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The old excuse—the truest of all her excuses! It struck the chord of memory. He picked her up gently, holding her so closely that he could feel the shuddering of her breath.“But you can’t call ours love at first sight.” canada goose coats on sale “That didn’t keep you from writing.”

“Any child would have done that when a man brought her presents. Then she didn’t say she loved me? No, she wouldn’t say that.”Choking back her tears, she nodded.She pursed her mouth and began to do a sum on her fingers. When she had counted up to ten, she peeped at him from under her broad-brimmed hat. “Until it ends.” Then, patting his hand quickly, “But it’s only just started. Don’t let’s think about the end—— Here, this hotel will do. Dig the cocher in the back. I’ll sit in the fiacre till you return; then there’ll be no explanations.”Things that once would have brought him happiness failed to stir him. A boom was being worked for him. He was on the crest of a wave. Interviewers were continually calling to get personal stories. Articles appeared in which he confided to the public: “How I Became Famous at Twenty-three,” “Why I Came to America,” “What I Think of New York,” “Why I Distrust Co-education.” There seemed to be no subject, however trivial, upon which his views were not of value to the hundred million inhabitants of America. He was continually finding his face in the papers. He sprang into an unexpected demand both as writer and artist.As she rose from her knees she gathered him in her arms. The man left his seat to follow. She paused in the doorway, gazing across her shoulder. “No, Hal, it’s a time when you’re not wanted.”They were returning from the final performance of October. They had been behind the scenes with Fluffy, where friends had been drugging her melancholy with the assurance that, whatever might be said of the play, her acting had scored a triumph.She wore a troubled look when he met her next morning.Then he drove to Gatti’s for breakfast and a general tidy-up. Something was the matter with the mirrors this morning. He saw himself with humble displeasure. Until he had met Desire, he had felt perfectly contented with his appearance; he had found nothing in it at which to take offense. But now he began to have a growing sense of injury against the Almighty. As he sat in the mirrored room, waiting for his meal to be served, his reflections watched him from half-a-dozen angles. They seemed to be saying to him, “Poor chap! May as well face up to the fact. This is how you look; and you expect her to love you.”Her question went unanswered. In the silence it seemed to repeat itself maddeningly. She drummed with her fingers on the pane, as though insisting that until he had answered he should not see her face. canada goose coats on sale When Teddy became a man and looked back on that night there were two things that he remembered: the first was his pride and sense of triumph at hearing himself preferred to Hal; the second was that love, as an inspiring and torturing reality, entered into his experience for the first time. As she carried him into the darkness of the passage which had been full of fears without her, her act seemed symbolic. Gazing back from her arms, he saw the man—saw the perplexed humiliation of his expression, his aloneness and instinctively his tragedy, yet without pity and rather with contentment In later years all that happened to him seemed a refinement of spiritual revenge for his childish callousness. The solitary image of the man in the dim-lit room, his empty hands and following eyes took a place in the gallery of memory as a Velasquezesque masterpiece—a composition in brown and white of the St. Sebastian of a love self-pierced by the arrows of its own too great desire.His one consolation was in writing to her—that made her seem nearer. He poured out his heart hour after hour, in unconsidered, fiery phrases. The journal which he kept for her on the voyage was less a journal of contemporary doings than of rememberings. It was a history of all their intercourse, stretching back from the scarf fluttered on the dock to the far-off, cloistral days of childhood. He believed that in the writing of it he became telepathic; messages seemed to reach him from her. He heard her speaking so distinctly that at times he would drop his pen and glance across his shoulder: “Meester Deek! Meester Deek!” He noted down the hours when the phenomenon occurred, begging her to tell him whether at these hours she had been thinking of him. Like a refrain, to which the music was forever returning, “I shall wait for you always—always,” he wrote.“I think,” he said, smiling at the mysticism of the fancy, “I think I must have been loving you even then. Yes, I’m sure it was the you in her, before ever I knew you, that I was loving.”“Why?” canada goose coats on sale He felt humiliated—unworthy to walk beside her. No wonder she’d smiled at his ideas of love! He’d make it his life’s work, if need be, to teach her what love really meant. He vowed to himself that whatever she did, no matter how compromising the circumstances, for the future he would give her the benefit of the doubt He would never again distrust her. He would keep that pathetically cheap little photograph and gaze at it as a poignant warning.“I knew a boy once who called me ’Princess.’ He used to tell me—it was a queer, dear thing to tell me—he used to tell me that the babies came into my eyes when I was happy. But that was only when I’d been awfully nice to him.” When he stared at her, she nodded. “Really. He did. I’m not joking.”He was too absorbed in his work to notice what had provoked her curiosity. When he came to the account of his bathing, she interrupted him. “I want to see you bathe.”The moon, gazing down on them, recognized him and smiled. The stars clapped their hands. Even the mountains, which had slept all day, uncrouched their knees and sat up in bed to look at them. Farmhouse windows, across the drifted whiteness, blinked wisely, speaking of home and children, and an end of journeys. Sometimes she drowsed with the swaying motion. Sometimes when he thought her drowsing, her eyes were wide.She nodded. “For you. I’m so artificial; I’m not ashamed of it. But until I saw you in Eden Row, I didn’t realize how different I am. In New York—well, I was in the majority. It was you who felt strange there. But in Eden Row I saw my father. He’s like you and—and it came over me that perhaps I’m not as nice as I fancy—not as much to be envied. There may even be something in what Mrs. Sheerug says.” canada goose coats on sale canada goose coats on sale It would reach them as they were sitting down to breakfast to-morrow—a kind of Christmas present.He flushed. “Can’t tell you yet.”The garden would not remember. The brook would babble no less contentedly because he was gone. All these flowers which shone so bravely—within a week they, too, would have vanished. The birds in the early morning would Scarcely notice his absence. In the autumn they would fly away; in the spring, when they returned, they would think no more of the boy who had parted the leaves so gently that a little girl might peep into their nests. And would the little girl remember? Even now, when he called, she did not answer.As he approached the hall, she slipped after him into the passage. With his hand on the latch he looked back, “Then you won’t let me kiss you?”“Looking up routes.”“No, sleep.” She drew her fingers down his face caressingly. “Sleep for my sake, Teddy.”