“To the hospital. She went to see that fellow, Con.”
“He told you something about Joan last night, Johnny?”
“He lied about the truest, purest woman who walks this earth.”
“She is incapable of evil,” Con said quietly.
“Utterly. Con, I have something to tell you.”
She turned eagerly.
“It is ended,” he said quietly—“our engagement. Joan and I ended it to-day—not in anger, not in doubt, dear, but liking and admiring each other I think more than ever before, and—and, Con—” He paused.
“Oh, I am glad, glad,” she said, “glad! Have you told—her?”
He shook his head.
“Will you wait here, John? I will send her to you.”
John Everard’s face coloured. “I will wait here for her, for Gipsy,” he said. “Send her here to me, and I will tell her, Con.”
And a few moments later she came. She stood here in the doorway looking at him, just as she had looked at him from that same place that night, that night when a light had dawned upon his darkness.
And now, because his eyes were widely opened at last, he could see the tell-tale flush in her cheeks, the suspicious brightness in her eyes, and it seemed to him that her love for him was as a magnet that drew his heart towards her.
“Con has told you?”
She nodded silently.
Then suddenly he stretched out his arms to her, a moment more and she was in them, her face against his breast.
HER PRIDE’S LAST FIGHT
“... I came to Starden because I believed you might need me. You did, and the help that you wanted I gave gladly and willingly. Now your enemy is removed; he can do you no more harm. You will hear, or perhaps have heard why, and so I am no longer necessary to you, Joan, and because I seem to be wanted in my own place I am going back. Yet should you need me, you have but to call, and I will come. You know that. You know that I who love you am ever at your service. From now onward your own heart shall be your counsellor. You will act as it dictates, if you are true to yourself. Yet, perhaps in the future as in the past, your pride may prove the stronger. It is for you and only you to decide. Good-bye,
She had found this letter on her return from Little Langbourne. She had gone hurrying, as a young girl in her eagerness might, down to Mrs. Bonner’s little cottage, to learn that she was too late. He had gone.
Mrs. Bonner, with almost tears in her eyes, told her.
“Yes, miss. He hev gone, and rare sorry I be, a better gentleman I never had in these rooms.”
Gone! With only this letter, no parting word, without seeking to see her, to say good-bye. The chill of her cold pride fell on Joan. Send for him! Never! never! He had gone when he might have stayed—when, had he been here now, she would have told him that she was free.