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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/148

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137
A HOLIDAY

it would be attained; he had the consciousness of utter desire which is the consciousness—or the delusion—of the ultimate power. Yet his lips were sealed and his power was chained in his breast, and his love must beat itself to death in his brain—all because a man lived whom he had plucked from the depth of the sea.

Again he looked at her; and then, with the sudden imagination that he was riding Stewart down, he struck his horse's flank and shot ahead a little way at a gallop. Then he pulled in and sat with his head dejected, thinking, "It would n't be square; it would n't be square."

"I'm afraid you're tired," said Lydia sympathetically, riding up. "I ought to have remembered you're not riding as I am every day."

"No, I'm not tired," Floyd answered. "Don't worry about me; I'll ride with you as long as you want."

"I think perhaps we'd better turn back anyway," she said. "It will be dark by the time we get home."

Most of the way they jogged in silence. When they came near the Halket place, Lydia said, "You must n't bother to ride home with me. Put up your horse and then come over to dinner."

She was so urgent that at last he consented; he was not loath to prolong for an hour an intimacy that in his silent thoughts he had decided to bring to an end.

It did not ease his mind to sit opposite her at dinner that evening; with her arms and shoulders bare, with her dark hair piled thick and glistening and dropping loose tendrils forward about her temples, with her face and neck lighted softly from the shaded candles, she seemed to him even more radiant and entrancing than on horseback. After dinner he took his leave early, though Mrs. Dunbar and Lydia pressed him to pass the night and Sunday with them; he said vaguely that he had things to do at New Rome; no, he could not even come in on Sunday to dinner; he rejected the invitation obstinately, telling himself that no good could come of further dallying.