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The Greater Inclination

The Greater Inclination

Edith Wharton

Update: 2020-04-22

Chapter 1 The Muse's Tragedy

  • Danyers afterwards liked to fancy that he had recognized Mrs. Anerton at once; but that, of course, was absurd, since he had seen no portrait of her—sh_ffected a strict anonymity, refusing even her photograph to the mos_rivileged—and from Mrs. Memorall, whom he revered and cultivated as he_riend, he had extracted but the one impressionist phrase: "Oh, well, she'_ike one of those old prints where the lines have the value of color."
  • He was almost certain, at all events, that he had been thinking of Mrs.
  • Anerton as he sat over his breakfast in the empty hotel restaurant, and that, looking up on the approach of the lady who seated herself at the table nea_he window, he had said to himself, "That might be she."
  • Ever since his Harvard days—he was still young enough to think of them a_mmensely remote—Danyers had dreamed of Mrs. Anerton, the Silvia of Vincen_endle's immortal sonnet-cycle, the Mrs. A. of the Life and Letters. Her nam_as enshrined in some of the noblest English verse of the nineteent_entury—and of all past or future centuries, as Danyers, from the stand-poin_f a maturer judgment, still believed. The first reading of certain poems—o_he Antinous, the Pia Tolomei, the Sonnets to Silvia,—had been epochs i_anyers's growth, and the verse seemed to gain in mellowness, in amplitude, i_eaning as one brought to its interpretation more experience of life, a fine_motional sense. Where, in his boyhood, he had felt only the perfect, th_lmost austere beauty of form, the subtle interplay of vowel-sounds, the rus_nd fulness of lyric emotion, he now thrilled to the close-packed significanc_f each line, the allusiveness of each word—his imagination lured hither an_hither on fresh trails of thought, and perpetually spurred by the sense that, beyond what he had already discovered, more marvellous regions lay waiting t_e explored. Danyers had written, at college, the prize essay on Rendle'_oetry (it chanced to be the moment of the great man's death); he ha_ashioned the fugitive verse of his own storm-and-stress period on the form_hich Rendle had first given to English metre; and when two years later th_ife and Letters appeared, and the Silvia of the sonnets took substance a_rs. A., he had included in his worship of Rendle the woman who had inspire_ot only such divine verse but such playful, tender, incomparable prose.
  • Danyers never forgot the day when Mrs. Memorall happened to mention that sh_new Mrs. Anerton. He had known Mrs. Memorall for a year or more, and ha_omewhat contemptuously classified her as the kind of woman who runs chea_xcursions to celebrities; when one afternoon she remarked, as she put _econd lump of sugar in his tea:
  • "Is it right this time? You're almost as particular as Mary Anerton."
  • "Mary Anerton?"
  • "Yes, I never can remember how she likes her tea. Either it's lemon wit_ugar, or lemon without sugar, or cream without either, and whichever it i_ust be put into the cup before the tea is poured in; and if one hasn'_emembered, one must begin all over again. I suppose it was Vincent Rendle'_ay of taking his tea and has become a sacred rite."
  • "Do you know Mrs. Anerton?" cried Danyers, disturbed by this careles_amiliarity with the habits of his divinity.
  • "'And did I once see Shelley plain?' Mercy, yes! She and I were at schoo_ogether—she's an American, you know. We were at a pension near Tours fo_early a year; then she went back to New York, and I didn't see her again til_fter her marriage. She and Anerton spent a winter in Rome while my husban_as attached to our Legation there, and she used to be with us a great deal."
  • Mrs. Memorall smiled reminiscently. "It was the winter."
  • "The winter they first met?"
  • "Precisely—but unluckily I left Rome just before the meeting took place.
  • Wasn't it too bad? I might have been in the Life and Letters. You know h_entions that stupid Madame Vodki, at whose house he first saw her."
  • "And did you see much of her after that?"
  • "Not during Rendle's life. You know she has lived in Europe almost entirely, and though I used to see her off and on when I went abroad, she was always s_ngrossed, so preoccupied, that one felt one wasn't wanted. The fact is, sh_ared only about his friends—she separated herself gradually from all her ow_eople. Now, of course, it's different; she's desperately lonely; she's take_o writing to me now and then; and last year, when she heard I was goin_broad, she asked me to meet her in Venice, and I spent a week with he_here."
  • "And Rendle?"
  • Mrs. Memorall smiled and shook her head. "Oh, I never was allowed a peep a_him_; none of her old friends met him, except by accident. Ill-natured peopl_ay that was the reason she kept him so long. If one happened in while he wa_here, he was hustled into Anerton's study, and the husband mounted guard til_he inopportune visitor had departed. Anerton, you know, was really much mor_idiculous about it than his wife. Mary was too clever to lose her head, or a_east to show she'd lost it—but Anerton couldn't conceal his pride in th_onquest. I've seen Mary shiver when he spoke of Rendle as our poet. Rendl_lways had to have a certain seat at the dinner-table, away from the draugh_nd not too near the fire, and a box of cigars that no one else was allowed t_ouch, and a writing-table of his own in Mary's sitting-room—and Anerton wa_lways telling one of the great man's idiosyncrasies: how he never would cu_he ends of his cigars, though Anerton himself had given him a gold cutter se_ith a star-sapphire, and how untidy his writing-table was, and how the house- maid had orders always to bring the waste-paper basket to her mistress befor_mptying it, lest some immortal verse should be thrown into the dust-bin."
  • "The Anertons never separated, did they?"
  • "Separated? Bless you, no. He never would have left Rendle! And besides, h_as very fond of his wife."
  • "And she?"
  • "Oh, she saw he was the kind of man who was fated to make himself ridiculous, and she never interfered with his natural tendencies."
  • From Mrs. Memorall, Danyers further learned that Mrs. Anerton, whose husban_ad died some years before her poet, now divided her life between Rome, wher_he had a small apartment, and England, where she occasionally went to sta_ith those of her friends who had been Rendle's. She had been engaged, fo_ome time after his death, in editing some juvenilia which he had bequeathe_o her care; but that task being accomplished, she had been left withou_efinite occupation, and Mrs. Memorall, on the occasion of their last meeting, had found her listless and out of spirits.
  • "She misses him too much—her life is too empty. I told her so—I told her sh_ught to marry."
  • "Oh!"
  • "Why not, pray? She's a young woman still—what many people would call young,"
  • Mrs. Memorall interjected, with a parenthetic glance at the mirror. "Why no_ccept the inevitable and begin over again? All the King's horses and all th_ing's men won't bring Rendle to life-and besides, she didn't marry him whe_he had the chance."
  • Danyers winced slightly at this rude fingering of his idol. Was it possibl_hat Mrs. Memorall did not see what an anti-climax such a marriage would hav_een? Fancy Rendle "making an honest woman" of Silvia; for so society woul_ave viewed it! How such a reparation would have vulgarized their past—i_ould have been like "restoring" a masterpiece; and how exquisite must hav_een the perceptions of the woman who, in defiance of appearances, and perhap_f her own secret inclination, chose to go down to posterity as Silvia rathe_han as Mrs. Vincent Rendle!
  • Mrs. Memorall, from this day forth, acquired an interest in Danyers's eyes.
  • She was like a volume of unindexed and discursive memoirs, through which h_atiently plodded in the hope of finding embedded amid layers of dusty twaddl_ome precious allusion to the subject of his thought. When, some months later, he brought out his first slim volume, in which the remodelled college essay o_endle figured among a dozen, somewhat overstudied "appreciations," he offere_ copy to Mrs. Memorall; who surprised him, the next time they met, with th_nnouncement that she had sent the book to Mrs. Anerton.
  • Mrs. Anerton in due time wrote to thank her friend. Danyers was privileged t_ead the few lines in which, in terms that suggested the habit of
  • "acknowledging" similar tributes, she spoke of the author's "feeling an_nsight," and was "so glad of the opportunity," etc. He went awa_isappointed, without clearly knowing what else he had expected.
  • The following spring, when he went abroad, Mrs. Memorall offered him letter_o everybody, from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Louise Michel. She did no_nclude Mrs. Anerton, however, and Danyers knew, from a previous conversation, that Silvia objected to people who "brought letters." He knew also that sh_ravelled during the summer, and was unlikely to return to Rome before th_erm of his holiday should be reached, and the hope of meeting her was no_ncluded among his anticipations.
  • The lady whose entrance broke upon his solitary repast in the restaurant o_he Hotel Villa d'Este had seated herself in such a way that her profile wa_etached against the window; and thus viewed, her domed forehead, small arche_ose, and fastidious lip suggested a silhouette of Marie Antoinette. In th_ady's dress and movements—in the very turn of her wrist as she poured out he_offee—Danyers thought he detected the same fastidiousness, the same air o_acitly excluding the obvious and unexceptional. Here was a woman who had bee_uch bored and keenly interested. The waiter brought her a _Secolo,_ and a_he bent above it Danyers noticed that the hair rolled back from her forehea_as turning gray; but her figure was straight and slender, and she had th_nvaluable gift of a girlish back.
  • The rush of Anglo-Saxon travel had not set toward the lakes, and with th_xception of an Italian family or two, and a hump-backed youth with an _abbé_, Danyers and the lady had the marble halls of the Villa d'Este to themselves.
  • When he returned from his morning ramble among the hills he saw her sitting a_ne of the little tables at the edge of the lake. She was writing, and a hea_f books and newspapers lay on the table at her side. That evening they me_gain in the garden. He had strolled out to smoke a last cigarette befor_inner, and under the black vaulting of ilexes, near the steps leading down t_he boat-landing, he found her leaning on the parapet above the lake. At th_ound of his approach she turned and looked at him. She had thrown a blac_ace scarf over her head, and in this sombre setting her face seemed thin an_nhappy. He remembered afterwards that her eyes, as they met his, expresse_ot so much sorrow as profound discontent.
  • To his surprise she stepped toward him with a detaining gesture.
  • "Mr. Lewis Danyers, I believe?"
  • He bowed.
  • "I am Mrs. Anerton. I saw your name on the visitors' list and wished to than_ou for an essay on Mr. Rendle's poetry—or rather to tell you how much _ppreciated it. The book was sent to me last winter by Mrs. Memorall."
  • She spoke in even melancholy tones, as though the habit of perfunctor_tterance had robbed her voice of more spontaneous accents; but her smile wa_harming. They sat down on a stone bench under the ilexes, and she told hi_ow much pleasure his essay had given her. She thought it the best in th_ook—she was sure he had put more of himself into it than into any other; wa_he not right in conjecturing that he had been very deeply influenced by Mr.
  • Rendle's poetry? Pour comprendre il faut aimer, and it seemed to her that, i_ome ways, he had penetrated the poet's inner meaning more completely than an_ther critic. There were certain problems, of course, that he had lef_ntouched; certain aspects of that many-sided mind that he had perhaps faile_o seize—
  • "But then you are young," she concluded gently, "and one could not wish you, as yet, the experience that a fuller understanding would imply."
  • She stayed a month at Villa d'Este, and Danyers was with her daily. She showe_n unaffected pleasure in his society; a pleasure so obviously founded o_heir common veneration of Rendle, that the young man could enjoy it withou_ear of fatuity. At first he was merely one more grain of frankincense on th_ltar of her insatiable divinity; but gradually a more personal note crep_nto their intercourse. If she still liked him only because he appreciate_endle, she at least perceptibly distinguished him from the herd of Rendle'_ppreciators.
  • Her attitude toward the great man's memory struck Danyers as perfect. Sh_either proclaimed nor disavowed her identity. She was frankly Silvia to thos_ho knew and cared; but there was no trace of the Egeria in her pose. Sh_poke often of Rendle's books, but seldom of himself; there was no posthumou_onjugality, no use of the possessive tense, in her abounding reminiscences.
  • Of the master's intellectual life, of his habits of thought and work, sh_ever wearied of talking. She knew the history of each poem; by what scene o_pisode each image had been evoked; how many times the words in a certain lin_ad been transposed; how long a certain adjective had been sought, and wha_ad at last suggested it; she could even explain that one impenetrable line, the torment of critics, the joy of detractors, the last line of The Ol_dysseus.
  • Danyers felt that in talking of these things she was no mere echo of Rendle'_hought. If her identity had appeared to be merged in his it was because the_hought alike, not because he had thought for her. Posterity is apt to regar_he women whom poets have sung as chance pegs on which they hung thei_arlands; but Mrs. Anerton's mind was like some fertile garden wherein, inevitably, Rendle's imagination had rooted itself and flowered. Danyers bega_o see how many threads of his complex mental tissue the poet had owed to th_lending of her temperament with his; in a certain sense Silvia had hersel_reated the Sonnets to Silvia.
  • To be the custodian of Rendle's inner self, the door, as it were, to th_anctuary, had at first seemed to Danyers so comprehensive a privilege that h_ad the sense, as his friendship with Mrs. Anerton advanced, of forcing hi_ay into a life already crowded. What room was there, among such towerin_emories, for so small an actuality as his? Quite suddenly, after this, h_iscovered that Mrs. Memorall knew better: his fortunate friend was bored a_ell as lonely.
  • "You have had more than any other woman!" he had exclaimed to her one day; an_er smile flashed a derisive light on his blunder. Fool that he was, not t_ave seen that she had not had enough! That she was young still—do year_ount?—tender, human, a woman; that the living have need of the living.
  • After that, when they climbed the alleys of the hanging park, resting in on_f the little ruined temples, or watching, through a ripple of foliage, th_emote blue flash of the lake, they did not always talk of Rendle or o_iterature. She encouraged Danyers to speak of himself; to confide hi_mbitions to her; she asked him the questions which are the wise woman'_ubstitute for advice.
  • "You must write," she said, administering the most exquisite flattery tha_uman lips could give.
  • Of course he meant to write—why not to do something great in his turn? Hi_est, at least; with the resolve, at the outset, that his best should be th_est. Nothing less seemed possible with that mandate in his ears. How she ha_ivined him; lifted and disentangled his groping ambitions; laid the awakenin_ouch on his spirit with her creative _Let there be light!_
  • It was his last day with her, and he was feeling very hopeless and happy.
  • "You ought to write a book about _him,"_ she went on gently.
  • Danyers started; he was beginning to dislike Rendle's way of walking i_nannounced.
  • "You ought to do it," she insisted. "A complete interpretation—a summing- u_f his style, his purpose, his theory of life and art. No one else could do i_s well."
  • He sat looking at her perplexedly. Suddenly—dared he guess?
  • "I couldn't do it without you," he faltered.
  • "I could help you—I would help you, of course."
  • They sat silent, both looking at the lake.
  • It was agreed, when they parted, that he should rejoin her six weeks later i_enice. There they were to talk about the book.
  • **Lago d'Iseo, August 14th**
  • When I said good-by to you yesterday I promised to come back to Venice in _eek: I was to give you your answer then. I was not honest in saying that; _idn't mean to go back to Venice or to see you again. I was running away fro_ou—and I mean to keep on running! If you won't, I must. Somebody must sav_ou from marrying a disappointed woman of—well, you say years don't count, an_hy should they, after all, since you are not to marry me?
  • That is what I dare not go back to say. You are not to marry me. We have ha_ur month together in Venice (such a good month, was it not?) and now you ar_o go home and write a book—any book but the one we—didn't talk of!—and I a_o stay here, attitudinizing among my memories like a sort of female Tithonus.
  • The dreariness of this enforced immortality!
  • But you shall know the truth. I care for you, or at least for your love, enough to owe you that.
  • You thought it was because Vincent Rendle had loved me that there was s_ittle hope for you. I had had what I wanted to the full; wasn't that what yo_aid? It is just when a man begins to think he understands a woman that he ma_e sure he doesn't! It is because Vincent Rendle _didn't love me_ that ther_s no hope for you. I never had what I wanted, and never, never, never will _toop to wanting anything else.
  • Do you begin to understand? It was all a sham then, you say? No, it was al_eal as far as it went. You are young—you haven't learned, as you will later, the thousand imperceptible signs by which one gropes one's way through th_abyrinth of human nature; but didn't it strike you, sometimes, that I neve_old you any foolish little anecdotes about him? His trick, for instance, o_wirling a paper-knife round and round between his thumb and forefinger whil_e talked; his mania for saving the backs of notes; his greediness for wil_trawberries, the little pungent Alpine ones; his childish delight in acrobat_nd jugglers; his way of always calling me _you—dear you_, every lette_egan—I never told you a word of all that, did I? Do you suppose I could hav_elped telling you, if he had loved me? These little things would have bee_ine, then, a part of my life—of our life—they would have slipped out in spit_f me (it's only your unhappy woman who is always reticent and dignified). Bu_here never was any "our life;" it was always "our lives" to the end… .
  • If you knew what a relief it is to tell some one at last, you would bear wit_e, you would let me hurt you! I shall never be quite so lonely again, no_hat some one knows.
  • Let me begin at the beginning. When I first met Vincent Rendle I was no_wenty-five. That was twenty years ago. From that time until his death, fiv_ears ago, we were fast friends. He gave me fifteen years, perhaps the bes_ifteen years, of his life. The world, as you know, thinks that his greates_oems were written during those years; I am supposed to have "inspired" them, and in a sense I did. From the first, the intellectual sympathy between us wa_lmost complete; my mind must have been to him (I fancy) like some perfectl_uned instrument on which he was never tired of playing. Some one told me o_is once saying of me that I "always understood;" it is the only praise I eve_eard of his giving me. I don't even know if he thought me pretty, though _ardly think my appearance could have been disagreeable to him, for he hate_o be with ugly people. At all events he fell into the way of spending mor_nd more of his time with me. He liked our house; our ways suited him. He wa_ervous, irritable; people bored him and yet he disliked solitude. He too_anctuary with us. When we travelled he went with us; in the winter he too_ooms near us in Rome. In England or on the continent he was always with u_or a good part of the year. In small ways I was able to help him in his work; he grew dependent on me. When we were apart he wrote to me continually—h_iked to have me share in all he was doing or thinking; he was impatient fo_y criticism of every new book that interested him; I was a part of hi_ntellectual life. The pity of it was that I wanted to be something more. _as a young woman and I was in love with him—not because he was Vincen_endle, but just because he was himself!
  • People began to talk, of course—I was Vincent Rendle's Mrs. Anerton; when th_onnets to Silvia appeared, it was whispered that I was Silvia. Wherever h_ent, I was invited; people made up to me in the hope of getting to know him; when I was in London my doorbell never stopped ringing. Elderly peeresses, aspiring hostesses, love-sick girls and struggling authors overwhelmed me wit_heir assiduities. I hugged my success, for I knew what it meant—they though_hat Rendle was in love with me! Do you know, at times, they almost made m_hink so too? Oh, there was no phase of folly I didn't go through. You can'_magine the excuses a woman will invent for a man's not telling her that h_oves her—pitiable arguments that she would see through at a glance if an_ther woman used them! But all the while, deep down, I knew he had neve_ared. I should have known it if he had made love to me every day of his life.
  • I could never guess whether he knew what people said about us—he listened s_ittle to what people said; and cared still less, when he heard. He was alway_uite honest and straightforward with me; he treated me as one man treat_nother; and yet at times I felt he must see that with me it was different. I_e did see, he made no sign. Perhaps he never noticed—I am sure he never mean_o be cruel. He had never made love to me; it was no fault of his if I wante_ore than he could give me. The Sonnets to Silvia, you say? But what are they?
  • A cosmic philosophy, not a love-poem; addressed to Woman, not to a woman!
  • But then, the letters? Ah, the letters! Well, I'll make a clean breast of it.
  • You have noticed the breaks in the letters here and there, just as they see_o be on the point of growing a little—warmer? The critics, you may remember, praised the editor for his commendable delicacy and good taste (so rare i_hese days!) in omitting from the correspondence all personal allusions, al_hose _détails intimes_ which should be kept sacred from the public gaze. The_eferred, of course, to the asterisks in the letters to Mrs. A. Those letter_ myself prepared for publication; that is to say, I copied them out for th_ditor, and every now and then I put in a line of asterisks to make it appea_hat something had been left out. You understand? The asterisks were _ham—there was nothing to leave out.
  • No one but a woman could understand what I went through during those years—th_oments of revolt, when I felt I must break away from it all, fling the trut_n his face and never see him again; the inevitable reaction, when not to se_im seemed the one unendurable thing, and I trembled lest a look or word o_ine should disturb the poise of our friendship; the silly days when I hugge_he delusion that he must love me, since everybody thought he did; the lon_eriods of numbness, when I didn't seem to care whether he loved me or not.
  • Between these wretched days came others when our intellectual accord was s_erfect that I forgot everything else in the joy of feeling myself lifted u_n the wings of his thought. Sometimes, then, the heavens seemed to be opened… .
  • All this time he was so dear a friend! He had the genius of friendship, and h_pent it all on me. Yes, you were right when you said that I have had mor_han any other woman. _Il faut de l'adresse pour aimer_, Pascal says; and _as so quiet, so cheerful, so frankly affectionate with him, that in all thos_ears I am almost sure I never bored him. Could I have hoped as much if he ha_oved me?
  • You mustn't think of him, though, as having been tied to my skirts. He cam_nd went as he pleased, and so did his fancies. There was a girl once (I a_elling you everything), a lovely being who called his poetry "deep" and gav_im Lucile on his birthday. He followed her to Switzerland one summer, and al_he time that he was dangling after her (a little too conspicuously, I alway_hought, for a Great Man), he was writing to me about his theory of vowel- combinations—or was it his experiments in English hexameter? The letters wer_ated from the very places where I knew they went and sat by waterfall_ogether and he thought out adjectives for her hair. He talked to me about i_uite frankly afterwards. She was perfectly beautiful and it had been a pur_elight to watch her; but she would talk, and her mind, he said, was "al_lbows." And yet, the next year, when her marriage was announced, he went awa_lone, quite suddenly … and it was just afterwards that he published _Love'_iaticum_. Men are queer!
  • After my husband died—I am putting things crudely, you see—I had a return o_ope. It was because he loved me, I argued, that he had never spoken; becaus_e had always hoped some day to make me his wife; because he wanted to spar_e the "reproach." Rubbish! I knew well enough, in my heart of hearts, that m_ne chance lay in the force of habit. He had grown used to me; he was n_onger young; he dreaded new people and new ways; il avait pris son pli. Woul_t not be easier to marry me?
  • I don't believe he ever thought of it. He wrote me what people call "_eautiful letter;" he was kind; considerate, decently commiserating; then, after a few weeks, he slipped into his old way of coming in every afternoon, and our interminable talks began again just where they had left off. I hear_ater that people thought I had shown "such good taste" in not marrying him.
  • So we jogged on for five years longer. Perhaps they were the best years, for _ad given up hoping. Then he died.
  • After his death—this is curious—there came to me a kind of mirage of love. Al_he books and articles written about him, all the reviews of the "Life," wer_ull of discreet allusions to Silvia. I became again the Mrs. Anerton of th_lorious days. Sentimental girls and dear lads like you turned pink whe_omebody whispered, "that was Silvia you were talking to." Idiots begged fo_y autograph—publishers urged me to write my reminiscences of him—critic_onsulted me about the reading of doubtful lines. And I knew that, to al_hese people, I was the woman Vincent Rendle had loved.
  • After a while that fire went out too and I was left alone with my past.
  • Alone—quite alone; for he had never really been with me. The intellectua_nion counted for nothing now. It had been soul to soul, but never hand i_and, and there were no little things to remember him by.
  • Then there set in a kind of Arctic winter. I crawled into myself as into _now-hut. I hated my solitude and yet dreaded any one who disturbed it. Tha_hase, of course, passed like the others. I took up life again, and began t_ead the papers and consider the cut of my gowns. But there was one questio_hat I could not be rid of, that haunted me night and day. Why had he neve_oved me? Why had I been so much to him, and no more? Was I so ugly, s_ssentially unlovable, that though a man might cherish me as his mind'_omrade, he could not care for me as a woman? I can't tell you how tha_uestion tortured me. It became an obsession.
  • My poor friend, do you begin to see? I had to find out what some other ma_hought of me. Don't be too hard on me! Listen first—consider. When I firs_et Vincent Rendle I was a young woman, who had married early and led th_uietest kind of life; I had had no "experiences." From the hour of our firs_eeting to the day of his death I never looked at any other man, and neve_oticed whether any other man looked at me. When he died, five years ago, _new the extent of my powers no more than a baby. Was it too late to find out?
  • Should I never know _why?_
  • Forgive me—forgive me. You are so young; it will be an episode, a mere
  • "document," to you so soon! And, besides, it wasn't as deliberate, as cold- blooded as these disjointed lines have made it appear. I didn't plan it, lik_ woman in a book. Life is so much more complex than any rendering of it ca_e. I liked you from the first—I was drawn to you (you must have seen that)—_anted you to like me; it was not a mere psychological experiment. And yet i_ sense it was that, too—I must be honest. I had to have an answer to tha_uestion; it was a ghost that had to be laid.
  • At first I was afraid—oh, so much afraid—that you cared for me only because _as Silvia, that you loved me because you thought Rendle had loved me. I bega_o think there was no escaping my destiny.
  • How happy I was when I discovered that you were growing jealous of my past; that you actually hated Rendle! My heart beat like a girl's when you told m_ou meant to follow me to Venice.
  • After our parting at Villa d'Este my old doubts reasserted themselves. Wha_id I know of your feeling for me, after all? Were you capable of analyzing i_ourself? Was it not likely to be two-thirds vanity and curiosity, and one- third literary sentimentality? You might easily fancy that you cared for Mar_nerton when you were really in love with Silvia— the heart is such _ypocrite! Or you might be more calculating than I had supposed. Perhaps i_as you who had been flattering my vanity in the hope (the pardonable hope!) of turning me, after a decent interval, into a pretty little essay with _argin.
  • When you arrived in Venice and we met again—do you remember the music on th_agoon, that evening, from my balcony?—I was so afraid you would begin to tal_bout the book—the book, you remember, was your ostensible reason for coming.
  • You never spoke of it, and I soon saw your one fear was I might do so—migh_emind you of your object in being with me. Then I knew you cared for me! yes, at that moment really cared! We never mentioned the book once, did we, durin_hat month in Venice?
  • I have read my letter over; and now I wish that I had said this to you instea_f writing it. I could have felt my way then, watching your face and seeing i_ou understood. But, no, I could not go back to Venice; and I could not tel_ou (though I tried) while we were there together. I couldn't spoil tha_onth—my one month. It was so good, for once in my life, to get away fro_iterature… .
  • You will be angry with me at first—but, alas! not for long. What I have don_ould have been cruel if I had been a younger woman; as it is, the experimen_ill hurt no one but myself. And it will hurt me horribly (as much as, in you_irst anger, you may perhaps wish), because it has shown me, for the firs_ime, all that I have missed… .