I thought to open up and tell K everything. This wasn't the first time, of course, that I'd had this thought. I'd harbored such intent in advance of our travel but had been unable to find or create the right opportunity. Looking back now, my acquaintances of those days were a curious lot. In conversation, the topic of women was never broached. There were many, no doubt, who had no experience to draw on, but even those who did, it seemed, routinely held their tongues. To your generation, who breathe a freer air, this must certainly seem odd. Perhaps we were slaves to the ethics of times past, or perhaps we were fettered by inhibition. I leave it to you to judge.
K and I could discuss anything. Love and romance were no exception. They didn't fail to come up on occasion, but they came up as abstractions, and we always fell to theorizing. And even this was only seldom. Our discourse, for the most part, was occupied by talk of books, or studies, or our future livelihoods, or our aspiratons, or of ways to cultivate one's mind. However close we might have been, there was no breaking through the dispassionate tone of those days. The bond between us was premised on dispassion. Since resolving that I should tell K of my feelings for the young lady, I'd been tormented time and again by awkward indecision. I wished just once that I could pry open his head and breathe a tender breath into his mind.
Things that to you may seem fully absurd, were to me, at that time, a source of genuine consternation. During our travels, just as at home, I was overly timid. My eyes were always on K, watching for a chance, but I was helpless against his highbrow demeanor. It was as if, to my mind, his heart were hard-coated with a heavy coat of black lacquer. The passion I sought to pour out would only be repelled. His heart would accept not a drop.