Part 6 out of 6
needful--absolutely and imperatively needful that I get away without
her recognising me, or knowing who I am.'
'She does not know you now. She has not seen you yet.'
'That is why I hoped to get away in time; before she should recognise
me. If I stay quiet and do all you wish, will you help me?'
'I will! And what then?'
'When I am well, if it should be so, I shall steal away, this time
clothed, and disappear out of her life without her knowing. She may
think it ungrateful that one whom she has treated so well should
behave so badly. But that can't be helped. It is the lesser evil of
'And I must abet you? All right! I will do it; though you must
forgive me if you should ever hear that I have abused you and said
bad things of you. It will have to be all in the day's work if I am
not ultimately to give you away. I must take steps at once to keep
her from seeing you. I shall have to invent some story; some new
kind of dangerous disease, perhaps. I shall stay here and nurse you
myself!' Harold spoke in joyful gratitude:
'Oh, you ARE good. But can you spare the time? How long will it all
'Some weeks! Perhaps!' He paused as if thinking. 'Perhaps in a
month's time I shall unbandage your eyes. You will then see; or . .
'I understand! I shall be patient!'
In the morning Mr. Hilton in reporting to Lady de Lannoy told her
that he considered it would be necessary to keep his patient very
quiet, both in mind and body. In the course of the conversation he
'Anything which might upset him must be studiously avoided. He is
not an easy patient to deal with; he doesn't like people to go near
him. I think, therefore, it will be well if even you do not see him.
He seems to have an odd distrust of people, especially of women. It
may be that he is fretful in his blindness, which is in itself so
trying to a strong man. But besides, the treatment is not calculated
to have a very buoyant effect. It is apt to make a man fretful to
lie in the dark, and know that he has to do so for indefinite weeks.
Pilocarpin, and salicylate of soda, and mercury do not tend towards
cheerfulness. Nor do blisters on the forehead add to the content of
'I quite understand,' said Stephen, 'and I will be careful not to go
near him till he is well. Please God! it may bring him back his
sight. Thank you a thousand times for your determination to stay
So it was that for more than two weeks Harold was kept all alone. No
one attended him but the Doctor. He slept in the patient's room for
the whole of the first week, and never had him out of sight for more
than a few minutes at a time. He was then able to leave him alone
for longer periods, and settled himself in the bedroom next to him.
Every hour or two he would visit him. Occasionally he would be away
for half a day, but never for more. Stephen rigidly observed the
Doctor's advice herself, and gave strict orders that his instructions
were to be obeyed.
Harold himself went through a period of mental suffering. It was
agony to him to think of Stephen being so near at hand, and yet not
to be able to see her, or even to hear her voice. All the pain of
his loss of her affection seemed to crowd back on him, and with it
the new need of escaping from her unknown. More than ever he felt it
would not do that she should ever learn his identity. Her pity for
him, and possibly her woman's regard for a man's effort in time of
stress, might lead through the gates of her own self-sacrifice to his
restoration to his old place in her affections. Nay! it could not be
his old place; for at the close of those days she had learned of his
love for her.
CHAPTER XXXV--A CRY
The third week had nearly elapsed, and as yet no one was allowed to
see the patient.
For a time Stephen was inclined to be chagrined. It is not pleasant
to have even the most generous and benevolent intentions thwarted;
and she had set her mind on making much of this man whom fate and his
own bravery had thrown athwart her life. But in these days Stephen
was in some ways a changed woman. She had so much that she wished to
forget and that she would have given worlds to recall, that she could
not bear even to think of any militant or even questioning attitude.
She even began to take herself to task more seriously than she had
ever done with regard to social and conventional duties. When she
found her house full of so many and so varied guests, it was borne in
upon her that such a position as her own, with such consequent
duties, called for the presence of some elder person of her own sex
and of her own class.
No better proof of Stephen's intellectual process and its result
could be adduced than her first act of recognition: she summoned an
elderly lady to live with her and matronise her house. This lady,
the widow of a distant relation, complied with all the charted
requirements of respectability, and had what to Stephen's eyes was a
positive gift: that of minding her own business and not interfering
in any matter whatever. Lady de Lannoy, she felt, was her own master
and quite able to take care of herself. Her own presence was all
that convention required. So she limited herself to this duty, with
admirable result to all, herself included. After a few days Stephen
would almost forget that she was present.
Mr. Hilton kept bravely to his undertaking. He never gave even a
hint of his hopes of the restoration of sight; and he was so
assiduous in his attention that there arose no opportunity of
accidental discovery of the secret. He knew that when the time did
come he would find himself in a very unpleasant situation. Want of
confidence, and even of intentional deceit, might be attributed to
him; and he would not be able to deny nor explain. He was, however;
determined to stick to his word. If he could but save his patient's
sight he would be satisfied.
But to Stephen all the mystery seemed to grow out of its first
shadowy importance into something real. There was coming to her a
vague idea that she would do well not to manifest any concern, any
anxiety, any curiosity. Instinct was at work; she was content to
trust it, and wait.
One forenoon she received by messenger a letter which interested her
much. So much that at first she was unwilling to show it to anyone,
and took it to her own boudoir to read over again in privacy. She
had a sort of feeling of expectancy with regard to it; such as
sensitive natures feel before a thunderstorm. The letter was natural
enough in itself. It was dated that morning from Varilands, a
neighbouring estate which marched with Lannoy to the south.
'My Dear Madam,--Will you pardon me a great liberty, and allow my
little girl and me to come to see you to-day? I shall explain when
we meet. When I say that we are Americans and have come seven
thousand miles for the purpose, you will, I am sure, understand that
it is no common interest which has brought us, and it will be the
excuse for our eagerness. I should write you more fully, but as the
matter is a confidential one I thought it would be better to speak.
We shall be doubly grateful if you will have the kindness to see us
alone. I write as a mother in making this appeal to your kindness;
for my child--she is only a little over eight years old--has the
matter so deeply in her heart that any disappointment or undue delay
would I fear affect her health. We presume to take your kindness for
granted and will call a little before twelve o'clock.
'I may perhaps say (in case you should feel any hesitation as to my
bona fides) that my husband purchased some years ago this estate. We
were to have come here to live in the early summer, but were kept in
the West by some important business of his.
'Believe me, yours sincerely,
Stephen had, of course, no hesitation as to receiving the lady. Even
had there been objection, the curiosity she had in common with her
kind would have swept difficulties aside. She gave orders that when
Mrs. Stonehouse arrived with her daughter they were to be shown at
once into the Mandarin drawing-room. That they would probably stay
for lunch. She would see them alone.
A little before twelve o'clock Mrs. Stonehouse and Pearl arrived, and
were shown into the room where Lady de Lannoy awaited them. The high
sun, streaming in from the side, shone on her beautiful hair, making
it look like living gold. When the Americans came in they were for
an instant entranced by her beauty. One glance at Mrs. Stonehouse's
sweet sympathetic face was enough to establish her in Stephen's good
graces forever. As for Pearl, she was like one who has unexpectedly
seen a fairy or a goddess. She had been keeping guardedly behind her
mother, but on the instant she came out fearlessly into the open.
Stephen advanced quickly and shook hands with Mrs. Stonehouse, saying
'I am so glad you have come. I am honoured in being trusted.'
'Thank you so much, Lady de Lannoy. I felt that you would not mind,
especially when you know why we came. Indeed I had no choice. Pearl
insisted on it; and when Pearl is urgent--we who love her have all to
give way. This is Pearl!'
In an instant Stephen was on her knees by the beautiful child.
The red rosebud of a mouth was raised to her kiss, and the little
arms went lovingly round her neck and clung to her. As the mother
looked on delighted she thought she had never seen a more beautiful
sight. The two faces so different, and yet with so much in common.
The red hair and the flaxen, both tints of gold. The fine colour of
each heightened to a bright flush in their eagerness. Stephen was so
little used to children, and yet loved them so, that all the
womanhood in her, which is possible motherhood, went out in an
instant to the lovely eager child. She felt the keenest pleasure
when the little thing, having rubbed her silk-gloved palms over her
face, and then holding her away so that she could see her many
beauties, whispered in her ear:
'How pretty you are!'
'You darling!' whispered Stephen in reply. 'We must love each other
very much, you and I!'
When the two ladies had sat down, Stephen holding Pearl in her lap,
Mrs. Stonehouse said:
'I suppose you have wondered, Lady de Lannoy, what has brought us
'Indeed I was very much interested.'
'Then I had better tell you all from the beginning so that you may
understand.' She proceeded to give the details of the meeting with
Mr. Robinson on the Scoriac. Of how Pearl took to him and insisted
on making him her special friend; of the terrible incident of her
being swept overboard, and of the gallant rescue. Mrs. Stonehouse
was much moved as she spoke. All that fearful time, of which the
minutes had seemed years of agony, came back to her so vividly at
times that she could hardly speak. Pearl listened too; all
eagerness, but without fear. Stephen was greatly moved and held
Pearl close to her all the time, as though protecting her. When the
mother spoke of her feeling when she saw the brave man struggling up
and down the giant waves, and now and again losing sight of him in
the trough of the sea, she put out one hand and held the mother's
with a grasp which vibrated in sympathy, whilst the great tears
welled over in her eyes and ran down her cheeks. Pearl, watching her
keenly, said nothing, but taking her tiny cambric handkerchief from
her pocket silently wiped the tears away, and clung all the tighter.
It was her turn to protect now!
Pearl's own time for tears came when her mother began to tell this
new and sympathetic friend of how she became so much attached to her
rescuer that when she knew he would not be coming to the West with
them, but going off to the wildest region of the far North, her
health became impaired; and that it was only when Mr. Robinson
promised to come back to see her within three years that she was at
all comforted. And how, ever since, she had held the man in her
heart and thought of him every day; sleeping as well as waking, for
he was a factor in her dreams!
Stephen was more than ever moved, for the child's constancy touched
her as well as her grief. She strained the little thing in her
strong young arms, as though the fervency of her grasp would bring
belief and comfort; as it did. She in her turn dried the others'
eyes. Then Mrs. Stonehouse went on with her story:
'We were at Banff, high up in the Rockies, when we read of the
burning and wrecking of the Dominion. It is, as you know, a Montreal
boat of the Allan Line; so that naturally there was a full
telegraphic report in all the Canadian papers. When we read of the
brave man who swam ashore with the line and who was unable to reach
the port but swam out across the bay, Pearl took it for granted that
it must have been "The Man," as she always called Mr. Robinson. When
by the next paper we learned that the man's name WAS Robinson nothing
would convince her that it was not HER Mr. Robinson. My husband, I
may tell you, had firmly come to the same conclusion. He had ever
since the rescue of our child always looked for any news from Alaska,
whither he knew Mr. Robinson had gone. He learned that up away in
the very far North a new goldfield had been discovered by a man of
the same name; and that a new town, Robinson City, began to grow up
in the wilderness, where the condition of life from the cold was a
new experience to even the most hardy gold miners. Then we began to
think that the young hero who had so gallantly saved our darling was
meeting some of his reward . . . !'
She paused, her voice breaking. Stephen was in a glow of holy
feeling. Gladness, joy, gratitude, enthusiasm; she knew not which.
It all seemed like a noble dream which was coming true. Mrs.
Stonehouse went on:-
'From Californian papers of last month we learned that Robinson, of
Robinson City, had sailed for San Francisco, but had disappeared when
the ship touched at Portland; and then the whole chain of his
identity seemed complete. Nothing would satisfy Pearl but that we
should come at once to England and see "The Man," who was wounded and
blind, and do what we could for him. Her father could not then come
himself; he had important work on hand which he could not leave
without some preparation. But he is following us and may be here at
'And now, we want you to help us, Lady de Lannoy. We are not sure
yet of the identity of Mr. Robinson, but we shall know the instant we
see him, or hear his voice. We have learned that he is still here.
Won't you let us? Do let us see him as soon as ever you can!' There
was a pleading tone in her voice which alone would have moved
Stephen, even had she not been wrought up already by the glowing
fervour of her new friend.
But she paused. She did not know what to say; how to tell them that
as yet she herself knew nothing. She, too, in the depths of her own
heart knew--KNEW--that it was the same Robinson. And she also knew
that both identities were one with another. The beating of her heart
and the wild surging of her blood told her all. She was afraid to
speak lest her voice should betray her.
She could not even think. She would have to be alone for that.
Mrs. Stonehouse, with the wisdom and power of age, waited, suspending
judgment. But Pearl was in a fever of anxiety; she could imagine
nothing which could keep her away from The Man. But she saw that
there was some difficulty, some cause of delay. So she too added her
pleading. Putting her mouth close to Lady de Lannoy's ear she
whispered very faintly, very caressingly:
'What is your name? Your own name? Your very own name?'
'Stephen, my darling!'
'Oh, won't you let us see The Man, Stephen; dear Stephen! I love him
so; and I do SO want to see him. It is ages till I see him! Won't
you let me? I shall be so good--Stephen!' And she strained her
closer in her little arms and kissed her all over face, cheeks and
forehead and eyes and mouth wooingly. Stephen returned the embrace
and the kisses, but remained silent a little longer. Then she found
'I hardly know what to say. Believe me, I should--I shall, do all I
can; but the fact is that I am not in authority. The Doctor has
taken him in charge and will not let anyone go near him: He will not
even have a nurse, but watches and attends to him himself. He says
it might be fatal if anything should occur to agitate him. Why, even
I am not allowed to see him!'
'Haven't you seen him yet at all; ever, ever, Stephen?' asked Pearl,
all her timidity gone. Stephen smiled--a wan smile it was, as she
'I saw him in the water, but it was too far away to distinguish. And
it was only by firelight.'
'Oh yes, I know,' said Pearl; 'Mother and Daddy told me how you had
burned the house down to give him light. Didn't you want to see him
more after that? I should!' Stephen drew the impulsive child closer
as she answered:
'Indeed I did, dear. But I had to think of what was good for him. I
went to his room the next day when he was awake, and the Doctor let
me come in for only a moment.'
'Well! What did you see. Didn't you know him?' She forgot that the
other did not know him from her point of view. But the question went
through Stephen's heart like a sword. What would she not have given
to have known him! What would she not give to know him now! . . .
She spoke mechanically:
'The room was quite dark. It is necessary, the Doctor says, that he
be kept in the dark. I saw only a big beard, partly burned away by
the fire; and a great bandage which covered his eyes!' Pearl's hold
relaxed, she slipped like an eel to the floor and ran over to her
mother. Her new friend was all very well, but no one would do as
well as mother when she was in trouble.
'Oh mother, mother! My Robinson had no beard!' Her mother stroked
her face comfortingly as she answered:
'But, my dear, it is more than two years since you saw him. Two
years and three months, for it was in June that we crossed.' How the
date thrilled Stephen. It verified her assumption.
Mrs. Stonehouse did not notice, but went on:
'His beard would have grown. Men wear beards up in the cold place
where he was.' Pearl kissed her; there was no need for words.
Throwing herself again on Stephen's knees she went on with her
'But didn't you hear him?'
'I heard very little, darling. He was very weak. It was only the
morning after the wreck, and he spoke in a whisper!' Then with an
instinct of self-preservation she added: 'But how could I learn
anything by hearing him when he was a stranger to me? I had never
even heard of Mr. Robinson!'
As she was speaking she found her own ideas, the proofs of her own
conviction growing. This was surely another link in the chain of
proving that all three men were but one. But in such case Harold
must know; must have tried to hide his identity!
She feared, with keen eyes upon her, to pursue the thought. But her
blood began to grow cold and her brain to swim. With an effort she
'Even since then I have not been allowed to go near him. Of course I
must obey orders. I am waiting as patiently as I can. But we must
ask the Doctor if he thinks his patient will see you--will let you
see him--though he will not let me.' This she added with a touch of
what she felt: regret rather than bitter ness. There was no room
for bitterness in her full heart where Harold was concerned.
'Will you ask the Doctor now?' Pearl did not let grass grow under
her feet. For answer Stephen rang the bell, and when a servant
'Is Mr. Hilton in the house?'
'I think not, your Ladyship. He said he was going over to Port
Lannoch. Shall I inquire if he left word at what time he would be
'If you please!' The man returned in a few minutes with the butler,
'Mr. Hilton said, your Ladyship, that he expected to be back by one
o'clock at latest.'
'Please ask him on his arrival if he will kindly come here at once.
Do not let us be disturbed until then.' The butler bowed and
'Now,' said Stephen, 'as we have to wait till our tyrant comes, won't
you tell me all that went on after The Man had left you?' Pearl
brightened up at once. Stephen would have given anything to get away
even for a while. Beliefs and hopes and fears were surging up, till
she felt choking. But the habit of her life, especially her life of
the last two years, gave her self-control. And so she waited, trying
with all her might to follow the child's prattle.
After a long wait Pearl exclaimed: 'Oh! I do wish that Doctor would
come. I want to see The Man!' She was so restless, marching about
the room, that Stephen said:
'Would you like to go out on the balcony, darling; of course if
Mother will let you? It is quite safe, I assure you, Mrs.
Stonehouse. It is wide and open and is just above the flower-
borders, with a stone tail. You can see the road from it by which
Mr. Hilton comes from Port Lannoch. He will be riding.' Pearl
yielded at once to the diversion. It would at any rate be something
to do, to watch. Stephen opened the French window and the child ran
out on the balcony.
When Stephen came back to her seat Mrs. Stonehouse said quietly:
'I am glad she is away for a few minutes. She has been over wrought,
and I am always afraid for her. She is so sensitive. And after all
she is only a baby!'
'She is a darling!' said Stephen impulsively; and she meant it. Mrs.
Stonehouse smiled gratefully as she went on:
'I suppose you noticed what a hold on her imagination that episode of
Mollie Watford at the bank had. Mr. Stonehouse is, as perhaps you
know, a very rich man. He has made his fortune himself, and most
honourably; and we are all very proud of him, and of it. So Pearl
does not think of the money for itself. But the feeling was
everything; she really loves Mr. Robinson; as indeed she ought! He
has done so much for us that it would be a pride and a privilege for
us to show our gratitude. My husband, between ourselves, wanted to
make him his partner. He tells me that, quite independent of our
feeling towards him, he is just the man he wanted. And if indeed it
was he who discovered the Alaskan goldfield and organised and ruled
Robinson City, it is a proof that Mr. Stonehouse's judgment was
sound. Now he is injured, and blind; and our little Pearl loves him.
If indeed he be the man we believe he is, then we may be able to do
something which all his millions cannot buy. He will come to us, and
be as a son to us, and a brother to Pearl. We will be his eyes; and
nothing but love and patience will guide his footsteps!' She paused,
her mouth quivering; then she went on:
'If it is not our Mr. Robinson, then it will be our pleasure to do
all that is necessary for his comfort. If he is a poor man he will
never want . . . It will be a privilege to save so gallant a man from
hardship . . . ' Here she came to a stop.
Stephen too was glad of the pause, for the emotion which the words
and their remembrances evoked was choking her. Had not Harold been
as her own father's son. As her own brother! . . . She turned away,
fearing lest her face should betray her.
All at once Mrs. Stonehouse started to her feet, her face suddenly
white with fear; for a cry had come to their ears. A cry which even
Stephen knew as Pearl's. The mother ran to the window.
The balcony was empty. She came back into the room, and' ran to the
But on the instant a voice that both women knew was heard from
'Help there! Help, I say! The child has fainted. Is there no one
there? And I am blind!'
Harold had been in a state of increasing restlessness. The month of
waiting which Dr. Hilton had laid down for him seemed to wear away
with extraordinary slowness; this was increased by the lack of
companionship, and further by the cutting off of even the little
episodes usual to daily life. His patience, great as it was
naturally and trained as it had been by the years of self-repression,
was beginning to give way. Often and often there came over him a
wild desire to tear off the irksome bandages and try for himself
whether the hopes held out to him were being even partially
justified. He was restrained only by the fear of perpetual
blindness, which came over him in a sort of cold wave at each
reaction. Time, too, added to his fear of discovery; but he could
not but think that his self-sought isolation must be a challenge to
the curiosity of each and all who knew of it. And with all these
disturbing causes came the main one, which never lessened but always
grew: that whatever might happen Stephen would be further from him
than ever. Look at the matter how he would; turn it round in
whatsoever possible or impossible way, he could see no relief to this
For it is in the nature of love that it creates or enlarges its own
pain. If troubles or difficulties there be from natural causes, then
it will exaggerate them into nightmare proportions. But if there be
none, it will create them. Love is in fact the most serious thing
that comes to man; where it exists all else seem as phantoms, or at
best as actualities of lesser degree. During the better part of two
years his troubles had but slept; and as nothing wakes the pangs of
old love better than the sound of a voice, all the old acute pain of
love and the agony that followed its denial were back with him.
Surely he could never, never believe that Stephen did not mean what
she had said to him that morning in the beech grove. All his new
resolution not to hamper her with the burden of a blind and lonely-
hearted man was back to the full.
In such mood had he been that morning. He was additionally disturbed
because the Doctor had gone early to Port Lannoch; and as he was the
only person with whom he could talk, he clung to him with something
of the helpless feeling of a frightened child to its nurse.
The day being full of sunshine the window was open, and only the
dark-green blind which crackled and rustled with every passing breeze
made the darkness of the room. Harold was dressed and lay on a sofa
placed back in the room, where the few rays of light thus entering
could not reach him. His eyes and forehead were bandaged as ever.
For some days the Doctor, who had his own reasons and his own
purpose, had not taken them off; so the feeling of blind helplessness
was doubly upon him. He knew he was blind; and he knew also that if
he were not he could not in his present condition see.
All at once he started up awake. His hearing had in the weeks of
darkness grown abnormally acute, and some trifling sound had recalled
him to himself. It might have been inspiration, but he seemed to be
conscious of some presence in the room.
As he rose from the sofa, with the violent motion of a strong man
startled into unconscious activity, he sent a shock of fear to the
eager child who had strayed into the room through the open window.
Had he presented a normal appearance, she would not have been
frightened. She would have recognised his identity despite the
changes, and have sprung to him so impulsively that she would have
been in his arms before she had time to think. But now all she saw
was a great beard topped with a mass of linen and lint, which
obscured all the rest of the face and seemed in the gloom like a
gigantic and ominous turban.
In her fright she screamed out. He in turn, forgetful for the moment
of his intention of silence, called aloud:
'Who is that?' Pearl, who had been instinctively backing towards the
window by which she had entered, and whose thoughts in her fright had
gone back to her mother--refuge in time of danger--cried out:
'Mother, Mother! It is him! It is The Man!' She would have run
towards him in spite of his forbidding appearance; but the shock had
been too much for her. The little knees trembled and gave way; the
brain reeled; and with a moan she sank on the floor in a swoon.
Harold knew the voice the instant she spoke; there was no need for
the enlightening words
'Pearl! Pearl!' he cried. 'Come to me, darling!' But as he spoke
he heard her moan, and the soft thud of her little body on the thick
carpet. He guessed the truth and groped his way towards where the
sound had been, for he feared lest he might trample upon her in too
great eagerness. Kneeling by her he touched her little feet, and
then felt his way to her face. And as he did so, such is the double
action of the mind, even in the midst of his care the remembrance
swept across his mind of how he had once knelt in just such manner in
an old church by another little senseless form. In his confusion of
mind he lost the direction of the door, and coming to the window
pushed forward the flapping blind and went out on the balcony. He
knew from the freshness of the air and the distant sounds that he was
in the open. This disturbed him, as he wished to find someone who
could attend to the fainting child. But as he had lost the way back
to the room now, he groped along the wall of the Castle with one
hand, whilst he held Pearl securely in the other. As he went he
called out for help.
When he came opposite the window of the Mandarin room Mrs. Stonehouse
saw him; she ran to him and caught Pearl in her arms. She was so
agitated, so lost in concern for the child that she never even
thought to speak to the man whom she had come so far to seek. She
wailed over the child:
'Pearl! Pearl! What is it, darling? It is Mother!' She laid the
girl on the sofa, and taking the flowers out of a glass began to
sprinkle water on the child's face. Harold knew her voice and waited
in patience. Presently the child sighed; the mother, relieved,
thought of other things at last and looked around her.
There was yet another trouble. There on the floor, where she had
slipped down, lay Lady de Lannoy in a swoon. She called out
instinctively, forgetting for the moment that the man was blind, but
feeling all the old confidence which he had won in her heart:
'Oh! Mr. Robinson, help me! Lady de Lannoy has fainted too, and I
do not know what to do!' As she spoke she looked up at him and
remembered his blindness. But she had no time to alter her words;
the instant she had spoken Harold, who had been leaning against the
window-sash, and whose mind was calmer since with his acute hearing
he too had heard Pearl sigh, seemed to leap into the room.
'Where is she? Where is she? Oh, God, now am I blind indeed!'
It gave her a pang to hear him and to see him turn helplessly with
his arms and hands outstretched as though he would feel for her in
Without pause, and under an instinctive and uncontrollable impulse,
he tore the bandages from his eyes. The sun was streaming in. As he
met it his eyes blinked and a cry burst from him; a wild cry whose
joy and surprise pierced even through the shut portals of the
swooning woman's brain. Not for worlds would she ever after have
lost the memory of that sound:
'Light! light! Oh, God! Oh, God! I am not blind!'
But he looked round him still in terrified wonder:
'Where is she? Where is she? I cannot see her! Stephen! Stephen!
where are you?' Mrs. Stonehouse, bewildered, pointed where Stephen's
snow-white face and brilliant hair seemed in the streaming sunlight
like ivory and gold:
'There! There!' He caught her arm mechanically, and putting his
eyes to her wrist, tried to look along her pointed finger. In an
instant he dropped her arm moaning.
'I cannot see her! What is it that is over me? This is worse than
to be blind!' He covered his face with his hands and sobbed.
He felt light strong fingers on his forehead and hands; fingers whose
touch he would have known had they been laid on him were he no longer
quick. A voice whose music he had heard in his dreams for two long
years said softly:
'I am here, Harold! I am here! Oh! do not sob like that; it breaks
my heart to hear you!' He took his hands from his face and held hers
in them, staring intently at her as though his passionate gaze would
win through every obstacle.
That moment he never forgot. Never could forget! He saw the room
all rich in yellow. He saw Pearl, pale but glad-eyed, lying on a
sofa holding the hand of her mother, who stood beside her. He saw
the great high window open, the lines of the covered stone balcony
without, the stretch of green sward all vivid in the sunshine, and
beyond it the blue quivering sea. He saw all but that for which his
very soul longed; without to see which sight itself was valueless . .
. But still he looked, and looked; and Stephen saw in his dark eyes,
though he could not see her, that which made her own eyes fill and
the warm red glow on her face again . . . Then she raised her eyes
again, and the gladness of her beating heart seemed the answer to his
For as he looked he saw, as though emerging from a mist whose
obscurity melted with each instant, what was to him the one face in
all the world. He did not think then of its beauty--that would come
later; and besides no beauty of one born of woman could outmatch the
memorised beauty which had so long held his heart. But that he had
so schooled himself in long months of gloomy despair, he would have
taken her in his arms there and then; and, heedless of the presence
of others, have poured out his full heart to her.
Mrs. Stonehouse saw and understood. So too Pearl, who though a child
was a woman-child; softly they rose up to steal away. But Stephen
saw them; her own instincts, too, told her that her hour had not
come. What she hoped for must come alone! So she called to her
'Don't go! Don't go, Mrs. Stonehouse. You know now that Harold and
I are old friends, though neither of us knew it--till this moment.
We were brought up as . . . almost as brother and sister. Pearl,
isn't it lovely to see your friend . . . to see The Man again?'
She was so happy that she could only express herself, with dignity,
through the happiness of others.
Pearl actually shrieked with joy as she rushed across the room and
flung herself into Harold's arms as he stooped to her. He raised
her; and she kissed him again and again, and put her little hands all
over his face and stroked, very, very gently, his eyes, and said:
'Oh, I am so glad! And so glad your poor eyes are unbind again! May
I call you Harold, too?'
'You darling!' was all he could say as he kissed her, and holding her
in one arm went across and shook hands with Mrs. Stonehouse, who
wrung his hand hard.
There was a little awkwardness in the group, for none of them knew
what would be best to do next. In the midst of it there came a light
knock at the door, and Mr. Hilton entered saying:
'They told me you wished to see me at once--Hulloa!' He rushed
across the room and took Harold by the shoulders, turning his face to
the light. He looked in his eyes long and earnestly, the others
holding their breaths. Presently he said, without relaxing his gaze:
'Did you see mistily at first?'
'Seeing at the periphery; but the centre being opaque?'
'Yes! How did you know? Why, I couldn't see'--see pointing to
Stephen--'Lady de Lannoy; though her face was right in front of me!'
Dr. Hilton took his hands from his patient's shoulders and shook him
warmly by both hands:-
'I am glad, old fellow! It was worth waiting for, wasn't it? But I
say, it was a dangerous thing to take off those bandages before I
permitted. However, it has done no harm! But it was lucky that I
mistrusted your patience and put the time for the experiment a week
later than I thought necessary . . . What is it?' He turned from one
to the other questioningly; there was a look on Harold's face that he
did not quite comprehend.
'H-s-h,' said the latter warningly, 'I'll tell you all about it . . .
The awkward pause was broken by Pearl, who came to the Doctor and
'I must kiss you, you know. It was you who saved The Man's eyes.
Stephen has told me how you watched him!' The Doctor was somewhat
taken aback; as yet he was ignorant of Pearl's existence. However,
he raised the child in his arms and kissed her, saying:
'Thank you, my dear! I did all I could. But he helped much himself;
except at the very last. Don't you ever go and take off bandages, if
you should ever have the misfortune to have them on, without the
doctor's permission!' Pearl nodded her head wisely and then wriggled
out of his arms and came again to Harold, looking up at him
protectingly and saying in an old-fashioned way:
'How are you feeling now? None the worse, I hope, HAROLD!'
The Man lifted her up and kissed her again. When he set her down she
came over to Lady de Lannoy and held up her arms to be lifted:
'And I must kiss you again too, Stephen!' If Lady de Lannoy hadn't
loved the sweet little thing already she would have loved her for
The door was opened, and the butler announced:
'Luncheon is served, your Ladyship.'
After a few days Harold went over to Varilands to stay for a while
with the Stonehouses. Mr. Stonehouse had arrived, and both men were
rejoiced to meet again. The elder never betrayed by word or sign
that he recognised the identity of the other person of the drama of
whom he had told him and who had come so accidentally into his life;
and the younger was grateful to him for it. Harold went almost every
day to Lannoy, and sometimes the Stonehouses went with him; at other
times Stephen paid flying visits to Varilands. She did not make any
effort to detain Harold; she would not for worlds have made a sign
which might influence him. She was full now of that diffidence which
every woman has who loves. She felt that she must wait; must wait
even if the waiting lasted to her grave. She felt, as every woman
does who really loves, that she had found her Master.
And Harold, to whom something of the same diffidence was an old
story, got the idea that her reticence was a part of the same feeling
whose violent expression had sent him out into the wilderness. And
with the thought came the idea of his duty, implied in her father's
dying trust: 'Give her time! . . . Let her choose!' For him the
clock seemed to have stopped for two whole years, and he was back at
the time when the guardianship of his boy life was beginning to yield
to the larger and more selfish guardianship of manhood.
Stephen, noticing that he did not come near her as closely as she
felt he might, and not realising his true reason--for when did love
ever realise the true reason of the bashfulness of love?--felt a
chillness which in turn reacted on her own manner.
And so these two ardent souls, who yearned for each other's love and
the full expression of it, seemed as if they might end after all in
drifting apart. Each thought that their secret was concealed. But
both secrets were already known to Mrs. Stonehouse, who knew nothing;
and to Mr. Stonehouse, who knew everything. Even Pearl had her own
ideas, as was once shown in a confidence when they were alone in
Stephen's bedroom after helping her to finish her dressing, just as
Stephen herself had at a similar age helped her Uncle Gilbert. After
some coy leading up to the subject of pretty dresses, the child
putting her little mouth to the other's ear whispered:
'May I be your bridesmaid, Stephen?' The woman was taken aback; but
she had to speak at once, for the child's eyes were on her:
'Of course you will, darling. But I--I may never be married.'
'You! You must! I know someone who will make you!' Stephen's heart
beat hard and rapidly. The child's talk, though sweet and dear, was
more than embarrassing. With, however, the desire to play with fire,
which is a part of the nature of women, she answered:
'You have some queer ideas, little one, in that pretty knowledge-box
'Oh! he never told me. But I know it all the same! And you know it
too, Stephen!' This was getting too close to be without danger; so
she tried to divert the thought from herself:
'My darling, you may guess about other people, though I don't say you
ought; but you must not guess about me!'
'All right!' then she held up her arms to be lifted on the other's
knee and said:
'I want to whisper to you!' Her voice and manner were so full of
feeling that somehow the other was moved. She bent her head, and
Pearl taking her neck in her little palms, said:
'I thought, oh! long ago, that I would marry him myself. But you
knew him first . . . And he only saved me . . . But you saved him!' .
. . And then she laid her head down on the throbbing bosom, and
sobbed . . .
And Stephen sobbed too.
Before they left the room, Stephen said to her, very gravely, for the
issue might be one of great concern:
'Of course, Pearl dear, our secrets are all between ourselves!'
Pearl crossed her two forefingers and kissed them. But she said
nothing; she had sworn! Stephen went on:
'And, darling, you will remember too that one must never speak or
even think if they can help it about anyone's marrying anyone else
till they say so themselves! What is it, dear, that you are smiling
'I know, Stephen! I musn't take off the bandage till the Doctor says
Stephen smiled and kissed her. Hand in hand, Pearl chattering
merrily, they went down to the drawing-room.
CHAPTER XXXVII--GOLDEN SILENCE
Each day that passed seemed to add to the trouble in the heart of
these young people; to widen the difficulty of expressing themselves.
To Stephen, who had accepted the new condition of things and whose
whole nature had bloomed again under the sunshine of hope, it was the
less intolerable. She had set herself to wait, as had countless
thousands of women before her; and as due proportion will, till the
final cataclysm abolishes earthly unions. But Harold felt the
growth, both positive and negative, as a new torture; and he began to
feel that he would be unable to go through with it. In his heart was
the constant struggle of hope; and in opposition to it the seeming
realisation of every new fancy of evil. That bitter hour, when the
whole of creation was for him turned upside down, was having its sad
effect at last. Had it not been for that horrid remembrance he would
have come to believe enough in himself to put his future to the test.
He would have made an opportunity at which Stephen and himself would
have with the fires of their mutual love burned away the encircling
mist. There are times when a single minute of commonsense would turn
sorrow into joy; and yet that minute, our own natures being the
opposing forces, will be allowed to pass.
Those who loved these young people were much concerned about them.
Mrs. Stonehouse took their trouble so much to heart that she spoke to
her husband about it, seriously advising that one or other of them
should make an effort to bring things in the right way for their
happiness. The woman was sure of the woman's feeling. It is from
men, not women, that women hide their love. By side-glances and
unthinking moments women note and learn. The man knew already, from
his own lips, of the man's passion. But his lips were sealed by his
loyalty; and he said earnestly:
'My dear, we must not interfere. Not now, at any rate; we might
cause them great trouble. I am as sure as you are that they really
love each other. But they must win happiness by themselves and
through themselves alone. Otherwise it would never be to them what
it ought to be; what it might be; what it will be!'
So these friends were silent, and the little tragedy developed.
Harold's patience began to give way under the constant strain of
self-suppression. Stephen tried to hide her love and fear, under the
mask of a gracious calm. This the other took for indifference.
At last there came an hour which was full of new, hopeless agony to
Stephen. She heard Harold, in a fragment of conversation, speak to
Mr. Stonehouse of the need of returning to Alaska. That sounded like
a word of doom. In her inmost heart she knew that Harold loved her;
and had she been free she would have herself spoken the words which
would have drawn the full truth to them both. But how could she do
so, having the remembrance of that other episode; when, without the
reality of love, she had declared herself? . . . Oh! the shame of it
. . . The folly! . . . And Harold knew it all! How could he ever
believe that it was real this time! . . .
By the exercise of that self-restraint which long suffering had
taught her, Stephen so managed to control herself that none of her
guests realised what a blow she had received from a casual word. She
bore herself gallantly till the last moment. After the old fashion
of her youth, she had from the Castle steps seen their departure.
Then she took her way to her own room, and locked herself in. She
did not often, in these days, give way to tears; when she did cry it
was as a luxury, and not from poignant cause. Her deep emotion was
dry-eyed as of old. Now, she did not cry, she sat still, her hands
clasped below her knees, with set white face gazing out on the far-
off sea. For hours she sat there lonely; staring fixedly all the
time, though her thoughts were whirling wildly. At first she had
some vague purpose, which she hoped might eventually work out into a
plan. But thought would not come. Everywhere there was the same
beginning: a wild, burning desire to let Harold understand her
feeling towards him; to blot out, with the conviction of trust and
love, those bitter moments when in the madness of her overstrung
passion she had heaped such insult upon him. Everywhere the same
end: an impasse. He seemingly could not, would not, understand.
She knew now that the man had diffidences, forbearances, self-
judgments and self-denials which made for the suppression, in what he
considered to be her interest, of his own desires. This was tragedy
indeed! Again and again came back the remembrance of that bitter
regret of her Aunt Laetitia, which no happiness and no pain of her
own had ever been able to efface:
'To love; and be helpless! To wait, and wait, and wait; with heart
all aflame! To hope, and hope; till time seemed to have passed away,
and all the world to stand still on your hopeless misery! To know
that a word might open up Heaven; and yet to have to remain mute! To
keep back the glances that could enlighten, to modulate the tones
that might betray! To see all you hoped for passing away . . . !'
At last she seemed to understand the true force of pride; which has
in it a thousand forces of its own, positive, negative, restrainful.
Oh! how blind she had been! How little she had learned from the
miseries that the other woman whom she loved had suffered! How
unsympathetic she had been; how self-engrossed; how callous to the
sensibilities of others! And now to her, in her turn, had come the
same suffering; the same galling of the iron fetters of pride, and of
convention which is its original expression! Must it be that the
very salt of youth must lose its savour, before the joys of youth
could be won! What, after all, was youth if out of its own inherent
power it must work its own destruction! If youth was so, why not
then trust the wisdom of age? If youth could not act for its own
redemption . . .
Here the rudiment of a thought struck her and changed the current of
her reason. A thought so winged with hope that she dared not even
try to complete it! . . . She thought, and thought till the long
autumn shadows fell around her. But the misty purpose had become
After dinner she went up alone to the mill. It was late for a visit,
for the Silver Lady kept early hours. But she found her friend as
usual in her room, whose windows swept the course of the sun. Seeing
that her visitor was in a state of mental disturbance such as she had
once before exhibited, she blew out the candles and took the same
seat in the eastern window she had occupied on the night which they
both so well remembered.
Stephen understood both acts, and was grateful afresh. The darkness
would be a help to her in what she had to say; and the resumption of
the old seat and attitude did away with the awkwardness of new
confidence. During the weeks that had passed Stephen had kept her
friend informed of the rescue and progress of the injured man. Since
the discovery of Harold's identity she had allowed her to infer her
feeling towards him.
Shyly she had conveyed her hopes that all the bitter part of the past
might be wiped out. To the woman who already knew of the love that
had always been, but had only awakened to consciousness in the
absence of its object, a hint was sufficient to build upon. She had
noticed the gloom that had of late been creeping over the girl's
happiness; and she had been much troubled about it. But she had
thought it wiser to be silent; she well knew that should unhappily
the time for comfort come, it must be precluded by new and more
explicit confidence. So she too had been anxiously waiting the
progress of events. Now; as she put her arms round the girl she said
softly; not in the whisper which implies doubt of some kind, but in
the soft voices which conveys sympathy and trust:
'Tell me, dear child!'
And then in broken words shyly spoken, and spoken in such a way that
the silences were more eloquent than the words, the girl conveyed
what was in her heart. The other listened, now and again stroking
the beautiful hair. When all was said, there was a brief pause. The
Silver Lady spoke no word; but the pressure of her delicate hand
In but a half-conscious way, in words that came so shrinkingly
through the darkness that they hardly reached the ear bent low to
catch them, came Stephen's murmured thought:
'Oh, if he only knew! And I can't tell him; I can't! dare not! I
must not. How could I dishonour him by bearing myself towards him as
to that other . . . worthless . . . ! Oh! the happy, happy girls,
who have mothers . . . !' All the muscles of her body seemed to
shrink and collapse, till she was like an inert mass at the Silver
But the other understood!
After a long, long pause; when Stephen's sobbing had died away; when
each muscle of her body had become rigid on its return to normal
calm; the Silver Lady began to talk of other matters, and
conversation became normal. Stephen's courage seemed somehow to be
restored, and she talked brightly.
Before they parted the Silver Lady made a request. She said in her
'Couldst thou bring that gallant man who saved so many lives, and to
whom the Lord was so good in the restoration of his sight, to see me?
Thou knowest I have made a resolution not to go forth from this calm
place whilst I may remain. But I should like to see him before he
returns to that far North where he has done such wonders. He is
evidently a man of kind heart; perhaps he will not mind coming to see
a lonely woman who is no longer young. There is much I should like
to ask him of that land of which nothing was known in my own youth.
Perhaps he will not mind seeing me alone.' Stephen's heart beat
furiously. She felt suffocating with new hope, for what could be but
good from Harold's meeting with that sweet woman who had already
brought so much comfort into her own life? She was abashed, and yet
radiant; she seemed to tread on air as she stood beside her friend
saying farewell. She did not wish to speak. So the two women kissed
It had been arranged that two days hence the Stonehouse party were to
spend the day at Lannoy, coming before lunch and staying the night,
as they wanted in the afternoon to return a visit at some distance to
the north of Lannoy. Harold was to ride over with them.
When the Varilands party arrived, Stephen told them of Sister Ruth's
wish to see Harold. Pearl at once proffered a request that she also
should be taken at some other time to see the Silver Lady. Harold
acquiesced heartily; and it was agreed that some time in the late
afternoon he should pay the visit. Stephen would bring him.
Strangely enough, she felt no awkwardness, no trepidation, as they
rode up the steep road to the Mill.
When the introduction had been effected, and half an hour had been
consumed in conventional small talk, Stephen, obedience to a look
from the Silver Lady, rose. She said in they most natural way she
'Now Sister Ruth, I will leave you two alone, if you do not mind.
Harold can tell you all you want to know about Alaska; and perhaps,
if you are very good, he will tell some of his adventures! Good
afternoon, dear. I wish you were to be with us to-night; but I know
your rule. I go for my ride. Sultan has had no exercise for five
days; and he looked at me quite reproachfully when we met this
morning. Au revoir, Harold. We shall meet at dinner!'
When she had gone Harold came back from the door, and stood in the
window looking east. The Silver Lady came and stood beside him. She
did not seem to notice his face, but in the mysterious way of women
she watched him keenly. She wished to satisfy her own mind before
she undertook her self-appointed task.
Her eyes were turned towards the headland towards which Stephen on
her white Arab was galloping at breakneck speed. He was too good a
horseman himself, and he knew her prowess on horseback too well to
have any anxiety regarding such a rider at Stephen. It was not fear,
then, that made his face so white, and his eyes to have such an
The Silver Lady made up her mind. All her instincts were to trust
him. She recognised a noble nature, with which truth would be her
'Come,' she said, 'sit here, friend; where another friend has often
sat with me. From this you can see all the coastline, and all that
thou wilt!' Harold put a chair beside the one she pointed out; and
when she was seated he sat also. She began at once with a desperate
'I have wanted much to see thee. I have heard much of thee, before
thy coming.' There was something in the tone of her voice which
arrested his attention, and he looked keenly at her. Here, in the
full light, her face looked sadly white and he noticed that her lips
trembled. He said with all the kindliness of his nature, for from
the first moment he had seen her he had taken to her, her purity and
earnestness and sweetness appealing to some aspiration within him:
'You are pale! I fear you are not well! May I call your maid? Can
I do anything for you?' She waved her hand gently:
'Nay! It is nothing. It is but the result of a sleepless night and
'Oh! I wish I had known! I could have put off my visit; and I could
have come any other time to suit you.' She smiled gently:
'I fear that would have availed but little. It was of thy coming
that I was concerned.' Seeing his look of amazement' she went on
quickly, her voice becoming more steady as she lost sight of herself
in her task:
'Be patient a little with me. I am an old woman; and until recently
it has been many and many years since the calm which I sought here
has been ruffled. I had come to believe that for me earthly troubles
were no more. But there has come into my life a new concern. I have
heard so much of thee, and before thy coming.' The recurrence of the
phrase struck him. He would have asked how such could be, but he
deemed it better to wait. She went on:
'I have been wishful to ask thy advice. But why should not I tell
thee outright that which troubles me? I am not used, at least for
these many years, to dissemble. I can but trust thee in all; and
lean on thy man's mercy to understand, and to aid me!'
'I shall do all in my power, believe me!' said Harold simply. 'Speak
freely!' She pointed out of the window, where Stephen's white horse
seemed on the mighty sweep of green sward like a little dot.
'It is of her that I would speak to thee!' Harold's heart began to
beat hard; he felt that something was coming. The Silver Lady went
'Why thinkest thou that she rideth at such speed? It is her habit!'
He waited. She continued:
'Doth it not seem to thee that such reckless movement is the result
of much trouble; that she seeketh forgetfulness?' He knew that she
was speaking truly; and somehow the conviction was borne upon him
that she knew his secret heart, and was appealing to it. If it was
about Stephen! If her disquiet was about her; then God bless her!
He would be patient and grateful. The Quaker's voice seemed to come
through his thought, as though she had continued speaking whilst he
'We have all our own secrets. I have had mine; and I doubt not that
thou hast had, may still have, thine own. Stephen hath hers! May I
speak to thee of her?'
'I shall be proud! Oh! madam, I thank you with all my heart for your
sweet kindness to her. I cannot say what I feel; for she has always
been very dear to me!' In the pause before she spoke again the
beating of his own heart seemed to re-echo the quick sounds of
Stephen's galloping horse. He was surprised at the method of her
speech when it did come; for she forgot her Quaker idiom, and spoke
in the phrasing of her youth:
'Do you love her still?'
'With all my soul! More than ever!'
'Then, God be thanked; for it is in your power to do much good. To
rescue a poor, human, grieving soul from despair!' Her words
conveyed joy greater than she knew. Harold did not himself know why
the air seemed filled with sounds that seemed to answer every doubt
of his life. He felt, understood, with that understanding which is
quicker than thought. The Silver Lady went on now with a rush:
'See, I have trusted you indeed! I have given away another woman's
secret; but I do it without fear. I can see that you also are
troubled; and when I look back on my own life and remember the
trouble that sent me out of the world; a lonely recluse here in this
spot far from the stress of life, I rejoice that any act of mine can
save such another tragedy as my own. I see that I need not go into
detail. You know that I am speaking truth. It was before you came
so heroically on this new scene that she told me her secret. At a
time when nothing was known of you except that you had disappeared.
When she laid bare her poor bleeding heart to me, she did it in such
wise that for an instant I feared that it was a murder which she had
committed. Indeed, she called it so! You understand that I know all
your secret; all her part in it at least. And I know that you
understand what loving duty lies before you. I see it in your eyes;
your brave, true eyes! Go! and the Lord be with thee!' Her
accustomed idiom had returned with prayer. She turned her head away,
and, standing up, leaned against the window. Bending over, he took
her hand and said simply:
'God bless you! I shall come back to thank you either to-night or
to-morrow; and I hope that she will be with me.'
He went quickly out of the room. The woman stood for long looking
out of the window, and following with tear-dimmed eyes the movement
of his great black horse as he swept across country straight as the
crow flies, towards the headland whither Stephen had gone.
Stephen passed over the wide expanse without thought; certainly
without memory of it. Never in her after-life could she recall any
thought that had passed through her mind from the time she left the
open gate of the windmill yard till she pulled up her smoking,
panting horse beside the ruin of the fisher's house.
Stephen was not unhappy! She was not happy in any conscious form.
She was satisfied rather than dissatisfied. She was a woman! A
woman who waited the coming of a man!
For a while she stood at the edge of the cliff, and looked at the
turmoil of the tide churning on the rocks below. Her heart went out
in a great burst of thankfulness that it was her hand which had been
privileged to aid in rescuing so dear a life. Then she looked around
her. Ostensibly it was to survey the ruined house; but in reality to
search, even then under her lashes, the whole green expanse sloping
up to the windmill for some moving figure. She saw that which made
her throat swell and her ears to hear celestial music. But she would
not allow herself to think, of that at all events. She was all woman
now; all-patient, and all-submissive. She waited the man; and the
man was coming!
For a few minutes she walked round the house as though looking at it
critically for some after-purpose. After the wreck Stephen had
suggested to Trinity House that there should be a lighthouse on the
point; and offered to bear the expense of building it. She was
awaiting the answer of the Brethren; and of course nothing would be
done in clearing the ground for any purpose till the answer had come.
She felt now that if that reply was negative, she would herself build
there a pleasure-house of her own.
Then she went to the edge of the cliff, and went down the zigzag by
which the man and horse had gone to their gallant task. At the edge
of the flat rock she sat and thought.
And through all her thoughts passed the rider who even now was
thundering over the green sward on his way to her. In her fancy at
first, and later in her ears, she could hear the sound of his
It was thus that a man should come to a woman!
She had no doubts now. Her quietude was a hymn of grateful praise!
The sound stopped. With all her ears she listened, her heart now
beginning to beat furiously. The sea before her, all lines and
furrows with the passing tide, was dark under the shadow of the
cliff; and the edge of the shadow was marked with the golden hue of
And then she saw suddenly a pillar of shadow beyond the line of the
cliff. It rested but a moment, moved swiftly along the edge, and
then was lost to her eyes.
But to another sense there was greater comfort: she heard the
clatter of rolling pebbles and the scramble of eager feet. Harold
was hastening down the zigzag.
Oh! the music of that sound! It woke all the finer instincts of the
woman. All the dross and thought of self passed away. Nature, sweet
and simple and true, reigned alone. Instinctively she rose and came
towards him. In the simple nobility of her self-surrender and her
purpose, which were at one with the grandeur of nature around her, to
be negative was to be false.
Since he had spoken with the Silver Lady Harold had swept through the
air; the rush of his foaming horse over the sward had been but a slow
physical progress, which mocked the on-sweep of his mind. In is
rapid ride he too had been finding himself. By the reading of his
own soul he knew now that love needs a voice; that a man's love, to
be welcomed to the full, should be dominant and self-believing.
When the two saw each other's eyes there was no need for words.
Harold came close, opening wide his arms, Stephen flew to them.
In that divine moment, when their mouths met, both knew that their
souls were one.