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

Section 8

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Table Of Contents: The Secret Places of the Heart

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"I wanted a lover to love," she said. "Every girl of course wants that. I wanted to be tremendously excited. . . . And at the same time I dreaded the enormous interference. . . .

"I wasn't temperamentally a cold girl. Men interested and excited me, but there were a lot of men about and they clashed with each other. Perhaps way down in some out of the way place I should have fallen in love quite easily with the one man who came along. But no man fixed his image. After a year or so I think I began to lose the power which is natural to a young girl of falling very easily into love. I became critical of the youths and men who were attracted to me and I became analytical about myself. . . .

"I suppose it is because you and I are going to part so soon that I can speak so freely to you. . . . But there are things about myself that I have never had out even with myself. I can talk to myself in you--"

She paused baffled. "I know exactly," said Sir Richmond.

"In my composition I perceive there have always been two ruling strains. I was a spoilt child at home, a rather reserved girl at school, keen on my dignity. I liked respect. I didn't give myself away. I suppose one would call that personal pride. Anyhow it was that streak made me value the position of being a rich married woman in New York. That was why I became engaged to Lake. He seemed to be as good a man as there was about. He said he adored me and wanted me to crown his life. He wasn't ill-looking or ill-mannered. The second main streak in my nature wouldn't however fit in with that."

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She stopped short.

"The second streak, " said Sir Richmond.

"Oh!--Love of beauty, love of romance. I want to give things their proper names; I don't want to pretend to you. . . . It was more or less than that. . . . It was--imaginative sensuousness. Why should I pretend it wasn't in me? I believe that streak is in all women."

"I believe so too. In all properly constituted women."

"I tried to devote that streak to Lake," she said. "I did my best for him. But Lake was much too much of a gentleman or an idealist about women, or what you will, to know his business as a lover. And that side of me fell in love, the rest of me protesting, with a man named Caston. It was a notorious affair. Everybody in New York couples my name with Caston. Except when my father is about. His jealousy has blasted an area of silence--in that matter--all round him. He will not know of that story. And they dare not tell him. I should pity anyone who tried to tell it him."

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

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