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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Mutual Discovery
By J. M. Barrie (1860–1937)
 
From ‘The Little Minister’

A YOUNG man thinks that he alone of mortals is impervious to love, and so the discovery that he is in it suddenly alters his views of his own mechanism. It is thus not unlike a rap on the funny-bone. Did Gavin make this discovery when the Egyptian left him? Apparently he only came to the brink of it and stood blind. He had driven her from him for ever, and his sense of loss was so acute that his soul cried out for the cure rather than for the name of the malady.  1
  In time he would have realized what had happened, but time was denied him, for just as he was starting for the mudhouse Babbie saved his dignity by returning to him…. She looked up surprised, or seemingly surprised, to find him still there.  2
  “I thought you had gone away long ago,” she said stiffly.  3
  “Otherwise,” asked Gavin the dejected, “you would not have came back to the well?”  4
  “Certainly not.”  5
  “I am very sorry. Had you waited another moment I should have been gone.”  6
  This was said in apology, but the willful Egyptian chose to change its meaning.  7
  “You have no right to blame me for disturbing you,” she declared with warmth.  8
  “I did not. I only—”  9
  “You could have been a mile away by this time. Nanny wanted more water.”  10
  Babbie scrutinized the minister sharply as she made this statement. Surely her conscience troubled her, for on his not answering immediately she said, “Do you presume to disbelieve me? What could have made me return except to fill the pans again?”  11
  “Nothing,” Gavin admitted eagerly, “and I assure you—”  12
  Babbie should have been grateful to his denseness, but it merely set her mind at rest.  13
  “Say anything against me you choose,” she told him. “Say it as brutally as you like, for I won’t listen.”  14
  She stopped to hear his response to that, and she looked so cold that it almost froze on Gavin’s lips.  15
  “I had no right,” he said dolefully, “to speak to you as I did.”  16
  “You had not,” answered the proud Egyptian. She was looking away from him to show that his repentance was not even interesting to her. However, she had forgotten already not to listen….  17
  She was very near him, and the tears had not yet dried on her eyes. They were laughing eyes, eyes in distress, imploring eyes. Her pale face, smiling, sad, dimpled yet entreating forgiveness, was the one prominent thing in the world to him just then. He wanted to kiss her. He would do it as soon as her eyes rested on his, but she continued without regarding him.  18
  “How mean that sounds! Oh, if I were a man I would wish to be everything that I am not, and nothing that I am. I would scorn to be a liar, I would choose to be open in all things, I would try to fight the world honestly. But I am only a woman, and so—well, that is the kind of man I would like to marry.”  19
  “A minister may be all these things,” said Gavin breathlessly.  20
  “The man I could love,” Babbie went on, not heeding him, almost forgetting that he was there, “must not spend his days in idleness as the men I know do.”  21
  “I do not.”  22
  “He must be brave, no mere worker among others, but a leader of men.”  23
  “All ministers are.”  24
  “Who makes his influence felt.”  25
  “Assuredly.”  26
  “And takes the side of the weak against the strong, even though the strong be in the right.”  27
  “Always my tendency.”  28
  “A man who has a mind of his own, and having once made it up stands to it in defiance even of—”  29
  “Of his session.”  30
  “Of the world. He must understand me.”  31
  “I do.”  32
  “And be my master.”  33
  “It is his lawful position in the house.”  34
  “He must not yield to my coaxing or tempers.”  35
  “It would be weakness.”  36
  “But compel me to do his bidding; yes, even thrash me if—”  37
  “If you won’t listen to reason. Babbie,” cried Gavin, “I am that man!”  38
  Here the inventory abruptly ended, and these two people found themselves staring at each other, as if of a sudden they had heard something dreadful. I do not know how long they stood thus motionless and horrified. I cannot tell even which stirred first. All I know is that almost simultaneously they turned from each other and hurried out of the wood in opposite directions.  39
 
 
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