Oh, he was just angry, we tell ourselves when someone blurts out something he later apologizes for. But a word, once spoken, lingers forever; to keep peace we pretend to forget, but we never do. Strange that a spoken word can have such lasting power when words carved on stone monuments vanish in spite of all our efforts to preserve them. What we would lose persists, lodged in our minds, and what we would keep is lost to water, moths, moss.
It is almost impossible to describe happiness, because at the time it feels entirely natural, as if all the rest of your life has been the aberration; only in retrospect does it swim into focus as the rare and precious thing it is. When it is present, it seems to be eternal, abiding forever, and there is no need to examine it or clutch it. Later, when it has evaporated, you stare in dismay at your empty palm, where only a little of the perfume lingers to prove that once it was there, and now is flown.
I did not worry about what a man or woman personally believed, but the nation's official religion should be outwardly practiced by all its citizens. A religion was a political statement. Being a Calvinist, a papist, a Presbyterian, an Anglican labeled a person's philosophy on education, taxes, poor relief, and other secular things. The nation needed an accepted position on such concerns. Hence the fines for not outwardly conforming to the national church.