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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 13
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The Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 13 Post by :Prd2BHawn Category :Long Stories Author :Arthur C. Benson Date :May 2012 Read :685

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The Child Of The Dawn - Chapter 13

CHAPTER XIII.

But when I saw Cynthia, as I presently did, she too was in a different mood. She had positively missed me, and told me so with many endearments. I was not to remain away so long. I was useful to her. Charmides had become tiresome and lost in thought, but Lucius was as sweet as ever. Some new-comers had arrived, all pleasant enough. She asked me where I had been, and I told her all the story. "Yes, that is beautiful enough," she said, "but I hate all this breaking up and going on. I am sure I do not wish for any change." She made a grimace of disgust at the idea of the ugly town I had seen, and then she said that she would go with me some time to look at it, because it would make her happier to return to her peace; and then she went off to tell Lucius.

I soon found Charmides, and I told him my adventures. "That is a curious story," he said. "I like to think of people caring for each other so; that is picturesque! These simple emotions are interesting. And one likes to think that people who have none of the finer tastes should have something to fall back upon--something hot and strong, as we used to say."

"But," I said, "tell me this, Charmides, was there never any one in the old days whom you cared for like that?"

"I thought so often enough," said he, a little peevishly, "but you do not know how much a man like myself is at the mercy of little things! An ugly hand, a broken tooth, a fallen cheek ... it seems little enough, but one has a sort of standard. I had a microscopic eye, you know, and a little blemish was a serious thing to me. I was always in search of something that I could not find; then there were awkward strains in the characters of people--they were mean or greedy or selfish, and all my pleasure was suddenly dashed. I am speaking," he went on, "with a strange candour! I don't defend it or excuse it, but there it was. I did once, as a child, I believe, care for one person--an old nurse of mine--in the right way. Dear, how good she was to me! I remember once how she came all the way, after she had left us, to see me on my way through town. She just met me at a railway station, and she had bought a little book which she thought might amuse me, and a bag of oranges--she remembered that I used to like oranges. I recollect at the time thinking it was all very touching and devoted; but I was with a friend of mine, and had not time to say much. I can see her old face, smiling, with tears in her eyes, as we went off. I gave the book and the oranges away, I remember, to a child at the next station. It is curious how it all comes back to me now; I never saw her again, and I wish I had behaved better. I should like to see her again, and to tell her that I really cared! I wonder if that is possible? But there is really so much to do here and to enjoy; and there is no one to tell me where to go, so that I am puzzled. What is one to do?"

"I think that if one desires a thing enough here, Charmides," I said, "one is in a fair way to obtain it. Never mind! a door will be opened. But one has got to care, I suppose; it is not enough to look upon it as a pretty effect, which one would just like to put in its place with other effects--'Open, sesame'--do you remember? There is a charm at which all doors fly open, even here!"

"I will talk to you more about this," said Charmides, "when I have had time to arrange my thoughts a little. Who would have supposed that an old recollection like that would have disturbed me so much? It would make a good subject for a picture or a song."

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