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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 228 pages of information about Watersprings.

“Oh, yes,” said Howard, “it’s alive, no doubt.  It would amuse me a good deal to see these people at home, if I could just be hidden in the curtains, and hear what they really talked about, and what they really felt.  It’s when they have their armour on that they bore me.  It is not a pretty armour, and they don’t wear it well; they don’t fight in it—­they only wear it that you mayn’t touch them.  If they would give themselves away and talk like Miss Bates, I could stand it.”

“Well,” said Maud, “I am going to say something rather bold.  It comes, I think, of living at Cambridge with clever people, and having real things to talk about, that makes your difficulty.  You care about people’s minds more than about themselves, perhaps?  But I’m on their level, and they seem to me to be telling something about themselves all the time.  Of course it must be ghastly for you, and we will try to arrange things better.”

“No, dearest, you won’t, and you mustn’t,” said Howard.  “That’s the best of marriage, that one does get a glimpse into different things.  You are perfectly and entirely right.  It simply means that I can’t talk their language, and I will learn it.  I am a prig; your husband is a prig—­but he will try to do better.  It isn’t a duty, and it isn’t a pleasure, and it isn’t a question of minds at all.  It is just living life on ordinary terms.  I won’t have anything different at all.  I’m ashamed of myself for my moans.  When I have anything in the way of work to do, it may be different.  But now I see what I have to do.  I am suffering from the stupidity of so-called clever people; and you mustn’t mind it.  Only don’t, for Heaven’s sake, try to contrive, or to spare me things.  That is how the ugly paterfamilias is made.  You mustn’t spoil me or manage me; if I ever suspect you of doing that, I’ll just go back to Cambridge alone.  I hate even to have made you look at me as you did just now—­ you must forgive me that and many other things; and now you must promise just this, that if I am snappish you won’t give way; you must not become a slipper-warmer.”

“Yes, yes, I promise,” said Maud, laughing; “here’s my hand on it!  You shall be diligently henpecked.  But I am always rather puzzled about these things; all these old ideas about mutual consolation and advice and improvement and support ought to be there—­they all mean something—­they mean a great deal!  But the moment they are spoken about, or even thought about, they seem so stuffy and disgusting.  I don’t understand it!  I feel that one ought to be able to talk plainly about anything; and yet the more plainly you talk about such things as these, the more hateful you are, and the meaner you feel!”

XXVIII

THE VICAR’S VIEW

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