The Well - Beloved
Familiar Phenomena In The Distance
By degrees Pierston began to trace again the customary lines of his existence; and his
profession occupied him much as of old. The next year or two only once brought him
tidings, through some residents at his former home, of the movements of the Bencombs.
The extended voyage of Marcia's parents had given them quite a zest for other scenes and
countries; and it was said that her father, a man still in vigorous health except at brief
intervals, was utilizing the outlook which his cosmopolitanism afforded him by investing
capital in foreign undertakings. What he had supposed turned out to be true; Marcia was
with them; no necessity for joining him had arisen; and thus the separation of himself and
his nearly married wife by common consent was likely to be a permanent one.
It seemed as if he would scarce ever again discover the carnate dwelling-place of the
haunting minion of his imagination. Having gone so near to matrimony with Marcia as to
apply for a licence, he had felt for a long while morally bound to her by the incipient
contract, and would not intentionally look about him in search of the vanished Ideality.
Thus during the first year of Miss Bencomb's absence, when absolutely bound to keep
faith with the elusive one's late incarnation if she should return to claim him, this man of
the odd fancy would sometimes tremble at the thought of what would become of his
solemn intention if the Phantom were suddenly to disclose herself in an unexpected
quarter, and seduce him before he was aware. Once or twice he imagined that he saw her
in the distance--at the end of a street, on the far sands of a shore, in a window, in a
meadow, at the opposite side of a railway station; but he determinedly turned on his heel,
and walked the other way.
During the many uneventful seasons that followed Marcia's stroke of independence (for
which he was not without a secret admiration at times), Jocelyn threw into plastic
creations that ever-bubbling spring of emotion which, without some conduit into space,
will surge upwards and ruin all but the greatest men. It was probably owing to this,
certainly not on account of any care or anxiety for such a result, that he was successful in
his art, successful by a seemingly sudden spurt, which carried him at one bound over the
hindrances of years.
He prospered without effort. He was A.R.A.
But recognitions of this sort, social distinctions, which he had once coveted so keenly,
seemed to have no utility for him now. By the accident of being a bachelor, he was
floating in society without any soul-anchorage or shrine that he could call his own; and,
for want of a domestic centre round which honours might crystallize, they dispersed
impalpably without accumulating and adding weight to his material well- being.
He would have gone on working with his chisel with just as much zest if his creations
had been doomed to meet no mortal eye but his own. This indifference to the popular