Shame! shame that this should be! that she should have mistaken vile schemes for love, that a liar’s kisses should have polluted her soul! that she should be the wife, the bondswoman of a cheat!
The cry rang out in the night close to her, and arrested her fleeing footsteps. She was close to the ha-ha, having run on blindly, madly, guided by that unaccountable instinct which makes for the shelter of home.
In a moment she had recognized the voice. In a moment she was beside her friend. Her passionate mood passed away, leaving her calm and almost at peace. Shame still caused her cheeks to burn, but the night was dark and doubtless he would not see.
But she could feel that he was near her, therefore, there was no fear in her. What had guided her footsteps hither she did not know. Of course he had guessed that she had been to meet her husband.
There were no exclamations or protestations between them. She merely said quite simply:
“I am glad that you came to say ‘good-bye!’”
The park was open here. The nearest trees were some fifty paces away, and in the ghostly darkness they could just perceive one another’s silhouettes. The mist enveloped them as with a shroud, the damp cold air caused them to shiver as under the embrace of death.
“It is good-bye,” he rejoined calmly.
“Mayhap that I shall go abroad soon,” she said.
“With that man?”
The cry broke out from the bitterness of his heart, but a cold little hand was placed restrainingly on his.
“When I go ... if I go,” she murmured, “I shall do so with my husband.... You see, my friend, do you not, that there is naught else to say but ’good-bye’?”
“And you will be happy, Sue?” he asked.
“I hope so!” she sighed wistfully.
“You will always remember, will you not, my dear lady, that wherever you may be, there is always someone in remote Thanet, who is ready at any time to give his life for you?”
“Yes! I will remember,” she said simply.
“And you must promise me,” he insisted, “promise me now, Sue, that if ... which Heaven forbid ... you are in any trouble or sorrow, and I can do aught for you, that you will let me know and send for me ... and I will come.”
“Yes, Richard, I promise.... Good-bye.”
And she was gone. The mist, the gloom hid her completely from view. He waited by the little bridge, for the night was still and he would have heard if she called.
He heard her light footsteps on the gravel, then on the flagged walk. Anon came the sound of the opening and shutting of a door. After that, silence: the silence of a winter’s night, when not a breath of wind stirs the dead branches of the trees, when woodland and field and park are wrapped in the shroud of the mist.