He stretched out his arms towards the place where she should be.
“Beatrice,” he whispered to the empty air, “Beatrice! Oh, my love! my sweet! my soul! Hear me, Beatrice!”
There came a pause, and ever the unearthly sympathy grew and gathered in his heart, till it seemed to him as though separation had lost its power and across dividing space they were mingled in one being.
A great gust shook the house and passed away along the roaring depths.
Oh! what was this? Silently the door opened, and a white draped form passed its threshold. He rose, gasping; a terrible fear, a terrible joy, took possession of him. The lightning flared out wildly in the eastern sky. There in the fierce light she stood before him—she, Beatrice, a sight of beauty and of dread. She stood with white arms outstretched, with white uncovered feet, her bosom heaving softly beneath her night-dress, her streaming hair unbound, her lips apart, her face upturned, and a stamp of terrifying calm.
“In the wide, blind eyes uplift Thro’ the darkness and the drift.”
Great Heaven, she was asleep!
Hush! she spoke.
“You called me, Geoffrey,” she said, in a still, unnatural voice. “You called me, my beloved, and I—have—come.”
He rose aghast, trembling like an aspen with doubt and fear, trembling at the sight of the conquering glory of the woman whom he worshipped.
See! She drew on towards him, and she was asleep. Oh, what could he do?
Suddenly the draught of the great gale rushing through the house caught the opened door and crashed it to.
She awoke with a wild stare of terror.
“Oh, God, where am I?” she cried.
“Hush, for your life’s sake!” he answered, his faculties returning. “Hush! or you are lost.”
But there was no need to caution here to silence, for Beatrice’s senses failed her at the shock, and she sank swooning in his arms.
A DAWN OF RAIN
That crash of the closing door did not awake Beatrice only; it awoke both Elizabeth and Mr. Granger. Elizabeth sat up in bed straining her eyes through the gloom to see what had happened. They fell on Beatrice’s bed—surely—surely——
Elizabeth slipped up, cat-like she crept across the room and felt with her hand at the bed. Beatrice was not there. She sprang to the blind and drew it, letting in such light as there was, and by it searched the room. She spoke: “Beatrice, where are you?”
“Ah—h,” said Elizabeth aloud; “I understand. At last—at last!”
What should see do? Should she go and call her father and put them to an open shame? No. Beatrice must come back some time. The knowledge was enough; she wanted the knowledge to use if necessary. She did not wish to ruin her sister unless in self-defence, or rather, for the cause of self-advancement. Still less did she wish to injure Geoffrey, against whom she had no grudge. So she peeped along the passage, then returning, crept back to her bed like a snake into a hole and watched.