Now although Suzanne knew that the horses were not tired she did not think it needful to say him nay.
A LOVE SCENE AND A QUARREL
Presently they were seated side by side upon a stone, Suzanne looking straight before her, for nature warned her that this talk of theirs was not to be as other talks, and Ralph looking at Suzanne.
“Suzanne,” he said at length.
“Yes,” she answered; “what is it?” But he made no answer, for though many words were bubbling in his brain, they choked in his throat, and would not come out of it.
“Suzanne,” he stammered again presently, and again she asked him what it was, and again he made no answer. Now she laughed a little and said:
“Ralph, you remind me of the blue-jay in the cage upon the stoep which knows but one word and repeats it all day long.”
“Yes,” he replied, “it is true; I am like that jay, for the word I taught it is ‘Suzanne,’ and the word my heart teaches me is ‘Suzanne,’ and—Suzanne, I love you!”
Now she turned her head away and looked down and answered:
“I know, Ralph, that you have always loved me since we were children together, for are we not brother and sister?”
“No,” he answered bluntly, “it is not true.”
“Then that is bad news for me,” she said, “who till to-day have thought otherwise.”
“It is not true,” he went on, and now his words came fast enough, “that I am your brother, or that I love you as a brother. We are no kin, and if I love you as a brother that is only one little grain of my love for you—yes, only as one little grain is to the whole sea-shore of sand. Suzanne, I love you as—as a man loves a maid—and if you will it, dear, all my hope is that one day you will be my wife,” and he ceased suddenly and stood before her trembling, for he had risen from the stone.
For a few moments Suzanne covered her face with her hands, and when she let them fall again he saw that her beautiful eyes shone like the large stars at night, and that, although she was troubled, her trouble made her happy.
“Oh! Ralph,” she said at length, speaking in a voice that was different from any he had ever heard her use, a voice very rich and low and full, “Oh! Ralph, this is new to me, and yet to speak the truth, it seems as old as—as that night when first I found you, a desolate, starving child, praying upon this stone. Ralph, I do will it with all my heart and soul and body, and I suppose that I have willed it ever since I was a woman, though until this hour I did not quite know what it was I willed. Nay, dear, do not touch me, or at the least, not yet. First hear what I have to say, and then if you desire it, you may kiss me—if only in farewell.”
“If you will it and I will it, what more can you have to say?” he asked in a quick whisper, and looking at her with frightened eyes.