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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/428

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whimsical notion that living with Marion would be like living in a house containing only a series of vast, beautiful ball-rooms. For all her interest in his affairs, she made him feel that he was an insignificant and unornamental figure. She seemed to him to have a much larger grasp and outlook than he had attained, and to be quite independent of him; his protective instinct found nothing in her for its encouragement; she was too well able to conduct her own life. He felt vaguely that she dwarfed his spirit, that her character furnished no objective for the display and development of such little virtues as he was modestly aware he possessed—a patient wish to help, a desire to use his uncouth powers in the service of some one whose charm was reinforced by an appealing dependence. He could not think of Marion as "nestling"—he hated the word, but he confessed a fondness for the idea. Yet in the maze of subtlety and obscurity which bewildered his inclinations, it never occurred to him that a return to his unpledged state would make him happier, even if it could be accomplished without any cause for self-reproach. He accepted his engagement as an advance to a more satisfactory life, he would accept his marriage as an advance beyond that,—and yet he knew that the path he was traveling could never lead him to the complete fulfillment of the possibilities that he dimly apprehended in his soul.

His unsuspected sensitiveness was touched in a conversation which he had with Marion on the subject of their wedding. They had decided to be married before Christmas; but when there seemed no prospect of an early settlement at New Rome, Floyd said to her that he feared they might have to postpone the wedding indefinitely—perhaps till spring.

"For, you see, I can't be away for more than a day or two at a time while matters are in this state," he said. "Some of those fellows would like nothing better than to get me off on a honeymoon."