for ever! And, as he ran, he made little desperate
efforts to mop his face, and brush his clothes.
There were the gates, at last—two hundred
yards away. The train, he could hear no longer.
It must be standing in the station. And a sob
came from his overdriven lungs. He heard the
guard’s whistle as he reached the gates.
Instead of making for the booking-office, he ran
along the paling, where an entrance to the goods’-shed
was open, and dashing through he fell back against
the honeysuckle. The engine was just abreast
of him; he snatched at his sleeve and passed it over
his face, to wipe the sweat away. Everything
was blurred. He must see—surely he
had not come in time just not to see! He pushed
his hands over his forehead and hair, and spied up
dizzily at the slowly passing train. She was
there, at a window! Standing, looking out!
He dared not step forward, for fear of falling, but
he put out his hand—She saw him.
Yes, she saw him! Wasn’t she going to make
a sign? Not one? And suddenly he saw her
tear at her dress, pluck something out, and throw
it. It fell close to his feet. He did
not pick it up—he wanted to see her face
till she was gone. It looked wonderful—very
proud, and pale. She put her hand up to her
lips. Then everything went blurred again and
when he could see once more, the train had vanished.
But at his feet was what she had thrown. He
picked it up! All dry and dark, it was the flower
she had given him in the Tyrol, and stolen back from
Creeping out, past the goods’-shed, he made
his way to a field, and lay down with his face pressed
to that withered thing which still had its scent.
. . .
The asphyxiated speculation in his guardian’s
eyes had not been without significance. Mark
did not go back to Oxford. He went instead to
Rome—to live in his sister’s house,
and attend a school of sculpture. That was the
beginning of a time when nothing counted except his
To Anna he wrote twice, but received no answer.
From his tutor he had one little note:
“My dear Lennan,
“So! You abandon us for Art? Ah!
well—it was your moon, if I remember—one
of them. A worthy moon—a little dusty
in these days—a little in her decline—but
to you no doubt a virgin goddess, whose hem, etc.
“We shall retain the friendliest memories of
you in spite of your defection.
“Once your tutor and still your friend,
After that vacation it was long—very long
before he saw Sylvia again.
Gleam of a thousand lights; clack and mutter of innumerable
voices, laughter, footsteps; hiss and rumble of passing
trains taking gamblers back to Nice or Mentone; fevered
wailing from the violins of four fiddlers with dark-white
skins outside the cafe; and above, around, beyond,
the dark sky, and the dark mountains, and the dark
sea, like some great dark flower to whose heart is
clinging a jewelled beetle. So was Monte Carlo
on that May night of 1887.