“So you are quite determined?” And they philosophised as they went, on life and its meaning, on death and love, admiring the temples which an eighteenth-century generation had built on the hillsides. “Here are eight pillars on either side and four at either end, serving no purpose whatever, not even shelter from the rain. Never again in this world will people build things for mere beauty,” Owen said, and they passed into the depths of the wood, discovering another temple, and in it a lad and lass.
“You see these temples do serve for something. Why are we not lovers?” And they passed on again, Owen’s heart filled with his sorrow and Evelyn’s with her determination.
She was leaving by the one train, and when they got back to the house the carriage was waiting for her.
“Am I not to see you again?”
“Yes, you will see me one of these days.”
“And that was all the promise she could make me,” he said, rushing into Lady Ascott’s boudoir, disturbing her in the midst of her letters. “So ends a liaison which has lasted for more than ten years. Good God, had I known that she would have spoken to me like this when I saw her in Dulwich!”
Even so he felt he would have acted just as he had acted, and he went to his room thinking that the rest of his life would be recollection. “She is still in the train, going away from me, intent on her project, absorbed in her desire of a new life ... this haunting which has come upon her.”
And so it was. Evelyn lay back in the corner of the railway carriage thinking about the poor people, and about the nuns, about herself, about the new life which she was entering upon, and which was dearer to her than anything else. She grew a little frightened at the hardness of her heart. “It certainly does harden one’s heart,” she said; “my heart is as hard as a diamond. But is my heart as hard as a diamond?” The thought awoke a little alarm, and she sat looking into the receding landscape. “Even so I cannot help it.” And she wondered how it was that only one thing in the world seemed to matter—to extricate the nuns from their difficulties, that was all. Her poor people, of course she liked them; her voice, she liked it too, without, however, being able to feel certain that it interested her as much as it used to, or that she was not prepared to sacrifice it if her purpose demanded the sacrifice. But there was no question of such sacrifice: it was given to her as the means whereby she might effect her purpose. If the Glasgow concert were as successful as the Edinburgh, she would be able to bring back some hundreds of pounds to the nuns, perhaps a thousand. And what a pleasure that would be to her!
But the Glasgow concert was not nearly so successful: her manager attributed the failure to a great strike which had just ended; there was talk of another strike; moreover her week in Glasgow was a wet one, and her manager said that people did not care to leave their houses when it was raining.