A strange experience: strangest of all, perhaps, the simplicity with which he came to accept it as part of the natural order of things. The intuitive brain is rarely analytical. Moreover, he had seen; he had felt; he knew. It is the invincible argument of the mystic. Against belief born of vivid, reiterate experience, the loquacity of logic, the formulae of pure intellect break like waves upon a rock—and with as little result. The intensity and persistence of Roy’s experience simply left no room for insidious whispers of doubt; nor could he have tolerated such scepticism in others, natural though it might be, if one had not seen, nor felt, nor known.
So he neither wrote nor spoke of it to any one. He could scarce have kept it from Tara, the sister-child who had shared all his thoughts and dreams; but the grown-up Tara had become too remote in every sense for a confidence so intimate, so sacred. To his father he would fain have confided everything, remembering her last command; but Sir Nevil’s later letters—though unfailingly sympathetic—were not calculated to evoke filial outpourings. For the time being, he seemed to have shut himself in with his grief. Perhaps he, of all others, had been least able to understand Roy’s failure to press for short leave home. He had said very little on the subject. And Roy—with the instinct of sensitive natures to take their tone from others—had also said little: too little, perhaps. Least said may be soonest mended; but there are times when it may widen a rift to a gulf.
In the end, he had felt impelled at least to mention his dream experiences, and let it rest with his father whether he said any more.
And by return mail came a brief but poignant answer: “Thank you, my dearest Boy, for telling me what you did. It is a relief to know you have some sort of comfort—if only in dreams. You are fortunate to be so made. After all, for purposes of comfort and guidance, one’s capacity to believe in such communion is the measure of its reality. As for me, I am still utterly, desolately alone. Perhaps some day she will reach me in spite of my little faith. People who resort to mediums and the automatic writing craze are beyond me: though the temptation I understand. You may remember a sentence of Maeterlinck——’ We have to grope timidly and make sure of every footstep, as we cross the threshold. And even when the threshold is crossed, where shall certainty be found——? One cannot speak of these things—the solitude is too great.’ That is my own feeling about it—at present.”
The last had given Roy an impression that his solitude, however desolating, was a sort of sanctuary, not to be shared as yet, even with his son. And, in the face of such loneliness, it seemed almost cruel to enlarge on his own clear sense of intimate communion with her who had been unfailingly their Jewel of Delight.
So, by degrees—in the long months of separation from them all—his ethereal link with her had come to feel closer and more real than his link with those others, still in the flesh, yet strangely remote from his inner life.