And while she hesitated, from the room above came the soft, racking, petitionary music of a violin. The hag, music, bewitches some of the noblest. The daws may peck upon one’s sleeve without injury, but whoever wears his heart upon his tympanum gets it not far from the neck.
This music and the musician caller her, and at her side honor and the old love held her back.
“Forgive me,” he pleaded.
“Twenty years is a long time to remain away from the one you say you love,” she declared, with a purgatorial touch.
“How could I tell?” he begged. “I will conceal nothing from you. That night when he left I followed him. I was mad with jealousy. On a dark street I struck him down. He did not rise. I examined him. His head had struck a stone. I did not intend to kill him. I was mad with love and jealousy. I hid near by and saw an ambulance take him away. Although you married him, Helen—”
“Who Are You?” cried the woman, with wide-open eyes, snatching her hand away.
“Don’t you remember me, Helen—the one who has always loved you best? I am John Delaney. If you can forgive—”
But she was gone, leaping, stumbling, hurrying, flying up the stairs toward the music and him who had forgotten, but who had known her for his in each of his two existences, and as she climbed up she sobbed, cried and sang: “Frank! Frank! Frank!”
Three mortals thus juggling with years as though they were billiard balls, and my friend, the reporter, couldn’t see anything funny in it!
A RAMBLE IN APHASIA
My wife and I parted on that morning in precisely our usual manner. She left her second cup of tea to follow me to the front door. There she plucked from my lapel the invisible strand of lint (the universal act of woman to proclaim ownership) and bade me to take care of my cold. I had no cold. Next came her kiss of parting—the level kiss of domesticity flavored with Young Hyson. There was no fear of the extemporaneous, of variety spicing her infinite custom. With the deft touch of long malpractice, she dabbed awry my well-set scarf pin; and then, as I closed the door, I heard her morning slippers pattering back to her cooling tea.
When I set out I had no thought or premonition of what was to occur. The attack came suddenly.
For many weeks I had been toiling, almost night and day, at a famous railroad law case that I won triumphantly but a few days previously. In fact, I had been digging away at the law almost without cessation for many years. Once or twice good Doctor Volney, my friend and physician, had warned me.
“If you don’t slacken up, Bellford,” he said, “you’ll go suddenly to pieces. Either your nerves or your brain will give way. Tell me, does a week pass in which you do not read in the papers of a case of aphasia—of some man lost, wandering nameless, with his past and his identity blotted out—and all from that little brain clot made by overwork or worry?”