“That’s over then,” he said lightly. “Turn over and start another page. Go back to England, go back to school; and let them teach you to be young again.”
They were his last words to her. Yet an instant longer he waited, and very deep down in her heart something that was hidden there stirred and quivered as a blind creature moves at the touch of the sun. It awoke a vague pain within her, that was all.
The next moment Nick had turned upon his heel and was departing.
She heard him humming a waltz tune under his breath as he went away with his free British swagger. And she knew with no sense of elation that she had gained her point.
For good or ill he had left her, and he would not return.
AN OLD FRIEND
“There!” said Daisy, standing back from the table to review her handiwork with her head on one side. “I may be outrageously childish, but if Blake fails to appreciate this masterpiece of mine, I shall feel inclined to turn him out-of-doors, and leave him to spend the night on the step.”
Muriel, curled up in the old-fashioned window-seat, looked round with her low laugh. “It’s snowing hard,” she remarked.
Daisy did not heed her. “Come and look at it,” she said.
The masterpiece in question consisted of an enormous red scroll bearing in white letters the words: “Welcome to the Brave.”
“It never before occurred to me that Blake was brave,” observed Daisy. “He is so shy and soft and retiring. I can’t somehow feel as if I am going to entertain a lion. He ought to be here by this time. Let’s go and hang my work of art in the hall.”
She slipped her hand through Muriel’s arm, and glanced at her sharply when she felt it tremble.
“It will be good to see him again, won’t it?” she said.
“Yes,” Muriel agreed, but there was a little tremor in her voice as well.
Very vividly were the circumstances under which she had last seen this man in her mind that night. Eight months that were like as many years stretched between that tragic time and the present, but the old wild horror had still the power to make her blood turn cold, the old wound had not lost its ache. These things had made a woman of her before her time, but yet she was not as other women. It seemed that she was destined all her life to live apart, and only to look on at the joys of others. They did not attract her, and she had no heart for gaiety. Yet she was not cold, or Daisy had not found in her so congenial a companion. But even Daisy seldom penetrated behind the deep reserve that had grown over the girl’s sad young heart. They were close friends, but their friendship lay mainly in what they left unsaid. For all her quick warmth, Daisy too had her inner shrine—a place so secret that she herself never entered it save as it were by stealth.