“To confess!” she said.
“This afternoon I asked him to hear my confession, but tonight I could not make it. I can only make it to you, Domini—only to you. Do you hear, Domini? Do you hear?”
Something in his face and in his voice terrified her heart. Now she felt as if she would stop him from speaking if she dared, but that she did not dare. His spirit was beyond domination. He would do what he meant to do regardless of her—of anyone.
“What is it, Boris?” she whispered. “Tell me. Perhaps I can understand best because I love best.”
He put his arms round her and kissed her, as a man kisses the woman he loves when he knows it may be for the last time, long and hard, with a desperation of love that feels frustrated by the very lips it is touching. At last he took his lips from hers.
“Domini,” he said, and his voice was steady and clear, almost hard, “you want to know what it is that makes me unhappy even in our love—desperately unhappy. It is this. I believe in God, I love God, and I have insulted Him. I have tried to forget God, to deny Him, to put human love higher than love for Him. But always I am haunted by the thought of God, and that thought makes me despair. Once, when I was young, I gave myself to God solemnly. I have broken the vows I made. I have—I have—”
The hardness went out of his voice. He broke down for a moment and was silent.
“You gave yourself to God,” she said. “How?”
He tried to meet her questioning eyes, but could not.
“I—I gave myself to God as a monk,” he answered after a pause.
As he spoke Domini saw before her in the moonlight De Trevignac. He cast a glance of horror at the tent, bent over her, made the sign of the Cross, and vanished. In his place stood Father Roubier, his eyes shining, his hand upraised, warning her against Androvsky. Then he, too, vanished, and she seemed to see Count Anteoni dressed as an Arab and muttering words of the Koran.
“Domini, did you hear me? Domini! Domini!”
She felt his hands on her wrists.
“You are the Trappist!” she said quietly, “of whom the priest told me. You are the monk from the Monastery of El-Largani who disappeared after twenty years.”
“Yes,” he said, “I am he.”
“What made you tell me? What made you tell me?”
There was agony now in her voice.
“You asked me to speak, but it was not that. Do you remember last night when I said that God must bless you? You answered, ’He has blessed me. He has given me you, your love, your truth.’ It is that which makes me speak. You have had my love, not my truth. Now take my truth. I’ve kept it from you. Now I’ll give it you. It’s black, but I’ll give it you. Domini! Domini! Hate me to-night, but in your hatred believe that I never loved you as I love you now.”
“Give me your truth,” she said.