“Cissy, help me to realise one at least of those dreams. Will you?”
She looked at him suddenly white, bewildered, a little doubtful.
“What do you mean, Douglas?”
“You were very dear to me in those days, Cissy,” he said, leaning over and taking her fingers into his. “You have always been dear to me. Our plans for the future were always large enough for two. Take me into yours—come into mine. Can you care for me enough for that?”
She was silent; her face was averted. They were alone, and his fingers tightened upon hers.
“We never spoke of it in words, Cissy,” he went on, “but I think we understood. Will you help me to leave the shadows alone? Will you be my wife?”
“You care—enough for that?” she asked, raising her eyes to his suddenly.
A moment’s wild revolt—a seething flood of emotions sternly repressed. He met her eyes, and though there was no smile upon his lips, his tone was firm enough.
“I care—enough for that, Cissy,” he answered.
THE NET OF JOAN’S VENGEANCE
Success—complete, overpowering, unquestioned. Douglas Jesson’s novel was more than the book of the season—it became and still remains a classic. There is much talk nowadays by minor writers of the difficulty of making a name, of the inaccessibility of the public. As a matter of fact there never was a time when good work was so quickly recognised both by the press and the public, never a novel which sees the light of day but meets with appreciably more or less than its merits. There was never a second’s hesitation about “The Destiny of Phillip Bourke.” The critics praised and the public bought it. Edition followed edition. Douglas Jesson took his place without an effort amongst the foremost writers of the day.
And this same success brought him face to face with one of the great crises of his life. It brought Joan to him, successful at last in her long search. Their interview, which, if unexpected, must surely have savoured of the dramatic, was reduced more or less to the commonplace, from the fact that she came to him prepared, already assured of his identity, for who else could have immortalised so wonderfully the little hillside village where they had both been brought up? He walked into the waiting-room at the Courier equally prepared, for he had seen her pass the window. She turned and faced him as he entered, carefully closing the door behind him, with a grim smile of triumph about her thin, set lips.
“At last, then, Douglas Guest,” she exclaimed, laying his book upon the table. “Are you not weary of skulking under a false name?”
“I chose it as much for your sake as mine, Joan,” he gravely replied.
Her black eyes flashed hatred and disbelief upon him.
“You don’t imagine that you can make me believe that,” she answered, passionately. “You have fooled many people, but I think your turn has come at last. I did not come here to listen to any fairy tales.”