Roy started. “Lord—was it Tara?” Instantly there flashed a vision of the walled lane leading to New College; Dyan’s embittered mood and bewildering change of front.... Looking back now, the thing seemed glaringly obvious; but, through the opalescent mist of his own dreams, he had seen Dyan in one relation only. Just as well perhaps. Even at this distance, the idea amazed and angered him. Tara! The arrogance of it...!
“You didn’t know—never thought?... Poor Dyan!” One finger-tip furtively intercepted a tear that was stealing down the side of her nose.
“I am too silly just now,” she apologised meekly. “To me, he only spoke of it long after, when coming wounded from France. Then I saw how the bitterness was still there, changing the noble thoughts of his heart. That is the trouble with Dyan. First—nothing good enough for England. But too fierce love may bring too fierce hate—if they poison his mind with cunning words dressed up in high talk of religion——”
“How long since you heard? Have you any address?” Roy dared not encourage her melting mood.
“Six months now.” She stoically blinked back her tears. “Not any word. Not any address, since he left Calcutta. Last week, I wrote, addressing to the office of a paper there, because once he said that editor gave him work. I told him all the pain in my heart. If that letter finds him—some answer must come.”
“Well, if it does, I promise you this much;—I’ll unearth him—somehow, wherever he is——”
“Oh, Roy! I hoped—I knew——!” She clasped her hands to hide their tremor, and the look in her eyes came perilously near adoration.
Roy had spoken with the cool assurance of his father’s race, and without a glimmering idea how his rash promise was going to be fulfilled. “I’ll do my level utmost, anyhow,” he added more soberly. “But there’s you—your home complications——”
She turned her hands outward with the expressive gesture of her race. “That foolish sadness we can push away. What matter for anything—now? I rest—I breathe—I am here——!” Her smile shone out, sudden and brilliant. “Almost like England—this big green garden and children and sound of playing tennis. Let us be young again. Let us, for a small time, not remember that all outside is Jaipur and the desert—dusty and hot and cruel; and dark places full of secret and terrible things. Here we are safe. Here it is almost England!”
Her gallant appeal so moved him, and the lighter vein so charmingly became her, that Roy humoured her mood willingly enough....
When his tea arrived, she played hostess with an alluring mixture of shyness and happy importance, capping his lively sallies with the quick wit of old days. And when Suraj was announced—“Oh, please—may I see him?” she begged eagerly as a child.
Suraj graciously permitted his velvet nose to be stroked by alien fingers, light as rose petals. Then Roy sprang into the saddle; and Aruna stood watching him as he went—sais and dog trotting to heel—a graceful lonely figure, shadowed by her semi-transparent parasol.