Page:HG Wells--secret places of the heart.djvu/175

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“I could have wished,” said the doctor, “that these ladies had happened a little later....”

The matter was settled. Nothing more of a practical nature remained to be said. But neither gentleman wished to break off with a harsh and bare decision.

“When the New Age is here,” said Sir Richmond, “then, surely, a friendship between a man and a woman will not be subjected to the—the inconveniences your present code would set about it? They would travel about together as they chose?”

“The fundamental principle of the new age,” said the doctor, “will be Honi soit qui mal y pense. In these matters. With perhaps Fay ce que vouldras as its next injunction. So long as other lives are not affected. In matters of personal behaviour the world will probably be much more free and individuals much more open in their conscience and honour than they have ever been before. In matters of property, economics and public conduct it will probably be just the reverse. Then, there will be much more collective control and much more insistence, legal insistence, upon individual responsibility. But we are not living in a new age yet; we are living in the patched-up ruins of a very old one. And you—if you will forgive me—are living in the patched up remains of a life that had already had its complications. This young lady, whose charm and