“You should have gone on. They didn’t understand. They have waited so long, they could have waited a little longer.”
Maraton did not answer until they reached the street. Then he stood a few steps in the background, watching the people as they came out.
“I couldn’t,” he said simply. “I felt as though I were offering stones for bread. The stones were better, perhaps, but the cruelty was the same.”
Maraton walked alone with Elisabeth on the following afternoon in the flower garden at Lyndwood. She was apologising for some unexpected additions to the number of their guests.
“Mother always forgets whom she has asked down for the week-end,” she said, “and my uncle is far too sweet about it. I know that he wanted to have as much time as possible alone with you before Monday. It is on Monday you go to Manchester, isn’t it?”
“On Monday,” he answered, a little absently. “I have to make my bow to the democracy of your country in the evening.”
“I wish I could make up my mind, Mr. Maraton,” she continued, “whether you have come over here for good or for evil.”
“For evil that good may come of it, I am afraid,” he rejoined, “would be the kindest interpretation you could put upon my enterprise here.”
“The Spectator calls you the Missionary of Unrest.”
“The Spectator, I am afraid, will become more violent later on.”
“Let us sit down here for a moment,” she suggested, pointing to a seat. “You see, we are just at the top of this long pathway, and we get a view of the roses all the way down.”
“It is very beautiful,” he admitted,—“far too beautiful.”
She raised her eyebrows.
“Too beautiful? Is that possible?”
“Without a doubt,” he declared. “Too much beauty is as bad as too little.”
“And why is that? Surely it must be good for one to be surrounded by inspiring things?”
“I am not sure that beauty does inspire anything except content,” he answered, smiling. “I call this garden of yours, for instance, a most vicious place, a perfect lotus-eater’s Paradise. Positively, I feel the energy slipping out of my bones as I sit here.”
“Then you shall be chained to that seat,” she threatened. “You will not be able to go to Manchester and make trouble, and my uncle will be able to sleep at nights.”
“I feel that everything in life is slipping away from me,” he protested. “I ought to be thinking over what lam going to say to your country people, and instead of that I am wondering whether there is anything more beautiful in the world than the blue haze over your meadows.”
She laughed, and moved her parasol a little so that she could see him better.
“You know,” she said, “my uncle declares that if only you could be taught to imbibe a little more of the real philosophy of living, you would become quite a desirable person.”