“Dear,” he said, “you can’t know—there is no way of telling you— what I mean. I suppose every man feels the same thing about the woman he loves; but it seems to me that my life had never known the sun until I saw you. I can’t explain to you how poor it was, and I won’t try; but I fancy God sends every one of us, if we know it, some one blessed chance, and He did more for me—He lifted the veil of my stupidity and let me see it, passing by in its halo, trailing clouds of glory. I don’t want to make you understand, though—I want to make you promise. I want to be absolutely sure from to-night that you’ll marry me. Say that you’ll marry me—say it before we get to the crossing. Say it, Laura.” She listened to his first words with a little half-controlled smile, then made as if she would withdraw her hand, but he held it with his own, and she heard him through, walking beside him formally on her bare feet, and looking carefully at the asphalt pavement as they do in Putney.
“I don’t object to your calling me by my given name,” she said when he had done, “but it can’t go any further than that, Mr. Lindsay, and you ought not to bring God into it—indeed you ought not. You are no son or servant of His—you are among those whose very light is darkness, and how great is your darkness!”
“Don’t,” he said shortly. “Never mind about that—now. You needn’t be afraid of me, Laura—there are decent chaps, you know, outside your particular Kingdom of Heaven, and one of them wants you to marry him, that’s how it is. Will you?”
“I don’t wish to judge you, Mr. Lindsay, and I’m very much obliged, but I couldn’t dream of it.”
“Don’t dream of it; consider it, accept it. Why, dear creature, you are mine already—don’t you feel that?”
Her arm was certainly warm within his and he had the possession of his eyes in her. Her tired body even clung to him. “Are you quite sure you haven’t begun to think of loving me?” he demanded.
“It isn’t a question of love, Mr. Lindsay, it’s a question of the Army. You don’t seem to think the Army counts for anything.”
One is convinced that it wasn’t a question of love, the least in the world; but Lindsay detected an evasion in what she said, and the flame in him leaped up.
“Sweet, when love is concerned there is no other question.”
“Is that a quotation?” she asked. She spoke coldly, and this time she succeeded in withdrawing her hand. “I daresay you think the Army very common, Mr. Lindsay, but to me it is marching on a great and holy crusade, and I march with it. You would not ask me to give up my life-work?”
“Only to take it into another sphere,” Duff said unreflectingly. He was checked, but not discouraged; impatient, but in no wise cast down. She had not flown, she walked beside him placidly. She had no intention of flight. He tried to resign himself to the task of beating down her trivial objections, curbing his athletic impulse to leap over them.