“Well, I will do as you wish, my darling white rose. In my eyes you are above the angels.”
Antony’s voice when it is moved could wile a bird from off a tree.
Then I told him of my telegram, and I know he, too, felt glad that last night we had parted as we had.
“Ambrosine, listen to me,” he said, “I will not try to see you, but if you want anything in the world done for you, promise to let me do it.”
“There is just one thing I want to know,” I said. “That day before my wedding, when you sent me the knife and the note saying it was not too late to cut the Gordian knot, what did you mean? Did you care for me, then?”
“I do not know exactly what I meant. I was greatly attracted by you. That day we came over I very nearly said to you then, ’Come along away with me,’ and then we never met again until your wedding. When I sent the knife I half wondered what you would say. I wrote the note half in joke, half in earnest. My principal feeling was that I could not bear you to marry Augustus. If we had chanced to meet then, really, I should have taken you off to Gretna Green.”
“Alas!” I said.
The footman opened the door. We had arrived at the station.
We did not travel in the same carriage going to London. We had agreed it would be better not. And I do not think any one, seeing Antony calmly handing me into the hired brougham Augustus had sent to me, would have guessed that we were parting forever, and that, to me at least, all joy in the world had fled.
It is stupid to go on talking about one’s feelings. Having cut off one’s hand, I am sure grandmamma would say it would be drivelling and mawkish to meditate over each drop of blood.
I tried hard to think of other things. I counted the stupid pattern on the braid that ornamented the inside of the brougham. I counted the lamp-posts, with their murky lights, showing through the fog. I looked at McGreggor sitting stolidly opposite me. Could any emotions happen to that wooden mask? “Have you a lover that you have said good-bye to forever, I wonder? And is that why your face is carved out of stone?” I said to myself.
In spite of all grandmamma’s stoical bringing-up, it was physical pain I was suffering.
In Queen Victoria Street a hansom passed us and I caught a misty glimpse of Antony. He smiled mechanically as he raised his hat.
And so this is the end.
The fog is falling thickly again. Everything is damp and cold and black as night.
And I—Oh! I wish—
“Hallo, little woman! Glad to see you!” said Augustus, in a thick and tipsy voice, as I got out of the carriage. And he kissed me in front of all the people at the hotel door.
The ship sailed a week ago and Augustus has gone to the war. Oh, I hate to look back and think of those dreadful three weeks before he started!