Halcyone started to her feet.
“Ah! I must go, dear lover,” she said, “though it will only be for some few hours.”
But John Derringham held her two hands, detaining her.
“I will make all the arrangements in these next few days,” he said. “I am going to Wendover for Whitsuntide. I will get away from there, though, and come across the park and meet you, darling, here at our tree, and we will settle exactly what to do and when to go.”
Then, after a last fond, sweet embrace, he let her leave him, and watched her as she glided away among the giant trees, until she was out of sight, a wild glory in his heart.
For love, when he wins after stress, leaves no room but for gladness in his worshiper’s soul.
It was John Derringham who was taciturn next morning, not the Professor!
The light of day has a most sobering effect, and while still exalted in a measure by all the strong forces of love, he was enabled to review worldly events with a clearer eye, and could realize very well that he was going to take a step which would not have a forwarding impetus upon his career, even if it proved to be not one of retrogression.
He must give up the thought of using a rich wife as an advancement; but then, on the other hand, he would gain a companion whose divine sweetness would be an ennobling inspiration.
How he could ever have deceived himself in regard to his feelings he wondered now, for he saw quite plainly that he had been drifting into loving her from the first moment he had seen her that Good Friday morning, the foundations having been laid years before, on the day in the tree.
He felt rather uncomfortable about his old master, who he knew would not approve of any secret union with Halcyone. Not that Cheiron would reck much of conventionalities, or care in the least if it were a marriage at a registry-office or not, but he would certainly resent any aspect of the case which would seem to put a slight upon his much-loved protegee or place her in a false position.
He would tell him nothing about it until it was an accomplished fact and Halcyone was his wife—then they would let him into the secret.
All the details of what she would have to say to her aunts in her letter of farewell on leaving them would have to be thought out, too, so that no pursuit or inopportune prying into the truth would be the consequence.
Of any possibility of her stepfather’s ultimate interference he did not think, not knowing that she had even any further connection with him. To satisfy in some way the ancient aunts was all that appeared a necessity. And that was difficult enough. He had certainly undertaken no easy task, but he did not regret his decision. The first and only strong passion he had ever known was mastering him.