I am Merlin
And I am dying,
“I am Merlin,
Who follow the Gleam.”
Helen stood gazing at the figure in utter consternation for at least half a minute before she could find voice; then she bent forward and called to him wildly—“Arthur!”
It was the other’s turn to be startled then, and he staggered backward; as he gazed up at Helen his look showed plainly that he too was half convinced that he was gazing at a phantom of his own mind, and for a long time he stood, pressing his hands to his heart and unable to make a sound or a movement. When finally he broke the silence his voice was a hoarse whisper. “Helen,” he panted, “what in heaven’s name are you doing here?”
And then as the girl answered, “This is my home, Arthur,” he gave another start.
“You live here with him?” he gasped.
“With him?” echoed Helen in a low voice. “With whom, Arthur?”
He answered, “With that Mr. Harrison.” A look of amazement crossed Helen’s face, tho followed quickly by a gleam of comprehension. She had quite forgotten that Arthur knew nothing about what she had done.
“Arthur,” she said, “I did not marry Mr. Harrison;” then, seeing that he was staring at her in still greater wonder, she went on hastily: “It seems strange to go back to those old days now; but once I meant to tell you all about it, Arthur.” She paused for a moment and then went on slowly: “All the time I was engaged to that man I was wretched; and when I saw you the last time—that dreadful time by the road—it was almost more than I could bear; so I took back my wicked promise of marriage and came to see you and tell you all about it.”
As the girl had been speaking the other had been staring at her with a look upon his face that was indescribable, a look that was more terror than anything else; he had staggered back, he grasped at a tree to support himself. Helen saw the look and stopped, frightened herself.
“What is it, Arthur?” she cried; “what is the matter?”
“You came to see me!” the other gasped hoarsely. “You came to see me—and I—and I was gone!”
“Yes, Arthur,” said Helen; “you had gone the night before, and I could not find you. Then I met this man that I loved, and you wrote that you had torn the thought of me from your heart; and so—–”
Again Helen stopped, for the man had sunk backwards with a cry that made her heart leap in fright. “Arthur!” she exclaimed, taking a step towards him; and he answered her with a moan, stretching out his arms to her. “Great God, Helen, that letter was a lie!”
Helen stopped, rooted to the spot. “A lie?” she whispered faintly.
“Yes, a lie!” cried the other with a sudden burst of emotion, leaping up and starting towards her. “Helen, I have suffered the tortures of hell! I loved you—I love you now!”