She got in and upstairs to her room, without being seen. If she had possessed any sedative drug she would have taken it. Anything to secure oblivion from this aching misery! Huddling before the freshly lighted fire, she listened to the wind driving through the poplars; and once more there came back to her the words of that song sung by the Scottish girl at Fiorsen’s concert:
“And my heart
reft of its own sun,
Deep lies in death-torpor cold and grey.”
Presently she crept into bed, and at last fell asleep.
She woke next morning with the joyful thought: ’It’s Saturday; he’ll be down soon after lunch!’ And then she remembered. Ah, no! It was too much! At the pang of that remembrance, it was as if a devil entered into her—a devil of stubborn pride, which grew blacker with every hour of that morning. After lunch, that she might not be in when he came, she ordered her mare, and rode up on the downs alone. The rain had ceased, but the wind still blew strong from the sou’west, and the sky was torn and driven in swathes of white and grey to north, south, east, and west, and puffs of what looked like smoke scurried across the cloud banks and the glacier-blue rifts between. The mare had not been out the day before, and on the springy turf stretched herself in that thoroughbred gallop which bears a rider up, as it were, on air, till nothing but the thud of hoofs, the grass flying by, the beating of the wind in her face betrayed to Gyp that she was moving. For full two miles they went without a pull, only stopped at last by the finish of the level. From there, one could see far—away over to Wittenham Clumps across the Valley, and to the high woods above the river in the east—away, in the south and west, under that strange, torn sky, to a whole autumn land, of whitish grass, bare fields, woods of grey and gold and brown, fast being pillaged. But all that sweep of wind, and sky, freshness of rain, and distant colour could not drive out of Gyp’s heart the hopeless aching and the devil begotten of it.
There are men who, however well-off—either in money or love—must gamble. Their affections may be deeply rooted, but they cannot repulse fate when it tantalizes them with a risk.