She had no history to tell him in exchange; she asked only to listen and to comfort. Yet so cleverly he addressed his story that the longest monologue became, by aid of a look or pressure of the hand, a conversation in which she, his guardian angel, bore her part. Did he talk of Avignon, for instance? It was the land of Laura and Petrarch, and she, seated with half-closed eyes beneath the Bayfield elms, saw the pair beside the waters of Vaucluse, saw the roses and orange-trees and arid plains of Provence, and wondered at the trouble in their spiritual love. She was not troubled; love as “a dureless content and a trustless joy” lay outside of her knowledge, and she had no desire to prove it. In this only she forgot the difference between Raoul’s age and hers.
The day came when his work was ended. They spent a great part of that afternoon in the garden, now in the height of its midsummer glory. Raoul was very silent.
“But this must not end. It cannot end so!” he groaned once or twice.
He never forgot for long his old spite against Time.
“It will never end for me,” she murmured.
“Of what are you made, then, that you look forward to living on shadows?—one would say, almost cheerfully! I believe you could be happy if you never saw me again!”
“Even if that had to be,” she answered gravely, “while I knew you loved me I should never be quite unhappy. But you must find a way, while you can, to come sometimes; yes, you must come.”
CORPORAL ZEALLY INTERVENES
Dorothea sat in the great hall of Bayfield, between the lamplight and the moonlight, listening to the drip of the fountain beneath its tiny cupola. A midsummer moon-ray fell through the uncurtained lantern beneath the dome and spread in a small pool of silver at her feet. Beneath one of the two shaded lamps Endymion lounged in his armchair and read the Sherborne Mercury. Narcissus had carried off the other to a table across the hall by the long bookcase, and above the pot-plants banked about the fountain she saw it shining on his shapely grey head as he bent over a copy of the Antonine Itinerary and patiently worked out a new theory of its distances. Her own face rested in deep shadow, and she felt grateful for it as she leaned back thinking her own thoughts. It was a whole week now since Charles had visited Bayfield, but she had encountered him that morning in Axcester