He did understand it with his mind, but he was a little dazed, like one who has stood too near where the lightning struck. The hope he had kept buried alive so long—buried alive because it wouldn’t die—could not be brought out into a blinding glory like this without shrinking—pain—exquisite terrifying pain.
The knowledge she had acquired by her own suffering stood her in good stead now. She did not mistake, as the Rose he had married might have done, the weakness of his response for coldness—indifference.
She went back and began making love to him more gently; released herself from his arms, led him over to her one big chair, and made him sit down in it, settled herself upon the arm of it and contented herself with one of his hands. Presently he took one of hers, bent his face down over it and brushed the back of it with his lips.
The timidity of that caress, with all it revealed to her, was too much for her. She swallowed one sob, and another, but the next one got away from her and she broke out in a passionate fit of weeping.
That roused him from his daze a little, and he pulled her down in his arms—held her tight—comforted her.
When she got herself in hand again, she got up, went away to wash her face, and coming back in the room again, lighted a reading-lamp and drew down the blinds.
“Rose,” he said presently, “what are we going to do?”
She knew she was not answering the true intent of his question when she said:
“Well, for one thing we can get a little supper. I don’t know what we’ve got to eat, but we won’t care—to-night.”
There was a ring of decision in his voice that startled her a little when he said:
“No, we won’t do that to-night. We’ll go out somewhere to a restaurant.”
Their eyes met—unwavering.
“Yes,” she said, “that’s what we’ll do.”
They didn’t talk much across the table in the deserted little Italian restaurant they went to. Neither of them afterward could remember anything they’d said. They ate their meal in a sort of grave contented happiness that was reaching down deeper and deeper into them every minute, and they walked back to the gray brick building in Thirteenth Street, arm in arm, hand in hand, in silence. But when she stopped there, he said:
“Let’s walk a little farther, Rose. There are things we’ve got to decide, and—and I’m not going in with you again to-night.”
She caught her breath at that, and her hand tightened its hold on his. But she walked on with him.
He said, presently, “You understand, don’t you?”
She answered, “Oh, my dear!—yes.” But she added, a little shakily, “I wish we had a magic-carpet right here, that we could fly home on.”
Then they walked a while in silence.
At last he said: “There’s this we can do. I can go back to my hotel to-night, and tell them that I’m expecting you—that I’m expecting my wife to join me there. To-morrow? And then I can come and get you and bring you there. It’s not home, and it’s not the place I’d choose for—for a honeymoon, but ...”