A moment passed. Beth glanced into Bedient’s face, but the darkness was too deep for her to see. When he spoke, it was as steadily as ever:
“I understand clearly, Beth. I should say, don’t do the first an injustice. It was those very uncertainties of his, those coltish frights and tempers, that made you so perfect a mistress of the second, for you invariably bring forth the best from the second.”
Something big came to her from the utterance. But nothing of the truth—that his heart had just received a death-thrust to its love-giving.... He had left his gloves in the house. He asked for a cup of water.... It was strange—his asking for anything. She could remember only, besides this, his wish expressed that she might ride with him. He had asked nothing this day. And it was a cup of water now.... They were in the lamplight, and he had drunk.... She was standing by the table, and he at the door waiting for her to lift her eyes.... Suddenly she felt, through the silence, his great strength pouring over her.
She looked up at last. There was a dazzling light in his eyes, as if some wonderful good to do had formed in his mind.
“Beth, was he the Other Man—who rested for one day on the mantel in the studio?”
“Yes."... The question shocked her. She could not have believed that it was harder for him to ask, than for her to answer....
He came nearer. Like a spirit he came.... He seemed very tall and tired and white.... Her hand was lifted to his lips, but when she turned, he was gone.
Beth did not shut the door.... The sound of a shut door must not be the last so strange a guest should hear. Beth was cold. She could hardly realize....
Bedient turned and saw the light streaming out upon the porch. She was not visible, but her shadow stood forth upon the boards, arms strangely uplifted. The mortal within him was outraged, because he did not turn back—into that open door.
BEDIENT FOR THE PLEIAD
He was sitting in the dark, in a high, still place; and at last (through a rift in the far mountains), a faint ghost appeared, waveringly white. Just a shimmering mist, at first, but it steadied and brightened, until the snowy breast of old God-Mother was configured in the midst of her lowly brethren on the borders of Kashmir.... And just as he was about to enter into the great peace, his consciousness beginning to wing with cosmic sweep, the rock upon which he sat started to creak and stir, and presently he was rolled about like a haversack in a heaving palanquin.
Thus he awoke, tossed in his berth aboard the Hatteras—and a gale was on. The ship, Southward bound, was far off the cape for which she was named, asking only wide sea-room, to take the big rollers with easy grace.