He did not speak.
She lifted a hand that felt like an icicle and slipped it into his.
“I guess we shall do this journey together, Big Bear,” she said. “I’m real sorry I made you come if you didn’t want to.”
“You needn’t be sorry,” said Merefleet, with a huskiness he could not have accounted for.
“No?” she said, with a curious little thrill in her voice. “It’s real handsome of you, Big Bear. Because—you know—I ought to have died more than a year ago. But you are different. You have your life to live.”
Merefleet’s hand closed tightly upon hers.
“Don’t talk like that, child!” he said. “Heaven knows your life is worth more than mine.”
Mab leant her elbow on his knee and gazed thoughtfully over the far expanse of water. Merefleet knew that she was faint and exhausted, though she uttered no complaint.
“Shall I tell you a secret, Big Bear?” she said, in the hushed tone of one on the threshold of a sacred place. “I ended my life long ago. I was very miserable and Death came and offered me refuge. And it was such a safe hiding-place. I knew no one would look for me there. Only lately I have come to see that what I did was wicked. I think you helped to make me see, Big Bear. You’re so honest. And then a dreadful thing happened. Have you ever spoilt anyone’s life besides your own, I wonder? I have. That is why I have got to die. There is no place left for me. I gave it up. And there is someone else there now.”
She stopped. Merefleet was bending over her with that in his face that might have been the reflected glory of the growing day. Mab saw it, and stretched up her other hand with a startled sob.
“Big Bear, forgive me!” she whispered. “I—didn’t—know.”
A moment later she was lying on his breast, and the first golden shimmer of the morning had risen above the sea.
“I shan’t mind dying now,” Mab whispered, a little later. “I was real frightened yesterday. But now—do you know?—I’m glad—glad. It’s just like sailing into Paradise, isn’t it? Are any of your people there, Big Bear?”
“Perhaps,” said Merefleet.
“Won’t you be pleased to see them?” she said, with a touch of wonder at the indifference in his tone.
“I want nothing but you, my darling,” he said, and his lips were on her hair.
He felt her fingers close upon his own.
“I guess it won’t matter in Heaven,” she said, as though trying to convince herself of something. “My dear, shall I tell you something? I love you with all my heart. I never knew it till to-day. And if we weren’t so near Heaven I reckon I couldn’t ever have told you.”
Some time later she began to talk in a dreamy way of the Great Haven whither they were drifting. The sun was high by then and beat in a wonderful, dazzling glory on the pathless waters.