* * * * *
At this time he heard a moaning noise. The colonel gave a shrug, sighed, and ascended to his sister’s bedroom. He knew that Agatha must be ill; and that there is no more efficient quietus to wildish meditations than the heating of hot-water bottles and the administration of hypnotics he had long ago discovered.
“As one imprisoned that hath lain
And dreamed of sunlight where no vagrant gleam
Of sunlight pierces, being freed, must deem
This too but dreaming, and must dread the sun
Whose glory dazzles,—even as such-an-one
Am I whose longing was but now supreme
For this high hour, and, now it strikes, esteem
I do but dream long dreamed-of goals are won.
“Phyllis, I am not worthy of thy
I pray thee let no kindly word be said
Of me at all, for in the train thereof,
Whenas yet-parted lips, sigh-visited,
End speech and wait, mine when I will to move,
Such joy awakens that I grow afraid.”
THOMAS ROWLAND. Triumphs of Phyllis.
They passed with incredible celerity, those next ten days—those strange, delicious, topsy-turvy days. To Rudolph Musgrave it seemed afterward that he had dreamed them away in some vague Lotus Land—in a delectable country where, he remembered, there were always purple eyes that mocked you, and red lips that coaxed you now, and now cast gibes at you.
You felt, for the most part of your stay in this country, flushed and hot and uncomfortable and unbelievably awkward, and you were mercilessly bedeviled there; but not for all the accumulated wealth of Samarkand and Ind and Ophir would you have had it otherwise. Ah, no, not otherwise in the least trifle. For now uplifted to a rosy zone of acquiescence, you partook incuriously at table of nectar and ambrosia, and noted abroad, without any surprise, that you trod upon a more verdant grass than usual, and that someone had polished up the sun a bit; and, in fine, you snatched a fearful joy from the performance of the most trivial functions of life.
Yet always he remembered that it could not last; always he remembered that in the autumn Patricia was to marry Lord Pevensey. She sometimes gave him letters to mail which were addressed to that nobleman. He wondered savagely what was in them; he posted them with a vicious shove; and, for the time, they caused him acute twinges of misery. But not for long; no, for, in sober earnest, if some fantastic sequence of events had made his one chance of winning Patricia Stapylton dependent on his spending a miserable half-hour in her company, Rudolph Musgrave could not have done it.