“If I have to die to-morrow,” Saunders, the bridegroom, was saying, with real feeling in his voice, “I should say, with all my heart, that my life has been less than a week long. The rest of it was nothing. I never was happy before—and happiness is everything.”
THE SHIPS THAT PASS
The next morning was rainy. A quick, violent storm had rushed up from the sea during the night.
Chase, after a sleepless night, came down and, without waiting for his breakfast, hurried out upon the gallery overlooking the harbour. Genevra was there before him, pale, wistful, heavy-eyed—standing in the shelter of a huge pilaster. The wind swept the thin, swishing raindrops across the gallery on both sides of her position. He came up from behind. She was startled by the sound of his voice saying “good-morning.”
“Hollingsworth,” she said drearily, “do you believe he will come to-day?”
“He?” he asked, puzzled.
“My uncle. The yacht was to call for me not later than to-day.”
“I remember,” he said slowly. “It may come, Genevra. The day is young.”
She clasped his hand convulsively, a desperate revolt in her soul.
“I almost hope that it may not come for me!” she said, her voice shaking with suppressed emotion.
“I am not so selfish as to wish that, dear one,” he said, after a moment of inconceivable ecstasy in which his own longing gave the lie to the words which followed.
“It will not come. I feel it in my heart. We shall die here together, Hollingsworth. Ah, in that way I may escape the other life. No, no! What am I saying? Of course I want to leave this dreadful island—this dreadful, beautiful, hateful, happy island. Am I not too silly?” She was speaking rapidly, almost hysterically, a nervous, flickering smile on her face.
“Dear one,” he said gently, “the yacht will come. If it should not come to-day, my cruisers will forestall its mission. As sure as there is a sea, those cruisers will come.” She looked into his eyes intently, as if afraid of something there. “Oh, I’m not mad!” he laughed. “You brought a cruiser to me one day; I’ll bring one to you in return. We’ll be quits.”
“Quits?” she murmured, hurt by the word.
“Forgive me,” he said, humbled.
“Hollingsworth,” she said, after a long, tense scrutiny of the sea, “how long will you remain on this island?”
“Perhaps until I die—if death should come soon. If not, then God knows how long.”
“Listen to me,” she said intensely. “For my sake, you will not stay long. You will come away before they kill you. You will! Promise me. You will come—to Paris? Some day, dear heart? Promise!”
He stared at her beseeching face in wide-eyed amazement. A wave of triumphant joy shot through him an instant later. To Paris! She was asking him—but then he understood! Despair was the inspiration of that hungry cry. She did not mean—no, no!