Something or other lay in wait for him, amid the twists and turns of the months and the years, like a crouching beast in the jungle. It signified little whether the crouching beast were destined to slay him or be slain. The definite point was the inevitable spring of the creature, and the definite lesson from that was that a man of feeling didn’t cause himself to be accompanied by a lady on a tiger-hunt.
Title: The Beast in the Jungle Author: Henry James Release Date: February 6, 2005 [eBook #1093] [This file last updated November 30, 2010]
This is a representation of the thoughts of Marcher, who seems to be saying the only thing that is certain is uncertainty. Life may bring him happiness or despair (slay or be slain). He does not want to marry Mae and uses this as an excuse as to why he can not. Mostly because he does not want to add to the strife she will already experience. This is something that is common in romantic endeavors and the hunt happens to us all.