For just on the horizon he could distinguish a dense mass which was the trees surrounding the Abbey House, and between the trees there glimmered a faint light which might proceed from some rising star, or from Angela’s window. He preferred to believe it was the latter. The propinquity made him very happy. What was she doing? he wondered— sitting by her window and thinking of him! He would ask her on the morrow. It was worth while going through that year of separation in order to taste the joy of meeting. It seemed like a dream to think that within six-and-thirty hours he would probably be Angela’s husband, and how nobody in the world would be able to take her away from him. He stretched out his arms towards her.
“My darling, my darling,” he cried aloud into the still night. “My darling, my darling,” the echo answered sadly.
That night Arthur dreamed no evil dreams, but he thought he heard a sound outside his door, and some one speak of fire. Hearing nothing more, he turned and went to sleep again. Waking in the early dawn he felt, ere yet his senses fully came, a happy sense of something, he knew not what, a rosy shadow of coming joy, such as will, only with more intensity, fall upon our quickened faculties when, death ended, our souls begin to stir as we awaken to Eternity.
He sprang from his bed, and his eye fell on a morocco case upon the dressing-table. It contained the diamonds which he had had re-set as a wedding present to Angela. They were nothing compared with Mildred Carr’s, but still extremely handsome, their beauty being enhanced by the elegance of the setting, which was in the shape of a snake with emerald head and ruby eyes, so constructed as to clasp tightly round Angela’s shapely throat.
The sight of the jewellery at once recalled his present circumstances, and he knew that the long hour of trial was passed—he was about to meet Angela. Having dressed himself as quickly as he could, he took up the jewel-case, but, finding it too large to stow away, he opened it, and, taking out the necklace, crammed it into his pocket. Thus armed he slipped down the stairs, past the open common room where the light shone through the cracks in the shutters on a dismal array of sticky beer-mugs and spirit glasses, down the sanded passage into the village street.
It was full daylight now, and the sun never looked upon a lovelier morning. The air was warm, but there was that sharp freshness in it which is needful to make summer weather perfect, and which we always miss by breakfasting at nine o’clock. The sky was blue, just flecked with little clouds; the dewdrops sparkled upon every leaf and blade of grass; touches of mist clung about the hollows, and the sweet breath of the awakened earth was full of the perfect scent of an English June, which is in its way even more delicious than the spicy odours of the tropics. It was a morning to make sick men well, and men happy, and atheists believers in a creative hand. How much more than did it fire Arthur’s pulses, already bounding with youth and health, with an untold joy.