“Yes, Olga mia, I do know,” he said. “I would have done the same for you. I nearly did the same for Muriel when we were in a tight corner long ago at Wara. But whether it’s right or whether it’s wrong, God alone can judge. It may be we take too much upon us, or it may be He means us to do it. That is what I have never yet decided. But I solemnly believe with you that love makes all the difference. Love is the one extenuating circumstance which He will recognize and pass. It isn’t the outward appearance that counts. It’s just the heart of things.”
He stopped. Olga was listening with earnest attention, her pale face rapt. For a moment, as he ceased to speak, their eyes met, and between them there ran the old electric current of sympathy, re-connected and entire.
“Oh, Nick,” she said, “you never fail me! You always understand!”
But Nick shook his head in whimsical denial. “No, not always, believe me,—being but a man. But I’ve learnt to hide my ignorance by taking the difficult bits for granted. For instance, I didn’t expect you to take this thing so sensibly. If I had, I should have acted very differently long ago.”
“Do you call me sensible, Nick?” she said, with a wistful smile.
“Not in all respects, dear,” said Nick. “But you have shown more sense than I expected on this occasion.”
“Did you expect me to be very badly upset?” she asked. “Nick, shall I tell you something? You’ll think me fanciful perhaps. Yet I don’t know. Very likely you will understand. I’ve had a feeling for such a long, long time that she—that Violet—was calling to me, and I could never hear what she wanted to say. To-day—at last—I have been in touch with her, and I know that all is well.” She turned her face up to the sun again, speaking with closed eyes. “I know that she is safe. I know that she is happy. And—Nick—Nick—” her voice thrilled on the words—“I know that she loves me still.”
Nick bared his head with reverence. His face was strangely moved, but the restless eyes were steadfast as he made reply: “That, dear, is just the Omnipotence of Love. You can’t explain it. It’s too great a thing to grasp. You can only feel the pull of the everlasting Chain that binds us to those beyond.”
“It is wonderful,” she whispered, “wonderful!”
“It is Divine,” said Nick.
A SOLDIER AND A GENTLEMAN
When Nick returned to Redlands, he was alone. Olga had gone down again to the shore. She wanted to be by herself a little longer, she said. He didn’t mind? No, Nick minded nothing, so long as all went well with her; and, on her promise that all should be well, he left her with Cork for guardian.