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The Return

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
She came out into the sunlight, and they went through the little gate together. She walked
quickly, without speaking, over the bridge, past a little cottage whose hollyhocks leaned
fading above its low flint wall. Skirting a field of stubble, she struck into a wood by a
path that ran steeply up the hillside. And by and by they came to a glen where the
woodmen of a score of years ago had felled the trees, leaving a green hollow of saplings
in the midst of their towering neighbours.
'There,' she said, holding out her hand to him, 'now we are alone. Just six hours or so--
and then the sun will be there,' she pointed to the tree-tops to the west, 'and then you will
have to go; for good, for good--you your way, and I mine. What a tangle-- a tangle is this
life of ours. Could I have dreamt we should ever be talking like this, you and I? Friends
of an hour. What will you think of me? Does it matter? Don't speak. Say nothing--poor
face, poor hands. If only there were something to look to--to pray to!' She bent over his
hand and pressed it to her breast. 'What worlds we've seen together, you and I. And then--
another parting.'
They wandered on a little way, and came back and listened to the first few birds that flew
up into the higher branches, noonday being past, to sing.
They talked, and were silent, and talked again with out question, or sadness, or regret, or
reproach; she mocking even at themselves, mocking at this 'change'--'Why, and yet
without it, would you ever even have dreamed once a poor fool of a Frenchman went to
his restless grave for me--for me? Need we understand? Were we told to pry? Who made
us human must be human too. Why must we take such care, and make such a fret--this
soul? I know it, I know it; it is all we have--"to save," they say, poor creatures. No, never
to SPEND, and so they daren't for a solitary instant lift it on the finger from its cage.
Well, we have; and now, soon, back it must go, back it must go, and try its best to whistle
the day out. And yet, do you know, perhaps the very freedom does a little shake its--its
monotony. It's true, you see, they have lived a long time; these Worldly Wisefolk they
were wise before they were swaddled....
'There, and you are hungry?' she asked him, laughing in his eyes. `Of course, of course
you are--scarcely a mouthful since that first still wonderful supper. And you haven't slept
a wink, except like a tired-out child after its first party, on that old garden chair. I sat and
watched, and yes, almost hoped you'd never wake in case--in case. Come along, see,
down there. I can't go home just yet. There's a little old inn--we'll go and sit down there--
as if we were really trying to be romantic! I know the woman quite well; we can talk
there--just the day out.'
They sat at a little table in the garden of 'The Cherry Trees,' its thick green apple branches
burdened with ripened fruit. And Grisel tried to persuade him to eat and drink, 'for to-
 
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