It calmed him to look at it—the beautiful Greek thing.
And he sat down and wrote to his loved one his good-bye.
[Illustration: What Could He Say to Her.]
He told her of his sorrow and his love, and how he was going away from England, he did not yet know where, and should be absent many months, and how forever his thoughts from distant lands would bridge the space between them, and surround her with tenderness and worship.
And her letter, he said, should never leave him—her two letters; they should be dearer to him than his life. He prayed her to take care of herself, and if at any time she should want him to send for him from the ends of the earth. Bracondale would always find him, sooner or later, and he was hers to order as she willed.
And as he had ended his letter before, so he ended this one now:
“For ever and ever your devoted
After this he sat a long time and gazed out upon the night. It was very dark and cloudy, but in one space above his head two stars shone forth for a moment in a clear peep of sky, and they seemed to send him a message of hope. What hope? Was it, as she had said, the thought that there would be a returning spring—even for them?
And the summer wore away and the dripping autumn came, and with each week, each day almost, Josiah seemed to shrivel.
It was not very noticeable at first, after the ten days of sharp illness which had prostrated him when he received the fatal letter.
He appeared to recover almost from that, and they went down to Bessington Hall at the beginning of July. But there was no further talk of a second honeymoon.
Theodora’s tenderness and devotion never flagged. If her heart was broken she could at least keep her word, and try to make her husband happy. And so each one acted a part, with much zeal for the other’s welfare.
It was anguish to Josiah to see his wife’s sweet face grow whiter and thinner; she was so invariably bright and cheerful with him, so considerate of his slightest wish.
His pride and affection for her had turned into a sort of adoration as the days wore on. He used to watch her silently from behind a paper, or when she thought he slept. Then the mask of smiles fell from her, and he saw the pathetic droop of her young, fair head and the mournful gloom that would creep into her great, blue eyes.
And he was the stumbling-block to her happiness. She had sent away the man she loved in order to stay and be true to him, to minister to his wants, and do her utmost to render him happy. Oh, what could he do for her in return? What possible thing?
He lavished gifts upon her; he lavished gifts upon her sisters, upon her father; their welfare, he remembered, was part of the bargain. At least she would know these—her dear ones—had gained by it, and, so far, her sacrifice had not been in vain.