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all time. Nothing shall separate us. We never have known life, either of us, until now. I, missing you, have run after the false gods. And you—I say it with truth-needed me. We will go to live at Grenoble, as my father and mother lived. We will take
their duties there. And if it seems possible, I will go into public life. When I return, I shall find you waiting for me--in the garden."
So real had the mirage become, that Honora did not answer. The desert and its journey fell away. Could such a thing, after all, be possible? Did fate deal twice to those whom she had made novices? The mirage, indeed, suddenly became reality-a mirage only because she had proclaimed it such. She had beheld in it, as he spoke, a Grenoble which was paradise regained. And why should paradise regained be a paradox? Why paradise regained ? Paradise gained. She had never known it, until he had flung wide the gates. She had sought for it, and never found it until now, and her senses doubted it. It was a paradise of love, to be sure; but one, too, of duty. Duty made it real. Work was there, and fulfilment of the purpose of life itself. And if his days hitherto had been useless, hers had in truth been barren.
It was only of late, after a life-long groping, that she had discovered their barrenness. The right to happiness! Could she begin anew, and found it upon a rock? And was he the rock?
The question startled her, and she drew away from him first her hand, and then she turned her body, staring at him with widened eyes. He did not resist the movement; nor could he, being male, divine what was passing within her, though he watched her anxiously. She had no thought of the first days,-but afterwards. For at such times it is the woman who scans the veil of the future. How long would that beacon burn which flamed now in such prodigal waste? Would not the very springs of it dry up? She looked at him, and she saw the Viking. But the Viking had fled from the world, and they--they would be going into it. Could love prevail against its dangers and pitfalls and duties? Love was the word that rang out, as one calling through the garden, and her thoughts ran molten. Let love overflow—she gloried in the waste! And let the lean years come,—she defied them today.
"Oh, Hugh!" she faltered.
“My dearest!” he cried, and would have seized her in his arms again but for a look of supplication. That he had in him this innate and unsuspected chivalry filled her with an exquisite sweetness.
“You will-protect me?” she asked.
"With my life and with my honour," he answered. “Honora, there will be no happiness like ours.”
"I wish I knew,” she sighed: and then, her look returning from the veil, rested on him with a tenderness that was inexpressible. “I–I don't care, Hugh. I trust you.
The sun was setting. Slowly they went back together through the paths of the tangled garden, which had doubt. less seen many dramas, and the courses changed of many lives: overgrown and outworn now, yet love was loth to leave it. Honora paused on the lawn before the house, and looked back at him over her shoulder.
“How happy we could have been here, in those days,” she sighed. “We will be happier there,” he said.
Honora loved. Many times in her life had she believed herself to have had this sensation, and yet had known nothing of these aches and ecstasies! Her mortal body, unattended, went out to dinner that evening. Never, it is said, was her success more pronounced. The charm of Randolph Leffingwell, which had fascinated the nobility of three kingdoms, had descended on her, and hostesses had discovered that she possessed the magic touch necessary to make a dinner complete. Her quality, as we know, was not wit: it was something as old as the world, as new as modern psychology. It was, in short, the power to stimulate. She infused a sense of well-being; and ordinary people, in her presence, surprised themselves by saying clever things.
Lord Ayllington, a lean, hard-riding gentleman, who was
supposed to be on the verge of contracting an alliance with the eldest of the Grenfell girls, regretted that Mrs. Spence was neither unmarried nor an heiress.
“You know," he said to Cecil Grainger, who happened to be gracing his wife's dinner-party, "she's the sort of woman for whom a man might consent to live in Venice.”
“And she's the sort of woman," replied Mr. Grainger, "a man couldn't get to go to Venice.”
Lord Ayllington's sigh was a proof of an intimate knowl. edge of the world.
“I suppose not,” he said. “It's always so. And there are few American women who would throw everything overboard for a grand passion.”
“You ought to see her on the beach,” Mr. Grainger sug. gested.
“I intend to,” said Ayllington. “By the way, not a few of your American women get divorced, and keep their cake and eat it, too. It's a bit difficult, here at Newport, for a stranger,
“I'm willing to bet,” declared Mr. Grainger, “that it doesn't pay. When you're divorced and married again you've got to keep up appearances—the first time you don't. Some of these people are working pretty hard.”
Whereupon, for the Englishman's enlightenment, he recounted a little gossip.
This, of course, was in the smoking room. In the drawing. room, Mrs. Grainger's cousin did not escape, and the biography was the subject of laughter.
"You see something of him, I hear,” remarked Mrs. Playfair, a lady the deficiency of whose neck was supplied by jewels, and whose conversation sounded like liquid coming out of an inverted bottle. “Is he really serious about the biography?”
"You'll have to ask Mr. Grainger," replied Honora. "Hugh ought to marry,” Mrs. Grenfell observed.
"Why did he come back?" inquired another who had just returned from a prolonged residence abroad. “Was there a woman in the case?”
“Put it in the plural, and you'll be nearer right,” laughed Mrs. Grenfell, and added to Honora, “You'd best take care, my dear, he's dangerous.”
Honora seemed to be looking down on them from a great height, and to Reginald Farwell alone is due the discovery of this altitude; his reputation for astuteness, after the evening, was secure. He had sat next her, and had merely put two and two together—an operation that is probably at the root of most prophecies. More than once that summer Mr. Farwell had taken sketches down Honora's lane, for she was on what was known as his list of advisers: a sheepfold of ewes, some one had called it, and he was always piqued when one of them went astray. In addition to this, intuition told him that he had taken the name of a deity in vain--and that drity was Chiltern. These reflections resulted in another after-dinner conversation to which we are not supposed to listen.
He found Jerry Shorter in a receptive mood, and drew him into Cecil Grainger's study, where this latter gentleman, when awake, carried on his lifework of keeping a record of prize winners.
“I believe there is something between Mrs. Spence and Hugh Chiltern, after all, Jerry," he said.
“By jinks, you don't say so!” exclaimed Mr. Shorter, who had a profound respect for his friend's diagnoses in these matters. “She was dazzling to-night, and her eyes were like stars. I passed her in the hall just now, and I might as well have been in Halifax."
“She fairly withered me when I made a little fun of Chiltern,” declared Farwell.
“I tell you what it is, Reggie,” remarked Mr. Shorter, with more frankness than tact, "you could talk architecture with 'em from now to Christmas, and nothing'd happen, but it would take an iceberg to write a book with Hugh and see him alone six days out of seven. Chiltern knocks women into a cocked hat. I've seen 'em stark raving crazy. Why, there was that Mrs. Slicer six or seven years ago--you rememberthat Cecil Grainger had such a deuce of a time with. And
there was Mrs. Dutton—I was a committee to see her, when the old General was alive,—to say nothing about a good many women you and I know.'
Mr. Farwell nodded.
"I'm confoundedly sorry if it's so," Mr. Shorter continued, with sincerity. “She has a brilliant future ahead of her. She's got good blood in her, she's stunning to look at, and she's made her own way in spite of that Billycock of a husband who talks like the original Rothschild. By the bye, Wing is using him for a good thing. He's sent him out West to pull that street railway chestnut out of the fire. I'm not particularly squeamish, Reggie, though I try to play the game straight myself—the way my father played it. But by the lord Harry, I can't see the difference between Dick Turpin and Wing and Trixy Brent. It's hold and deliver with those fellows. But if the police get anybody, they get Spence.”
“The police never get anybody," said Farwell, pessimistically; for the change of topic bored him.
“No, I suppose they don't,” answered Mr. Shorter, cheerfully finishing his chartreuse, and fixing his eye on one of the coloured lithographs of lean horses on Cecil Grainger's wall. “I'd talk to Hugh, if I wasn't as much afraid of him as Jim Jeffries. I don't want to see him ruin her career.
“Why should an affair with him ruin it?" asked Farwell, unexpectedly. “There was Constance Witherspoon. I understand that went pretty far.”
“My dear boy,” said Mr. Shorter, “it's the women. Bessie Grainger here, for instance—she'd go right up in the air. And the women had—well, a childhood interest in Constance. Self-preservation is the first law of women.'
“They say Hugh has changed—that he wants to settle down,” said Farwell.
"If you'd ever gone to church, Reggie,” said Mr. Shorter, “you'd know something about the limitations of the leopard."