In her innocent and noble soul John Derringham now reigned as king. He had never had a rival, and never would have while breath stayed in her fair body.
By the evening of that day he had reasoned himself into believing that the whole thing was a dream—or, if not a dream, he had better consider it as such; but at the same time, as the dusk grew, a wild longing swelled in his heart for its recurrence, and when the night came he could not any longer control himself, and as he had done before he wandered to the tree.
The moon, one day beyond its first quarter, was growing brighter, and a strange and mysterious shimmer was over everything as though the heat of the day were rising to give welcome and fuse itself in the night.
He was alone with the bird who throbbed from the copse, and as he sat in the sublime stillness he fancied he saw some does peep forth. They were there, of course, with their new-born fawns.
But where was she, the nymph of the night?
His heart ached, the longing grew intense until it was a mighty force. He felt he could stride across the luminous park which separated them, and scale the wall to the casement window of the long gallery, to clasp her once more in his arms. And, as it is with all those beings who have scorned and denied his power, Love was punishing him now by a complete annihilation of his will. At last he buried his face in his hands; it was almost agony that he felt.
When he uncovered his eyes again he saw, far in the distance, a filmy shadow. It seemed to be now real, and now a wraith, as it flitted from tree to tree, but at last he knew it was real—it was she—Halcyone! He started to his feet, and there stood waiting for her.
She came with the gliding movement he now knew belonged in her dual personality to the night.
Her hair was all unbound, and her garment was white.
All reason, all resolution left him. He held out his arms.
“My love!” he cried. “I have waited for you—ah, so long!”
And Halcyone allowed herself to be clasped next his heart, and then drawn to the bench, where they sat down, blissfully content.
They had such a number of things to tell one another about love. He who had always scoffed at its existence was now eloquent in his explanation of the mystery. And Halcyone, who had never had any doubts, put her beautiful thoughts into words. Love meant everything—it was just he, John Derringham. She was no more herself, but had come to dwell in him.
She was tender and absolutely pure in her broad loyalty, concealing nothing of her fondness, letting him see that if she were Mistress of the Night, he was Master of her Soul.
And the complete subservience of herself, the sublime transparency without subterfuge of her surrender, appealed to everything of chivalry which his nature held.
“Since the beginning,” she whispered, in that soft, sweet voice of hers which seemed to him to be of the angels, “ever since the beginning, John, when I was a little ignorant girl, it has always been you. You were Jason and Theseus and Perseus. You were Sir Bors and Sir Percival and Sir Lancelot. And I knew it was just waiting—Fate.”