“One morning, when I could bear it no longer, I wrote, and said I was coming down. I would not force myself on her, but I asked her to meet me in the orchard of the old house we called the Convent. I asked her to be there at four o’clock. It has always been my, belief that a man must neither beg anything of a woman, nor force anything from her. Women are generous—they will give you what they can. I sealed my letter, and posted it myself. All the way down I kept on saying to myself, ’She must come—surely she will come!’”
“I was in high spirits, but the next moment trembled like a man with ague. I reached the orchard before my time. She was not there. You know what it is like to wait? I stood still and listened; I went to the point whence I could see farthest; I said to myself, ’A watched pot never boils; if I don’t look for her she will come.’ I walked up and down with my eyes on the ground. The sickness of it! A hundred times I took out my watch.... Perhaps it was fast, perhaps hers was slow—I can’t tell you a thousandth part of my hopes and fears. There was a spring of water, in one corner. I sat beside it, and thought of the last time I had been there—and something seemed to burst in me. It was five o’clock before I lost all hope; there comes a time when you’re glad that hope is dead, it means rest. ‘That’s over,’ you say, ‘now I can act.’ But what was I to do? I lay down with my face to the ground; when one’s in trouble, it’s the only thing that helps—something to press against and cling to that can’t give way. I lay there for two hours, knowing all the time that I should play the coward. At seven o’clock I left the orchard and went towards the inn; I had broken my word, but I felt happy.... I should see her—and, sir, nothing—nothing seemed to matter beside that. Tor was in the garden snipping at his roses. He came up, and I could see that he couldn’t look me in the face. ‘Where’s my wife?’ I said. He answered, ‘Let’s get Lucy.’ I ran indoors. Lucy met me with two letters; the first—my own—unopened; and the second, this:
“’I have left you. You were good
to me, but now—it is no use.