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7. Companionship H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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Table Of Contents: The Secret Places of the Heart

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"It's a little like a patient in a hydropath retailing his ailments."

"No. No. Go on."

"I began to think now that what took the go out of me as my work went on was the lack of any real fellowship in what I was doing. It was the pressure of the opposition in the Committee, day afterday. It was being up against men who didn't reason against me but who just showed by everything they did that the things I wanted to achieve didn't matter to them one rap. It was going back to a home, lunching in clubs, reading papers, going about a world in which all the organization, all the possibility of the organization I dream of is tacitly denied. I don't know if it seems an extraordinary confession of weakness to you, but that steady refusal of the majority of my Committee to come into cooperation with me has beaten me--or at any rate has come very near to beating me. Most of them you know are such able men. You can FEEL their knowledge and commonsense. They, and everybody about me, seemed busy and intent upon more immediate things, that seemed more real to them than this remote, theoretical, PRIGGISH end I have set for myself. . . ."

He paused.

"Go on," said Miss Grammont. "I think I understand this. "

"And yet I know I am right."

"I know you are right. I'm certain. Go on.

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"If one of those ten thousand members of the Sokol Society had thrown back his brown cloak and shown red when all the others still kept them selves cloaked--if he was a normal sensitive man--he might have felt something of a fool. He might have felt premature and presumptuous. Red he was and the others he knew were red also, but why show it? That is the peculiar distress of people like ourselves, who have some sense of history and some sense of a larger life within us than our merely personal life. We don't want to go on with the old story merely. We want to live somehow in that larger life and to live for its greater ends and lose something unbearable of ourselves, and in wanting to do that we are only wanting to do what nearly everybody perhaps is ripe to do and will presently want to do. When the New Age Martineau talks about begins to come it may come very quickly--as the red came at Prague. But for the present everyone hesitates about throwing back the cloak."

"Until the cloak becomes unbearable," she said, repeating his word.

"I came upon this holiday in the queerest state. I thought I was ill. I thought I was overworked. But the real trouble was a loneliness that robbed me of all driving force. Nobody seemed thinking and feeling with me. . . . I have never realized until now what a gregarious beast man is. It needed only a day or so with Martineau, in the atmosphere of ideas and beliefs like my own, to begin my restoration. Now as I talk to you--That is why I have clutched at your company. Because here you are, coming from thousands of miles away, and you talk my ideas, you fall into my ways of thought as though we had gone to the same school."

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

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