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383
SOARING

what I'm for—to settle difficulties!—to tell difficulties to!"

And at last I could hold out no longer against these accumulating pressures.

I took an arrogant, outrageous line that left her no loop-holes; I behaved as though we were living in a melodrama.

"You must come and talk to me," I wrote, "or I will come and take you. I want you—and the time runs away."

We met in a ride in the upper plantations. It must have been early in January, for there was snow on the ground and on the branches of the trees. We walked to and fro for an hour or more, and from the first I pitched the key high in romance and made understandings impossible. It was our worst time together. I boasted like an actor, and she, I know not why, was tired and spiritless.

Now I think over that talk in the light of all that has happened since, I can imagine how she came to me full of a human appeal I was too foolish to let her make. I don't know. I confess I have never completely understood Beatrice. I confess I am still perplexed at many things she said and did. That afternoon anyhow I was impossible. I posed and scolded. I was—I said it—for "taking the Universe by the throat!"

"If it was only that," she said, but though I heard I did not heed her.

At last she gave way to me and talked no more. Instead she looked at me—as a thing beyond her controlling but none the less interesting—much as she had looked at me from behind the skirts of Lady Drew in the Warren when we were children together. Once even I thought she smiled faintly.