She listened to him calmly until he had finished and then said, “Nevertheless, I must go. And I will go now; delay is useless. I see only too clearly that as long as I am near, you must steadily get worse instead of better. While you possess the fruits of your sin you will not truly repent. You must either surrender them or be deprived of them. We can never become accustomed to this awful secret. Our lives are doomed to loneliness and sorrow; we must accept our destiny; we must go forth alone to seek the forgiveness of God. Good-bye; but remember, David, in every hour of trial, wherever you may be, there will be a never-ceasing prayer ascending to God for you. My life shall be devoted to supplication. I shall never lose hope; I shall never doubt. Love like that I bear you must in some way be redemptive in its nature. All will be well. Once more, good-bye.”
She smiled on him with unutterable tenderness, and with her eyes still fixed upon his haggard face began to move slowly toward the door.
He did not stir; he could not move, but remained upon his knees with his hands extended towards her in supplication.
Like some exalted figure in a dream he saw her vanish from his sight; the world became empty and dark; his powers of endurance had been overtaxed; he lost all consciousness, and fell forward on the floor.
A SIGNAL IN THE NIGHT
“How far that little candle throws his beams!”
—Merchant of Venice.
A month of dangerous and almost fatal sickness followed. When at last, through the care of a faithful negro “mammy,” the much-enduring man crept out from the valley of the shadow of death, he learned that Pepeeta had secured a little room in a tenement house and was supporting herself with her needle, in the use of which she had become an expert in those glad hours when she made her baby’s clothes, and those sad ones when she sat far into the night awaiting David’s return.
On the morning of the first day in which he was permitted to leave the house he made his way to Pepeeta’s new quarters.
“And so this is to be her home,” he said with a shudder as he looked up to the attic window. Every day this pale young man was seen, by the curious neighbors, hovering about the place. As for the object of his love and solicitude, she began at once to be a bread-winner. The delicate girl who never in her life until now had experienced a care about the necessities of existence began to struggle for bread in company with the thousands of poor and needy, creatures by whom she found herself surrounded. The only hunger she experienced was that of the heart. She soon became conscious of David’s presence, and derived from it a pleasure which only added to her pain. She avoided him as best she could, and her determination and her sanctity prevented him from approaching her.