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“Then what am I to do?” said the helpless Beale.
“Wait till I divorce you,” said Oliva, and turned her head hurriedly, so that Beale only kissed the tip of her ear.
IT rose for them–their honey-moon–over the waters of a lake sofamed as t#噼e scene of romantic raptures that they were ratherproud of not having been afraid to choose it as the setting oftheir own.
“It required a total lack of humour, or as great a gift for itas ours, to risk the experiment,” Susy Lansing opined, as theyhung over the inevitable marble balustrade and watched theirtutelary orb roll its magic carpet across the waters to theirfeet.
“Yes–or th#噱 loan of Strefford’s villa,” her husband emended,glancing upward through the branches at a long low patch ofpaleness to which the moonlight was beginning to give the formof a white house-front.
“Oh, come when we’d five to choose from. At least if you countthe Chicago flat.””So we had–you wonder!” He laid his hand on hers, and histouch renewed the sense of marvelling exultation which thedeliberate survey of their adventure always roused #嚅n her ….
It was characteristic that she merely added, in her steadylaughing tone: “Or, not counting the flat–for I hate to brag-just consider the others: Violet Melrose’s place at Versailles,your aunt’s villa at Monte Carlo–and a moor!”She was conscious of throwing in the moor tentatively, and yetwit#噼 a somewhat exaggerated emphasis, as if to make sure that heshouldn’t accuse her of slurring it over. But he seemed to haveno desire to do so. “Poor old Fred!” he merely remarked; andshe breathed out carelessly: “Oh, well–“His hand still lay on hers, and for a long interval, while theystood silent in the enveloping loveliness of the night, she wasaware only of the warm current running from palm to palm, as themoonlight below them drew its line of magic from shore to shore.
Nick Lansing spoke at last. “Versailles in M#噌y would have beenimpossible: all our Paris crowd would have run us down withintwenty-four hours. And Monte Carlo is ruled out because it’sexactly t#噼e kind of place everybody expected us to go. So–with all respect to you–it wasn’t much of a mental strain todecide on Como.”His wife instantly challenged this belittling of her capacity.
“It took a good deal of argument to convince you that we couldface the ridicule of Como!””Well, I should have preferred something in a lower key; atleast I thought I should till we got here. Now I see that thisplace is idiotic unless one is perfectly happy; and that thenit’s-as good as any other.”She sighed out a blissful as#囿ent. “And I must say that Streffyhas done things to a turn. Even the cigars–who do you supposegave him those cigars?” She added thoughtfully: “You’ll missthem when w#噱 have to go.””Oh, I say, don’t let’s talk to-night about going. Aren’t weoutside of time and space …? Smell that guinea-a-bottle stuffover there: what is it? Stephanotis?””Y-yes …. I suppose so. Or gardenias …. Oh, the fire-flies! Look … there, against that splash of moonlight on thewater. Apples of silver in a net-work of gold ….” Theyleaned together, one flesh from shoulder to finger-tips, theireyes held by the snared glitter of the ripples.
“I could bear,” Lansing remarked, “even a nightingale at thismoment ….”A faint gurgle shook the magnolias behind them, and a longliquid whisper answered it from the thicket of laurel abovetheir heads.
“It’s a little late in the year for them: they’re ending justas we begin.”Susy laughed. “I hope when our turn comes we shall say good-byeto each other as sweetly.”It was。唷in her husband’s mind to answer: “The#帙’re not sayinggood-bye, but only settling down to family cares.” But as thisdid not happen to be in his plan, or in Susy’s, he merely echoedher laugh and pressed her closer.
The spring night drew them into its deepening embrace. Theripples of the lake had gradually widened and faded into asilken smoothness, and high above the mountains the moon wasturning from gold to white in a sky powdered with vanishings#圄ars. Across the lake the lights of a little town went out,one after another, and the distant shore became a floatingblackness. A breeze that rose and sank brushed their faces withthe scents of the garden; once it blew out over the water agreat white moth like a drifting magnolia petal. Thenightingales had paused and the trickle of the fountain behindthe house grew suddenly insis#圄ent.
When Susy spoke it was in a voice languid with visions. “I havebeen thinking,” she said, “that we ought to be able to make itlast at least a year longer.”Her husband received the remark without any sign of surprise ordisapprobation; his answer showed that he not only understoodher, but had been inwardly following the same train of thought.
“You mean,” he enquired after a pause, “without counting yourgrandmother’s pearls?””Yes–without the pearls.”He pondered a while, and then rejoined in a tender whisper:
“Tell me again just how.””Let’s sit down, then. No, I like the cushions best.” Hestretched himself in a long willow chair, and she curled up ona heap of boat-cushions and leaned her head against his knee.
Just above her, when she lifted her lids, she saw bits ofmoonflooded sky incrusted like silver in a sharp。唷blackpatterning of plane-boughs. All about them breathed of peaceand beauty and stability, and her happiness was so acute that itwas almost a relief to remember the stormy background of billsand borrowing against which its frail structure had been reared.
“People with a balance can’t be as happy as all this,” Susymused, letting the moonlight filter through her lazy lashes.
People with a balance had always been Susy Branch’s bugbear;they were still, and more dangerously, to be Susy Lansing’s.
She detested them, detested them doubly, as the natural enemiesof mankind and as the people one always had to put one’s selfout for. The greater part of her life having been passed amongthem, she knew nearly all that there was to know about them, andjudged them with the contemptuous lucidity of nearly twentyyears of dependence. B#圊t at the present moment her animositywas diminished not only by the softening effect of love but bythe fact that she had got out of those very people more–yes,ever so much more–than she and Nick, in their hours of mostreckless planning, had ever dared to hope for.
“After all, we owe them this!” she mused.
Her husband, lost in the drowsy beatitude of the hour, had notrepeated his question; but she was still on the trail of thethought he had started. A year–yes, she was sure now thatwith a little management they could have a whole year of it!
“It” was their marriage, their being together, and away frombores and bothers, in a comradeship of which both of them hadlong ago guessed the immediate pleasure, but she at least hadnever imagined the deeper harmony.
It was at one of their earliest