“Go to bed, Gyp; you’re tired.”
Obediently she got up and went into the bedroom. With a sick feeling in her heart, and as near the fire as she could get, she undressed with desperate haste, and got to bed. An age—it seemed— she lay there shivering in her flimsy lawn against the cold sheets, her eyes not quite closed, watching the flicker of the firelight. She did not think—could not—just lay stiller than the dead. The door creaked. She shut her eyes. Had she a heart at all? It did not seem to beat. She lay thus, with eyes shut, till she could bear it no longer. By the firelight she saw him crouching at the foot of the bed; could just see his face—like a face—a face—where seen? Ah yes!—a picture—of a wild man crouching at the feet of Iphigenia—so humble, so hungry—so lost in gazing. She gave a little smothered sob and held out her hand.
Gyp was too proud to give by halves. And in those early days she gave Fiorsen everything except—her heart. She earnestly desired to give that too; but hearts only give themselves. Perhaps if the wild man in him, maddened by beauty in its power, had not so ousted the spirit man, her heart might have gone with her lips and the rest of her. He knew he was not getting her heart, and it made him, in the wildness of his nature and the perversity of a man, go just the wrong way to work, trying to conquer her by the senses, not the soul.
Yet she was not unhappy—it cannot be said she was unhappy, except for a sort of lost feeling sometimes, as if she were trying to grasp something that kept slipping, slipping away. She was glad to give him pleasure. She felt no repulsion—this was man’s nature. Only there was always that feeling that she was not close. When he was playing, with the spirit-look on his face, she would feel: ‘Now, now, surely I shall get close to him!’ But the look would go; how to keep it there she did not know, and when it went, her feeling went too.
Their little suite of rooms was at the very end of the hotel, so that he might play as much as he wished. While he practised in the mornings she would go into the garden, which sloped in rock-terraces down to the sea. Wrapped in fur, she would sit there with a book. She soon knew each evergreen, or flower that was coming out—aubretia, and laurustinus, a little white flower whose name was uncertain, and one star-periwinkle. The air was often soft; the birds sang already and were busy with their weddings, and twice, at least, spring came in her heart—that wonderful feeling when first the whole being scents new life preparing in the earth and the wind—the feeling that only comes when spring is not yet, and one aches and rejoices all at once. Seagulls often came over her, craning down their greedy bills and uttering cries like a kitten’s mewing.