If Lance himself had come audibly up those endless stairs and stood beside him, he could not have felt more certain of his presence than he felt, at this moment, of her companionship, her unspoken assurance that he had chosen aright. He felt himself, if possible, the less real of the two.
For that brief space, his world seemed empty of everything, every one, but they two—so irrevocably sundered, so mysteriously united.
Could he only have sight of her to complete the marvel of it! But although he kept his eyes on the spot whence the ‘feel of her’ seemed to come, not the shadow of a shade could he see; only—was it fancy?—a hint of brighter radiance than mere moonbeams—there, near the opposite archway?
He dared not move a finger lest he break the spell. Yet he could not restrain altogether the emotion that surged in him, that filled his ears with a soft roar as of breaking waves.
“God bless you, little Mother!” he murmured, barely above his breath—and waited; expecting he knew not what.
A ghost of a breeze passed close to him;—truly a ghost, for the night was dead still. Almost he could have sworn that if he put out a hand he would have touched her. But reverence withheld him, rather than fear.
And the next moment, the place was empty. He was alone....
He felt the emptiness as unmistakably as he had felt her presence. But the pang of her going was shot through with elation that at last his waking brain had knowledge of her—a knowledge that no man could wrest from him, even if she never so came again. He had done her bidding. He had kept his manhood pure and the windows of his soul clear—and, behold, the Light had shone through....
* * * *
Impossible to tell how long he stood there. In those few moments of intensified life, time was not. The ordinary sense of his surroundings faded. The inner sense of reality quickened in like measure; the reality of her presence, all the more felt, because it was unseen....
When he came clearly to himself again, the moon had vanished. Eastward, the sky was full of primrose light. It deepened and blazed; till, all in a moment, the sun leaped from the scabbard of the hills, keen and radiant as a drawn sword.
A full minute Roy stood there, eyes and brain blinded with brilliance. Then he knelt down and covered his face; and so remained, a long while, his whole being uplifted in a wordless ecstasy of thanksgiving.
“The snow upon my life-bloom
And sheds a dreary blight;—
Thy spirit o’er my spirit flits,
And crimson comes for white.”