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

He made several attempts, with Mr. Sandys and with his aunt—­even with Miss Merry—­to get encouragement for his plan; but he could obtain no sympathy.

“I’m sick of the very word ‘ideal,’” he said to Maud.  “I feel like a waiter handing about tumblers on a tray, pressing people to have ideals—­at least that is what I seem to be supposed to be doing.  I haven’t any ideals myself—­the only thing I demand and practise is civility.”

“Yes, I don’t think you need bother about ideals,” said Maud, “it’s wonderful the depressing power of words; there are such a lot of fine and obvious things in the world, perfectly distinct, absolutely necessary, and yet the moment they become professional, they deprive one of all spirit and hope—­Jane has that effect on me, I am afraid.  I am sure she is a fine creature, but her view always makes me feel uncomfortable—­now Cousin Anne takes all the things one needs for granted, and isn’t above making fun of them; and then they suddenly appear wholesome and sensible.  She is quite clear on the point; now if she wanted you to stay, it would be different.”

“Very well, so be it!” said Howard; “I feel I am caught in feminine toils.  I am like a child being taught to walk—­every step applauded, handed on from embrace to embrace.  I yield!  I will take my beautiful mind back to Cambridge, I will go on moulding character, I will go on suggesting high motives.  But the responsibility is yours, and if you turn me into a prig, it will not be my fault.”

“Ah, I will take the responsibility for that,” said Maud, “and, by the way, hadn’t we better begin to look out for a house?  I can’t live in College, I believe, not even if I were to become a bedmaker?”

“Yes,” said Howard, “a high-minded house of roughcast and tile, with plenty of white paint inside, Chippendale chairs, Watts engravings.  I have come to that—­it’s inevitable, it just expresses the situation; but I mustn’t go on like this—­it isn’t funny, this academic irony—­it’s dreadfully professional.  I will be sensible, and write to an agent for a list.  It had better just be ‘a house’ with nothing distinctive; because this will be our home, I hope, and that the official residence.  And now, Maud, I won’t be tiresome any more; we can’t waste time in talking about these things.  I haven’t done with making love to you yet, and I doubt if I ever shall!”

XXXIII

ANXIETY

The months moved slowly on, a time full of deepening strain and anxiety to Howard.  Maud herself seemed serene enough at first, full of hope; she began to be more dependent on him; and Howard perceived two things which gave him some solace; in the first place he found that, sharp as the tension of anxiety in his mind often was, he did not realise it as a burden of which he would be merely glad to be rid.  He had an instinctive dislike of all painful straining things—­of responsibilities, disagreeable

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