“And now?” demanded the Princess, standing from him.
“And now I realize that, with the New Year, there may dawn new joys for me. Oh! my dear, if you will be content with what I can give you, let us be married soon and go to India for the rest of the winter.”
* * * * *
The Pere Anselme noticed that his only congregation from the Chateau consisted of Mr. Cloudwater and Madame Imogen; and he thanked the good God—as he sent up a fervent prayer for the absentees’ happiness.
“It means that they two are near heaven, and that consolation will come to the disconsolate one, since all four remain at home,” he told himself. This was a denouement worthy of Christmas Day, and of far more value in his eyes than the two pairs’ mere presence in his church.
“The ways of the good God are marvellous,” he mused, as he went to his vestry, “and it is fitting that youth should find its mate. We grieve and wring our hearts—and nothing is final—and while there is life there is hope—that love may bloom again. Peace be with them.”
When the first moment of ecstasy in the knowledge that they were indeed given back to each other was over, Michael drew Sabine to the window seat where she had been crouching only that short while before in silent misery.
“Sweetheart,” he entreated, “now you have got to tell me everything—do you understand, Sabine—every single thing from the first moment in the chapel when we made those vows until now when we are going to keep them. I want to know everything, darling child—all your thoughts and what you did with your life—and when you hated me and when you loved me——”
They sat down on the velvet cushions and Sabine nestled into his arms.
“It is so difficult, Michael,” she cooed, “how can I begin? I was sillier and more ignorant than any other girl of seventeen could possibly be, I think—don’t you? Oh! don’t let us speak of that part—I only remember that when you kissed me first in the chapel some kind of strange emotion came to me—then I was frightened——”
“But not after a while,” he interpolated, something of rapturous triumph in his fond glance, while he caressed and smoothed her hair, as her little head lay against his shoulder, “I thought you had forgiven me before I went to sleep.”
“Perhaps I had—I did not know myself—only that there in the gray dawn everything seemed perfectly awful and horror and terror came upon me again, and I had only one wild impulse to rush away—surely you can understand—” she paused.
“Go on, sweetheart,” he commanded, “I shall not let you off one detail. I love to make you tell me every single thing”—and he took her hand and played with her wedding ring, but not taking it off, while Sabine thrilled with happiness.
“Well—you did not wake—and so presently I got into the sitting-room, and at last found the certificate—and just as I was going out of the door on to the balcony I heard you call my name sleepily—and for one second I nearly went back—but I did not, and got safely away and to the hotel!”