“If you wish it,” she answered gently.
“I do wish it.”
“Then—so be it,” she said.
He bent his head a little lower, kissed her twice passionately upon the lips, held her awhile as if he could not bear to let her go, then tore himself almost violently from her, and went away, swift and noiseless as a shadow over the grass.
THE POWER THAT CASTS OUT DEVILS
It was late on the evening of her wedding-day that Anne entered once more the drawing-room of the little inn at Bramhurst and stopped by the open window.
There was a scent of musk in the room behind her, and an odour infinitely more alluring of roses and honeysuckle in the garden in front. Beyond the garden the common lay in the rosy dusk of the afterglow under a deep blue sky. The clang of a distant cow-bell came dreamily through the silence.
She stood leaning against the door-post with her face to the night. It was a night of wonder, of marvellous, soul-stilling peace. Yet her brows were slightly drawn as she waited there. She seemed to be puzzling over something.
“Say it out loud,” said Nap.
She did not start at the words though he had come up behind her without sound. She stretched out her hand without turning and drew his arm through hers.
“Why did we choose this place?” she said.
“You didn’t choose it,” said Nap.
“I chose it chiefly because I knew you hated it,” he said, a queer vibration of recklessness in his voice.
“My dear Nap, am I to believe that?”
He looked at her through the falling dusk, and his hand closed tense and vital upon her arm. “It’s the truth anyway,” he said. “I knew you hated the place, that you only came to it for my sake. And I—I made you come because I wanted you to love it.”
“For your sake, Nap?” she said softly.
“Yes, and for another reason.” He paused a moment; speech seemed suddenly an effort to him. Then: “Anne,” he said, “you forgave me, I know, long ago; but I want you here—on this spot—to tell me that what happened here is to you as if it had never been. I want it blotted out of your mind for ever. I want your trust—your trust!”
It was like a hunger-cry rising from the man’s very soul. At sound of it she turned impulsively.
“Nap, never speak of this again! My dearest, we need not have come here for that. Yet I am glad now that we came. It will be holy ground to me as long as I live. As long as I live,” she repeated very earnestly, “I shall remember that it was here that the door of paradise was opened to us at last, and that God meant us to enter in.”
She lifted her eyes to his with a look half-shy, half-confident. “You believe in God,” she said.
He did not answer at once. He was looking out beyond her for the first time, and the restless fire had gone out of his eyes. They were still and deep as a mountain pool.