He even pretended to believe that Elspeth would exult in the news; but Grizel smiled at him for saying this to please her. She had never been a great friend of Elspeth's, they were so dissimilar; and she blamed herself for it now, and said she wanted to try to make Elspeth love her before they told her. Tommy begged her to let him tell his sister at once; but she remained obdurate, so anxious was she that her happiness, when revealed, should bring only happiness to others. There had not come to Grizel yet the longing to be recognized as his by the world. This love was so beautiful and precious to her that there was an added joy in sharing the dear secret with him alone; it was a live thing that might escape if she let anyone but him look between the fingers that held it.
The crowning glory of loving and being loved is that the pair make no real progress; however far they have advanced into the enchanted land during the day, they must start again from the frontier next morning. Last night they had dredged the lovers' lexicon for superlatives and not even blushed; to-day is that the heavens cracking or merely someone whispering "dear"? All this was very strange and wonderful to Grizel. She had never been so young in the days when she was a little girl.
"I can never be quite so happy again!" she had said, with a wistful smile, on the night of nights; but early morn, the time of the day that loves maidens best, retold her the delicious secret as it kissed her on the eyes, and her first impulse was to hurry to Tommy. When joy or sorrow came to her now, her first impulse was to hurry with it to him.
Was he still the same, quite the same? She, whom love had made a child of, asked it fearfully, as if to gaze upon him openly just at first might be blinding; and he pretended not to understand. "The same as what, Grizel?"
"Are you still--what I think you?"
"Ah, Grizel, not at all what you think me."
"But you do?"
"Coward! You are afraid to say the word. But I do!"
"You don't ask whether I do!"
"Why? Is it because you are so sure of me?"
He nodded, and she said it was cruel of him.
"You don't mean that, Grizel."
"Don't I?" She was delighted that he knew it.
"No; you mean that you like me to be sure of it."
"But I want to be sure of it myself." "You are. That was why you asked me if I loved you. Had you not been sure of it you would not have asked."
"How clever you are!" she said gleefully, and caressed a button of his velvet coat. "But you don't know what that means! It does not mean that I love you--not merely that."
"No; it means that you are glad I know you so well. It is an ecstasy to you, is it not, to feel that I know you so well?"
"It is sweet," she said. She asked curiously: "What did you do last night, after you left me? I can't guess, though I daresay you can guess what I did."
"You put the glove under your pillow, Grizel." (She had got the precious glove.)
"However could you guess!"
"It has often lain under my own."
"Oh!" said Grizel, breathless.
"Could you not guess even that?"
"I wanted to be sure. Did it do anything strange when you had it there?"
"I used to hear its heart beating."
"Yes, exactly! But this is still more remarkable. I put it away at last in my sweetest drawer, and when I woke in the morning it was under my pillow again. You could never have guessed that."
"Easily. It often did the same thing with me." "Story-teller! But what did you do when you went home?"
He could not have answered that exhaustively, even if he would, for his actions had been as contradictory as his emotions. He had feared even while he exulted, and exulted when plunged deep in fears. There had been quite a procession of Tommies all through the night; one of them had been a very miserable man, and the only thing he had been sure of was that he must be true to Grizel. But in so far as he did answer he told the truth.
"I went for a stroll among the stars," he said. "I don't know when I got to bed. I have found a way of reaching the stars.