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There are some natures who find it of all
things the hardest to let themselves go, to speak out their love, to express their affection, to show the fidelity of thought and longing, which is in reality part of their being. Have you not seen men and women both, who seemed unable to express freely their deepest and best, who were wrapped up in their self-control, and who had to tear open the doors of their hearts, even to those whose images were locked therein? I have known one or two such people. My maternal grandfather was such an one. Stern, strict, unforgiving, hard, and yet passionate, fond of his own, and as unable to show the little graces of affection as though he were without language. I sympathise with this superficially hard, though really loving and affectionate temperament. I know something of its trials myself. I never found it
easy, even in my immediate surroundings, to ,
make the children, my nieces and nephews, or even my sister and brother, to know how hearty was my affection. No one loves affection more than I, and yet few, I ween, express it more awkwardly, more coldly. It is all dull, crumbling, dusty lava outside, but with a fire to consume a village inside. Perhaps this woman who has hurt you so is like that. I am unwilling to believe that mere flippancy, mere indifference is at the bottom of this change. It seems to me that I can read between the lines of her letters the effort to appear cold, to defend herself from what really frightens her by a show of thoughtlessness, by a supercilious trifling, that are not at all her real self. Not that I would defend her, my dear boy. Not that she has not done right. Not that you will not find it so some day, no matter how black it all is now. But now I am only your friend, and the world and its conventions, or even its laws, must go for the moment. “My brother and I quarrel, but it is my brother and I against the world,” runs the Arabic proverb. It is you and I against the world now, until
you are healed and sound in heart and mind again. Can you not go away now, and get out of the environment where there is a chance of you two meeting again? Do not, I beg of you now, become fired with the mad desire to grasp and pull and tear this volatile, or seemingly volatile, person back into your life again. Men are sometimes, I think, maddened by the mere lust of pursuit. They follow and hunt down their love, as they would a wild beast that they wound and which escapes. They then become untiring in pursuit. The beast that is wounded is the one they will have and none other, though hundreds of others haunt the forest. But this is all of life to me, I hear you say. It is not the chase; it is not hunting; it is life or death. Believe it not. Life has many corners, and when we come to the one we take to be the last, we turn it to find still another and yet another, and perhaps peace awaiting us behind one or another where we least expected to find it.
“ Say not the struggle naught availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
And as things have been they remain.
“ For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.
" And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light,
But westward, look, the land is bright.”
You are a young man yet, far too young to live in despair, to give way to cynicism, to become suspicious, to think ill of men and women, to doubt their affection, to feel yourself wounded mortally and finally, and with no more battle in you, no more capacity to love and trust. I will not have that happen to you; that must not be your fate, just because a careless slingsman has caught you in the forehead with a pebble.
I thank you for your confidence in me, and for the real affection shown in sharing with me your miseries. One shares one's joys with all the world, but one's sorrows with the heart's own family, and what a small one it is, as one travels on the other side of forty. Bring me what you will. It makes me feel myself of more use in the world, as though I had a task, a duty, a parish again, to whom I mean something,