“I love this little room! Don’t you?”
She made a restless movement.
“I don’t know. Why do you love it?”
“As if you didn’t know!” Their eyes met, his intense and passionate,—hers, less easy to read. “Darling, I have some other news for you. I think you’ll like it—though it’ll separate us for a little.”
And drawing a letter from his pocket, he handed it to her. It was a letter from the American Headquarters, offering him immediate work in the American Intelligence Department at Coblentz.
“Some friends of mine there, seem to have been getting busy about me. You see I know German pretty well.”
And he explained to her that as a boy he had spent a year in Germany before going to Yale. She scarcely listened, so absorbed was she in the official letter.
“When must you go?” she said at last, looking up.
“At the end of next week, I’m afraid.”
“And how long will it be?”
“That I don’t know. But three or four months certainly. It will put off our wedding, dearest, a bit. But you’d like me to go, wouldn’t you? I should be at the hub of things.”
The colour rushed into her cheeks.
“Must you go?”
Her manner amazed him. He had expected that one so ambitious and energetic in her own way of life would have greeted his news with eagerness. The proposal was really a great compliment to him—and a great chance.
“I don’t see how I could refuse it,” he said with an altered countenance. “Indeed—I don’t think I could.”
She dropped her face into her hands, and stared into the fire. In some trouble of mind, he knelt down beside her, and put his arm round her.
“I’ll write every day. It won’t be long, darling.”
She shook her head, and he felt a shudder run through her.
“It’s silly of me—I don’t know why—but—I’m just afraid—”
“Afraid of what?”
She smiled at him tremulously—but he saw the tears in her eyes.
“I told you—I can’t always help it. I’m a fool, I suppose—but—”
Then she threw her arms round his neck—murmuring in his ear: “You’ll have time to think—when you’re away from me—that it was a great pity—you ever asked me.”
He kissed and scolded her, till she smiled again. Afterwards she made a strong effort to discuss the thing reasonably. Of course he must go—it would be a great opening—a great experience. And they would have all the more time to consider their own affairs. But all the evening afterwards he felt in some strange way that he had struck her a blow from which she was trying in vain to rally. Was it all the effect of her suffering at that brute’s hands—aided by the emotion and strain of the recent scenes between herself and him?
As for her, when she turned back from the gate where she had bid him good-bye, she saw Janet in the doorway waiting for her almost with a sense of exasperation. She had not yet said one word to Janet. That plunge was all to take!