When, at length, she gently released herself, her foot brushed the fallen book. She picked it up tenderly, and caressed its leaves as she adjusted them.
“Didn’t the Voices tell you that I’d come back, Ban?” she asked.
He shook his head. “If they did, I couldn’t hear them.”
“But they sang to you,” she insisted gently. “They never stopped singing, did they?”
“No. No. They never stopped singing.”
“Ah; then you ought to have known, Ban. And I ought to have known that you couldn’t have done what I believed you had. Are you sure you forgive me, Ban?”
She told him of what she had discovered, of the talk with Russell Edmonds ("I’ve a letter from him for you, dearest one; he loves you, too. But not as I do. Nobody could!” interjected Io jealously), of the clue of the telegram. And he told her of Camilla Van Arsdale and the long deception; and at that, for the first time since he knew her, she broke down and gave herself up utterly to tears, as much for him as for the friend whom he had so loyally loved and served. When it was over and she had regained command of herself, she said:
“Now you must take me to her.”
So once more they rode together into the murmurous peace of the forest. Io leaned in her saddle as they drew near the cabin, to lay a hand on her lover’s shoulder.
“Once, a thousand years ago, Ban,” she said, “when love came to me, I was a wicked little infidel and would not believe. Not in the Enchanted Canyon, nor in the Mountains of Fulfillment, nor in the Fadeless Gardens where the Undying Voices sing. Do you remember?”
“Do I not!” whispered Ban, turning to kiss the fingers that tightened on his shoulder.
“And—and I blasphemed and said there was always a serpent in every Paradise, and that Experience was a horrid hag, with a bony finger pointing to the snake.... This is my recantation, Ban. I know now that you were the true Prophet; that Experience has shining wings and eyes that can lock to the future as well as the past, and immortal Hope for a lover. And that only they two can guide to the Mountains of Fulfillment. Is it enough, Ban?”
“It is enough,” he answered with grave happiness.
“Listen!” exclaimed Io.
The sound of song, tender and passionate and triumphant, came pulsing through the silence to meet them as they rode on.