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379
SOARING

Then she crouched beside me and began whispering very softly and rapidly with her face close to me.

"Dear," she said, "I love you. If it will make you happy to marry me, I will marry you. I was in a mood just now—a stupid inconsiderate mood. Of course I will marry you. You are my prince, my king. Women are such things of mood—or I would have—behaved differently. We say 'No' when we mean 'Yes'—and fly into crises. So now, Yes—yes—yes. I will. . . . I can't even kiss you. Give me your hand to kiss that. Understand I am yours. Do you understand? I am yours just as if we had been married fifty years. Your wife—Beatrice. Is that enough? Now—now will you rest?"

"Yes," I said; "but why——?"

"There are complications. There are difficulties. When you are better you will be able to—understand them. But now they don't matter. Only you know this must be secret—for a time. Absolutely secret between us. Will you promise that?"

"Yes," I said, "I understand. I wish I could kiss you."

She laid her head down beside mine for a moment, and then she kissed my hand.

"I don't care what difficulties there are," I said, and shut my eyes.


§7

But I was only beginning to gauge the unaccountable elements in Beatrice. For a week after my return to Lady Grove I had no sign of her, and then she called with Lady Osprey and brought a huge bunch of perennial sunflowers and Michaelmas daisies, "just the old flowers