She had decided at once that she liked Christopher. He still wore his uniform, and had the look of a soldier. But it wasn’t that—it was the things he had been saying ever since the soup was served. No one had talked of the war as he talked of it. There had been other doctors whose minds had been on arms and legs—amputated; on wounds and shell shock—And there had been a few who had sentimentalized. But Christopher had seemed neither to resent the frightfulness nor to care about the moral or spiritual consequences. He had found in it all a certain beauty of which he spoke with enthusiasm—“A silver dawn, and a patch of Blue Devils like smoke against it—;” ... “A blood-red sunset, and a lot of airmen streaming across—”
He painted pictures, so that Anne saw battles as if a great brush had splashed them on an invisible canvas. There were just four at the table—the two men, Anne, and her second cousin, Jeanette Ware, who lived the year round in the Connecticut house, and was sixty and slightly deaf, but who wore modern clothes and had a modern mind.
It was not yet dark, and the light of the candles in sconces and on the table met the amethyst light that came through, the wide-flung lattice. Anne’s summer gown was something very thin in gray, and she wore an Indian necklace of pierced silver beads. Christopher had sent it to her as a wedding-present and she had always liked it.
When they rose from the table, Christopher said, “Now for the birches.”
Somewhere in the distance the telephone rang, and a maid came in to say that Dr. Dunbar was wanted. “Don’t wait for me,” he said, “I’ll follow you.”
Jeanette Ware hated the night air, and took her book to the lamp on the screened porch, and so it happened that Anne and Christopher came alone to the grove where the white bodies of the birches shone like slender nymphs through the dusk. A little wind shook their leaves.
“No wonder,” said Christopher, looking down at Anne, “that you wanted this—but tell me precisely why.”
She tried to tell him, but found it difficult. “I seem to find something here that I thought I had lost.”
“Well—guardian angels—do you believe in them?” She spoke lightly, as if it were not in the least serious, but he felt that it was serious.
“I believe in all beautiful things—”
“I used to think when I was a little girl that they were around me when I was asleep—
’Matthew, Mark, Luke, and
Bless the bed that I lie on—’”
her laugh was a bit breathless—“but I don’t believe in them any more. Ridgeley doesn’t, you know. And it does seem silly—”
“Oh, no, it isn’t—”
“Ridgeley feels that it is a bit morbid—and perhaps he is right. He says that we must eat and drink and—be merry,” she flung out her hands with a little gesture of protest, “but he really isn’t merry—”