She read, avidly. Oh, she had been thirsty—for this! Hungry for this! And Ridgeley—! The tears dripped so that she could hardly see the lines. She laid her cheek against the paper, and her tears blistered it.
She carried it into her room. Christopher’s note still lay on her pillow. She read it again, but she had no ears now for its call. She rang for her maid. “I shall stay in bed and write some letters.”
She wrote to Christopher, after many attempts. “We have been such good, good friends. And we mustn’t spoil it. Perhaps if you could go away for a time, it would be best for both of us. I am going to believe that some day you will find great happiness. And you would never have found happiness with me, you would have found only—fear. And I know now what the old man meant about the beads—’What you think is evil—cannot be evil.’ Christopher, death isn’t evil, if it isn’t the end of things. And I am going to believe that it is not the end ...”
Christopher went into town before lunch, and later Anne sat alone on the stone bench in her grove of birches. They were serene and still in the gold of the afternoon. Yet last night they had writhed in the storm. She, too, had been swept by a storm.... She missed her playmate—but she had a sense of relief in the absence of her tempestuous lover.
Ridgeley came home that night with news of Christopher’s sudden departure. “He found telegrams. He told me to say ‘good-bye’ to you.”
“I am sorry,” Anne said, and meant it. Sorry that it had to be—but being sorry could not change it.
After dinner Ridgeley had a call to make, and Anne went up to bed. But she was awake when her husband came in, and the thin line of light showed. She waited until she heard the boom of water in his bath, and then she slipped out of bed and opened the door between. She was propped up in her pillows when he reappeared in his blue bathrobe.
“Hello,” he called, “did you want me?”
He came in. “Anything the matter?”
“No. I’m not sick. But I want to talk.”
“This—” She showed him the paper with its caption, “For Anne.”
“Ridgeley, did you write it because I was—afraid?” her hand went out to him.
His own went over it. “I think I wrote it because I was afraid.”
His grip almost hurt her. “My dear, my dear, I haven’t believed in things. How could I ... with all the facts that men like me have to deal with? But when I faced ... losing you...! love’s got to be eternal...”
“I won’t ... lose you. Oh, I know. We’ve grown apart. I don’t know how a man is going to help it ... in this darned whirlpool.... But you’ve always been right ... here.... I’ve felt I might ... have you, if I ever had time ...” his voice broke.
“And I thought you didn’t care.”