But when he saw his child enter the church, and look up to catch his eye, his fears melted like a vapour on glass; and his love seemed to him to pour down in a sudden cataract, too strong for a human heart to hold, to meet the exquisite trustfulness and sweetness of his bride, who looked as though the gates of heaven were ajar. After that he saw and heard nothing but Maud. They went off together in the afternoon to a little house in Dorsetshire by a lonely sea-cove, which Mr. Sandys had spent many glorious and important hours in securing and arranging. It was only an hour’s journey. If Howard had needed reassuring he had his desire; for as they drove away from Windlow among the thin cries of the village children, Howard put his arm round Maud, and said “Well, child?” upon which she took his other hand in both of her own, and dropping her head on his shoulder, said, “Utterly and entirely and absolutely proud and happy and content!” And then they sate in silence.
It was a time of wonderful discoveries for Howard, that month spent in the little house under the cliff and beside the cove. It was a tiny hamlet with half a dozen fishermen’s cottages and two or three larger houses, holiday-dwellings for rich people; but there was no one living there, except a family of children with a governess. The house they were in belonged to an artist, and had a big studio in which they mostly sate. An elderly woman and her niece were the servants, and the life was the simplest that could be imagined. Howard felt as if he would have liked it prolonged for ever. They brought a few books with them, but did little else except ramble through the long afternoons in the silent bays. It was warm, bright September weather, still and hazy; and the sight of the dim golden-brown promontories, with pale-green grass at the top, stretching out one beyond another into the distance, became for Howard a symbol of all that was most wonderful and perfect in life.
He could not cease to marvel at the fact that this beautiful young creature, full of tenderness and anxious care for others, and with love the one pre-occupation of her life, should yield herself thus to him with such an entire and happy abandonment. Maud seemed for the time to have no will of her own, no thought except to please him; he could not get her to express a single preference, and her guileless diplomacy to discover what he preferred amused and delighted him. At the same time the exploration of Maud’s mind and thought was an entire surprise to him—there was so much she did not know, so many things in the world, which he took for granted, of which she had never heard; and yet in many ways he discovered that she knew and perceived far more than he did. Her judgment of people was penetrating and incisive, and was formed quite instinctively, without any apparent reason; she had, too, a charming gift of humour, and