“Let’s get out of this,” Christopher said, almost roughly, and led Anne down the steps and into the almost deserted outer tent. They looked for the snake-charmer, but he was gone. “Eating rice somewhere or saying his prayers,” Christopher surmised.
“How could he know about the gods?” Anne asked, as they drove home.
“They know a great deal—these old men of the East,” Christopher told her, and talked for the rest of the way about the strange people among whom he had spent so many years.
Ridgeley did not come home to dinner. He telephoned that he would be late. It was close and warm. Christopher, sitting with Anne and Jeanette on the porch, decided that a storm was brewing.
Anne was restless. She went down into the garden, and Christopher followed her. She wore white, and he was aware of the rose scent. He picked a rose for her as he passed through the garden. “Bend your head, and I’ll put it in your hair.”
“I can’t wear pink.”
“It is white in the dusk—” He put his hands on her shoulders, stopped her, and stuck the rose behind her ear. Then he let her go.
They came to the grove of birches, and sat down on the stone seat. It had grown dark, and the lightning flashing up from the horizon gave to the birches a spectral whiteness—Anne was a silver statue.
“It was queer,” she said, “about the old man at the circus.”
“About the beads?”
“Yes. I wonder what he meant, Christopher? ’What you think is evil—cannot be evil’? Do you think he meant—Death?”
He did not answer at once, then he said, abruptly, “Anne, how did it happen that you and Ridgeley drifted apart?”
“Oh, it’s hard to tell.”
“But tell me.”
“Well, when we were first married, I expected so much ... things that girls dream about—that he would always have me in his thoughts, and that our lives would be knit together. I think we both tried hard to have it that way. I used to ride with him on his rounds, and he would tell me about his patients. And at night I’d wait up for him, and have something to eat, and it was—heavenly. Ridgeley was so ... fine. But his practice got so big, and sometimes he wouldn’t say a word when I rode with him.... And he would be so late coming in at night, and he’d telephone that I’d better go to bed.... And, well, that was the beginning. I don’t think it is really his fault or mine ... it’s just ... life.”
“It isn’t life, and you know it,” passionately. “Anne, if you had married me ... do you think...?” He reached out in the dark and took her hand. “Oh, my dear, we might as well talk it out.”
She withdrew her hand. “Talk what out?”
“You know. I’ve learned to care for you an awful lot. I had planned to go away. But I can’t go now ... not and leave you to face things alone.”