George Meredith, The Egoist: Ch. 32

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Clara tripped over the lawn in the early morning to Laetitia to greet her. She broke away from a colloquy with Colonel De Craye under Sir Willoughby's windows. The colonel had been one of the bathers, and he stood like a circus-driver flicking a wet towel at Crossjay capering.

"My dear, I am very unhappy!" said Clara.

"My dear, I bring you news," Laetitia replied.

"Tell me. But the poor boy is to be expelled! He burst into Crossjay's bedroom last night and dragged the sleeping boy out of bed to question him, and he had the truth. That is one comfort: only Crossjay is to be driven from the Hall, because he was untruthful previously—for me; to serve me; really, I feel it was at my command. Crossjay will be out of the way to-day, and has promised to come back at night to try to be forgiven. You must help me, Laetitia."

"You are free, Clara! If you desire it, you have but to ask for your freedom."

"You mean . . ."

"He will release you."

"You are sure?"

"We had a long conversation last night."

"I owe it to you?"

"Nothing is owing to me. He volunteered it."

Clara made as if to lift her eyes in apostrophe. "Professor Crooklyn!
Professor Crooklyn! I see. I did not guess that."

"Give credit for some generosity, Clara; you are unjust!"

"By and by: I will be more than just by and by. I will practise on the trumpet: I will lecture on the greatness of the souls of men when we know them thoroughly. At present we do but half know them, and we are unjust. You are not deceived, Laetitia? There is to be no speaking to papa? no delusions? You have agitated me. I feel myself a very small person indeed. I feel I can understand those who admire him. He gives me back my word simply? clearly? without—Oh, that long wrangle in scenes and letters? And it will be arranged for papa and me to go not later than to-morrow? Never shall I be able to explain to any one how I fell into this! I am frightened at myself when I think of it. I take the whole blame: I have been scandalous. And, dear Laetitia! you came out so early in order to tell me?"

"I wished you to hear it."

"Take my heart."

"Present me with a part—but for good."

"Fie! But you have a right to say it."

"I mean no unkindness; but is not the heart you allude to an alarmingly searching one?"

"Selfish it is, for I have been forgetting Crossjay. If we are going to be generous, is not Crossjay to be forgiven? If it were only that the boy's father is away fighting for his country, endangering his life day by day, and for a stipend not enough to support his family, we are bound to think of the boy! Poor dear silly lad! with his 'I say, Miss Middleton, why wouldn't (some one) see my father when he came here to call on him, and had to walk back ten miles in the rain?'—I could almost fancy that did me mischief. . . But we have a splendid morning after yesterday's rain. And we will be generous. Own, Laetitia, that it is possible to gild the most glorious day of creation."

"Doubtless the spirit may do it and make its hues permanent," said