“What must she think of me?” he cried, aloud. “What must she think of me?”
So, for an hour or more, he stood in the open window staring into the fragrant night, or tramped up and down the long room, his hands behind his back, kicking out of his way the chairs and things which impeded him, torturing himself with fears and regrets and fancies, until at last, in a calmer moment, he realized that he was working himself up into an absurd state of nerves over something which was done and could not now be helped. The man had an odd streak of fatalism in his nature—that will have come of his Southern blood—and it came to him now in his need. For the work upon which he was to enter with the morrow he had need of clear wits, not scattered ones; a calm judgment, not disordered nerves. So he took himself in hand, and it would have been amazing to any one unfamiliar with the abrupt changes of the Latin temperament to see how suddenly Ste. Marie became quiet and cool and master of himself.
“It is done,” he said, with a little shrug, and if his face was for a moment bitter it quickly enough became impassive. “It is done, and it cannot be undone—unless Hartley can undo it. And now, revenons a nos moutons! Or, at least,” said he, looking at his watch—and it was between one and two—“at least, to our beds!”
So he went to bed, and, so well had he recovered from his fit of excitement, he fell asleep almost at once. But for all that the jangled nerves had their revenge. He who commonly slept like the dead, without the slightest disturbance, dreamed a strange dream. It seemed to him that he stood spent and weary in a twilight place—a waste place at the foot of a high hill. At the top of the hill She sat upon a sort of throne, golden in a beam of light from heaven—serene, very beautiful, the end and crown of his weary labors. His feet were set to the ascent of the height whereon she waited, but he was withheld. From the shadows at the hill’s foot a voice called to him in distress, anguish of spirit—a voice he knew; but he could not say whose voice. It besought him out of utter need, and he could not turn away from it.
Then from those shadows eyes looked upon him, very great and dark eyes, and they besought him, too; he did not know what they asked, but they called to him like the low voice, and he could not turn away.
He looked to the far height, and with all his power he strove to set his feet toward it—the goal of long labor and desire; but the eyes and the piteous voice held him motionless—for they needed him.
From this anguish he awoke trembling. And after a long time, when he was composed, he fell asleep once more, and once more he dreamed the dream.
So morning found him pallid and unrefreshed. But by daylight he knew whose eyes had besought him, and he wondered and was a little afraid.
* * * * *