Watching Ann, yearning over her, sorrowing, adoring, he saw life as what life had done to her. Saw it as the thing she had found.
He watched the curve of her mouth. Her beautiful bosom rising and falling as she slept. The lovely line of her throat, the blood throbbing in her throat, her long lashes upon her cheek, that loveliness—beauty—that sweetness and tenderness—and what it had met. She, so exquisitely fashioned for love—needful of it—so perfect—so infinitely to be desired and cherished—and what she had found. He writhed under a picture of that old man bending over her—of that other man—bully, brute—thick awful lips snatching at her as a dog at meat. And then still another man. That first man. Darrett. His friend. His sort. The man who could so skillfully use the lure of love to rob life—
As he thought of him—his charm, cleverness—how that, too, had been pitted against her—starved, then offered what she would have no way of judging—close to her loveliness, conscious of her warmth, her breath, the superb curves of her lovely body—thinking of what Darrett had found—taken—what he had left her to—there were several minutes when his brain was unpiloted, a creaking ship churning a screaming sea.
And now? Had it killed it in her? Taken it? If he were to kiss her in the way he hungered to kiss her would it wake nothing more than that sick terror in her wonderful eyes? That thought became as a band of hot steel round his throat. Was it gone? How could she be sleeping that way with her hand in his—his face so close to her—if there remained any of that life-longing that had been there for Darrett to find?
Life grew too cold, too gray and misshapen in that thought to see it as life. It could not be. It was only that she was exhausted. And her trust in him.
At least there was that. Then he would make her care for him by caring for her—caring for her protectingly, tenderly, surrounding her with that sea of tenderness that was in his heart for her. Life would come back. He would woo it back. And no matter how the flame in his own heart might rage he would wait upon the day when he could bring the love light to her eyes without even the shadow of remembering of fear.
So he yearned over her—sorrowing, hoping. And life was to him two things. What life had done to Ann. What life would be with Ann. He wanted to let himself touch his lips lightly to her temple—so close to him. But he would not—fearing to wake the fear in her, vowing to wait till love could come through a trust that must cast fear forever from the heart.
Passion melted to tenderness; the tenderness flooding him in thought of the love he would give her.
That same night he had her taken to a hospital. It was the only way he could think of for caring for her, and she was far enough from well to permit it. He left her there, again asleep, and cared for. Then returned to his hotel and telephoned Katie. It was past daylight before sleep came to him.