“Yours till death—– and after,
THE PINNACLE OF THE TEMPLE
Aubrey’s letter fell upon Helen as a crushing, stunning blow.
At first her womanhood reeled beneath it.
“What have I been—what have I done,” she cried, “that a man dares to write thus to me?”
Then her wifehood rose up in arms as she thought of Ronnie’s gay, boyish trust in her; their happy life together; his joyous love and laughter.
She clenched her hands.
“I could kill Aubrey Treherne!” she said.
Then her motherhood arose; and bowing her proud head, she burst into a passion of tears.
At length she stood up and walked over to the window.
“It will be bad for my little son if I weep,” she said, and smiled through her tears.
The trees were leafless, the garden beds empty. The park looked sodden, dank and cheerless. Summer was long dead and over, yet frosts had not begun, bringing suggestions of mistletoe and holly.
But the mists were lifting, fading in white wreaths from off the grass; and, at that moment, the wintry sun, bursting through the November clouds, shone on the diamond panes, illumining the cross and the motto beneath it.
“In hoc vince!” murmured Helen. “As I told my own dear boy, the path of clear shining is the way to victory. In hoc signo vinces! I will take this gleam of sunlight as a token of triumph. By the help of God, I will write such an answer to Aubrey as shall lead him to overcome his evil desires, and bring his dark soul out into the light of repentance and confession.”
The same post had brought her a short letter from Ronnie, written immediately on his arrival at Leipzig, evidently before receiving hers. It was a disappointment to have nothing more. As Aubrey had got a letter through after hearing the news, Ronnie might have done the same.
But perhaps, face to face with her wonderful tidings, words had altogether failed him. He feared to spoil all he would so soon be able to say, by attempting to write.
To-morrow—the day which should bring him to her—would soon be here.
Meanwhile her reply to Aubrey must be posted to-day, and his letter consigned to the flames.
Feeling unable to go to the nursery with that letter unanswered, she sat down at once and wrote to her cousin.
“I only read your letter, Aubrey, half an hour ago. I am answering it at once, because I cannot enter the presence of my little son, with such a letter as yours still in my possession. As soon as I have answered it I shall burn it.
“I may then be able to rise above the terrible sense of shame which completely overwhelmed me at first, at the thought that any man—above all a man who knew me well—should dare to write me such a letter!