“Why have you never told me then who made that sketch of Dante for you? I suppose I should never have known, if she hadn’t let it out. I asked you once, but you put me off.”
Henry had indeed prevaricated, for Angel had chanced to ask him just after Myrtilla’s letter about his poems.
“Well, I’ll be frank,” said Henry. “I didn’t tell you, just because I feared an unreasonable scene like this—”
“If there had been nothing in it, there was nothing to fear; and, in any case, why should she paint pictures for you, if she doesn’t care for you?—No, I’m going. Nothing will persuade me otherwise. Henry, please let pass, if you’re a gentleman—” and poor little Angel’s face fairly flamed. “No power on earth will keep me here—”
“All right, Angel—” and Henry let her have her way. Her feet echoed down the stairs, further and further away. She was gone; and Henry spent that evening in torturingly imagining every kind of accident that might happen to her on the way home. Every hour he expected to be suddenly called to look at her dead body—his work. And so the night passed, and the morning dawned in agony. So went the whole of the next day, for he could be proud too—and the fault had been hers.
Thus they sat apart for three days, poles of determined silence. And then at last, on the evening of the third day, Henry, who was half beside himself with suspense, heard, with wild thankfulness, once more the little step in the passage—it seemed fainter, he thought, and dragged a little, and the knock at the door was like a ghost’s.
There, with a wan smile, Angel stood; and with joy, wordless because unspeakable, they fell almost like dead things into each other’s arms. For an hour they sat thus, and never spoke a word, only stroking each other’s hands and hair. It was so good for each to know that the other was alive. It took so long for the stored agony in the nerves to relax.
“I haven’t eaten a morsel since Wednesday,” said Angel, at last.
“Nor I,” said Henry.
“Henry, dear, I’m sorry. I know now I was wrong. I give you my word never to doubt you again.”
“Thank you, Angel. Don’t let us even think of it any more.”
“I couldn’t live through it again, darling.”
“But it can never happen any more, can it?”
“No!—but—if you ever love any woman better than you love me, you’ll tell me, won’t you? I could bear that better than to be deceived.”
“Yes, Angel, I promise to tell you.”
“Well, we’re really happy again now—are we? I can hardly believe it—”
“You didn’t see me outside your house last night, did you?”
“Yes, I was there. And I watched you carry the light into your bedroom, and when you came to the window to draw down the blind, I thought you must have seen me. Yes, I waited and waited, till I saw the light go out and long after—”