CHAPTER EIGHT: THE CONVERSATION
He found her heavily leaning her head against the table. There was no one around and she remained so motionless that she discomposed him.
He softly touched her asking, “Are you okay?”. His lips parted slightly as she turned around to meet his eyes. The once lively, ardent eyes were now blurred by tears and her worn, feverish, narrow face plunged his heart in despair.
“Listen” he said gently, sitting down next to her.
“I am sorry if I have hurt you, I never meant to” he said, looking apprehensively at her.
She had resigned herself carelessly and remained inexpressive and dejected before him.
And inhaling deeply as he begun to say something as if he found it hard, he said, “Firstly, I hope the advances you made the other day. I hope they were in no way, inappropriate” he said, clearing his voice, shock displayed visibly in his eyes but the cold, furious glare she cast him in reply set his doubts at ease.
“I am very glad, I did not mistake you” he said with a smile.
“And I am sorry I had to ask you about that” he told her very pleadingly.
“I should have been more patient the other day, Jennifer” he said, taking up an official tone.
“I admire and like you. You are high-spirited, impulsive, passionate, playful and very intelligent”.
“But” he said, more softly, “You are, and pardon me for saying this, you are like a child. You don’t know what you want. It is very natural, of course, that a warm and impressionable person like you should mistake the appreciation and the respect, I hope you feel towards me as love. I am your teacher. And furthermore, assuming you are under twenty, am twice your age. I am a, how do I put it, decidedly a bachelor and even if I do consider and return your affections, our life together will be nothing like one of your romantic dreams” he said, attempting a weak try at humour.
“You see” he continued in a scholarly fashion, hardly noticing the desperately stifled rage and hurt that threatened to explode in Jennifer.
“My pursuits are entirely academic, and hold no place for romance or affection towards anyone”.
“And besides, if anyone were ever to know what you told me the other day, and had I behaved in a dishonourable manner and taken advantage of your immaturity, do you understand what a scandal we would cause the college, to your family” he continued solemnly to her, and turned to glance at her.
“I hope you understand” he ended in a low voice but she had sprung up and with such irrational rage, had raised her hand as if to slap him but he caught it midway and with a steely grip, held it down, remaining imperturbable and finally made her draw it back and sit down.
He took up a stern expression, “Firstly, this is no way to behave to your teacher. I shall not be offended because I know you. I see it is impossible to reason with you, right now”.
But with a sigh that threatened to kill her, she broke down in front of him and all his attempts to console or revive her were in vain. And with a helpless glance at her, he quietly left her alone.