“I don’t care how we meet,” she said.
“It will spoil your life.”
“It will make it. I want you. I am clear I want you. You are different from all the world for me. You can think all round me. You are the one person I can understand and feel—feel right with. I don’t idealize you. Don’t imagine that. It isn’t because you’re good, but because I may be rotten bad; and there’s something—something living and understanding in you. Something that is born anew each time we meet, and pines when we are separated. You see, I’m selfish. I’m rather scornful. I think too much about myself. You’re the only person I’ve really given good, straight, unselfish thought to. I’m making a mess of my life—unless you come in and take it. I am. In you—if you can love me—there is salvation. Salvation. I know what I am doing better than you do. Think—think of that engagement!”
Their talk had come to eloquent silences that contradicted all he had to say.
She stood up before him, smiling faintly.
“I think we’ve exhausted this discussion,” she said.
“I think we have,” he answered, gravely, and took her in his arms, and smoothed her hair from her forehead, and very tenderly kissed her lips.
They spent the next Sunday in Richmond Park, and mingled the happy sensation of being together uninterruptedly through the long sunshine of a summer’s day with the ample discussion of their position. “This has all the clean freshness of spring and youth,” said Capes; “it is love with the down on; it is like the glitter of dew in the sunlight to be lovers such as we are, with no more than one warm kiss between us. I love everything to-day, and all of you, but I love this, this—this innocence upon us most of all.
“You can’t imagine,” he said, “what a beastly thing a furtive love affair can be.
“This isn’t furtive,” said Ann Veronica.
“Not a bit of it. And we won’t make it so.... We mustn’t make it so.”
They loitered under trees, they sat on mossy banks they gossiped on friendly benches, they came back to lunch at the “Star and Garter,” and talked their afternoon away in the garden that looks out upon the crescent of the river. They had a universe to talk about—two universes.
“What are we going to do?” said Capes, with his eyes on the broad distances beyond the ribbon of the river.
“I will do whatever you want,” said Ann Veronica.
“My first love was all blundering,” said Capes.
He thought for a moment, and went on: “Love is something that has to be taken care of. One has to be so careful.... It’s a beautiful plant, but a tender one.... I didn’t know. I’ve a dread of love dropping its petals, becoming mean and ugly. How can I tell you all I feel? I love you beyond measure. And I’m afraid.... I’m anxious, joyfully anxious, like a man when he has found a treasure.”