She lay with a smile of peace upon her face, both hands clinging to his.
“I have communed with myself and thought it well out, and I believe that to bind my life, with its memories of you, to the girl to whom I am engaged, would be a cruel wrong and an injustice to her. She deserves a better fate, and I honestly feel that the rupture will not grieve her much. We will remarry, you and I. I will take you away from England, I will guard and cherish you, and in my love for you, you will grow stronger. Oh! my darling, my darling, if you knew what life has been to me since you went; how I have blamed myself,—I who ought to have shielded you against yourself, and have been a moral backbone to your weakness. Then as time went on I persuaded myself that I had succeeded in putting you out of my heart,—that I had forgotten you,—and then—you came back to me, and the past leapt living from the years that had no power to bury it, and I knew that you were more to me than honour or fame or anything the world held. Hence-forth I will be so gentle with you, so tender—so loving.”
“Will you—kiss me—Jack?”
She had gradually pulled herself upright on the pillows.
“Will you kiss me—and say—once more, as you used to—’God bless you—wifie’?”
Their lips met and clung together.
“God bless you—wifie.”
And there was silence, a long silence, broken by a gasp, a sigh, and a gentle unloosening of the clasping arms.
“Bella—Bella—speak to me, my beloved.”
But the passionate cry fell on ears that heard not.
The tempest-tossed soul was at rest; above were the pitying Angels’ wings, and over all the solemn hush of Death.
* * * * *
From Miss Rose Dacre, Southampton, to Miss Amy Conway, 30, Alford Street, Park Lane.
July 15th, 1901.
Here am I on Jack’s yacht, anchored in Southampton waters. The weather is perfect, and I am having a very good time. Jack’s mother is on board, and is really devoted to me. I am a lucky girl to have such a sweet mother-in-law in prospective. She is the dearest old lady in the world. The wedding has been decided upon for the last week in September, so I suppose that I shall have to come back to town before very long to see about my trousseau.
There is really nothing so bewildering to anyone who sees it for the first time as the exquisite order and dainty perfection of a yacht in which its owner takes a pride, and can afford to gratify his whim. And this is the case with Jack. The deck shines like polished parquet. The sails and ropes are faultlessly clean, and Jack says that the masts have just been scraped and the funnel repainted. The brass nails and the binnacle are as perfectly in order as if they were costly instruments in an optician’s window. There is a small deck cargo of coal in white canvas sacks, with leather straps and handles. And there is the deck-house with its plate-glass windows and velvet fittings and spring-blinds.