He knew his life was little and would be extinguished, and that only darkness was immense and everlasting. She remembered all the things they had written about her work: "...subtle, searching, and hushed, with a wry and rueful humour of its own..." "..these old eyes shine by its deft, sure touch of whimsey as nothing else in this prodigal season of dramatic husks has done..." "..gay insouciance of her unmannered settings, touched with those qualities which we have come to expect in all her ardent services to that sometimes too ungrateful jade, the drama..." "..excellent fooling that is implicit in these droll sets, elvishly sly, mocking, and, need we add or make apology for adding, expert? One morning when she came to see him and was telling him with spirit and great good humour about a little comedy she had witnessed in the street, suddenly she stopped short in the middle of it, a cloud passed over her face, her eyes became troubled, and she turned to him and said: "You do love me, don't you, George? He stopped by the front window and stood looking out, and she went over to him and quietly put her arm through his.
Since he returned he had seemed quieter, surer, in better control of himself, and in everything he did he acted as if he wanted to show her that he loved her. Upon the table by her bed the little dock ticked eagerly its pulse of time as if it hurried forward for ever like a child towards some imagined joy, and a clock struck slowly in the house with a measured, solemn chime. " She could control herself no longer and shrieked with glee. Henceforth he was determined not to let his life and love be one. He looked even shorter than he was, for, although he was an inch or two above the middle height, around five feet nine or ten, his legs were not quite proportionate to the upper part of his body.
He was' still full of his, unpredictable moods and fancies, but she had not seen a trace of the old black fury that used to make him lash about and beat his knuckles bloody against the wall. Outside, on Park Avenue, the people had begun to move along the pavements once more, the streets of the city began to fill and thicken. "Well," he said, "do I get fed, or must I starve here while you wallow in this bilge? The most important thing about it, however, was that this was his place, not theirs, and that fact re-established their relations on a different level. Esther followed him with her eyes; their expression betraying her mixed feelings, in which amusement and exasperation were giving way to alarm. His head, set down solidly upon a short neck, was carried somewhat forward with a thrusting movement, so that his whole figure had a prowling and half-crouching posture.
For he had learned some of the things that every man must find out for himself, and he had found out about them as one has to find out--through error and through trial, through fantasy and illusion, through falsehood and his own damn foolishness, through being mistaken and wrong and an idiot and egotistical and aspiring and hopeful and believing and confused.
And then, in the solitude of convalescence in a Munich hospital, lying in bed upon his back with his ruined face turned upwards towards the ceiling, he had had nothing else to do but think. There his madness had gone out of him, and for the first time in many years he had felt at peace within himself.
This thought was comforting to George, and he pondered it for some time, yet it did not altogether remove the edge of guilt that faintly tinged his contentment. This was her body and her flesh, she was alive and ready in a moment. Their reunion had been a joyous re-discovery of love, and all things were made new again. There was also a tiny kitchen, just big enough to turn around in. All I did was ask him a simple question and he acts like this! Look at him--pacing like a wild animal in a cage, like a temperamental and introspective monkey!
What was important, perhaps, was not that the beggar was drunk and reeling, but that he was mounted on his horse, and, however unsteadily, was going somewhere. She lay upon her back and stared up at the ceiling straight and wide. Instead, he had taken these two large rooms on Twelfth Street, which occupied the whole second floor of the house and could be made into one enormous room by opening the sliding doors between them. Now he just stews in his own juice and I can't tell what he's thinking.
There came to him an image of man's whole life upon the earth. She laughed because they called her "Miss", and because she could see the horrified look on his face when he read it, and because she remembered his expression when the little tailor thought she was his wife, and because it gave her so much pleasure to see her name in the paper--"Miss Esther Jack, whose work has won her recognition as one of the foremost modern designers." She was feeling gay and happy and pleased with herself, so she put the paper in her bag, together with some other clippings she had saved, and took them with her when she went down-town to Twelfth Street for her daily visit to George. That was the way he told her it must be, and she said yes, she understood. Was it in a woman's nature to be content with all that a man could give her, and not for ever want what was not his to give? It was easy to see why some of his friends called him Monk.
It seemed to him that all man's life was like a tiny spurt of flame that blazed out briefly in an illimitable and terrifying darkness, and that all man's grandeur, tragic dignity, his heroic glory, came from the brevity and smallness of this flame. She handed them to him, and sat opposite to watch his face as he read them. Already there were little portents that made him begin to doubt it. Esther watched him a minute or two, feeling disappointed and hurt that he had not answered her.
He had travelled through England, France, and Germany, had seen countless new sights and people, and--cursing, whoring, drinking, brawling his way across the continent--had had his head bashed in, some teeth knocked out, and his nose broken in a beer-hall fight.