“Well, I’ll wait and see,” said Maud; “but what I was going to say was that you seem to me different—hardly the person I married. I used to wonder a little at first how I had had the impudence . . . and then I used to think that perhaps some day you would wake up, and find you had come to the bottom of the well, but you never seemed disappointed.”
“Disappointed!” said Howard; “what terrible rubbish! Why Maud, don’t you know what you have done for me? You have put the whole thing straight. It’s just that. I was full of vanities and thoughts and bits of knowledge, and I really think I thought them important— they are important too, like food and drink—one must have them— at least men must—but they don’t matter; at least it doesn’t matter what they are. Men have always to be making and doing things—business, money, positions, duties; but the point is to know that they are unimportant, and yet to go on doing them as if they mattered—one must do that—seriously and not solemnly; but you have somehow put all that in the right place; and I know now what matters and what does not. There, do you call that nothing?”
“Perhaps we have found it out together,” said Maud; “the only difference is that you have the courage to tell me that you were wrong, while I have never even dared to tell you what a hollow sham I am, and what a mean and peevish child I was before you came on the scene.”
“Well, we won’t look into your dark past,” said Howard. “I am quite content with what they call the net result!” and then they sate together in silence, and had no further need of words.
Howard was summoned to Cambridge in June for a College meeting. He was very glad to see Cambridge and the familiar faces; but he had not been parted from Maud for a day since their marriage, and he was rather amazed to find, not that he missed her, but how continuously he missed her from moment to moment; the fact that he could not compare notes with her about every incident seemed to rob the incidents of their savour, and to produce a curious hampering of his thoughts. A change, too, seemed to have passed over the College; his rooms were just as he had left them, but everything seemed to have narrowed and contracted. He saw a great many of the undergraduates, and indeed was delighted to find how they came in to see him.
Guthrie was one of the first to arrive, and Howard was glad to meet him alone. Howard was sorry to see that the cheerful youth had evidently been feeling acutely what had happened; he had not lost his spirits, but he had a rather worn aspect. He inquired about the Windlow party, and they talked of indifferent things; but when Guthrie rose to go, he said, speaking with great diffidence, “I wanted to say one thing to you, and now I do not know how to express it; it is that I don’t want you