Her cheeks burned again, and her heart throbbed anew—she heard his tones, hoarse, vibrant and warm, as his breath scorched her cheek. She felt his arms about her, the contact of his burning lips upon her own.
Then the calm which follows the wake of the storm, the consciously averted eyes, and the very conscious breathing, which had in it something of shame; the almost aversion to speak or touch again, and over all, the deep silence of the moor, broken only by the burn and the whaup, and the thick cloud, kindly dark, that came over the moon.
But, behind it all, the remorse and the agony that would never die; the anxiety and uncertainty, and the secret knowledge for which each had paid so high a price.
She rose from the bank and went slowly along the lovely moorland path. Her breath was labored and the cough troubled her. She was hot, and besides the tired sensation in her limbs, there was a griping feeling about her chest that made breathing difficult.
She reached the station just a minute before the train was due, and entered an almost empty compartment, glad to be seated and at rest.
The train soon moved out of the station, and an intense desire took hold of her to go back. The full consciousness of her action only seemed to strike her now that she had cut the last tie that bound her to the old life, and involuntarily she rose to her feet, as if to get out. A man sitting in the opposite corner, thinking she was going to close the carriage window, laid a restraining hand upon her.
“Don’t close it,” he said, “fresh air is what we all need, though we may not in our ignorance think so. But you take it from me, miss, that you can’t get too much fresh air. Let it play about you, and keep it always passing through your room, or the railway carriage when traveling, and you’ll never be ill. Look at me,” he continued aggressively, almost fiercely, and very pompously, “the very picture of health—never had a day’s illness in my life. And what is the reason? Why, fresh air. It is the grand life-giver. No, miss, leave the window open. You can’t get too much of it. Let it play about you, draw it deeply into your lungs like this,” and he took a great deep draught, until Mysie thought he was going to expand so much that he might fall out of the carriage window, or burst open its sides. Then, he let it out in a long, loud blast, like a miniature cyclone, making a noise like escaping steam; while his eyes seemed as if they had made up their minds to jump out, had the blast and the pressure not eased them at the last critical moment.
Then he stood panting, his shoulders going up and down, and his chest going out and in, like a pair of bellows in a country blacksmith’s shop.
“Nothing like fresh air, miss,” he panted. “You take my tip on that. I’ve proved it. Just look at me. I’m health itself, and might make a fortune by sitting as an advertisement for somebody’s patent pills, only I feel too honorable for that; for it is fresh air that has done it. Fresh air, and plenty of it!” and he turned his nose again in the direction of the window, as if he would gulp the air down in gallons—a veritable glutton of Boreas.