“Who am I?”
“Don’t you know?”
Dave shook his head.
“Really? Have you never read your mother’s will?”
Law rose to his elbow, then swung his legs to the floor. “What are you talking about?” he asked.
For answer Alaire handed him the frayed envelope and its contents.
He examined it, and then said, heavily: “I see! I was expecting this. It seems I’ve been carrying it around all this time—”
“Why don’t you read it?” she insisted. “There’s light enough there by the window. I supposed you knew all about it or I wouldn’t have joked with you.”
He opened his lips to speak, but, seeing something in her eyes, he stepped to the window and read swiftly. A moment, and then he uttered a cry.
“Alaire!” he exclaimed, hoarsely. “Read this—My eyes—O God!”
Wonderingly she took the sheets from his shaking hands and read aloud the paragraph he indicated: Fifth: I bequeath to my adopted son, David, offspring of the unfortunate American woman who died in my house at Escovedo—
Again Dave cried out and knelt at Alaire’s feet, his arms about her knees, his face buried in her dress. His shoulders were heaving and his whole body was racked with sobs.
Shocked, frightened, Alaire tried to raise him, but he encircled her in a tighter embrace.
“Dave! What is it? What have I done?” she implored. “Have I hurt you so?”
It was a long time before he could make known the significance of that paragraph, and when he finally managed to tell her about the terrible fear that had lain so heavily upon his soul it was in broken, choking words which showed his deep emotion. The story was out at last, however, and he stood over her transfigured.
Alaire lifted her arms and placed them upon his shoulders. “Were you going to give me up for that?—for a shadow?”
“Yes. I had made up my mind. I wouldn’t have dared marry you last night, but—I never expected to see today’s sun. I didn’t think it would make much difference. It was more than a shadow, Alaire. It was real. I was mad—stark, staring mad—or in a fair way of becoming so. I suppose I brooded too much. Those violent spells, those wild moments I sometimes have, made me think it must be true. I dare say they are no more than temper, but they seemed to prove all that Ellsworth suspected.”
“You must have thought me a very cowardly woman,” she told him. “It wouldn’t have made the slightest difference to me, Dave. We would have met it together when it came, just as we’ll meet everything now—you and I, together.”
“My wife!” He laid his lips against her hair.
They were standing beside the window, speechless, oblivious to all except their great love, when Dolores entered to tell them that supper was ready and that the horses were saddled.