Book Excerpt

To his intrinsic Well-Beloved he had always been faithful; but she had had many embodiments. Each individuality known as Lucy, Jane, Florence, Evangeline, or what-not, had been merely a transient condition of her. He did not recognise this as an excuse or as a defence, but as a fact simply. Essentially she was perhaps of no tangible substance; a spirit, a dream, a frenzy, a conception, an aroma, an epitomised sex, a light of he eye, a parting of the lips. God only knew what she really was; Pearston did not. He knew that he loved the Protean creature wherever he found her, whether with blue eyes, black eyes, or brown; whether presenting herself as tall, fragile, or plump. She was never in two places at once; but hitherto she had never been in one place long. She was indescribable, unless by saying she was a mood of himself.

Thomas Hardy, The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved (1892), pg. 16-17.

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