Thursday, March 23, 2006

Your good maids are dusting the banisters

The affections are more reticent than the passions, and their expression more subtle. If she herself should ever fall in love with a man, she, like Helen, would proclaim it from the housetops, but as she loved only a sister she used the voiceless language of sympathy.........

"I shall ask no questions. I have it in Helen's writing that she and a man are in love. There is no question to ask as long as she keeps to that. All the rest isn't worth a straw. A long engagement if you like, but inquiries, questions, plans, lines of action - no, Aunt Juley, no."
Away she hurried, not beautiful, not supremely brilliant, but filled with something that took the place of both qualities - something best described as a profound vivacity, a continual and sincere response to all that she encountered in her path through life.
"If Helen had written the same to me about a shop assistant or a penniless clerk - "
"Dear Margaret, do come into the library and shut the door. Your good maids are dusting the banisters."
" - or if she had wanted to marry the man who calls for Carter Paterson, I should have said the same." Then, with one of those turns that convinced her aunt that she was not mad really, and convinced observers of another type that she was not a barren theorist, she added: "Though in the case of Carter Paterson I should want it to be a very long engagement indeed, I must say."

EM Forster Howards End


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