could. Certainly the wind was taking her part
and his, when in another moment her skirt whipped
against him and he saw her face glimmer out.
A mere wreck of lines and shadows it seemed in the
livid light, with suddenly perceiving eyes and lips
that cried his name. She had on a hat and a cloak,
but carried no umbrella, and her hands were bare and
wet. Pitifully the storm blew her into his arms,
a tossed and straying thing that could not speak for
sobs; pitifully and with a rough incoherent sound
he gathered and held her in that refuge. A rising
fear and a great solicitude laid a finger upon his
craving embrace of her; he had a sense of something
strangely different in her, of the unknown irremediable.
Yet she was there, in his arms, as she had never been
before; her plight but made her in a manner sweeter;
the storm that brought her barricaded them in the
empty spaces of the street with a divinely entreating
solitude. He had been prepared to meet her in
the lighted decorum of her father’s house and
he knew what he should say. He was not prepared
to take her out of the tempest, helpless and weeping
and lost for the harbour of his heart, and nothing
could he say. He locked his lips against all
that came murmuring to them. But his arms tightened
about her and he drew her into the shelter of a wall
that jutted out in the irregular street; and there
they stood and clung together in a long, close, broken
silence that covered the downfall of her spirit.
It was the moment of their great experience of one
another; never again, in whatever crisis, could either
know so deep, so wonderful a fathoming of the other
soul. Once as it passed, Advena put up her hand
and touched his cheek: There were tears on it,
and she trembled, and wound her arm about his neck,
and held up her face to his. “No,”
he muttered, and crushed it against his breast.
There without complaint she let it lie; she was all
submission to him: his blood leaped and his spirit
groaned with the knowledge of it.
“Why did you come out? Why did you come,
dear?” he said at last.
“I don’t know. There was such a wind.
I could not stay in the house.”
She spoke timidly, in a voice that should have been
new to him, but that it was, above all, her voice.
“I was on my way to you.”
“I know. I thought you might perhaps come.
If you had not—I think I was on my way
It seemed not unnatural.
“Did you find—any message from me
when you came?” she asked presently, in a quieted,
almost a contented tone.
It shot—the message—before his
eyes, though he had seen it no message, in the preoccupation
of his arrival.
“I found a rose on my dressing-table,”
he told her; and the rose stood for him in a wonder
of tenderness, looking back.
“I smuggled it in,” she confessed, “I
knew your old servant—she used to be with
us. The others—from Dr Drummond’s—have
been there all day making it warm and comfortable
for you. I had no right to do anything like that,
but I had the right, hadn’t I, to bring the rose?”