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SOARING

"But,'" I said, "when we met again——"

"I can't marry. I can't and won't."

She stood up. "Why did you talk?" she cried. "Couldn't you see?"

She seemed to have something it was impossible to say.

She came to the table beside my bed and pulled the Michaelmas daisies awry. "Why did you talk like that?" she said in a tone of infinite bitterness. "To begin like that——!"

"But what is it?" I said. "Is it some circumstance—my social position?"

"Oh damn your social position!" she cried.

She went and stood at the further window staring out at the rain. For a long time we were absolutely still. The wind and rain came in little gusts upon the pane. She turned to me abruptly.

"You didn't ask me if I loved you," she said.

"Oh, if it's that!" said I.

"It's not that," she said. "But if you want to know——" She paused.

"I do," she said.

We stared at one another.

"I do—with all my heart, if you want to know."

"Then why the devil?" I asked.

She made no answer. She walked across the room to the piano and began to play, rather noisily and rapidly, with odd gusts of emphasis, the shepherd's pipe music from the last act in Tristan and Isolde. Presently she missed a note, failed again, ran her finger heavily up the scale, struck the piano passionately with her fist making a feeble jar in the treble, jumped up, and went out of the room. . . .

The nurse found me still wearing my helmet of bandages, partially dressed and pottering round the