John Kynaston dropped his hand, and Vera slipped the little case quickly into her pocket.
“Would you mind walking a little way with me, Vera?” he said, gently and very gravely.
She drew down her veil, and went with him in silence. They had walked half-way down Wilton Crescent before he spoke to her again; then he turned towards her, and looked at her earnestly and sadly.
“Why did you go back again into the church, Vera?”
“I wanted to think quietly a little,” she murmured. There was another pause.
“So that is what parted us!” he exclaimed, with a sudden bitterness, at length.
She looked up, startled and pale.
“What do you mean?” she stammered.
“Oh, child! I see it all now. How blind I have been. Ah, why did you not trust me, love? Why did you fear to tell me your secret? Do you not think that I, who would have laid down my life for you to make you happy, do you not suppose I would have striven to make your path smooth for you?”
She could not answer him; the kind words, the tender voice, were too much for her. Her tears fell fast and silently.
“Tell me,” he said, turning to her almost roughly, “tell me the truth. Has he ill-treated you, this brother of mine, who stole you from me, and then has left you desolate?”
“No, no; do not say that; it was never his fault at all, only mine; and he was always bound to her. He has been everything that is good and loyal and true to you and to her; it has been only a miserable mistake, and now it is over. Yes, thank God, it is over; never speak of it again. He was never false to you; only I was false. But it is ended.”
They were walking round Belgrave Square by this time, not near the houses, but round the square garden in the middle. All recollection of his brother’s marriage, of the wedding breakfast at Walpole Lodge, of the speech the best man would be expected to make, had gone clean out of his head; he thought of nothing but Vera and of the revelation concerning her that had just come to him. It was the quiet hour of the day; there were very few people about; everybody was indoors eating heavy luncheons, with sunblinds drawn down to keep out the heat. They were almost as much alone as in a country lane in Meadowshire.
“What are you going to do with yourself?” he said to her, presently. “What use are you going to make of your life?”
“I don’t know,” she answered, drearily; “I suppose I shall go back to Sutton. Perhaps I shall marry.”
“But not me?”
She looked up at him piteously.