Should he then, ignoring Mary, ascribe his symptoms to their true cause? By dragging out the horror of that moonlit night, he could account for any vagary of nerves. But that way of escape was equally impossible. He could not let that shadow fall across her path of new-found freedom. Nor would he, in any case, gain much by such postponement. The wretched professor began to realize that the devil is indeed the father of lies and that he who sups with him needs a long spoon.
Meanwhile, Desire was waiting.
He felt that he would like to shake her—sitting there with untroubled air and face like an inquiring sphinx—to shake her and kiss her and tell her that there wasn’t any Mary and—he brought himself up with a start. What nonsense was this!
“Look here,” he said irritably, “you are all wrong. You really are. It’s perfectly true I’ve been feeling groggy. But there doesn’t have to be a reason for that, unfortunately. Old Bones warned me that I might expect all kinds of come-backs. But I’m almost right again now. Another day or two of this heavenly place and I shan’t know that I have a nerve.”
“Yes,” critically. “You are better. I should say that the worst was over.”
“I’m sure it is. Supposing we leave it at that.”
Desire smiled her shadowy smile. “Very well. But I wanted you to know that I understand. It’s so silly to go on pretending not to see, when one does see. And it’s only natural that things should seem more poignant for a time. Only you will recover much more quickly if you adopt a sensible attitude. I do not say, ’do not think of Mary,’ I say ‘think of her openly.’”
“How,” said Spence, “does one think openly?”
“You wish me to talk of Mary?”
“It will be so good for you!” warmly.
They looked for a moment into each other’s eyes. And Spence was conscious of a second shock. Was there, was there the faintest glint of something which was not all sympathy in those grey depths of hers? Before his conscious mind had even formulated the question, his other mind had asked and answered it, and, with the lightning speed of the subconscious, had acted. The professor became aware of a complete change of outlook. His remorse and timidity left him. His brain worked clearly.
“Very well,” said the professor.
The worm had turned!
Mornings are beautiful all over the earth but Nature keeps a special kind of morning for early summer use at Friendly Bay. In sudden clearness, in chill sweetness, in almost awful purity there is no other morning like it. It wrings the human soul quite clear of everything save wonder at its loveliness.