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6. The Encounter At Stonehenge H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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"I don't quite see what you are driving at."

"The intelligence of all intelligent women is better than their characters. Goodness in a woman, as we understand it, seems to imply necessarily a certain imaginative fixity. Miss Grammont has an impulsive and adventurous character. And as I have been saying she was a spoilt child, with no discipline. . . . You also are a person of high intelligence and defective controls. She is very much at loose ends. You-- on account of the illness of that rather forgotten lady, Miss Martin Leeds--" "Aren't you rather abusing the secrets of the confessional?"

"This IS the confessional. It closes to-morrow morning but it is the confessional still. Look at the thing frankly. You, I say, are also at loose ends. Can you deny it? My dear sir, don't we both know that ever since we left London you have been ready to fall in love with any pretty thing in petticoats that seemed to promise you three ha'porth of kindness. A lost dog looking for a master! You're a stray man looking for a mistress. Miss Grammont being a woman is a little more selective than that. But if she's at a loose end as I suppose, she isn't protected by the sense of having made her selection. And she has no preconceptions of what she wants. You are a very interesting man in many ways. You carry marriage and entanglements lightly. With an air of being neither married nor entangled. She is quite prepared to fall in love with you."

"But you don't really think that?" said Sir Richmond, with an ill-concealed eagerness.

Dr. Martineau rolled his face towards Sir Richmond. "These miracles--grotesquely--happen," he said. "She knows nothing of Martin Leeds. . . . You must remember that. . . .

"And then," he added, "if she and you fall in love, as the phrase goes, what is to follow?"

There was a pause.

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Sir Richmond looked at his toes for a moment or so as if he took counsel with them and then decided to take offence.

"Really!" he said, "this is preposterous. You talk of falling in love as though it was impossible for a man and woman to be deeply interested in each other without that. And the gulf in our ages--in our quality! From the Psychologist of a New Age I find this amazing. Are men and women to go on for ever-- separated by this possibility into two hardly communicating and yet interpenetrating worlds? Is there never to be friendship and companionship between men and women without passion?"

"You ought to know even better than I do that there is not. For such people as you two anyhow. And at present the world is not prepared to tolerate friendship and companionship WITH that accompaniment. That is the core of this situation."

A pause fell between the two gentlemen. They had smoothed over the extreme harshness of their separation and there was very little more to be said.

"Well," said Sir Richmond in conclusion, "I am very sorry indeed, Martineau, that we have to part like this."

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

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