The parable of John Marcher and his peculiar destiny has spoken to many readers who have speculated on the worth and meaning of human life. Transcribed from the 1915 Martin Secker edition.
moments on the Sorrento boat. It was she who had been, he seemed to see as he looked at her--she who had been made so by the graceless fact of his lapse of fidelity. To tell her what he had told her--what had it been but to ask something of her? something that she had given, in her charity, without his having, by a remembrance, by a return of the spirit, failing another encounter, so much as thanked her. What he had asked of her had been simply at first not to laugh at him. She had beautifully not done so for ten years, and she was not doing so now. So he had endless gratitude to make up. Only for that he must see just how he had figured to her. "What, exactly, was the account I gave--?"
"Of the way you did feel? Well, it was very simple. You said you had had from your earliest time, as the deepest thing within you, the sense of being kept for something rare and strange, possibly prodigious and terrible, that was sooner or later to happen to you, that you had in your bones the foreboding and the convi