D'Rubiera wrote freely of his movements and plans, and of his son, but made no reference to his feelings, and did not mention the past, or any future beyond his travels.
Light as a gazelle she rushed into his embrace, pressing her cheek to his. "Oh, my soldier! my soldier!" she murmured. "My soldier and my Love!" "What a circuit I have made to reach you!" D'Rubiera said at length, holding her back at arm's length to look at her. "Are you glad to have me back, signora duchessa? Are you happy, my red rose?"
As at first, so now, and so forever, without you I fall, D'Rubiera." That evening Mr. Churchill dined with his cousin and Mrs. Graham at their hotel, and afterward sat with his cousin in their balcony. He found Edith wonderfully improved. She was either prettier, or her educated taste made her look so. She knew how to dress now, and her manner was better.
"Would you like to be a missionary, little spring?" Aurora asked, bending toward it. "Many will call you blessed, and the image of your Master will forever look down upon you." The artist looked at her in surprise and smiling admiration. He had found her a very dignified lady, and this unexpected turn reminded him that she was a poetess as well as a duchess. "What does it say?" D'Rubiera asked.
As in a dream, as though they were indeed being sucked up through the blue unsteady air, Aurora tried to pull the locket from her bosom, and desisted, for, throwing aside the faded leaf, D'Rubiera extended his arms with an "Aurora!" which held all pleading and all command, all passion and all delight, that love can give to the human voice.
When I ended they crossed their swords above my head, D'Rubiera and General Pampara. What did I sing? I wish I could remember." She was so absorbed that a step crossing the next room failed to attract her attention. She did not even hear the light tap at the door. But when it opened, and some one entered, closing the door behind him, she turned abruptly and faced the intruder, fully conscious now.
He saw Aurora but seldom, and always at a distance; but he knew that Venetian society was rejoicing over the engagement, and that the duke was a devoted lover. Once, in passing by, he glanced involuntarily at the windows, and saw a group inside, the sight of which gave him a momentary pang. D'Rubiera seemed to be placing something on Aurora's head, and Mrs. Lindsay clapped her hands.
The duke was, in fact, trying a coronet on his future wife. He had sent for the family jewels, and was to have them reset, and Mrs. Lindsay clapped her hands at seeing the diamonds on Aurora's hair. D'Rubiera was an impatient and peremptory wooer, and he won the day. They were to be married in June; and the Lindsays would stay in Venice a month longer to witness the ceremony.
"At last I can tell you!" she exclaimed. "Do you know who is in Venice, who sent me a note while you were at church, and who will dine with us this evening?" She looked triumphant and joyful. Aurora was silent a moment. "I can guess," she said. "And yet " "D'Rubiera has come!" Madama announced. "What other coming could be so joyful to us?