‘If only it could be’.
‘So many if only’s.’ He contracted his arm,held her a little closer. ‘It’s so ironic. You read about Tristan and Yseult. Lying in the forest with a sword between them. Those dotty old medieval people. All that nonsense about chastity. And then…’She pulled away and stood by the gatepost, four or five feet from him.
‘Please don’t cry.’
‘It’s all right, David. Just let me be a second.’ She said, ‘and please don’t say anything I understand.’
He searched for words, but found none; or none that explained him. Once again he felt hurtled forward-beyond the sex, the fancying, to where-her word-one glimpsed… and against that there rose a confrontation ha had once analysed, the focus of that same Pisanello masterpiece, not the greatest but perhaps the most haunting and mysterious in all European art, that had come casually up with the old man earlier that evening: the extraordinary averted and lost eyes of the patron saint of chivalry, the implacably resentful stare of the sacrificial and to-be-saved princess of Trebizond. She had Beth’s face now. He read meanings he had never seen before.
The slight figure of the girl cast as dragon turned, a small smile on her face. She held out a hand. ‘Shall we pretend this never happened?’
He took the hand and they began to walk back towards the house.