“My dear, kind master!” she exclaimed to herself, and went rapidly back to him.
“That is a charming girl—your young friend,” he said to her, as he got up to stroll to the gate; “full of life and common sense. There is something wonderful in the vitality of her nation. They jar dreadfully upon us old tired peoples in their worst aspects—but in their best we must recognize a new spring of life and youth for the world. Yonder young woman is not troubling about a soul, if she has one; she is a fountain of living water. She has not taken on the shadows of our crowded past. Halcyone, my dear, you and I are the inheritance of too much culture. When I see her I want to cry with Epicurus: ’Above all, steer clear of Culture!’” And then he branched from this subject and plunged into a learned dissertation upon the worship of Dionysus, and how it had cropped up again and again with wild fervor among the ancient worlds whose senses and brains were wearied with the state religions, and he concluded by analogy that this wild longing to return to youth’s follies and mad ecstasies, to get free from restraints, to seek communion with the spiritual beyond in some exaltation of the emotions—in short, to get back to nature—was an instinct in all human beings and all nations, when their zeniths of art and cultivation had come.
And Halcyone, who had heard it all before and knew the subject to her finger tips, wandered dreamily into a shadowland where she felt she was of these people—those far back worshipers—and this was her winter when Dionysus was dead, but would live again when the spring came and the flowers.
Mrs. Cricklander felt it would be discreet and in perfect taste if she announced her intention of going off to Carlsbad the week after her engagement was settled—she was always most careful of decorum. And, if the world of her friends thought John Derringham was well enough to be making love to her in the seclusion of her own house, it would be much wiser for her to show that she should always remain beyond the breath of any gossip.
In her heart she was bored to tears. For nearly the whole of June she had been cooped up at Wendover—for more than half the time without even parties of visitors to keep her company—and she loathed being alone. She had no personal resources and invariably at such times smoked too much and got agitated nerves in consequence.
John Derringham—strong and handsome, with his prestige and his brilliant faculties—was a conquest worth parading chained to her chariot wheels. But John Derringham, feeble, unable to walk, his ankle in splints and plaster of Paris, and still suffering from headaches whenever the light was strong, was simply a weariness to her—nothing more nor less.
So that, until he should be restored to his usual captivating vigor, it was much better for her pleasure to leave him to his complete recovery alone, now that she had got him securely in her keeping.