overworked people. People overstrained with wanting to do, people overstrained with wanting to be. . . . People, in fact, overstrained. . . . The real trouble of life, Ponderevo, isn't that we exist—that's a vulgar error; the real trouble is that we don't really exist and we want to. That's what this—in the highest sense—muck stands for! The hunger to be—for once—really alive—to the finger tips! . . .
"Nobody wants to do and be the things people are—nobody. You don't want to preside over this—this bottling, I don't want to wear these beastly clothes and be led about by you, nobody wants to keep on sticking labels on silly bottles at so many farthings a gross. That isn't existing! That's—sus—substratum. None of us want to be what we are, or to do what we do. Except as a sort of basis. What do we want? You know. I know. Nobody confesses. What we all want to be is something perpetually young and beautiful—young Joves—young Joves, Ponderevo"—his voice became loud, harsh and declamatory—"pursuing coy half-willing nymphs through everlasting forests . . ."
There was a just-perceptible listening hang in the work about us.
"Come downstairs," I interrupted, "we can talk better there."
"I can talk better here," he answered.
He was just going on, but fortunately the implacable face of Mrs. Hampton Diggs appeared down the aisle of bottling machines.
"All right," he said, "I'll come." . . .
In the little sanctum below, my uncle was taking a digestive pause after his lunch and by no means alert. His presence sent Ewart back to the theme of modern commerce, over the excellent cigar my uncle