Chapter 9: Lucy As a Work of Art
"Then I ask you--may I now?"
"Of course, you may, Cecil. You might before. I can't run at you,
At that supreme moment he was conscious of nothing but
absurdities. Her reply was inadequate. She gave such a
business-like lift to her veil. As he approached her he found
time to wish that he could recoil. As he touched her, his gold
pince-nez became dislodged and was flattened between them.
Such was the embrace. He considered, with truth, that it had been
a failure. Passion should believe itself irresistible. It should
forget civility and consideration and all the other curses of a
refined nature. Above all, it should never ask for leave where
there is a right of way. Why could he not do as any labourer or
navvy--nay, as any young man behind the counter would have
done? He recast the scene. Lucy was standing flowerlike by the
water, he rushed up and took her in his arms; she rebuked him,
permitted him and revered him ever after for his manliness. For
he believed that women revere men for their manliness.
They left the pool in silence, after this one salutation. He
waited for her to make some remark which should show him her
inmost thoughts. At last she spoke, and with fitting gravity.
"Emerson was the name, not Harris."
"The old man's."
"What old man?"
"That old man I told you about. The one Mr. Eager was so unkind
He could not know that this was the most intimate conversation
they had ever had.