Instantly she understood. Already on four different occasions since Teddy’s disappearance she had seen the good man coming towards her, always with a manifest decision, always with the same faltering doubt as now. Often in their happy days had she and Teddy discussed him and derided him and rejoiced over him. They had agreed he was as good as Jane Austen’s Mr. Collins. He really was very like Mr. Collins, except that he was plumper. And now, it was as if he was transparent to her hard defensive scrutiny. She knew he was impelled by his tradition, by his sense of fitness, by his respect for his calling, to offer her his ministrations and consolations, to say his large flat amiabilities over her and pat her kindly with his hands. And she knew too that he dreaded her. She knew that the dear old humbug knew at the bottom of his heart quite certainly that he was a poor old humbug, and that she was in his secret. And at the bottom of his heart he found himself too honest to force his poor platitudes upon any who would not be glad of them. If she could have been glad of them he would have had no compunction. He was a man divided against himself; failing to carry through his rich pretences, dismayed.
He had been taking his afternoon “constitutional.” He had discovered her beyond the stile just in time to pull up. Then had come a fatal, a preposterous hesitation. She stared at him now, with hard, expressionless eyes.
He stared back at her, until his plump pink face was all consternation. He was extraordinarily distressed. It was as if a thousand unspoken things had been said between them.
“No wish,” he said, “intrude.”
If he had had the certain balm, how gladly would he have given it!
He broke the spell by stepping back into the lane. He made a gesture with his hands, as if he would have wrung them. And then he had fled down the lane—almost at a run.
“Po’ girl,” he shouted. “Po’ girl,” and left her staring.
Staring—and then she laughed.
This was good. This was the sort of thing one could tell Teddy, when at last he came back and she could tell him anything. And then she realised again; there was no more Teddy, there would be no telling. And suddenly she fell weeping.
“Oh, Teddy, Teddy,” she cried through her streaming tears. “How could you leave me? How can I bear it?”
Never a tear had she shed since the news first came, and now she could weep, she could weep her grief out. She abandoned herself unreservedly to this blessed relief....
There comes an end to weeping at last, and Letty lay still, in the red light of the sinking sun.
She lay so still that presently a little foraging robin came dirting down to the grass not ten yards away and stopped and looked at her. And then it came a hop or so nearer.
She had been lying in a state of passive abandonment, her swollen wet eyes open, regardless of everything. But those quick movements caught her back to attention. She began to watch the robin, and to note how it glanced sidelong at her and appeared to meditate further approaches. She made an almost imperceptible movement, and straightway the little creature was in a projecting spray of berried hawthorn overhead.