“It’s the long habit, you know, of not believing them—of looking for the truth always in what they don’t say. It took me hours and hours to convince myself that there’s no trick under it, that there can’t be any,” she explained.
“Then you are convinced now?” escaped from Durham; but the shadow of his question lingered no more than the flit of a wing across her face.
“I am convinced because the facts are there to reassure me. Christiane tells me that Monsieur de Malrive has consulted his lawyers, and that they have advised him to free me. Maitre Enguerrand has been instructed to see my lawyer whenever I wish it. They quite understand that I never should have taken the step in face of any opposition on their part—I am so thankful to you for making that perfectly clear to them!—and I suppose this is the return their pride makes to mine. For they can be proud collectively—” She broke off and added, with happy hands outstretched: “And I owe it all to you—Christiane said it was your talk with her that had convinced them.”
Durham, at this statement, had to repress a fresh sound of amazement; but with her hands in his, and, a moment after, her whole self drawn to him in the first yielding of her lips, doubt perforce gave way to the lover’s happy conviction that such love was after all too strong for the powers of darkness.
It was only when they sat again in the blissful after-calm of their understanding, that he felt the pricking of an unappeased distrust.
“Did Madame de Treymes give you any reason for this change of front?” he risked asking, when he found the distrust was not otherwise to be quelled.
“Oh, yes: just what I’ve said. It was really her admiration of you—of your attitude—your delicacy. She said that at first she hadn’t believed in it: they’re always looking for a hidden motive. And when she found that yours was staring at her in the actual words you said: that you really respected my scruples, and would never, never try to coerce or entrap me—something in her—poor Christiane!—answered to it, she told me, and she wanted to prove to us that she was capable of understanding us too. If you knew her history you’d find it wonderful and pathetic that she can!”
Durham thought he knew enough of it to infer that Madame de Treymes had not been the object of many conscientious scruples on the part of the opposite sex; but this increased rather his sense of the strangeness than of the pathos of her action. Yet Madame de Malrive, whom he had once inwardly taxed with the morbid raising of obstacles, seemed to see none now; and he could only infer that her sister-in-law’s actual words had carried more conviction than reached him in the repetition of them. The mere fact that he had so much to gain by leaving his friend’s faith undisturbed was no doubt stirring his own suspicions to unnatural activity; and this sense gradually reasoned him back into acceptance of her view, as the most normal as well as the pleasantest he could take.