“If you aren’t too hungry, darling, let’s stay here a little—it’s so wonderful!”
They sat down on a great root, and leaning against him, looking up at the dark branches, she said:
“Have you had a hard day?”
“Yes; got hung up by a late consultation; and old Leyton asked me to come and dine.”
Gyp felt a sensation as when feet happen on ground that gives a little.
“The Leytons—that’s Eaton Square, isn’t it? A big dinner?”
“No. Only the old people, and Bertie and Diana.”
“Diana? That’s the girl we met coming out of the theatre, isn’t it?”
“When? Oh—ah—what a memory, Gyp!”
“Yes; it’s good for things that interest me.”
“Why? Did she interest you?”
Gyp turned and looked into his face.
“Yes. Is she clever?”
“H’m! I suppose you might call her so.”
“And in love with you?”
“Great Scott! Why?”
“Is it very unlikely? I am.”
He began kissing her lips and hair. And, closing her eyes, Gyp thought: ‘If only that’s not because he doesn’t want to answer!’ Then, for some minutes, they were silent as the moonlit beech clump.
“Answer me truly, Bryan. Do you never—never—feel as if you were wasting yourself on me?”
She was certain of a quiver in his grasp; but his face was open and serene, his voice as usual when he was teasing.
“Well, hardly ever! Aren’t you funny, dear?”
“Promise me faithfully to let me know when you’ve had enough of me. Promise!”
“All right! But don’t look for fulfilment in this life.”
“I’m not so sure.”
Gyp put up her lips, and tried to drown for ever in a kiss the memory of those words: “But I say—you are wasting yourself.”
Summerhay, coming down next morning, went straight to his bureau; his mind was not at ease. “Wasting yourself!” What had he done with that letter of Diana’s? He remembered Gyp’s coming in just as he finished reading it. Searching the pigeonholes and drawers, moving everything that lay about, he twitched the bust—and the letter lay disclosed. He took it up with a sigh of relief:
“But I say—you are wasting yourself. Why, my dear, of course! ‘Il faut se faire valoir!’ You have only one foot to put forward; the other is planted in I don’t know what mysterious hole. One foot in the grave—at thirty! Really, Bryan! Pull it out. There’s such a lot waiting for you. It’s no good your being hoity-toity, and telling me to mind my business. I’m speaking for everyone who knows you. We all feel the blight on the rose. Besides, you always were my favourite cousin, ever since I was five and you a horrid little bully of ten; and I simply hate to think of you going slowly down instead of quickly up. Oh! I know ’D—n the world!’ But—are you? I should have thought it was ‘d—ning’ you! Enough! When are you coming to see us? I’ve read that book. The man seems to think love is nothing but passion, and passion always fatal. I wonder! Perhaps you know.