She stooped her face to his. He turned his lips instinctively to meet it, and suddenly it was as though a flame had kindled between them—hot, ardent, compelling. His dying pulses thrilled to it, his blood ran warmer.
“You—have—come—back!” he said, with slow articulation.
“My darling—my darling!” she made quivering answer. “Say I’ve come—in time!”
He tried to speak again, but could not. Yet the deathly cold was giving way like ice before the sun. He could feel his heart beating where before he had felt nothing. A hand that was not Puck’s came out of the void beyond her and held a spoonful of spirit to his mouth. He swallowed it with difficulty, and was conscious of a greater warmth.
“There, my own boy, my own boy!” she murmured over him. “You’re coming back to me. Say you’re coming back!”
His lips quivered like a child’s. He forced them to answer her. “If you—will—stay,” he said.
“I will never leave you again, darling,” she made swift answer. “Never, never again! You shall have all that you want—all—all!”
Her arms closed about him. He felt the warmth of her body, the passionate nearness of her soul; and therewith the flame that had kindled between them leaped to a great and burning glow, encompassing them both—the Sacred Fire.
A wonderful sense of comfort came upon him. He turned to her as a man turns to only one woman in all the world, and laid his head upon her breast.
“I only want—my wife,” he said.
It took him many days to climb back up that slope down which he had slipped so swiftly in those few awful hours. Very slowly, with painful effort, but with unfailing purpose, he made his arduous way. And through it all Puck never left his side.
Alert and vigilant, very full of courage, very quick of understanding, she drew him, leaning on her, back to a life that had become strangely new to them both. They talked very little, for Merryon’s strength was terribly low, and Macfarlane, still scarcely believing in the miracle that had been wrought under his eyes, forbade all but the simplest and briefest speech—a prohibition which Puck strenuously observed; for Puck, though she knew the miracle for an accomplished fact, was not taking any chances.
“Presently, darling; when you’re stronger,” was her invariable answer to any attempt on his part to elicit information as to the events that had immediately preceded his seizure. “There’s nothing left to fret about. You’re here—and I’m here. And that’s all that matters.”
If her lips quivered a little over the last assertion, she turned her head away that he might not see. For she was persistently cheery in his presence, full of tender humour, always undismayed.
He leaned upon her instinctively. She propped him so sturdily, with a strength so amazing and so steadfast. Sometimes she laughed softly at his weakness, as a mother might laugh at the first puny efforts of her baby to stand alone. And he knew that she loved his dependence upon her, even in a sense dreaded the time when his own strength should reassert itself, making hers weak by comparison.