She closed her eyes and said:
“My head is bad, but I shall be able. Only I don’t want a fuss made. Could we go by a train before they are down?”
She heard him say:
“Yes. That will have its advantages.”
There was not the faintest sound now, but of course he was still there. In that dumb, motionless presence was all her future. Yes, that would be her future—a thing without feeling, and without motion. A fearful curiosity came on her to look at it. She opened her gaze. He was still standing just as he had been, his eyes fixed on her. But one hand, on the edge of his coat pocket—out of the picture, as it were—was nervously closing and unclosing. And suddenly she felt pity. Not for her future—which must be like that; but for him. How dreadful to have grown so that all emotion was exiled—how dreadful! And she said gently:
“I am sorry, Harold.”
As if he had heard something strange and startling, his eyes dilated in a curious way, he buried that nervous hand in his pocket, turned, and went out.
When young Mark came on Sylvia by the logan-stone, it was less surprising to him than if he had not known she was there—having watched her go. She was sitting, all humped together, brooding over the water, her sunbonnet thrown back; and that hair, in which his star had caught, shining faint-gold under the sun. He came on her softly through the grass, and, when he was a little way off, thought it best to halt. If he startled her she might run away, and he would not have the heart to follow. How still she was, lost in her brooding! He wished he could see her face. He spoke at last, gently:
“Sylvia! . . . Would you mind?”
And, seeing that she did not move, he went up to her. Surely she could not still be angry with him!
“Thanks most awfully for that book you gave me—it looks splendid!”
She made no answer. And leaning his rod against the stone, he sighed. That silence of hers seemed to him unjust; what was it she wanted him to say or do? Life was not worth living, if it was to be all bottled up like this.
“I never meant to hurt you. I hate hurting people. It’s only that my beasts are so bad—I can’t bear people to see them—especially you—I want to please you—I do really. So, you see, that was all. You might forgive me, Sylvia!”
Something over the wall, a rustling, a scattering in the fern— deer, no doubt! And again he said eagerly, softly:
“You might be nice to me, Sylvia; you really might.”
Very quickly, turning her head away, she said:
“It isn’t that any more. It’s—it’s something else.”
“Nothing—only, that I don’t count—now—”
He knelt down beside her. What did she mean? But he knew well enough.