I had bought a small automobile, which I ran myself, and it was my custom to arrive at the farm every evening about five o’clock. But as I look back upon those days they seem to have lost succession, to be fused together, as it were, into one indeterminable period by the intense pressure of emotion; unsatisfied emotion,—and the state of physical and mental disorganization set up by it is in the retrospect not a little terrifying. The world grew more and more distorted, its affairs were neglected, things upon which I had set high values became as nothing. And even if I could summon back something of the sequence of our intercourse, it would be a mere repetition—growing on my part more irrational and insistent—of what I have already related. There were long, troubled, and futile silences when we sat together on the porch or in the woods and fields; when I wondered whether it were weakness or strength that caused Nancy to hold out against my importunities: the fears she professed of retribution, the benumbing effects of the conventional years, or the deep-rooted remnants of a Calvinism which—as she proclaimed—had lost definite expression to persist as an intuition. I recall something she said when she turned to me after one of these silences.
“Do you know how I feel sometimes? as though you and I had wandered together into a strange country, and lost our way. We have lost our way, Hugh—it’s all so clandestine, so feverish, so unnatural, so unrelated to life, this existence we’re leading. I believe it would be better if it were a mere case of physical passion. I can’t help it,” she went on, when I had exclaimed against this, “we are too—too complicated, you are too complicated. It’s because we want the morning stars, don’t you see?” She wound her fingers tightly around mine. “We not only want this, but all of life besides—you wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less. Oh, I know it. That’s your temperament, you were made that way, and I shouldn’t be satisfied if you weren’t. The time would come when you would blame me I don’t mean vulgarly—and I couldn’t stand that. If you weren’t that way, if that weren’t your nature, I mean, I should have given way long ago.”
I made some sort of desperate protest.
“No, if I didn’t know you so well I believe I should have given in long ago. I’m not thinking of you alone, but of myself, too. I’m afraid I shouldn’t be happy, that I should begin to think—and then I couldn’t stop. The plain truth, as I’ve told you over and over again, is that I’m not big enough.” She continued smiling at me, a smile on which I could not bear to look. “I was wrong not to have gone away,” I heard her say. “I will go away.”
I was, at the time, too profoundly discouraged to answer....
One evening after an exhausting talk we sat, inert, on the grass hummock beside the stream. Heavy clouds had gathered in the sky, the light had deepened to amethyst, the valley was still, swooning with expectancy, louder and louder the thunder rolled from behind the distant hills, and presently a veil descended to hide them from our view. Great drops began to fall, unheeded.