It was a mile nearer through the wood. Mechanically, Syson
turned up by the forge and lifted the field-gate. The blacksmith
and his mate stood still, watching the trespasser. But Syson looked
too much a gentleman to be accosted. They let him go in silence
across the small field to the wood.
There was not the least difference between this morning and
those of the bright springs, six or eight years back. White and
sandy-gold fowls still scratched round the gate, littering the
earth and the field with feathers and scratched-up rubbish. Between
the two thick holly bushes in the wood-hedge was the hidden gap,
whose fence one climbed to get into the wood; the bars were scored
just the same by the keeper’s boots. He was back in the
Syson was extraordinarily glad. Like an uneasy spirit he had
returned to the country of his past, and he found it waiting for
him, unaltered. The hazel still spread glad little hands downwards,
the bluebells here were still wan and few, among the lush grass and
in shade of the bushes.
The path through the wood, on the very brow of a slope, ran
winding easily for a time. All around were twiggy oaks, just
issuing their gold, and floor spaces diapered with woodruff, with
patches of dog-mercury and tufts of hyacinth. Two fallen trees
still lay across the track. Syson jolted down a steep, rough slope,
and came again upon the open land, this time looking north as
through a great window in the wood. He stayed to gaze over the
level fields of the hill-top, at the village which strewed the bare
upland as if it had tumbled off the passing waggons of industry,
and been forsaken. There was a stiff, modern, grey little church,
and blocks and rows of red dwellings lying at random; at the back,
the twinkling headstocks of the pit, and the looming pit-hill. All
was naked and out-of-doors, not a tree! It was quite unaltered.
Syson turned, satisfied, to follow the path that sheered
downhill into the wood. He was curiously elated, feeling himself
back in an enduring vision. He started. A keeper was standing a few
yards in front, barring the way.
“Where might you be going this road, sir?” asked the
man. The tone of his question had a challenging twang. Syson looked
at the fellow with an impersonal, observant gaze. It was a young
man of four or five and twenty, ruddy and well favoured. His dark
blue eyes now stared aggressively at the intruder. His black
moustache, very thick, was cropped short over a small, rather soft
mouth. In every other respect the fellow was manly and
good-looking. He stood just above middle height; the strong forward
thrust of his chest, and the perfect ease of his erect,
self-sufficient body, gave one the feeling that he was taut with
animal life, like the thick jet of a fountain balanced in itself.
He stood with the butt of his gun on the ground, looking
uncertainly and questioningly at Syson. The dark, restless eyes of
the trespasser, examining the man and penetrating into him without
heeding his office, troubled the keeper and made him flush.
“Where is Naylor? Have you got his job?” Syson
“You’re not from the House, are you?” inquired
the keeper. It could not be, since everyone was away.
“No, I’m not from the House,” the other
replied. It seemed to amuse him.
“Then might I ask where you were making for?” said
the keeper, nettled.
“Where I am making for?” Syson repeated. “I am
going to Willey–Water Farm.”
“This isn’t the road.”
“I think so. Down this path, past the well, and out by the
“But that’s not the public road.”
“I suppose not. I used to come so often, in Naylor’s
time, I had forgotten. Where is he, by the way?”
“Crippled with rheumatism,” the keeper answered
“Is he?” Syson exclaimed in pain.
“And who might you be?” asked the keeper, with a new
“John Adderley Syson; I used to live in Cordy
“Used to court Hilda Millership?”
Syson’s eyes opened with a pained smile. He nodded. There
was an awkward silence.
“And you—who are you?” asked Syson.
“Arthur Pilbeam—Naylor’s my uncle,” said
“You live here in Nuttall?”
“I’m lodgin’ at my uncle’s—at
“Did you say you was goin’ down to
Willey–Water?” asked the keeper.
There was a pause of some moments, before the keeper blurted:
“I’M courtin’ Hilda Millership.”
The young fellow looked at the intruder with a stubborn
defiance, almost pathetic. Syson opened new eyes.
“Are you?” he said, astonished. The keeper flushed
“She and me are keeping company,” he said.
“I didn’t know!” said Syson. The other man
“What, is the thing settled?” asked the
“How, settled?” retorted the other sulkily.
“Are you going to get married soon, and all
The keeper stared in silence for some moments, impotent.
“I suppose so,” he said, full of resentment.
“Ah!” Syson watched closely.
“I’m married myself,” he added, after a
“You are?” said the other incredulously.
Syson laughed in his brilliant, unhappy way.
“This last fifteen months,” he said.
The keeper gazed at him with wide, wondering eyes, apparently
thinking back, and trying to make things out.
“Why, didn’t you know?” asked Syson.
“No, I didn’t,” said the other sulkily.
There was silence for a moment.
“Ah well!” said Syson, “I will go on. I
suppose I may.” The keeper stood in silent opposition. The
two men hesitated in the open, grassy space, set around with small
sheaves of sturdy bluebells; a little open platform on the brow of
the hill. Syson took a few indecisive steps forward, then
“I say, how beautiful!” he cried.
He had come in full view of the downslope. The wide path ran
from his feet like a river, and it was full of bluebells, save for
a green winding thread down the centre, where the keeper walked.
Like a stream the path opened into azure shallows at the levels,
and there were pools of bluebells, with still the green thread
winding through, like a thin current of ice-water through blue
lakes. And from under the twig-purple of the bushes swam the
shadowed blue, as if the flowers lay in flood water over the
“Ah, isn’t it lovely!” Syson exclaimed; this
was his past, the country he had abandoned, and it hurt him to see
it so beautiful. Woodpigeons cooed overhead, and the air was full
of the brightness of birds singing.
“If you’re married, what do you keep writing to her
for, and sending her poetry books and things?” asked the
keeper. Syson stared at him, taken aback and humiliated. Then he
began to smile.
“Well,” he said, “I did not know about you . .
Again the keeper flushed darkly.
“But if you are married—” he charged.
“I am,” answered the other cynically.
Then, looking down the blue, beautiful path, Syson felt his own
humiliation. “What right have I to hang on to her?” he
thought, bitterly self-contemptuous.
“She knows I’m married and all that,” he
“But you keep sending her books,” challenged the
Syson, silenced, looked at the other man quizzically, half
pitying. Then he turned.
“Good day,” he said, and was gone. Now, everything
irritated him: the two sallows, one all gold and perfume and
murmur, one silver-green and bristly, reminded him, that here he
had taught her about pollination. What a fool he was! What
god-forsaken folly it all was!
“Ah well,” he said to himself; “the poor devil
seems to have a grudge against me. I’ll do my best for
him.” He grinned to himself, in a very bad temper.
The farm was less than a hundred yards from the wood’s
edge. The wall of trees formed the fourth side to the open
quadrangle. The house faced the wood. With tangled emotions, Syson
noted the plum blossom falling on the profuse, coloured primroses,
which he himself had brought here and set. How they had increased!
There were thick tufts of scarlet, and pink, and pale purple
primroses under the plum trees. He saw somebody glance at him
through the kitchen window, heard men’s voices.
The door opened suddenly: very womanly she had grown! He felt
himself going pale.
“You?—Addy!” she exclaimed, and stood
“Who?” called the farmer’s voice. Men’s
low voices answered. Those low voices, curious and almost jeering,
roused the tormented spirit in the visitor. Smiling brilliantly at
her, he waited.
“Myself—why not?” he said.
The flush burned very deep on her cheek and throat.
“We are just finishing dinner,” she said.
“Then I will stay outside.” He made a motion to show
that he would sit on the red earthenware pipkin that stood near the
door among the daffodils, and contained the drinking water.
“Oh no, come in,” she said hurriedly. He followed
her. In the doorway, he glanced swiftly over the family, and bowed.
Everyone was confused. The farmer, his wife, and the four sons sat
at the coarsely laid dinner-table, the men with arms bare to the
“I am sorry I come at lunch-time,” said Syson.
“Hello, Addy!” said the farmer, assuming the old
form of address, but his tone cold. “How are you?”
And he shook hands.
“Shall you have a bit?” he invited the young
visitor, but taking for granted the offer would be refused. He
assumed that Syson was become too refined to eat so roughly. The
young man winced at the imputation.
“Have you had any dinner?” asked the daughter.
“No,” replied Syson. “It is too early. I shall
be back at half-past one.”
“You call it lunch, don’t you?” asked the
eldest son, almost ironical. He had once been an intimate friend of
this young man.
“We’ll give Addy something when we’ve
finished,” said the mother, an invalid, deprecating.
“No—don’t trouble. I don’t want to give
you any trouble,” said Syson.
“You could allus live on fresh air an’
scenery,” laughed the youngest son, a lad of nineteen.
Syson went round the buildings, and into the orchard at the back
of the house, where daffodils all along the hedgerow swung like
yellow, ruffled birds on their perches. He loved the place
extraordinarily, the hills ranging round, with bear-skin woods
covering their giant shoulders, and small red farms like brooches
clasping their garments; the blue streak of water in the valley,
the bareness of the home pasture, the sound of myriad-threaded
bird-singing, which went mostly unheard. To his last day, he would
dream of this place, when he felt the sun on his face, or saw the
small handfuls of snow between the winter twigs, or smelt the
coming of spring.
Hilda was very womanly. In her presence he felt constrained. She
was twenty-nine, as he was, but she seemed to him much older. He
felt foolish, almost unreal, beside her. She was so static. As he
was fingering some shed plum blossom on a low bough, she came to
the back door to shake the table-cloth. Fowls raced from the
stackyard, birds rustled from the trees. Her dark hair was gathered
up in a coil like a crown on her head. She was very straight,
distant in her bearing. As she folded the cloth, she looked away
over the hills.
Presently Syson returned indoors. She had prepared eggs and curd
cheese, stewed gooseberries and cream.
“Since you will dine to-night,” she said, “I
have only given you a light lunch.”
“It is awfully nice,” he said. “You keep a
real idyllic atmosphere— your belt of straw and ivy
Still they hurt each other.
He was uneasy before her. Her brief, sure speech, her distant
bearing, were unfamiliar to him. He admired again her grey-black
eyebrows, and her lashes. Their eyes met. He saw, in the beautiful
grey and black of her glance, tears and a strange light, and at the
back of all, calm acceptance of herself, and triumph over him.
He felt himself shrinking. With an effort he kept up the ironic
She sent him into the parlour while she washed the dishes. The
long low room was refurnished from the Abbey sale, with chairs
upholstered in claret-coloured rep, many years old, and an oval
table of polished walnut, and another piano, handsome, though still
antique. In spite of the strangeness, he was pleased. Opening a
high cupboard let into the thickness of the wall, he found it full
of his books, his old lesson-books, and volumes of verse he had
sent her, English and German. The daffodils in the white
window-bottoms shone across the room, he could almost feel their
rays. The old glamour caught him again. His youthful water-colours
on the wall no longer made him grin; he remembered how fervently he
had tried to paint for her, twelve years before.
She entered, wiping a dish, and he saw again the bright,
kernel-white beauty of her arms.
“You are quite splendid here,” he said, and their
“Do you like it?” she asked. It was the old, low,
husky tone of intimacy. He felt a quick change beginning in his
blood. It was the old, delicious sublimation, the thinning, almost
the vaporizing of himself, as if his spirit were to be
“Aye,” he nodded, smiling at her like a boy again.
She bowed her head.
“This was the countess’s chair,” she said in
low tones. “I found her scissors down here between the
“Did you? Where are they?”
Quickly, with a lilt in her movement, she fetched her
work-basket, and together they examined the long-shanked old
“What a ballad of dead ladies!” he said, laughing,
as he fitted his fingers into the round loops of the
“I knew you could use them,” she said, with
certainty. He looked at his fingers, and at the scissors. She meant
his fingers were fine enough for the small-looped scissors.
“That is something to be said for me,” he laughed,
putting the scissors aside. She turned to the window. He noticed
the fine, fair down on her cheek and her upper lip, and her soft,
white neck, like the throat of a nettle flower, and her fore-arms,
bright as newly blanched kernels. He was looking at her with new
eyes, and she was a different person to him. He did not know her.
But he could regard her objectively now.
“Shall we go out awhile?” she asked.
“Yes!” he answered. But the predominant emotion,
that troubled the excitement and perplexity of his heart, was fear,
fear of that which he saw. There was about her the same manner, the
same intonation in her voice, now as then, but she was not what he
had known her to be. He knew quite well what she had been for him.
And gradually he was realizing that she was something quite other,
and always had been.
She put no covering on her head, merely took off her apron,
saying, “We will go by the larches.” As they passed the
old orchard, she called him in to show him a blue-tit’s nest
in one of the apple trees, and a sycock’s in the hedge. He
rather wondered at her surety, at a certain hardness like arrogance
hidden under her humility.
“Look at the apple buds,” she said, and he then
perceived myriads of little scarlet balls among the drooping
boughs. Watching his face, her eyes went hard. She saw the scales
were fallen from him, and at last he was going to see her as she
was. It was the thing she had most dreaded in the past, and most
needed, for her soul’s sake. Now he was going to see her as
she was. He would not love her, and he would know he never could
have loved her. The old illusion gone, they were strangers, crude
and entire. But he would give her her due—she would have her
due from him.
She was brilliant as he had not known her. She showed him nests:
a jenny wren’s in a low bush.
“See this jinty’s!” she exclaimed.
He was surprised to hear her use the local name. She reached
carefully through the thorns, and put her fingers in the
nest’s round door.
“Five!” she said. “Tiny little
She showed him nests of robins, and chaffinches, and linnets,
and buntings; of a wagtail beside the water.
“And if we go down, nearer the lake, I will show you a
kingfisher’s . . .”
“Among the young fir trees,” she said,
“there’s a throstle’s or a blackie’s on
nearly every bough, every ledge. The first day, when I had seen
them all, I felt as if I mustn’t go in the wood. It seemed a
city of birds: and in the morning, hearing them all, I thought of
the noisy early markets. I was afraid to go in my own
She was using the language they had both of them invented. Now
it was all her own. He had done with it. She did not mind his
silence, but was always dominant, letting him see her wood. As they
came along a marshy path where forget-me-nots were opening in a
rich blue drift: “We know all the birds, but there are many
flowers we can’t find out,” she said. It was half an
appeal to him, who had known the names of things.
She looked dreamily across to the open fields that slept in the
“I have a lover as well, you know,” she said, with
assurance, yet dropping again almost into the intimate tone.
This woke in him the spirit to fight her.
“I think I met him. He is good-looking—also in
Without answering, she turned into a dark path that led up-hill,
where the trees and undergrowth were very thick.
“They did well,” she said at length, “to have
various altars to various gods, in old days.”
“Ah yes!” he agreed. “To whom is the new
“There are no old ones,” she said. “I was
always looking for this.”
“And whose is it?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she said, looking full at
“I’m very glad, for your sake,” he said,
“that you are satisfied.”
“Aye—but the man doesn’t matter so
much,” she said. There was a pause.
“No!” he exclaimed, astonished, yet recognizing her
as her real self.
“It is one’s self that matters,” she said.
“Whether one is being one’s own self and serving
one’s own God.”
There was silence, during which he pondered. The path was almost
flowerless, gloomy. At the side, his heels sank into soft clay.
“I,” she said, very slowly, “I was married the
same night as you.”
He looked at her.
“Not legally, of course,” she replied.
“To the keeper?” he said, not knowing what else to
She turned to him.
“You thought I could not?” she said. But the flush
was deep in her cheek and throat, for all her assurance.
Still he would not say anything.
“You see”—she was making an effort to
explain—”I had to understand also.”
“And what does it amount to, this understanding?” he
“A very great deal—does it not to you?” she
replied. “One is free.”
“And you are not disappointed?”
“Far from it!” Her tone was deep and sincere.
“You love him?”
“Yes, I love him.”
“Good!” he said.
This silenced her for a while.
“Here, among his things, I love him,” she said.
His conceit would not let him be silent.
“It needs this setting?” he asked.
“It does,” she cried. “You were always making
me to be not myself.”
He laughed shortly.
“But is it a matter of surroundings?” he said. He
had considered her all spirit.
“I am like a plant,” she replied. “I can only
grow in my own soil.”
They came to a place where the undergrowth shrank away, leaving
a bare, brown space, pillared with the brick-red and purplish
trunks of pine trees. On the fringe, hung the sombre green of elder
trees, with flat flowers in bud, and below were bright, unfurling
pennons of fern. In the midst of the bare space stood a
keeper’s log hut. Pheasant-coops were lying about, some
occupied by a clucking hen, some empty.
Hilda walked over the brown pine-needles to the hut, took a key
from among the eaves, and opened the door. It was a bare wooden
place with a carpenter’s bench and form, carpenter’s
tools, an axe, snares, straps, some skins pegged down, everything
in order. Hilda closed the door. Syson examined the weird flat
coats of wild animals, that were pegged down to be cured. She
turned some knotch in the side wall, and disclosed a second, small
“How romantic!” said Syson.
“Yes. He is very curious—he has some of a wild
animal’s cunning— in a nice sense—and he is
inventive, and thoughtful—but not beyond a certain
She pulled back a dark green curtain. The apartment was occupied
almost entirely by a large couch of heather and bracken, on which
was spread an ample rabbit-skin rug. On the floor were patchwork
rugs of cat-skin, and a red calf-skin, while hanging from the wall
were other furs. Hilda took down one, which she put on. It was a
cloak of rabbit-skin and of white fur, with a hood, apparently of
the skins of stoats. She laughed at Syson from out of this barbaric
“What do you think of it?”
“Ah—! I congratulate you on your man,” he
“And look!” she said.
In a little jar on a shelf were some sprays, frail and white, of
the first honeysuckle.
“They will scent the place at night,” she said.
He looked round curiously.
“Where does he come short, then?” he asked. She
gazed at him a few moments. Then, turning aside:
“The stars aren’t the same with him,” she
said. “You could make them flash and quiver, and the
forget-me-nots come up at me like phosphorescence. You could make
things wonderful. I have found it out—it is true. But I have
them all for myself, now.”
He laughed, saying:
“After all, stars and forget-me-nots are only luxuries.
You ought to make poetry.”
“Aye,” she assented. “But I have them all
Again he laughed bitterly at her.
She turned swiftly. He was leaning against the small window of
the tiny, obscure room, and was watching her, who stood in the
doorway, still cloaked in her mantle. His cap was removed, so she
saw his face and head distinctly in the dim room. His black,
straight, glossy hair was brushed clean back from his brow. His
black eyes were watching her, and his face, that was clear and
cream, and perfectly smooth, was flickering.
“We are very different,” she said bitterly.
Again he laughed.
“I see you disapprove of me,” he said.
“I disapprove of what you have become,” she
“You think we might”—he glanced at the
hut—“have been like this— you and I?”
She shook her head.
“You! no; never! You plucked a thing and looked at it till
you had found out all you wanted to know about it, then you threw
it away,” she said.
“Did I?” he asked. “And could your way never
have been my way? I suppose not.”
“Why should it?” she said. “I am a separate
“But surely two people sometimes go the same way,”
“You took me away from myself,” she said.
He knew he had mistaken her, had taken her for something she was
not. That was his fault, not hers.
“And did you always know?” he asked.
“No—you never let me know. You bullied me. I
couldn’t help myself. I was glad when you left me,
“I know you were,” he said. But his face went paler,
almost deathly luminous.
“Yet,” he said, “it was you who sent me the
way I have gone.”
“I!” she exclaimed, in pride.
“You would have me take the Grammar School
scholarship—and you would have me foster poor little
Botell’s fervent attachment to me, till he couldn’t
live without me—and because Botell was rich and influential.
You triumphed in the wine-merchant’s offer to send me to
Cambridge, to befriend his only child. You wanted me to rise in the
world. And all the time you were sending me away from you—
every new success of mine put a separation between us, and more for
you than for me. You never wanted to come with me: you wanted just
to send me to see what it was like. I believe you even wanted me to
marry a lady. You wanted to triumph over society in me.”
“And I am responsible,” she said, with sarcasm.
“I distinguished myself to satisfy you,” he
“Ah!” she cried, “you always wanted change,
change, like a child.”
“Very well! And I am a success, and I know it, and I do
some good work. But—I thought you were different. What right
have you to a man?”
“What do you want?” she said, looking at him with
wide, fearful eyes.
He looked back at her, his eyes pointed, like weapons.
“Why, nothing,” he laughed shortly.
There was a rattling at the outer latch, and the keeper entered.
The woman glanced round, but remained standing, fur-cloaked, in the
inner doorway. Syson did not move.
The other man entered, saw, and turned away without speaking.
The two also were silent.
Pilbeam attended to his skins.
“I must go,” said Syson.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Then I give you ‘To our vast and varying
fortunes.’” He lifted his hand in pledge.
“‘To our vast and varying fortunes,’”
she answered gravely, and speaking in cold tones.
“Arthur!” she said.
The keeper pretended not to hear. Syson, watching keenly, began
to smile. The woman drew herself up.
“Arthur!” she said again, with a curious upward
inflection, which warned the two men that her soul was trembling on
a dangerous crisis.
The keeper slowly put down his tool and came to her.
“Yes,” he said.
“I wanted to introduce you,” she said,
“I’ve met him a’ready,” said the
“Have you? It is Addy, Mr Syson, whom you know
about.—This is Arthur, Mr Pilbeam,” she added, turning
to Syson. The latter held out his hand to the keeper, and they
shook hands in silence.
“I’m glad to have met you,” said Syson.
“We drop our correspondence, Hilda?”
“Why need we?” she asked.
The two men stood at a loss.
“Is there no need?” said Syson.
Still she was silent.
“It is as you will,” she said.
They went all three together down the gloomy path.
“‘Qu’il était bleu, le ciel, et grand
l’espoir,’” quoted Syson, not knowing what to
“What do you mean?” she said. “Besides, we
can’t walk in our wild oats—we never sowed
Syson looked at her. He was startled to see his young love, his
nun, his Botticelli angel, so revealed. It was he who had been the
fool. He and she were more separate than any two strangers could
be. She only wanted to keep up a correspondence with him—and
he, of course, wanted it kept up, so that he could write to her,
like Dante to some Beatrice who had never existed save in the
man’s own brain.
At the bottom of the path she left him. He went along with the
keeper, towards the open, towards the gate that closed on the wood.
The two men walked almost like friends. They did not broach the
subject of their thoughts.
Instead of going straight to the high-road gate, Syson went
along the wood’s edge, where the brook spread out in a little
bog, and under the alder trees, among the reeds, great yellow
stools and bosses of marigolds shone. Threads of brown water
trickled by, touched with gold from the flowers. Suddenly there was
a blue flash in the air, as a kingfisher passed.
Syson was extraordinarily moved. He climbed the bank to the
gorse bushes, whose sparks of blossom had not yet gathered into a
flame. Lying on the dry brown turf, he discovered sprigs of tiny
purple milkwort and pink spots of lousewort. What a wonderful world
it was—marvellous, for ever new. He felt as if it were
underground, like the fields of monotone hell, notwithstanding.
Inside his breast was a pain like a wound. He remembered the poem
of William Morris, where in the Chapel of Lyonesse a knight lay
wounded, with the truncheon of a spear deep in his breast, lying
always as dead, yet did not die, while day after day the coloured
sunlight dipped from the painted window across the chancel, and
passed away. He knew now it never had been true, that which was
between him and her, not for a moment. The truth had stood apart
all the time.
Syson turned over. The air was full of the sound of larks, as if
the sunshine above were condensing and falling in a shower. Amid
this bright sound, voices sounded small and distinct.
“But if he’s married, an’ quite willing to
drop it off, what has ter against it?” said the man’s
“I don’t want to talk about it now. I want to be
Syson looked through the bushes. Hilda was standing in the wood,
near the gate. The man was in the field, loitering by the hedge,
and playing with the bees as they settled on the white bramble
There was silence for a while, in which Syson imagined her will
among the brightness of the larks. Suddenly the keeper exclaimed
“Ah!” and swore. He was gripping at the sleeve of his
coat, near the shoulder. Then he pulled off his jacket, threw it on
the ground, and absorbedly rolled up his shirt sleeve right to the
“Ah!” he said vindictively, as he picked out the bee
and flung it away. He twisted his fine, bright arm, peering
awkwardly over his shoulder.
“What is it?” asked Hilda.
“A bee—crawled up my sleeve,” he answered.
“Come here to me,” she said.
The keeper went to her, like a sulky boy. She took his arm in
“Here it is—and the sting left in-poor
She picked out the sting, put her mouth to his arm, and sucked
away the drop of poison. As she looked at the red mark her mouth
had made, and at his arm, she said, laughing:
“That is the reddest kiss you will ever have.”
When Syson next looked up, at the sound of voices, he saw in the
shadow the keeper with his mouth on the throat of his beloved,
whose head was thrown back, and whose hair had fallen, so that one
rough rope of dark brown hair hung across his bare arm.
“No,” the woman answered. “I am not upset
because he’s gone. You won’t understand . .
Syson could not distinguish what the man said. Hilda replied,
clear and distinct:
“You know I love you. He has gone quite out of my
life—don’t trouble about him . . .” He kissed
her, murmuring. She laughed hollowly.
“Yes,” she said, indulgent. “We will be
married, we will be married. But not just yet.” He spoke to
her again. Syson heard nothing for a time. Then she said:
“You must go home, now, dear—you will get no
Again was heard the murmur of the keeper’s voice, troubled
by fear and passion.
“But why should we be married at once?” she said.
“What more would you have, by being married? It is most
beautiful as it is.”
At last he pulled on his coat and departed. She stood at the
gate, not watching him, but looking over the sunny country.
When at last she had gone, Syson also departed, going back to