E. M. Forster: Howards End

18. CHAPTER XVIII (continued)

There was a moment's pause. He was anxious to get rid of her, and she knew it. She had too much intuition to look at him as he struggled for possessions that money cannot buy. He desired comradeship and affection, but he feared them, and she, who had taught herself only to desire, and could have clothed the struggle with beauty, held back, and hesitated with him.

"Good-bye," she continued. "You will have a letter from me--I am going back to Swanage to-morrow."

"Thank you."

"Good-bye, and it's you I thank."

"I may order the motor round, mayn't I?"

"That would be most kind."

"I wish I had written. Ought I to have written?"

"Not at all."

"There's just one question--"

She shook her head. He looked a little bewildered as they parted.

They parted without shaking hands; she had kept the interview, for his sake, in tints of the quietest grey. she thrilled with happiness ere she reached her house. Others had loved her in the past, if one apply to their brief desires so grave a word, but the others had been "ninnies"--young men who had nothing to do, old men who could find nobody better. And she had often 'loved,' too, but only so far as the facts of sex demanded: mere yearnings for the masculine sex to be dismissed for what they were worth, with a sigh. Never before had her personality been touched. She was not young or very rich, and it amazed her that a man of any standing should take her seriously as she sat, trying to do accounts in her empty house, amidst beautiful pictures and noble books, waves of emotion broke, as if a tide of passion was flowing through the night air. She shook her head, tried to concentrate her attention, and failed. In vain did she repeat: "But I've been through this sort of thing before." She had never been through it; the big machinery, as opposed to the little, had been set in motion, and the idea that Mr. Wilcox loved, obsessed her before she came to love him in return.

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