Anne did not look at me as she spoke, but her soft comment, “You are fond of dogs,” seemed to me a full acknowledgment of our recognition of each other’s quality.
I must admit, however, that at two o’clock in the morning one’s sense of values is not altogether normal.
I should have preferred to maintain a thoughtful, experiencing silence throughout our walk home. I had plenty of material for reflection. I wanted, now, to look at all this disappearing Brenda business from a new angle. I had a sense of the weaving of plots, and of the texture of them; such a sense as I imagine a blind man may get through sensitive finger-tips. Two new characters had come into my play, and I knew them both for principals. That opening act without Brenda, Arthur Banks, or his sister was nothing more than a prologue. The whole affair had begun again to fascinate my interest. Moreover, I was becoming aware of a stern, half-tragic background that had not yet come into proper focus.
And the circumstances of our walk home were of a kind that I find peculiarly stimulating to the imagination. The sky was clearing. Above us, widening pools of deep sky, glinting here and there, with the weak radiance of half-drowned stars, opened and closed again behind dispersing wreaths of mist. While in the west, a heaped indigo gloom that might in that light have been mistaken for the silhouette of a vast impending forest, revealed at one edge a thin haze of yellow silver that stretched weak exploring arms of light towards the mysterious obscurity of the upper clouds. I knew precisely how that sky would look at sunset, but at moonset it had a completely different quality that was at once more ethereal and more primitive. It seemed to me that this night-sky had the original, eternal effect of all planetary space; that it might be found under the leaping rings of Saturn or in the perpetual gloom of banished Neptune. Compared to the comprehensible, reproducible effects of sunlight, it was as the wonder of the ineffable to the beauty of a magnificent picture.
But I was not left for many minutes to the rapture of contemplation. Even the primitive had to give place to the movement of our tiny, civilised drama. Jervaise and I were of the race that has been steadily creating a fiction of the earth since the first appearance of inductive science in the days of prehistoric man; and we could not live for long outside the artificial realism of the thing we were making. We were not the creatures of a process, but little gods in a world-pantheon.
* * * * *
I made no attempt to check him when he began to talk. I knew by the raised tone of his voice—he was speaking quite a third above his ordinary pitch—that he was pleasantly excited by our interview with Anne: an excitement that he now wished either to conceal, or, if that were impossible, to attribute to another cause.