“It would make all the difference in the world,” she answered earnestly. “I want it more than anything else in life.”
With the words she raised her eyes, found his fixed upon her with an expression so new, so tender, that her heart stirred within her as a flower that expands in sudden sunshine, and the next moment his hand lay between her own, and all doubt, all hesitation had fled.
“But, my dear,” he said, “I always thought it was Nap. Surely it was Nap!”
She felt as if something had stabbed her. “No, never!” she said passionately. “Never! It might have been—once—before I knew him. But never since, never since!”
“That so?” said Lucas Errol, and was silent for a little. Then, “Anne”—and the soft drawl had in it a tremor that was almost a break—“I guess I do believe in miracles after all, dear. Anyway,” he began to smile, “there are some things in life too mighty for explanation.”
His face was turned towards her. There was something in the look it wore that seemed to her in some fashion superb. He was different from other men. That quiet kingliness of his was so natural to him, so sublimely free from arrogance. He was immeasurably greater than his fellows by reason of the very smallness of his self-esteem.
“Guess I must take up my burden again and step out,” he said. “You won’t catch me slacking any after this. And—if I don’t win out, dear, you’ll know that it just wasn’t possible because God didn’t will it so.”
“Oh, but you will!” she said, clasping his hand more closely. “You will! God knows how badly I want you.”
“His Will be done!” said Lucas Errol. “But I want you too, dearest. I want you too.”
His fingers stirred in her hold. It was the merest movement, but she knew his meaning. She slipped to her knees by his side, leaned down and kissed him.
A VOICE THAT CALLED
Christmas came and went—the most peaceful Christmas that Anne had ever known. A wonderful peace had indeed begun to possess her. It was as if after long tossing she had come at last into quiet waters, and a contentment such as she had never known before was hers. Her health had improved in this calm, untroubled atmosphere. She slept without dreaming. She had put all regrets and fears out of her life.
Lucas filled all her thoughts. Had he allowed it, she would have devoted herself exclusively to him, but this he would not have. Very slowly, very painfully, he had struggled out of his Slough of Despond, and what that struggle had meant to him none but himself would ever know. And now that he had made it, and in a measure succeeded, he suffered scarcely less than before. His strength was undoubtedly greater, his spirits were more even; but these were the only visible signs of improvement. The long, sleepless nights with spells of racking pain continued. Perhaps they became less frequent as time went on, but they did not cease.