“I—I have been trying to find you.” said she, at length.
He turned, looking from end to end of the large room; they were quite alone.
“Polly,” he whispered, “I believe you do love me.”
For a little time she made no answer.
“No,” she whispered, shaking her head; “that is, I—I do not think I love you.”
“Then why have you come to find me?”
“Because—because you did not come to find me,” she answered, glancing down at the toe of her pretty shoe.
She turned impatiently and stood by an open window. She was looking out upon a white orchard. Odours of spring flower and apple blossom were in the soft wings of the wind. Somehow they mingled with her feeling and were always in her memory of that hour. Her arm moved slowly and a ’kerchief went to her eyes. Then, a little tremor in the plume upon her hat Trove went to her side.
“Dear Polly!” he said, as he took her hand in his. Gently she pulled it away.
“I—I cannot speak to you now,” she whispered.
Then a long silence. The low music of a million tiny wings came floating in at the window. It seemed, somehow, like a voice of the past, with minutes, like the bees, hymning indistinguishably. Polly and Trove were thinking of the same things. “I can doubt him no more,” she thought, “and I know—I know that he loves me.” They could hear the flutter of bird wings beyond the window and in the stillness they got some understanding of each other. She turned suddenly, and went to where he stood.
“Sidney,” she said, “I am sorry—I am sorry if I have hurt you.”
She lifted one of his hands and pressed her red cheek upon it fondly. In a moment he spoke.
“Long ago I knew that you were doubting me, but I couldn’t help it,” he said.
“It was that—that horrible secret,” she whispered.
“I had no, right to your love,” said he, “until—” he hesitated for a little, “until I could tell you the truth.”
“You loved somebody else?” she whispered, turning to him. “Didn’t you, now? Tell me.”
“No,” said he, calmly. “The fact is—the fact is I had learned that my father was a thief.”
“Your father!” she answered. “Do you think I care what your father did? Your honour and your love were enough for me.”
“I did not know,” he whispered, “and I should have made my way to you, but—” he paused again.
“But what?” she demanded, impatiently.
“Well, it was only fair you should have a chance to meet others, and I thought you were in love with Roberts.”
“Roberts! He would have been glad of my love, I can tell you that.” She looked up at him. “I have endured much for you, Sidney Trove, and I cannot keep my secret any longer. He says that Darrel is now in prison for your crime.”
“And you believe him?” Trove whispered.
“Not that,” she answered quickly, “but you know I loved the dear old man; I cannot think him guilty any more than I could think it of you. But there’s a deep mystery in it all. It has made me wretched. Every one thinks you know more than you have told about it.”