Howard Overing Sturgis:
(Early Gay Classic; Novel)
Tim’s face lit up exultingly. ‘“Passing the love of women,”‘ he said; ‘that was it, Carol, wasn’t it? “Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” Do you remember the day when they read it in the lesson in chapel at Eton?’
Carol had forgotten, but Tim’s words brought back the scene with strange distinctness: the big chapel in its stillness, the silence of a great crowd, and of a crowd unused to be still, the little flecks of light from the air-holes in the roof, the ugly picture of the finding of Moses in the window opposite his seat, the droning voice of the reader, and the flash of the little face that turned up to his, with the expression that had puzzled him at the time.
‘Yes, I remember,’ he answered.
‘I have thought of it so often since. It would be grand for one’s friend to be able to say that of one, after one was dead. Put your strong arms round me, Carol, and raise me a little; I can talk better so.’
Carol lifted the poor thin body as easily as a baby, and propped it up on the cushions.
‘Thank you, that is better. Ah! don’t take your arms away; let me feel them round me for a little. Carol, when I am buried, I want those words to be put on the stone. My father will let it be so, I know, if I wish it; I shall ask him the last thing. But you must remind him.’
‘Oh! Tim, I can’t bear to hear you talk so. You mustn’t die; we all want you so much.’
‘Don’t cry, Carol; you will do as I wish, won’t you? And, Carol, tell her how I tried to make things happy for her and you; I want her to think kindly of me too.’
He laid his head on his friend’s breast and closed his eyes; the effort of talking so much had tired him. Carol thought he was asleep, and dared not move for fear of waking him; but by and by he said, ‘Do you remember, Carol? I lay on this sofa when you first came to see me after the accident. I had been dreaming of you without knowing it; I thought you were an angel. And then I turned and saw you standing there in the doorway. You kissed me that day, Carol. Will you kiss me now?’
Carol bowed his head without a word and kissed him. And thus their friendship was sealed at either end.
‘Father,’ said Tim, after a little, ‘are you there?’
‘Yes, my boy.’ He had come in, and was standing a little apart in the deepening twilight, humbly watching the friends. How unlike the proud man who had so bitterly resented his little son’s preferring another to himself!
‘Will you come here, father? I cannot see you there.’ He came round the sofa, and Tim held out his hand to him. ‘You and Carol must love one another,’ he said, looking from one to the other, ‘for my sake.’ Silently the two men clasped hands over the couch.
‘You must leave us now, Carol dear,’ Tim went on; ‘I must be alone with my father.’
Carol longed to say something, but could not; he went out without a word. Tim watched him walk away with eyes that knew they were taking their last look. Then a satisfied smile lit up his face as he turned it to his father.