She pressed close to his side. “Everard darling, why did you keep that secret so long?”
“My dear!” he said, and was silent.
“Well, won’t you tell me?” she urged. “I think you might.”
He hesitated a moment longer; then, “Don’t let it hurt you, dear!” he said. “But—actually—I wasn’t sure that you cared—until I was with you in the temple and saw you—weeping for me.”
“Oh, Everard!” she said.
He folded her in his arms. “My darling, I thought I had killed your love; and even though I found then that I was wrong, I wasn’t sure that you would ever forgive me for playing that last trick upon you.”
“Ah!” she whispered. “And if I—hadn’t—forgiven—you?”
“I should have gone away,” he said.
“You would have left me?” She pressed closer.
“I should have come back to you sometimes, sweetheart, in some other guise. I couldn’t have kept away for ever. But I would never have intruded upon you,” he said.
“Everard! Everard!” She hid her face against him. “You make me feel so ashamed—so utterly—unworthy.”
“Don’t darling! Don’t,” he whispered. “Let us be happy—to-night!”
“And I wanted you so! I missed you so!” she said brokenly.
He turned her face up to his own. “I missed myself a bit, too,” he said. “I couldn’t have played the Hanani game if Peter hadn’t put me up to it. Darling, are those actually tears? Because I won’t have them. You are going to look forward, not back.”
She clung to him closely, passionately. “Yes—yes. I will look forward. But, oh, Everard, promise me—promise me—you will never deceive me again!”
“I don’t believe I could, any more,” he said.
“But promise!” she urged.
“Very well, my dear one. I promise. There! Is that enough?” He kissed her quivering face, holding her clasped to his heart. “I will never trick you again as long as I live. But I had to be near you, and it was the only way. Now—am I quite forgiven?”
“Of course you are,” she told him tremulously. “It wasn’t a matter for forgiveness. Besides—anyhow—you were justified. And,—Everard,—” her breathing quickened a little; she just caught back a sob—“I love to think—now—that your arms held our baby—when he died.”
“My darling! My own girl!” he said, and stopped abruptly, for his voice was trembling too.
The next moment very tenderly he kissed her again.
“Please God he won’t be the only one!” he said softly.
“Amen!” she whispered back.
In the acacia boughs above them the blue jay suddenly uttered a rippling laugh of sheer joy and flew away.
By Ethel M. Dell
There were two of them—as unlike as two men could be. Sir Eustace, big, domineering, haughty, used to sweeping all before him with the power of his personality.