February 14, 2017

Young Love

At the age of four I fell in love. It was a shattering and wonderful experience. The object of my passion was one of the Dartmouth cadets, a friend of my brother's. Golden-haired and blue-eyed, he appealed to all my romantic instincts. He himself could have had no idea of the emotions he aroused! Gloriously uninterested in the "kid sister" of his friend Monty, he would probably have said, if asked, that I disliked him. An excess of emotion caused me to go in the opposite direction if I saw him coming, and when seated at the dining table, to keep my head resolutely turned away. My mother took me gently to task.
"I know you're shy, dear, but you must be polite. It's so rude to turn your head away from Philip all the time, and if he speaks to you, you only mutter. Even if you dislike him, you must be polite."
Dislike him! How little anyone knew! When I think of it now, how supremely satisfying early love can be. It demands nothing--not a look or a word. It is pure adoration. Sustained by it, one walks on air, creating in one's own mind heroic occasions on which one will be of service to the beloved one. Going into a plague camp to nurse him! Saving him from fire! Shielding him from a fatal bullet! Anything, indeed, that had caught the imagination in a story. In these imaginings there is never a happy ending. You yourself are burned to death, shot, or succumb to the plague. The hero does not even know of the supreme sacrifice you have made. I sat on the nursery floor and played with Tony [the dog], looking solemn and priggish, while inside my head a glorious exultation swirled in extravagant fancies. The months passed. Philip became a midshipman and left the Britannia. For a short while his image persisted and then dwindled. Love vanished, to return three years later, when I adored hopelessly a tall dark young army captain who was courting my sister.
~Agatha Christie, An autobiography

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