Watersprings eBook

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

“God bless you, dear boy!” she said; “I won’t press you to speak; and you will know that I have you in mind now and always, with infinite hope and love.”

XX

HIGHMINDEDNESS

Howard on thinking over this conversation was somewhat bewildered as to what exactly was in his aunt’s mind.  He did not think that she understood his feeling for Maud, and he was sure that she did not realise what Maud’s feelings about Freddy Guthrie were.  He came to the conclusion eventually that Maud had told her about the beginnings of their friendship; that his aunt supposed that he had tried to win Maud’s confidence, as he would have made friends with one of his young men; and that she imagined that he had found that Maud’s feeling for him had developed in rather too confidential a line, as for a father-confessor.  He thought that Mrs. Graves had seen that Maud had been disposed to adopt him as a kind of ethical director, and had thought that he had been bored at finding a girl’s friendship so much more exacting than the friendship of a young man; and that she had been exhorting him to be more brotherly and simple in his relations with Maud, and to help her to the best of his ability.  He imagined that Maud had told Mrs. Graves that he had been advising her, and that she had perhaps since told her of his chilly reception of her later confidences.  That was the situation he had created; and he felt with what utter clumsiness he had handled it.  His aunt, no doubt, thought that he had been disturbed at finding how much more emotional a girl’s dependence upon an older man was than he had expected.  But he felt that when he could tell her the whole story, she would see that he could not have acted otherwise.  He had been so thrown off his balance by finding how deeply he cared for Maud, that he had been simply unable to respond to her advances.  He ought to have had more control of himself.  Mrs. Graves had not suspected that he could have grown to care for a girl, almost young enough to be his daughter, in so passionate a way.  He wished he could have explained the whole to her, but he was too deeply wounded in mind to confess to his aunt how impulsive he had been.  He had now no doubt that there was an understanding between Maud and Guthrie.  Everyone else seemed to think so; and when once the affair was happily launched, he would enjoy a mournful triumph, he thought, by explaining to Mrs. Graves how considerately he had behaved, and how painful a dilemma Maud would have been placed in if he had declared his passion.  Maud would have blamed herself; she might easily, with her anxious sense of responsibility, have persuaded herself into accepting him as a lover; and then a life-long penance might have begun for her.  He had, at what a cost, saved Maud from the chance of such a mistake.  It was a sad tangle; but when Maud was happily married, he would perhaps be able to explain to her why he had behaved as he had done;

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Watersprings from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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