He waited till he was assured Cecilia had no special matter to relate, and recommending her to drink the tea Mrs. Culling had made for her, and then go to bed and sleep, he went down to the drawing-room, charged with the worst form of hostility toward Nevil, the partly diplomatic.
Cecilia smiled at her father’s mention of sleep. She was in the contest of the two men, however inanimately she might be lying overhead, and the assurance in her mind that neither of them would give ground, so similar were they in their tenacity of will, dissimilar in all else, dragged her this way and that till she swayed lifeless between them. One may be as a weed of the sea while one’s fate is being decided. To love is to be on the sea, out of sight of land: to love a man like Nevil Beauchamp is to be on the sea in tempest. Still to persist in loving would be noble, and but for this humiliation of utter helplessness an enviable power. Her thoughts ran thus in shame and yearning and regret, dimly discerning where her heart failed in the strength which was Nevil’s, though it was a full heart, faithful and not void of courage. But he never brooded, he never blushed from insufficiency-the faintness of a desire, the callow passion that cannot fly and feed itself: he never tottered; he walked straight to his mark. She set up his image and Renee’s, and cowered under the heroical shapes till she felt almost extinct. With her weak limbs and head worthlessly paining, the little infantile I within her ceased to wail, dwindled beyond sensation. Rosamund, waiting on her in the place of her maid, saw two big drops come through her closed eyelids, and thought that if it could be granted to Nevil to look for a moment on this fair and proud young lady’s loveliness in abandonment, it would tame, melt, and save him. The Gods presiding over custom do not permit such renovating sights to men.
Pursuit of the apology of Mr. Romfrey to Dr. Shrapnel
The contest, which was an alternation of hard hitting and close wrestling, had recommenced when Colonel Halkett stepped into the drawing-room.
‘Colonel, I find they’ve been galloping to Bevisham and back,’ said Mr. Romfrey.
‘I’ve heard of it,’ the colonel replied. Not perceiving a sign of dissatisfaction on his friend’s face, he continued:: ’To that man Shrapnel.’
‘Cecilia did not dismount,’ said Beauchamp.
’You took her to that man’s gate. It was not with my sanction. You know my ideas of the man.’
’If you were to see him now, colonel, I don’t think you would speak harshly of him.’
’We ’re not obliged to go and look on men who have, had their measure dealt them.’
‘Barbarously,’ said Beauchamp.
Mr. Romfrey in the most placid manner took a chair. ‘Windy talk, that!’ he said.