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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 279 pages of information about Saint's Progress.

This was flattering and sweet.  Times were sad, and pleasure scarce, but—!  The roving instinct which had kept him, from his youth up, rolling about the world, shied instinctively at bonds, however pleasant, the strength and thickness of which he could not gauge; or, was it that perhaps for the first time in his life he had been peeping into fairyland of late, and this affair with Leila was by no means fairyland?  He had another reason, more unconscious, for uneasiness.  His heart, for all his wanderings, was soft, he had always found it difficult to hurt anyone, especially anyone who did him the honour to love him.  A sort of presentiment weighed on him while he walked the moonlit streets at this most empty hour, when even the late taxis had ceased to run.  Would she want him to marry her?  Would it be his duty, if she did?  And then he found himself thinking of the concert, and that girl’s face, listening to the tales he was telling her.  ‘Deuced queer world,’ he thought, ’the way things go!  I wonder what she would think of us, if she knew—­and that good padre!  Phew!’

He made such very slow progress, for fear of giving way in his leg, and having to spend the night on a door-step, that he had plenty of time for rumination; but since it brought him no confidence whatever, he began at last to feel:  ’Well; it might be a lot worse.  Take the goods the gods send you and don’t fuss!’ And suddenly he remembered with extreme vividness that night on the stoep at High Constantia, and thought with dismay:  ’I could have plunged in over head and ears then; and now—­I can’t!  That’s life all over!  Poor Leila!  Me miserum, too, perhaps—­who knows!’

IV

When Leila opened her door to Edward Pierson, her eyes were smiling, and her lips were soft.  She seemed to smile and be soft all over, and she took both his hands.  Everything was a pleasure to her that day, even the sight of this sad face.  She was in love and was loved again; had a present and a future once more, not only her own full past; and she must finish with Edward in half an hour, for Jimmy was coming.  She sat down on the divan, took his hand in a sisterly way, and said: 

“Tell me, Edward; I can see you’re in trouble.  What is it?”

“Noel.  The boy she was fond of has been killed.”

She dropped his hand.

“Oh, no!  Poor child!  It’s too cruel!” Tears started up in her grey eyes, and she touched them with a tiny handkerchief.  “Poor, poor little Noel!  Was she very fond of him?”

“A very sudden, short engagement; but I’m afraid she takes it desperately to heart.  I don’t know how to comfort her; only a woman could.  I came to ask you:  Do you think she ought to go on with her work?  What do you think, Leila?  I feel lost!”

Leila, gazing at him, thought:  ’Lost?  Yes, you look lost, my poor Edward!’

“I should let her go on,” she said:  “it helps; it’s the only thing that does help.  I’ll see if I can get them to let her come into the wards.  She ought to be in touch with suffering and the men; that kitchen work will try her awfully just now:  Was he very young?”

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