I was his. He had taken his own. Nothing counted in the presence of our love. To be only we two together—that was everything. The world and the world’s laws, the Church and the Canons of the Church were blotted out, forgotten, lost.
For some moments I hardly breathed. I was only conscious that over my head Martin was saying something that seemed to come to me with all the deep and wonderful whispers of his heart.
“Then it’s true! It’s true that you love me! Yes, it’s true! It’s true! No one shall hurt you again. Never again! No, by the Lord God!”
And then suddenly—as suddenly as the moment of intoxication had come to me—I awoke from my delirium. Some little thing awakened me. I hardly know what it was. Perhaps it was only the striking of the cuckoo clock in my room.
“What are we doing?” I said.
Everything had rolled back on me—my marriage, Father Dan’s warning, my promise to Martin’s mother.
“Where are we?” I said.
“Hush! Don’t speak,” said Martin. “Let us think of nothing to-night—nothing except our love.”
“Don’t say that,” I answered. “We are not free to love each other,” and then, trying to liberate myself from his encircling arms I cried:
“God help me! God forgive me!”
“Wait!” said Martin, holding me a moment longer. “I know what you feel, and I’m not the man to want a girl to wrong her conscience. But there’s one question I must ask you. If you were free, could you love me then?”
“Don’t ask me that. I must not answer it.”
“You must and shall,” said Martin. “Could you?”
“That’s enough for me—enough for to-night anyway. Have no fear. All shall be well. Go to your room now.”
He raised me to my feet and led me back to the foot of the balcony, and there he kissed my hand and let me go.
“Good night!” he said softly.
“Good night!” I answered.
“God bless you, my pure sweet girl!”
At the next moment I was in my room, lying face down on my bed—seeing no hope on any side, and sobbing my heart out for what might have been but for the hard law of my religion and the cruel tangle of my fate.
Next morning, Monday morning, while I was breakfasting in my bedroom, Price came with a message from Martin to say that he was going into the glen and wished to know if I would go with him.
I knew perfectly what that meant. He wished to tell me what steps he intended to take towards my divorce, and my heart trembled with the thought of the answer I had to give him—that divorce for me, under any circumstances, was quite impossible.
Sorry as I was for myself I was still more sorry for Martin. I felt like a judge who had to pronounce sentence upon him—dooming his dearest hopes to painful and instant death.