Alternative Ending for A Room with a View
This alternate ending for E. M. Forster's novel, A Room with a View, starts in Chapter 19, at the end of page 226. Before this ending, Lucy Honeychurch decides to end her engagement to Cecil Vyse and travel to Greece. She returns from picking up Charlotte, and stops at Mr. Beebe's church. My ending takes place immediately preceding her meeting with Mr. Emerson, the father of the man she eventually marries, George Emerson. The following is my ending:
As Lucy sat by the fire in the kind Mr. Beebe's study, she pondered the absence of the Emersons. Had they left because of her? She quietly thought that while George Emerson did behave rather inappropriately towards herself, that gave him no reason to leave in such a coarse fashion. However, she believed it was probably for the best. After all, now there was no reason for her to ever see the dreadful Emersons ever again. Lucy believed that she would never be bothered by George Emerson and the emotions that came and went as swiftly as he did ever again. She, as people of her youth so often are, was incredibly sure of this outcome.
After deciding this, Lucy wondered if she should still venture towards the unknowns of Greece with the Mrs. Allens. They had been ever so kind to her to accept her company, and Lucy did not desire to go against their wishes. All the money had already been set aside for the trip, and she, like many others, felt that she may as well use the money for its purpose. Lucy also had a more private reason for wishing to go to Greece. This was to hide her embarrassment of the lost engagement. The wedding was so close, surely all her friends were anxiously expecting it! It would be better if she was not there to face their rebukes, she decided. "They may not understand my desire to live without Cecil," she contemplated.
Much later, she did indeed find herself in Athens, studying the marvels of the strangely bright sky and the fierceness of the ancient relics. She had been playing piano, Beethoven again, though it did not hold the proud magnificence as it had earlier for her, and she desired to go out and see the bent old foreigners outside of the pension. As she was wandering about, she saw a small shop, a compartment really- it was tiny to the point of being little more than an Athenian's bedroom, that displayed some lovely postal cards. On one, a magnificent specimen pointed up at the stars with his left hand, while holding a bouguet of some unrecognizeable florals in his right.
"What is this?" Lucy pondered.
The shopkeeper, a small, strange foreigner with the distinct wrinkly skin of someone who has sat in the sun all their life, overheard Lucy's musing, and, displaying a surprising aptitude for the English language, spoke to her, "My dear, have you not heard of the story of Alcaeus and his Lady?"
"I do not believe I have. Why does he hold his hands in such a way? My Baedaker speaks nothing of this."
"It is a long story. Permit me to tell you of it? It starts long ago, in the time of the gods and the ancients. There was a man named Alcaeus. He was a simple, humble farmer, gave the gods no reason to find fault in him. However, he was in love with a lady of great beauty but little mind. A young demigod, whose name has long since been forgotten, was astounded by her beauty and wanted her for himself. The lady had been kept in a lonely house with little of the outside world for company, and when Alcaeus first saw her and loved her, she was merely confused by his feelings and had not come to terms with hers. She stayed in her tower for one cycle of Selene's chariot and during that night, the demigod came to her. He pledged eternal love and immortality to her, and took her to the sky and made her his wife.
"She was content for many seasons, but one night she wondered what had become of young Alcaeus. She looked down from her heavenly perch on Mount Olympus and saw the farmer, no longer young, but a tired man, walking to her tower. He placed flowers on it and looked into the sky for a long moment before making the agonizing walk back to his modest hovel."
"Why would such a man do this?" Lucy mused, almost not knowing why. She continued, "And the lady? What did she think of this turn of events?"
"The lady stayed in her place on the mountain for a short amount of time, and thought on what she had seen. Why did Alcaeus do that? Had she been wrong to choose the god over the man who may have loved her? She went to the lord of the eagle, the king of all gods, and asked him to let her go down to earth, because she realised she loved the faithful Alcaeus. The greatest of all gods, Lord Zeus, refused, and, for her ungratefulness, punished the lady by making her a star in the sky, exiled to spend the rest of time looking down at her tower and the lonely, aging Alcaeus putting the flowers on her first home."
"Oh my," Lucy spoke at last. Something about this marvellously tragic story struck a minor chord within her. She did not dwell on the feeling, though, and queried, "What are you asking for the portrait of the poor man? Alcaeus?"
But the wizened old man just smiled slightly, and handed her the card. Lucy looked confused and surprised at his generosity; most of the foreigners she had previously met in Greece had sniffed about her inquiries in the stubborn, unchanging way that the whole country and peoples of such an ancient relic of a country so often do.
Lucy strolled back to the pension, feeling bewildered and dispirited. But, displaying the characteristic of most troubled youth, she put the melancholy thoughts of Alcaeus and his lady behind her, and instead contemplated the generosity of the Mrs. Alans. They were so kind to allow her to join them on their travels. As she was thinking of them, who did appear on the other side of the plaza she was walking across, but the two ladies in question! Lucy hastened to their side.
"My dear, where have you been all this morning? You left so suddenly after your piano playing," Mrs. Catharine Alan announced.
"I met the most interesting shop keeper on my walk," said Lucy thoughtfully, "Baedeker did not mention his shop, but it had some of the most beautiful postal cards I have seen. I purchased one - here - its of a tragic man, Alcaeus, who is in the most wonderful myth."
"That's lovely, but we must go see the Agora. Baedeker thought so highly of it. I believe it is over there, down that street," Mrs. Teresa Alan declared, and started to promenade away from her sister and Lucy, leaving her sister to trot to catch up, and Lucy to stare at the portrait of Alceaus.
"Oh, the foreigners. They are so exhausting," Lucy heard one of the Mrs. Alans saying as they walked off.
"I quite agree. Poor girl, she must be so exhausted. And after that horrid engagement! We best leave her be. She is probably still recovering from the stress of it," the other tutted in agreement.
Lucy overheard this, and sighed, grateful that neither of them understood that it was her choice to end things with Cecil; the impropriety of it would probably shock them as much as they thought that it had shocked her. They had disappeared into the crowd of foreigners, and, seeing that she had no hope of catching up to them, Lucy stood, admiring the glow created by the age of the dusty buildings surrounding her, and trying not to think of the innumerable generations that had lived in them before her life, as this would be such a vast number that it would make her head spin. She turned and sat on a nearby bench and returned her focus to the card.
"Would it not be terrible to be separated from your love," she reflected quietly. "Yet why do I not feel such unhappiness at the loss of Cecil, whom I loved? I knew I loved him, but still, I feel no loss. Perhaps my dream was not meant to be."
She turned to get up and follow the Alan sisters, but, on realizing that there was no hope of catching them, she started to return to the pension. On her way, she passed a familiar statue, with a plaque labeling as Alceaus. But this statue caused her to stand and stare with its familiarity. Something about this statue, perhaps Alceaus's almost carefree stance, despite the burdens which befell him, reminded her of George. "Oh, no!" she said sharply, and sat down quite suddenly. Lucy's mind whirled, as she came to realize that she was wrong about the myth of Alceaus. While she had previously thought that if she was the lady of the myth, then Cecil was Alceaus, she now realized her misconception of the myth and her life. For Cecil, oh poor, pitiful Cecil, was not the man she loved. She loved George! Lucy gasped and fainted.
When she came round, Lucy was filled with a sudden desire to do right. She returned to the pension with all haste, and announced to the Mrs. Alans that she would like to return to her home in England very much, please. The Mrs. Alans were suitably confused, and asked her why she had such a sudden change of heart. Lucy made suitable excuses, and returned to London within a week.
As soon as she arrived in London, she sought out the Emersons. After a considerable amount of subtle asking around, she discovered that Mr. Emerson was staying at the Plader Residence, remarkably near to her cousins house at which she was residing. She walked there and requested to see him, and was brought to his sitting room.
"Lucy Honeychurch. Why are you here? I would think that you would still be traveling in Greece," Mr. Emerson inquired as soon as she entered the room.
"I wanted to pay a call on your son, George, and I could not discover his residence. I had hoped you might have an idea of where I could go to call on him?"
"Yes, but what do you wish to come of this meeting? I am worried for him. Did you know, young one, that he loves you?"
"How has he been? I hope you both have been well," Lucy countered, changing the subject and desperately hoping that George still felt affection for her.
"He misses you. He wishes you hadn't left. He did behave rather rudely, to you, inappropriately, even. He is very sorry," Mr. Emerson quivered, I taught him to trust in love. Poor boy! He is ruined now for love of you. But you love Mr. Vyse, and love will be love."
"But Mr. Emerson, have you not heard?" questioned Lucy, delicately, like a fragile, uncertain mist, "Mr. Vyse and I, we have annulled our engagement. We are not to be married next year. That is actually what I desire to ask your son about."
"You love him."
"I think..." Slowly, uncertainly, but with growing strength, "I do."
Mr. Emerson's face broke into a wreath of smiles, "Then you must wait! He is just returning from the old house. Please, be comfortable. I hear the door now. I will leave you to yourselves." With that, Mr. Emerson ambled cheerily out of the room, seeming like a much happier, younger man than how he was previously. To the elderly man he was, he was now glowing with hope afresh for his son's happiness.
George entered the room. "Miss Honeychurch?"
"George. I have come to say-"
Almost rudely, George inquired, "What brings you here? Did I not just hear you speaking to my father? But I apologize. You were speaking, I shall not interrupt again."
"I have broken my engagement to Mr. Vyse. George," Lucy said, almost hesitantly, "I have come to know that I love you. I am not very adept at saying things such as these, but in Greece, I had an- experience-, I heard of a myth, that is, a story, and anyways, I realised that you loved me and- I loved you-, and-" She was cut off as he ran forward and pulled her into his arms.
"Lucy, I love you. I have loved you for a long time, and will love you even longer, until the end of life," George knelt. "Please, marry me."
Lucy smiled and nodded, "Yes!"
They, together as a couple in love, walked over to the window, and looked out at the view, and if any person happening by looked towards that side of the Plader Residence, they would see a beautiful woman, a handsome young man, a gorgeous couple both glowing with love and looking out at the wonder of their future together.