Try to put all this away

There was a veiled expression in Peter’s eyes that evening when he met
his mother. Passion was exhausted. He divined already that Miranda was
irrecoverable, that pursuit was useless. He now clearly understood how
and why she had suffered. His late agony in her room she had many times
endured, looking in his letters for a passion not yet illumined, eager
to find that he needed her, but finding always that she lived in a
palace of cloud. He saw now that Miranda’s love had never been the
dreaming ecstasy from which he himself had just awakened. He remembered
and understood what he had merely accepted as characteristic of her
turbulent spirit–sudden fits of petulance, occasions when without
apparent reason she had flung savagely away from him. There were other
things which thrilled him now, as when her arms tightened about his
neck, and she answered his light caress with urgent kisses.

Peter’s mother gave him a note in Miranda’s hand:

“PETER,–We are going to Canada, and I am not going to write to
you. I think, Peter, you are only a boy, and one day you will find
out whether you really loved me. I am older than you. I shall not
come back to you, because you are going to be rich, and your
friends cannot be my friends. If you had answered my last letter,
perhaps I could not have done this. But it is better.”

When Peter had finished reading he saw that his mother was watching him.
He was learning to notice things. His mother, too, he had never really
regarded except in relation to himself. Yet she had seen unfold the tale
of his passion. She, too, had been affected. He passed her the letter,
and waited as she read.

“You know, mother, what this means?” he asked, shyly moved to confide in
her.

“Yes, Peter, I think I do,” she answered, glad of his trust.

Peter bent eagerly towards her. “Can you tell me where they have gone?”

Mrs. Paragon gently denied him:

“No one knows. They left very quickly. Mr. Smith owed some money.”

It pained her so sordidly to touch Peter’s tragedy.

“He ran away?” concluded Peter, squarely facing it.

Mrs. Paragon bent her head. Peter tried to say something. He wanted to
tell his mother how suddenly precious to him was her knowledge and
understanding. But he broke off and his mouth trembled. In a moment she
had taken him as a child.

At last she spoke to him again, wisely and bravely:

“Try to put all this away,” she pleaded. “You are too young. I want you
to be happy with your friends.”

She paused shyly, a little daunted by the thought in her mind. Then she
quietly continued:

“I don’t want you to think yet of women.”

She continued to urge him:

“Life is so full of things. You think now only of this disappointment,
but, Peter dear, I want you to be strong and famous.”

Her words, years afterwards to be remembered, passed over Peter’s head.
He hardly knew what she said. He was conscious only of her
tenderness–his first comfort. It was the consecration of their
discovered intimacy.

Uncle Henry was away from home–not expected for several days. Peter was
grateful for this. He could not have met the rosy man with the
heartiness he required. Peter spent the evening talking to his mother of
Oxford and his new friends. She quietly insisted that he should.

But, when Peter was alone once more in his room, his grief came back the
deadlier for being held away. He sat for half an hour in the dark. Then
he left the room and knocked at his mother’s door.

“Is that you, Peter?”

“I want to talk to you.”

The door was not locked and she called him in. He had a plan to discuss,
but it could have waited. He merely obeyed a blind instinct to get away
from his misery. His mother leaned from the bed on her elbow, and Peter
sat beside her. She raised her arm to his shoulder with a gesture slow
and large. Peter insensibly found comfort in her beauty. He had never
before realised his mother was beautiful. Was it the open calm of her
forehead or her deep eyes?

“Can’t you sleep, dear?” she asked.

“I want to ask you something.”

“Well?”

Mrs. Paragon tranquilly waited.

“I want to go away,” said Peter. “I can’t bear to be so near to
everything.”

Mrs. Paragon was immediately practical.

“Where do you want to go?” she asked.

“I could spend the vacation in London,” suggested Peter.

“What will your uncle say?”

“Tell him everything.”

Mrs. Paragon smiled at herself explaining Peter’s tragedy to Uncle
Henry.

eCommerce Basis


“You want to go at once?”

“Please.”

Peter’s mother looked wistfully, with doubt in her heart. Her hand
tightened on his arm.

“I wonder,” she almost whispered. “Can I trust you to go?”

She looked at him with her calm eyes.

“Peter,” she said at last, “you still belong to me. You must come back
to me as my own. Do you understand?”

Peter saw yet deeper into his mother’s heart–the mother he had so long
neglected to know. Her question hung in the air, but he could not trust
his voice. His eyes answered her in an honourable promise. Then suddenly
he bent his head to her bosom. Her arms accepted him.

Scarcely half an hour later Peter was fast sleeping in his room. Already
the torrent of his life was breaking a fresh channel. He had dedicated
himself anew.

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The flutter of his pulse

The interim between the death of Peter’s father and Peter’s ascent into
Oxford was filled with small events which impertinently buzzed about
him. Even his father’s funeral left no deep impression. It was formal
and necessary. Peter was haunted, as the ceremony dragged on, with a
reproachful sense that he was not, as he should, responding to its
solemnity. Passion, of love or grief or adoration, came to Peter by
inspiration. He could not punctually answer. He marvelled how easily at
the graveside the tears of his friends and neighbours were able to flow.
He himself had buried his father upon the night of his father’s death,
and had started life anew. The funeral was for him no more than the
ghost of a dead event.

Next came the removal of Mrs. Paragon into the well-appointed house of
Uncle Henry. Henry had arranged that henceforth his sister should live
with him; that Peter should look to him as a guardian, and think of
himself as his uncle’s inheritor. All these new arrangements passed high
over Peter’s head. They were a background of rumour and confusion to
days of exquisite sensibility and peace. Only one thing really mattered.
Uncle Henry’s house was in the fashionable road that ran parallel to
that in which Peter was born, so that Peter could reach Miranda by way
of the garden, which met hers at the wall’s end.

Adolescence carried him high and far, winging his fancy, giving to the
world forms and colours he had never yet perceived. His passion, unaware
of its physical texture, had almost disembodied him. Miranda focussed
the rays of his soul, and drew his energy to a point. He was pure air
and fire. Standing on the high balcony of his new room, he felt that,
were he to leap down, he must float like gossamer. Or, as he lay in the
grass beside Miranda, staring almost into the eye of the sun, he
acknowledged a kinship with the passing birds, imagined that he heard
the sap of the green world ebb and flow; or, pressing his cheeks to the
cool earth, he would seem to feel it spinning enormously through space.

They talked hardly at all, and then it was of some small intrusion into
their happy silence–the chatter of a bird in distress or the ragged
flying of a painted moth. Only seldom did Peter turn to assure himself
that Miranda was still beside him. He was absorbed with his own vast
content and gratitude for the warm and lovely world, his precious agony
of aspiration towards the inexpressible, his sense of immense,
unmeasured power. Miranda was his precious symbol. Uttered in her, for
his intimate contemplation, he spelled the message with which the air
was burdened, which shivered on the vibrating leaves, and burned in the
summer heat. When, after long gazing into blue distances of air, he
turned to find Miranda, it seemed that the blue had broken and yielded
its secret.

From the balcony of his room at night he saw things so lovely that he
stood for long moments still, as though he listened. The trees, massed
solemnly together, waited sentiently to be stirred. The stars drew him
into the deep. Voices broke from the street. Light shining from far
windows, and the smoke of chimneys fantastically grouped, filled him
with a sense of pulsing, intimate life; a world of energy whose
stillness was the measure of its power, the slumber of a bee’s wing.

One of the far lighted windows belonged to Miranda. He was content to
know she was there, and recalled, clear in his mind’s eye, the lines and
gestures of her face. The beauty he saw there had seemed almost to break
his heart. It wavered upon him alternate with the stars and the dark
trees of the garden. Loveliness and a perpetual riddle delicately lurked
in the corners of her mouth. Sometimes, when they were together, he
would lay his finger very softly on Miranda’s lips.

He rarely kissed her. The flutter of his pulse died under an ecstasy
bodiless as his passion for the painted sky. He did not yet love the
girl who sometimes with a curious ferocity flung her arms about him and
crushed his face against her shabby dress. Rather he loved the beauty of
the world and his inspired ability, through her, to embrace it.

The time had now come for Peter to be removed to Oxford. Amid all the
novelty, the unimagined comfort and dignity, the beginning of new and
exciting friendships, the first encounter with men of learning and
position, Peter kept always a region of himself apart, whither he
retired to dream of Miranda. He wrote her long and impassioned letters,
pouring forth a flood of impetuous imagery wherein her kinship with all
intense and lovely things persisted in a thousand shapes. But gradually,
under many influences, a change prepared.

First, there was his contact with the intellectual life of Gamaliel. His
inquisitive idealism gradually came down from heaven, summoned to
definite earth by the ordered wisdom of Oxford. He had lately striven to
catch, in a net of words, inexpressible beauty and elusive thought. But
his desire to push expression to the limit of the comprehensible; his
gift of nervous, pictorial speech; the crowding truths, half seen, that
filled his brain were now opposed and estimated according to sure
knowledge and the standards which measure a successful examinee. Truth,
for ever about to show her face, at whose unsubstantial robe Peter had
sometimes caught, now appeared formal, severe, gowned, and reading a
schedule. All the knowledge of the world, it seemed, had been reduced
to categories. Style was something that dead authors had once achieved.
It could be ranged in periods and schools, some of which might with
advantage be imitated. Peter found that concerning all things there were
points of view. An acquaintance with these points of view and an ability
rapidly to number them was almost the only kind of excellence his
masters were able to reward.

The result of Peter’s contact with the tidy, well-appointed wisdom of
Gamaliel was disastrous. His imagination, starting adventurously into
the unknown, was systematically checked. This or that question he was
asking of the Sphinx was already answered. He fell from heaven upon a
passage of Hegel or a theory of Westermarck.

eCommerce Basis

Peter quickened his disillusion by the energy and zeal of his reading.
He threw himself hungrily upon his books, and gloried in the ease with
which wisdom could be won and stored for reference. His ardour for
conquest, by map and ruler, of the kingdoms of knowledge lasted well
through his first term. Only obscurely was he conscious of clipped
wings.

Hard physical exercise also played a part in bringing Peter to the
ground. He was put into training for the river, and was soon filled with
a keen interest in his splendid thews. Stretched at length in the
evening, warm with triumphant mastery of some theorem concerning the
Absolute First Cause, Peter saw himself as typically a live intellectual
animal. Less and less did he live in outer space. He began athletically
to tread the earth.

Then, too, Peter made many friends–friends who in some ways were older
than he. He thought of Miranda as an elfin girl, but his friends talked
of women in a way Peter had never heard. For Peter sex had been one of
the things which he seemed always to have known. It had not insistently
troubled him. He now encountered it in the conversation of his friends
as something stealthily comic, perturbing and curiously attractive. He
did not actively join in these conversations, but they affected him.

The week slid away, and term was virtually at an end. Peter sat alone in
his room with Miranda’s last letter. In his ears the rhythm of oars and
the hum of cold wet air yet remained, drowning the small noises of the
fire. Miranda’s letter was bitterly reproachful–glowing at the top heat
of a lovers’ quarrel. Miranda felt Peter’s absence more than he could
do. She now had nothing but Peter, and already she was a woman.
Unconsciously she resented Peter’s imaginative ecstasies. She wanted him
to hold and to see. When he answered her from the clouds she was
desolate. Moreover, Peter wrote much of his work and play; and Miranda,
afraid and jealous of the life he was leading in Oxford, was tinder for
the least spark of difference.

The letter Peter held in his hand was all wounded passion. He could see
her tears and the droop of her mouth trembling with anger. He had
neglected a request she had made. He had written instead a description
of the boat he had helped to victory. Something in Miranda’s
letter–something he had not felt before–caught suddenly at a need in
him as yet unknown. He realised all at once that he wanted her to be
physically there. He read again her burning phrases and felt the call to
him of her thwarted hunger–felt it clearly beneath her superficial
estrangement and reproach. He flung himself desperately back into his
chair and remained for a moment still. Then he sprang up and wandered
restlessly in the dim room, at last pausing by the mantelpiece and
turning the lamp upon her photograph. It had caught the full, enigmatic
curve of her mouth, breaking into her familiar sad smile. Peter was
abruptly invaded with a secret wish, his blood singing in his ears, his
heart throbbing painfully, a longing to make his peace possessing him.
He felt curiously weak–almost as if he might fall. The room was
twisting under his eyes. He flexed his muscles and closed his eyes in
pain. Then, in deep relief, he, in fancy, bent forward and kissed her.

He decided to plead with her face to face, and he let pass the
intervening day in a luxury of anticipation. He dwelled, as he had not
before, on her physical grace. He would sweep away all her sorrow in
passionate words uttered upon her lips.

He reached his uncle’s house by an earlier train than was expected. His
mother was not at home, and he went to his room unchallenged. Out on the
balcony the wind roared to him through the bare trees. It was warm for a
December evening, and very dark. He looked towards Miranda’s house–a
darker spot on the dark; for there was no light in the windows. It
thrilled him to see how dark it was; and as he went through the garden
towards her, with the wind about him like a cloak, drawn close and
impeding him, he was glad of the freedom and secrecy it seemed to
promise. He could call aloud in that dark wind, and his words were
snatched away. His lips and face were trembling, but it did not matter,
for the darkness covered them.

At last he stood by the house. The door was half-open. His fancy leaped
at Miranda waiting for him. He had only to enter, and he pressed in her
comfortable arms.

He pushed open the door, and a hollow echo ran into many rooms and died
away upstairs. He was sensible now, in shelter from the wind, of a
stillness he had never known. It shot into him a quick terror. As he
stood and listened, he could hear water dripping into a cistern
somewhere in the roof. The door was blown violently shut, and the report
echoed as in a cavern. The house was empty.

Peter lighted a match, and held it above his head. He saw that the
linoleum had been torn from the floor; that the kitchen was empty of
furniture; that the dust and rubbish of removal lay in the four corners.
The match burnt his fingers and went out. Every sensation died in Peter.
He stood in the darkness, hearing small noises of water, the light
patter of soot dislodged from the chimney, the creak and rustle of a
house deserted.

When his eyes were used to the dark, he moved towards a glimmer from the
hall-door. He could not yet believe what he saw. He expected the silence
of his dream to break. Mechanically he went through the house, standing
at last under the eaves of Miranda’s attic-room. His eyes, straining to
the far corner, traced the white outline of the sloping ceiling. He
stood where Miranda had so often slept, a wall’s breadth from himself.

The water dripped pitilessly in the roof, and Peter, poor model of an
English boy, lay in grief, utterly abandoned, his clenched hands beating
the naked floor.

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In contrast with the warm years


Peter, home after his first important absence, found that his former
life had shrunk. He had seen things on a generous scale. Only for four
days had he been away, but it was an epoch.

He went immediately to find Miranda, trembling with impatience. But he
was struck shy when they met. Peter had imagined this meeting as a
perfect renewal of their last moments together. He had seen himself
thrilling into a passionate welcome, taking up his life with Miranda
where it had abruptly ceased with the arrival of Uncle Henry four days
ago. But at sight of her the current of his eagerness was checked. It
was that curious moment of lovers who have lived through so many
meetings in imagination that the actual moment cannot be fulfilled.

“You’re back,” she said awkwardly, hardly able to look at him.

“I’ve just this moment come.” Peter thought it was the staring daylight
that put this constraint upon them. Then he saw in his fancy the welcome
he had expected–very different from this–and, as though he were acting
something many times rehearsed, he kissed Miranda with an intended joy.

Miranda’s constraint was now broken.

“I have missed you dreadfully,” she whispered.

She held him tight, urged by the piteous memory of four empty days; and
Peter, rising at her passion, strained her truthfully towards him. The
disillusion of meeting fell away from them both.

Soon he was talking to her of Oxford, and the great life he had shared.
He did not realise that a strain of arrogant enthusiasm came into his
tale–a suggestion that in these last four days he had flapped the wings
of his ambition in high air and dazzling sunshine. Miranda was chilled,
feeling she had been in the cold, divining that Peter had a little grown
away from her in the things he recounted with such unnecessary joy. At
last she interrupted him.

“You haven’t missed me, Peter.”

“But I have,” answered Peter, passing in a breath to tell of his
encounter with the dons of Gamaliel. Miranda put her hand into his, but
Peter, graphically intent upon his tale, insensibly removed it for a
necessary gesture.

“I don’t want to hear,” said Miranda suddenly.

She slipped from where they sat, and, killing him with her eyes, walked
abruptly away.

Peter was struck into dismay. Remorse for his selfish intentness upon
glories Miranda had not shared shot him through. But he stayed where she
had left him, sullenly resentful. She need not have been so violent. How
ugly was her voice when she told him she did not want to hear. Peter
noticed in her swinging dress a patched rent, and her dusty shoes down
at the heel. Spitefully he called into his mind, for contrast and to
support him in his resentment, the quiet and ordered beauty of the life
he had just seen. He retired with dignity to the house, and made
miserable efforts to forget that Miranda was estranged.

Mrs. Paragon wanted to hear all that Peter had seen and done. Peter told
again his tale without enthusiasm. Then his father also must hear. Peter
talked of Oxford, wondering, as he talked, where Miranda had gone, and
whether she would forgive him even if he admitted he was to blame. His
experiences now had lost all their charm. He had taken a vain pleasure
in glorifying them to Miranda, but the glory now was spoiled.

Mr. Paragon was delighted to hear Peter describing his first serious
introduction to polite company without seeming violently pleased.
Clearly Oxford was not going to corrupt him. Peter spoke almost with
distaste of his fine friends.

“Well, my boy,” said Mr. Paragon, “you don’t seem to think much of this
high living.”

“It’s all right, father,” answered Peter, absently dwelling on Miranda.

“What did you talk about? Mostly trash, I suppose?”

“Yes, father.” Peter was now at Miranda’s feet, asking her to forgive
him.

A little later Mr. Smith came in, and the time passed heavily away. Mr.
Smith was trying to dissuade Mr. Paragon from taking part in an angry
demonstration of railway men who had struck work in the previous week.
Already there had been rioting. To-night Mr. Paragon was to address a
meeting in the open air, and his talk was loud and bitter. Peter heard
all this rhetoric with faint disgust. He was at that time in all things
his father’s disciple. But to-night his brain was dancing between a
proud girl, with eyes that hurt, swinging away from him in her patched
frock and dusty shoes, and a long, low-lit table elegant with silver and
glass. He could not listen to these foolish men; and when Mr. Smith had
reached the summit of his theme in a call to “shoot them down,” and when
his father was clearly making ready utterly to destroy his enemy, Peter
went impatiently from the room.

Mrs. Paragon made ready her husband for the meeting without regarding
Mr. Smith’s gloomy fears of disorder and riot. It had always been Mr.
Paragon’s amusement to speak in public, and she had decided that
politics could have no serious results. For a few minutes she watched
him diminish up the long street, and then returned to the kitchen where
Mr. Smith, balancing on his toes, talked still of the dark necessities
of blood and iron.

Two hours later Peter’s father was brought home dead, with a bullet in
his brain.

eCommerce Basis

Peter sat stonily where Miranda left him earlier in the day. It was now
quite dark, the evening primrose shining in tall clusters, very pale,
within reach of his hand. Since a cab had jingled into hearing, stopped
beside the house, and jingled away, hardly a sound had broken into his
thoughts. Each rustle of the trees or lightest noise of the garden
raised in him a riot of excitement; for he felt that Miranda would come,
and he lived moment by moment intensely waiting. He was sure she would
not be able to sleep without making her peace.

Several times he moaned softly, and asked for her aloud. Once he was
filled with bitterest anger, and started to go back into the house. He
hated her. His brilliant future should not be linked with this rude and
shabby girl. Then, in sharp remorse, he asked to be forgiven. Tears of
self-pity had followed tears of anger and tears of utter pain, and had
dried on his cheeks as he rigidly kept one posture on the narrow bench.
He felt to-night that he had the power to experience and to utter all
the sorrow of the world, and mixed with his pain there were sensations
of the keenest luxury.

At last a footstep sounded. He began to tremble unendurably; but in the
next instant he knew it was not Miranda. He had not recovered from his
disappointment when his mother stood beside him.

He looked at her vaguely, not yet recalled from his raging thoughts. She
called his name, and there was something in her voice that startled him.
The moon which was now coming over the house poured its light upon her
face. Swiftly Peter was aware of some terrible thing struggling for
expression. His mother’s eyes were clouded as though she was dazed from
the effect of some hard and sudden blow. Her lips were drawn tight as
though she suffered. She stood for a moment, and once or twice just
failed to speak.

“Peter,” she said at last, “I have to tell you something.”

Peter stared at her, quickly beginning to fear.

“Don’t be frightened, dear boy.” Peter saw the first tears gather and
fall.

“Mother, you are hurt.”

Her tears now fell rapidly as she stooped and strained Peter towards
her. She could not bear to see his face as she told him.

“Something terrible has happened. There has been a fight in the streets
and father—-”

Her arms tightened about him. Peter knew his father was dead.

“We are alone, Peter,” she said at last.

Then she rose, and there were no more tears. Erect in the moonlight,
she seemed the statue of a mourning woman.

“He is lying in our room, Peter. Won’t you come?”

Peter instinctively shuddered away. Then, feeling as though a weight had
just been laid on him, he asked:

“Can I help you, mother? Is there anything to do?”

“Uncle Henry is here. Come when you can.”

Peter watched her move away towards the house. Self died outright in him
as, filled with worship, he saw her, grave and beautiful, going to the
dead man.

Soon he wondered why, now that trouble had really come, he could not so
easily be moved. The tears, which so readily had started from his eyes
as he had brooded on his quarrel with Miranda, would not flow now for
his father. His imagination could not at once accept reality. He sat as
his mother had left him, sensible of a gradual ache that stole into his
brain. Time passed; and, at last, as the ache became intolerable, he
heard himself desperately repeating to himself the syllables:

“Never, Never.”

He would never again see his father. Then his brain at last awoke in a
vision of his father, an hour ago or so, confronting Mr. Smith. Peter’s
emotion first sprang alive in a sharp remorse. He had that evening found
his father insufferable.

Peter could no longer sit. He walked rapidly up and down the garden,
giving rein to self-torment. He had always thought of his father, and
now remembered him most vividly, as one who had read with him the books
which first had opened his mind. His father shone now upon Peter crowned
with all the hard, bright literature of revolt.

A harsh cry suddenly broke up the silence of the garden. A newsboy ran
shrieking a special edition, with headlines of riot and someone killed.

The cry struck Peter motionless. He had realised so far that his father
was dead. Now he remembered the riot. The newsboy had shouted of a
charge of soldiers.

Why had Peter not accepted his father’s gospel? Why had he not stood
that evening by his father’s side? The enemies of whom his father had so
often talked to Peter were real, and had struck him down. All the idle
rhetoric that had slept unregarded in Peter’s brain now rang like a
challenge of trumpets. He saw his father as one who had tried to teach
him a brave gospel of freedom, who had resisted tyranny, and died for
his faith.

Peter cursed the oppressor with clenched hands. In the tumble of his
thoughts there intruded pictures, quite unconnected, of the life he had
known at his first school–encounters with the friendly roughs, their
common hatred of the police, the comfortable, oily embrace of the woman
who had picked him from the snow. He felt now that he was one of these
struggling people, that he ought that night to have stood with his
father. In contrast with the warm years in which he had gloried in the
life of his humbler school his later comparative solitude coldly
emphasized his kinship with the dispossessed.

Scarcely twenty-four, hours ago Peter had feasted with the luxurious
enemies of the poor. He had come from them, vainglorious and eager to
claim their fellowship. For this he had been terribly punished. Peter
felt the hand of God in all this. It seemed like destiny’s reward for
disloyalty to all his father had taught.

He went into the house, and soon was looking at the dead man. His mother
moved about the room, obeying her instinct to put all into keeping with
the cold severity of that still figure. Peter looked and went rapidly
away. He felt no tie of blood or affection. He was looking at death–at
something immensely distant.

Nevertheless, as he went from the oppressive house, this chill vision of
death consecrated in his fancy the figure, legendary now, of a martyred
prophet of revolt. By comparison he hardly felt his personal loss of a
father.

As he passed into the garden, he saw into the brilliantly lighted room
next door. Mr. Smith sprawled with his head on the table, sobbing like a
child. Peter, in a flash, remembered him as he had stood not two hours
ago beside his father, shrilly repeating an hortation to shoot them
down. In that moment Peter had his first glimpse of the irony of life.
He felt impulsively that he ought to comfort that foolish bowed figure
whose babble had been so rudely answered.

Then, as Mr. Smith was seen to wipe his watery eyes with a spotted
handkerchief, Peter grew impatient under that sting of absurdity which
in life pricks the holiest sorrow. He turned sharply away, and in the
path he saw Miranda.

She put out her arm with a blind gesture to check the momentum of his
recoil from the lighted window. He caught at her hand, but his fingers
closed upon the rough serge of her sleeve. His passion leaped instantly
to a climax. It was one of those rare moments when feeling must find
pictured expression; when every barrier is down between emotion and its
gesture. Miranda stood before him, the reproach of his disloyalty, a
perfect figure of the life he must embrace. His hand upon her dress shot
instantly into his brain a memory of that mean moment when he had nursed
his wrongs upon her homeliness. A fierce contrition flung him without
pose or premeditation on his knees beside her. As she leaned in wonder
towards him, he caught the fringe of her frayed skirt in his hands, and,
in a moment of supreme dedication, kissed it in a passion of worship.

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