“Come! Come! This is all very dreadful—you must go to a physician at once.”
“My man and horse are waiting for me; the injury is nothing.” But she threw the cloak over his shoulders and led the way, across the veranda, and out upon the walk.
“I do not need the doctor—not now. My man will care for me.”
He started through the dark toward the outer wall, as though confused, and she went before him toward the side entrance. He was aware of her quick light step, of the soft rustle of her skirts, of a wish to send her back, which his tongue could not voice; but he knew that it was sweet to follow her leading. At the gate he took his bearings with a new assurance and strength.
“It seems that I always appear to you in some miserable fashion—it is preposterous for me to ask forgiveness. To thank you—”
“Please say nothing at all—but go! Your enemies must not find you here again—you must leave the valley!”
“I have a work to do! But it must not touch your life. Your happiness is too much, too sweet to me.”
“You must leave the bungalow—I found out to-day where you are staying. There is a new danger there—the mountain people think you are a revenue officer. I told one of them—”
“—that you are not! That is enough. Now hurry away. You must find your horse and go.”
He bent and kissed her hand.
“You trust me; that is the dearest thing in the world.” His voice faltered and broke in a sob, for he was worn and weak, and the mystery of the night and the dark silent garden wove a spell upon him and his heart leaped at the touch of his lips upon her fingers. Their figures were only blurs in the dark, and their low tones died instantly, muffled by the night. She opened the gate as he began to promise not to appear before her again in any way to bring her trouble; but her low whisper arrested him.
“Do not let them hurt you again—” she said; and he felt her hand seek his, felt its cool furtive pressure for a moment; and then she was gone. He heard the house door close a moment later, and gazing across the garden, saw the lights on the veranda flash out.
Then with a smile on his face he strode away to find Oscar and the horses.
AN EXCHANGE OF MESSAGES
When youth was lord of my unchallenged fate,
And time seemed but the vassal of my will,
I entertained certain guests of state—
The great of older days, who, faithful still,
Have kept with me the pact my youth had made.
—S. Weir Mitchell.
“Who am I?” asked John Armitage soberly.
He tossed the stick of a match into the fireplace, where a pine-knot smoldered, drew his pipe into a glow and watched Oscar screw the top on a box of ointment which he had applied to Armitage’s arm. The little soldier turned and stood sharply at attention.