They discussed it with argument, with endearment, with humour, and reproach, but her inflexible basis soon showed through their talk: she would not wear the ring. So far he prevailed, that it was she, not he, who kept it. Her insistence that he should take it back brought something like anger out of him; and in the surprise of this she yielded so much. She did it unwillingly at the time, but afterward, when she tried on the thing again in the privacy of her own room; she was rather satisfied to have it, safe under lock and key, a flashing, smiling mystery to visit when she liked and reveal when she would.
“Lorne could never get me such a beauty again if he lost it,” she advised herself, “and he’s awfully careless. And I’m not sure that I won’t tell Eva Delarue, just to show it to her. She’s as close as wax.”
One feels a certain sorrow for the lover on his homeward way, squaring his shoulders against the foolish perversity of the feminine mind, resolutely guarding his heart from any hint of real reprobation. Through the sweetness of her lips and the affection of her pretty eyes, through all his half-possession of all her charms and graces, must have come dully the sense of his great occasion manque, that dear day of love when it leaves the mark of its claim. And in one’s regret there is perhaps some alloy of pity, that less respectful thing. We know him elsewhere capable of essaying heights, yet we seem to look down upon the drama of his heart. It may be well to remember that the level is not everything in love. He who carefully adjusts an intellectual machine may descry a higher mark; he can construct nothing in a mistress; he is, therefore, able to see the facts and to discriminate the desirable. But Lorne loved with all his imagination. This way dares the imitation of the gods by which it improves the quality of the passion, so that such a love stands by itself to be considered, apart from the object, one may say. A strong and beautiful wave lifted Lorne Murchison along to his destiny, since it was the pulse of his own life, though Dora Milburn played moon to it.
Alfred Hesketh had, after all, written to young Murchison about his immediate intention of sailing for Canada and visiting Elgin; the letter arrived a day or two later. It was brief and businesslike, but it gave Lorne to understand that since his departure the imperial idea had been steadily fermenting, not only in the national mind, but particularly in Hesketh’s; that it produced in his case a condition only to be properly treated by personal experience. Hesketh was coming over to prove whatever advantage there was in seeing for yourself. That he was coming with the right bias Lorne might infer, he said, from the fact that he had waited a fortnight to get his passage by the only big line to New York that stood out for our mercantile supremacy against American combination.