Jack drew his hand over his chin and reflected silently.
“That’s odd,” he said, after a pause. “Yet very comprehensible. I might almost have thought of that before: might have arrived at it on general principles. Psychologically and physiologically it’s exactly what one would have expected from the nature of memory. And yet it never occurred to me. Set up the train of thought in the order in which it originally presented itself, and the links may readily restore themselves in successive series. Try to trace it backward in the inverse order, and the process is very much more difficult and involved.—Well, we’ll try things just so with you, Una. We’ll begin by reconstructing your first life as far as we can from the very outset, with the aid of these stray hints of yours; and then we’ll see whether we can get you to remember all your past up to the day of the accident more easily.”
I gazed up at him with gratitude.
“Oh, Jack,” I said, trembling, “in spite of this shock, I believe I can do it now. I believe I can remember. The scales are falling from my eyes. I’m becoming myself again. What you’ve said and what you’ve shown me seems to have broken down a veil. I feel as if I could reconstruct all now, when once the key’s suggested to me.”
He smiled at me encouragingly. Oh, how could I ever have doubted him?
“That’s right, darling,” he answered. “I should have expected as much, indeed. For now for the very first time since the accident you’ve got really at the other side of the great blank in your memory.”
I felt so happy, though I knew I was a murderess. I didn’t mind now whether I was hanged or not. To love Jack and be loved by him was quite enough for me. When he called me “darling,” I was in the seventh heavens. It sounded so familiar. I knew he must have called me so, often and often before, in the dim dead past that was just beginning to recur to me.
THE STRANGER FROM THE SEA
I held his hand tight. It was so pleasant to know I could love him now with a clear conscience, even if I had to give myself up to the police to-morrow. And indeed, being a woman, I didn’t really much care whether they took me or not, if only I could love Jack, and know Jack loved me.
“You must tell me everything—this minute—Jack,” I said, clinging to him like a child. “I can’t bear this suspense. Begin telling me at once. You’ll do me more harm than good if you keep me waiting any longer.”
Jack took instinctively a medical view of the situation.
“So I think, my child,” he said, looking lovingly at me. “Your nerves are on the rack, and will be the better for unstringing. Oh, Una, it’s such a comfort that you know at last who I am! It’s such a comfort that I’m able to talk to you to-day just as we two used to talk four years ago in Devonshire!”