“I—I cannot face life without you,” Truedale spoke hoarsely, “I never really had to contemplate it before. I need you—must have you.”
He came a step nearer, but Lynda shook her head.
“Something has happened to us, Con. Something rather tremendous. We must not bungle.”
“One thing looms high. Only one, Lyn.”
“Many things do, Con. They have been crowding thick around me all day. There are worse things than losing each other!”
“No!” Truedale denied, vehemently.
“Yes. We could lose ourselves! This thing that makes you fling aside what went before, this thing that makes me long—oh! how I long, Con—to come to you and forget, this thing—what is it? It is the holiest thing we know, and unless we guard it sacredly we shall hurt and kill it and then, by and by, Con, we shall look at each other with frightened eyes—over a dead, dead love.”
“Lynda, how—can you? How dare you say these things when you confess—Oh! my—wife!”
“Because”—and she seemed withdrawing from Truedale as he advanced—“because I have confessed! You and I, Con, have reached to-day, by different routes, the most important and vital problem. All my life I have been pushing doors open as I came along. Sometimes I have only peered in and hurried on; sometimes I have stayed and learned a lesson. It will always be so with me. I must know. I think you are willing not to know unless you are forced.”
Truedale winced and went back slowly to his chair.
“Con, dear, unless you wish it otherwise, I want, as far as possible, to begin from to-day and find out just how much we do mean to each other. Let us push open the doors ahead until we make sure we both want the same abiding place. Should you find a spot better, safer for you than this that we thought we knew, I will never hold you by a look or word, dear.”
“And you—Lyn?” Truedale’s voice shook.
“For myself I ask the same privilege.”
“You mean that we—live together, yet apart?”
“Unless you will it otherwise, dear. In that case, we will close this door and say—good-bye, now.”
Her strength, her tenderness, unmanned Truedale. Again he felt that call upon him which she had inspired the night of his confession. Again he rallied to defend her—from her own pitiless sense of honour.
“By heaven!” he cried. “It shall not be good-bye. I will accept your terms, live up to them, and dare the future.”
“Good, old Con! And now, please, dear, go. I think—I think I am going to cry—a little and”—she looked up quiveringly—“I mustn’t have red eyes at dinner time. Brace and Betty are coming. Thank heaven, Con, Betty will make us laugh.”
Having agreed upon this period of probation both Lynda and Truedale entered upon it with characteristic determination. There were times when Conning dejectedly believed that no woman could act as Lynda was doing, if she loved a man. No, it was not in woman’s power to forego all Lynda was foregoing if she loved deeply. Not that Lynda could be said to be cold or indifferent; she had never been sweeter, truer; but she was so amazingly serene!