“Get on with your courting then, lad!” said the Professor, pointing with his stick in Halcyone’s direction, while his wise eyes smiled. “I suppose she will think you perfect in any case—it is her incredible conviction!” And with this he shook his old pupil’s hand again, and the two men went their separate ways; John Derringham forgetful of even his lame ankle as he rapidly approached his beloved.
She saw him coming—she had been thinking of him deeply in an exquisite day-dream, and this seemed just the sequence of it, and quite natural and yet divine.
She rose and held out both hands to him, the radiance of heaven in her tender eyes. For she knew that all was well and joy had come.
And they spoke not a word as he folded her in his arms.
* * * * *
A week later they were married very quietly at the Embassy, and went south to spend their honeymoon, leaving Mr. Carlyon to go back to England alone. He was tired of wandering, he said, and sighed for the comforts of the orchard house and his pipe and his Aristotle.
And Aphrodite went with the bridal pair, no doubt content.
The manner of Mrs. Cricklander’s dismissal of John Derringham had left him unhampered by any consideration for her feelings.
And when she read the announcement in the New York Herald the day after the wedding, she burned with furious rage.
So this was the meaning of everything all along! It had not been Cora Lutworth or his political preoccupations, or anything but simply the odious fact that he had been in love with somebody else! This wretched English girl had taken him from her—a creature of whose existence she had never even heard!
And the world would know of his marriage before her own news had been made public! The gall of the whole thing was hardly to be borne!
She felt that, had she been aware that John Derringham’s affections were really given elsewhere, nothing would have induced her to break off the engagement! Mr. Hanbury-Green was all very well, and was being a most exceptional lover, only this hateful humiliation and blow to her self-love mattered more than any mere man!
But of such things the married two recked not at all. Their springtime of bliss had come.
And, as they sat absolutely alone upon the inner steps of the Temple of Poseidon at Paestum, looking out upon the sapphire sea and azure sky, the noble columns in front of them all bathed in golden light, and a solemn crow perched above as priest to bless them, Halcyone drew the wrappings from the goddess’s head.
“See, John,” she said, “Aphrodite is perfectly happy; she is smiling as never before. She knows that we have found all her message.” And she laid her head against his shoulder as he encircled her with his arm.
“Dear,” she went on, with that misty look in her serene eyes as though they could see into the beyond, “for me, however much beautiful things exalt me and take me to God, I can never go there alone. It always seems as if I must put out my hand and take your hand.”