A second honeymoon. Oh, God!
At luncheon, when Theodora descended from her room, the whole party were assembled and already seated at the several little tables. The only vacant place left was just opposite Hector.
And there they faced each other during the meal, and all the time her eyes reminded him of the wounded fawn again, only they were sadder, if possible, and her face was pinched and pale, not the exquisite natural white of its usual fresh, soft velvet.
Something clutched at his heart-strings. What extra sorrow had happened to her since last night? What could he do to comfort and protect her? There was only one way—to take her with him out of it all.
After the first nine days’ wonder, people would forget. It would be an undefended suit when Josiah should divorce her, and then he would marry her and have her for his very own. And what would they care for the world’s sneers?
His whole being was thrilled and exalted with these thoughts; his brain was excited as with strong wine.
To have her for his own!
Even the memory of his mother only caused him a momentary pang. No one could help loving Theodora, and she—his mother—would get over it, too, and learn her sweetness and worth.
He was wildly happy now that he had made up his mind—so surely can passionate desire block out every other feeling.
The guests at their table were all more or less civil. Theodora’s unassuming manner had disarmed them, and as savage beasts had been charmed of old by Orpheus and his lute, so perhaps her gentle voice had soothed this company—the women, of course; there had been no question of the men from the beginning.
Mildred’s programme to make Mrs. Brown suffer was not having the success her zeal in promoting it deserved.
The weather was still glorious, and after lunch the whole party flocked out on the terrace.
A terrible nervous fear was dominating Theodora. She could not be alone with Hector, she did not dare to trust herself. And there would be the to-morrow and the Wednesday—without Josiah—and the soft warmth of the evenings and the glamour of the nights.
Oh, everything was too cruel and impossible! And wherever she turned she seemed to see in blazing letters, “A second honeymoon!”
The first was a horrible, fearsome memory which was over long ago, but the thought of a second—now that she knew what love meant, and what life with the loved one might mean—Oh, it was unbearable—terrible—impossible! better, much better, to die and have done with it all.
She kept close to Barbara, and when Barbara moved she feverishly engaged the Crow in conversation—any one—something to save her from any chance of listening to Hector’s persuasive words. And the Crow’s kind heart was pained by the hunted expression in her eyes. They seemed to ask for help and sanctuary.