When, trembling all over, she entered the dining-room, Fiorsen was standing by the sideboard, holding the child.
He came straight up and put her into Gyp's arms.
"Take her," he said, "and do what you will. Be happy."
Hugging her baby, close to the door as she could get, Gyp answered nothing. Her heart was in such a tumult that she could not have spoken a word to save her life; relieved, as one dying of thirst by unexpected water; grateful, bewildered, abashed, yet instinctively aware of something evanescent and unreal in his altruism. Daphne Wing! What bargain did this represent?
Fiorsen must have felt the chill of this instinctive vision, for he cried out:
"Yes! You never believed in me; you never thought me capable of good! Why didn't you?"
Gyp bent her face over her baby to hide the quivering of her lips.
"I am sorry--very, very sorry."
Fiorsen came closer and looked into her face.
"By God, I am afraid I shall never forget you--never!"
Tears had come into his eyes, and Gyp watched them, moved, troubled, but still deeply mistrusting.
He brushed his hand across his face; and the thought flashed through her: 'He means me to see them! Ah, what a cynical wretch I am!'
Fiorsen saw that thought pass, and muttering suddenly:
"Good-bye, Gyp! I am not all bad. I am not!" He tore the door open and was gone.
That passionate "I am not!" saved Gyp from a breakdown. No; even at his highest pitch of abnegation, he could not forget himself.
Relief, if overwhelming, is slowly realized; but when, at last, what she had escaped and what lay before her were staring full in each other's face, it seemed to her that she must cry out, and tell the whole world of her intoxicating happiness. And the moment little Gyp was in Betty's arms, she sat down and wrote to Summerhay:
"I've had a fearful time. My baby was stolen by him while I was with you. He wrote me a letter saying that he would give her back to me if I gave you up. But I found I couldn't give you up, not even for my baby. And then, a few minutes ago, he brought her-- none the worse. Tomorrow we shall all go down to Mildenham; but very soon, if you still want me, I'll come with you wherever you like. My father and Betty will take care of my treasure till we come back; and then, perhaps, the old red house we saw--after all. Only--now is the time for you to draw back. Look into the future-- look far! Don't let any foolish pity--or honour--weigh with you; be utterly sure, I do beseech you. I can just bear it now if I know it's for your good. But afterward it'll be too late. It would be the worst misery of all if I made you unhappy. Oh, make sure--make sure! I shall understand. I mean this with every bit of me. And now, good-night, and perhaps--good-bye.
She read it over and shivered. Did she really mean that she could bear it if he drew back--if he did look far, far into the future, and decided that she was not worth the candle? Ah, but better now-- than later.
She closed and sealed the letter, and sat down to wait for her father. And she thought: 'Why does one have a heart? Why is there in one something so much too soft?'
Ten days later, at Mildenham station, holding her father's hand, Gyp could scarcely see him for the mist before her eyes. How good he had been to her all those last days, since she told him that she was going to take the plunge! Not a word of remonstrance or complaint.
"Good-bye, my love! Take care of yourself; wire from London, and again from Paris." And, smiling up at her, he added: "He has luck; I had none."
The mist became tears, rolled down, fell on his glove.
"Not too long out there, Gyp!"
She pressed her wet cheek passionately to his. The train moved, but, so long as she could see, she watched him standing on the platform, waving his grey hat, then, in her corner, sat down, blinded with tears behind her veil. She had not cried when she left him the day of her fatal marriage; she cried now that she was leaving him to go to her incredible happiness.
Strange! But her heart had grown since then.
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