“My hand was enough.”
“Your lips! Your lips!”
“I love you! Your lips!”
He forced his lips to hers. When he released them, she looked at him as if spellbound, with eyes veiled with wonder and dismay—with eyes which revealed the great awakening which had taken place in her being.
“I love little Mavis. I love her,” he whispered.
The look in her eyes deepened, her lips trembled, her bosom was violently disturbed. Perigal touched her arm. Then she gave a little cry, the while her head fell helplessly upon his shoulder.
Mavis was in love, consequently the world was transformed. All her previous hesitations in surrendering to her incipient love for Perigal were forgotten; the full, flowing current of her passion disregarded the trifling obstacles which had once sought to obstruct its progress. Life, nature, the aspect of things took on the abnormally adorable hues of those who love and are beloved. Such was the rapture in her heart, that days, hours, moments were all too fleeting for the enjoyment of her newborn felicity. The radiant happiness which welled within her, in seemingly inexhaustible volume, appeared to fill the universe. Often, with small success, she would attempt to realise the joy that had come into her life. At other times, when alone, she would softly shed tears—tears with which shy, happy laughter mingled. She would go about all day singing snatches of gay little songs. There was not a happier girl in the world. As if, perhaps, to give an edge to her joy, the summer sky of her gladness was troubled by occasional clouds. She would wake in the night with a great presage of fear, which nothing she could do would remove. At such times, she would clasp with both hands a ring that her lover had given her, which at night she wore suspended from her neck, so that it lay upon her heart. At other times, she would be consumed by a passion for annihilating all thoughts and considerations for self in her relations with Perigal; she was urged by every fibre in her body to merge her being with his. When thus possessed, she would sometimes, if she were at home when thus moved, go upon her knees to pray long and fervently for the loved one’s welfare; as likely as not her thoughts would wander, when thus engaged, to be wholly concerned with the man she adored.
Thus, she abandoned herself whole-heartedly, unreservedly to the ecstasy of loving.
Mavis and Perigal were to be quietly married by special licence in London, in five weeks’ time, which would be in the early days of September. Perigal urged Mavis not to speak to anyone of the wedding, saying, as a reason for this silence, that his father had not yet quite decided upon giving him the money he wanted, and the news of the engagement and early marriage might cause him to harden his heart.