“December 15th—I have been ill. Such a terrible experience. My one thought was the dread of dying. I must live. I cannot leave Desire— here.
“December 20th—He bought Desire new shoes and a frock today. It is strange, but he seems to take a certain care of her. Why? I do not know. I have wondered about his motives until I fancy things. What motive could he have . . . except that maybe he is not all evil? Maybe be cares for the child. She is so sweet—No. I must not deceive myself. Whatever his reason is, I know that it is not that.
“January 9th—A strange thing happened today. I found a torn envelope bearing the name of Harry’s English lawyers. I have seen the same kind of envelope in Harry’s hands more than once. They used to send him his remittance, I think. What can this man have to do with English lawyers? I am frightened. But for once I am more angry than afraid. I must watch. If he has dared to write to Harry’s people—”
The writing of the next entry had lost its clearness. It was almost illegible.
“January 13th—How could he! How could he sink so low! I have seen the lawyer’s letter. He has taken money. From Harry’s mother—for Desire. And this began within a month of our marriage. It shames me so that I cannot live. Yet I must live. I can’t leave the child. But I can stop this hateful traffic in a dead man’s honor. I will write myself to England.”
This was the last fragment. Spence looked again at the almost erased date—January 13th. He felt the sweat on his forehead for, beside that date, the unexplained postscript of Li Ho’s letter took on a ghastly significance.
“Respected lady depart life on January 14th.”
She had not lived to write to England!
It seemed to Benis Spence afterward that during that last day, while the train plunged steadily down to sea level, he passed every boundary ever set for the patience of man. It was a lovely, sparkling day. The rivers leaped and danced in sunshine. Long shadows swept like beating wings along the mountain sides. The air blew cool and sweet upon his lips. But for once he was deaf and blind and heedless of it all. He thought only of the night—of the night and the moon.
It came at last—a night as lovely as the day. Benis sat with his hand upon his watch. They were running sharp on time. There could be nothing to delay them now—barring an accident. Instantly his mind created an accident, providing all the ghastly details. He saw him-self helpless, pinned down, while the full moon climbed and sailed across the skies. . . .
But there was no accident. A cheery bustle soon began in the car. Suitcases were lifted up, unstrapped and strapped again. Women took their hats from the big paper bags which hung like balloons between the windows. There was a general shaking and fixing and sorting of possessions. Only the porter remained serene. He knew exactly how long it would take him to brush his car and did not believe in beginning too soon. Benis kept his eye on the porter. He stirred at last.