“Is that exactly fair?” I drew away the hands he was hurting in his tense grip. “I hardly thought you’d take—” I shut my eyes to keep back quick tears for which there was no accounting. Something curious was suddenly possessing me, something that for weeks I had seemed fighting and resisting. An overmastering desire to give in; to surrender, to yield to his love for me, to mine for him, was disarming me, and swift, inexplicable impulse to marry him and give up the thing I was trying to do urged and swept over me. And then I remembered his house with its high walls. And I remembered Scarborough Square. Until there was between them sympathy and understanding there could be no abiding basis on which love could build and find enrichment and fulfilment. Straightening, I sat up, but I was conscious of being very tired.
“Please don’t, Selwyn.” The hand I had drawn away I held out to him. “We must not think or talk of ourselves to-day. This is not our day.”
“But I want my day.” His strong fingers twisted into mine with bruising force. “I have waited long for it. For all others you have consideration, but my happiness alone you ignore. You seem to think my endurance is beyond limit. How long are you going to keep this thing up? Some day you are going to marry me. Why not to-day?”
I shook my head. “I cannot marry you today. Take care—” The conductor was coming down the aisle toward us.
By the time we learn a few of the lessons life teaches we stop living. I should have known it is the unexpected that happens, but I forgot it. What I expected at Claxon did not come to pass.
At a little station a few miles east of the tiny town to which we were going, Tom and Madeleine left our train and waited for a crawling accommodation to Shelby, where, later, they would be married. From the car window I waved to them and tried to transmit a portion of my courage, for which there was no credit, and of my enjoyment, of which I should have been ashamed and was not ashamed. A taste for adventure will ever be a part of me, and I was getting much more pleasure out of an unexpected experience than Madeleine was. The playing of shadow to her substance was not so serious for me as for her, and then, too, I had the joyful irresponsibility of not going to be married. I do not want to be a married person yet.
As we left the car at Claxon I glanced in the mirror at the end of our coach and was pleased. About me was a bridal atmosphere that was unmistakable. Madeleine’s clothes were new and lovely and I looked well. So did Selwyn. As we reached the platform I was undecided whether to cling timidly to Selwyn’s arm or to walk bravely apart, and the indecision, together with the certainty that some one would put a hand on Selwyn’s shoulder and say words I had never before heard, made my heart beat with a rapidity that was as genuine as if I were soon to become a bride in very truth. The sensation was exhilarating. I liked it.