The Blue Notebook
I was uncomfortable with him, I didn’t know why, something in his manner. And there is something upsetting about his appearance, as if one instinctively expects to find something when one looks at him that one doesn’t find. He is fair, his hair is close-cut, like a fair glistening brush. He is not tall, though I kept thinking of him as tall, and then checking again and seeing he was not. It’s because his clothes are all too big for him, they hang around him. One would expect him to be that fair, rather stocky, broad-shouldered American type, with the greenish-grey eyes, the square face: I kept looking, I realize now, expecting to see this man, and seeing a slight, uncoordinated man with clothes hanging loose from broad shoulders, and then being caught and held by his eyes. His eyes are cool grey-green, and never off guard. That is the most striking thing about him, he is never for one second off guard. I asked one or two questions out of the fellow-feeling of ‘A socialist from America’ but I gave it up, because he turned aside my questions. For something to say, I asked why he wore his clothes so big, and he looked startled, as if he were surprised I had noticed it, and then evasive, and said he had lost a lot of weight, he was normally a couple of stones heavier. I asked if he’d been ill, and again he was offended, suggesting by his manner that pressure was being put on him or that he was being spied on. For a while we sat in silence, while I wished he would go, since it seemed impossible to say anything at all that he wouldn’t resent. Then I said something about Molly, whom he hadn’t mentioned. I was surprised how he seemed to change. Some kind of intelligence switched on suddenly, I don’t know how else to put it: his attention focused, and I was struck by how he spoke of her, extraordinarily acute about her character and situation. I realized there was no other man I had met, with the exception of Michael, capable of such quick insight into a woman. It struck me that he was ‘naming’ her on a level that would please her if she heard it …
[From this point on in the diary, or chronicle, Anna had marked certain points in it with asterisks, and numbered the asterisks.]
… and this made me curious, envious rather, so I said something (*1) about myself and so he spoke of me. Rather, he lectured me. It was like being lectured by a fair-minded pedant, on the dangers and pitfalls and rewards of a woman living alone, etc. It occurred to me, giving me the most curious feeling of dislocation, of disbelief, that this was the same man, who ten minutes before had given me such a cold and almost hostile sexual inspection; yet in what he was saying now there was nothing of that quality, and nothing, either, of the half-veiled curiosity, the sudden moment of lip-licking expectation one is used to.