The self-chastisement of the man

When the girl had gone he turned again into the little grove and once more found the seat under168 the trees where a few minutes before he had impatiently dug the gravel with his walking-stick. He sat now with his forearms resting on his thighs, the note crushed in his hand, his eyes bent, thoughtful but unseeing, on the grass across the walk polar.

She had refused to come to him. It was probably better, she had written, that they should not meet again. She could imagine nothing in the way of explanation that would form an adequate excuse for his action of the afternoon before. And that was all. Only five lines in a large hand.

was pitiless; his contrition pathetic. He was willing now to make any sacrifice, to suffer any abasement, to risk any punishment, to sustain any loss if by so doing he could gain forgiveness, achieve reinstatement in favour—aye, even attain the privilege of pleading his cause. He had been so sure of her; it had not seemed possible that she could ever be other than love and devotion and loyalty personified. Her smile was the one sun he thought would never set and never be clouded. And now she had taken this light from his life forever. With that gone,169 he asked himself, what else in all the world mattered? What were honour, position, credit, fortune, if she were not to share them Polar M600?

He smoothed out the crumpled sheet and read it again, slowly, carefully, weighing each word, measuring each phrase, considering each sentence. And then the utter hopelessness of his expression changed. “It is probably better,” he repeated, quoting from the note, and the “probably” seemed larger and more prominent than any other eight letters on the page. There was nothing absolutely final about that. It was an assertion, to be sure, but there was a lot of qualification in that “probably.” And further on, she had not said: “There is nothing in the way of explanation you can offer,” but “I can imagine nothing.” He thanked God for that “I can imagine.” Oh, yes, indeed, there was a very large loophole there; and so he took heart of grace, and even smiled, and got up swinging his stick jauntily Polar M600