“Do you know where that man is now?” he said to her presently. She had fallen back in her chair—pale and shaken, but dressed, for his eyes, in a loveliness, a pathos, that was every moment strengthening her hold upon him.
“Roger? No, I have no idea. I always suppose he’s in Canada still. He never appeared when the case was tried. But the summons had to be served on him, and my lawyers succeeded in tracking him to a lodging in Calgary, where he was living—with the Italian girl. But after that we never heard any more of him—except that I had a little pencil note—unsigned, undated, delivered by hand—just before the trial came on. It said I should repent casting him off—that I had treated him shamefully—that I was a vile woman—and though I had got the better of him for the time, he would have his revenge before long.”
Ellesborough shrugged his shoulders contemptuously.
“Threats are cheap! I hope you soon put that out of your mind?”
She made a little restless movement.
“Yes, I—I suppose so. But I did tell you once, didn’t I, that—I often had fears—about nothing?”
“Yes, you did tell me,” he said, smiling. “Don’t have any more fears, darling! I’ll see to that.”
He took her hands again, and raised them to his lips and kissed them. It astonished him to feel them so cold, and see her again so excited and pale. Was she really afraid of the villain she had escaped from? The dear, foolish woman! The man in his self-confident strength loved her the more for the vague terrors he felt himself so well able to soothe.
For half an hour more they sat together, in that first intimacy of love, which transfigures men and women, so that when they pass back from it into ordinary life they scarcely recognize life or themselves again. They talked much less of the past than of the future—and that in the light of the glorious war news coming in day by day. Austria was on the point of surrender—the German landslide might come at any moment—then peace!—incredible word. Ellesborough would hardly now get to France. They might be able to marry soon—within a few weeks. As to the farm, he asked her, laughing, whether she would take him in as a junior partner for a time, till they could settle their plans. “I’ve got a bit of money of my own. But first you must let me go back, as soon as there are ships to go in—to see after my own humble business. We could launch out—get some fine stock—try experiments. It’s a going concern, and I’ve got a good share in it. Why shouldn’t you go, too?”
He saw her shrink.
“To Canada? Oh, no!”
He scourged himself mentally for having taken her thoughts back to the old unhappy times. But she soon recovered herself. Then it was time for him to go, and he stood up.
“I should like to have seen Janet!” he said joyously. “She’ll have to get used to Christian names. How soon will you tell her? Directly she comes in?”