His brain overflowed with thankfulness and dreams of her forgiveness, and at midnight he sat in his study still thinking, still immersed in his happiness; and hearing moths flying about the burning lamp he rescued one for sheer love of her, and later in the evening the illusion of her presence was so intense that he started up from his chair and looked round for her. Had he not felt her breath upon his cheek? Her very perfume had floated past! There ... it had gone by again! No, it was not she—only the syringa breathing in the window.
From Father Oliver Gogarty to Father O’Grady.
’June 2, 19—.
’Dear father O’GRADY,
’Miss Glynn’s disappearance caused me, as you rightly surmise, the gravest anxiety, and it is no exaggeration to say that whenever her name was mentioned, my tongue seemed to thicken and I could not speak.
’I wish I could find words to thank you for what you have done. I am still under the influence of the emotion that your letter caused me, and can only say that Miss Glynn has told her story truthfully. As to your reproofs, I accept them, they are merited; and I thank you for your kind advice. I am glad that it comes from an Irishman, and I would give much to take you by the hand and to thank you again and again.’
Getting up, he walked out of the room, feeling in a way that a calmer and more judicious letter would be preferable. But he must answer Father O’Grady, and at once; the letter would have to go. And in this resolve he walked out of his house into his garden, and stood there wondering at the flower-life growing so peacefully, free from pain.
The tall Madonna lilies flourished like sculpture about the porch, and he admired their tall stems and leaves and carven blossoms, thinking how they would die without strife, without complaint. The briar filled the air with a sweet, apple-like smell; and far away the lake shone in the moonlight, just as it had a thousand years ago when the raiders returned to their fortresses pursued by enemies. He could just distinguish Castle Island, and he wondered what this lake reminded him of: it wound in and out of gray shores and headlands, fading into dim pearl-coloured distance, and he compared it to a shroud, and then to a ghost, but neither comparison pleased him. It was like something, but the image he sought eluded him. At last he remembered how in a dream he had seen Nora carried from the lake; and now, standing among the scent of the flowers, he said: ’She has always been associated with the lake in my thoughts, yet she escaped the lake. Every man,’ he continued, ’has a lake in his heart.’ He had not sought the phrase, it had come suddenly into his mind. Yes, ‘Every man has a lake in his heart,’ he repeated, and returned to the house like one dazed, to sit stupefied until his thoughts took fire again, and going to his writing-table he drew a sheet of paper towards him, feeling that he must write to Nora. At last he picked up the pen.