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group of tents. South of these were Rasim’s artillery;

time:2023-12-07 04:30:36 source:check net author:law read:888次

There was some little trouble, though no more than the shadow of a passing cloud, when at last he said that they must be getting back to town, for the afternoon was beginning to wane. She besought him for five minutes more of sitting here in the sunshine that was still warm, and when those minutes were over, she begged for yet another postponement. But then the quiet imposition of his will suddenly conquered her, and she got up.

group of tents. South of these were Rasim’s artillery;

"My dear, you shall do what you like with me," she said, "for you have given me such a happy day. Will you remember that, Michael? It has been a nice day. And might we, do you think, ask Miss Falbe to come to tea with us when we get back? She can but say 'no,' and if she comes, I will be very good and not vex her."

group of tents. South of these were Rasim’s artillery;

As she got back into the motor she stood up for a moment, her vague blue eyes scanning the sky, the trees, the stretch of sunlit park.

group of tents. South of these were Rasim’s artillery;

"Good-bye, lake, happy lake and moor-hens," she said. "Good-bye, trees and grass that are growing green again. Good-bye, all pretty, peaceful things."

Michael had no hesitation in telephoning to Sylvia when they got back to town, asking her if she could come and have tea with his mother, for the gentle, affectionate mood of the morning still lasted, and her eagerness to see Sylvia was only equalled by her eagerness to be agreeable to her. He was greedy, whenever it could be done, to secure a pleasure for his mother, and this one seemed in her present mood a perfectly safe one. Added to that impulse, in itself sufficient, there was his own longing to see her again, that thirst that never left him, and soon after they had got back to Curzon Street Sylvia was with them, and, as before, in preparation for a long visit, she had taken off her hat. To-day she divested herself of it without any suggestion on Lady Ashbridge's part, and this immensely pleased her.

"Look, Michael," she said. "Miss Falbe means to stop a long time. That is sweet of her, is it not? She is not in such a hurry to get away today. Sugar, Miss Falbe? Yes, I remember you take sugar and milk, but no cream. Well, I do think this is nice!"

Sylvia had seen neither mother nor son for a couple of weeks, and her eyes coming fresh to them noticed much change in them both. In Lady Ashbridge this change, though marked, was indefinable enough: she seemed to the girl to have somehow gone much further off than she had been before; she had faded, become indistinct. It was evident that she found, except when she was talking to Michael, a far greater difficulty in expressing herself, the channels of communication, as it were, were getting choked. . . . With Michael, the change was easily stated, he looked terribly tired, and it was evident that the strain of these weeks was telling heavily on him. And yet, as Sylvia noticed with a sudden sense of personal pride in him, not one jot of his patient tenderness for his mother was abated. Tired as he was, nervous, on edge, whenever he dealt with her, either talking to her, or watching for any little attention she might need, his face was alert with love. But she noticed that when the footman brought in tea, and in arranging the cups let a spoon slip jangling from its saucer, Michael jumped as if a bomb had gone off, and under his breath said to the man, "You clumsy fool!" Little as the incident was, she, knowing Michael's courtesy and politeness, found it significant, as bearing on the evidence of his tired face. Then, next moment his mother said something to him, and instantly his love transformed and irradiated it.

To-day, more than ever before, Lady Ashbridge seemed to exist only through him. As Sylvia knew, she had been for the last few weeks constantly disagreeable to him; but she wondered whether this exacting, meticulous affection was not harder to bear. Yet Michael, in spite of the nervous strain which now showed itself so clearly, seemed to find no difficulty at all in responding to it. It might have worn his nerves to tatters, but the tenderness and love of him passed unhampered through the frayed communications, for it was he himself who was brought into play. It was of that Michael, now more and more triumphantly revealed, that Sylvia felt so proud, as if he had been a possession, an achievement wholly personal to her. He was her Michael--it was just that which was becoming evident, since nothing else would account for her claim of him, unconsciously whispered by herself to herself.


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