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as long as Nicolas lived, she had felt A hot wave of color swept over Joy's sure that he was there for her.
face as she envisaged Nicolas as a It would n't make any difference lover. Then, resolutely and without now, she told herself. Maude's hus- hesitation, she put the Nicolas of her band would be her brother, and all dreams out of her heart forever; the her brothers were dear to her, and Nicolas of fact remained. He was would be just as dear whether they going to be her brother-in-law. married or not. Yet she could not She made this final transference help that sharp rebellion of instinct very swiftly, and as she looked up, she which behind her reason told her that saw Owen Ransome watching her it would never be the same, that al- through the roses. He came and sat ready it was different.
down beside her without speaking. The curious feeling in her heart He had a quality of easy intimacy grew all the time. There was nothing which was very reassuring in moments to look forward to any more. She of emotion. need n't be afraid of having a sick Joy said at once, and with no visible child, and, with the final retreat of effort: that fear, hope darkened in her. There "I have very good news this mornwould only be other people's children ing. Nicolas is going to marry my now, and other people's loves.
sister Maude. I must go home at Maude's, for instance. Of course once." Maude would want her back at once. “That won't be very good news for They must get everything ready to Julia,” Owen answered lightly—“your gether, and Maude would want to tell going home, I mean. And the other her about Nicolas. Already Maude —you are really pleased about it? knew a great deal more about Nicolas I remember your sister Maude. She than Joy would ever know. Joy had was a little like you, about as like you never known Nicolas as a lover, and as a garden flower is to a wild one. lovers are always different. They You don't mind my calling you a wild conceal more, perhaps, but they give one, I hope.” more. They give all they have; they Joy shook her head. conceal only what they have not. “I know I am untidy,” she said regretfully; “I always was; it takes so “Oh, will you?” asked Joy, with a long not to be, and there are always little gasp of relief. so many other things I want to do It was quite true she did feel the instead. Maude manages her time heat, for when she stood up, her knees better, of course, and I think the shook under her, and it suddenly marriage will be a very good thing seemed as if it would have been exbecause, you see, I love them both so traordinarily difficult to tell Julia that much, they could n't have nicer peo- Nicolas was going to marry Maude. ple for each other."
Joy gave Owen a quick, grateful Owen hesitated for a moment; then little glance, and he met her eyes with he said a little dryly:
an expression that was like sympathy, “Nicolas is n't very imaginative.” only, of course, he had nothing to be
“No," agreed Joy, truthfully, “I sympathetic about. He merely had, don't think he is; but I don't think as Joy had noticed before, particularly people have to be, do you, if they ’re nice, kind eyes. kind and straight and like Nicolas, I
VIII mean?" Owen gave an odd little laugh.
It came slowly and wonderfully to “I don't think they have to be at all,” Joy that she was in her own country he said; "but I think, if they are n't, again. The earth itself turned from they are liable to make rather serious its drab browns and grays to a deep, mistakes."
rich red. The fields and hedges lost “But Maude is n't imaginative, their look of overcareful handling, and either,” Joy explained a little anx- melted into moors. The trees, heavier iously; "so, you see, he won't be likely and more human, brooded tenderly to make any bad mistakes about her, over the wet, green pastures. The will he?”
country became moister and milder. "Oh, no," agreed Owen; "I should Ferns grew in every cranny; the think Maude would be perfectly safe." thatched houses had a blurred and
Then he stood up in front of Joy weather-beaten homeliness. The peoas if he wanted a man who was stay- ple she saw from the train windows ing in the house, and appeared to be were more placid; they moved slowly, going to approach them, not to see with the air of natural things, unsurthat she was there.
prised. “I think you look as if you felt the Joy had a sense of enormous thankheat this morning," he said in a per- fulness in finding herself at home. suasive tone. “Do you know what Nicolas might fail her, but not the I'd do if I were you? I should cut incorruptible shapes and colors of her along up to the nursery,—it 's the native Devon. Nobody here would coolest room in the house,—and I 'll fly about all day long and arrive nosend breakfast up to you. It 's such where. a bore having to talk to a lot of people Maude met her with Fidget at a round a table in the morning, particu- junction ten miles from Lynton. She larly when one is n't feeling very fit. seemed part of the freshness and Don't come down again till lunch. sweetness that was in Joy's heart. She I 'll tell Julia your-your good news." had loved Maude always and accepted
her always; there could be nothing in- really red; but as the heather 's not imical or painful in the round, soft, out, they can't even be called purple. pink face uplifted for her kiss.
There must be something wrong with Maude hurried her along to the your eyes." dog-cart to relieve Fidget's well-known This question rapidly settled, Maude dislike of standing.
returned with relief to her more "I did n't bring a groom," Maude personal topic. explained; “I wanted to talk. We can "My feeling was, you see," she drive in turns if you like. Dick, have explained, “that I 'd much better you everything in at the back? All make hay while the sun shone. It 's right, Hoskins; let her go, please. no use pretending I 'm as pretty as There, we 're off! It is nice to see you are, Joy, and though I love having you, Joy; nicer than to see anybody, you at home, I get a good deal more except Nick, of course."
attention while you 're away. There's "I'm awfully glad, dear, about Nick, for instance. He never looked Nick,” Joy said gently. She had at me while you were there; but when been afraid it would be a little difficult you were n't, I took care that he to speak of Nick for the first time; but should. That 's what all the row 's it had not been difficult, and if it had about. I don't see why poor Nick been, Maude would not have noticed. should n't have a wife and children
“There," said Maude, with satisfac- like everybody else just because you tion, “I knew you would be glad. I won't have him. He was very down told mother so. Mother and father in the mouth at first. He used to have both been rather awful. I can't spend all the time fishing, and never tell you what a mercy it is you 're opened his lips. I hurried off after back. They behave as if I'd done breakfast and fished with him. They something shabby. If they expect made a fuss because I did n't let them people to get engaged sitting round a know where I was going, and if I had, tea-table under the noses of their they'd have made another fuss beparents, they 're very much mistaken. cause it was n't proper. Being proper But of course they ’re both hopelessly is n't the way to get married now, and old-fashioned. I wanted to tell you so I told them; but they only got all about it first, so that you could see rattier. They thought I was 'visiting my point of view. What are you the poor.” staring at so hard?"
Joy considered these statements “Nothing,” said Joy. “Only the carefully. She could picture very well hills are just the same. They have what happened as far as Nick was the old purple look, as if there was a concerned. He must have sat tacispirit of darkness moving over them.” turn and disgusted on a bank, too
“Of course they 're just the same. polite to get up and go away; but You'd hardly expect the hills to where her imagination broke down was change just because you've been to what in particular Maude had done to Surrey, would you?” asked Maude shake him out of his gloom and turn with some impatience. “As for pur- him into a lover. She knew Nicolas ple, you might call them purple if the and she knew Maude. What she heather was out, though heather is did n't know was what made the
farmers' sons stare at Maude when cism of common sense. “Being enthey did n't stare at her, and it was gaged is no help, really. Men and precisely this quality which had drawn women in love don't depend on anyNick out of his gloom.
thing except whether they have the “We all thought you were never chance or not. The question is, Are coming back," Maude went on, "you you prepared to keep out of my way?” seemed so wrapped up in Julia and Joy drew in a wondering breath. her old twins. I told Nick you'd Was that, after all, one of the ways in never marry. You 're just one of the which to look at love? women who don't."
“I'll keep out of your way, of "Am I?” asked Joy. "But—"and course," she agreed. “Only, Maude, then she pulled herself up. What had do you think you 'll be happy with a been on her tongue's tip was that man who only wants you when—when nobody but Nick had ever asked her, other people are n't in the way?” and that she had n't meant to go on "Oh, it 's different when you 're refusing Nick.
married," Maude explained. “You “I 've been quite unhappy," pur- never understand about things like sued Maude in a loud, cheerful voice that, but I do. I shall know where I which bore no community with grief. am when I marry Nick. Besides, you "You see, I don't mind telling you it can't seriously imagine Nick breaking was n't particularly easy getting en- a vow, can you? When we 're margaged to Nick; he always had that ried, we ’re married; he 'll see that for nursery idea about you. But he does himself.”
. want to marry and he always liked "But he ought to be able to see it me well enough; and now it all depends now, Joy persisted. “You know on you really whether it comes off or I'd never dream of coming between not.”
you, but if there's the slightest danger “On me?” asked Joy, in astonish- of his turning to me, why did you ask ment. “But, my dear, it does n't me to come back?" depend on any one now except upon "Well, there is n't any danger unless you and Nick.”
you let there be,” Maude said frankly. "Oh, that 's all nonsense, of course," "I wanted you all right. You and I said Maude, with the unruffled cyni- have always done things together, and
no one sews as well as you do. Patch father had often expostulated upon its is no use unless she has you to stand presence in a room so sacred to gentilover her, and, for another thing, I ity, but Mrs. Featherstone merely wanted you to make the parents less replied that she sat where she worked, sniffy. If you 're on my side, every- and worked where she sat, and this thing will be easier all round. I 'll strange and inexplicable repository take on Nick if you take on everything had remained a public landmark.
The dogs bustled to and fro in an The purple shadows had grown ecstasy of proprietary welcome. They darker; the dense bloom upon the were just as anxious as Joy was that hills made them seem as if they were nothing should escape her notice. inclosing Fidget, the dog-cart, the Mr. Featherstone was gratified by long, winding ribbon of road, in a Joy's return. She was his favorite fuller tenderness. Joy could feel on child, and he took it as a personal her lips the keen and tonic taste of the compliment that she should be so
pleased to come back. “Very well,” she said after a long “Your old father has seen to things pause, “I'll take on whatever you while you were away,” he said, as if like; only you must n't ask me to do his ministrations had kept the cliffs anything at all about Nick. What in their places and carried on the has to be done about him must always career of waterfalls. It had, as a be done through you. I want him to matter of fact, been her mother who feel I 'm just the same as any other saw to the animals and had taken over, sister, not a person who has to manage in addition to her own, all her daughter's or explain or even keep out of the duties. Mrs. Featherstone said noth
ing at all on Joy's arrival; she only “There 's only one thing you must held her close for a moment and looked do about him yourself,” Maude agreed at her with eyes in which a very deep when she had thought this over. love showed for a moment like a warn"When you first see him be sure and ing and then vanished. tell him you 're glad. If he believes Patch cried when Joy rushed up to that, everything will be easier.” the nursery to embrace her, but, then,
Joy forgot about Nick for the rest Patch cried very easily. There was of the evening. It was almost be- no need to seek a reason for her tears. wildering to see with her eyes all that Maude had Rosemary's room now, she had been seeing only in her heart and Joy slept alone, but she did not Everything had to be visited. She sleep much that first night. The wanted to see every one she knew and harvest moon, the color of an orange, then all the things which belonged to leaned over the edge of the valley and those she loved. Certain of them had took all the shadows out of the rock escaped her memory, and came upon garden. The garden was full of its her suddenly with a happy thrill of mysterious, thin light. The flowers recognition.
around the lawn bathed in it, but She had forgotten the solid set of though their petals were very plain, it her mother's work-basket planted could not give them any color. The upon the drawing-room table. Her sea moved far away and softly, as if