“Oh I’m so sorry! You asked me for my courage,” she said to Kraill.
“There’s no need for it now—on Louis’s account, Marcella. You believe what I say to you, don’t you?”
He smiled at her; he looked very friendly, very kindly.
“You know I believe you!” she cried.
“Then I tell you that Louis is quite better now. He is going to take care of you and Andrew. I can’t prove it to you, yet. But you will see it as time goes on.”
“I don’t want him any more,” she cried, “I want you—Oh no—no—!”
His eyes held hers again, tragic and terrible. Then again he smiled, and she felt that she had failed him.
“No, of course not, Marcella,” he said gently. “These slinking greeds of ours—”
He turned to Louis.
“We’d better be getting along to the station, don’t you think?” He stood looking at Marcella, who seemed stunned.
“Don’t you think you could make us some tea before we go?” he said casually. She stared at him dully.
“Tea?” she said dazedly, and began to laugh shrilly. “Tea? Oh, men are funny! You’re both so funny! ’The greatest of human triumphs is to read the need in another’s eyes and be able to fulfil it.’ Tea! Oh Louis, isn’t it funny—making tea—now.”
She laughed and laughed, and then Kraill and Louis began to dance about before her eyes most erratically, until a black curtain all shot with fires came down and hid them, and waves of cold, green water went over her. She felt someone lift her out of the water and then she went to sleep.
In the months that followed Marcella often tried to find out what had caused the Miracle—for Miracle it seemed to her. The desire for whisky that had obsessed him for ten years seemed to have died: he frankly admitted that it gave him no trouble now at all. When she seemed inclined to praise him for his bravery he laughed at her; there was no bravery in doing a thing that was perfectly easy and natural to him. He looked different: he was just as different as Saul of Tarsus after he saw the blinding light on the Damascus road. His nerves never cracked now; the little meannesses of which both she and the boy had been victims had disappeared; he gave her a kind of wistful, protecting love that proved to her, more even than his frequent safe visits to the township, that something radical had happened that day in the Bush—something so radical that, if it were taken from him, he would not be there at all. She felt that he was safe now; she felt that the boy was safe; she felt that in everyone on earth who was sick and sad and unhappy was the capacity for safety. But she did not know how they might come by it.
But she knew, incontrovertibly, that she could never love Louis again with any degree of happiness or self-satisfaction. That much Kraill had shown her. She and Louis had no part in each other’s spiritual nights and days; the typhoon of physical passion that had swept her up for a few minutes she saw now as a very cheap substitute for the apotheosis Kraill had indicated. It was Louis’s weakness that had been their strongest bond in the past: now that that was gone there was little left in him for her. But peace after pain was very beautiful.