After a long day in which I had been fighting back the pains of my poor torn heart and almost persuading myself that I had won a victory, a letter came by the evening post which turned all my great plans to dust and ashes.
The letter was from Martin. Only four little pages, written in my darling’s rugged hand, half serious and half playful, yet they made the earth rock and reel beneath me.
“MY DEAR LITTLE WOMAN,—Just back from Windsor. Stunning ‘do.’ Tell you all about it when I get back home. Meantime up to my eyes in work. Arrangements for next Expedition going ahead splendidly. Had a meeting of the committee yesterday and settled to sail by the ‘Orient’ third week in August, so as to get down to Winter Quarters in time to start south in October.
“Our own little
affair has got to come off first, though, so I’ll
see the High Bailiff as soon as I return.
“And what do you think, my ‘chree’? The boys of the ‘Scotia’ are all coming over to Ellan for the great event. ’Deed, yes, though, every man-jack of them! Scientific staff included, not to speak of O’Sullivan and old Treacle—who swears you blew a kiss to him. They remember you coming down to Tilbury. Aw, God bless me soul, gel, the way they’re talking of you! There’s no holding them at all at all!
“Seriously, darling, you have no time to lose in making your preparations. My plan is to take you to New Zealand and leave you at Wellington (good little town, good people, too) while I make my bit of a trip to the Pole.
about Girlie when I reach home, which will be next
week, I hope—or rather fear—for every day is like a month when
I’m away from you.
“But never mind, little woman! Once I get this big Expedition over we are not going to be separated any more. Not for a single day as long as we live, dearest! No, by the Lord God—life’s too short for it._
ONE HUNDRED AND FOURTEENTH CHAPTER
After I had read this letter I saw that my great battle, which I had supposed to be over, was hardly begun.
Martin was coming home with his big heart full of love for me, and my own heart ran out to meet him.
He intended to sail for New Zealand the second week in August, and he expected to take me with him.
In spite of all my religious fears and misgivings, I asked myself why I should not go? What was to prevent me? What sin had I really committed? What was there for reparation? Was it anything more than the letter of the Divine law that I had defied and broken?
My love was mine and I was his, and I belonged to him for ever. He was going out on a great errand in the service of humanity. Couldn’t I go to be his partner and helpmate? And if there had been sin, if the law of God had been broken, wouldn’t that, too, be a great atonement?