She was taken in to dinner by a curate in the neighbourhood -- to whom she endeavoured to make herself very pleasant, while the Colonel sat at her other side. The curate had a good deal to say as to lawn tennis. If the weather remained as it was, it was thought that they could all play lawn tennis on the Tuesday -- when there would be no hunting. The curate was a pleasant young fellow, and Ayala devoted herself to him and to their joint hopes for next Tuesday. Colonel Stubbs never once attempted to interfere with the curate's opportunity. There was Lady Rufford on the other side of him, and to Lady Rufford he said all that he did say during dinner. At one period of the repast she was more than generally lively, because she felt herself called upon to warn her husband that an attack of the gout was imminent, and would be certainly produced instantaneously if he could not deny himself the delight of a certain dish which was going the round of the table. His lordship smiled and denied himself -- thinking, as he did so, whether another wife, plus the gout, would or would not have been better for him. All this either amused Colonel Stubbs sufficiently, or else made him so thoughtful, that he made no attempt to interfere with the curate. In the evening there was again music -- which resulted in a declaration made upstairs by Sir Harry to his wife that that wife of Rufford's was a confounded bore. "We all knew that, my dear, as soon as he married her," said Lady Albury.
"Because he wanted a wife to look after himself, and not to amuse his friends. The wonder used to be that he had done so well." Not a word had there been -- not a word, since that sound of "Ayala" had fallen upon her ears. No -- he was not handsome, and his name was Jonathan Stubbs -- but surely no voice so sweet had ever fallen from a man's lips! So she sat and dreamed far into the night. He, the Angel of Light, would certainly have a sweeter voice! That was an attribute without which no angel could be angelic! As to the face and the name, that would not perhaps signify. But he must have an intellect high soaring, a soul tuned to music, and a mind versed in nothing but great matters. He might be an artist, or more probably a poet -- or perhaps a musician. Yet she had read of poets, artists, and musicians, who had misused their wives, been fond of money, and had perhaps been drunkards. The Angel of Light must have the gifts, and must certainly be without the vices.
The next day was Sunday and they all went to church. In the afternoon they, as many of them as pleased, were to walk as far as Gobblegoose Wood, which was only three miles from the house. They could not hunt and therefore they must go to the very scene of the late contest and again discuss it there. Sir Harry and the Captain would walk and so would Ayala and Nina and some others. Lord Rufford did not like walking, and Lady Rufford would stay at home to console him. Ayala used her little wiles to keep herself in close company with Nina; but the Colonel's wiles were more effective -- and then, perhaps, Nina assisted the Colonel rather than Ayala. It came to pass that before they had left Gobblegoose Wood Ayala and the Colonel were together. When it was so he did not beat about the bush for a moment longer. He had fixed his opportunity for himself and he put it to use at once. "Ayala," he said, "am I to have any other answer?"
"Nay, my dearest -- my own, own dearest as I fain would have you -- who shall say what answer but you? Ayala, you know that I love you!"
"I thought you had given it up."
"Given it up. Never -- never! Does a man give up his joy -- the pride of his life -- the one only delight on which his heart has set itself! No, my darling, I have not given it up. Because you would not have it as I wished when I first spoke to you, I have not gone on troubling you. I thought I would wait till you were used again to the look of me, and to my voice. I shall never give it up, Ayala. When you came into the room that night with your new frock on -- " Then he paused, and she glanced round upon him, and saw that a tear again was in his eye. "When you came in and curtseyed to Sir Harry I could hardly keep within myself because I thought you were so beautiful."
"It was the new gown which he had given me."
"No, my pet -- no! You may add a grace to a dress, but it can do but little for you. It was the little motion, the little word, the light in your eye! It twinkles at me sometimes when you glance about, so that I do not know whether it is meant for me or not. I fear that it is never meant for me."