E. M. Forster: Howards End

18. CHAPTER XVIII (continued)

"But you won't do anything rash, Margaret?"

"There's nothing rash to do."

"Who ARE the Wilcoxes?" said Tibby, a question that sounds silly, but was really extremely subtle as his aunt found to her cost when she tried to answer it. "I don't MANAGE the Wilcoxes; I don't see where they come IN."

"No more do I," agreed Helen. "It's funny that we just don't lose sight of them. Out of all our hotel acquaintances, Mr. Wilcox is the only one who has stuck. It is now over three years, and we have drifted away from far more interesting people in that time."

"Interesting people don't get one houses."

"Meg, if you start in your honest-English vein, I shall throw the treacle at you."

"It's a better vein than the cosmopolitan," said Margaret, getting up. "Now, children, which is it to be? You know the Ducie Street house. Shall I say yes or shall I say no? Tibby love-- which? I'm specially anxious to pin you both."

"It all depends on what meaning you attach to the word 'possible'"

"It depends on nothing of the sort. Say 'yes.'"

"Say 'no.'"

Then Margaret spoke rather seriously. "I think," she said, "that our race is degenerating. We cannot settle even this little thing; what will it be like when we have to settle a big one?"

"It will be as easy as eating," returned Helen.

"I was thinking of father. How could he settle to leave Germany as he did, when he had fought for it as a young man, and all his feelings and friends were Prussian? How could he break loose with Patriotism and begin aiming at something else? It would have killed me. When he was nearly forty he could change countries and ideals--and we, at our age, can't change houses. It's humiliating."

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