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0100_005E 5. In The Land Of The Forgotten Peoples H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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Table Of Contents: The Secret Places of the Heart

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"I get fond of people. It is quite irrational, but I get fond of them. Which is quite a different thing from the admiration and excitement of falling in love. Almost the opposite thing. They cry or they come some mental or physical cropper and hurt themselves, or they do something distressingly little and human and suddenly I find they've GOT me. I'm distressed. I'm filled with something between pity and an impulse of responsibility. I become tender towards them. I am impelled to take care of them. I want to ease them off, to reassure them, to make them stop hurting at any cost. I don't see why it should be the weak and sickly and seamy side of people that grips me most, but it is. I don't know why it should be their failures that gives them power over me, but it is. I told you of this girl, this mistress of mine, who is ill just now. SHE'S got me in that way; she's got me tremendously."

"You did not speak of her yesterday with any morbid excess of pity," the doctor was constrained to remark.

"I abused her very probably. I forget exactly what I said. . . ."

The doctor offered no assistance.

"But the reason why I abuse her is perfectly plain. I abuse her because she distresses me by her misfortunes and instead of my getting anything out of her, I go out to her. But I DO go out to her. All this time at the back of my mind I am worrying about her. She has that gift of making one feel for her. I am feeling that damned carbuncle almost as if it had been my affair instead of hers.

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"That carbuncle has made me suffer FRIGHTFULLY. . . . Why should I? It isn't mine."

He regarded the doctor earnestly. The doctor controlled a strong desire to laugh.

"I suppose the young lady--" he began.

"Oh! SHE puts in suffering all right. I've no doubt about that.

"I suppose," Sir Richmond went on, "now that I have told you so much of this affair, I may as well tell you all. It is a sort of comedy, a painful comedy, of irrelevant affections."

The doctor was prepared to be a good listener. Facts he would always listen to; it was only when people told him their theories that he would interrupt with his "Exactly."

"This young woman is a person of considerable genius. I don't know if you have seen in the illustrated papers a peculiar sort of humorous illustrations usually with a considerable amount of bite in them over the name of Martin Leeds?

"Extremely amusing stuff."

"It is that Martin Leeds. I met her at the beginning of her career. She talks almost as well as she draws. She amused me immensely. I'm not the sort of man who waylays and besieges women and girls. I'm not the pursuing type. But I perceived that in some odd way I attracted her and I was neither wise enough nor generous enough not to let the thing develop."

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The Secret Places of the Heart
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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