The Well - Beloved
She Returns For The New Season
PART THIRD -- A YOUNG MAN OF SIXTY
'In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.'
Twenty years had spread their films over the events which wound up with the reunion of
the second Avice and her husband; and the hoary peninsula called an island looked just
the same as before; though many who had formerly projected their daily shadows upon
its unrelieved summer whiteness ceased now to disturb the colourless sunlight there.
The general change, nevertheless, was small. The silent ships came and went from the
wharf, the chisels clinked in the quarries; file after file of whitey-brown horses, in strings
of eight or ten, painfully dragged down the hill the square blocks of stone on the
antediluvian wooden wheels just as usual. The lightship winked every night from the
quicksands to the Beal Lantern, and the Beal Lantern glared through its eye-glass on the
ship. The canine gnawing audible on the Pebble-bank had been repeated ever since at
each tide, but the pebbles remained undevoured.
Men drank, smoked, and spat in the inns with only a little more adulteration in their
refreshments and a trifle less dialect in their speech than of yore. But one figure had
never been seen on the Channel rock in the interval, the form of Pierston the sculptor,
whose first use of the chisel that rock had instigated.
He had lived abroad a great deal, and, in fact, at this very date he was staying at an hotel
in Rome. Though he had not once set eyes on Avice since parting from her in the room
with her firstborn, he had managed to obtain tidings of her from time to time during the
interval. In this way Pierston learnt that, shortly after their resumption of a common life
in her house, Ike had ill-used her, till fortunately, the business to which Jocelyn had
assisted him chancing to prosper, he became immersed in its details, and allowed Avice
to pursue her household courses without interference, initiating that kind of domestic
reconciliation which is so calm and durable, having as its chief ingredient neither hate nor
love, but an all-embracing indifference.
At first Pierston had sent her sums of money privately, fearing lest her husband should
deny her material comforts; but he soon found, to his great relief, that such help was