“I thought you did. I watched you.”
“Destruction by—love—seems such a terrible thing! Now show me your favourites. I believe I can tell you what they are, though.”
“The ‘Admiral,’ for one.”
“Yes. What others?”
“The two Bellini’s.”
“By Jove, you are uncanny!”
“You want decision, clarity, colour, and fine texture. Is that right? Here’s another of my favourites.”
On a screen was a tiny “Crucifixion” by da Messina—the thinnest of high crosses, the thinnest of simple, humble, suffering Christs, lonely, and actual in the clear, darkened landscape.
“I think that touches one more than the big, idealized sort. One feels it was like that. Oh! And look—the Francesca’s! Aren’t they lovely?”
“Yes; lovely!” But his eyes said: “And so are you.”
They spent two hours among those endless pictures, talking a little of art and of much besides, almost as alone as in the railway carriage. But, when she had refused to let him walk back with her, Summerhay stood stock-still beneath the colonnade. The sun streamed in under; the pigeons preened their feathers; people passed behind him and down there in the square, black and tiny against the lions and the great column. He took in nothing of all that. What was it in her? She was like no one he had ever known—not one! Different from girls and women in society as—Simile failed. Still more different from anything in the half-world he had met! Not the new sort—college, suffrage! Like no one! And he knew so little of her! Not even whether she had ever really been in love. Her husband—where was he; what was he to her? “The rare, the mute, the inexpressive She!” When she smiled; when her eyes—but her eyes were so quick, would drop before he could see right into them! How beautiful she had looked, gazing at that picture—her favourite, so softly, her lips just smiling! If he could kiss them, would he not go nearly mad? With a deep sigh, he moved down the wide, grey steps into the sunlight. And London, throbbing, overflowing with the season’s life, seemed to him empty. To-morrow—yes, to-morrow he could call!
After that Sunday call, Gyp sat in the window at Bury Street close to a bowl of heliotrope on the window-sill. She was thinking over a passage of their conversation.
“Mrs. Fiorsen, tell me about yourself.”
“Why? What do you want to know?”
“I made a fearful mistake—against my father’s wish. I haven’t seen my husband for months; I shall never see him again if I can help it. Is that enough?”
“And you love him?”
“It must be like having your head in chancery. Can’t you get it out?”