Watersprings eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 228 pages of information about Watersprings.
was like La Belle Dame sans merci after all, the slender faring child, whose kiss in the dim grotto had left the warrior ‘alone and palely loitering,’ burdened with sad thoughts in the wintry land.  And yet he could not withstand it.  He could see the reasonable and sensible course, a placid friendship, a long life full of small duties and quiet labours;—­and then the thought of Maud would come across him, with her shining hair, her clear eyes, holding a book, as he had seen her last in the Vicarage, in her delicate hands, and looking out into the garden with that troubled inscrutable look; and all the prudent considerations fell and tumbled together like a house of cards, and he felt as though he must go straight to her and fall before her, and ask her to give him a gift the very nature of which he did not know, her girlish self, her lightly-ranging mind, her tiny cares and anxieties, her virginal heart—­for what purpose? he did not know; just to be with her, to clasp her close, to hear her voice, to look into her eyes, to discourse with her some hidden secret of love.  A faint sense of some infinite beauty and nearness came over him which, if he could win it, would put the whole of life into a different plane.  Not a friendly combination, but an absolute openness and nakedness of soul, nothing hidden, nothing kept back, everything confessed and admitted, a passing of two streams of life into one.

XVIII

THE PICNIC

Jack arrived at Windlow in due course, and brought with him Guthrie to stay.  Howard thought, and was ashamed of thinking, that Jack had some scheme on foot; and the arrival of Guthrie was embarrassing to him, as likely to complicate an already too complicated situation.

A plan was made for a luncheon picnic on the hill.  There was a tower on the highest eminence of the down, some five miles away, a folly built by some wealthy squire among woodlands, and commanding wide views; it was possible to drive to a village at the foot, and to put up vehicles at a country inn; and it was proposed that they should take luncheon up to the tower, and eat it there.  The Sandys party were to drive there, and Howard was to drive over with Miss Merry and meet them.  Howard did not at all relish the prospect.  He had a torturing desire for the presence of Maud, and yet he seemed unable to establish any communication with her; and he felt that the liveliness of the young men would reduce him to a condition of amiable ineffectiveness which would make him, as Marie Bashkirtseff naively said, hardly worth seeing.  However, there was no way out, and on a delicious July morning, with soft sunlight everywhere, and great white clouds floating in a sky of turquoise blue, Howard and Miss Merry started from Windlow.  The little lady was full of decorous glee, and her mirth, like a working cauldron, threw all her high-minded tastes to the surface.  She asked Howard’s opinion

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Watersprings from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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