These were her beliefs. She placed love before everything—lifted it to the altar as you raise a saint and worshipped with bent knees and silently moving lips. To understand the great-hearted love of a greatly loving woman, you must know the joy of greatly giving. She loves to give; she gives to love. Out of her breast, out of her heart, with arms laden to the breaking—dragged down by the weight of her gifts, she will give, and give, and give, holding nothing back, grudging nothing, forgetting all she has ever given in the blind joy of what is left to be bestowed. This, when it comes to a woman, is what she means by love as she kneels down in the silent chapel of her own heart and worships. This was the passion as Sally understood it. Her whole desire was to give, and to Mr. Arthur she could have given nothing.
“What did he say?” asked Traill, quietly. A man always speaks somewhat in awe, somewhat in deference, of another whose hopes have been flung to the ground; speaks of him as if he were a prisoner in a condemned cell—fool enough no doubt, but made a man again by the meeting of his fate. “What did he say?” he repeated.
Across Sally’s mind pictures were rushing in kaleidoscope. The remembrance of Mr. Arthur as he had left her at the door and turned away, shuffling his steps along the pathway—the sight of Janet and herself, with heads raised from the pillow, listening to the muffled, disordered sounds in the next room—the recollection of Mr. Arthur’s face the next morning as she had passed him in the hall, the eyes dull—steam, as it were, upon a window-pane—and the unhealthy shadows beneath. He had grudged her a good morning, but that was all, and she had scarcely seen him since then. He had been out every evening.
“He said very little,” she replied, “but I know he felt it very much.”
“How do you know?”
“Well, that night when he came in—” the words refused utterance. She looked up quaintly, appealing to him, desiring to be understood without further explanation.
“Drunk?” said Traill.
A thousand apprehensions fled—darkening—across her face. So pass a flight of starlings with a thousand whirring wings that sweep out light of the sun.
“You think I treated him badly?”
“No, I didn’t say so.”
“But you think it?” She begged eagerly, importunately.
“No, no, my dear child; no. What else could you do?”
“But you felt sorry for him?”
“Do you forbid it? I was putting myself in his shoes, feeling for the moment what he must have felt. Sift it down and you’ll find at the bottom that I really said poor devil for myself.” He laughed as he looked at her. “Well, now,” he went on, “we’re getting more than halfway through dinner and we haven’t decided where we’re going to yet. What’s it to be?”
“Really, I don’t mind a little bit.”