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"I will tell you all I can—all I dare," she panted eagerly,

2023-12-06 05:59:12 source:School of insects and fishauthor: theory click:381Second-rate

"Then, as she lay with half-closed eyes, he would pour forth a flood of passionate words sufficient to satisfy even her thirsty ears, and afterwards, as the gates clanged behind him, would take up an engineering problem at the exact point at which half an hour before, on her entrance into the room, he had temporarily dismissed it.

"One day, a privileged friend put bluntly to him this question: 'Are you playing for love or vanity?'

"To which the man, after long pondering, gave this reply: ''Pon my soul, Jack, I couldn't tell you.'

"Now, when a man is in love with a woman who cannot make up her mind whether she loves him or not, we call the complication comedy; where it is the woman who is in earnest the result is generally tragedy.

"They continued to meet and to make love. They talked--as people in their position are prone to talk--of the beautiful life they would lead if it only were not for the thing that was; of the earthly paradise--or, maybe, 'earthy' would be the more suitable adjective-- they would each create for the other, if only they had the right which they hadn't.

"In this work of imagination the man trusted chiefly to his literary faculties, which were considerable; the woman to her desires. Thus, his scenes possessed a grace and finish which hers lacked, but her pictures were the more vivid. Indeed, so realistic did she paint them, that to herself they seemed realities, waiting for her. Then she would rise to go towards them only to strike herself against the thought of the thing that stood between her and them. At first she only hated the thing, but after a while there came an ugly look of hope into her eyes.

"The time drew near for the man to return to England. The canal was completed, and a day appointed for the letting in of the water. The man determined to make the event the occasion of a social gathering. He invited a large number of guests, among whom were the woman and her husband, to assist at the function. Afterwards the party were to picnic at a pleasant wooded spot some three-quarters of a mile from the first lock.

"The ceremony of flooding was to be performed by the woman, her husband's position entitling her to this distinction. Between the river and the head of the cutting had been left a strong bank of earth, pierced some distance down by a hole, which hole was kept closed by means of a closely-fitting steel plate. The woman drew the lever releasing this plate, and the water rushed through and began to press against the lock gates. When it had attained a certain depth, the sluices were raised, and the water poured down into the deep basin of the lock.

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