She heard her husband moving about in the next room, the water booming in his bath. A thin line of light showed under his door.
She shut her book and turned out her lamp. The storm had died down and the moon was up. Through the open window she could see beyond the garden to the grove of birches.
Hitherto, the thought of the little grove had been as of a sanctuary. She was aware, suddenly, that it had become a place of contending forces. Were the guardian angels driven out...?
But there weren’t any guardian angels! Ridgeley had said that they were silly. And Christopher didn’t believe in them. She wished that her mother might have lived to talk it over. Her mother had had no doubts.
The door of her husband’s room opened, and he was silhouetted against the light. Coming up to the side of her bed, he found her wide-eyed.
“Can’t you sleep, my dear?”
“I don’t want to give you anything.”
“I don’t want anything.”
He sat down by the side of the bed. He had on his blue bathrobe, and the open neck showed his strong white throat. “My dear,” he said, “I’ve been thinking of what you said this morning—about my lack of belief and the effect it has had on yours. And—I’m sorry.”
“Being sorry doesn’t help any, does it, Ridgeley?”
“I should like to think that you had your old faiths to—comfort you.”
She had no answer for that, and presently he said, “Are you warm enough?” and brought an extra blanket, because the air was cool after the storm, and then he bent and kissed her forehead. “Shut your eyes and sleep if you can.”
But of course she couldn’t sleep. She lay there for hours, weighing what he had said to her against what Christopher had said. Each man was offering her something—Christopher, life at the expense of all her scruples. Ridgeley, the resurrection of burnt-out beliefs.
She shivered a bit under the blanket. It would be heavenly to hear the temple bells—with youth beside her. To drink the wine of life from a brimming cup. But all the time she would be afraid, nothing could take away that fear.—Nothing, nothing, nothing.
She was glad that her husband was awake. The thin line of light still showed beneath his door. It would be dreadful to be alone—in the dark. At last she could stand it no longer. She got out of bed, wrapped herself in a robe that lay at the foot of it, and opened the door.
“May I leave it open?”
As her husband turned in his chair, she saw his hand go quickly, as if to cover the paper on which he was writing. “Of course, my dear. Are you afraid?”
“I am always afraid, Ridgeley. Always—”
She put her hands up to her face and began to cry. He came swiftly toward her and took her in his arms. “Hush,” he said, “nothing can hurt you, Anne.”