“Oh, I wish I could feel all that,” Nancy exclaimed with an impulse which a few moments before must have been impossible.
“You can.” Bull nodded. “You will.”
“You think so?” Nancy sighed. “I wish I could.” Suddenly she spread out her hands in a little pathetic gesture. “Oh, it all seems wrong. Everything. What am I to do? What can I do? I—I can’t even think. Whichever way I look it all seems so black and hopeless. You think I can—will?”
Bull’s sympathy would no longer be denied. He rose from his chair and moved to the window. His face was hidden from the troubled eyes that watched him. But his voice came back infinite in its gentleness.
“You want to do something,” he said. “You want to give expression to the woman in you. And when that has happened it’ll make you feel—better. I know.”
He nodded. Suddenly he turned back to her, and stood smiling down into her anxious eyes.
“Tell me,” he went on, “what is it you want to do? You’re no prisoner now. The war’s finished. You’re just as free as air to come and go as you please. You can return to Quebec the moment you desire, and the Myra comes along up. And everything I can possibly arrange shall be done for your happiness and comfort. When would you like to go?”
The girl shook her head.
“I wasn’t thinking of that.”
“I knew that,” Bull smiled.
“Father Adam. He’s in the house there sick and wounded,” Nancy hurried on. “I know him. I—may I nurse him back to health and strength. May I try that way to teach myself I’m not the thing I think and feel. Oh, let me be of use. Let me help to undo the thing I’ve done so much to bring about.”
The girl’s hands were thrust out, and her eyes were shining. Never in his life had Bull experienced such an appeal. Never in his life had he been so near to reckless disregard for all restraint. He came nearer to her.
“Surely you may do that,” he said. “And I just want to thank you from the bottom of my unfeeling heart for the thought that prompts you. We haven’t a soul here to do it right—to do it as you can. And Father Adam is a mighty precious life to us all—in Sachigo.”
THE COMING OF SPRING
It had been a hard day. Bull Sternford had spent it dealing with complicated financial schedules, an amazing, turbulent sea of figures, until his powers and patience had temporarily exhausted themselves.
In a final fit of irritation he had flung his work aside, and risen from his desk. The insufferable heat of the room, and the reek of his own pipe disgusted him. So he had moved over to the window where the cold air of early spring drifted in through the open ventilating slot in the storm sash.
His gaze was on the Cove below, where the snow-laden ice was discoloured by the moist slush of thaw, and the open waters, far down towards the distant headlands, had so deeply encroached upon the claims of winter.