“And I want to meet Christine,” she said.
“And it’s been fine—our meeting again. But didn’t you always know it would happen?”
“I believe I did. Yes, I did. I used to imagine——”
And then he knew and saw that she knew too. He saw it in the sudden darkening of her steady eyes, in the perplexity of her drawn brows. He felt it in her hand that scarcely moved, as though even now it would not shrink from whatever was the truth. It came and went like a flare of fire across the storm. And when it had gone, they could not believe that it had ever been. They were both shaken with astonishment. And yet, hadn’t they always known?
“Good-night, Robert Stonehouse.”
But he could not move. He watched the blank door open, and her slender shadow stand out for a moment against the yellow gas-light of the hall. She did not look back. Perhaps she too was spell-bound. The door closed with an odd sound as though the house had clicked its tongue in good-natured amusement.
“Now you see how it happens, Robert Stonehouse!”
At any rate, the spell was broken. Hugging his parcel dangerously close he raced back to the shelter of the trees and waited. High over head the house opened a bright eye at him. He waved back at it with an absurd, incredible boyishness.
Then he walked on deliberately, firmly.
What was it he had to set his mind on?
Of course. That question of therapeutics——
“I don’t understand it,” Christine said. “It seems to me better than anything you’ve ever read to me.”
She counted her stitches for the second time, and looked up at the sun that showed its face over the stable roof opposite, as though at a lamp which did not burn as well as it used to do. In the dusty golden light she was like a figure in a tapestry. Perhaps in its early days it had been a trifle crude, a trifle harsh in colour, but now worn and threadbare, trembling on decay, it had attained a rare and exquisite beauty.
She smiled back blindly into the little room.
“Don’t you think so, Robert?”
Mr. Ricardo also looked at Robert, eagerly, pathetically.
“It was to gain your opinion—reinforce my own judgment—solely for that purpose—difficult to obtain, the impartial opinion of a trained mind——”
He had grown into a habit of talking like that—in broken disjointed sentences, which only Robert and Christine who knew his thoughts could understand. And now, in the midst of his scattered manuscript he waited, rubbing his shiny knees with his thin, grey, not very clean hands.