From a Bench in Our Square - novelonlinefull.com
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"There is no other way, dearest one."
"Good-bye, then, until we meet," she said in the pa.s.sionate music of her voice. "Every beat of my heart will bring me nearer to you. There will be no other life for me. Soon or late I'll come to you. You believe it.
Say you believe it!"
"I believe it." He bent and kissed her lips. Then his form slackened away from the arms that clasped it, and sank into the chair. A policeman's whistle shrilled outside the window. The faintest flicker of a smile pa.s.sed over the face of the sleeper.
I took her away, still with that unearthly ecstasy on her face.
The glow of the narrator's cigar waxed, a pin-point of light in a world of dimness and mystery. Subdued breathing made our silence rhythmic.
When I found my voice, it was hardly more than a whisper.
"Good G.o.d! What a tragedy!"
"Tragedy? You think it so?" The Little Red Doctor's gnarled face gleamed strangely behind the tiny radiance. "Dominie, you have a queer notion of this life and little faith in the next."
"'She met death as a tryst,'" murmured the old librarian. "And he!
'Trailing clouds of glory!' The triumph of that victory over fate! One would like to have seen the meeting between them, after the waiting."
The Little Red Doctor rose. "When some brutal and needless tragedy of the sort that we medical men witness so often shakes my faith in my kind, I turn to think of those two in the splendor of their last meeting on earth, the man with the courage to face death, the woman with the courage to face life."
He strode over to the table and lifted the newspaper, which had slipped to the floor unnoticed. The girlish face turned toward us its irresistible appeal, yearning out from amidst the lurid indignities of print.
"You heard from her afterward?" I asked.
"Often. The sister died and left her nothing to live for but her promise. Always in her letters sounded the note of courage and of waiting. It was in the last word I had from her--received since her death--set to the song of some poet, I don't know who. You ought to know, Mr. Sheldon."
His deep voice rose to the rhythm.
"Ah, long-delayed to-morrow! Hearts that beat Measure the length of every moment gone.
Ever the suns rise tardily or fleet And light the letters on a churchyard stone.-- And still I say, 'To-morrow we shall meet!'"
"May Probyn," the librarian identified. "Too few people know her. A wonderful poem!"
Silence fell again, folding us and our thoughts in its kindly refuge.
Rising, I crossed to the window and drew the curtain aside. A surging wind had swept the sky clear, all but one bank of low-lurking, western cloud shot through with naming crimson. In that luminous setting the ancient house across Our Square, grim and bleak no longer to my eyes, gleamed, through eyes again come to life, with an inconceivable glory.
Behind me in the shadow, the measured voice of the witness to life and death repeated once more the message of imperishable hope:
"And still I say, 'To-morrow we shall meet.'"