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Chapter IV

Summerhay, coming down next morning, went straight to his bureau; his mind was not at ease. "Wasting yourself!" What had he done with that letter of Diana's? He remembered Gyp's coming in just as he finished reading it. Searching the pigeonholes and drawers, moving everything that lay about, he twitched the bust--and the letter lay disclosed. He took it up with a sigh of relief:

"DEAR BRYAN,

"But I say--you are wasting yourself. Why, my dear, of course! 'Il faut se faire valoir!' You have only one foot to put forward; the other is planted in I don't know what mysterious hole. One foot in the grave--at thirty! Really, Bryan! Pull it out. There's such a lot waiting for you. It's no good your being hoity- toity, and telling me to mind my business. I'm speaking for everyone who knows you. We all feel the blight on the rose. Besides, you always were my favourite cousin, ever since I was five and you a horrid little bully of ten; and I simply hate to think of you going slowly down instead of quickly up. Oh! I know 'D--n the world!' But--are you? I should have thought it was 'd--ning' you! Enough! When are you coming to see us? I've read that book. The man seems to think love is nothing but passion, and passion always fatal. I wonder! Perhaps you know.

"Don't be angry with me for being such a grandmother.

"Au revoir.

"Your very good cousin,

"DIANA LEYTON."

He crammed the letter into his pocket, and sat there, appalled. It must have lain two days under that bust! Had Gyp seen it? He looked at the bronze face; and the philosopher looked back from the hollows of his eyes, as if to say: "What do you know of the human heart, my boy--your own, your mistress's, that girl's, or anyone's? A pretty dance the heart will lead you yet! Put it in a packet, tie it round with string, seal it up, drop it in a drawer, lock the drawer! And to-morrow it will be out and skipping on its wrappings. Ho! Ho!" And Summerhay thought: 'You old goat. You never had one!' In the room above, Gyp would still be standing as he had left her, putting the last touch to her hair--a man would be a scoundrel who, even in thought, could-- "Hallo!" the eyes of the bust seemed to say. "Pity! That's queer, isn't it? Why not pity that red-haired girl, with the skin so white that it burns you, and the eyes so brown that they burn you--don't they?" Old Satan! Gyp had his heart; no one in the world would ever take it from her!

And in the chair where she had sat last night conjuring up memories, he too now conjured. How he had loved her, did love her! She would always be what she was and had been to him. And the sage's mouth seemed to twist before him with the words: "Quite so, my dear! But the heart's very funny--very--capacious!" A tiny sound made him turn.

Little Gyp was standing in the doorway.

"Hallo!" he said.

"Hallo, Baryn!" She came flying to him, and he caught her up so that she stood on his knees with the sunlight shining on her fluffed out hair.

"Well, Gipsy! Who's getting a tall girl?"

"I'm goin' to ride."

"Ho, ho!"

"Baryn, let's do Humpty-Dumpty!"

"All right; come on!" He rose and carried her upstairs.

Gyp was still doing one of those hundred things which occupy women for a quarter of an hour after they are "quite ready," and at little Gyp's shout of, "Humpty!" she suspended her needle to watch the sacred rite.

Summerhay had seated himself on the foot-rail of the bed, rounding his arms, sinking his neck, blowing out his cheeks to simulate an egg; then, with an unexpectedness that even little Gyp could always see through, he rolled backward on to the bed.

And she, simulating "all the king's horses," tried in vain to put him up again. This immemorial game, watched by Gyp a hundred times, had to-day a special preciousness. If he could be so ridiculously young, what became of her doubts? Looking at his face pulled this way and that, lazily imperturbable under the pommelings of those small fingers, she thought: 'And that girl dared to say he was wasting himself!' For in the night conviction had come to her that those words were written by the tall girl with the white skin, the girl of the theatre--the Diana of his last night's dinner. Humpty-Dumpty was up on the bed-rail again for the finale; all the king's horses were clasped to him, making the egg more round, and over they both went with shrieks and gurgles. What a boy he was! She would not--no, she would not brood and spoil her day with him.

But that afternoon, at the end of a long gallop on the downs, she turned her head away and said suddenly:

"Is she a huntress?"

"Who?"

"Your cousin--Diana."

In his laziest voice, he answered:

"I suppose you mean--does she hunt me?"

She knew that tone, that expression on his face, knew he was angry; but could not stop herself.

"I did."

"So you're going to become jealous, Gyp?"

It was one of those cold, naked sayings that should never be spoken between lovers--one of those sayings at which the heart of the one who speaks sinks with a kind of dismay, and the heart of the one who hears quivers. She cantered on. And he, perforce, after her. When she reined in again, he glanced into her face and was afraid. It was all closed up against him. And he said softly:

"I didn't mean that, Gyp."

But she only shook her head. He had meant it--had wanted to hurt her! It didn't matter--she wouldn't give him the chance again. And she said:

"Look at that long white cloud, and the apple-green in the sky-- rain to-morrow. One ought to enjoy any fine day as if it were the last."

Uneasy, ashamed, yet still a little angry, Summerhay rode on beside her.

That night, she cried in her sleep; and, when he awakened her, clung to him and sobbed out:

"Oh! such a dreadful dream! I thought you'd left off loving me!"

For a long time he held and soothed her. Never, never! He would never leave off loving her!

But a cloud no broader than your hand can spread and cover the whole day.

John Galsworthy