'You look like a picture' Walter says and grimaces at the commonness of the phrase. 'Like one of the renaissance saints in paintings…it's that colour of blue you know. It suits you.'
Una blushes and he thinks that colour suits her too.
'Or something out of Spencer, something elfin and midnight-kissed, not Coleridge's Christabel, that goes wrong. It's a marvellous poem. Do you know it?'
She says she doesn't.
'Remind me to read it out to you. It suits being read aloud. Will you come dance?'
She laughs and says, 'you know I can't.'
She does not seem to know where to look, and settles on her hands. Of course she is cherishing the compliments, and the notice that comes with them. She just wishes they didn't sound so terribly affectionate, he would talk to Rilla this way, she knows, flatter her this way too.
'I'm sure you're good at it,' Walter persists.
'You must keep time better than any of the girls there,' and he gestures at the dancing couples.
Una is trying to remember why she let Faith talk her into coming out this evening. Probably for just this sort of conversation, only she knows he can't possibly mean it and anyway, she really can't dance, she hasn't made that up.
'People would talk,' she says worrying a crease in her dress.
'All right, but you owe me a waltz,' he says, and he laughs as he says it.
She does not expect him to follow this through, and so is surprised when, on one of those curious afternoons where it is just the two of them in Rainbow Valley, he reminds her.
'You still owe me a waltz.'
'Not here?' This time she is laughing.
'There's no one here to talk,' he says.
'No-o, no music either.' It is a lovely autumnal day, cool and crisp.
'There's an Aeolian harp,' he says and motions to the bells up in the tree lovers.
This is a piece of Coleridge she does know, he read it to them as children and she stored it away in the inner sanctum of her heart along with 'this Lime Tree Bower,' 'On the Eve of St Agnes' and 'The Sweet Dove Died.'
'All right,' she says and acquiesces, almost reluctantly.
In an effort to cover her own mixture of confusion and pleasure she says, 'I start to see why Susan says you talk nonsense sometimes.'
He laughs. 'Do you think so?' and takes her in his arms, waltzing in waltz time quite expertly. The internal metronome Rosemary has instilled in her over the years sets itself going, one-two-three, one-two-three, round and round while he marvels at how easy it is to lead her, how he only has to touch her and she follows.
It is the sound of laughter, cutting across the bells, that brings her back into herself with a jolt, and she starts, like the child in 'Erlkönig,' he thinks, though of course he read it in English.
But it is as well she has, because within moments the others are tumbling down the path, Faith and Jem at the head, Rilla a little ways behind them. And while it has been a pleasant interlude, to borrow Una's phrase, 'people would talk.'