She moved her skirts to make room for him. When he sat down, he felt a strange trembling through all his limbs.
“Perhaps,” she went on, “I shall break my oath. Indeed, I have already broken it. Let me look at you, my husband. It is a strange thing to own after all these years—a husband.”
Dominey felt as though he were breathing an atmosphere of turgid and poisoned sweetness. There was a flavour of unreality about the whole situation,—the room, this child woman, her beauty, her deliberate, halting speech and the strange things she said.
“You find me changed?” he asked.
“You are very wonderfully changed. You look stronger, you are perhaps better-looking, yet there is something gone from your face which I thought one never lost.”
“You,” he said cautiously, “are more beautiful than ever, Rosamund.”
She laughed a little drearily.
“Of what use has my beauty been to me, Everard, since you came to my little cottage and loved me and made me love you, and took me away from Dour Roger? Do you remember the school chidden used to call him Dour Roger?—But that does not matter. Do you know, Everard, that since you left me my feet have not passed outside these gardens?”
“That can be altered when you wish,” he said quickly. “You can visit where you will. You can have a motor-car, even a house in town. I shall bring some wonderful doctors here, and they will make you quite strong again.”
Her large eyes were lifted almost piteously to his.
“But how can I leave here?” she asked plaintively. “Every week, sometimes oftener, he calls to me. If I went away, his spirit would break loose and follow me. I must be here to wave my hand; then he goes away.”
Dominey was conscious once more of that strange and most unexpected fit of emotion. He was unrecognisable even to himself. Never before in his life had his heart beaten as it was beating now. His eyes, too, were hot. He had travelled around the word in search of new things, only to find them in this strange, faded chamber, side by side with this suffering woman. Nevertheless, he said quietly:
“We must send you some place where the people are kinder and where life is pleasanter. Perhaps you love music and to see beautiful pictures. I think that we must try and keep you from thinking.”
She sighed in a perplexed fashion.
“I wish that I could get it out of my blood that I want to kill you. Then you could take me right away. Other married people have lived together and hated each other. Why shouldn’t we? We may forget even to hate.”
Dominey staggered to his feet, walked to a window, threw it open and leaned out for a moment. Then he closed it and came back. This new element in the situation had been a shock to him. All the time she was watching him composedly.
“Well?” she asked, with a strange little smile. “What do you say? Would you like to hold as a wife’s the hand which frightened you so last night?”