The Doctrine of Substituted Love

It spoke of sights and sounds, touches and thrills, and of entire oblivion of harm; nothing was to be that she did not will, and everything that she willed, to the utmost fullness of her heart, should be. She would be enough for herself. She could dream for ever, and her dream should for ever be made real. "Come soon," it said, "come now. I'll wait for you here. In a few minutes you'll be free, and then you'll come; you shall be back soon. Give me your hand and I'll give you a foretaste now." A hand came into hers, a pulse against her wrist beat with significance of breathless abandonment to delirious joy. She delayed in a tremulous and pleasurable longing.

"But how?" she murmured, "how can all this happen? how do I know what I want? I've never thought ... I don't know anyone . . . and to be alone. . . ."

"Give me your hand," the other said, "then come and dream, till you discover, so soon, the ripeness of your dream." She paused, and added, "You'll never have to do anything for others any more."

It was the last touch, and false, false because of the habit of her past and because of Stanhope's promise. The fountain of beauty had sprung upward in a last thrust; it broke against the arched roof of his world, and the shock stung her into coldness. Never have to do anything--and she had been promising herself that she would carry someone's parcel as hers had been carried, that she would be what he said she could. Like it or not, it had been an oath; rash or wise it stood.

Charles Williams “Descent into Hell”
Ch. 6 - The Doctrine of Substituted Love

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