Arthur uttered a smothered exclamation.
“Don’t start, Arthur; you must accustom yourself to the fact that that woman has passed away from you, and is as completely the personal property of another man, as that chair is mine. But, there, the subject is a painful one to you; shall we change it?”
“It is one that you seem to have studied pretty deeply.”
“Yes, because I have realized its importance to a woman. For some years I have longed to be able to fall in love, and when at last I did so, Arthur,” and here her voice grew very soft, “it was with a man who could care nothing for me. Such has been my unlucky chance. That a woman, herself beloving and herself worthily beloved, could throw her blessed opportunity away is to me a thing inconceivable, and that, Arthur, is what your Angela has done.”
“Then you will not marry now, Mildred?” said Arthur, after a pause.
“No one, Arthur.”
He rose, and, leaning over the railing of the verandah, looked at the sea. The mist that hid it was drifting and eddying hither and thither before little puffs of wind, and the clear sky was clouding up.
“There is going to be a storm,” he said, presently.
“Yes, I think so, the air feels like it.”
He hesitated a while, and looked down at her. She seemed very lovely in the half lights, as indeed she was. She, too, looked up at him inquiringly. At last he spoke.
“Mildred, you said just now that you would not marry anybody. Will you make an exception?—will you marry me?”
It was her turn to pause now.
“You are very good,” she murmured.
“No, I am not at all good. You know how the case stands. You know that I still love Angela, and that I shall in all probability always love her. I cannot help that. But if you will have me, Mildred, I will try to be a good husband to you, and to make you happy. Will you marry me, dear?”