She began to pay more frequent visits to her aunt Theresa, whom at first she had seen very seldom. There was not the old confidence between them. Maud shrank from any direct reference to the change in herself, and Miss Bygrave spoke no word which could suggest a comparison between past and present. Maud tried once more to draw near to the pale, austere woman, whose life ever remained the same. She was not repelled, but neither did any movement respond to her yearning. She always came away with a sad heart.
One evening in the week she looked forward to with eagerness; it was that on which Waymark was generally expected. In Waymark’s presence she could forget those dark spirits that hovered about her; she could forget herself, and be at rest in the contemplation of strength and confidence. There was a ring in his voice which inspired faith; whatever might be his own doubts and difficulties— and his face testified to his knowledge of both—it was so certain that he had power to overcome them. This characteristic grew stronger in him to her observation; he was a far other man now than when she first knew him; the darkness had passed from his eyes, which seemed always to look straight forward, and with perception of an end he was nearing. Why could she not make opportunities of speaking freely with him, alone with him? They were less near to each other, it seemed, after a year of constant meeting, than in the times when, personally all but strangers, they had corresponded so frankly and unconventionally. Of course he came to the house for her sake; it could not but be so; yet at times he seemed to pay so little attention to her. Her mother often monopolised him through a whole evening, and not apparently to his annoyance. And all the time he had in his heart the message for which she longed; support and comfort were waiting for her there, she felt sure, could he but speak unrestrainedly. In herself was no salvation; but he had already overcome, and why could she not ask him for the secret of his confidence? Often, as the evening drew to an end, and he was preparing to leave, an impatience scarcely to be repressed took hold upon her; her face grew hot, her hands trembled, she would have followed him from the room and begged for one word to herself had it been possible. And when he was gone, there came the weakest moments her life had yet known; a childish petulance, a tearful fretting, an irritable misery of which she was ashamed. She went to her room to suffer in silence, and often to read through that packet of his letters, till the night was far spent.