At the end of half an hour, she observed with a sort of apathetic satisfaction, that the weather conditions of their former visit were going to be repeated now—a sudden darkness, a shriek of wind, a wild squall flashing across the surface of the little lake, and a driving rain so thick that small as the lake was, it veiled the shore of it.
She watched it for an hour before it occurred to her to wonder what Rodney would be doing—whether he’d have discovered her absence from the house and begun to worry about her. She told herself that he wouldn’t—that he’d sit there until he finished his book, or until they called him for lunch, without, as he himself had boasted that morning, a thought of her entering his mind.
She wept again over this notion, luxuriating rather, it must be confessed, in the pathos of it, until she caught herself in the act and, disgustedly, dried her eyes. Of course he’d worry about her. Only there was nothing either of them could do about it until the storm should be over; then she’d paddle back to the house as fast as she could and set his mind at rest.
Suddenly she sat erect, looked, rubbed her eyes, looked again, then sprang to her feet and went out into the driving rain. A spot of white, a larger one of black, two moving pin-points of light, was what she saw. The white was Rodney’s shirt, the black the canoe, the pin-points the reflection from the two-bladed paddle as, recklessly, he forced his way with it into the teeth of the storm. He wanted her, after all.
So, with a racing heart and flushed cheeks, she watched him. It was not until he had come much nearer that she went white with the realization of his danger—not until she could see how desperately it needed all his strength and skill to keep his little cockle-shell from broaching to and being swamped.
[Illustration: “Oh, my dear! I didn’t know!”]
She went as far to meet him as she could—out to the end of the point, and then actually into the water to help him with the half-filled boat.
They emptied it and hauled it up on the beach. Then, looking up at him a little tremulously, between a smile and tears, she saw how white he was, caught him in her arms and felt how he was trembling.
“I thought you were gone,” he said, but couldn’t manage any more than that because of a great shuddering sob that stopped him.
“Don’t!” she cried. “Don’t.—Oh, my dear! I didn’t know!”
Presently, back in the shelter again, she drew his head down on her breast and held him tight.
Logically, of course, the situation wasn’t essentially changed. It couldn’t be a part of their daily married routine that he should think he’d lost her and come through perils to the rescue. When the storm had blown over and they’d come back to the house—still more, when after another few weeks they’d gone back to town, he’d still have a world of his own to withdraw into, a business of his own to absorb him, and she, with no world at all except the one he was the principal inhabitant of, would be left outside. But you couldn’t have expected her to think of that while she held him, quivering, in her arms.