Halfway House: A Comedy of Degrees by Maurice Hewlett
It was when Mr. John Germain, a gentleman of fifty, and of fine landed estate in Berks—head of his family, Deputy-Lieutenant, Chairman of Quarter Sessions, and I don’t know what not—was paying one of his yearly visits to his brother James, who was Rector of Misperton Brand, in Somerset, that an adventure of a sentimental kind presented itself to him, engaged him, carried him into mid-air upon a winged horse, and set him treading clouds and suchlike filmy footing. Chance-caught combinations, associations tenderly touched—what do I know? He had a vision and located it; he dreamed a dream, and began to live it out; out of a simple maid he read a young goddess, into a lover’s ardent form he pressed his leanness and grey hairs. Bluntly, he, a widower of ten years’ standing, fell in love with a young person half his age, and of no estate at all—but quite the contrary; and, after an interval of time which he chose to ignore, applied himself earnestly to the practice of poetry. There ensued certain curious relationships between quite ordinary people which justify me in calling my book a Comedy of Degrees.