Today, all day, I rode upon the down
‘Are you ready to go back?’ she asked.
‘It is strange,’ he said.
‘That you are English.’
‘I know little of English women. Before the war I was too young to know them, and since then I have not met them, of course. There are the conventions, naturally – one knows what one should expect of an English woman, as of a German or a French.’
‘I’m surprised that you put trust in conventions of that kind.’
‘That is what is strange. At first, you and Heather both seemed the conventional English woman – you especially. And, with Heather, to know her is to find her more and more of the pattern of expectation. But with you it is not so.’
‘No. It is …’ He broke off, hesitating. ‘I think you are English enough to dislike extravagances of speech. But it is as though you were a flower, coming to bloom in our Austrian sunshine.’
She said awkwardly: ‘Thank you.’
He smiled. ‘Yes, that is English! Shall we return now?’ As they moved off, he added: ‘My horse a thing of wings, myself a god.’
‘I beg your pardon?’
‘Do you not know it?’ She shook her head. ‘It is from one of your English poems. It tells of a man who rides on St. Valentine’s Day, and sees everywhere the face of his beloved.’
Their horses trotted back through the trees. Ahead, in the distance, she could see the square elegance of the Schloss.
‘Today, all day, I rode upon the down,’ she quoted softly.
‘Yes! Then you do know it?’
‘No. Someone recited it to me once – a long time ago.’
‘It is a poem of great beauty. I am very fond of English poetry.’
‘I’m afraid I don’t know much poetry.’