“Go on,” she urged me.
“But I want to—to stay near you—all of you. I can’t tell you how I admire your father and mother and Arthur and—all of you. And you see, I admit that this conversion of mine has been very sudden. I—I want to learn.”
“Do you always follow your impulses like this?” she put in.
“I’ve never had one worth following before,” I said.
“What about wanting to fight Frank Jervaise?” she asked. “And running away from the Hall? And suddenly taking Arthur’s side in the row? and all those things? Didn’t you follow your impulses, then?”
And yet, it had never before occurred to me that I was impulsive. I had imagined myself to be self-controlled, rather business-like, practical. I was frankly astonished at this new light on my character.
“I suppose I did, in a way,” I admitted doubtfully.
“To say nothing of...” she began, and stopped with a little, rather embarrassed laugh.
“Of what?” I urged her.
“How many times before have you imagined yourself to be head over ears in love?” she asked.
I was repaid in that moment for all the self-denials and fastidious shrinkings of my youth.
“Never once!” I acclaimed triumphantly. “It’s the one common experience that has passed me by. I’ve often wondered why I could never fall in love. I’ve admired any number of women. I’ve tried to fall in love with them. And I have never been able to, try as I would. I could deceive myself about other things, but never about that. Now, I know why.”
I waited for her encouragement, but as she did not speak I went on with more hesitation. “You’ll think me a romantic fool, I suppose, if I tell you why?”
“Oh! I know, I know,” she said. “You’ve told me already in so many words. You mean that you’ve been waiting for me; that you had to wait for me. You’ve been very frank. You deserve some return. Shall I tell you just how I feel? I will. I don’t mind telling you the truth, too. I did remember you last night. But not since; not even now. But I like you—I like you very much—as you are this evening. More than I’ve ever liked any man before. And if you went away, I should remember you; and want you to come back. But you must give me time. Lots of time. Don’t make love to me any more; not yet; not till I’ve really remembered. I think I shall—in a little while—when you’ve gone away. You’re so near me, now. And so new. You don’t belong to my life, yet.”
She paused and then went on in another tone. “But I believe you’re right about Canada. I’ll explain it all to the others. We’ll make some kind of arrangement about it. I expect it will have to be your farm, nominally, for a time—until we all know you better. I can feel that you do—that you have taken a tremendous fancy to all of us. I felt it just now, after supper. I was watching you and—oh! well, I knew what you were feeling about my father and mother; and it seemed to be just what I should have liked you to feel. But I don’t think I would give all my money to the hospitals, if I were you. Not without thinking it over a bit, first. Wait until we get to Canada and see—how we get on.”