No word of marriage was spoken between them; if Katrine thought such an event possible, she gave no sign, spoke no word concerning it. If he came early, she welcomed him with shining eyes; if he were late, this incomprehensible person bestowed upon him exactly the same smile and glance she would have given had he come two hours before.
“I have kept you waiting for me, I am afraid,” he said one day, when he had kept an engagement he had made for ten o’clock at a quarter of twelve.
That morning she had been studying; not tones, but German Church music, and already she had realized, unformulatedly, the solace in the exercise of a great gift; had found that she could forget trouble in the world of inspired work; not for long, perhaps, but long enough to have peace of mind restored to her and strength to go on for another day.
“It didn’t matter,” she said. “I practised. One forgets one is waiting then.”
Finally there arose in him an absurd jealousy of this gift of hers, of the thing which seemed to console her even for his absence.
“I shall learn to hate your music,” he said one night, when she had drawn herself away from him to listen intently to the song of a nightingale in the pines.
“Don’t do that!” she said. “Ah, don’t do that! Don’t you see that it is all I have for my own in life; all I shall ever have!”
And with some hidden, mental connection between his words and the act, she began to sing in her great, lovely voice:
“Ask nothing more of
All I can give you I give.
Heart of my heart, were it more,
More shall be laid at your feet.
Love that should help thee to live,
Song that should bid thee to soar.
All I can give you I give;
Ask nothing more, nothing more.”
She asked, neither by word nor look, for any expression concerning the song; but as the last note died away seated herself beside him, chin in hand, looking far past him into the night.
At two of the next morning he awakened with a start. He was alone in his own rooms at Ravenel. Looking around in the half-light of the window, he put his head back on the pillow with the air of one awakened from a feverish dream. But sleep had vanished for the night. Conscience was with him. The time had come for the reckoning; some settlement with himself was required.
Where was he going, and where was he taking Katrine Dulany? Marriage was out of the question. A person of his importance did not make a mesalliance. He owed a duty to all the Ravenels who had preceded him, to those who would follow. To marry suitably was the first duty in life; perhaps it was the only one which he acknowledged. Where was he going? He lay with open eyes, staring at the ceiling in the faint light of the coming dawn, with a sense of physical sickness at the thought of giving Katrine up, of letting her go out of his life forever. He had told her he cared more for her than he had ever thought it possible for him to care for any one. That was long since, back in the times before he had known the sweetness of her. Now, with all the heart he had to give, he had learned to love her, to long for her presence; she had touched a new chord in his nature, one which he had never known before her coming.