“You may adorn yourself as you please,” said Howard, “and of course, dearest child, there are hundreds of things you can do for me. I am the feeblest of managers; I live from hand to mouth; but I am not going to submerge you either. If you won’t be the girl-bride, you are not to be the professional sunbeam either. You are to be just yourself, the one real, sweet, and perfect thing in the world for me. Chaire kecharitoenae—do you know what that means? It was the angel’s opinion long ago of a very simple mortal. We shall affect each other, sure enough, as the days go on. Why what you have done for me already, I dare hardly think—you have made a man out of a machine—but we won’t go about trying to revise each other; that will take care of itself. I only want you as you are—the best thing in the world.”
The last morning at Lydstone they were very silent; they took one long walk together, visiting all the places where they had sate and lingered. Then in the afternoon they drove away. The old maidservant gave them, with almost tearful apologies, two little ill-tied posies of flowers, and Maud kissed her, thanked her, made her promise to write. As they drove away Maud waved her hand to the little cove—“Good-bye, Paradise!” she said.
“No,” said Howard, “don’t say that; the swallow doesn’t make the summer; and I am carrying the summer away with me.”
THE NEW LIFE
The installation at Windlow seemed as natural and obvious as any other of the wonderful steps of Howard’s new life. The only thing which bothered him was the incursions of callers, to which his marriage seemed to have rendered the house liable. Howard loved monotony, and in the little Windlow party he found everything that he desired. At first it all rather amused him, because he felt as though he were acting in a charming and absurd play, and he was delighted to see Maud act her wedded part. Mrs. Graves frankly enjoyed seeing people of any sort or kind. But Howard gradually began to find that the arrival of county and clerical neighbours was a really tiresome thing. Local gossip was unintelligible to him and did not interest him. Moreover, the necessity of going out to luncheon, and even to dinner, bored him horribly. He said once rather pettishly to Maud, after a week of constant interruptions and little engagements, that he hoped that this sort of thing would not continue.