By the side of Brenda, Anne looked physically robust. The developed lines of her figure emphasised Brenda’s fragility. And yet Anne’s eyes, her whole pose, expressed a spirituality that Brenda lacked. Anne, with her amazing changes of mood, her rapid response to emotion, gave expression to some spirit not less feminine than Brenda’s, but infinitely deeper. Behind the moving shadows and sunlight of her impulses there lay always some reminder of a constant orientation. She might trifle brilliantly with the surface of life, but her soul was more steadfast than a star. Brenda might love passionately, but her love would be relatively personal, selfish. When Anne gave herself, she would love like a mother, with her whole being.
I came out of my day-dream to find that she was speaking of me.
“Mr. Melhuish is half asleep,” she was saying. “And I haven’t got his room ready after all this time.”
“He didn’t get much sleep last night,” Brenda replied. “We none of us did for that matter. We were wandering round the Park and just missing each other like the people in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
“Come and help me to get that room ready,” Anne said. “Father and mother may be home any minute. They ought to have been back before.”
Brenda was on her feet in a moment. She appeared glad to have some excuse for action. She was, no doubt, nervous and excited as to the probable result of her lover’s mission to the Hall, and wanted to be alone with Anne in order that they might speculate upon those probabilities which Banks’s return would presently transform into certainties.
Anne turned to me before they left the room and indicated three shelves of books half hidden behind the settle. “You might find something to read there, unless you’d sooner have a nap,” she said. “We shan’t be having supper until eight.”
I preferred, however, to go out and make my own estimate of probabilities in the serenity of the August evening. My mind was too full to read. I wanted to examine my own ideas just then, not those of some other man or woman.
“I’m going for a walk,” I said to Anne. “I want to think.” And I looked at her with a greater boldness than I had dared hitherto. I claimed a further recognition of that understanding she had, as I believed, so recently admitted.
“To think out that play?” she returned lightly, but her expression did not accord with her tone. She had paused at the door, and as she looked back at me, there was a suggestion of sadness in her face, of regret, or it might even have been of remorse. She looked, I thought, as though she were sorry for me.
She was gone before I could speak again.
* * * * *