“Your priestess,” whispered Ann Veronica, softly. “A silly little priestess who knew nothing of life at all until she came to you.”
They sat for a time without speaking a word, in an enormous shining globe of mutual satisfaction.
“Well,” said Capes, at length, “we’ve to go down, Ann Veronica. Life waits for us.”
He stood up and waited for her to move.
“Gods!” cried Ann Veronica, and kept him standing. “And to think that it’s not a full year ago since I was a black-hearted rebel school-girl, distressed, puzzled, perplexed, not understanding that this great force of love was bursting its way through me! All those nameless discontents—they were no more than love’s birth-pangs. I felt—I felt living in a masked world. I felt as though I had bandaged eyes. I felt—wrapped in thick cobwebs. They blinded me. They got in my mouth. And now—Dear! Dear! The dayspring from on high hath visited me. I love. I am loved. I want to shout! I want to sing! I am glad! I am glad to be alive because you are alive! I am glad to be a woman because you are a man! I am glad! I am glad! I am glad! I thank God for life and you. I thank God for His sunlight on your face. I thank God for the beauty you love and the faults you love. I thank God for the very skin that is peeling from your nose, for all things great and small that make us what we are. This is grace I am saying! Oh! my dear! all the joy and weeping of life are mixed in me now and all the gratitude. Never a new-born dragon-fly that spread its wings in the morning has felt as glad as I!”
CHAPTER THE SEVENTEENTH
About four years and a quarter later—to be exact, it was four years and four months—Mr. and Mrs. Capes stood side by side upon an old Persian carpet that did duty as a hearthrug in the dining-room of their flat and surveyed a shining dinner-table set for four people, lit by skilfully-shaded electric lights, brightened by frequent gleams of silver, and carefully and simply adorned with sweet-pea blossom. Capes had altered scarcely at all during the interval, except for a new quality of smartness in the cut of his clothes, but Ann Veronica was nearly half an inch taller; her face was at once stronger and softer, her neck firmer and rounder, and her carriage definitely more womanly than it had been in the days of her rebellion. She was a woman now to the tips of her fingers; she had said good-bye to her girlhood in the old garden four years and a quarter ago. She was dressed in a simple evening gown of soft creamy silk, with a yoke of dark old embroidery that enhanced the gentle gravity of her style, and her black hair flowed off her open forehead to pass under the control of a simple ribbon of silver. A silver necklace enhanced the dusky beauty of her neck. Both husband and wife affected an unnatural ease of manner for the benefit of the efficient parlor-maid, who was putting the finishing touches to the sideboard arrangements.