“He can’t say Yes—till I give him back his promise,” said the boy, triumphantly. “Well, George, I do give it you back—on one condition—that you put off going for a week, and that you come back as soon as you can. By Jove, I think you owe me that!”
Anderson’s difficult smile answered him.
“And now you’ve got rid of your beastly Conference, you can come in, and talk business with me to-morrow—next day—every day!” Philip resumed, “can’t he, Elizabeth? If you’re going to be my brother, I’ll jolly well get you to tackle the lawyers instead of me—boring old idiots! I say—I’m going to take it easy now!”
He settled himself in his chair with a long breath, and his eyelids fell. He was speaking, as they all knew, of the making of his will. Mrs. Gaddesden stooped piteously and kissed him. Elizabeth’s face quivered. She put her arm round her mother and led her away. Anderson went to summon Philip’s servant.
A little later Anderson again descended the dark staircase, leaving Philip in high spirits and apparently much better.
In the doorway of the drawing-room, stood a white form. Then the man’s passion, so long dyked and barriered, had its way. He sprang towards her. She retreated, catching her breath; and in the shadows of the empty room she sank into his arms. In the crucible of that embrace all things melted and changed. His hesitations and doubts, all that hampered his free will and purpose, whether it were the sorrows and humiliations of the past—or the compunctions and demurs of the present—dropped away from him, as unworthy not of himself, but of Elizabeth. She had made him master of herself, and her fate; and he boldly and loyally took up the part. He had refused to become the mere appanage of her life, because he was already pledged to that great idea he called his country. She loved him the more for it; and now he had only to abound in the same sense, in order to hold and keep the nature which had answered so finely to his own. He had so borne himself as to wipe out all the social and external inequalities between them. What she had given him, she had had to sue him to take. But now that he had taken it, she knew herself a weak woman on his breast, and she realised with a happy tremor that he would make her no more apologies for his love, or for his story. Rather, he stood upon that dignity she herself had given him—her lover, and the captain of her life!
About nine months later than the events told in the last chapter, the August sun, as it descended upon a lake in that middle region of the northern Rockies which is known as yet only to the Indian trapper, and—on certain tracks—to a handful of white explorers, shone on a boat containing two persons—Anderson and Elizabeth. It was but twenty-four hours since they had reached the lake, in the course of a long camping expedition involving