Henry James, The Beast in the Jungle: Ch. 1

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"Here I am, you see.  It hasn't been overwhelming."

"Then it hasn't been love," said May Bartram.

"Well, I at least thought it was.  I took it for that-I've taken it till now.  It was agreeable, it was delightful, it was miserable," he explained.  "But it wasn't strange.  It wasn't what my affair's to be."

"You want something all to yourself-something that nobody else knows or has known?"

"It isn't a question of what I 'want'-God knows I don't want anything.  It's only a question of the apprehension that haunts me-that I live with day by day."

He said this so lucidly and consistently that he could see it further impose itself.  If she hadn't been interested before she'd have been interested now.

"Is it a sense of coming violence?"

Evidently now too again he liked to talk of it.  "I don't think of it as-when it does come-necessarily violent.  I only think of it as natural and as of course above all unmistakeable.  I think of it simply as the thing.  The thing will of itself appear natural."

"Then how will it appear strange?"

Marcher bethought himself.  "It won't-to me."

"To whom then?"

"Well," he replied, smiling at last, "say to you."

"Oh then I'm to be present?"

"Why you are present-since you know."

"I see."  She turned it over.  "But I mean at the catastrophe."

At this, for a minute, their lightness gave way to their gravity; it was as if the long look they exchanged held them together.  "It will only depend on yourself-if you'll watch with me."

"Are you afraid?" she asked.

"Don't leave me now," he went on.

"Are you afraid?" she repeated.

"Do you think me simply out of my mind?" he pursued instead of answering.  "Do I merely strike you as a harmless lunatic?"

"No," said May Bartram.  "I understand you.  I believe you."

"You mean you feel how my obsession-poor old thing-may correspond to some possible reality?"

"To some possible reality."

"Then you will watch with me?"

She hesitated, then for the third time put her question.  "Are you afraid?"

"Did I tell you I was-at Naples?"

"No, you said nothing about it."

"Then I don't know.  And I should like to know," said John Marcher.  "You'll tell me yourself whether you think so.  If you'll watch with me you'll see."

"Very good then."  They had been moving by this time across the room, and at the door, before passing out, they paused as for the full wind-up of their understanding.  "I'll watch with you," said May Bartram.