“Very faithfully yours,
So they knew Summerhay’s name—he
had not somehow expected that.
He did not answer, not knowing what to say.
During those days of fever, the hardest thing to bear was the sound of her rapid whisperings and mutterings—incoherent phrases that said so little and told so much. Sometimes he would cover his ears, to avoid hearing of that long stress of mind at which he had now and then glimpsed. Of the actual tragedy, her wandering spirit did not seem conscious; her lips were always telling the depth of her love, always repeating the dread of losing his; except when they would give a whispering laugh, uncanny and enchanting, as at some gleam of perfect happiness. Those little laughs were worst of all to hear; they never failed to bring tears into his eyes. But he drew a certain gruesome comfort from the conclusion slowly forced on him, that Summerhay’s tragic death had cut short a situation which might have had an even more tragic issue. One night in the big chair at the side of her bed, he woke from a doze to see her eyes fixed on him. They were different; they saw, were her own eyes again. Her lips moved.
“Yes, my pet.”
“I remember everything.”
At that dreadful little saying, Winton leaned forward and put his lips to her hand, that lay outside the clothes.
“Where is he buried?”
It was rather a sigh than a word and, raising his head, Winton saw her eyes closed again. Now that the fever had gone, the white transparency of her cheeks and forehead against the dark lashes and hair was too startling. Was it a living face, or was its beauty that of death?
He bent over. She was breathing—asleep.
The return to Mildenham was made by easy stages nearly two months after Summerhay’s death, on New Year’s day—Mildenham, dark, smelling the same, full of ghosts of the days before love began. For little Gyp, more than five years old now, and beginning to understand life, this was the pleasantest home yet. In watching her becoming the spirit of the place, as she herself had been when a child, Gyp found rest at times, a little rest. She had not picked up much strength, was shadowy as yet, and if her face was taken unawares, it was the saddest face one could see. Her chief preoccupation was not being taken unawares. Alas! To Winton, her smile was even sadder. He was at his wits’ end about her that winter and spring. She obviously made the utmost effort to keep up, and there was nothing to do but watch and wait. No use to force the pace. Time alone could heal—perhaps. Meanwhile, he turned to little Gyp, so that they became more or less inseparable.