She seemed to offer no resistance, her smooth cheeks growing warmer and warmer, even her lips passive; but suddenly he recoiled, and his heart stood still at his own outrageous daring. What had he done? He saw her leaning back almost buried in the clipped box hedge, and heard her say with a sort of faint mockery: “Well!”
He would have flung himself down on his knees to ask for pardon but for the thought that someone might come. He muttered hoarsely: “By God, I was mad!” and stood glowering in sullen suspense between hardihood and fear. He heard her say, quietly:
“Yes, you were-rather.”
Then seeing her put her hand up to her lips as if he had hurt them, he muttered brokenly:
“Forgive me, Babs!”
There was a full minute’s silence while he stood there, no longer daring to look at her, beaten all over by his emotions. Then, with bewilderment, he heard her say:
“I didn’t mind it—for once!”
He looked up at that. How could she love him, and speak so coolly! How could she not mind, if she did not love him! She was passing her hands over her face and neck and hair, repairing the damage of his kisses.
“Now shall we go in?” she said.
Harbinger took a step forward.
“I love you so,” he said; “I will put my life in your hands, and you shall throw it away.”
At those words, of whose exact nature he had very little knowledge, he saw her smile.
“If I let you come within three yards, will you be good?”
He bowed; and, in silence, they walked towards the house.
Dinner that evening was a strange, uncomfortable meal. But its comedy, too subtly played for Miltoun and Lord Dennis, seemed transparent to the eyes of Lady Casterley; for, when Harbinger had sallied forth to ride back along the sands, she took her candle and invited Barbara to retire. Then, having admitted her granddaughter to the apartment always reserved for herself, and specially furnished with practically nothing, she sat down opposite that tall, young, solid figure, as it were taking stock of it, and said:
“So you are coming to your senses, at all events. Kiss me!”
Barbara, stooping to perform this rite, saw a tear stealing down the carved fine nose. Knowing that to notice it would be too dreadful, she raised herself, and went to the window. There, staring out over the dark fields and dark sea, by the side of which Harbinger was riding home, she put her hand up to her, lips, and thought for the hundredth time: