Nymphs and nuns were certainly separate types, but Mr. Verver, when he really amused himself, let consistency go. The play of vision was at all events so rooted in him that he could receive impressions of sense even while positively thinking. He was positively thinking while Maggie stood there, and it led for him to yet another question—which in its turn led to others still. “Do you regard the condition of hers then that you spoke of a minute ago?”
“Why that of having loved so intensely that she’s, as you say, ‘beyond everything’?”
Maggie had scarcely to reflect—her answer was so prompt. “Oh, no. She’s beyond nothing. For she has nothing.”
“I see. You must have had things to be beyond them. It’s a kind of law of perspective.”
Maggie didn’t know about the law, but she continued definite. “She’s not, for example, beyond help.”
“Oh, well then, she shall have all we can give her. I’ll write to her,” he said, with pleasure.”
“Angel!” she answered as she gaily and tenderly looked at him.
True as this might be, however, there was one thing more—he was an angel with a human curiosity. “Has she told you she likes me much?”
“Certainly she has told me—but I won’t pamper you. Let it be enough for you it has always been one of my reasons for liking her.”
“Then she’s indeed not beyond everything,” Mr. Verver more or less humorously observed.
“My idea is this, that when you only love a little you’re naturally not jealous—or are only jealous also a little, so that it doesn’t matter. But when you love in a deeper and intenser way, then you are, in the same proportion, jealous; your jealousy has intensity and, no doubt, ferocity. When, however, you love in the most abysmal and unutterable way of all—why then you’re beyond everything, and nothing can pull you down.”
Mr. Verver listened as if he had nothing, on these high lines, to oppose. “And that’s the way you love?”
For a minute she failed to speak, but at last she answered: “It wasn’t to talk about that. I do feel, however, beyond everything—and as a consequence of that, I daresay,” she added with a turn to gaiety, “seem often not to know quite where I am.”
— Henry James, The Golden Bowl, 1904