Nearly three! Where were these young people? Had he been asleep, and they come in? Sure enough, in the hall Alan’s hat and Sheila’s cloak—the dark-red one he had admired when she went forth—were lying on a chair. But of the other two—nothing! He crept upstairs. Their doors were open. They certainly took their time—these young lovers. And the same sore feeling which had attacked Felix when Nedda first told him of her love came on him badly in that small of the night when his vitality was lowest. All the hours she had spent clambering about him, or quietly resting on his knee with her head tucked in just where his arm and shoulder met, listening while he read or told her stories, and now and again turning those clear eyes of hers wide open to his face, to see if he meant it; the wilful little tugs of her hand when they two went exploring the customs of birds, or bees, or flowers; all her ’Daddy, I love yous!’ and her rushes to the front door, and long hugs when he came back from a travel; all those later crookings of her little finger in his, and the times he had sat when she did not know it, watching her, and thinking: ’That little creature, with all that’s before her, is my very own daughter to take care of, and share joy and sorrow with. . . .’ Each one of all these seemed to come now and tweak at him, as the songs of blackbirds tweak the heart of one who lies, unable to get out into the Spring. His lamp had burned itself quite out; the moon was fallen below the clump of pines, and away to the north-east something stirred in the stain and texture of the sky. Felix opened the window. What peace out there! The chill, scentless peace of night, waiting for dawn’s renewal of warmth and youth. Through that bay window facing north he could see on one side the town, still wan with the light of its lamps, on the other the country, whose dark bloom was graying fast. Suddenly a tiny bird twittered, and Felix saw his two truants coming slowly from the gate across the grass, his arm round her shoulders, hers round his waist. With their backs turned to him, they passed the corner of the house, across where the garden sloped away. There they stood above the wide country, their bodies outlined against a sky fast growing light, evidently waiting for the sun to rise. Silent they stood, while the birds, one by one, twittered out their first calls. And suddenly Felix saw the boy fling his hand up into the air. The Sun! Far away on the gray horizon was a flare of red!
The anxieties of the Lady Mallorings of this life concerning the moral welfare of their humbler neighbors are inclined to march in front of events. The behavior in Tryst’s cottage was more correct than it would have been in nine out of ten middle or upper class demesnes under similar conditions. Between the big laborer and ‘that woman,’ who, since the epileptic fit, had again come into