“Little ‘ill omen,’ as he called you, is it your fault that once fate, once honor, once gratitude to a woman have kept me from my love? Well, I shall throw you away now, then I shall have no link left to remind me of foolish things that might have been.”
I lifted my arm, and with all my might flung the tiny, glittering thing out into the air. It fell far away down among the tree-tops in the valley.
Then I turned to go down the hill. I had done with ridiculous sentiment, which I had always disliked and despised.
Footsteps were coming towards me up the long, winding path. It was a lonely place. I hoped it was not one of the fat German Jews who had followed me once or twice. Ugly creatures!—hardly human, they seemed to me. I wished I had Roy with me. He had gone with McGreggor into the town.
A bend in the path hid the person from view until we met face to face.
And then I saw it was Antony, and it seemed as if my heart stopped beating.
“At last I have found you, Ambrosine, sweetheart!” he said, and he clasped me in his arms and kissed my lips.
Then I forgot Lady Tilchester and gratitude and honor and self-control, because in nature I find there is a stronger force than all these things, and that is the touch of the one we love.
* * * * *
It was perhaps an hour afterwards. The shadows looked blue among the pine-trees.
We sat on a little wooden bench. There was a warm, still silence. Not a twig moved. A joy so infinite seemed everywhere around.
“It was all over between us ten years ago,” Antony said. “It only lasted a year or two, when we were very young. The situation galled us both too much, and Tilchester was always my friend. She knows I love you, and she only cares for her great works and her fine position now. So you need not have fled, Comtesse.”
“I shall tell you something, Antony.” I whispered. “I am glad I am doing no wrong, but if it was to break Lady Tilchester’s heart, if grandmamma were to come back and curse me here for forgetting all her teachings, if it was almost disgrace—now that I know what it is like to stay in your arms—I should stay!”