This time she bore the pang of anguish motionless, but the vision of Michael went out suddenly in a throbbing darkness of swift agony. Her shoulders felt red-hot. The pain shot up into her brain like fingers of flame. It clasped her whole body in a torment, and the ecstasy of self-surrender was lost in a sick groping after sheer endurance.
The next stroke, crushing across that fever of intolerable suffering, wrung a hoarse moan from her dry lips. Her hands locked together till she felt as though their bones must crack with the strain as she waited for the next inexorable stroke.
One moment! . . . Two! An eternity of waiting!
“Go on!” she breathed. “Oh! . . . Be quick . . .” Her voice panted.
No movement answered her. Unable to endure the suspense, she straightened her bowed shoulders and turned in convulsive appeal to where she had glimpsed the flail-like rise and fall of Sister Agnetia’s serge-clad arm.
There was no one there! The bare, cell-like chamber was empty, save for herself. Sister Agnetia had stolen away, completing the penance of physical pain by the refinement of anguish embodied in those hideous moments of mental dread.
Magda almost fancied she could hear an oily chuckle outside the door.
THOSE THAT WERE LEFT BEHIND
For the first month or two after Magda’s departure Gillian found that she had her hands full in settling up various business and personal matters which had been left with loose ends. She was frankly glad to discover that there were so many matters requiring her attention; otherwise the blank occasioned in her life by Magda’s absence would have been almost unendurable.
The two girls had grown very much into each other’s hearts during the years they had shared together, and when friends part, no matter how big a wrench the separation may mean to the one who goes, there is a special kind of sadness reserved for the one who is left behind. For the one who sets out there are fresh faces, new activities in store. Even though the new life adventured upon may not prove to be precisely a bed of thornless roses, the pricking of the thorns provides distraction to the mind from the sheer, undiluted pain of separation.
But for Gillian, left behind at Friars’ Holm, there remained nothing but an hourly sense of loss added to that crushing, inevitable flatness which succeeds a crisis of any kind.
Nor did a forlorn Coppertop’s reiterated inquiries as to how soon the Fairy Lady might be expected back again help to mend matters.
Lady Arabella’s grief was expressed in a characteristically prickly fashion.
“Young people don’t seem to know the first thing about love nowadays,” she observed with the customary scathing contempt of one age for another.
In my young days! Ah! there will never be times like those again! We are all quite sure of it as our young days recede into the misty past.