But places have as strong a power of retaining associations as persons, and even as they turned down into the hamlet Laurie was aware that this was particularly true just now. He carefully did not glance out at Mr. Nugent’s shop, but it was of no use. The whole place was as full to him of the memory of Amy—and more than the memory, it seemed—as if she was still alive. They drew up at the very gate where he had whispered her name; the end of the yew walk, where he had sat on a certain night, showed beyond the house; and half a mile behind lay the meadows, darkling now, where he had first met her face to face in the sunset, and the sluice of the stream where they had stood together silent. And all was like a landscape seen through colored paper by a child, it was of the uniform tint of death and sorrow.
Laurie was rather quiet all that evening. His mother noticed it, and it produced a remark from her that for an instant brought his heart into his mouth.
“You look a little peaked, dearest,” she said, as she took her bedroom candlestick from him. “You haven’t been thinking any more about that Spiritualism?”
He handed a candlestick to Maggie, avoiding her eyes.
“Oh, for a bit,” he said lightly, “but I haven’t touched the thing for over two months.”
He said it so well that even Maggie was reassured. She had just hesitated for a fraction of a second to hear his answer, and she went to bed well content.
Her contentment was even deeper next morning when Laurie, calling to her through the cheerful frosty air, made her stop at the turning to the village on her way to church.
“I’m coming,” he said virtuously; “I haven’t been on a weekday for ages.”
They talked of this and that for the half-mile before them. At the church door she hesitated again.
“Laurie, I wish you’d come to the Protestant churchyard with me for a moment afterwards, will you?”
He paled so suddenly that she was startled.
“Why?” he said shortly.
“I want you to see something.”
He looked at her still for an instant with an incomprehensible expression. Then he nodded with set lips.
When she came out he was waiting for her. She determined to say something of regret.
“Laurie, I’m dreadfully sorry if I shouldn’t have said that.... I was stupid.... But perhaps—”
“What is it you want me to see?” he said without the faintest expression in his voice.
“Just some flowers,” she said. “You don’t mind, do you?”
She saw him trembling a little.
“Was that all?”
“Why yes.... What else could it be?”
They went on a few steps without another word. At the church gate he spoke again.
“Its awfully good of you, Maggie ... I ... I’m rather upset still, you know; that’s all.”
He hurried, a little in front of her, over the frosty grass beyond the church; and she saw him looking at the grave very earnestly as she came up. He said nothing for a moment.