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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesGodolphin - Chapter 37. An Evening With Constance
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Godolphin - Chapter 37. An Evening With Constance Post by :66034 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :3426

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Godolphin - Chapter 37. An Evening With Constance

CHAPTER XXXVII. AN EVENING WITH CONSTANCE

Constances's heart was in her eyes when she saw Godolphin that evening. She had, it is true, as Saville observed, been compelled by common courtesy to invite him; and although there was an embarrassment in their meeting, who shall imagine that it did not bring to Constance more of pleasure than pain? She had been deeply shocked by Lord Erpingham's sudden death: they had not been congenial minds, but the great have an advantage denied to the less wealthy orders. Among the former, a husband and wife need not weary each other with constant companionships; different establishments, different hours, different pursuits, allow them to pass life in great measure apart, so that there is no necessity for hatred, and indifference is the coldest feeling which custom induces.

Still in the prime of youth and at the zenith of her beauty, Constance was now independent. She was in the enjoyment of the wealth and rank her early habits of thought had deemed indispensable, and she now for the first time possessed the power of sharing them with whom she pleased. At this thought how naturally her heart flew back to Godolphin! And while she now gazed, although by stealth, at his countenance, as he sat at a little distance from her, and in his turn watched for the tokens of past remembrance, she was deeply touched by the change (light as it seemed to others) which years had brought to him; and in recalling the emotion he had testified at meeting her, she suffered her heart to soften, while it reproached her in whispering, "Thou art the cause!"--All the fire--the ardour of a character not then confirmed, which, when she last saw him spoke in his eye and mien, were gone for ever. The irregular brilliancy of his conversation--the earnestness of his air and gesture were replaced by a calm, and even, and melancholy composure. His forehead was stamped with the lines of thought; and the hair, grown thinner toward the temples, no longer concealed by its luxuriance the pale expanse of his brow. The air of delicate health which had at first interested her in his appearance, still lingered, and gave its wonted and ineffable charm to his low voice, and the gentle expression of his eyes. By degrees, the conversation, at first partial and scattered, became more general. Constance and Godolphin were drawn into it.

"It is impossible," said Godolphin, "to compare life in a southern climate with that which we lead in colder countries. There is an indolence, a laissez aller, a philosophical insouciance, produced by living under these warm suns, and apart from the ambition of the objects of our own nation, which produce at last a state of mind that divides us for ever from our countrymen. It is like living amidst perpetual music--a different kind of life--a soft, lazy, voluptuous romance of feeling, that indisposes us to action--almost to motion. So far from a sojourn in Italy being friendly to the growth of ambition, it nips and almost destroys the germ."

"In fact, it leaves us fit for nothing but love," said Saville; "an occupation that levels us with the silliest part of our species."

"Fools cannot love," said Lady Charlotte.

"Pardon me, love and folly are synonymous in more languages than the French," answered Saville.

"In truth," said Godolphin, "the love which you both allude to is not worth disputing about."

"What love is?" asked Saville.

"First love," cried Lady Charlotte; "is it not, Mr. Godolphin?"

Godolphin changed color, and his eyes met those of Constance. She too sighed and looked down: Godolphin remained silent.

"Nay, Mr. Godolphin, answer me," said Lady Charlotte; "I appeal to you!"

"First love, then," said Godolphin, endeavouring to speak composedly, "has this advantage over others--it is usually disappointed, and regret for ever keeps it alive."

The tone of his voice struck Constance to the heart. Nor did she speak again--save with visible effort--during the rest of the evening.

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