But his work did not flourish that evening; and presently, waxing impatient, he rose and went to seek her, drawn as a needle to a magnet.
He found her dressed for the regimental ball, and such was the witchery of her in her gown of shimmering black that he stood a moment in the doorway of her room as though hesitating to enter.
She turned from her table smiling her gay, sweet smile. Her silvery hair shone soft and wonderful in the lamplight.
“Ah, my dear Will,” she said, “are you coming to for once? I wish you would. Do leave that stuffy old work—just to please me!” She went to meet him, with hands coaxingly outstretched. “It’s getting late,” she said, “I’ll help you to dress.”
He took the hands, gazing at her as if he could not turn his eyes away. “There’s not much point in my trying to work to-night,” he said, his voice very deep and a trifle husky. “I see and think of nothing but you. Great heavens, Daisy, how lovely you are!”
She laughed at him with tender raillery. “Dearly beloved gander, there is no one in the world thinks so but you.”
“You’ve turned my head to-night,” he said, still gazing at her. “By Heaven, I believe I’m falling in love with you all over again.”
“Ah, well, it’s to some purpose this time,” she laughed, “for I’m very badly smitten too.”
He did not laugh; he could not. “Daisy,” he said, “we will have that honeymoon.”
She pressed towards him with eagerness none the less because she pretended it to be half-feigned. “Will, you darling! When? When?”
His arms clasped her. His chest was heaving. “Very soon,” he said, speaking softly down into her upraised face. “I’ve been thinking, dear—thinking very hard, ever since you asked me. I can get long leave in about three months—if I work for it. We’ll go Home for the summer, you and I and the kiddie. If you are sure you can bear it, we will take her to Muriel Ratcliffe—and leave her in her charge.”
“Go on!” breathed Daisy. “And then?”
“Then we will go away together—you and I—you and I—right away into the country, and be—alone.”
Daisy drew a deep breath. Her eyes were shining. She spoke no word. Only, after a moment, her hands stole upwards and clasped his neck.
“Will it do?” said Will.
She nodded mutely.
He held her closely. “Daisy, forgive me for asking—it won’t hurt you to go back to England?”
Her eyes met his with absolute candour. “No, dear,” she said.
“I was thinking,” he said, stumbling a little, “sometimes old scenes, you know—they bring back—old heartaches.”
“My heart will never ache—in that way,” she answered gently, “while I have you.” She paused a moment; then: “I’d like you to understand, Will,” she said. “It isn’t that I have forgotten. I have simply passed on. One does, you know. And I think that is—sometimes—how the last come to be first. It doesn’t hurt me any longer to remember my old love. And it mustn’t hurt you either. For it isn’t a thing that could ever again come between us. Nothing ever could, Will. We are too closely united for that. And it is your love, your faith, your patience, that have made it so.”