The dagger was still wet with her blood. “Her blood!—Oh, God!-her blood!—hers! All mine in life, and yet never so much mine as now—mine in death!—all mine! mine! And she was not afraid—not the least afraid! Her eyes had room only for her overwhelming love—love—just love, no fear, even that hour when face to face with the Great Mystery. And this was her blood—hers!”
He believed that she had been glad to die. He believed—oh, he was sure, that death in his arms—and from his hand—had been sweeter than life could have been—with that wretch—and always without him—her lover! Yes, she had been glad to die. She had been grateful for her escape! And again the dagger drew his fascinated gaze and wrung from his lips the cry, “Her blood—hers! God in Heaven! Her blood!—hers!”
He put his hand to his head with an inarticulate cry of bewilderment. Then, with one supreme effort, he began to stagger hastily but noiselessly about the room. The servants of the house were already astir, and the day would soon be here. He put his sacred letters carefully away, and destroyed all worthless papers, mechanically, but still methodically.
Then he hastily scribbled a few lines, and laid them beside his letters, for Verdayne would be with him now in a few hours. His father—yes, his own father! How he would like to see him once more—just once more—with the knowledge of their relationship as a closer bond between them—to talk about his mother—his beautiful, queenly mother—and her wonderful, wonderful love! Yet—and he sighed as he thought of his deserted kingdom—after all, all in vain—in vain! It was not to be—all that glory—that triumph! Fate had willed differently. He was obeying the Law!
And his mother would not fail to understand. Verdayne must have loved his mother like this! O God, Love was a fearful thing, he thought, to wreck a life—a terrible thing, even a hideous thing—but in spite of everything it was all that was worth living for—and dying for!
The storm had spent its fury now, and only the steady drip, drip of the rain reminded him of the falling of tears.
“Opal!” he groaned, “Opal!” And he threw himself upon the bed, clasping his dagger in uncontrollable agony. “O life is cruel, hard, bitter! I’ll none of it!—we’ll none of it, you and I!” His voice grew triumphant in its raving. “It was worth all the cost—even the sorrow and death! But the end has come! Opal! Opal! I am coming, sweet!—coming!”
And the dagger, still red with the blood of his darling, found its unerring way to his own heart; and Paul Zalenska forgot his dreams, his ambitions, his love, his passion, and his despair in the darkness and quiet of eternal sleep.
“Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Sir Paul Verdayne reached Lucerne on the afternoon of the next day. He was as eager as a boy for the reunion with his son. How he loved the Boy—his Boy—the living embodiment of a love that seemed to him greater than any other love the world had ever known.