Marriage Read online

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  |=================================================| | MR. WELLS HAS ALSO WRITTEN | | The following Novels: | | | | TONO BUNGAY | | LOVE AND MR. LEWISHAM | | KIPPS ANN VERONICA | | THE HISTORY OF MR. POLLY | | and THE NEW MACHIAVELLI | | | | Numerous short stories now published | | in a single volume under the title. | | THE COUNTRY OF THE BLIND | | | | The following fantastic Romances: | | | | THE TIME MACHINE | | THE WONDERFUL VISIT | | THE INVISIBLE MAN | | THE WAR OF THE WORLDS | | THE SEA LADY | | IN THE DAYS OF THE COMET | | THE SLEEPER AWAKES | | THE FOOD OF THE GODS | | THE WAR IN THE AIR | | THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON | | and THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU | | | | And a series of books upon social and political | | questions of which | | | | A MODERN UTOPIA | | FIRST AND LAST THINGS (RELIGION) | | NEW WORLDS FOR OLD | | THE FUTURE IN AMERICA | | and ANTICIPATIONS | | are the chief. | |=================================================|




  "And the Poor Dears haven't the shadow of a doubt they will live happily ever afterwards."--_From a Private Letter_.









  Sec. 1

  An extremely pretty girl occupied a second-class compartment in one ofthose trains which percolate through the rural tranquillities of middleEngland from Ganford in Oxfordshire to Rumbold Junction in Kent. She wasgoing to join her family at Buryhamstreet after a visit to someGloucestershire friends. Her father, Mr. Pope, once a leader in thecoach-building world and now by retirement a gentleman, had taken theBuryhamstreet vicarage furnished for two months (beginning on thefifteenth of July) at his maximum summer rental of seven guineas a week.His daughter was on her way to this retreat.

  At first she had been an animated traveller, erect and keenly regardfulof every detail upon the platforms of the stations at which herconveyance lingered, but the tedium of the journey and the warmth of thesunny afternoon had relaxed her pose by imperceptible degrees, and shesat now comfortably in the corner, with her neat toes upon the seatbefore her, ready to drop them primly at the first sign of afellow-traveller. Her expression lapsed more and more towards an almostsomnolent reverie. She wished she had not taken a second-class ticket,because then she might have afforded a cup of tea at Reading, and sofortified herself against this insinuating indolence.

  She was travelling second class, instead of third as she ought to havedone, through one of those lapses so inevitable to young people in herposition. The two Carmel boys and a cousin, two greyhounds and a chowhad come to see her off; they had made a brilliant and prosperous groupon the platform and extorted the manifest admiration of two youthfulporters, and it had been altogether too much for Marjorie Pope to admitit was the family custom--except when her father's nerves had to beconsidered--to go third class. So she had made a hasty calculation--sheknew her balance to a penny because of the recent tipping--and found itwould just run to it. Fourpence remained,--and there would be a porterat Buryhamstreet!

  Her mother had said: "You will have Ample." Well, opinions of amplitudevary. With numerous details fresh in her mind, Marjorie decided it wouldbe wiser to avoid financial discussion during her first few days atBuryhamstreet.

  There was much in Marjorie's equipment in the key of travelling secondclass at the sacrifice of afternoon tea. There was, for example, acertain quiet goodness of style about her clothes, though the skirtbetrayed age, and an entire absence of style about her luggage, whichwas all in the compartment with her, and which consisted of a distendedhold-all, a very good tennis racquet in a stretcher, a portmanteau ofcheap white basketwork held together by straps, and a very new,expensive-looking and meretricious dressing-bag of imitation morocco,which had been one of her chief financial errors at Oxbridge. Thecollection was eloquent indeed of incompatible standards....

  Marjorie had a chin that was small in size if resolute in form, and amouth that was not noticeably soft and weak because it was conspicuouslysoft and pretty. Her nose was delicately aquiline and very subtly andfinely modelled, and she looked out upon the world with steady,grey-blue eyes beneath broad, level brows that contradicted in a largemeasure the hint of weakness below. She had an abundance of copper-redhair, which flowed back very prettily from her broad, low forehead andover her delicate ears, and she had that warm-tinted clear skin thatgoes so well with reddish hair. She had a very dainty neck, and the longslender lines of her body were full of the promise of a riper beauty.She had the good open shoulders of a tennis-player and a swimmer. Someday she was to be a tall, ruddy, beautiful woman. She wore simpleclothes of silvery grey and soft green, and about her waist was a beltof grey leather in which there now wilted two creamy-petalled roses.

  That was the visible Marjorie. Somewhere out of time and space was aninvisible Marjorie who looked out on the world with those steady eyes,and smiled or drooped with the soft red lips, and dreamt, and wondered,and desired.

  Sec. 2

  What a queer thing the invisible human being would appear if, by somediscovery as yet inconceivable, some spiritual X-ray photography, wecould flash it into sight! Long ago I read a book called "Soul Shapes"that was full of ingenious ideas, but I doubt very much if the thing sorevealed would have any shape, any abiding solid outline at all. It issomething more fluctuating and discursive than that--at any rate, forevery one young enough not to have set and hardened. Things come intoit and become it, things drift out of it and cease to be it, things turnupside down in it and change and colour and dissolve, and grow and eddyabout and blend into each other. One might figure it, I suppose, as apreposterous jumble animated by a will; a floundering disconnectednessthrough which an old hump of impulse rises and thrusts unaccountably; ariver beast of purpose wallowing in a back eddy of mud and weeds andfloating objects and creatures drowned. Now the sunshine of gladnessmakes it all vivid, now it is sombre and grimly insistent under the skyof some darkling mood, now an emotional gale sweeps across it and it isone confused agitation....

  And surely these invisible selves of men were never so jumbled, socrowded, complicated, and stirred about as they are at the present time.Once I am told they had a sort of order, were sphered in religiousbeliefs, crystal clear, were arranged in a cosmogony that fitted them ashand fits glove, were separated by definite standards of right and wrongwhich presented life as planned in all its essential aspects from thecradle to the grave. Things are so no longer. That sphere is broken formost of us; even if it is tied about and mended again, it is burst likea seed case; things have fall