It was, of course, coincidence that this afternoon Mary Coombe should offer to gather the marguerites for Esther and that, the Saturday help having failed to materialise, Esther was glad of the offer which left her free to help Aunt Amy in the kitchen. It was also coincidence that Mary should choose to wear her one blue dress and her shady hat which looked a little like Esther’s. But, given these coincidences, it is easy to understand why the doctor, passing slowly by the field of marguerites, felt his heart bound at the supposed sight of Esther among the flowers.
Now that the moment had really come, his restlessness fell from him. He felt cool, confident, happy! The world, the beautiful world, was gay in gold and green. Over the rise, half hidden by its gentle undulation, he caught the glint of a blue gown—
Running his car under the shade of some nearby trees, the doctor leapt the pasture fence in one fine bound. The blue figure among the daisies was stooping, her face hidden by a shady hat. No one else was in sight—just he and she in all the lovely, sunny, breeze-swept earth! He came towards her softly; called her name, but so low that she did not hear. Then a meadow-lark, disturbed, flew up with his piercing “sweet!” the stooping figure turned and he saw, in the clear sunlight, the face under the shady hat—
Had something in his brain snapped? Or was he living through a nightmare from which he would awake presently? The world, the daisy field, the figure in blue, himself, all seemed but baseless fabrics of some fantastic vision!
For, by a strange enchantment, the face which should have been Esther’s face was the face of Molly Weston, his lost wife!
It could not be! But it was.
Incredible the swiftness with which nature rights herself after a stunning shock. Only for a moment was Callandar left in his paradise of uncertainty. The next moment, he knew that he beheld no vision, knew it and accepted it as certainly and completely as if all his life had been but a preparation for the revelation.
“You!” he said. It was only a whisper but it seemed to fill the universe. “You—Molly!”
At the name, the hazel eyes which had met his so blankly sprang suddenly alive—recognition, knowledge, fear, entreaty, flashed across them in one moment’s breathless space—then they grew blank again and Mary Coombe fell senseless beside her sheaf of daisies.
Bending over the form of his lost wife, Henry Callandar forgot Esther. His mind, careful of its sanity, removed her instantly from the possibility of thought. She was gone—whisked away by some swift genie and, with her, vanished the world of blue and gold inhabited by lovers.
There remained only that white, faded face among the daisies. With careful hands he removed the crushed hat and loosened the collar at the neck. It was Molly. Not a doubt of that. Not Molly as he remembered her but Molly from whom the years had taken more than their toll, giving but little in return. He could not think beyond this fact, as yet. And he felt nothing, nothing at all. Both heart and mind lay mercifully numb under the anaesthetic of the shock.