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Early in their engagement Wemyss had expounded his theory to Lucy that there should be the most perfect frankness between lovers, while as for husband and wife there oughtn't to be a corner anywhere about either of them, mind, body, or soul, which couldn't be revealed to the other one.
'You can talk about everything to your Everard,' he assured her. 'Tell him your innermost thoughts, whatever they may be. You need no more be ashamed of telling him than of thinking them by yourself. He is you. You and he are one in mind and soul now, and when he is your husband you and he will become perfect and complete by being one in body as well. Everard—Lucy. Lucy—Everard. We shan't know where one ends and the other begins. That, little Love, is real marriage. What do you think of it?'
Lucy thought so highly of it that she had no words with which to express her admiration, and fell to kissing him instead. What ideal happiness, to be for ever removed from the fear of loneliness by the simple expedient of being doubled; and who so happy as herself to have found the exactly right person for this doubling, one she could so perfectly agree with and understand? She felt quite sorry she had nothing in her mind in the way of thoughts she was ashamed of to tell him then and there, but there wasn't a doubt, there wasn't a shred of anything a little wrong, not even an unworthy suspicion. Her mind was a chalice filled only with love, and so clear and bright was the love that even at the bottom, when she stirred it up to look, there wasn't a trace of sediment.
But marriage—or was it sleeplessness?—completely changed this, and there were perfect crowds of thoughts in her mind that she was thoroughly ashamed of. Remembering his words, and whole-heartedly agreeing that to be able to tell each other everything, to have no concealments, was real marriage, the day after her wedding she first of all reminded him of what he had said, then plunged bravely into the announcement that she'd got a thought she was ashamed of.
Wemyss pricked up his ears, thinking it was something interesting to do with sex, and waited with an amused, inquisitive smile. But Lucy in such matters was content to follow him, aware of her want of experience and of the abundance of his, and the thought that was worrying her only had to do with a waiter. A waiter, if you please.
Wemyss's smile died away. He had had occasion to reprimand this waiter at lunch for gross negligence, and here was Lucy alleging he had done so without any reason that she could see, and anyhow roughly. Would he remove the feeling of discomfort she had at being forced to think her own heart's beloved, the kindest and gentlest of men, hadn't been kind and gentle but unjust, by explaining?
Well, that was at the very beginning. She soon learned that a doubt in her mind was better kept there. If she brought it out to air it and dispel it by talking it over with him, all that happened was that he was hurt, and when he was hurt she instantly became perfectly miserable. Seeing, then, that this happened about small things, how impossible it was to talk with him of big things; of, especially, her immense doubt in regard to The Willows. For a long while she was sure he was bearing her feeling in mind, since it couldn't have changed since Christmas, and that when she arrived there she would find that he had had everything altered and all traces of Vera's life there removed. Then, when he began to talk about The Willows, she found that such an idea as alterations hadn't entered his head. She was to sleep in the very room that had been his and Vera's, in the very bed. And positively, so far was it from true that she could tell him every thought and talk everything over with him, when she discovered this she wasn't able to say more than that hesitating remark on the château terrace at Amboise about supposing he was going to change his bedroom.
Yet The Willows haunted her, and what a comfort it would have been to tell him all she felt and let him help her to get rid of her growing obsession by laughing at her. What a comfort if, even if he had thought her too silly and morbid to be laughed at, he had indulged her and consented to alter those rooms. But one learns a lot on a honeymoon, Lucy reflected, and one of the things she had learned was that Wemyss's mind was always made up. There seemed to be no moment when it was in a condition of becoming, and she might have slipped in a suggestion or laid a wish before him; his plans were sprung upon her full fledged, and they were unalterable. Sometimes he said, 'Would you like——?' and if she didn't like, and answered truthfully, as she answered at first before she learned not to, there was trouble. Silent trouble. A retiring of Wemyss into a hurt aloofness, for his question was only decorative, and his little Love should instinctively, he considered, like what he liked; and there outside this aloofness, after efforts to get at him with fond and anxious questions, she sat like a beggar in patient distress, waiting for him to emerge and be kind to her.
Of course as far as the minor wishes and preferences of every day went it was all quite easy, once she had grasped the right answer to the question, 'Would you like?' She instantly did like. 'Oh yes—very much!' she hastened to assure him; and then his face continued content and happy instead of clouding with aggrievement. But about the big things it wasn't easy, because of the difficulty of getting the right flavour of enthusiasm into her voice, and if she didn't get it in he would put his finger under her chin and turn her to the light and repeat the question in a solemn voice,—precursor, she had learned, of the beginning of the cloud on his face.
How difficult it was sometimes. When he said to her, 'You'll like the view from your sitting-room at The Willows,' she naturally wanted to cry out that she wouldn't, and ask him how he could suppose she would like what was to her a view for ever associated with death? Why shouldn't she be able to cry out naturally if she wanted to, to talk to him frankly, to get his help to cure herself of what was so ridiculous by laughing at it with him? She couldn't laugh all alone, though she was always trying to; with him she could have, and so have become quite sensible. For he was so much bigger than she was, so wonderful in the way he had triumphed over diseased thinking, and his wholesomeness would spread over her too, a purging, disinfecting influence, if only he would let her talk, if only he would help her to laugh. Instead, she found herself hurriedly saying in a small, anxious voice, 'Oh yes—very much!'
'Is it possible,' she thought, 'that I am abject?'
Yes, she was extremely abject, she reflected, lying awake at night considering her behaviour during the day. Love had made her so. Love did make one abject, for it was full of fear of hurting the beloved. The assertion of the Scriptures that perfect love casteth out fear only showed, seeing that her love for Everard was certainly perfect, how little the Scriptures really knew what they were talking about.
Well, if she couldn't tell him the things she was feeling, why couldn't she get rid of the sorts of feelings she couldn't tell him, and just be wholesome? Why couldn't she be at least as wholesome about going to that house as Everard? If anybody was justified in shrinking from The Willows it was Everard, not herself. Sometimes Lucy would be sure that deep in his character there was a wonderful store of simple courage. He didn't speak of Vera's death, naturally he didn't wish to speak of that awful afternoon, but how often he must think of it, hiding his thoughts even from her, bearing them altogether alone. Sometimes she was sure of this, and sometimes she was equally sure of the very opposite. From the way he looked, the way he spoke, from those tiny indications that one somehow has noticed without knowing that one has noticed and that are so far more revealing and conclusive than any words, she sometimes was sure he really had forgotten. But this was too incredible. She couldn't believe it. What had perhaps happened, she thought, was that in self-defence, for the preservation of his peace, he had made up his mind never to think of Vera. Only by banishing her altogether from his mind would he be safe. Yet that couldn't be true either, for several times on the honeymoon he had begun talking of her, of things she had said, of things she had liked, and it was she, Lucy, who stopped him. She shrank from hearing anything about Vera. She especially shrank from hearing her mentioned casually. She was ready to brace herself to talk about her if it was to be a serious talk, because she wanted to help and comfort him whenever the remembrance of her death arose to torment him, but she couldn't bear to hear her mentioned casually. In a way she admired this casualness, because it was a proof of the supreme wholesomeness Everard had attained to by sheer courageous determination, but even so she couldn't help thinking that she would have preferred a little less of just this kind of wholesomeness in her beloved. She might be too morbid, but wasn't it possible to be too wholesome? Anyhow she shrank from the intrusion of Vera into her honeymoon. That, at least, ought to be kept free from her. Later on at The Willows....
Lucy fought and fought against it, but always at the back of her mind was the thought, not looked at, slunk away from, but nevertheless fixed, that there at The Willows, waiting for her, was Vera.
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