She left him, but later returned.
“Leonard.” At the slightly opened door she thrust in her Bible, with a finger on the line, “My soul, wait thou only upon God.”
“Thank you,” said the brother. “Good-night. I’m afraid we’ve kept Him waiting on us.”
MUST GIVE YOU UP
Over on the Winslow side of the way, Isabel, having tarried in the cottage to explain to her frightened mother how perfectly natural it was that Arthur, after his tramp across the meadows, should have made a circuit to the upper side of the old mill pool, went pensively home. Presently, holding a lamp, she stood in the door between her room and Arthur’s, lifted the light above her head, and, shading her brows, called his name. Hidden in the gloom, silent and motionless, he stared for a moment on the beautiful apparition, and then moved without a sound into the beams of the lamp, a picture of misery and desperation.
“Why in the dark?” amiably inquired the wife.
With widening eyes and spectral motions he drew near.
“In the dark?” he asked. “Why in the dark? The darkness is in me, and all the lamps that light the world’s ships into harbor could not dispel it.”
All at once he went to his knees. “Oh, my wife, my wife! save me, save me! Hell is in my soul!”
She drew back, and with low vehemence urged him to his feet. “Up! up! My husband shall not kneel to me!”
Laying her hand reverently upon his shoulder she pressed him into his room, set the lamp aside, and let him clasp her wildly in his arms.
“Save me, Isabel,” he moaned again. “Save me.”
“From what, dear heart,—from what can I save you?” She drew him to a seat and knelt beside him.
“From the green-eyed demon that has gnawed, gnawed, gnawed at my heart till it is rent to shreds, and at my brain—my brain!—till it is almost gone.” His brow drooped to hers. “Almost gone, beloved; my brain is almost gone.”
“No, Arthur, dearest, no, no, no; your heart is torn, but your mind, thank God, is whole. This is only a mood. Come, it will pass with one night’s sleep.”
Still he held her brow beneath his. “Save me, Isabel; my soul is almost gone. Oh, save me from the fiends that come before me and behind me, by night and by day, eyes shut or eyes open.”
“My husband! my love! how can I save you? How can I help you? Tell me how.”
“Hear me! hear me confess! That will save me, oh, so sweetly, so sweetly! That will save me from the faces—the white, white faces that float on that black pool down yonder, and move their accusing lips at me: his face—and mine—and thine. Oh, Isabel, until you stood before me in the golden light of your lamp, transfigured into a messenger from heaven, it was in my lost soul to do the deed this night.”
The wife laid her palms upon her husband’s temples, and putting forth her strength lifted them and looked tenderly into his eyes.