After an interval of a day Waymark wrote as follows to Miss Bygrave:—
“Doubtless you know that Maud has written desiring me to release her. I cannot but remember that she is scarcely yet recovered from a severe illness, and her letter must not be final. She entreats me not to write to her or see her. Accordingly I address myself to you, and beg that you will not allow Maud to take any irrevocable step till she is perfectly well, and has had time to reflect. I shall still deem her promise to me binding. If after the lapse of six months from now she still desires to be released, I must know it, either from herself or from you. Write to me at the old address.”
ORDERS OF RELEASE
Waymark and Casti spent their Christmas Eve together. They spoke freely of each other’s affairs, saving that there was no mention of Ida. Waymark had of course said nothing of that parting between Ida and himself. Of the hope which supported him he could not speak to his friend.
A month had told upon Julian as months do when the end draws so near. In spite of his suffering he still discharged his duties at the hospital, but it was plain that he would not be able to do so much longer. And what would happen then?
“Casti,” Waymark exclaimed suddenly, when a hint of this thought had brought both of them to a pause, “come away with me.”
Julian looked up in bewilderment.
“Anywhere. To some place where the sun shines.”
“What an impossible idea! How am I to get my living? And how is she to live?”
“Look here,” Waymark said, smiling, “my will is a little stronger than yours, and in the present case I mean to exercise it. I have said, and there’s an end of it. You say she’ll be away from home to-morrow. Good. We go together, pack up your books and things in half an hour or so, bring them here,—and then off! Sic volo, sic jubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas!”
And it was done, though not till Waymark had overcome the other’s opposition by the most determined effort. Julian understood perfectly well the full significance of the scheme, for all Waymark’s kind endeavour to put a hopeful and commonplace aspect on his proposal. He resisted as long as his strength would allow, then put himself in his friend’s hands.
It was some time before Julian could set his mind at rest with regard to the desertion of his wife. Though no one capable of judging the situation could have cast upon him a shadow of blame, the first experience of peace mingled itself in his mind with self-reproach. Waymark showed him how utterly baseless any such feeling was. Harriet had proved herself unworthy of a moment’s consideration, and it was certain that, as long as she received her weekly remittance—paid through an agent in London,—she would trouble herself very little about the rest; or, at all events, any feeling that might possess her would be wholly undeserving of respect. Gradually Julian accustomed himself to this thought.