Yes, the fiat has gone forth; for good or for evil, for comfort or for scorn, for the world and for eternity, he loves her! Henceforth that love, so lightly and yet so irredeemably given, will become the guiding spirit of his inner life, rough-hewing his destinies, directing his ends, and shooting its memories and hopes through the whole fabric of his being like an interwoven thread of gold. He may sin against it, but he can never forget it; other interests and ties may overlay it, but they cannot extinguish it; he may drown its fragrance in voluptuous scents, but, when these have satiated and become hateful, it will re-arise, pure and sweet as ever. Time or separation cannot destroy it—for it is immortal; use cannot stale it, pain can only sanctify it. It will be to him as a beacon-light to the sea-worn mariner that tells of home and peace upon the shore, as a rainbow-promise set upon the sky. It alone of all things pertaining to him will defy the attacks of the consuming years, and when, old and withered, he lays him down to die, it will at last present itself before his glazing eyes, an embodied joy, clad in shining robes, and breathing the airs of Paradise!
For such is love to those to whom it has been given to see him face to face.
Arthur did not do much fishing that morning; indeed, he never so much as got his line into the water—he simply sat there lost in dreams, and hoping in a vague way that Angela would come back again. But she did not come back, though it would be difficult to say what prevented her; for, had he but known it, she was for the space of a full hour sitting within a hundred yards of him, and occasionally peeping out to watch his mode of fishing with some curiosity. It was, she reflected, exceedingly unlike that practised by Jakes. She, too, was wishing that he would detect her, and come to talk to her; but, amongst other new sensations, she was now the victim of a most unaccountable shyness, and could not make up her mind to reveal her whereabouts.
At last Arthur awoke from his long reverie, and remembered with a sudden pang that he had had nothing to eat since the previous evening, and that he was consequently exceedingly hungry. He also discovered, on consulting his watch, that it was twelve o’clock, and, moreover, that he was quite stiff from sitting so long in the same position. So, sighing to think that such a vulgar necessity as that of obtaining food should force him to depart, he put up his unused fishing-rod and started for Isleworth, where he arrived just as the bell was ringing for lunch.
George received him with cold civility, and asked him what sport he had, to which he was forced to reply—none.
“Did you see anybody there?”
“Yes, I met Miss Caresfoot.”
“Ah! trust a girl to trail out a man. What is she like? I remember her a raw-boned girl of fourteen with fine eyes.”