“I shall go off my chump if we’re not married before I go out.”
“How long does it take?”
“No time, if we hurry up. I’ve got six days before I rejoin, and perhaps the Chief will give me another week, if I tell him.”
“Poor Daddy! Kiss me again; a long one.”
When the long one was over, she said:
“Then I can come and be near you till you go out? Oh, Cyril!”
“Perhaps you won’t go so soon. Don’t go if you can help it!”
“Not if I can help it, darling; but I shan’t be able.”
“No, of course not; I know.”
Young Morland clutched his hair. “Everyone’s in the same boat, but it can’t last for ever; and now we’re engaged we can be together all the time till I’ve got the licence or whatever it is. And then—!”
“Daddy won’t like our not being married in a church; but I don’t care!”
Looking down at her closed eyes, and their lashes resting on her cheeks, young Morland thought:
‘My God! I’m in heaven!’
Another short hour passed before she freed herself.
“We must go, Cyril. Kiss me once more!”
It was nearly dinner-time, and they ran down. 4
Edward Pierson, returning from the Evening Service, where he had read the Lessons, saw them in the distance, and compressed his lips. Their long absence had vexed him. What ought he to do? In the presence of Love’s young dream, he felt strange and helpless. That night, when he opened the door of his room, he saw Noel on the window-seat, in her dressing-gown, with the moonlight streaming in on her.
“Don’t light up, Daddy; I’ve got something to say.”
She took hold of the little gold cross on his vest, and turned it over.
“I’m engaged to Cyril; we want to be married this week.”
It was exactly as if someone had punched him in the ribs; and at the sound he made she hurried on:
“You see, we must be; he may be going out any day.”
In the midst of his aching consternation, he admitted a kind of reason in her words. But he said:
“My dear, you’re only a child. Marriage is the most serious thing in life; you’ve only known him three weeks.”
“I know all that, Daddy” her voice sounded so ridiculously calm; “but we can’t afford to wait. He might never come back, you see, and then I should have missed him.”
“But, Noel, suppose he never did come back; it would only be much worse for you.”
She dropped the little cross, and took hold of his hand, pressing it against her heart. But still her voice was calm:
“No; much better, Daddy; you think I don’t know my own feelings, but I do,"’
The man in Pierson softened; the priest hardened.
“Nollie, true marriage is the union of souls; and for that, time is wanted. Time to know that you feel and think the same, and love the same things.”