How wonderful! How joyful! How eternally glorious!
* * * * *
It is 4 A.M. Some of “the boys” will be on their way to my wedding. Though I have been often ashamed of letting them come I am glad now for his sake that I didn’t try to keep them back. With his comrades about him he will control himself and be strong.
* * * * *
Such a peaceful morning! There is just light enough to see St. Mary’s Rock. It is like a wavering ghost moving in the vapour on the face of the deep. I can hear the far-off murmur of the sea. It is like the humming in a big shell. A bird is singing in the garden and the swallows are twittering in a nest under the thatch. A mist is lying over the meadows, and the tree tops seem to be floating between the earth and the sky.
How beautiful the world is!
Very soon the mist will rise, and the day will break and the sun will come again and . . . there will be no more night.
[END OF THE NARRATIVE OF MARY O’NEILL]
My darling was right. I had known all along, but I had been hoping against hope—that the voyage would set her up, and the air of the Antarctic cure her.
Then her cheerfulness never failed her, and when she looked at me with her joyous eyes, and when her soft hand slipped into mine I forgot all my fears, so the blow fell on me as suddenly as if I had never expected it.
With a faint pathetic smile she gave me her book and I went back to my room at the inn and read it. I read all night and far into the next day—all her dear story, straight from her heart, written out in her small delicate, beautiful characters, with scarcely an erasure.
No use saying what I thought or went through. So many things I had never known before! Such love as I had never even dreamt of, and could never repay her for now!
How my whole soul rebelled against the fate that had befallen my dear one! If I have since come to share, however reluctantly, her sweet resignation, to bow my head stubbornly where she bowed hers so meekly (before the Divine Commandment), and to see that marriage, true marriage, is the rock on which God builds His world, it was not then that I thought anything about that.
I only thought with bitter hatred of the accursed hypocrisies of civilised society which, in the names of Law and Religion, had been crushing the life out of the sweetest and purest woman on earth, merely because she wished to be “mistress of herself and sovereign of her soul.”
What did I care about the future of the world? Or the movement of divine truths? Or the new relations of man and woman in the good time that was to come? Or the tremendous problems of lost and straying womanhood, or the sufferings of neglected children, or the tragedies of the whole girlhood of the world? What did I care about anything but my poor martyred darling? The woman God gave me was mine and I could not give her up—not now, after all she had gone through.