“To be brave is to hope; don’t give up hope, dear.”
“No,” said Greta, tracing the pattern of the sunlight on her skirt. “But I think that when we hope, we are not brave, because we are expecting something for ourselves. Chris says that hope is prayer, and if it is prayer, then all the time we are hoping, we are asking for something, and it is not brave to ask for things.”
A smile curved Dawney’s mouth.
“Go on, Philosopher!” he said. “Be brave in your own way, it will be just as good as anybody else’s.”
“What are you going to do to be brave, Dr. Edmund?”
“I? Fight! If only we had five years off his life!”
Greta watched him as he walked away.
“I shall never be brave,” she mourned; “I shall always be wanting to be happy.” And, kneeling down, she began to disentangle a fly, imprisoned in a cobweb. A plant of hemlock had sprung up in the long grass by her feet. Greta thought, dismayed: ‘There are weeds!’
It seemed but another sign of the death of joy.
‘But it’s very beautiful,’ she thought, ’the blossoms are like stars. I am not going to pull it up. I will leave it; perhaps it will spread all through the garden; and if it does I do not care, for now things are not like they used to be and I do not, think they ever shall be again.’
The days went by; those long, hot days, when the heat haze swims up about ten of the forenoon, and, as the sun sinks level with the mountains, melts into golden ether which sets the world quivering with sparkles.
At the lighting of the stars those sparkles die, vanishing one by one off the hillsides; evening comes flying down the valleys, and life rests under her cool wings. The night falls; and the hundred little voices of the night arise.
It was near grape-gathering, and in the heat the fight for Nicholas Treffry’s life went on, day in, day out, with gleams of hope and moments of despair. Doctors came, but after the first he refused to see them.
“No,” he said to Dawney—“throwing away money. If I pull through it won’t be because of them.”
For days together he would allow no one but Dawney, Dominique, and the paid nurse in the room.
“I can stand it better,” he said to Christian, “when I don’t see any of you; keep away, old girl, and let me get on with it!”
To have been able to help would have eased the tension of her nerves, and the aching of her heart. At his own request they had moved his bed into a corner so that he might face the wall. There he would lie for hours together, not speaking a word, except to ask for drink.