Page:Out of due time, Ward, 1906.djvu/28

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said, when Miss Mills came in with a paper pattern of an up-to-date sleeve from a weekly journal of fashion; "they were made by quite a good woman, and there is a sort of idea in them, something about youth and innocence——"

"Oh, do for Heaven's sake stop!" I cried, "and come out into the garden; you're quite cracked to-day."

But Mary had to read with Miss Mills, not having finished that process of not being educated, which was considered to be complete in my own case.

I went into the garden with Pascal's Pensées determined to rise to a higher level, but I couldn't. I was really not well; the air of the place was soft, and we were buried in fine conifers, great brutes of evergreens that are bad for body and soul. I could not understand a word of Pascal, and I was annoyed with myself for minding so very much about the frocks. Gradually my nervous enemy, a sense of unreality and unbelief, crept out from the dark shadows of the great trees, and got its grip on me again. How could I rise to higher things if I didn't believe? and how could I make myself believe? I understood how to fight a bad temper or many other temptations, but how could I think it a sin to think things were not true if I could know nothing positive about them? And as to loyalty, my old stay-by and strength, how be loyal to what did not exist? The world was painful to me; there seemed a chasm between me and my home, while the warm, heavy air grew denser, and the shadows deepened. All the time I knew that a great part of my troubled state of mind had come, in the first instance, from those frocks. Oh, what to do? what to do?

I walked round the field to the little dark, stuffy church and knelt down; there was only the dim light of the sanctuary lamp. How could one be disloyal even to what was most sacred, if what was most sacred was a delusion? Loyalty, in such a case, would only be a delusion about a delusion.