It was at the picnic I had a little talk with Whythe. We went down to a stream under a big willow-tree, and he started on the usual, but I told him he must not say anything more to me on that subject, and if he were the man I thought him he would not allow Elizabeth to marry the Compensator she was no more in love with than I was. Also, I said a few more things that were pleasant for him to hear, such as Elizabeth’s heart was breaking (it was, as much as her kind of heart could break), and I told him it was foolishness to ruin one’s life because of a misunderstanding, and that both had doubtless been in the wrong. And incidentally I let drop that if, after years of preparation, I ever got married I would have nothing to bring my husband but myself, as my father had made up his mind that young people should make their own way in life (he ought to have so made it up if he hasn’t), and Whythe said that cut no figure with him, and asked me point-blank if I did not love him. It didn’t sound polite to say no, and yet I couldn’t truthfully say yes, so I just sighed and shook my head. When he asked me if I could give him no hope, I answered no with such uncomplimentary quickness that I had to cough to overcome it, and then I told him it was impossible for a girl of Elizabeth’s taste and training and character, who had once loved such a man as he, to really care for any one else. And the blackness in his face, caused by my unnecessary emphasis, died out, and I saw he was agreeing with me concerning Elizabeth, and that I would not have to insist on what I said being so. A man’s appetite for flattery is never poor, and usually it is hearty. When we got up to go back to where lunch was being served Whythe had quite a determined air about him. I told him if I could help in any way to let me know. An hour later I saw him and Elizabeth going down to the same stream and the same old willow tree.
When the time came to go home I pretended I had to see Florence Kensey about something that was important, and in the confusion of getting the people in the cars I managed to have Whythe put Elizabeth in his, and told them to get away quick and I would come on with Mason Page. They got. And the next day Elizabeth looked like some one who had been unbandaged and was letting out breath that for a long time had been held in. Also, she looked pinker and whiter than ever, and so Pure that it was not possible for me to stay close to her, so I got away. No longer Hurt and Misunderstood, she went about smiling in sweet triumphantness that was not put in words, but oozed without them, and her manner to me was one of deepest sympathy. Poor Whythe!