Watersprings eBook

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

XXI

THE AWAKENING

Howard spent the rest of the morning in very bitter cogitation; after luncheon, during which he could hardly force himself to speak, he excused himself on the plea of wanting exercise.

It was in a real agony of mind and spirit that he left the house.  He was certain now; and he was not only haunted by his loss, but he was horrified at his entire lack of self-control and restraint.  His thoughts came in, like great waves striking on a rocky reef, and rending themselves in sheets of scattered foam.  He seemed to himself to have been slowly inveigled into his fate by a worse than malicious power; something had planned his doom.  He remembered his old tranquillities; his little touch of boredom; and then how easy the descent had been!  He had been drawn by a slender thread of circumstance into paying his visit to Windlow; his friendship with Jack had just toppled over the balance; he had gone; then there had come his talk with his aunt, which had wrought him up into a mood of vague excitement.  Just at that moment Maud had come in his way; then friendship had followed; and then he had been seized with this devouring passion which had devastated his heart.  He had known all the time that he was too late; and even so he had gone to work the wrong way:  it was his infernal diplomacy, his trick of playing with other lives, of yielding to emotional intimacies—­that fatal desire to have a definite relation, to mean something to everyone in his circle.  Then this wretched, attractive, pleasant youth, with his superficial charm, had intervened.  If he had been wise he would never have suggested that visit to Cambridge.  Maud had hitherto been just like Miranda on the island; she had never been brought into close contact with a young cavalier; and the subtle instinct of youth had done the rest, the instinct for the equal mate, so far stronger and more subtle than any reasonable or intellectual friendship.  And then he, devoured as he had been by his love, had been unable to use his faculties; he could do nothing but glare and wink, while his treasure was stolen from him; he had made mistakes at every turn.  What would he not give now to be restored to his old, balanced, easy life, with its little friendships and duties.  How fantastic and unreal his aunt’s theories seemed to him, reveries contrived just to gild the gaps of a broken life, a dramatisation of emptiness and self-importance.  At every moment the face and figure of Maud came before him in a hundred sweet, spontaneous movements—­the look of her eyes, the slow thrill of her voice.  He needed her with all his soul—­every fibre of his being cried out for her.  And then the thought of being thus pitifully overcome, humiliated and degraded him.  If she had not been beautiful, he would perhaps never have thought of her except with a mild and courteous interest.  This was the draught of life which he had put so curiously to his lips, sweet

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Watersprings from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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