The half-moon set, and the night became much darker before John Derringham rose from his seat by the bench. A stupor had fallen upon him. He had ceased to reason. Then he got up and made his way back to the orchard house, under the myriads of pale stars, which shone with diminished brilliancy from the luminous, summer night sky.
Here he seemed to grow material again and to realize that he was indeed awake. But what had happened to him? Whether he had been dreaming or no, a spell had fallen upon him—he had drunk of the poison cup. And Halcyone filled his mind. He thrilled and thrilled again as he remembered the exquisite joy of their tender embrace—even though it had been no real thing, but a dream, it was still the divinest good his life had yet known.
But what could it lead to if it were real? Nothing but sorrow and parting and regret. For his career still mattered to him, he knew, now that he was in his sane senses again, more than anything else in the world. And he could not burden himself with a poor, uninfluential girl as a wife, even though the joy of it took them both to heaven.
The emotion he was experiencing was one quite new to him, and he almost resented it, because it was upsetting some of his beliefs.
The next day, at breakfast, the Professor remarked that he looked pale.
“You rather overwork, John,” he said. “To lie about the garden here and not have to follow the caprices of fashionable ladies at Wendover, would do you a power of good.”
There was no sight of Halcyone all the day. She was living in a paradise, but hers contained no doubts or uncertainties. She knew that indeed she had lived and breathed the night before, and found complete happiness in John Derringham’s arms.
That, then, was what Aphrodite had always been telling her. She knew now the meaning of the love in her eyes. This glorious and divine thing had been given to her, too—out of the night.
It was fully perceived at last, not only half glanced at almost with fear. Love had come to her, and whatever might reck of sorrow, it meant her whole life and soul.
And this precious gift of the pure thing from God she had given in her turn to John Derringham as his lips had pressed her lips.
She spent the whole day in the garden, sitting in the summer house surveying the world. The blue hills in the far distance were surely the peaks of Olympus and she had been permitted to know what existence meant there.
Not a doubt of him entered her heart, or a fear. He certainly loved her as she loved him; they had been created for each other since the beginning of time. And it was only a question of arrangement when she should go away with him and never part any more.
Marriage, as a ceremony in church, meant nothing to her. Some such thing, of course, must take place, because of the stupid conventions of the world, but the sacrament, the real mating, was to be together—alone.