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Chapter VI

The curious and complicated nature of man in matters of the heart is not sufficiently conceded by women, professors, clergymen, judges, and other critics of his conduct. And naturally so, since they all have vested interests in his simplicity. Even journalists are in the conspiracy to make him out less wayward than he is, and dip their pens in epithets, if his heart diverges inch or ell.

Bryan Summerhay was neither more curious nor more complicated than those of his own sex who would condemn him for getting into the midnight express from Edinburgh with two distinct emotions in his heart--a regretful aching for the girl, his cousin, whom he was leaving behind, and a rapturous anticipation of the woman whom he was going to rejoin. How was it possible that he could feel both at once? "Against all the rules," women and other moralists would say. Well, the fact is, a man's heart knows no rules. And he found it perfectly easy, lying in his bunk, to dwell on memories of Diana handing him tea, or glancing up at him, while he turned the leaves of her songs, with that enticing mockery in her eyes and about her lips; and yet the next moment to be swept from head to heel by the longing to feel Gyp's arms around him, to hear her voice, look in her eyes, and press his lips on hers. If, instead of being on his way to rejoin a mistress, he had been going home to a wife, he would not have felt a particle more of spiritual satisfaction, perhaps not so much. He was returning to the feelings and companionship that he knew were the most deeply satisfying spiritually and bodily he would ever have. And yet he could ache a little for that red-haired girl, and this without any difficulty. How disconcerting! But, then, truth is.

From that queer seesawing of his feelings, he fell asleep, dreamed of all things under the sun as men only can in a train, was awakened by the hollow silence in some station, slept again for hours, it seemed, and woke still at the same station, fell into a sound sleep at last that ended at Willesden in broad daylight. Dressing hurriedly, he found he had but one emotion now, one longing--to get to Gyp. Sitting back in his cab, hands deep-thrust into the pockets of his ulster, he smiled, enjoying even the smell of the misty London morning. Where would she be--in the hall of the hotel waiting, or upstairs still?

Not in the hall! And asking for her room, he made his way to its door.

She was standing in the far corner motionless, deadly pale, quivering from head to foot; and when he flung his arms round her, she gave a long sigh, closing her eyes. With his lips on hers, he could feel her almost fainting; and he too had no consciousness of anything but that long kiss.

Next day, they went abroad to a little place not far from Fecamp, in that Normandy countryside where all things are large--the people, the beasts, the unhedged fields, the courtyards of the farms guarded so squarely by tall trees, the skies, the sea, even the blackberries large. And Gyp was happy. But twice there came letters, in that too-well-remembered handwriting, which bore a Scottish postmark. A phantom increases in darkness, solidifies when seen in mist. Jealousy is rooted not in reason, but in the nature that feels it--in her nature that loved desperately, felt proudly. And jealousy flourishes on scepticism. Even if pride would have let her ask, what good? She would not have believed the answers. Of course he would say--if only out of pity--that he never let his thoughts rest on another woman. But, after all, it was only a phantom. There were many hours in those three weeks when she felt he really loved her, and so--was happy.

They went back to the Red House at the end of the first week in October. Little Gyp, home from the sea, was now an almost accomplished horsewoman. Under the tutelage of old Pettance, she had been riding steadily round and round those rough fields by the linhay which they called "the wild," her firm brown legs astride of the mouse-coloured pony, her little brown face, with excited, dark eyes, very erect, her auburn crop of short curls flopping up and down on her little straight back. She wanted to be able to "go out riding" with Grandy and Mum and Baryn. And the first days were spent by them all more or less in fulfilling her new desires. Then term began, and Gyp sat down again to the long sharing of Summerhay with his other life.

John Galsworthy