"The fourteenth of October"--clever Lord Airlie, by some system of calculation known only to himself, persuaded Beatrice that that was the "latter end of the month."
"Not another word," he said, gayly. "I will go and tell Lord Earle. Do not say afterward that you have changed your mind, as many ladies do. Beatrice, say to me, 'Hubert, I promise to marry you on the fourteenth of October.'"
She repeated the words after him.
"It will be almost winter," he added; "the flowers will have faded, the leaves will have fallen from the trees; yet no summer day will ever be so bright to me as that."
She watched him quit the room, and a long, low cry came from her lips. Would it ever be? She went to the window and looked at the trees. When the green leaves lay dead she would be Lord Airlie's wife, or would the dark cloud of shame and sorrow have fallen, hiding her forever from his sight?
Ah, if she had been more prudent! How tame and foolish, how distasteful the romance she had once thought delightful seemed now! If she had but told all to Lord Earle!
It was too late now! Yet, despite the deadly fear that lay at her heart, Beatrice still felt something like hope. Hope is the last thing to die in the human breast--it was not yet dead in hers.
At least for that one evening--the first after Lord Airlie's return--she would be happy. She would throw the dark shadow away from her, forget it, and enjoy her lover's society. He could see smiles on her face, and hear bright words such as he loved. Let the morrow bring what it would, she would be happy that night. And she kept her word.