3. The Events Of Eight Days
1. FROM THE TWENTY-SECOND TO THE TWENTY-SEVENTH OF JULY
But things are not what they seem. A responsive love for Edward Springrove had
made its appearance in Cytherea's bosom with all the fascinating attributes of a
first experience, not succeeding to or displacing other emotions, as in older
hearts, but taking up entirely new ground; as when gazing just after sunset at the
pale blue sky we see a star come into existence where nothing was before.
His parting words, 'Don't forget me,' she repeated to herself a hundred times, and
though she thought their import was probably commonplace, she could not help
toying with them,--looking at them from all points, and investing them with
meanings of love and faithfulness,--ostensibly entertaining such meanings only
as fables wherewith to pass the time, yet in her heart admitting, for detached
instants, a possibility of their deeper truth. And thus, for hours after he had left
her, her reason flirted with her fancy as a kitten will sport with a dove, pleasantly
and smoothly through easy attitudes, but disclosing its cruel and unyielding
nature at crises.
To turn now to the more material media through which this story moves, it so
happened that the very next morning brought round a circumstance which, slight
in itself, took up a relevant and important position between the past and the
future of the persons herein concerned.
At breakfast time, just as Cytherea had again seen the postman pass without
bringing her an answer to the advertisement, as she had fully expected he would
do, Owen entered the room.
'Well,' he said, kissing her, 'you have not been alarmed, of course. Springrove
told you what I had done, and you found there was no train?'
'Yes, it was all clear. But what is the lameness owing to?'
'I don't know--nothing. It has quite gone off now . . . Cytherea, I hope you like
Springrove. Springrove's a nice fellow, you know.'
'Yes. I think he is, except that--'
'It happened just to the purpose that I should meet him there, didn't it? And when
I reached the station and learnt that I could not get on by train my foot seemed
better. I started off to walk home, and went about five miles along a path beside
the railway. It then struck me that I might not be fit for anything today if I walked
and aggravated the bothering foot, so I looked for a place to sleep at. There was
no available village or inn, and I eventually got the keeper of a gate-house, where
a lane crossed the line, to take me in.'
They proceeded with their breakfast. Owen yawned.
'You didn't get much sleep at the gate-house last night, I'm afraid, Owen,' said his
'To tell the truth, I didn't. I was in such very close and narrow quarters. Those
gate-houses are such small places, and the man had only his own bed to offer
me. Ah, by-the-bye, Cythie, I have such an extraordinary thing to tell you in
connection with this man!--by Jove, I had nearly forgotten it! But I'll go straight on.
As I was saying, he had only his own bed to offer me, but I could not afford to be