At last Arnold became aware that the sun was actually set, and he sprung to his feet.
They walked home again across the Suspension Bridge. In the western sky was hanging a huge bank of cloud all bathed in purple, red and gold; the river was ablaze; the barges floated in a golden haze; the light shone on their faces, and made them all glorious, like the face of Moses, for they, too, had stood—nay, they were still standing—at the very gates of Heaven.
“See, Iris,” said the happy lover, “the day is done; your old life is finished; it has been a happy time, and it sets in glory and splendor. The red light in the west is a happy omen of the day to come.”
So he took her hand, and led her over the river, and then to his own studio in Tite Street. There, in the solemn twilight, he held her in his arms, and renewed the vows of love with kisses and fond caresses.
“Iris, my dear—my dear—you are mine and I am yours. What have I done to deserve this happy fate?”
At nine o’clock that evening, Mr. Emblem looked up from the chess board.
“Where is Mr. Arbuthnot this evening, my dear?” he asked.
It would be significant in some houses when a young man is expected every evening. Iris blushed, and said that perhaps he was not coming. But he was, and his step was on the stair as she spoke.
“You are late, Mr. Arbuthnot,” said Mr. Emblem, reproachfully, “you are late, sir, and somehow we get no music now until you come. Play us something, Iris. It is my move, Lala—”
Iris opened the piano and Arnold sat down beside her, and their eyes met. There was in each the consciousness of what had passed.
“I shall speak to him to-night, Iris,” Arnold whispered. “I have already written to my cousin. Do not be hurt if she does not call upon you.”
“Nothing of that sort will hurt me,” Iris said, being ignorant of social ways, and without the least ambition to rise in the world. “If your cousin does not call upon me I shall not be disappointed. Why should she want to know me? But I am sorry, Arnold, that she is angry with you.”
Lala Roy just then found himself in presence of a most beautiful problem—white to move and checkmate in three moves. Mr. Emblem found the meshes of fate closing round him earlier than usual, and both bent their heads closely over the table.
“Checkmate!” said Lala Roy. “My friend, you have played badly this evening.”
“I have played badly,” Mr. Emblem replied, “because to-morrow will be an important day for Iris, and for myself. A day, Iris, that I have been looking forward to for eighteen years, ever since I got your father’s last letter, written upon his death-bed. It seems a long time, but like a lifetime,” said the old man of seventy-five, “it is as nothing when it is gone. Eighteen years, and you were a little thing of three, child!”