After that kiss—that crime, if it were one—in the dark she had not known what he had done, where gone—perhaps wandering, perhaps straight up to his room. Why had she refrained, left him there, vanished out of his arms? This she herself hardly understood. Not shame; not fear; reverence perhaps—for what? For love—for the illusion, the mystery, all that made love beautiful; for youth, and the poetry of it; just for the sake of the black still night itself, and the scent of that flower—dark flower of passion that had won him to her, and that she had stolen back, and now wore all night long close to her neck, and in the morning placed withered within her dress. She had been starved so long, and so long waited for that moment—it was little wonder if she did not clearly know why she had done just this, and not that!
And now how should she meet him, how first look into his eyes? Would they have changed? Would they no longer have the straight look she so loved? It would be for her to lead, to make the future. And she kept saying to herself: I am not going to be afraid. It is done. I will take what life offers! Of her husband she did not think at all.
But the first moment she saw the boy, she knew that something from outside, and untoward, had happened since that kiss. He came up to her, indeed, but he said nothing, stood trembling all over and handed her a telegram that contained these words: “Come back at once Wedding immediate Expect you day after to-morrow. Cicely.” The words grew indistinct even as she read them, and the boy’s face all blurred. Then, making an effort, she said quietly:
“Of course, you must go. You cannot miss your only sister’s wedding.”
Without protest he looked at her; and she could hardly bear that look—it seemed to know so little, and ask so much. She said: “It is nothing—only a few days. You will come back, or we will come to you.”
His face brightened at once.
“Will you really come to us soon, at once—if they ask you? Then I don’t mind—I—I—” And then he stopped, choking.
She said again:
“Ask us. We will come.”
He seized her hand; pressed and pressed it in both his own, then stroked it gently, and said: