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a light that was not easy or soothing. When Felix had ·
She started and looked round at him, to see whether his face would give some help to the interpretation of this novel speech. He was looking up at her quite calmly, very much as a reverential Protestant might look at a picture of the Virgin, with a devoutness suggested by the type rather than by the image. Esther's vanity was not in the least gratified: she felt that, somehow or other, Felix was going to reproach her.
“I wonder,” he went on, still looking at her, “whether the subtle measuring of forces will ever come to measuring the force there would be in one beautiful woman whose mind was as noble as her face was beautiful-who made a man's passion for her rush in one current with all the great aims of his life.”
Esther's eyes got hot and smarting. It was no use try. ing to be dignified. She had turned away her head, and now said, rather bitterly, “It is difficult for a woman ever to try to be any thing good when she is not believed inwhen it is always supposed that she must be contemptible.'
“No, dear Esther”-it was the first time Felix had been prompted to call her by her Christian name, and as he did
so he laid his large hånd on her two little hands, which were clasped on her knees. “ You don't believe that I think you contemptible. When I first saw you"
“I know, I know,” said Esther, interrupting him impetuously, but still looking away. “ You mean you did think me contemptible then. But it was very narrow of you to judge me in that way, when my life had been so different from yours. I have great faults. I know I am selfish, and think too much of my own small tastes and too little of what affects others. But I am not stupid. I am not unfeeling. I can see what is better."
“But I have not done you injustice since I knew more of you," said Felix, gently.
“Yes, you have,” said Esther, turning and smiling at him through her tears. “You talk to me like an angry pedagogue. Were you always wise? Remember the time when you were foolish or naughty."
“That is not far off,” said Felix, curtly, taking away his hand and clasping it with the other at the back of his head. The talk, which seemed to be introducing a mutual understanding, such as had not existed before, seemed to have undergone some check.
“Shall we get up and walk back now?” said Esther, after a few moments.
“No," said Felix, entreatingly. “Don't move yet. I dare say we shall never walk together or sit here again.”
“Because I am a man who am warned by visions. Those old stories of visions and dreams guiding men have their truth: we are saved by making the future present to ourselves.”
“I wish I could get visions, then," said Esther, smiling at him, with an effort at playfulness, in resistance to something vaguely mournful within her.
* That is what I want,” said Felix, looking at her very earnestly. “Don't turn your head. Do look at me, and then I shall know if I may go on speaking. I do believe
you; but I want you to have such a vision of the future that you may never lose your best self. Some charm or other may be flung about you-some of your attar-of-rose fascinations and nothing but a good strong terrible vision will save you. And if it did save you, you might be that woman I was thinking of a little while ago when I looked at your face : the woman whose beauty makes a great task easier to men instead of turning them away from it. I am not likely to see such fine issues; but they may come where a woman's spirit is finely touched. I should like to be sure they would come to you.”
Why are you not likely to know what becomes of me?" said Esther, turning away her eyes in spite of his command. “Why should you not always be my father's friend and mine ?"
“Oh, I shall go away as soon as I can to some large town, ,” said Felix, in his more usual tone—some ugly, wicked, miserable place. I want to be a demagogue of a new sort; an honest one, if possible, who will tell the peo ple they are blind and foolish, and neither flatter them nor fatten on them. I have my heritage an order I belong to. I have the blood of a line of handicraftsmen in my veins, and I want to stand up for the lot of the handicraftsman as a good lot, in which a man may be better trained to all the best functions of his nature than if he belonged to the grimacing set who have visiting-cards, and are proud to be thought richer than their neighbors.”
“Would nothing ever make it seem right to you to change your mind ?” said Esther (she had rapidly woven some possibilities out of the new uncertainties in her own lot, though she would not for the world have had Felix know of her weaving). “Suppose, by some means or other, a fortune might come to you honorably—by marriage, or in any other unexpected way-would you see no change in your course ?”
“No," said Felix, peremptorily; “I will never be rich. I don't count that as any peculiar virtue. Some men do