30 March 2016

from Crampton Hodnet, chapter 11, Love in the British Museum (Barbara Pym)

'What can we do?' she said, dealing rather inefficiently with the tea.  'There isn't anything we can do.'  She was feeling more normal now, although still a little dazed, as if she had just woken out of a dream.

'But ...' Francis went on stirring his tea, into which he had forgotten to put sugar.  'We love each other.  I love you and you love me too, don't you?'

'Yes,' said Barbara doubtfully.  'I do, only ...'  How could she explain to him what her love was like?  That although it was a love stronger than death, it wasn't the kind of love one did anything about?  On the contrary, doing nothing about it was one of its chief characteristics, because if one did anything it would be different - it might even disappear altogether.

'Aren't you sure then?' he asked.

'Oh, yes ...' she said uncertainly.  She dug her fork into a cake and it broke into little pieces.  She chased the hard bits unhappily round her plate.

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