“And he passed along the road,” adds the Philosopher, “a weaker man, a stronger lover. Not that love should diminish manliness or gains by so doing; but travelling to love by the ways of Sentiment, attaining to the passion bit by bit, does full surely take from us the strength of our nature, as if (which is probable) at every step we paid fee to move forward. Wilfrid had just enough of the coin to pay his footing. He was verily fining himself down. You are tempted to ask what the value of him will be by the time that he turns out pure metal? I reply, something considerable, if by great sacrifice he gets to truth—gets to that oneness of feeling which is the truthful impulse. At last, he will stand high above them that have not suffered. The rejection of his cigar.”
This wages too absurd. At the risk of breaking our partnership for ever, I intervene. My Philosopher’s meaning is plain, and, as usual, good; but not even I, who have less reason to laugh at him than anybody, can gravely accept the juxtaposition of suffering and cigars. And, moreover, there is a little piece of action in store.
Wilfrid had walked half way to Brookfield, when the longing to look upon the Richford chamber-windows stirred so hotly within him that he returned to the gates. He saw Captain Gambier issuing on horseback from under the lamp. The captain remarked that it was a fine night, and prepared to ride off, but Wilfrid requested him to dismount, and his voice had the unmistakeable ring in it by which a man knows that there must be no trifling. The captain leaned forward to look at him before he obeyed the summons, All self-control had abandoned Wilfrid in the rage he felt at Gambier’s having seen Emilia, and the jealous suspicion that she had failed to keep her appointment for the like reason.
“Why do you come here?” he said, hoarsely.
“By Jove! that’s an odd question,” said the captain, at once taking his ground.
“Am I to understand that you’ve been playing with my sister, as you do with every other woman?”
Captain Gambier murmured quietly, “Every other woman?” and smoothed his horse’s neck. “They’re not so easily played with, my dear fellow. You speak like a youngster.”