to indulge these emotions he fell into the habit, on sunday afternoons, of solitary walks prolonged till after dusk. the days were lengthening, there was a touch of spring in the air, and his wanderings now usually led him to the park and its outlying regions.
the generations of his nervous moods had been at work there, and the place was the written history of his whole middle life. under the impression of what his friend had just said he knew himself, for some reason, more aware of these things; which made him, after a moment, stop again before her. "is it possibly that you've grown afraid?"
"i've interrupted your siesta again," he said. "please forgive me. i'll take myself off."
he wandered away, and when it became impossible for him to stay away any longer he returned to the patio.
"ah, commander! your nautilus is certainly a marvellous boat."
"yes, professor; and i love it as if it were part of myself. if danger threatens one of your vessels on the ocean, the first impression is the feeling of an abyss above and below. on the nautilus men's hearts never fail them. no defects to be afraid of, for the double shell is as firm as iron; no rigging to attend to; no sails for the wind to carry away; no boilers to burst; no fire to fear, for the vessel is made of iron, not of wood; no coal to run short, for electricity is the only mechanical agent; no collision to fear, for it alone swims in deep water; no tempest to brave, for when it dives below the water, it reaches absolute tranquility. there, sir! that is the perfection of vessels! and if it is true that the engineer has more confidence in the vessel than the builder, and the builder than the captain himself, you understand the trust i repose in my nautilus; for i am at once, captain, builder, and engineer."
"bullocks!" he said. "gun bullocks. on my word, you and your friends have waked the camp very thoroughly. it takes a good deal of prodding to put up a gun-bullock."
his was the incomparable buoyant humor of a lover treading a newborn world. a smile was in his eyes, tender, luminous, cheerful. he thought of the woman whom he had not seen for many months, and he was buoyed up by the fine spiritual edge which does not know defeat. win or lose, it was clear gain to have loved her.
with him he carried a vision of her, young, ardent, all fire and flame. one spoke of things beautiful and her face lit from within. her words, motions, came from the depths, half revealed and half concealed dear hidden secrets. he recalled the grace of the delicate throat curve, little tricks of expression, the sweetness of her energy.