Neither was in the vein for dances or tennis parties. They rode out to Mashobra and Fagu. They spent long days, picnicking in the Glen. Roy discovered, with satisfaction, that Rose had a weakness for being read to and a fair taste in literature, so long as it was not poetry. He also discovered—with a twinge of dismay—that if they were many hours together, he found reading easier than talking.
On the whole, they spent a week that should, by rights, have been ideal for new-made lovers; yet, at heart, both felt vaguely troubled and disillusioned.
Pain and parting and harsh realities seemed to have rubbed the bloom off their exotic romance. And for Rose the trouble struck deep. She had deliberately willed to put aside her own innate shrinking from the Indian strain in Roy. But she reckoned without the haunting effect of her mother’s plain speaking. At first she had flatly ignored it; then she fortified her secret qualms by devising a practical plan for getting away to a friend in Kashmir. There was a sister in Simla going to join her. They could travel together. Roy could follow on. And there they two could be quietly married without fuss or audible comment from their talkative little world.
It was not precisely her idea of the manner in which she—Rose Arden—should be given in marriage. But the main point was that—if she could help it—her mother should not score in the matter of Roy. Could she help it? That was the question persistently knocking at her heart.
And she was only a degree less troubled by the perverse revival of her feeling for Lance. Vanished—his hold on her deeper nature seemed mysteriously to strengthen. Memories crowded in, unbidden, of their golden time together just before Roy appeared on the scene; till she almost arrived at blaming her deliberately chosen lover for having come between them and landed her in her present distracting position. For now it was the ghost of Lance that threatened to come between her and Roy; and the irony of it cut her to the quick. If she had dealt unfairly by these two men, whose standards were leagues above her own, she was not, it seemed, to escape her share of suffering....
For Roy’s heart also knew the chill of secret disillusion. The ardour and thrill of his courtship seemed fatally to have suffered eclipse. When they were together, the lure of her was potent still. It was in the gaps between that he felt irked, more and more, by incipient criticism. In the course of that first talk, she had unwittingly stripped herself of the glamour that was more than half her charm; and at bottom his Eastern subconsciousness was jarred by her casual attitude to the sanctities of the man and woman relation, as instilled into him by his mother. When he quarrelled with her treatment of Lance, she saw it merely as a rather exaggerated concern for his friend. There was that in it, of course; but there was more.