This body would go back to the earth that it had tended, the wild grass would grow over it, the seasons spend wind and rain forever above it. But that which had held this together—the inarticulate, lowly spirit, hardly asking itself why things should be, faithful as a dog to those who were kind to it, obeying the dumb instinct of a violence that in his betters would be called ‘high spirit,’ where—Felix wondered—where was it?
And what were they thinking—Nedda and that haunted boy—so motionless? Nothing showed on their faces, nothing but a sort of living concentration, as if they were trying desperately to pierce through and see whatever it was that held this thing before them in such awful stillness. Their first glimpse of death; their first perception of that terrible remoteness of the dead! No wonder they seemed to be conjured out of the power of thought and feeling!
Nedda was first to turn away. Walking back by her side, Felix was surprised by her composure. The reality of death had not been to her half so harrowing as the news of it. She said softly:
“I’m glad to have seen him like that; now I shall think of him—at peace; not as he was that other time.”
Derek rejoined them, and they went in silence back to the hotel. But at the door she said:
“Come with me to the cathedral, Derek; I can’t go in yet!”
To Felix’s dismay the boy nodded, and they turned to go. Should he stop them? Should he go with them? What should a father do? And, with a heavy sigh, he did nothing but retire into the hotel.
It was calm, with a dark-blue sky, and a golden moon, and the lighted street full of people out for airing. The great cathedral, cutting the heavens with its massive towers, was shut. No means of getting in; and while they stood there looking up the thought came into Nedda’s mind: Where would they bury poor Tryst who had killed himself? Would they refuse to bury that unhappy one in a churchyard? Surely, the more unhappy and desperate he was, the kinder they ought to be to him!
They turned away down into a little lane where an old, white, timbered cottage presided ghostly at the corner. Some church magnate had his garden back there; and it was quiet, along the waving line of a high wall, behind which grew sycamores spreading close-bunched branches, whose shadows, in the light of the corner lamps, lay thick along the ground this glamourous August night. A chafer buzzed by, a small black cat played with its tail on some steps in a recess. Nobody passed.
The girl’s heart was beating fast. Derek’s face was so strange and strained. And he had not yet said one word to her. All sorts of fears and fancies beset her till she was trembling all over.
“What is it?” she said at last. “You haven’t—you haven’t stopped loving me, Derek?”