The marriage affected their intercourse. Harriet did not like to be left alone in the evening, so Julian could not go to Waymark’s, as he had been accustomed to, and conversation in Mrs. Casti’s presence was, of course, under restraint. Waymark bore this with impatience, and even did his best to alter it. One Sunday afternoon, about three weeks after the marriage, he called and carried Julian off to his room across the street. Harriet’s face sufficiently indicated her opinion of this proceeding, and Julian had difficulty m appearing at his case. Waymark understood what was going on, and tried to discuss the matter freely, but the other shrank from it.
“I am grievously impatient of domestic arrangements,” Waymark said. “I fancy it would never do for me to marry, unless I had limitless cash, and my wife were as great a Bohemian as myself. By the by, I have another letter from Maud. Her pessimism is magnificent. This intense religiousness is no doubt a mere phase; it will pass, of course; I wonder how things would arrange themselves if she came back to London. Why shouldn’t she come here to sit and chat, like you do?”
“That would naturally lead to something definite,” said Casti, smiling.
“Oh, I don’t know. Why should it? I’m a believer in friendship between men and women. Of course there is in it the spice of the difference of sex, and why not accept that as a pleasant thing? How much better if, when we met a woman we liked, we could say frankly, ’Now let us amuse each other without any arriere pensee. If I married you to-day, even though I feel quite ready to, I should ten to one see some one next week who would make me regret having bound myself. So would you, my dear. Very well, let us tantalise each other agreeably, and be at ease in the sense that we are on the right side of the illusion.’ You laugh at the idea?”
Julian laughed, but not heartily. They passed to other things.
“I’m making an article out of Elm Court,” said Waymark. “Semi-descriptive, semi-reflective, wholly cynical Maybe it will pay for my summer holiday. And, apropos of the same subject, I’ve got great ideas. This introduction to such phases of life will prove endlessly advantageous to me, artistically speaking. Let me get a little more experience, and I will write a novel such as no one has yet ventured to write, at all events in England. I begin to see my way to magnificent effects; ye gods, such light and shade! The fact is, the novel of every-day life is getting worn out. We must dig deeper, get to untouched social strata. Dickens felt this, but he had not the courage to face his subjects; his monthly numbers had to lie on the family tea-table. Not virginibus puerisque will be my book, I assure you, but for men and women who like to look beneath the surface, and who understand that only as artistic material has human life any significance. Yes, that is the conclusion I am working round to. The artist is the only sane man. Life for its own sake?—no; I would drink a pint of laudanum to-night. But life as the source of splendid pictures, inexhaustible material for effects —that can reconcile me to existence, and that only. It is a delight followed by no bitter after-taste, and the only such delight I know.”