“But am I right? Won’t you tell me if I am right?”
He stood hesitating for a moment, looking down upon that upturned, questioning face, his gray eyes filled with a loyalty that caused her heart to throb wildly.
“I do not know, Beth,” he said at last, “I do not know; I cannot be your conscience. I must go out where I can be alone and think; but never will I come between you and your God.”
THE POINT OF VIEW
She sank back upon the chair, her face completely hidden within her arms. Winston, his hand already grasping the latch of the door, paused and glanced around at her, a sudden revulsion of feeling leaving him unnerved and purposeless. He had been possessed by but one thought, a savage determination to seek out Farnham and kill him. The brute was no more than a mad dog who had bitten one he loved; he was unworthy of mercy. But now, in a revealing burst of light, he realized the utter futility of such an act. Coward, brutal as the man unquestionably was, he yet remained her husband, bound to her by ties she held indissoluble. Any vengeful blow which should make her a widow would as certainly separate the slayer from her forever. Unavoidably though it might occur, the act was one never to be forgiven by Beth Norvell, never to be blotted from her remembrance. Winston appreciated this as though a sudden flash-light had been turned upon his soul. He had looked down into her secret heart, he had had opened before him the religious depth of her nature—this bright-faced, brown-eyed woman would do what was right although she walked a pathway of self-denying agony. Never once did he doubt this truth, and the knowledge gripped him with fingers of steel. Even as he stood there, looking back upon her quivering figure, it was no longer hate of Farnham which controlled; it was love for her. He took a step toward her, hesitant, uncertain, his heart a-throb with sympathy; yet what could he say? What could he do? Utterly helpless to comfort, unable to even suggest a way out, he drew back silently, closed the door behind him, and shut her in. He felt one clear, unalterable conviction—under God, it should not be for long.
He stood there in the brilliant sunlight, bareheaded still; looking dreamily off across the wide reach of the canyon. How peaceful, how sublimely beautiful, it all appeared; how delicately the tints of those distant trees blended and harmonized with the brown rocks beyond! The broad, spreading picture slowly impressed itself upon his brain, effacing and taking the place of personal animosity. In so fair a world Hope is ever a returning angel with healing in his wings; and Winston’s face brightened, the black frown deserting his forehead, all sternness gone from his eyes. There surely must be a way somewhere, and he would discover it; only the weakling and the coward can sit down in despair. Out of the prevailing silence he suddenly distinguished voices at hand, and the sound awoke him to partial interest. Just before the door where he stood a thick growth of bushes obstructed the view. The voices he heard indistinctly came from beyond, and he stepped cautiously forward, peering in curiosity between the parted branches.