“Alas!” she said, “it is because I may not come and live always in that fairy garden that I am going to send you away.”
“Don’t!” he pleaded,—“not altogether, at any rate. Life is so short, so pitifully incomplete. We live through so many epochs and each epoch has its own personality. It was not I who married Ellen. It was Burton, the auctioneer’s clerk. I cannot carry the burden of that fellow’s asinine mistakes upon my shoulders forever.”
“I am afraid,” she murmured, “that however clever the Mr. Burton of to-day may be, he will never be able to rid himself altogether of his predecessor’s burdens.”
They were leaning over the gate, looking into the deserted hayfield. The quiet of evening had stolen down upon them. He drew a little nearer to her.
“Dear,” he whispered, “there isn’t really any Ellen, there isn’t really any woman in the world of my thoughts, the world in which I live, save you.”
She was almost in his arms. She did not resist but she looked a little pitifully into his face. “You will not—please!” she begged.
Once more the music passed away into the clouds. It was the gate into Paradise over which he had leaned, but the gate was locked, and as he stood there it seemed to grow higher and higher, until he could not even see over the top. Almost roughly he turned away.
“Quite right,” he muttered. “I must not touch the Princess of my fairy garden. Only let us go back now, please. I cannot stay here any longer.”
She obeyed at once. There was a queer, pathetic little droop at the corners of her lips, and she avoided his eyes.
“Good-bye!” he said.
His tone was dull and spiritless. Something, for the moment, seemed to have passed from him. He seemed, indeed, to lack both inspiration and courage. Her fingers clung slightly to his. She was praying, even, that he might laugh to scorn her unspoken appeal. He moved a yard away and stood looking at her. Her heart began to beat wildly. Surely her prayer would be granted! The light of adoration was coming back to his eyes.
“I cannot see the truth!” he cried hoarsely. “You belong to me—I feel that you belong to me! You are part of the great life. I have found you—you are mine! And yet . . . I feel I mustn’t touch you. I don’t understand. Perhaps I shall come back.”
He turned and hurried off. She watched him until he was a speck upon the road; watched him, even then, from among the shadows of the trees. There was a lump in her throat and a misty light in her eyes. She had forgotten everything that had seemed absurd to her in this strange little romance. Her eyes and her arms, almost her lips, were calling him to her.
A BOLT FROM THE BLUE