She broke out into a torrent of hot speech. He did not seem to hear her. “The wrong of it,” said he, “is that we should fight apart and not together. Do as you like for to-day. Be happy as you can. Let’s live in the present, as we were, at least for to-day. But to-night—”
He turned swiftly, and left her, so that she found left unsaid certain questions as well as certain accusations she had stored for this first meeting.
That night, Josephine St. Auban did not sleep. For hours she tossed about, listening. Infrequently, sounds came to her ears. Through the window came now and again faint notes of night-faring birds, south bound on their autumnal migration. Once in a while a distant step resounded in the great building, or again there came the distant voices of the negroes singing in their quarters beyond. The house had ceased its daily activities. The servants had left it. Who occupied it now? Was she alone? Was there one other?
In apprehension which comes to the senses in the dark watches of the night—impressions, conclusions, based upon no actual or recognized action of the physical senses—Josephine rose, passed to the window and looked out. The moonlight lay upon the lawn like a broad silver blanket. Faint stars were twinkling in the clear sky overhead. The night brooded her planets, hovering the world, so that life might be.
The dark outlines of the shrubbery below showed black and strong. Upon the side of a near-by clump of leafless lilacs shone a faint light, as though from one of the barred windows below. The house was not quite asleep. She stilled her breath as she might, stilled her heart as she might, lest its beating should be heard. What was about to happen? Where could she fly, and how?
Escape by the central stairway would be out of the question, because by that way only could danger approach. She leaned out of the window. Catching at the coarse ivy vine which climbed up the old wall of the house, she saw that it ascended past her window to the very cornice where the white pillars joined the roof. The pillars themselves, vast and smooth, would have been useless even could she have reached them. Below, a slender lattice or ladder had been erected to the height of one story, to give the ivy its support. A strong and active person might by mere possibility reach this frail support if the ivy itself proved strong enough to hold under the strain. She clutched at it desperately. It seemed to her that although the smaller tendrils loosened, the greater arms held firm.
She stepped back into the room, listened, straining all her soul in a demand for certitude. As yet she had only dreaded to hear a sound, had not indeed done so. Now at last there came a footfall—was it true? It seemed not heavy enough for a man’s step, but a man on secret errand might tread light. She flung herself upon the bed, her hands clasped, her lips moving in supplication.