He pictured the bedroom. He would let Julie go first. He remembered reading in a novel how some newly married wife said to the fellow: “You’ll come up in half an hour or so, won’t you, dear?” He could all but see the words in print. And so, in half an hour or so, he would go in, and Julie would be in bed, by the violets, and he—he would know what men talked about, sometimes, in the anteroom.... He recalled a red-faced, coarse Colonel: “No man’s a man till he’s been all the way, I say....”
And he was a chaplain, a priest. Was he? The past months spun before him, his sermons, his talks to the wounded at the hospital, the things he had seen, the stories he had heard. He sighed. It was all a dream, a sham. There was no reality in it all. Where and what was Christ? An ideal, yes, but no more than an ideal, and unrealisable—a vision of the beautiful. He thought he had seen that once, but not now. The beautiful! Ah! What place had His Beauty in Travalini’s, in the shattered railway-carriage, in the dinner at the Grand in Havre with Julie?
Julie. He dwelt on her, eyes, hair, face, skin, and lithe figure. He felt her kisses again on his lips, those last burning kisses of New Year’s Night, and they were all to be his, as never before.... Julie. What, then, was she? She was his bride, his wife, coming to him consecrate—not by any State convention, not by any ceremony of man-made religion, but by the pure passion of human love, virginal, clean. It was human passion, perhaps, but where was higher love or greater sacrifice? Was this not worthy of all his careful preparation, worthy of the one centre of his being? Donovan, indeed! He wished he had stopped and told him the whole story, and that he expected Julie that night.
He jumped up, and walked out in the steps of Donovan, but with never another thought of him. A boy in uniform questioned him: “Taxi, sir?” He nodded, and the commissionaire pushed back the great swing-door. He stood on the steps, and watched the passers-by, and the lights all shaded as they were, that began to usher in a night of mystery. His taxi rolled up, and the man held the door open. “Victoria!” cried Peter, and to himself, as he sank back on the seat, “Julie!”
“Julie!” exclaimed Peter, “I should hardly have known you; you do look topping!”
“Glad rags make all that difference, old boy? Well, I am glad you did know me, anyhow. How are you? Had long to wait?”
“Only ten minutes or so, and I’m very fit, and just dying for you, Julie.”
She smiled up at him and blushed a little. “Are you, Peter? It’s much the same here, my dear. But don’t you think we had better get a move on, and not stop here talking all night?”
Peter laughed excitedly. “Rather,” he said. “But I’m so excited at seeing you that I hardly know if I’m on my head or my heels. What about your luggage? What have you? Have you any idea where it is? There’s a taxi waiting.”