Something was crying out within me: “Love him! Tell him you love him. Now, now! He is going away. To-morrow will be too late. Go to him. This will be your true marriage. The other was only legalised and sanctified prostitution.”
I leapt up, and tearing the door open, I walked with strong steps across the corridor towards Martin’s room.
My hair was down, my arms were bare in the ample sleeves of my dressing-gown, and my breast was as open as it had been on the balcony, but I thought nothing of all that.
I did not knock at Martin’s door. I took hold of the handle as one who had a right. It turned of itself and the door opened.
My mind was in a whirl, black rings were circling round my eyes, but I heard my trembling, quivering, throbbing voice, as if it had been the voice of somebody else, saying:
“Martin, I am coming in.”
Then my heart which had been beating violently seemed to stop. My limbs gave way. I was about to fall.
At the next moment strong arms were around me. I had no fear. But there was a roaring in my brain such as the ice makes when it is breaking up.
Oh, you good women, who are happy in the love that guards you, shields you, shelters you, wraps you round and keeps you pure and true, tread lightly over the prostrate soul of your sister in her hour of trial and fierce temptation.
And you blessed and holy saints who kneel before the Mother of all Mothers, take the transgression of her guilty child to Him who—long ago in the house of the self-righteous Pharisee—said to the woman who was a sinner and yet loved much—the woman who had washed His feet with her tears and dried them with the hair of her head—“Thy sins are forgiven thee.”
I BECOME A MOTHER
Next morning, at half-past eight, my Martin left me.
We were standing together in the boudoir between the table and the fire, which was burning briskly, for the sultry weather had gone in the night, and the autumn air was keen, though the early sun was shining.
At the last moment he was unwilling to go, and it was as much as I could do to persuade him. Perhaps it is one of the mysteries which God alone can read that our positions seemed to have been reversed since the day before.
He was confused, agitated, and full of self reproaches, while I felt no fear and no remorse, but only an indescribable joy, as if a new and gracious life had suddenly dawned on me.
“I don’t feel that I can leave England now,” he said.
“You can and you must,” I answered, and then I spoke of his expedition as a great work which it was impossible to put off.
“Somebody else must do it, then,” he said.
“Nobody else can, or shall,” I replied.