Instead of resuming his investigation of South's brain, which perhaps was not so
interesting under the microscope as might have been expected from the
importance of that organ in life, Fitzpiers reclined and ruminated on the interview.
Grace's curious susceptibility to his presence, though it was as if the currents of
her life were disturbed rather than attracted by him, added a special interest to
her general charm. Fitzpiers was in a distinct degree scientific, being ready and
zealous to interrogate all physical manifestations, but primarily he was an
idealist. He believed that behind the imperfect lay the perfect; that rare things
were to be discovered amid a bulk of commonplace; that results in a new and
untried case might be different from those in other cases where the conditions
had been precisely similar. Regarding his own personality as one of unbounded
possibilities, because it was his own--notwithstanding that the factors of his life
had worked out a sorry product for thousands--he saw nothing but what was
regular in his discovery at Hintock of an altogether exceptional being of the other
sex, who for nobody else would have had any existence.
One habit of Fitzpiers's--commoner in dreamers of more advanced age than in
men of his years--was that of talking to himself. He paced round his room with a
selective tread upon the more prominent blooms of the carpet, and murmured,
"This phenomenal girl will be the light of my life while I am at Hintock; and the
special beauty of the situation is that our attitude and relations to each other will
be purely spiritual. Socially we can never be intimate. Anything like matrimonial
intentions towards her, charming as she is, would be absurd. They would spoil
the ethereal character of my regard. And, indeed, I have other aims on the
practical side of my life."
Fitzpiers bestowed a regulation thought on the advantageous marriage he was
bound to make with a woman of family as good as his own, and of purse much
longer. But as an object of contemplation for the present, as objective spirit rather
than corporeal presence, Grace Melbury would serve to keep his soul alive, and
to relieve the monotony of his days.
His first notion--acquired from the mere sight of her without converse--that of an
idle and vulgar flirtation with a timber- merchant's pretty daughter, grated
painfully upon him now that he had found what Grace intrinsically was. Personal
intercourse with such as she could take no lower form than intellectual
communion, and mutual explorations of the world of thought. Since he could not
call at her father's, having no practical views, cursory encounters in the lane, in
the wood, coming and going to and from church, or in passing her dwelling, were
what the acquaintance would have to feed on.