HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO STOP LOVING

For six weeks she kept steadfastly away from the place in John Street.
When by herself, she would often clasp her hands very tightly and raise
them above her head while sounds between sighs and sobs escaped from
her breast. But from Simon she carefully concealed every sign of her
misery. She strove to exhibit more interest in all that interested him.

Julia Burgdorf dropped in one evening and finding them together at the
pianola, pronounced them a model couple. Julia had come to offer them
her country house on Long Island during her own absence in Europe that
summer.

“Gray Arches is a lonely, remote, romantic spot,–in fact, just the
place for a pair of lovers like you two,” she declared looking from one
to the other with sarcastic amusement.

The place, which consisted of a large house, gardener’s cottage, and
stables, had fallen but recently into her hands, she went on to
explain, and she had learned through her agent that it was somewhat out
of repair as it had not been occupied for three years.

“You can understand, Simon, that I don’t want to bother about putting
it in shape this year,” she concluded, “and as Mr. Gunther assures me
that the house can be occupied as it stands, I shall count it a favour
if you and Rachel will go and live in it as it is.”

But Simon had no wish to be under obligation to Julia, and the matter
was settled by his agreeing to rent the place, an arrangement that
nettled her. When she rose to go her cheeks were flushed.

Rachel accompanied her to the hall and, as she was leaving, Julia
turned and laid her hands on the other’s shoulders.

“You _are_ a model couple, aren’t you?” she insisted, with an
enigmatical smile in her handsome, dark, heavy-lidded eyes.

This smile, which gave her face a resemblance to Simon’s, caused the
young wife to colour deeply.

Rachel’s confession produced no change in Simon’s attitude toward her.
He remained as attentive and considerate, and yet as restrained in his
manner as before, with the difference that he now made a point of
keeping her informed of Emil’s progress. The new organ attachment
promised so well that the Company were hopeful and the inventor was
supplied with every facility for proceeding with his work. By
vibrating the strings of a piano by means of electrical induction,
rather than by striking them with hammers, a strange and ethereal
result was obtained, and these tones combined with those of a pipe
organ produced an effect absolutely novel in musical expression.

As Rachel listened to Simon’s attempted description of the complicated
contrivance, she was obliged to bend her head over whatever work she
held, to conceal the joyous expression of her face. Until Emil should
justify the interest shown in him, she could not help feeling
responsible, not alone to her husband but to all the other members of
the Company which had been incorporated without sufficient capital.

“St. Ives is even growing businesslike in his treatment of us,” Simon
remarked one morning in a voice from which he carefully excluded all
trace of personal feeling. “He telephoned very early to say that he is
called out of town by the illness of his mother. If he finds that her
condition is serious, he may be gone some days. So I think, my dear,”
he concluded, “you had better go round and see Mrs. St. Ives. It must
be lonely for her there, and you might take her to drive.”

An hour later Rachel showed herself in John Street. Walking along the
passage she glanced into Emil’s workroom where the organ now occupied
half the available space. It was deserted except for Lulu. Crouched
on the window ledge, she was pensively cherishing a maple leaf someone
had given her. She had removed the substance of the leaf from between
the veins, now only its framework remained, and this she held closely
to her breast. At Rachel’s step she looked over her shoulder and an
inscrutable sadness appeared in her little eyes.

Rachel tapped at Annie’s door, which was thrown open to her with
startling suddenness. Annie was all ready for the street and a
suit-case stood on the floor. The room exhibited the utmost confusion.

“Where are you going?” Rachel cried.

“To my father’s. He’s written me several times saying that I may come
home if I’ll leave Alexander; and I’m going to leave him and I’m never
coming back either.” A sob caught Annie’s breath as she strove to
button her glove.

Rachel took the wrist and fastened the glove. “But you’re not going to
leave him now when he’s in such trouble about his mother, are you?”

“Yes I am. I offered to go with him this morning when he got word of
her illness, but he wouldn’t let me. He said I’d always been hateful
about her and I shouldn’t trouble her now she was dying. He insulted
me;” and stooping, Annie picked up the suit-case. “Please let me
pass,” she said with dismal dignity. “You don’t know what you’re
talking about when you advise me to stay with him. I’m no use to him,
he shows that every day; and why shouldn’t I live comfortable?
Besides,” she added, and she glanced about her apprehensively, “I’m
afraid here.”

Hastening down the passageway, she entered Emil’s workroom and pointed
through the skylight:

“They’ve been spying down here with a telescope ever since Alexander
left early this morning to see what he’s working on.”

The neighbouring office building was very tall and in one of the upper
windows the round eye of a telescope was to be seen.

“They manufacture organs themselves,” Annie explained, “and first one
and then another of them has been hanging around here for a long time.
Now it’s a fair-haired man with a pock-marked face and sometimes it’s a
little black Jew. They always have some excuse; but I’ve warned
Alexander.”

“Why don’t you cover up things?” Rachel interrupted her, and divesting
the couch of its Bagdad covering, she threw it over the metal plate,
strings and sounding-board of the piano which stood on the floor.

Annie cast a glance over her shoulder. “You’d better cover up those
wires that pass through the wall,” she said, “they’re connected with
the battery and that’s what they’re crazy to find out about.”

Rachel adjusted the covering; then she ran after Annie, who had gained
the outer door. She caught her by the shoulders and twitched her
about. “But why didn’t you do it yourself?” she cried. “What do you
_mean_ by not doing it, you–you little coward? Your husband’s a
genius; but that’s all you care!”

Annie with difficulty rid herself of the other’s grasp and backed off.
“I don’t care if he’s a genius a thousand times over,” she cried
hysterically, “I guess he isn’t the only one to be thought of! Oh, he
had no right to leave me this way with the janitress and everyone
gone!” Sobs rose in her throat.

Turning to the door, she ran out upon the landing; but Rachel’s voice,
keyed to a pitch of indignation, pursued her.

“You would leave this place all alone, would you? You are not even
going to close the windows but leave everything open?”

Annie made a helpless gesture as she descended the stairs. “It won’t
be alone; Ding Dong will be along in a few minutes and he’ll attend to
everything.”

Rachel remained staring after her for a moment; then, her eyes blazing
with disdain, she closed the door. Pride kept her from bolting it.
Returning to the workroom she sat down beside the bench and
occasionally she glanced up at the telescope. Though she told herself
that Annie had imagined the whole situation, she was relieved to find
that the watcher had forsaken his post. As for the quarrel, it must
have been of a more serious nature than usual. However, Annie would
not remain away for any length of time.

This was the noon hour and owing to a slight diminution in the roar of
the city the ticking of a clock could be heard through the room. For a
time Rachel’s face wore the scornful look it had worn in Annie’s
presence, but gradually this expression gave place to undisguised
enthusiasm. Taking the tools one by one into her hands, she examined
them, wondering about their use. A radiometer on which Emil was
engaged in making improvements, stood at her elbow; drawing this to her
with both hands, she began patting it after the fashion of a mother
caressing the head of a child. Finally she rested her hot cheek
against the polished surface and closed her eyes. Lulu, who had been
observing her intently from the loftiest pipe of the organ, crept to a
position at her shoulder. There, crouched amid a clutter of tools and
instruments, she continued to cherish the maple leaf. Had an observer
been present, the two might have suggested to his mind a group by
Albrecht Dürer; for the sentimental look in the face of the little
animal was a droll reflection of the devotion in the face of the woman.
Presently a tear stole down Rachel’s cheek. She had just lifted her
hand to brush it away when she heard a step in the passage. Thinking
Ding Dong had come, she turned to the door; but a large light-haired
man with a pock-marked face stood before her.

Both started. The stranger instantly recovered himself.

“Good afternoon, madam,” he said, removing his hat with a flourish;
“can you tell me if Mr. St. Ives is in?”

Rachel stood up; one of her hands rested on the piano sounding-board.
“No, he is not.”

“Mrs. St. Ives, then?”

She made no reply.

The man stared at her uneasily. “That is unfortunate,” he said after a
moment, as if she had replied to his question. “However, it doesn’t
matter,” with a smile, showing two rows of strong yellow teeth; “I’m an
expert mechanic and Mr. St. Ives asked me to step round and take a look
at a model he’s at work on. It’s a piano attachment, and there’s some
ticklish point about which he wanted my advice. If you’ll excuse me,”
he added blandly, “that is the model just behind you, I think. I’ll
examine it and make my report to him.”

He advanced but Rachel did not alter her position. The colour had fled
her cheek, but in her dark eyes a spark had kindled and this grew
steadily larger. Until he was within a foot of her, she looked fixedly
at the dirty tie that encircled his throat; then as his hand moved to
twitch the drapery from the sounding-board, she suddenly lifted a
glance in which there was a menacing fury.

His arm dropped and a tremour passed over him similar to the quivering
that agitates the hide of an animal unexpectedly checked in a spring.
For a perceptible space, while the clock ticked monotonously through
the quiet room, measuring off the silence, he stood with his chin
thrust forward. Then an ugly expression crossed his face and the veins
swelled in his forehead.

“I don’t want to touch a lady, of course,” he said in an under voice,
“but I came to examine that model and I’m going to examine it. As for
you,” and it was as if an oath spilled with the words, “you stand out
of the way. Won’t eh?” he exclaimed.

He shot out a hand.

But at that moment he was seized from behind by a pair of powerful
arms. Fairly growling with rage, Ding Dong dragged the intruder to his
knees and the two rolled on the floor. The confusion caused by the
scuffle was terrific. Lulu, scudding to the top of the organ, uttered
shriek after shriek as she grasped frantically at her breast with both
hands. Skirting the heaving forms, Rachel fled down to the street.

But one idea stood out in her mind. As it chanced, an officer was
lounging near the doorway and she plucked his sleeve. “Go–go up
there!” she cried, “St. Ives’s workroom–a thief has just entered!”

Before she had finished the officer was mounting the stairs.

Her first impulse was to get into her carriage, which, with Peter on
the box, was waiting beside the curb. Then reflecting that Ding Dong
could not speak a word to the officer, she returned to the scene of the
conflict.

Attracted by the sight of the officer, men and boys, scenting
excitement, flocked up the stairs from the other floors. When Rachel
gained the door of the workroom the intruder was clearing the blood
from his face, and the officer, who evidently had accepted a bribe, was
swinging his club and ordering the onlookers to depart. Still perched
on the organ, the monkey, to the delight of the spectators, continued
to chatter with fright. Rachel looked at the officer.

“Arrest that man. Why do you not arrest him?”

The officer ceased smiling. “On what charge, madam? He says he came
here to do some work; well, that’s all right!”

“He came here to steal the idea of an invention.”

“An idea? I’ve searched him without finding anything of the kind.”

At this fine piece of wit, the spectators, most of them beardless boys,
snickered.

“However, madam,” the officer continued, “I’m willing to haul them both
to the station if you say the word, and I take it you’re willing to
press the charge, that is, appear against him?”

“No,–I shall not do that,” she said, pausing between her words, for
the light in which Simon would view the matter came to her. “Is there
no other way?”

“None that I ever heard of. If you want a man put in jail,–well, you
have to appear and tell why you want it.”

She was in her carriage. Sinking into the corner, she ordered the man
to drive home. “And Peter, perhaps you’d better hurry,” she added
after a moment. With that small portion of her brain which was not
seething with anger and which persisted in considering that
insignificant feature of the affair, it seemed to her that the man who
had overtaken her and wished to question her, was in all likelihood a
reporter.

And when she reached home, in spite of her gloomy fury at the
frustration of her act of vengeance, the small apprehension persisted.
The newspaper man, when he learned of her identity from the bystanders,
would of course appear to interview her; and however justifiable her
action might be, she knew that Simon would not forgive her if any
publicity were given the affair. To avert trouble, she decided to take
the afternoon train to Julia Burgdorf’s country house on Long Island.
She had been there twice with Simon and a telegram to the woman in
charge would be sufficient. Going to the telephone, she called up the
shop; but Simon was absent, and she urged Victor Mudge to have a
watchman sent to John Street. Then leaving a note for her husband, she
started at once.

It was late in the afternoon when she arrived at Gray Arches and the
sun was nearing the horizon. After dinner, which was set out for her
in a glass-enclosed corner of one of the arched porches that gave the
house its name, she went to the beach.

The ocean spread out before her with its salt, fresh scent; its
vivifying breath blowing upon the beach, piled up little hillocks of
sand. Sitting on the sand, propped up on both arms, Rachel steadfastly
regarded the ocean and her mind returned to Emil. The next day, being
Sunday, Simon would, no doubt, follow her. Perhaps he would have
received further news of Emil’s mother. If she died, how would Emil
bear it? As he had no philosophy, a great grief might wreck him. And
what could he hold to? Not Annie,–Annie was a broken reed;–not
herself,–Simon would not permit it.

Love was the powerful, mysterious, secret influence at work everywhere.
Undermining, building up, overthrowing, replacing,–it was like a
mighty sea penned in each fragile human breast. Locking her hands
about her knees, Rachel watched the waves. And the waves approached,
grew mighty, curled over, disappeared; approached, grew mighty, curled
over, disappeared.

It was about midnight when she rose.

“No, no, it isn’t necessary, and I cannot. I cannot!” she repeated,
lifting her face to the stars which seemed to rain down upon her a
beneficent and vital influence.

She was awakened early the following morning by a tap at her door:
“Madam, Mr. Hart is here. As soon as it is convenient, he would like
to see you.”

Rachel hastily dressed herself. She believed she thoroughly knew her
husband, but she was amazed at the expression of his face when she ran
down the stairs. He was standing in the little glass-enclosed end of
the porch, where breakfast was laid, and through the small panes she
saw the flowers nodding brightly. He was looking toward the ocean
without seeing it, his brows contracted, his clean-shaven jaw and cleft
chin twitching slightly. In his hand he held a newspaper.

She approached. Another woman might have tried the effect of a warm
greeting, for it was a question whether, even in his present state, he
would have been able to resist her. But Rachel scorned to make the
attempt.

“What is it, Simon?” she asked quietly.

For answer, still with averted eyes, he handed her the paper.

It was folded in such a manner as to exhibit an article surrounded by a
blue line. The article was a short amusing account of the incident of
the day before, and in it the frightened monkey and all the odd
paraphernalia of the inventor’s workshop played an important part.
Barring the headline “Jeweller’s Wife hastens to protect Invention of
Young Genius,” there was nothing even remotely offensive in it.

“Well?” she remarked, after running her eye over the article; then she
returned the paper.

For answer he twisted it into a ball and flung it from him. “I will
ask you to remember hereafter,” he said, speaking so rapidly that he
stammered, “the dignity of the name you bear. I do not relish having
it exploited in this way.”

“But what else could I do, Simon? Should I have sat there calmly and
allowed that man to steal Emil’s idea?”

“_Emil!_” he repeated, flushing with indignation. “Is the protection
of that–that device of more importance to you than the protection of
my dignity? You considered St. Ives, I grant that: that was to be
expected. But you did not consider me.”

“I considered you all—Emil, the Company, you, everyone; and what I
did was absolutely right, _absolutely_! I insist upon it.”

“For a lady your action was an unbecoming one,” he declared icily.

She gazed upon him with flashing eyes from under contorted brows.

“You say this; you believe it? Very well then, misconstrue what I did
if you choose, torture me, doubt me!” she began fiercely. But suddenly
her thoughts of the evening before returned to her. Something
oppressive filled her breast and rose in her throat.

“But I do not doubt you,” he said, checked by the intensity of anguish
her features exhibited. He even put out his hand.

But seizing her head in both hands, she pushed by him and rushed
upstairs.

Her door was not opened until the next morning; then Rachel, all wild
and staring, threw it wide. A low fever had set in. Emily Short
arrived with her fund of common sense and her knitting work (she was
knitting comforters for her special charges among the children)–and
stationed herself at the bedside.

What surprised them all was Rachel’s prostration which continued long
after the fever had left her. Turning her face to the wall, she seldom
spoke. When her husband entered the room, she looked at him sometimes
entreatingly, sometimes pityingly; one day, drawing his head down on
her breast, she wept over him. Then she put him gently from her, and
for a long time after, lay like one dead.

Often in the night, when Emily Short, thinking that at last she slept,
bent over her, she discovered her lying rigid and still, with her face
bathed in tears. One night in the third week of her illness, when
Emily came to the bedside, Rachel looked up at her.

“How is it possible–” she whispered.

Emily bent lower, “How is what possible, dear?”

In the silence of the room the words were breathed rather than spoken,
“–to stop loving?”

Emily gave a little start, she scratched her head with her crochet
needle; then the work slipped to the floor and she hid her worn face.

Rachel, folding her arms on her breast, stared with the dumb intensity
of despair at the circle of light which flickered on the ceiling.

The road to Gray Arches runs for part of the way past smart summer
cottages, but soon the spaces between the cottages grow longer, until
the road, ambling on through that bright seaside country, suggests a
string from which many beads are missing. In fact for quite five miles
the road resembles a little empty, dust-coloured ribbon almost hidden
in the lush marsh grass. But suddenly Gray Arches appears, the pendant
of the ornament of which the railroad station is the clasp. However,
the pendant is no match for the clasp; for the station fairly shines
with paint whereas Gray Arches is as dull as a piece of old silver; the
windows of the station gleam like imitation diamonds, whereas those of
Gray Arches are the turbid green of clouded emeralds. None the less,
the pendant is a handsome thing of princely value–a real mansion,
though an ancient one in a sad state of neglect.

Under a sky littered with huge cumulus clouds fleecy as cotton, the
house, in its wide lawn, seemed asleep. But something besides the sea
out there, running up in little rippling waves to kiss the curve of the
sandy beach, for all the world like children clambering a mother’s
knees,–something besides the sea was astir. With his pale and
somewhat stealthy look Simon appeared in the glass door. Then he
stepped out on the gravel path, and with his dignified and careful
tread, he began pacing up and down. Up and down beneath the luxuriant,
low-hanging boughs of the evergreen trees that still wore their mantle
of dew, he walked. Despite his deliberate movements, a half-concealed
eagerness showed itself in his eyes as he glanced from time to time at
an upper window shaded by a striped awning. Presently he paused and
stooping, picked up a shell. Holding it delicately between his thumb
and forefinger, Simon studied it as he would have studied a jewel. But
the next moment he tossed it aside. One watching him would scarcely
have judged that a singular happiness pervaded his meditations on this
particular morning, for his thoughts were written in cipher on his long
pale face. He had some news for Rachel and was anticipating her
pleasure in it.

Simon’s jealousy of St. Ives was now at an end, or so he believed. He
had never felt that Rachel really cared for Emil, and now he told
himself with a sigh of thankfulness, that his hatred of the inventor no
longer existed. During Rachel’s illness, for which he looked upon
himself as in a measure responsible, the agony of contrition he had
experienced had obliterated the other torture. St. Ives he had never
liked, nor did he like him now; but when he learned that the building
in which Emil’s workshops were located was to be extensively altered
during the summer, and that these repairs would make it an
inconvenient, if not an impossible place in which to carry on important
work, he had acted at once.

In his present state of mind it had been a simple, even a gratifying
thing for him to arrange to have Emil and all that pertained to the
organ attachment, transferred temporarily to the gardener’s cottage on
this country estate. This action, defining his own position as nothing
else could, had brought with it an immeasurable sense of relief.
Morbidly constituted as he was, his own position in the matter was of
paramount importance to Simon, and so engrossed was he in this supposed
release from jealousy that Emil and Annie figured as scarcely more than
the necessary factors for carrying out a course of conduct he had
outlined. That his mood was overstrained; that it was one of those
misleading, reactionary impulses to which sensitive peaceful natures
are particularly prone, he never suspected. For the sake of
maintaining his present lofty attitude, Simon was capable of blinding
himself for a time to anything that might again threaten his repose.

By taking down a partition in the gardener’s cottage, the organ had
been installed, and Emil and Annie were living there now in great
comfort. Filled with reproaches and recriminations, the visit which
Annie had paid to her parents had been a mistake, but this the young
girl did not acknowledge; nor did she confess that, despite her
unhappiness with her husband, she was not able to live without him.
When Mrs. St. Ives had recovered from the illness which had attacked
her, Annie had rejoined Emil very simply; now in these new conditions
she was even growing fresh and pretty. Simon, who had not been
unmindful of the young wife when he decided to make the arrangement,
could not help seeing that Annie was happier; and, for that matter,
that Emil was happier, too. The inventor whistled shrilly over his
work, and whenever he heard him, Simon was conscious of the expansive
feeling that accompanies a generous action.

Presently there was the grating of a wheeled chair passing over gravel.
The chair had been left by a former occupant of the house and Emily had
found it, covered with dust, in one of the chambers. Rachel’s face was
as wan as the face of a martyr in a mediæval picture, though her cheeks
caught a tinge from the pink “cloud” wrapped around her head. Her eyes
under their slender brows, held the old vivid passionate look, and her
mouth resembled a little bit of pale crumpled velvet in which gleamed,
all at once, the fascinating white of her teeth.

Simon approached; then, with a glance at Emily, he kissed his wife’s
little, white, blue-veined hand which dropped so supplely from its
wrist.

“Take me down the path,” she commanded. “Oh, how heavenly this air
is!–and the sea! Do you know, Simon, illness gives one a new pair of
eyes?”

Emily Short looked after the couple uneasily. She had said what she
could to Simon to prevent his carrying out his absurd scheme relative
to St. Ives; she had objected as strongly as she dared on various
pretexts. But Simon, bent on making clear to Rachel how completely he
renounced his former attitude toward the inventor, had turned a deaf
ear. Now Emily imagined that he was announcing the step he had taken,
for from where she stood, she saw Rachel lift her head with a swift,
frightened air. Then it slowly sank as though a weight had forced it
to her breast.

Standing in the keen sunlight, a little, lean, homely figure with a
worn face, Emily sighed. She herself had never known love, yet she
sighed and knotted her fingers tightly together beneath her apron.

It was evident that Rachel did not wish to go in the direction of the
gardener’s cottage, for they turned into another path. Half an hour
later when she knew Simon had left his wife in order to catch his train
for the city, Emily went in search of the invalid. She found her drawn
up in the shelter of a small, half-ruinous summer-house overrun with
vines which stood at one corner of the grounds. As Emily approached,
she saw Rachel crane forward, with her hands gripping the arms of the
wheeled chair. A wonderful unrestrained tenderness beamed in her face.

Passing not twenty feet away and visible through the intricacies of the
wall of leaves was Emil St. Ives. The stuff of his shirt rippled in
the breeze and the material clung to his muscular shoulders; his hair
was in a tousle, his lips, surrounded by their curling beard, emitted a
gay shrillness of sound; he was whistling as a bird sings. Abruptly
Rachel dropped back in the chair. Without looking at Emily, she
signified a desire to return to the house.

Emily pushed the chair into the sunlight and the little group crept up
the path; while, all unconscious, Emil went leaping down the sands to
bathe in the sea.

During her illness, Rachel had been besieged by feverish thoughts. Not
a phase of the situation but she had gone over innumerable times.
Finally her resolution was taken: she would see Emil no more. The
decision was an arduous one and she raged to make it. Love for one
man, overmastering love, as Nature wills it, was in conflict with
unswerving loyalty to another; and this latter feeling likewise had its
roots in the very foundation of her character, so that her woman’s
heart had been for a season a disputed field, and the conflict had
protracted her illness.

But when she rose at last, pitiful tender, heroic,–all woman in that
she dreamed she had immolated the feeling that threatened the peace of
her husband–lo, the situation awaiting her put her plans to confusion.
Her husband’s unexpected move had made her course a difficult if not an
impossible one.

For more than three weeks by employing every stratagem, she succeeded
in avoiding the inventor, and when the housemaid brought word, as she
did on several occasions, that both Emil and Annie had come over to
call on her, she pleaded weariness and refused to see them. But as her
strength returned, this excuse failed, and she spent many hours with
Emily, who had been persuaded to remain and carry on her trade of
toy-making in an unused room of the house. Had Simon permitted it,
Rachel would have returned to the city, but both her husband and the
doctor opposed the move on the ground of her recent illness.

It was a state of things which could not endure.

One morning Emil came upon Rachel sitting on the sand. Worn out by her
efforts to avoid him, beyond turning her face obstinately in the other
direction, she made no attempt to escape.

As he advanced he examined her with his laughing eyes. “So I’ve found
you at last!” he cried joyously.

After a moment, because there was nothing else to do, she turned her
face to his.

“But you’re not much of an invalid, are you?” he cried an surprise, and
seated himself not far off. “You look,” he said, indicating the sea,
“as strong as those waves.”

Hot blushes were uncommon with her, but now the unreasoning colour
mounted full tide beneath her tanned skin. “Yes,” she assented coldly,
“I’m quite myself now;” and she began taking the sand into her hands
and letting it trickle between her fingers.

“Well, why haven’t you been over to see my new workroom?” he demanded
in a different tone, as he followed these movements. “You don’t take
much interest in your neighbours, it strikes me.”

She steadily regarded the sea. “So far I haven’t done anything,” she
said in a low voice, and then added, as if the words were forced from
her, “I shall go back to the city when the doctor will allow it.”

“What would be the sense of that?” he demanded in amazement. “Why it’s
fine here! Just the place for you. Is it possible you don’t like it?”

Rachel’s lip curled slightly. “Where’s Annie?” she asked after a
moment’s pause.

Emil turned his head. “Why she’s somewhere about; she came down on the
beach a little while ago.”

“Won’t you find her? I should like to see her.”

Nonplussed, he lifted himself from the sand. After staring about, he
struck off in search of his wife. But when Annie appeared by his side,
wrinkling up her face in the sunlight and holding out her hand, Rachel
had little to say. Immediately afterward she left them.

A few days later as she was crossing the lawn, Rachel met Emil and he
accosted her. This time there was umbrage in his tone.

“I say,” he cried, and he placed himself directly in her path, “why
don’t you ever come over and let me show you that organ attachment? I
can play for you now, in a sort of way; in fact I’m quite a musician.”

Again she avoided his look and attempted to put him off. “I have
promised to drive over to the station this afternoon and meet Mr.
Hart,” she said, “but I will come–sometime.”

“But when?” he demanded, scowling at her, and his countenance was no
longer good natured but fierce and aggressive. “You used to show some
interest in my work, but now you withdraw it all of a sudden–just like
a woman. And I tell you, I can’t finish the thing without it,” he
concluded angrily. “I can’t go on alone–you’ve accustomed me to
something else.”

A shiver ran through her like that which takes a young bird that feels
the air for the first time beneath its tentatively fluttering wings.
Her impulse was to sail away in the atmosphere of love his crude
unconscious confession breathed about her. She dared not raise her
eyes because of the involuntary joy that filled them.

“I’ll come over this evening with Simon,” she said, softly. And
everything about himself and about herself she loved passionately.

Life, by all of us, is felt vaguely to be a tapestry of which we see
the under side. But now in a flash Rachel saw the pattern that Fate
was weaving imperturbably; a pattern premeditated from the beginning;
and well she knew that nothing she could do or he could do, could stay
that weaving hand. Though no word of love was ever spoken, the design
in all its beauty was complete, for words and acts are human lumber,
unessential to the accomplishment of the spiritual miracle; present,
they follow the design inaccurately; absent, the design is seen the
clearer because of no gross accompaniment. And Rachel wondered if Emil
saw at last what she saw; if he did not now, he would see,–he would!
And neither was any more responsible for the fact that filled the world
with new meaning than he was responsible for the fact of life. From
these meditations she roused herself, emerging as from an enchanted
mist.

“I’ll come over this evening with Simon,” she repeated, and Emil, who
had been staring at her, drew himself up and reluctantly accepted the
promise.

When he moved away from her, his face wore an expression of
astonishment.

As Ding Dong had gone to the city on an errand for Emil and did not
return on the usual train in the evening, there was no one at the
cottage to pump the organ, for Simon evidently considered it beneath
his dignity to perform so menial a service. He sat in a rocking-chair
near a window, and from time to time with a meditative eye, he scanned
the walls of the room which were decorated with mottoes and lithographs
in colours. He was estimating the probable cost of replacing the
partition when Emil should have finished with the cottage.

The inventor, restless and keenly disappointed, went again and again to
the outer door, where he remained straining his eyes through the salty
darkness, though there was no chance now that Ding Dong would appear
until morning. Rachel sat by a little table turning over the leaves of
a current magazine with her long fingers; she was impatient with her
husband and whenever Emil entered the room, she looked at him, and her
face between the loopings of her hair, had a faint, remote, mysterious
smile.

Annie issued from the kitchen and going up to Emil leaned against his
shoulder, and he nonchalantly encircled her little figure. Instantly,
Rachel grew hot all over with a violent jealousy such as she had never
before experienced.

All the way home while she walked by Simon’s side and felt beneath her
elbow his thin fingers supporting her, her hands beneath her cloak were
pressed against her heart. Oh, the intensity of her love and the
paleness of his! She had a picture of Life irrevocably linked to
Death. With the vision came such a sense of desolation that, turning
her face aside, she sobbed under her breath.

The miracle was rapidly accomplishing; she was passing out of
herself,–out of her scruples, her pity, her fears.

She was wandering on the sands and knew not where she went, save that
the need for movement was imperative. She had left Gray Arches far
behind. What matter that from the dun-coloured clouds a slant of rain
descended, straight and fine as the locks a princess engaged in combing
her hair? Secretly, noiselessly, the rain touched the sands, save at
intervals when a land breeze seized it; then these liquid tresses were
torn and tangled into drifting masses as by the hand of a rude lover
who violently seizes the locks of his mistress. And the rain hissed as
it met the sands and ran away in little curling, twisting rivulets like
serpents.

Enjoying the caress of the moisture on her face, Rachel walked on. The
vigour of her childhood was in her limbs, the spirit of it in her
heart, and she remembered her old turbulent longing for freedom. But
love was the supreme liberator. And in an ecstasy, she drew herself
together and her craving for this supposed liberation of the spirit was
so intense and penetrating, that she wavered uncertainly as if about to
fall.

At that instant, a voice, muffled by the falling of the rain and the
soft plash of the waves on the beach, reached her. It came to her out
of the distance; but the space that separated her from him who called
was so great and the curtain of rain that divided them, at the moment,
so dense, that she could not see him. Yet that voice in which no words
were distinguishable, quickened and reanimated her. For an instant
with her arms curved fearfully above her head, she looked back.

A spot on that barren coast was growing larger, it was moving toward
her; and all at once the breeze brought her the message above the wash
of the waves.

“W-a-i-t! W-a-i-t!”

Emil was hallooing, he was calling to her with his hand to his lips.
Suddenly he broke into a run, and the impulse of flight was
communicated to her.

With bated breath she sped before him, and she was conscious that he
took up the chase after a momentary pause of amazement.

Across those sands pitted by rain, once more the old race was run, the
exciting elemental pursuit of woman by man. And as if in joy the waves
lapped the beach with a sound of applause, and the rain, as if
delighted at this return of happy antique life, now baffled and pelted
and blinded the pair, and now, in a lull, revealed them each to the
other.

Rachel’s hair, escaping its bonds, streamed behind her; her skirts
impeded her movements; yet wildly, excitedly, across that expanse of
sand, she ran. And the blood beat exultantly in her veins and she felt
that the goal toward which she was making was that fugitive band of
colour that persisted, despite the drifting mist, at the end of the
beach. Through this uncertain band of colour, the sky, elsewhere dull
and scattered with clouds, appeared to be smiling with huge, mobile,
kindly lips. Ah, if she could but bathe in the light of that
understanding smile which the sky cast over the beach! A piece of
driftwood brought her precipitately to a halt, but instantly she was up
and away like a sea-bird.

He who followed with long strides was gaining on her, plainly he was
gaining on her. With her skirts and her shorter stature, she was no
match for him. Finally, with both hands clasped beneath her bosom, she
sank to her knees. Her sight swam, she gasped for breath. They had
traversed in this way a distance of a quarter of a mile. The only
object in sight was an old fishing-boat, drawn up on the sands. On
this boat her glance rested. The next moment she saw Emil. As he ran,
something emanated from him.

Instantly she was up; and straight and slim and fleet, she darted
across his path and was into the old fishing boat. There was but one
oar, and, as she pushed off, a burst of fresh laughter gurgled in her
throat and illuminated her face. The tide, in tantalizing fashion,
carried her beyond his reach and she saw him stop. Then his eyes,
imperative and gleaming, like two fierce lights, sought hers. After
that look he waded into the water; then swam.

Two or three strokes and he was beside the skiff. When he grasped its
edge with his dripping fingers, that shone out white and strong in the
steadily increasing light, Rachel laid hold of his clothing.

Their heads were on a level–they exchanged a look.

Wild, flashing, dominating, it leapt from his face, all pale and
streaming with water, to hers; and all the secret of her woman’s heart
mounted to her eyes; they were no longer mysterious, but frank as
daylight, revealing.

The sun which, like a curious watcher, had cleared the cloud-bank, beat
upon the sea in joyous fashion, and the waves beat upon the sand; and
all along the beach and in the air and in the waters under the boat,
there was a murmur as if Nature, the great mother, sighed in the
fulness of her content.