I can’t explain why this long passage from Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth has caught my attention, without spoiling the whole plot (for those who have not read it). It’s lovely, so vivid, and memorable, and Wharton captured the moment in a beautiful narration, I almost recognized some Zola-ish style here… I have not finished the book yet, but I believe I will remember this scene forever, whatever the end would be.
“Selden had given her his arm without speaking. She took it in silence, and they moved away, not toward the supper room, but against the tide which was setting thither. The faces about her flowed by like the streaming images of sleep: she hardly noticed where Selden has leading her, till they passed through a glass doorway at the end of the long suite of rooms and stood suddenly in the fragrant hush of a garden. Gravel grated beneath their feet, and about them was the transparent dimness of a mid-summer night. Hanging lights made emerald caverns in the depth of foliage, and whitened the spray of a fountain falling among lilies. The magic place was deserted: there was no sound but the splash of the water on the lily-pads, and a distant drift of music that might have been blown across a sleeping lake.
Selden and Lily stood still, accepting the unreality of the scene as a part of their own dream-like sensations. It would not have surprised them to feel a summer breeze on their faces, or to see the lights among the boughs reduplicated in the arch of a starry sky. The strange solitude about them was no stranger than the sweetness of being alone in it together. At length Lily withdrew her hand, and moved away a step, so that her white-robed slimness was outlined against the dusk of the branches. Selden followed her, and still without speaking they seated themselves on a bench beside the fountain.
Suddenly she raised her eyes with the beseeching earnestness of a child. "You never speak to me — you think hard things of me," she murmured. "I think of you at any rate, God knows!" he said.
"Then why do we never see each other? Why can't we be friends? You promised once to help me," she continued in the same tone, as though the words were drawn from her unwillingly.
"The only way I can help you is by loving you," Selden said in a low voice.
She made no reply, but her face turned to him with the soft motion of a flower. His own met it slowly, and their lips touched.”
*Scene on Three is Bzee’s meme of posting your captured scenes or passages, and explaining why they are interesting. The ‘three’ means that we should post them on the dates with ‘3’ in it: the 3rd, 13th, 23rd, 30th, or 31st.