Chapter 17: Lying to Cecil
"Let me light your candle, shall I?"
They went into the hall.
"Thank you. Good-night again. God bless you, Lucy!"
She watched him steal up-stairs, while the shadows from three
banisters passed over her face like the beat of wings. On the
landing he paused strong in his renunciation, and gave her a
look of memorable beauty. For all his culture, Cecil was an
ascetic at heart, and nothing in his love became him like the
leaving of it.
She could never marry. In the tumult of her soul, that stood
firm. Cecil believed in her; she must some day believe in
herself. She must be one of the women whom she had praised so
eloquently, who care for liberty and not for men; she must forget
that George loved her, that George had been thinking through her
and gained her this honourable release, that George had gone
away into--what was it?--the darkness.
She put out the lamp.
It did not do to think, nor, for the matter of that to feel. She
gave up trying to understand herself, and the vast armies of the
benighted, who follow neither the heart nor the brain, and
march to their destiny by catch-words. The armies are full of
pleasant and pious folk. But they have yielded to the only enemy
that matters--the enemy within. They have sinned against passion
and truth, and vain will be their strife after virtue. As the
years pass, they are censured. Their pleasantry and their piety
show cracks, their wit becomes cynicism, their unselfishness
hypocrisy; they feel and produce discomfort wherever they go.
They have sinned against Eros and against Pallas Athene, and not
by any heavenly intervention, but by the ordinary course of
nature, those allied deities will be avenged.
Lucy entered this army when she pretended to George that she did
not love him, and pretended to Cecil that she loved no one. The
night received her, as it had received Miss Bartlett thirty years