“For me,” Manning went on, “this isn’t final. In a sense it alters nothing. I shall still wear your favor—even if it is a stolen and forbidden favor—in my casque.... I shall still believe in you. Trust you.”
He repeated several times that he would trust her, though it remained obscure just exactly where the trust came in.
“Look here,” he cried out of a silence, with a sudden flash of understanding, “did you mean to throw me over when you came out with me this afternoon?”
Ann Veronica hesitated, and with a startled mind realized the truth. “No,” she answered, reluctantly.
“Very well,” said Manning. “Then I don’t take this as final. That’s all. I’ve bored you or something.... You think you love this other man! No doubt you do love him. Before you have lived—”
He became darkly prophetic. He thrust out a rhetorical hand.
“I will make you love me! Until he has faded—faded into a memory...”
He saw her into the train at Waterloo, and stood, a tall, grave figure, with hat upraised, as the carriage moved forward slowly and hid him. Ann Veronica sat back with a sigh of relief. Manning might go on now idealizing her as much as he liked. She was no longer a confederate in that. He might go on as the devoted lover until he tired. She had done forever with the Age of Chivalry, and her own base adaptations of its traditions to the compromising life. She was honest again.
But when she turned her thoughts to Morningside Park she perceived the tangled skein of life was now to be further complicated by his romantic importunity.
CHAPTER THE FOURTEENTH
THE COLLAPSE OF THE PENITENT
Spring had held back that year until the dawn of May, and then spring and summer came with a rush together. Two days after this conversation between Manning and Ann Veronica, Capes came into the laboratory at lunch-time and found her alone there standing by the open window, and not even pretending to be doing anything.
He came in with his hands in his trousers pockets and a general air of depression in his bearing. He was engaged in detesting Manning and himself in almost equal measure. His face brightened at the sight of her, and he came toward her.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Nothing,” said Ann Veronica, and stared over her shoulder out of the window.
“So am I.... Lassitude?”
“I suppose so.”
“I can’t work.”
“Nor I,” said Ann Veronica.
“It’s the spring,” he said. “It’s the warming up of the year, the coming of the light mornings, the way in which everything begins to run about and begin new things. Work becomes distasteful; one thinks of holidays. This year—I’ve got it badly. I want to get away. I’ve never wanted to get away so much.”