Waymark observed that this gentleman and his hostess were on terms of lively intimacy. They talked much throughout the evening.
During the three months that followed, Waymark’s intercourse with the Enderbys was pretty frequent. Mrs. Enderby asked few questions about him, and Maud was silent after she had explained Waymark’s position, so far as she was acquainted with it, and how she had come to know him. To both parents, the fact of Maud’s friendship was a quite sufficient guarantee, so possessed were they with a conviction of the trustworthiness of her judgment, and the moral value of her impulses. In Waymark’s character there was something which women found very attractive; strength and individuality are perhaps the words that best express what it was, though these qualities would not in themselves have sufficed to give him his influence, without a certain gracefulness of inward homage which manifested itself when he talked with women, a suggestion, too, of underlying passion which works subtly on a woman’s imagination. There was nothing commonplace in his appearance and manner; one divined in him a past out of the ordinary range of experiences, and felt the promise of a future which would, in one way or another, be remarkable.
The more Waymark saw of Maud Enderby the more completely did he yield to the fascination of her character. In her presence he enjoyed a strange calm of spirit. For the first time he knew a woman who by no word or look or motion could stir in him a cynical thought. Here was something higher than himself, a nature which he had to confess transcended the limits of his judgment, a soul with insight possibly for ever denied to himself. He was often pained by the deference with which she sought his opinion or counsel; the words in which he replied to her sounded so hollow; he became so often and so keenly sensible of his insincerity,—a quality which, with others, he could consciously rely upon as a resource, but which, before Maud, stung him. He was driven to balance judgments, to hesitate in replies, to search his own heart, as perhaps never before.
Artificial good humour, affected interest, mock sympathy, were as far from her as was the least taint of indelicacy; every word she uttered rang true, and her very phrases had that musical fall which only associates itself with beautiful and honest thought. She never exhibited gaiety, or a spirit of fun, but could raise a smile by an exquisite shade of humour—humour which, as the best is, was more than half sadness. Nor was she fond of mixing with people whom she did not know well; when there was company at dinner, she generally begged to be allowed to dine alone. Though always anxious to give pleasure to her parents, she was most happy when nothing drew her from her own room; there she would read and dream through hours There were times when the old dreaded feelings took revenge; night-wakings, when she lay in cold anguish, yearning for the dawn. She was not yet strong enough to face past and future, secured in attained conviction. As yet, she could not stir beyond the present, and in the enjoyment of the present was her strength.