“If I thought that, Betty!” Lynda was aghast. “Oh! Betty—the poor darling! I cannot believe she could be so strong—so—terrible.”
“It’s more or less subconscious—such things always are—but I think Ann will some day prove what I say. In a way, it’s like the feeling I have for—for my own baby, Lyn. I see him in Bobbie; I feel him in Bobbie’s dearness and naughtiness. Ann holds what went before in what is around her now. Sometimes it puzzles her as Bobbie puzzles me.”
About this time—probably because he was happier than he had ever been before, possibly because he had more time that he could conscientiously call his own than he had had for many a well-spent year—Truedale repaired to his room under the eaves, sneaking away, with a half-guilty longing, to his old play! So many times had he resurrected it, then cast it aside; so many hopes and fears had been born and killed by the interruption to his work, that he feared whatever strength it might once have had must be gone now forever.
Still he retreated to his attic room once more—and Lynda asked no questions. With strange understanding Ann guarded that door like a veritable dragon. When Billy’s toddling steps followed his father Ann waylaid him; and many were the swift, silent struggles near the portal before the rampant Billy was carried away kicking with Ann’s firm hand stifling his outraged cries.
“What Daddy doing there?” Billy would demand when once conquered.
“That’s nobody’s business but Daddy’s,” Ann unrelentingly insisted.
“I—I want to know!” Billy pleaded.
“Wait until Daddy wants you to know.”
Under the eaves, hope grew in Truedale’s heart. The old play had certainly the subtle human interest that is always vital. He was sure of that. Once, he almost decided to take Ann into his confidence. The child had such a dramatic sense. Then he laughed. It was absurd, of course!
No! if the thing ever amounted to anything—if, by putting flesh upon the dry bones and blood into the veins, he could get it over—it was to be his gift to Lynda! And the only thing that encouraged him as he worked, rather stiffly after all the years, was the certainty that at times he heard the heart beat in the shrunken and shrivelled thing! And so—he reverently worked on.
Among the notes and suggestions sprinkled through the old manuscript were lines that once had aroused the sick and bitter resentment of Truedale in the past:
“Thy story hath been written long
Thy part is to read and interpret.”