He took her by the hands and raised her to her feet, and Isabel with irreproachable docility began to collect her scattered belongings, her sable scarf and mull and veil. Lawrence forestalled her. “Mayn’t I even carry my own gloves?” Isabel pleaded. “No, you’re so slow,” said Lawrence laughing down at her. Isabel’s cheeks flew their scarlet flag before the invading enemy. “Isabel,” Lawrence murmured, “are you shy of me?”
“A little. I’m only twenty,” Isabel excused herself.
“And I’m not gentle. I shall brush the bloom off. . . . Yet I love the bloom.”
He went to close the window. A breath of night wind shook through the bushes on the lawn and blew off a snow of petals through the soft air. He was not a believer in the immortality of the soul, but tonight he would have given much to know that Val was near him, a spirit of smiling tenderness. But no: the night was empty of everything except moonlight and petals and the sighing of wind over diapered turf. Youth passes, and beauty, and bloom: it is of the essence of their sweetness that they cannot last. Yet, while they last, how sweet they are!
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