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The City of Lost Men BOOK II - THE WORLD THAT JACK BUILT 10. There was still a possible flaw in the argument: His inconsistency in coming back-to Esther--was it wise or foolish? They had taken up the broken fragments of their life and joined them together with all the intensity and beauty that they had known in the best days before he went away. The whole arrangement suited George perfectly because it gave him both space and privacy. " Her seriousness, and the impossibility of giving her an answer annoyed him now, and he rose from his chair, stared down blankly at her for a moment, and then began pacing back and forth across the room. " As a matter of fact, in moments of excitement George did look rather like a monkey.
This thought was comforting to George, and he pondered it for some time, yet it did not altogether remove the edge of guilt that faintly tinged his contentment. This was her body and her flesh, she was alive and ready in a moment. Their reunion had been a joyous re-discovery of love, and all things were made new again. There was also a tiny kitchen, just big enough to turn around in. All I did was ask him a simple question and he acts like this! Look at him--pacing like a wild animal in a cage, like a temperamental and introspective monkey!
The morning sun steeped each object in her room with casual light, and in her heart she said, "It is now." Nora brought coffee and hot rolls, and Esther read the paper. She had her world of the theatre and of her rich friends which he did not want to belong to, and he had his world of writing which he would have to manage alone. " Her abrupt change of mood and her easy assumption that he or any human being could honestly pledge himself to anyone or anything for ever struck him as ludicrous, and he laughed. Moreover, his features were small--somewhat pug-nosed, the eyes set very deep in beneath heavy brows, the forehead rather low, the hair beginning not far above the brows.
Yes--and then written sage words about it: "A foolish consistency," Emerson had said, "is the hobgoblin of little minds." And great Goethe, accepting the inevitable truth that human growth does not proceed in a straight line to its goal, had compared the development and progress of mankind to the reelings of a drunken beggar on horseback. Don't you know, woman, that I haven't had a bite to eat all day? It will be like a living miracle, and will make you better and richer as long as you live. It will be a glory and a triumph." "Then this will be such food as no one ever ate before," he said. There was never anything like it in the world before. From the first day of his return he had flatly refused to go back to the house on Waverly Place which the two of them had previously shared for work and love and living. Had not even the philosophers themselves been similarly caught? You arc sitting there licking your lips over it now, gloating on it, and on my hunger! "It will be good because I am so good and beautiful, and because I can do everything better than any other woman you will ever know, and because I love you with all my heart and soul, and want to be a part of you." "Will this great love get into the food you cook for me? It will feed your hunger as you've never been fed before. But things were not quite the same between them as they had once been. No longer now for them was there a single tenement and dwelling place. Well, he was not the first man to be caught on the horns of this dilemma. "Will you make me one of your causes that is subtle, searching, and hushed? "Whatever you like, I will make it for you." "Why will you make it for me? It was like a ritual that both of them knew, and they fastened upon each word and answer because they were so eager to hear it from each other. Because I want to feed you and to love you." "Will it be good? "It will be so good that there will be no words to tell its goodness," she said.It seemed to him that all man's life was like a tiny spurt of flame that blazed out briefly in an illimitable and terrifying darkness, and that all man's grandeur, tragic dignity, his heroic glory, came from the brevity and smallness of this flame. She handed them to him, and sat opposite to watch his face as he read them. Already there were little portents that made him begin to doubt it. Esther watched him a minute or two, feeling disappointed and hurt that he had not answered her.He knew his life was little and would be extinguished, and that only darkness was immense and everlasting. She remembered all the things they had written about her work: "...subtle, searching, and hushed, with a wry and rueful humour of its own..." "..these old eyes shine by its deft, sure touch of whimsey as nothing else in this prodigal season of dramatic husks has done..." "..gay insouciance of her unmannered settings, touched with those qualities which we have come to expect in all her ardent services to that sometimes too ungrateful jade, the drama..." "..excellent fooling that is implicit in these droll sets, elvishly sly, mocking, and, need we add or make apology for adding, expert? One morning when she came to see him and was telling him with spirit and great good humour about a little comedy she had witnessed in the street, suddenly she stopped short in the middle of it, a cloud passed over her face, her eyes became troubled, and she turned to him and said: "You do love me, don't you, George? He stopped by the front window and stood looking out, and she went over to him and quietly put her arm through his.
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And, most important of all for one who had taken so long to grow up, he thought be had learned not to be the slave of his emotions.