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|Thoughts In Prison||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 1 of 2||
One day the idea of self-sacrifice came into her head, and she made, she thought, some important moral discoveries.
It came with an extreme effect of re-discovery, a remarkable novelty. "What have I been all this time?" she asked herself, and answered, "Just stark egotism, crude assertion of Ann Veronica, without a modest rag of religion or discipline or respect for authority to cover me!"
It seemed to her as though she had at last found the touchstone of conduct. She perceived she had never really thought of any one but herself in all her acts and plans. Even Capes had been for her merely an excitant to passionate love--a mere idol at whose feet one could enjoy imaginative wallowings. She had set out to get a beautiful life, a free, untrammelled life, self-development, without counting the cost either for herself or others.
"I have hurt my father," she said; "I have hurt my aunt. I have hurt and snubbed poor Teddy. I've made no one happy. I deserve pretty much what I've got. . . .
"If only because of the way one hurts others if one kicks loose and free, one has to submit. . . .
"Broken-in people! I suppose the world is just all egotistical children and broken-in people.
"Your little flag of pride must flutter down with the rest of them, Ann Veronica. . . .
"Compromise and kindness.
"Who are YOU that the world should lie down at your feet?
"You've got to be a decent citizen, Ann Veronica. Take your half loaf with the others. You mustn't go clawing after a man that doesn't belong to you--that isn't even interested in you. That's one thing clear.
"You've got to take the decent reasonable way. You've got to adjust yourself to the people God has set about you. Every one else does."
She thought more and more along that line. There was no reason why she shouldn't be Capes' friend. He did like her, anyhow; he was always pleased to be with her. There was no reason why she shouldn't be his restrained and dignified friend. After all, that was life. Nothing was given away, and no one came so rich to the stall as to command all that it had to offer. Every one has to make a deal with the world.
It would be very good to be Capes' friend.
She might be able to go on with biology, possibly even work upon the same questions that he dealt with. . . .
Perhaps her granddaughter might marry his grandson. . . .
It grew clear to her that throughout all her wild raid for independence she had done nothing for anybody, and many people had done things for her. She thought of her aunt and that purse that was dropped on the table, and of many troublesome and ill-requited kindnesses; she thought of the help of the Widgetts, of Teddy's admiration; she thought, with a new-born charity, of her father, of Manning's conscientious unselfishness, of Miss Miniver's devotion.
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H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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