“My own! my own at last!” murmured the husband. “I never had you until now!”
“The cure has worked, dear heart,” breathed the wife,—“worked without surgery, has it not?”
“The cure has worked,” he replied,—“worked without the sacrifice. Oh, the sudden sweet ease of it!”
Whispering a fervent good-night in response to hers, he covered her head and brows with caresses; then stole away with eyes still fastened on her, and at the dividing threshold waved a last parting and closed the door.
SLEEP, OF A SORT
Isabel went to her couch in great heaviness and agitation. Her sad confidings to her mother, Minnie’s adventure, Arthur’s pitiful if not alarming condition, she strove to reconsider duly and in their order; but perpetually there interfered, with its every smallest detail thrillingly clear and strong, that moment which had thrown her once more into the company, tossed her into the very clutch, of Leonard Byington. She turned her face into her pillow and prayed God for other thoughts and visions, and at length, while charging herself to see her mother in time to postpone the sending of her dispatch to Godfrey, she slept.
Sleep, of a sort, came also to Arthur, though not before many an evil imagination had come back to tease and sting his galled mind.
What chafed oftenest was the fact that Isabel, had he allowed it, would have sought to argue down his belief that Leonard loved her. Great heaven! what must be her feeling toward him, that she should offer to argue such a question? She might truly deny all knowledge of his passion, but oh, where were her quick outcries of womanly abhorrence? Where was the word that Leonard Byington was no more to her than any other man,—that word which would have been the first to flash from her if conscience had not stopped it? Twice he sprang up in his bed, whispering: “They love! They love! Each knows it of the other! They love!”
The second time, as he stared, suddenly he saw them! They stood just beyond the foot of his couch, wrapped in each other’s arms. Choking with wrath, freezing with horror, he slid to the floor; but at his first step they floated apart. Isabel glided toward her own door, fading as she went, and dissolved in a broad moonbeam. Leonard, as he receded, grew every instant more real, until, at his pursuer’s second step, he melted through a window and was gone. Arthur sprang to the spot and stared out and down; but all he saw was the moon, the frosty night, and the silent, motionless garden.