Afterwards, he rose in unbroken silence, and went away.
THE BURIAL OF A HATCHET
During the weeks that followed, something of her former tranquillity came back to Anne. It was evident that Nap was determined to show himself worthy of her trust, for never by word or look did he make the slightest reference to what had passed between them. He came and went after his customary sudden fashion. He never informed any one of his movements, nor did even Lucas know when he might be expected at Baronmead. But his absences were never of long duration, and Anne met him fairly frequently.
She herself was more at leisure now than she had been for years, for Lucas had found an agent for her and the sole care of her husband’s estate no longer lay upon her. She spent much of her time with Mrs. Errol. Her happiest hours were those she spent with Lucas and his mother in the great music-room at Baronmead. It was here also that she learned to know of that hidden, vital quantity, elusive as flame, that was Nap Errol’s soul. For here he would often join them, and the music he drew from his violin, weirdly passionate, with a pathos no words could ever utter, was to Anne the very expression of the man’s complex being. There were times when she could hardly hear that wild music of his without tears. It was like the crying of something that was lost.
Often, after having accompanied him for a long time, she would take her hands from the piano and sit silent with a strange and bitter sense of impotence, as if he were leading whither she could not follow. And Nap would play on and on in the quiet room, as though he played for her alone, with the sure hand of a master upon the quivering strings of her woman’s heart.
But he never spoke to her of love. His eyes conveyed no message at any time. His straight gaze was impenetrable. He never even touched her hand unless she offered it to him. And gradually her confidence in him grew stronger. The instinct that bade her beware of him ceased to disquiet her. She found herself able to meet him without misgiving, believing that he had conquered himself for her sake, believing that he bowed to the inevitable and was willing to content himself with her friendship.
Undoubtedly a change had passed over him. Lucas was aware of it also, felt it in his very touch, marked it a hundred times in the gentleness of his speech and action. He attributed it to the influence of a good woman. It seemed that Nap had found his soul at last.
Bertie alone marked it with uneasiness, but Bertie was no impartial critic. He had distrusted Nap, not without reason, from his boyhood. But matters of a more personal nature were occupying his attention at that time, and he did not bestow much of it upon home affairs. For some reason he had begun to study in earnest, and was reading diligently for the English Bar.