Chapter LII

SHE knew he had returned from Vienna some weeks previously, and she was in a manner prepared to see him in his mother's house. Yet, when they stood face to face, something akin to fear was visible in her manner. Otherwise, he was more agitated than she was. They touched each other's hands, and then they sat facing each other in a silence full of ghost-like memories. Stella was the first to speak.

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‘You have been away, I think,’ she said, without looking at him.

He told her something of his journey, of his old friend Max, and his rising renown as an oculist. He noticed that her attention wandered, and that she kept nervously playing with her wedding-ring, which hung looser than ever on her finger. There was a pause.

‘Yes, it must have been very interesting,’ she said, looking up—a remark that had no direct relation to what he had last said.

Something clutched at his throat and gave him a horrible, choking sensation.

She looked into his face fixedly.

‘Don't, Anselm—don't say anything. I cannot bear it. You do not know. I can bear to speak to you now, because everything is all over and done with. But there are times: you do not know——’

She spoke in a low, imploring voice, and then suddenly broke off.

‘What do I not know, Stella?’ he said, mastering himself with a violent effort, and speaking in a calm, unmoved tone.

‘Oh, it would be stupid to tell you. Let us talk of something else—the weather, for instance.’

This little attempt at recovering something of her old gaiety smote him to the heart.

‘No, I cannot talk of anything else, Stella. I want you to speak to me of yourself. You know, in the old days, we agreed to be friends. We can at least be friends.’

‘Yes, yes; we can be friends,’ she said, and then she suddenly began to sob.

He kept perfectly silent. When she had recovered composure, he went on in the same calm voice as before.

‘You know, Stella, friends should help one another. I think there is something you dread. Tell me what it is. I may be able to help you.’

‘Are you afraid, too?’ she said quickly. He did not reply immediately. He felt like one groping in the dark, afraid to move too quickly lest harm should be done. Then she added hesitatingly: ‘I have been afraid for some time. The voices and the faces have gone away. But there is a silence coming round me, and every day I am more alone— an abyss between me and everyone that none can cross.’

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‘No, no, Stella; not so. How many care for you!’

‘But I cannot care for them—not in the old way. There is a strange vacancy, an apathy; it comes creeping, creeping. It is like the tide rising round a ship that has been stranded. O my God, it is horrible—it is horrible!’ She covered her face with her hands, and as he looked at her in tearless agony, he trembled as if in an ague fit. ‘Do you know what I keep thinking of sometimes?’ she said, suddenly looking up. ‘Of some old story in Ovid, where one says: “Give me your hand before I am a serpent all over.” Those old stories where people were turned into birds, and trees, and reptiles, they are not so terrible as—as some other things.’

‘No, they are not. Only when we see a great danger, the very fact that we see it shows we may try to avoid it.’ His voice almost failed him once or twice, for there was something in her tone and manner, even more than in her words, which confirmed his worst fears.

‘You still keep up your old habit of taking a book with you when you go out,’ he said presently, in a lighter tone.

‘Yes, but I cannot read; is it not strange?’ she said, looking at him with wide-opened eyes.

‘Ah, these times come to one,’ he answered. ‘Now I am going to tell you something about myself—may I?’

‘Oh, of course,’ she said, with more animation than she had yet shown.

‘Well, I have finished that treatise I was writing at Minjah—about the conditions of factory labour. There is some other work I want to do; and, besides, I have gone quite blunt over the thing. The facts, and I believe their inferences, are correct; but the style I am sure is odious, Now, will you go over the MS. for me?’

It was some little time before she spoke, and then it was in a hesitating, broken way, which was quite foreign to her old, quick, spontaneous manner.

‘I would be so glad to do it, but I lose things so dreadfully—things I have been thinking of. It is as though—I hardly know how to explain it—as if I came on blank spaces in my mind. Words and thoughts drop away out of reach quite suddenly. I am almost afraid to speak to people, lest I might not know what they say. I was afraid even of you. And yet how kind you have always been—except that one

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letter. But it was because it was wickedly—hurt—and the other one I never got. No, I never got it—never.’

‘But about this work I want you to do for me, Stella?’ he answered. The clear, harmonious intonations of his voice were lost in a constrained huskiness; but though his heart was throbbing wildly with fierce and contending emotions, his self-possession was outwardly unbroken. ‘It is very important I should get the help of some friend; and there is no one whose aid I care to ask but yours. It does not in the least matter about your taking a long while over it. Do only a page or two at a time.’

‘I will try to do it; but I will not let anyone see it, for fear it may be wrong. I will try not to make mistakes; but I do not know. It is what you were writing at Lullaboolagana?’

‘Yes; and there is one thing more I am going to ask you. There is a convalescent home for little children on the northern outskirts of the town. My mother knows it. Will you let her take you there?’

‘Oh, Anselm—no! They will be pale and miserable. They will hurt me; and when things hurt me. … Ah, you do not know how dreadful it is!’ and a look of helpless fear came into her face, which pierced him like a sword.

Before he could trust himself to answer this objection, she went on, sometimes speaking in a low, hurried voice, at others very slowly, with a curious hesitation, as if the words she sought eluded her, while often she used terms that but approximately expressed what she meant.

‘Sometimes at night I keep thinking of a poor half-crazy Welshwoman who used to wander about, some years ago. She had a great dislike to staying in houses. She always said there were adders in them. She was not so—so badly hurt in her mind, you know, that she ought to be locked up. You know, Anselm, it is true, when people lose everything—when they forget the meaning of all around them— they are locked away like the dead; only they are not quite like the dead. Johanna, that was her name. … Sometimes she came to Fairacre, and mother and Kirsty were very kind to her.’

She broke off abruptly, and gave a long shuddering sigh.

‘Ah, after all, you have never been at Fairacre!’ she said, fixing her great mournful eyes on his face, after a pause.

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‘It was near the vine-arcade the scarlet fairy roses grew was to wear the day you came, when the Pâquerette reached port. You always liked me to wear roses; and when flew up to meet you, a bird began to sing as if it were wild with joy. … Have I hurt you?’ she said falteringly, as he rose and turned away abruptly, his lips trembling and ashy pale. He could not speak.

She stole up to him with a frightened air, and, looking into his face, she saw that his eyes were wet. She gave little low moan, and put her hand on his arm.

‘Anselm, what can I say to make you glad? You were always so serene and hopeful. … Do you remember what I said when I sent you those dreadful letters that have been burnt into my brain?—or did I dream it? I shall do what you think is right. … I am not dreaming now!’

He turned quickly, raising his hands to draw her to him but with a strong effort he resisted the impulse. He noticed that, since she began to speak to him, something of the tension in her face had relaxed.

‘Tell me about this poor woman, Stella, who used to come to Fairacre,’ he said, in as calm a voice as was possible to him.

‘About Johanna? The last time she came, she was very strange. She said that when she stayed inside speckled adders crawled round her at night, saying, “ ‘Drown your self—drown yourself!’ There are three under the table now!” That was what she said, and then mother tried to soothe her. She said if they were there, we would see them. But Johanna laughed: it was such a sharp—no, a shrill laugh. I laughed like her the other night, and it sounded horrible in the silence. Poor Dustiefoot was frightened; he began to growl at my door. He lies on the mat outside. … You are not angry with me, are you? She looked in his face with confused timidity.

‘Ah, no, Stella; why should I be?’ he said in a choke voice.

She passed her hand wearily over her eyes.

‘Well, I have not finished. There is some reason why began to tell you. Ah, it was about poor Johanna. Yes she laughed and said the adders wouldn't let anyone like mother see them. They were no fools. “Does it not say in the Word of God, ‘Be ye wise as serpents’?” That was

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what she said. “The way they all came staring at me!” she said. “You see, adders have a great advantage over us in that way, ma'am, having no eyelashes. If I prayed at all, I think I would pray that these beasties might be kept from me.” Then mother held her hand, and said, “But you do still pray, I hope?” “Well, no, ma'am,” she said, “not lately. You see, there's some that the Lord lets off His hands altogether. If they pray, He turns a deaf ear to them; if they are in want or sickness, He gives them no wine or mead out of a crystal cup.” … She did drown herself at last,’ she ended, in an awe-stricken tone, looking into Anselm's face with startled, wide-opened eyes.

‘Yes, but about the convalescent children?’ he said gently.

‘Oh, I know now why I told you about this poor woman,’ she answered quickly. ‘I am terrified of being hurt, because when I am, as I was so badly with the music at the Philharmonic Hall, I—I think it would be better—oh, so much better—to be quite at rest. Some days ago I walked by the canal——’ She suddenly stopped, a half-guilty look in her face.

‘You have been awake very much of late, Stella,’ he said, betraying no sign of anguish, save in the constrained accents of his voice.

‘Yes; but that is better than to be made to sleep. Often when I am asleep, everything I touch falls in atoms—everything crumbles away. Then I dream something dreadful has happened, and I am glad to wake. But when I am wide awake, it is worse—oh, much worse—than any dream!’

‘But, Stella, these children are not miserable and wretched. It is not a great hospital; there are never more than fourteen. It is a private place, founded by seven ladies—my mother is one of them—for children who have all but recovered from illness. The greatest joy you could give them would be to tell them a little Australian story, or take them out for a drive in the country two or three at a time. My mother and I took four of them up to Treptow the other day. It is on the river, and there is a large coffee-room quite close to the Spree. They sat by the window eating cakes and seeing the boats and barges sail by, and then we went out into the wood behind Treptow, and every little weed they saw gave them joy. You have plenty of time.’

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‘Plenty of time,’ she repeated vacantly, and then a little afterwards, as if the meaning of the words had gradually dawned on her, ‘There is endless time—and it is all empty and terrible, and full of crumbling things. I like to go outside because I feel as if I were then away from the corridor —the dreadful corridor. You do not know what I mean by that.’

‘No; but you can explain it to me, Stella.’

His calm, even voice seemed to allay her rising agitation. She passed her hand slowly over her brow before answering.

‘You know, for weeks back when I try to read, or write, or even sew—whatever it is I try to do slips away from me; even when people talk round me their voices go a long way off. And then I am in a wide, great, empty corridor, where my footsteps make a strange sound. But I do not mind that. It is the long, dark passages that wind out of it. I feel as if I were dragged along them against my will, and at the end there are great cages with iron bars in front, strong iron bars, for there are wild creatures behind them.’

She looked up into his face with a terror in her eyes that made the perspiration stand out in cold drops on his fore-head.

‘Dear Stella, do not think of them,’ he said in a low, imploring voice.

‘Ah, but you do not know—they are not savage creatures out of the woods. They are human beings—they are women, some of them; but they beat at the bars and shriek to get out. When I hear them I feel as if I must shriek too. They are mad—they must be kept there because they are more dangerous than wild beasts. Ah, my God! how they terrify me! I keep silent. I say nothing of all this, because people would be afraid of me as I am of these cages, and—and those that are in them.’

‘No, no, Stella. That is only how people feel after they have had a terrible illness like yours. To-morrow you must come to see these children——’

‘Ah, the children. They have been ill. You are nursing them back to life again—how cruel that is often! They might have died while the world seemed still beautiful, and they could pray to God, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” Think what it is, Anselm, to outlive all that—to know that there is no Father in

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heaven—that there are people who must be put into iron cages—that you see it coming nearer every day—a terror you cannot name!’

‘Stella, Stella, think how wrong it would be to let ourselves sink under one idea—one aspect of life in that way! It is only because your illness still hangs about you that you can have such strange thoughts. If these children were neglected now, when their parents are unable to care for them properly, their constitutions might be injured—impaired for life. It is not that they would die—for most creatures, having once gained a footing in the world, make up their minds to stay if possible. It is that the seeds would be laid for lingering maladies—perhaps for madness itself. That is what you can do, Stella—help to save some people from the wretchedness of lives hopelessly mutilated by disease. I know there are some forms of misery we can do nothing to lessen. It is all the more shame to us if we do not help in things within our reach.’

There was a little touch of sternness in his voice. It hurt him to assume it, but the tone seemed to bring his words home to her more directly.

‘You wish me to go to see them? Ah, you think I can speak to them—that they will love me as the children used to——’

‘I do not think it—I know it. Once you told me that you were wilful. I did not quite believe it then, but now you are, a little—only you will not persist. Now let me tell you about some of these little ones.’

He made her sit in a large armchair, and placed a cushion under her head, and then sat on a low chair facing her, and told her one or two of those commonplace, everyday incidents in the annals of the poor which come within the ken of all who visit or work among them.

Only he did not let his narrations drop into monologues. He put them in a way that made her ask questions, that roused and interested her. The last child he spoke of was a little one named Gretchen. She had been run over in the streets, taken into one of the hospitals, and discharged while still very weak. At home she was inadequately fed, and when his mother found out about her a tumour had formed under one knee, which threatened to cripple her for life. This had been removed, and she was now in the

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Home—a plump, merry little thing, who gave names of her own to everyone.

‘What do you suppose she calls me, Stella?’ he asked.

She smiled. ‘One who knows how to scold sometimes?’

‘No; something with more unconscious irony than that. “The doctor who has no medicine.” Of course a doctor of that sort is all the more welcome to Greta; but, still, the title has its own little stroke of malice when one knows how applicable it often is. And then my mother has a distinctive name, too. One of the other little ones said one day enthusiastically: “Oh, she is an angel!” “Yes, she is,” answered Greta; “an angel with a basket.” The matron overheard them and told my mother, who is very proud of the definition, for, after all, as she says, how much better it is to have a basket in this world, if you are an angel, than a pair of wings! Yes, she is a child, take her all in all, out of a thousand. So tender, and bright, and unselfish. She has the gift of a sunny nature, and yet she has so much imagination, and she can do so many things—and, by this time, if no one had helped her, she would be either dead or a cripple for life.’

‘How old is the dear little thing?’

‘Nine last month. My mother has insisted on her staying a few more weeks, so that she may be quite strong. She is knitting a pair of long stockings for Karl, a younger brother. “He is so good and strong, and already he can do many more things than a girl,” she told me quite lately. I asked her if she would like to be a boy, and after meditating a little, she said: “No.” “Why?” I said. “Because the dear God made me a girl,” she answered; and then she added: “And I would wear out my boots so much faster.” ’

‘I must go to see Greta,’ said Stella, smiling. ‘Yes, it would have been dreadful if her health had been spoiled,’ she said reflectively, after a little pause.

Presently Mrs. Kellwitz came in, knitting; and when Stella found that some of the convalescent children were badly in need of clothing, she began to make some garments which Mrs. Kellwitz cut out for her. That evening, when she bade Langdale good-night, she said softly:

‘I am not going to be wilful. I will do what you wish.’

He stood for some moments motionless, while the quick flush that had risen in his face died away. And then he

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recalled her face and tones during their early interview that day. It was one of those terrible hours which all through a lifetime remain in the memory as if stamped on it by a process apart from ordinary recollection.

He took a letter out of his pocket-book that he had received on the preceding day from Mrs. Tareling. He had written to her through a lawyer, stating that he had possession of one of the letters he had left in her hands for Miss Stella Courtland—naming the day and even the hour. One had been mutilated, the other stolen, and a fraudulent document had been put with the falsified one she had delivered. He awaited any explanation she might have to offer before putting the matter into the hands of an eminent firm of Melbourne lawyers for prosecution. The reply was an abject confession. Of course, it was quite false—as abject confessions extorted by fear are apt to be. It was her overwhelming love for her only brother—the adjective ‘only’ twice underlined. He had loved Stella Courtland passionately from boyhood. She had at one time favoured his suit. (N.B.—It is curious to notice how naturally people slip into this kind of English when they are telling lies.) Then she had at a moment's caprice rejected him. The effect on the only brother was terrible. But still he had ample grounds for hope. Then came Miss Courtland's visit to Lullaboolagana, her return to Monico Lodge. In picturesque English came a graphic description of the terrible temptation to remove a rival from her brother's path. Laurette rose to the occasion. She spoke in such exaggerated accents of remorse, one might imagine she had used a poisoned bowl. Yes, she had been weak— desperately weak and erring, as only a poor foolish woman can be when blinded by affection, etc., etc. But, after all, the past was irrevocable. What but harm could come of stirring up strife?

Langdale asked himself the same question with a sinking heart. Here were full and clear proofs of the treachery by which they had been betrayed. But what could any exposure of this base crime avail? It meant vengeance— nothing more. Publicity could not save them a single pang, nor make the future more hopeful, nor help to divert the doom, worse than death, with which he saw Stella threatened. He paced up and down the room, his sight

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dimmed, a dull throbbing in his temples, as he recalled her looks and tones in the earlier part of their interview. ‘I will do what you wish.’ His heart gave a leap as he recalled the words. What action should he take to save her from the wild, dark morass into which her life had been turned?

He had written, sending his letter through an eminent English lawyer, on the morning that Stella forwarded him those fatal documents—one unsigned, cunningly devised to support the lies that were conveyed by the fragments, diabolically falsified, of his own letter, with the purpose of extorting an admission of guilt. But since then all other thoughts had been lost in agonizing anxiety as to the issue of Stella's illness. That had passed, but a worse calamity threatened her. Could he not save her? Could he not stem the bitter waters that had swept away all the joy and pleasantness of her life, and now menaced reason itself? He had resolved to urge no claim—to make no appeal to the love which he knew was still the strongest emotion that swayed her—while any weakness of shattered health clouded or warped her judgment. But now it seemed as if every day, in which she was left at the mercy of the grief and dark fear that had lodged in her mind, rendered ultimate recovery more doubtful. And what prospect did the future hold for her? Was not the slow, dull contagion of this union, so fraudulently compassed, a greater evil than any alternative that lay open to her? And yet, to a proud, sensitive man whose own experience of life had been early dashed with a woman's infidelity, how unendurable was the thought of any stigma cast on the girl whose honour was more sacred to him than aught else in the world! But, then, there are passages in life of so vital a nature that they must be judged wholly apart from the common ineffectual criticism of common minds. It was one of those subtle and cruel complications in human lives in which no action seems possible that is not charged with evil. At last, in despair, he told himself that he would do what he could, and live from hand to mouth; for the present make no plans beyond the passing day—only, as far as lay in his power, he would watch over and shield Stella from harm— seek to guard her from the stealthy foe that had already sapped some of the outworks of the citadel of reason.

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Next morning when he went into his mother's sitting-room he found the two in cheerful converse.

‘Stella is coming with me to our convalescent children this afternoon,’ his mother said briskly. She was one of those generous-minded, whole-hearted, actively kind women whose mere presence throws discredit on the darker evils of the world. ‘See how rapidly the child sews!’ she said, holding up a small garment which Stella had already completed. ‘My dear, it is fatal when I find that people can work like this. I am always turning up with a little bundle of second-hand flannel or calico to be made into small petticoats and knickerbockers.’

‘An angel with a basket, in fact, mother,’ said her son. And at this they all laughed a little. Langdale noted, with a thrill of gladness, that something of the old look of vivid life had come back into Stella's face.

To do some work, and for his sake, because he wished it —this was the chord that had been struck, and gave a quick response. The mere fact of giving expression to the dread that had so long passed ‘in smother,’ and begun habitually to haunt her, served to lessen her fears. After this, Stella went almost daily to the convalescent children. And daily she went over some of Langdale's MS., altering a word here and there, now and then putting in a different phrase. She feared at first to trust her own judgment, when she felt inclined to make changes, but she gained confidence as she went on. And then something of the fascination of brain-work, of that preoccupation with ideas which takes the mind out of itself, laid hold of her.

To think too exclusively of ourselves or our own concerns, even under our best aspects, is, as a rule, to become sad, weary, and discouraged. But to be immured in such thoughts, when the thrill and joy of life are gone, when its best promises are mildewed with disillusion and disappointment, is to poison the very source of sane existence and healthy endeavour. It had been so with Stella, and in the lowest deep of her unhappiness there yet opened the lower deep, that the misery which had overtaken her like a flood was so largely her own doing.

Yes; gradually she crept back from the gulf that had threatened to close over her. The little ones that gathered round her, their faces lighting up with pleasure, drew her to

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them from day to day, and then they would shyly ask for stories of Australia—that strange, far away land with strange birds and beasts, and unknown trees that never lost their leaves. Sometimes she would write out beforehand one of the little twilight stories she had told at Lullaboolagana, so that she might not hesitate and be at a loss for words when her little audience clustered breathlessly around her. ‘The dear lady’—that was the name by which they learned to call her.

And then it began to be spring once more—the spring of a northern climate, when Nature gradually wakens from her rigid sleep, when the first early blossoms and the first returning birds—those timid evangels of quickening life— thrill the air with messages, which the heart understands but does not put into words.

It was one day early in April. The air had lost its barbarous keenness. The sun shone as if it was getting warm. There were dun-coloured clouds over part of the sky, but between them a wistful azure showed itself, and on the tall, slender birch in the Thiergarten that was opposite Stella's sitting-room a swallow and some linnets were carolling as if they were bent on being marked as the first choristers of the season. Stella had returned from a visit to one of the museums with Professor Kellwitz, and sat by the window as she had entered, in her sealskin cost and toque. As they returned they met Langdale, and he accompanied them as far as the Pension Eisengau. The incident had brought back the first day they met in Berlin with startling distinctness. They had exchanged few words beyond the ordinary salutations. Mrs. Kellwitz and Stella were often together, but she and Langdale met seldomer, and but for a few minutes. Yet these accidental brief meetings surrounded the day on which they took place with an aureole. Stella now sat with lips slightly parted, her hands folded in her lap, looking fixedly before her with a half-startled, dawning sort of expression. Ritchie entered at that moment, and was struck with the air of vividness in her face.

‘Why, Stella, you will soon be quite yourself again,’ he said, leaning against the mantelpiece near where she sat.

The colour slowly deepened in her cheeks, and she took off her toque.

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He suddenly stooped over her, and touched her forehead with his lips. She started as if she were stung. ‘You must not do that,’ she said, in a peremptory tone.

He was deeply wounded, and drew back, looking at her with a startled expression. ‘Perhaps I had better not come into the same sitting-room you are in,’ he said, in a rougher voice than he had ever used to her before. A look of cold displeasure settled on her face, but she said nothing.

‘While you were so ill,’ he went on in a gentler tone, ‘and seemed more miserable if I were about, I kept out of the way. Then, as you got better you were kinder to me; you sometimes drove out with me, and let me do things for you. But now again you hardly speak to me once in two days; and as for laughing or joking——’ He noticed a look almost akin to terror creeping into her face, and stopped abruptly. ‘Forgive me, Stella, if I have been rough,’ he said after a little.

Stella had rung the bell, and when Maisie came in she gave her her toque and coat to put away, and asked for her writing-desk. Before she returned an answer to Ted's apology there was a tap at the door, and Mrs. Farningham came in.

‘Now this is fortunate! I wanted to find you both in,’ she said. ‘You know, Stella, that my mother and step-father are going to the East about the beginning of May. Anselm tells me that Johnny's lungs need special care. Well, I mean only to stay in England till the beginning of June; I will then join my mother in Egypt. Now, had you not better come with me? You know how these two men will haunt the racecourses from Dan to Beersheba— from May to October.’

It had been for some time arranged that the Farninghams and Ritchies would leave Berlin together. The two men were anxious to be in England through the racing season; and their wives, who were neither of them supremely interested in the turf, would thus bear each other company.

Stella became very pale and grave.

‘Well, I think that would be far the best arrangement,’ said Ritchie.

But Stella did not at once reply.

‘You see, they could join us in Palestine or Egypt as soon as the St. Leger or whatever the last races they wanted

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to see were over,’ went on Mrs. Farningham. She watched Stella a little curiously, and seeing the anxious, perplexed look in her face, she added, lightly turning to Ted, ‘You see, Mr. Ritchie, your wife is not disposed to lose sight of you for so long—but you think the matter over.’

And with that she left the two alone once more.

‘You had better go, Stella,’ said Ritchie after a pause.

‘I do not know,’ she answered slowly. She was like one roughly aroused out of a gentle morning dream. A flood of conjectures, of questions, poured in on her; and the old tormenting habit of finding the train of thought suddenly swamped reasserted itself. But one conviction was clear and steady: if she and Ritchie parted, she would never come back to him again.

He, poor fellow! was touched, thinking her hesitation was due to concern at the prospect of leaving him to his own devices for so long a period.

‘Don't be afraid about me, Stella,’ he said. ‘I made a promise that I would never forget myself in drink again; and I don't mean to put a knife in the contract. I don't take much credit to myself for that; for the more you see of the world, the more there is to open your eyes. We get into a beastly habit of drinking spirits in Australia; but a bottle of good Château Lafite beats such stuff hollow. You sip glass after glass, and, instead of getting stupider, you are more alive.… And then, Stella, while matters are as they are between us, it's easier for me to be out of your sight. You see, if Farningham and I are in England till the end of September, why the year would be up by the time I came to—Palestine, is it? Isn't that the place where the Jews used to play up so before they discovered the Christians? By Jove, you should hear Minimum Avenell talk about the Hebrews!’ and Ted laughed as sundry reminiscences.

Somehow the sight of Stella so perplexed and silent as the prospect of parting from him for four or five months raised his spirits.