given unconscious shape to this marriage law, which, after they had become the wind, had formed itself out of their exiled pictures and thoughts and dreams.  And now this particular law in turn was the dried rind, devoid of pips or speculation; and the thinkers and dreamers and “artistic pigs” were again rejecting it, and again themselves in exile.

This exiled faith, this honour amongst thieves, animated a little conversation between Hilary and Bianca on the Tuesday following the night when Mr. Stone sat on his bed to watch the rising moon.

Quietly Bianca said:  “I think I shall be going away for a time.”

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