"Oh, I'd like to go out, Mrs. Carey," she said, rather acidly.
"After dinner walk a mile, after supper rest a while," said the Vicar.
"Your aunt is very nice, but she gets on my nerves sometimes," said Miss Wilkinson, as soon as they closed the side-door behind them.
Philip threw away the cigarette he had just lighted, and flung his arms round her. She tried to push him away.
"You promised you'd be good, Philip."
"You didn't think I was going to keep a promise like that?"
"Not so near the house, Philip," she said. "Supposing someone should come out suddenly?"
He led her to the kitchen garden where no one was likely to come, and this time Miss Wilkinson did not think of earwigs. He kissed her passionately. It was one of the things that puzzled him that he did not like her at all in the morning, and only moderately in the afternoon, but at night the touch of her hand thrilled him. He said things that he would never have thought himself capable of saying; he could certainly never have said them in the broad light of day; and he listened to himself with wonder and satisfaction.
"How beautifully you make love," she said.
That was what he thought himself.
"Oh, if I could only say all the things that burn my heart!" he murmured passionately.
It was splendid. It was the most thrilling game he had ever played; and the wonderful thing was that he felt almost all he said. It was only that he exaggerated a little. He was tremendously interested and excited in the effect he could see it had on her. It was obviously with an effort that at last she suggested going in.
"Oh, don't go yet," he cried.
"I must," she muttered. "I'm frightened."
He had a sudden intuition what was the right thing to do then.
"I can't go in yet. I shall stay here and think. My cheeks are burning. I want the night-air. Good-night."
He held out his hand seriously, and she took it in silence. He thought she stifled a sob. Oh, it was magnificent! When, after a decent interval during which he had been rather bored in the dark garden by himself, he went in he found that Miss Wilkinson had already gone to bed.
After that things were different between them. The next day and the day after Philip showed himself an eager lover. He was deliciously flattered to discover that Miss Wilkinson was in love with him: she told him so in English, and she told him so in French. She paid him compliments. No one had ever informed him before that his eyes were charming and that he had a sensual mouth. He had never bothered much about his personal appearance, but now, when occasion presented, he looked at himself in the glass with satisfaction. When he kissed her it was wonderful to feel the passion that seemed to thrill her soul. He kissed her a good deal, for he found it easier to do that than to say the things he instinctively felt she expected of him. It still made him feel a fool to say he worshipped her. He wished there were someone to whom he could boast a little, and he would willingly have discussed minute points of his conduct. Sometimes she said things that were enigmatic, and he was puzzled. He wished Hayward had been there so that he could ask him what he thought she meant, and what he had better do next. He could
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