“And what then!” The cry came from Henry’s agonized heart. But the priest answered gravely:
“That is in the hand of God. My duty is done.”
And so they returned in silence, the Pere Anselme praying fervently to himself. And when they reached the house, Lord Fordyce stumbled up the stone stairs heavily and knocked at the door of Sabine’s sitting-room. He had seen Moravia at her window in the inner building, and knew that this woman who held his life in her hand would be alone.
Then, in response to a gentle “Entrez” he opened the door and went in.
* * * * *
Sabine had been sitting at her writing-table, an open blue despatch-box at her side. She was at the far end of the great apartment, so that Henry had some way to go toward her in the gloom, as, but for the large lamp near her and the blazing wood fire at each end, there was no light in the vast room. She rose to meet him, a gentle smile upon her face, and then, when he came close to her, she realized that something had happened, and suddenly put her hand out to steady herself upon the back of a chair.
“Henry—what is it?” she said, in a very low voice. “Come, let us go over there and sit down,” and she drew him to the same sofa where that very morning they had sat when she had let him kiss her. This thought was extra pain.
He was so very quiet he frightened her, and his gray eyes looked into hers with such a world of despair, but no reproach.
“Sabine,” he commanded in a voice out of which had vanished all life and hope, “tell me the whole story, my dear love.”
She clasped her hands convulsively—so the dreaded moment had come! There would be no use in making any excuses or protestations, her duty now was to master herself and collect her words to tell him the truth. The utter misery in his noble face wrung her heart, so that her voice trembled too much to speak at first; then she controlled it and began.
* * * * *
So all was told at last.
Then Henry took her two cold hands again and drew her up with him as he rose.
“Sabine,” he said with deep emotion, his heart at breaking point, but all thought of himself put aside in the supreme unselfishness of his worship; “Sabine, to-morrow I will prove to you what true love means. But now, my dearest, I will say good-night. I think I must go to my room for a little; this has been a tremendous shock.”
He bent and kissed her forehead with reverence and blessing, as her father might have done, and, hiding all further emotion, he walked steadily from the room.