“She came down last night to be with Lady Newhaven who is not well. Miss West is a great friend of yours, isn’t she?”
“Well, she has one fault, and it is one I can’t put up with. She won’t look at me.”
“Don’t put up with it,” said Hester, softly. “We women all have our faults, dear Dick. But if men point them out to us in a nice way we can sometimes cure them.”
When the sun sets, who doth not
look for night?
Two nights had passed since Lord Newhaven had left the Abbey. And now the second day, the first day of December, was waning to its close. How Rachel had lived through them she knew not. The twenty-ninth had been the appointed day. Both women had endured till then, feeling that that day would make an end. Neither had contemplated the possibility of hearing nothing for two days more. Long afterwards, in quiet years, Rachel tried to recall those two days and nights. But memory only gave lurid glimpses, as of lightning across darkness. In one of those glimpses she recalled that Lady Newhaven had become ill, that the doctor had been sent for, that she had been stupefied with narcotics. In another she was walking in the desolate frost-nipped gardens, and the two boys were running towards her across the grass.
As the sun sank on the afternoon of the second day it peered in at her sitting alone by her window. Lady Newhaven, after making the whole day frightful, was mercifully asleep. Rachel sat looking out into the distance beyond the narrow confines of her agony. Has not every man and woman who has suffered sat thus by the window, looking out, seeing nothing, but still gazing blindly out hour after hour?
Perhaps the quiet mother earth watches us, and whispers to our deaf ears:
Warte nur, balde
Ruhest du auch.
Little pulse of life writhing in your shirt of fire, the shirt is but of clay of your mother’s weaving, and she will take it from you presently when you lay back your head on her breast.
There had been wind all day, a high, dreadful wind, which had accompanied all the nightmare of the day as a wail accompanies pain. But now it had dropped with the sun, who was setting with little pageant across the level land. The whole sky, from north to south, from east to west, was covered with a wind-threshed floor of thin wan clouds, and shreds of clouds, through which, as through a veil, the steadfast face of the heaven beyond looked down.
And suddenly, from east to west, from north to south, as far as the trees and wolds in the dim, forgotten east, the exhausted livid clouds blushed wave on wave, league on league, red as the heart of a rose. The wind-whipped earth was still. The trees held their breath. Very black against the glow the carved cross on the adjoining gable stood out. And in another moment the mighty tide of color went as it had come, swiftly ebbing across its infinite shores of sky. And the waiting night came down suddenly.