Phase the Fourth: The Consequence
28. CHAPTER XXVIII
Her refusal, though unexpected, did not permanently
daunt Clare. His experience of women was great enough
for him to be aware that the negative often meant
nothing more than the preface to the affirmative; and
it was little enough for him not to know that in the
manner of the present negative there lay a great
exception to the dallyings of coyness. That she had
already permitted him to make love to her he read as an
additional assurance, not fully trowing that in the
fields and pastures to "sigh gratis" is by no means
deemed waste; love-making being here more often
accepted inconsiderately and for its own sweet sake
than in the carking anxious homes of the ambitious,
where a girl's craving for an establishment paralyzes
her healthy thought of a passion as an end.
"Tess, why did you say 'no' in such a positive way?"
he asked her in the course of a few days.
"Don't ask me. I told you why--partly. I am not good
enough--not worthy enough."
"How? Not fine lady enough?"
"Yes--something like that," murmured she. "Your
friends would scorn me."
"Indeed, you mistake them--my father and mother.
As for my brothers, I don't care----" He clasped his
fingers behind her back to keep her from slipping away.
"Now--you did not mean it, sweet?--I am sure you did
not! You have made me so restless that I cannot read,
or play, or do anything. I am in no hurry, Tess, but I
want to know--to hear from your own warm lips--that you
will some day be mine--any time you may choose; but
She could only shake her head and look away from him.
Clare regarded her attentively, conned the characters
of her face as if they had been hieroglyphics. The
denial seemed real.
"Then I ought not to hold you in this way--ought I?
I have no right to you--no right to seek out where you
are, or walk with you! Honestly, Tess, do you love any