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

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"If it were not for the carbuncle?"

"If it were not for the carbuncle. She does not care for me to see her disfigured. She does not understand--" Sir Richmond was at a loss for a phrase--"that it is not her good looks."

"She won't let you go to her?"

"It amounts to that. . . . And soon there will be all the trouble about educating the girl. Whatever happens, she must have as good a chance as--anyone. . . . "

"Ah! That is worrying you too!"

"Frightfully at times. If it were a boy it would be easier. It needs constant tact and dexterity to fix things up. Neither of us have any. It needs attention. . . . "

Sir Richmond mused darkly.

Dr. Martineau thought aloud. "An incompetent delightful person with Martin Leeds's sense of humour. And her powers of expression. She must be attractive to many people. She could probably do without you. If once you parted."

Sir Richmond turned on him eagerly.

"You think I ought to part from her? On her account?"

"On her account. It might pain her. But once the thing was done--"

"I want to part. I believe I ought to part."


"But then my affection comes in."

"That extraordinary--TENDERNESS of yours?"

"I'm afraid."

"Of what?"

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"Anyone might get hold of her--if I let her down. She hasn't a tithe of the ordinary coolheaded calculation of an average woman. . . . I've a duty to her genius. I've got to take care of her."

To which the doctor made no reply.

"Nevertheless the idea of parting has been very much in my mind lately."

"Letting her go FREE?"

"You can put it in that way if you like."

"It might not be a fatal operation for either of you."

"And yet there are moods when parting is an intolerable idea. When one is invaded by a flood of affection.". . . . And old habits of association."

Dr. Martineau thought. Was that the right word,--affection? Perhaps it was.

They had come out on the towing path close by the lock and they found themselves threading their way through a little crowd of boating people and lookers-on. For a time their conversation was broken. Sir Richmond resumed it.

"But this is where we cease to be Man on his Planet and all the rest of it. This is where the idea of a definite task, fanatically followed to the exclusion of all minor considerations, breaks down. When the work is good, when we are sure we are all right, then we may carry off things with a high hand. But the work isn't always good, we aren't always sure. We blunder, we make a muddle, we are fatigued. Then the sacrificed affections come in as accusers. Then it is that we want to be reassured."

"And then it is that Miss Martin Leeds--?"

"Doesn't," Sir Richmond snapped.

Came a long pause.

"And yet--

"It is extraordinarily difficult to think of parting from Martin."

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

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