Once more Austin Selwyn wrote.
One evening towards the summer Elise was sitting on the veranda, when he came from his study and joined her. The first pale stars were shining through a sheen of blue that rose from the horizon in an encircling, shimmering mist.
‘Are you through with your writing?’ she said.
‘Not yet,’ he answered, sitting beside her; ’but I could not resist the call of you and this wonderful night.’
‘Isn’t it glorious?’ she said softly, taking his hand in hers. ’I think that blue over the sea must be like the Arabian desert at night when the camel-trains rest on their way. Don’t you love the sound of the waves?’
With a little sigh she leaned her head on his shoulder, and he held her close to him.
‘So happy,’ she whispered, ’that I am afraid some day I shall find it isn’t true.’
He laughed gently, and for a few moments neither spoke, held by the wonderful intimacy of the spirit that does not need words for understanding.
‘Austin dear,’ she said at length, ’before you came out I was counting the stars—and playing with dreams. Don’t think me silly, will you? But I was planning, if we have a son, what I should like to call him.’
‘I think I know,’ he said, pressing his lips against her hair. ‘Dick?’
’And Gerard for his second name. I should want him to be strong and true like Gerard—but he must have Dick’s eyes and Dick’s smile. But, then, I want so much for this dream-boy of ours—for, most of all, he must be like my husband.’
With a sudden shyness she hid her face against his breast, and he ran his hand caressingly over her arm, which was like cool velvet to the touch.
The glimmering stars grew stronger, and a breeze from the sea crept murmuringly over the spring-scented fields.
‘There are times,’ he said, ’when I long for the power to reach out for the great truths that lie hidden in space and in the silence of a night like this—to put them in such simple language that every one could read and understand. If I could only translate the wonder of you and the spirit of the sea into words.’
She looked up into his face, and something of the mystic blue of the skies lay in the depths of her eyes.
Late that night he resumed work in his study, but a thousand memories and fancies came crowding to his mind. He tried to shake them off, but they clung to him—memories of the war—memories of the times when the world was drunk with passion. He heard, as if afar off, the whine and shriek of shells, and he saw the dead—grotesque, silent, horrible.
That was the great absurdity—the dead.
It was hopeless to write. He was no longer pilot of his thoughts.
He rose to his feet and threw open the door with an impatient desire for fresh air. Though the cool breeze refreshed his temples, the restlessness of his mind was only increased by the hush of nature’s nocturne, through which the sound of the sea came like a drone.