Chapter 16: Lying to George
But Lucy had developed since the spring. That is to say, she was
now better able to stifle the emotions of which the conventions
and the world disapprove. Though the danger was greater, she was
not shaken by deep sobs. She said to Cecil, "I am not coming in
to tea--tell mother--I must write some letters," and went up to
her room. Then she prepared for action. Love felt and
returned, love which our bodies exact and our hearts have
transfigured, love which is the most real thing that we shall
ever meet, reappeared now as the world's enemy, and she must
She sent for Miss Bartlett.
The contest lay not between love and duty. Perhaps there never is
such a contest. It lay between the real and the pretended, and
Lucy's first aim was to defeat herself. As her brain clouded
over, as the memory of the views grew dim and the words of the
book died away, she returned to her old shibboleth of nerves. She
"conquered her breakdown." Tampering with the truth, she forgot
that the truth had ever been. Remembering that she was engaged to
Cecil, she compelled herself to confused remembrances of George;
he was nothing to her; he never had been anything; he had behaved
abominably; she had never encouraged him. The armour of falsehood
is subtly wrought out of darkness, and hides a man not only from
others, but from his own soul. In a few moments Lucy was equipped
"Something too awful has happened," she began, as soon as her
cousin arrived. "Do you know anything about Miss Lavish's novel?"
Miss Bartlett looked surprised, and said that she had not read
the book, nor known that it was published; Eleanor was a reticent
woman at heart.
"There is a scene in it. The hero and heroine make love. Do you
know about that?"
"Do you know about it, please?" she repeated. "They are on a
hillside, and Florence is in the distance."
"My good Lucia, I am all at sea. I know nothing about it