“I don’t know.” There was a keen note of irritation in the reply. Daisy leaned suddenly forward, her fingers locked together. “You might as well ask me when I think of dying,” she said, with abrupt and startling bitterness.
Grange remained stationary, not looking at her. “Is it as indefinite as that?” he asked presently.
“Yes, quite.” She spoke recklessly, even defiantly. “Where would be the use of my going to a place I couldn’t possibly live in for more than four months in the year? Besides—besides—” But again, as if checked by some potent inner influence, she broke off short. Her white face quivered suddenly, and she turned it aside. Her hands were convulsively clenched upon each other.
Her cousin did not move. He seemed to be unaware of her agitation. Simply with much patience he waited for her end of the sentence.
It came at last in a voice half-strangled. She was making almost frantic efforts to control herself. “Besides, I couldn’t stand it—yet. I am not strong enough. And he—he wouldn’t understand, poor boy. I think—I honestly think—I am better away from him for the present”
Blake made no further inquiries. From Daisy’s point of view, he seemed to be standing motionless, but in reality he was quite unconsciously, though very deliberately, pulling the tassel of the blind-cord to shreds.
The clouds had passed, and the sun blazed down full upon him, throwing his splendid outline into high relief. Every detail of his massive frame was strongly revealed. There was about him a species of careless magnificence, wholly apart from arrogance, unfettered, superb.
To Daisy, familiar as she was with every line of him, the sudden revelation of the sunlight acted like a charm. She had been hiding her eyes for many days from all light, veiling them in the darkness of her grief, and the splendour of the man fairly dazzled her. It rushed upon her, swift, overmastering as a tidal wave, and before it even the memory of her sorrow grew dim.
Blake, turning at last, met her eyes fixed full upon him with that in their expression which no man could ignore. She had not expected him to turn. The movement disconcerted her. With a sharp jerk She averted her face, seeking to cover that momentary slip, to persuade him even then, if it were possible, into the belief that he had not seen aright.
But it was too late. That unguarded look of hers had betrayed her, rending asunder in an instant the veil with which for years she had successfully baffled him.
In a second he was on his knees beside her, his arms about her, holding her with a close and passionate insistence.
“Daisy!” he whispered huskily. And again, “Daisy!”
And Daisy turned with a sudden deep sob and hid her face upon his breast.
THE EAGLE CAGED