“But no one dares.”
“That is no reason.”
“It would be—oh! it would be so romantic and strange. If only it were possible.”
“Why not possible?”
“There are so many things. Think of all the things we have, things that we should miss.”
“Should we miss them? After all, the life we lead is very unreal—very artificial.” He began to expand his idea, and as he warmed to his exposition the fantastic quality of his first proposal faded away.
She thought. “But I have heard of prowlers—escaped criminals.”
He nodded. He hesitated over his answer because he thought it sounded boyish. He blushed. “I could get some one I know to make me a sword.”
She looked at him with enthusiasm growing in her eyes. She had heard of swords, had seen one in a museum; she thought of those ancient days when men wore them as a common thing. His suggestion seemed an impossible dream to her, and perhaps for that reason she was eager for more detail. And inventing for the most part as he went along, he told her, how they might live in the country as the old-world people had done. With every detail her interest grew, for she was one of those girls for whom romance and adventure have a fascination.
His suggestion seemed, I say, an impossible dream to her on that day, but the next day they talked about it again, and it was strangely less impossible.
“At first we should take food,” said Denton. “We could carry food for ten or twelve days.” It was an age of compact artificial nourishment, and such a provision had none of the unwieldy suggestion it would have had in the nineteenth century.
“But—until our house,” she asked—”until it was ready, where should we sleep?”
“It is summer.”
“But … What do you mean?”
“There was a time when there were no houses in the world; when all mankind slept always in the open air.”
“But for us! The emptiness! No walls—no ceiling!”
“Dear,” he said, “in London you have many beautiful ceilings. Artists paint them and stud them with lights. But I have seen a ceiling more beautiful than any in London… .”
“It is the ceiling under which we two would be alone… .”
“You mean… ?”
“Dear,” he said, “it is something the world has forgotten. It is Heaven and all the host of stars.”
Each time they talked the thing seemed more possible and more desirable to them. In a week or so it was quite possible. Another week, and it was the inevitable thing they had to do. A great enthusiasm for the country seized hold of them and possessed them. The sordid tumult of the town, they said, overwhelmed them. They marvelled that this