And the evening, so different from what she had dreamed of, closed in. Squire Trusham was gone in his high dog-cart, with his famous mare whose exploits had entertained her all through dinner. Her candle had been given her; she had said good-night to all but Mark. What should she do when she had his hand in hers? She would be alone with him in that grasp, whose strength no one could see. And she did not know whether to clasp it passionately, or to let it go coolly back to its owner; whether to claim him or to wait. But she was unable to help pressing it feverishly. At once in his face she saw again that troubled look; and her heart smote her. She let it go, and that she might not see him say good-night to the girl, turned and mounted to her room.
Fully dressed, she flung herself on the bed, and there lay, her handkerchief across her mouth, gnawing at its edges.
Mark’s nineteenth birthday rose in grey mist, slowly dropped its veil to the grass, and shone clear and glistening. He woke early. From his window he could see nothing in the steep park but the soft blue-grey, balloon-shaped oaks suspended one above the other among the round-topped boulders. It was in early morning that he always got his strongest feeling of wanting to model things; then and after dark, when, for want of light, it was no use. This morning he had the craving badly, and the sense of not knowing how weighed down his spirit. His drawings, his models—they were all so bad, so fumbly. If only this had been his twenty-first birthday, and he had his money, and could do what he liked. He would not stay in England. He would be off to Athens, or Rome, or even to Paris, and work till he could do something. And in his holidays he would study animals and birds in wild countries where there were plenty of them, and you could watch them in their haunts. It was stupid having to stay in a place like Oxford; but at the thought of what Oxford meant, his roaming fancy, like a bird hypnotized by a hawk, fluttered, stayed suspended, and dived back to earth. And that feeling of wanting to make things suddenly left him. It was as though he had woken up, his real self; then—lost that self again. Very quietly he made his way downstairs. The garden door was not shuttered, not even locked—it must have been forgotten overnight. Last night! He had never thought he would feel like this when she came—so bewildered, and confused; drawn towards her, but by something held back. And he felt impatient, angry with himself, almost with her. Why could he not be just simply happy, as this morning was happy? He got his field-glasses and searched the meadow that led down to the river. Yes, there were several rabbits out. With the white marguerites and the dew cobwebs, it was all moon-flowery and white; and the rabbits being there made it perfect. He wanted one badly to model from, and for a moment