When she awoke from the sleep into which she had seen Miltoun fall, the cab was slowly mounting a steep hill, above which the moon had risen. The air smelled strong and sweet, as though it had passed over leagues of grass.
“The Downs!” she thought; “I must have been asleep!”
In sudden terror, she looked round for Miltoun. But he was still there, exactly as before, leaning back rigid in his corner of the cab, with staring eyes, and no other signs of life. And still only half awake, like a great warm sleepy child startled out of too deep slumber, she clutched, and clung to him. The thought that he had been sitting like that, with his spirit far away, all the time that she had been betraying her watch in sleep, was dreadful. But to her embrace there was no response, and awake indeed now, ashamed, sore, Barbara released him, and turned her face to the air.
Out there, two thin, dense-black, long clouds, shaped like the wings of a hawk, had joined themselves together, so that nothing of the moon showed but a living brightness imprisoned, like the eyes and life of a bird, between those swift sweeps of darkness. This great uncanny spirit, brooding malevolent over the high leagues of moon-wan grass, seemed waiting to swoop, and pluck up in its talons, and devour, all that intruded on the wild loneness of these far-up plains of freedom. Barbara almost expected to hear coming from it the lost whistle of the buzzard hawks. And her dream came back to her. Where were her wings-the wings that in sleep had borne her to the stars; the wings that would never lift her—waking—from the ground? Where too were Miltoun’s wings? She crouched back into her corner; a tear stole up and trickled out between her closed lids-another and another followed. Faster and faster they came. Then she felt Miltoun’s arm round her, and heard him say: “Don’t cry, Babs!” Instinct telling her what to do, she laid her head against his chest, and sobbed bitterly. Struggling with those sobs, she grew less and less unhappy—knowing that he could never again feel quite so desolate, as before he tried to give her comfort. It was all a bad dream, and they would soon wake from it! And they would be happy; as happy as they had been before—before these last months! And she whispered:
“Only a little while, Eusty!”
Old Lady Harbinger dying in the early February of the following year, the marriage of Barbara with her son was postponed till June.
Much of the wild sweetness of Spring still clung to the high moor borders of Monkland on the early morning of the wedding day.
Barbara was already up and dressed for riding when her maid came to call her; and noting Stacey’s astonished eyes fix themselves on her boots, she said:
“It’ll tire you.”
“Nonsense; I’m not going to be hung.”