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Absalom's Hair

CHAPTER 5
The next day they were married. That night, long after his wife had fallen into her
usual healthy sleep, Rafael thought sorrowfully of his lost Paradise. HE could not
sleep. As he lay there he seemed to look out over a meadow, which had no
springtime, and therefore no flowers. He retraced the events of the past day. His
would be a marred life which had never known the sweet joys of courtship.
Angelika did not share his beliefs. She was a stern realist, a sneering sceptic, in
the most literal sense a cynic.
Her even breathing, her regular features, seemed to answer him. "Hey-dey, my
boy, we shall be merry for a thousand years! Better sleep now, you will need
sleep if you mean to try which of us is the stronger."
The next day their marriage was the marvel of the town and neighbourhood.
"Just like his mother!" people exclaimed; "what promise there was in her! She
might have chosen so as to have been now in one of the best positions in the
country--when, lo and behold! she went and made the most idiotic marriage. The
most idiotic? No, the son's is more idiotic still." And so on and so forth.
Most people seem naturally impelled to exalt the hero of the hour higher than
they themselves intend, and when a reaction comes, to decry him in an equal
degree. Few people see with their own eyes, and on special occasions even
magnifying or diminishing glasses are called into play with most amusing results.
"Rafael Kaas a handsome fellow?--well, yes, but too big, too fair, no repose,
altogether too restless. Rich? He? He has not a stiver! The savings eaten up long
ago, nothing coming in, they have been encroaching on their capital for some
time; and the beds of cement stone--who the deuce would join with him in any
large undertaking? They talk about his gifts, his genius even; but IS he very
highly gifted? Is it anything more than what he has acquired? The saving of
motive power at the factory? Was that anything more than a mere repetition of
what he had done before?--and that, of course, only what he had seen
elsewhere."
Just the same with the hints which he had given. "Merely close personal
observation; for it must be admitted that he had more of that than most people;
but as for ingenuity! Well, he could make out a good case for himself, but that
was about the extent of his ingenuity."
"His earlier articles, as well as those which had recently appeared on the use of
electricity in baking and tanning--could you call those discoveries? Let us see
 
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