That she mistook what really was in his eyes was not material, though he was thinking of days when he believed he had discovered the secret of life—a woman whose life was beautiful; diffusing beauty, contentment, inspiration and peace. She did not know that his look was the wistful look backward, with no look forward; and that alone. She was living a life where new faculties of her nature were being exercised or brought into active being; she was absorbed by it all; it was part of her scheme for restoring herself, for getting surcease of anguish; but here, all at once, every entrenchment was overrun, the rigidity of the unit was made chaos, and she was tossed by the Spirit of Confusion upon a stormy sea of feeling.
“Will you not go?” she asked in a voice of suppressed passion. “Have you no consideration? It is past midnight.”
His anger flamed, but he forced back the words upon his lips, and said with a bitter smile: “Day and night are the same to me always now. What else should be in war? I am going.” He looked at the watch at his wrist. “It is half-past one o’clock. At five our work begins—not an eight-hour day. We have twenty-four-hour days here sometimes. This one may be shorter. You never can tell. It may be a one-hour day—or less.”
Suddenly he came towards her with hands outstretched. “Dear wife—Jasmine—” he exclaimed.
Pity, memory, a great magnanimity carried him off his feet for a moment, and all that had happened seemed as nothing beside this fact that they might never see each other again; and peace appeared to him the one thing needful after all. The hatred and conflict of the world seemed of small significance beside the hovering presence of an enemy stronger than Time.
She was still in a passion of rebellion against the inevitable—that old impatience and unrealized vanity which had helped to destroy her past. She shrank back in blind misunderstanding from him, for she scarcely heard his words. She mistook what he meant. She was bewildered, distraught.
“No, no—coward!” she cried.
He stopped short as though he had been shot. His face turned white. Then, with an oath, he went swiftly to the window which opened to the floor and passed through it into the night.
An instant later he was on his horse.
A moment of dumb confusion succeeded, then she realized her madness, and the thing as it really was. Running to the window, she leaned out.
She called, but only the grey mare’s galloping came back to her awe-struck ears.
With a cry like that of an animal in pain, she sank on her knees on the floor, her face turned towards the stars.
“Oh, my God, help me!” she moaned.
At least here was no longer the cry of doom.
THE WORLD’S FOUNDLING
At last day came. Jasmine was crossing the hallway of the hospital on her way to the dining-room when there came from the doorway of a ward a figure in a nurse’s dress. It startled her by some familiar motion. Presently the face turned in her direction, but without seeing her. Jasmine recognized her then. She went forward quickly and touched the nurse’s arm.