XII
GOING EAST

HE had not been on his knees many minutes before they suffered from reaction. To kneel there comforting Fleur brought him a growing discomfort. He believed her to-night, as he had not believed her for months past. But what was Wilfrid doing? Where wandering? The face at the window--face without voice, without attempt to reach her! Michael ached in that illegitimate organ the heart. Withdrawing his arms, he stood up.

"Would you like me to have a look for him? If it's all over--he might--I might-----"

Fleur, too, stood up. She was calm enough now.

"Yes, I'll go to bed." With Ting-a-ling in her arms, she went to the door, her face, between the dog's chestnut fur and her own, was very pale, very still.

"By the way," she said, "this is my second no go, Michael; I suppose it means-----"

Michael gasped. Currents of emotion, welling, ebbing, swirling, rendered him incapable of speech.

"The night of the balloon," she said: "Do you mind?"

"Mind? Good God! Mind!"

"That's all right, then. I don't. Good night!"

She was gone. Without reason, Michael thought: 'In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.' And he stood, as if congealed, overcome by an uncontrollable sense of solidity. A child coming! It was as though the bark of his being, tossed and drifted, suddenly rode tethered--anchor down. He turned and tore at the curtains. Night of stars! Wonderful world! Jolly--jolly! And--Wilfrid! He flattened his

-214-

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