“I did plenty of other devilish work that night—chiefly mental suggestion. This is the only really confessable thing.
“The letter your husband never saw, is in the enclosed envelope. He will like to have it now.
“Thus, as you see, the Word has not returned unto you void. It brings you the only reparation I can make.
Helen tore open the sealed envelope, and found her little pencil note, the tender outpouring to Ronnie, written three days after her baby’s birth.
So Ronnie never saw it—he never knew! He came home without having the remotest idea that she had been through anything unusual in his absence. He had heard no word or hint of the birth of his little son. Yet she had called him utterly, preposterously, altogether, selfish, because he had quite naturally expected her to be as interested as ever in his pursuits and pleasures.
Oh, Ronnie, Ronnie!
* * * * *
She flew to his room, hoping he had not yet gone out.
On the table she found a note addressed to herself.
She tore it open, read it—– then went back into the sitting-room, and pealed the bell.
“Send my maid to me at once, and the hall-porter.”
They arrived together.
Helen had just written a long telegram to her housekeeper.
She spoke to the hall-porter first.
“Send off this telegram, please. Then procure the fastest motor-car you can find, to run me over to Hollymead this afternoon. We can be ready to start in half-an-hour’s time.”
Then she turned to her maid.
“Jeffreys, we go home for Christmas after all. Mr. West has gone on by train. We must pack as promptly as possible, and start in half-an-hour. We may perhaps get home before him. I doubt whether he can catch anything down from town before the five o’clock.”
She flew to her room, pressing Ronnie’s sad little note to her heart. All the world looked different! Ah, what would it be, now, to tell him of his little son! But she must get home before him. Supposing Ronnie went upstairs alone, and found the baby!
THE FACE IN THE MIRROR
Ronnie caught the three o’clock train from town, at Huntingford, as the porter had predicted.
No carriage was at the station, so he had a rather long walk from Hollymead to the Grange.
It was a clear, crisp evening and freezing hard. He could feel the frost crackle under his feet, as he tramped along the country lanes.
When he came in sight of the lodge, it reminded him of an old-fashioned Christmas card; the large iron gates, their grey stone supports covered with moss and lichen and surmounted by queer rampant beasts unknown to zoology, holding in their stone claws oval shields on which were carved the ancient arms of Helen’s family; the little ivy-covered house, with gabled roof and lattice-windows, firelight from within, shining golden and ruddy on the slight sprinkling of frosty snow.