Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: The Bigamist
Author: Young, F.E. Mills
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Bigamist" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



The Bigamist
By F.E. Mills Young
Published by John Lane Company, New York.
This edition dated 1916.

The Bigamist, by F.E. Mills Young.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
THE BIGAMIST, BY F.E. MILLS YOUNG.

CHAPTER ONE.

In the handsome room, softly lighted with shaded electric lamps, a man
sat in a low chair, his legs stretched out compass-wise, his brow
resting on his hand.  He had the appearance of being asleep, save that
every now and again the fingers pressing his brow pressed harder or were
momentarily relaxed; he made no other movement: for fully half an hour
he had not altered his pose.  The only other occupant of the room, a
woman, tall and slender, with a wealth of golden hair crowning her small
head, stood at the long open window with her back to the room, her pose
as still as the man's, but considerably less absorbed.

The girl, she was little more than a girl, despite the five years of
happy married life, and the tiny mite of four asleep in the nursery
overhead, turned from the open window and the soft darkness of the
summer night and faced the lighted room.  So long the man had sat there
silent, motionless, plunged in thought, that she had almost forgotten
his presence in a pleasant reverie of her own till roused by the
extraordinary quiet, as effectually as though recalled by some
unexpected sound.  She turned her head and regarded him with surprised,
inquiring eyes.

"Worried, Herbert?" she asked.

He started at the sound of her voice, and roused himself with an effort.

"What makes you ask that?" he said, without looking at her.

"I don't know...  You are so quiet," she answered.  "And at dinner I
fancied you seemed a little put out."

She crossed to his chair and knelt beside him, resting her clasped hands
on his shoulders, her face lifted to his.  He put out a hand and touched
her hair.--"Pamela," he said abruptly, "you've been happy with me?
You've--I've made you happy?" he insisted.

She looked surprised: a faint questioning showed in the blue eyes and
the slight puckering of the finely pencilled brows.

"My dear!" she said.  "You know that."  She pulled his face down to hers
and kissed him.  "You never doubted me?" she asked.

"No," he answered,--"no."

Suddenly he caught her to him and held her strained against his breast.

"Oh! but it's good to have you," he cried.  "You are the best thing that
life has given me.  I'd fight till my last breath to keep you."

"Well, but there isn't any fear of your losing me," she said, and drew
back to regard him, perplexed at this unusual demonstration from a man
who, save in moments of passionate excess, was habitually rather
reserved.  "Silly person!  Did you think I was going to run away?"

"You couldn't," he answered confidently.  "You are chained here to my
side with invisible, unbreakable bonds."

"Oh; there's the divorce court," she remarked with light-hearted
flippancy.

"I wasn't referring to social laws," he answered gravely.  "The bond
that holds you is the strength of our love.  It is the one invincible
power in the world.  Whatever happened, you would never cease to love
me, Pamela."

He made the statement with a look which seemed to question her.  Pamela
responded to the look.

"No," she answered, her sweet face grown suddenly very earnest.  "I
could never cease to love you.  That's the surest thing in heaven or
earth to me."

He set her aside and stood up.  Then he lifted her to her feet and put
his arm about her and drew her towards the open window.

"Come into the garden," he said.  "The air indoors stifles me.  I don't
want to talk.  I want to be in the open and feel you near."

She pressed his hand sympathetically.

"There's certainly a little worry of some sort," she said.

"Yes, there's a little worry," he answered in an evasive tone which
discouraged inquiries.  "But it needn't concern you."

Pamela was not naturally curious.  Her husband seldom discussed his
affairs with her.  She did not resent this lack of confidence, but
attributed it to the disparity of their ages: Pamela was twenty-six, and
Herbert Arnott was forty, and rather staid and settled.  He had been a
widower when he married Pamela; but he never spoke of his first wife.
He had been married when he was quite young and had made a hash of his
early life.  She knew that because he had told her when they became
engaged: he did not refer to the subject again; and Pamela never knew
what the first wife was like nor who her people were.  Arnott was
reserved about his past, and, so far as his wife knew, he was without
ties or relations.  He had put the old life behind him entirely when he
quitted his native land; and very early Pamela learnt that it was not
wise to try to get him to talk about himself and the days before she
knew him.  He was a man whose past was a closed book to the world, nor
would he allow his wife to turn over the pages.

He had first met Pamela on board the vessel in which he sailed for South
Africa.  She was going out to a post as governess in a girl's college at
Port Elizabeth.  He had sat next her at meals in the saloon and found
her congenial.  When he left the ship at Cape Town he had asked her to
write to him.  Subsequently he had journeyed round the coast to see her,
and shortly afterwards they were married.  That was five years ago, and
during those five years Pamela had been extraordinarily happy.  She had
never had even a trivial disagreement with her husband; the usual petty
domestic worries had not intruded into their pleasant, easy home life.
Arnott made an admirable husband, and Pamela's disposition was naturally
sunny and contented.  Moreover, this life of luxurious comfort as the
wife of a wealthy man of independent means formed a delightful contrast
to the old days of poverty and constant struggle, with nothing more
inspiring ahead than a succession of years of continuous teaching, and
then old age and uselessness, and a small pittance at the end.  She felt
grateful to Arnott for having saved her from that.

The Arnotts lived at Wynberg, that beautiful suburb of Cape Town; a
place of tree-lined avenues and shady woods, dominated by the grand old
mountain, its bosky slopes presenting every varying shade of colour as
the seasons came and passed; its grey summit, gilded by the sunlight or
shrouded softly in billowy mists, standing out against the blue
remoteness of the heavens, an eternal symbol of imperishable greatness
which the sea in its retreat has left in a grand isolation towering over
the city and the outlying districts spreading away at its base.

Pamela was the proud and happy mistress of a fine house, and a staff of
inefficient native servants.  She had tried the European variety, but
found them too superior, and so had fallen back on the native article
whose inefficiency was qualified by unfailing good temper, though the
system of British training and education was making them fairly
independent too.  In the years to come the dark man will compete with
the white man and question his authority, perhaps even his right to rule
in the land which is the heritage of the seed of Ham.  The early history
of Africa is written in blood, and its history is still in its infancy.

Arnott was not particularly popular in Wynberg: he was too reserved to
make friends easily; but his hospitality was lavish and attracted people
to the house; and his wife was a general favourite.  Men admired her for
her sparkling prettiness, and women took to her readily: she was easy to
get on with, and she gave pleasant parties.  She did not, however, form
particular friendships with her own sex; she was a little shy with women
and preferred male society, which is not unusual in the case of a woman
whose life has been spent in schoolrooms in the unexciting transition
from student to teacher, surrounded always with an atmosphere of
immature femininity.  Pamela never quite grasped the feminine mind, and
had little sympathy with its restricted outlook.  This inability to
comprehend the sex of which she was a representative, she attributed to
the fact that, having been saturated with feminine principles from her
youth up, she had become so confused with its mass of inconsistencies
that she failed utterly to realise its finer qualities.  The brain of
the woman teacher is usually developed on one-sided lines.  Indeed, the
chief failing of the average woman lies in the fact that she refuses to
look at life all round, but persists in regarding it from her sole point
of view; and the point of the woman is to ignore realities if by chance
they happen to affront her.  A want of sincerity therefore mars the
beautiful vision of life.

Pamela did not consciously look at life from any particular point.  So
far the world had treated her well; and she accepted the pleasant
condition of things, and was undemonstratively grateful.

One cloud there was in her serene sky of happiness, and that was that
she had no son; the pretty little girl in the nursery had been a
disappointment.  Arnott, himself, had not desired children: the birth of
the baby had vexed him, and Pamela's hunger for a male addition was a
further aggravation.  He could not understand, he told her, why one kid
would not suffice.  Children were a responsibility, and gave more
trouble than pleasure.  Certainly he derived no pleasure from his child,
and Pamela was very careful that it should not be a trouble to him.  She
seldom had the child with her when he was present: small children
possibly worried him, she decided; when the baby grew older she would
make a place for herself in his heart.

"And then," she reflected, with a little rueful smile, "my nose will be
out of joint."

It was odd what a pang this prospective jealousy caused her.  She could
not bear the thought of sharing her husband's love, even with her child.
And yet there was room in her own heart for both.

"I am so happy, Herbert," she said, as they paced the garden path
together in the summer dusk.  "It doesn't seem right, somehow, to be so
entirely satisfied.  I feel at times that it is too good to last.  How
can it?  One can't go on being happy for ever."

"Why not?" he said gruffly.  "So long as one has health one can always
enjoy."

"Ah! but it needs more than health," she returned.  "We have such a lot
of other things.  Surely we shall be required to pay back some day?"

"Rot!" he answered testily.  "Why should one pay for one's rights?
Happiness is a right.  We've got it.  We'll keep it.  Hold fast to it,
little girl, and don't encourage morbid superstition."

He stood still in the path, and took her face between his hands, and
held it so, imprisoned.

"By God!" he cried, with sudden, swift vehemence, "no power on earth
shall wrest mine from me.  My happiness is bound up in you, and only
death can take it from me.  You aren't going to escape me that way,
Pam,--you are so exuberantly alive."

Pamela laughed softly, and twined her arms about his neck, drawing
closer to him.

"But you'd love me sick, dear?" she said...  "You'd love me sick just
the same?  If you were bed-ridden I'd only love you the more tenderly."

"Fishing as usual," he returned, and kissed her.  "A fine emotional
scene for a middle-aged married man.  One would suppose we had been
married five months instead of five good years."

"Five good years!"  Pamela repeated, and added presently, "And they have
been good.  I wonder if I had never met you what I should be doing now?"

"You'd have met some one else," he answered.  "Matrimony is so much more
your forte than anything else."

"And you?" she hazarded.  "Would you have met some one too?"

"No," he replied with a convincing directness which gratified her
immensely, so that she desired to kiss him again, and only refrained
from fear of irritating him with an excess of emotionalism.  "I didn't
set out with that idea in my mind.  I should be exploring the interior,
as I purposed doing--and probably have become a physical wreck with
fever and other ills.  You saved me from that when you bewitched me on
the outward voyage."

"I didn't know I was doing it," she returned, with a quiet, satisfied
laugh.  "You were such a grave, reserved person.  I always felt proud
when you came and talked with me."

"You don't feel that now," he said banteringly.

"Not proud, no."  She slipped a hand into his.  "But happy always," she
said, pressing his hand.

"Not so bad an admission after five years of it," he remarked with
reflective complacency.  "I take it that proves fairly conclusively that
we were meant for each other.  I don't profess to understand this old
riddle of a universe, Pam; but I've grasped the human need at least; and
it doesn't fit in with the world's decree that the individual should be
judged according to established custom.  The entire social scheme, with
its restrictions and its definite rules, is nothing but a
well-intentioned muddle.  At the back of the new law stands the great
primeval laws which refuse to be set aside."

He broke off abruptly with a short, constrained laugh, and added
jerkily:

"Which windy exposition, reduced to bald commonplace, amounts to the
certainty that, having discovered my need of you and your need of me, we
were bound to come together whatever forces opposed...  You believe
that, Pamela?"

"I--don't--know," Pamela answered slowly.  She turned her face and
searched his by the faint light of the stars.  "I'm glad there weren't
any opposing forces," she said.

"Little coward!" he responded in lighter tones...  "I would face any
amount of opposition for you."

"Now--yes," Pamela answered.  "So could I for you.  But--before we were
married...  I don't know..."

CHAPTER TWO.

It was the fifth anniversary of the Arnott's wedding, and Arnott had
presented his wife with the customary present of jewellery: on this
occasion it took the form of a rope of pearls.  Pamela wore the pearls
at the anniversary dinner, which function also had become a custom.  It
was the one entertainment during the year to which Pamela limited her
invitations to the guests she especially liked; and with her careful
selection was also particular in limiting the numbers.  On this day, if
on no other, she informed her husband, she insisted upon enjoying
herself.

Arnott was quite satisfied to leave the arrangements to her; and it
often transpired that he did not know who his guests were to be until
they arrived.  But on the day in question he did an entirely unforeseen
thing, and astonished Pamela with the announcement--made while drinking
tea on the stoep, and eating wedding-cake, which Pamela considered
indispensable to the day--that he had met a man in town he knew and had
asked him to dine.

"But," gasped Pamela, "did you _forget_ what day it is?"

"I haven't had a chance of forgetting," he replied, smiling.  "Dare
won't clash with the harmony.  I think you'll like him."

"Oh, like him!" she said.  "That isn't the point.  He'll be an odd man.
I can't possibly ask any one to fill up at the eleventh hour.  And--good
gracious, Herbert!--he'll bring our numbers up to thirteen.  What a
deplorable thing for you to have done!"

He looked amused.

"Why shouldn't thirteen people be as jolly as twelve?" he asked.  "You
aren't going to make me believe that you are silly enough to feel
superstitious about it; because, if you are, I'll sit out."

"That would spoil everything for me," she said.  "I don't know that I'm
exactly superstitious; but other people are; and some one may not like
it.  It's--unfortunate."

"I'll motor to the Mount Nelson and put him off, if you like," he
suggested.

But Pamela negatived this.

"He'd think it so queer," she objected.

"Not he.  But he would probably conclude I was henpecked."

"Let him come," said Pamela resignedly.  "Perhaps no one will notice at
a round table that we make such an awkward total.  But the next time you
do a thing like that, do make it a pair."

Pamela dressed early.  She had a new frock for the occasion, white and
soft and unrelieved by any colour, and she wore for her sole ornament
her husband's gift of pearls.  Arnott surveyed her with critical
appreciation when she entered the drawing-room.  He held her by the arms
under the electric light.

"By Jove!  Pam, you look prettier to-night than I've ever seen you
look," he remarked.  "I'm proud of you."

She lifted her face to be kissed.

"Just one--on the lips," she said.  "You mustn't crumple me."

In the dining-room on the other side of the hall the dinner-table was
already rearranged to accommodate the additional guest.  A caterer from
Cape Town was responsible for everything; so Pamela had no anxiety in
regard to the entertainment, and felt almost a guest herself.  It was
such a delightfully easy way of entertaining.  She had peeped into the
room to inspect the table decorations, and expressed herself charmed
with the whole effect.  The floral design was perfect.

This mode of giving parties without any trouble, and not even being
worried with the bills, which she never saw, was very agreeable.
Pamela's mind reverted often to the schoolroom days, to the prize award
functions, and other entertainments of similar dulness, needing much
weary preparation, and she wondered if she had ever really enjoyed those
things.  At the time, though often tired out with the business of
organising and assisting, she had thought them pleasant enough.  But she
could not go back to that sort of thing, not now.  Prosperity had killed
her appreciation of simple pleasures.

The guests began to arrive.  Dare was the last.  He was indeed rather
late, which Pamela thought was rude of him, until he explained that his
taxi had broken down on the road.  He did not make his apology
immediately; it came out later in the course of conversation.  At the
moment of meeting his hostess the thing slipped from his mind.  He
showed surprise when first confronted with her.  It was a very brief
betrayal, just a momentary unexpected flash of something which looked
like recognition in his grey-blue eyes.  It passed almost immediately
before she could be certain it had been there; his face was mask-like in
its gravity as he shook hands with her.

He murmured something.  Pamela did not quite catch what he said; but the
main drift of the remark was to the effect that he appreciated the
kindness which gave him this opportunity of meeting her in her home.
She thought him rather abrupt, and decided that he would not add greatly
to the general amusement.  Later, she modified this opinion, because,
despite a severe appearance and the slight awkwardness he displayed on
entering, he proved an excellent conversationalist.

He was a tall man in the early thirties, rather thin, with a clever
face, and light keen, extraordinarily penetrating eyes.  By profession
he was a mining engineer, and Arnott had described him as a particularly
smart man at his job.  He had met him in Cape Town before his marriage,
and had run across him again that day unexpectedly after the lapse of
years.  The invitation to dinner had been prompted by impulse; he had no
particular feeling of friendship for the man.

Dare, who was often in Cape Town, was acquainted with some of the guests
present.  The Carruthers, who were neighbours of the Arnotts, and with
whom Pamela was on terms of greater intimacy than with the majority of
her large circle of friends, had known him for years.  Mrs Carruthers
had once thought of marrying him before she met Carruthers, misled by a
certain deferential kindliness he displayed towards all women, being
naturally fond of the sex, into thinking he cared for her.  She still
flirted mildly with him on the occasions when they met; but she had
grown out of the belief that her marriage mattered to him.

"I didn't expect to see you here," she remarked, when he sought her out
after dinner and suggested a stroll in the grounds.  "I did not think
you knew the Arnotts."

"I knew Arnott years ago, before he was married," he answered.

"Then you haven't met her before? ...  They've been married five years."

"So long ago as that, was it?" he observed meditatively.  "She is very
sweet looking."

"Yes; she is pretty," Mrs Carruthers allowed.  "They are the most
devoted couple in the Peninsula."

"What's amiss between you and Dick?" he asked.

"Oh!" she laughed.  "I never worshipped Dickie quite so blindly as that.
The Arnotts' is the only case of perennial courtship I've ever been
privileged to witness...  But after all five years is but a step of the
journey."

"I should think a man could continue in love indefinitely with a woman
like Mrs Arnott," he remarked.

"If time stood still for her, perhaps," she conceded.  "But she won't
always be pretty."

"She will always be sweet," he returned.  "I don't set great store by
looks myself.  But I like a woman to be amiable; and a sweet expression
suggests a sweet disposition."

"It may suggest it; it doesn't necessarily prove that it's there."

"Leave me a few of my pleasant beliefs," he pleaded.  "It's an
old-fashioned notion, but I like to think that the world is a good
place, and human nature on the whole inclined to charity.  It's a much
more comfortable theory than the deliberately cultivated scepticism
towards the disinterestedness of human motives.  I like to think that
what looks sweet, is sweet; just as I like to believe that when a woman
is kind to me it is because she feels kindly.  That is why I always
enjoy being with you."

"By which subtle flattery you force me to sheathe my claws, and make an
effort towards being amiable.  You haven't altered much."

"Nor have you," he returned, smiling.  "And amiability being one of your
many admirable qualities, the effort you propose making on my behalf
won't cost you much."

Since the time of year was unsuited to sitting indoors, the Arnotts had
had the grounds lighted, and engaged some musicians to play at intervals
during the evening.  Pamela, who possessed a very fine contralto voice,
sang once towards the finish of the evening, standing on the brilliantly
lighted stoep outside the drawing-room windows, a fair, radiant, girlish
figure, singing with extraordinary passion that seductive song from
Saint-Saens' "Samson et Dalila," "_Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix_."

Dare, a little apart from the rest, took up his position beside a tall
bush of gardenias and listened with absorbed attention until the finish
of the song, his keen eyes never leaving the singer's face, lost in a
wondering rapture of admiration for the singer as much as for the song.

"_Ah! reponds a ma tendresse_..."

The seductive words, the seductive tones, thrilled him.  He was Samson
listening to Delilah,--a Delilah sweet and charming and womanly, without
the sting of poison in her passionate entreating.

When the song ended he still remained motionless, not joining in the
applause which followed, heedless of everything about him, conscious
only of one fair girlish face, of a pair of limpid eyes, blue as the
African sky itself, and of the tender curve of sweet lips made for
laughter.  For five years he had been searching for this face, and he
found it here--the centre jewel in another man's crown of happiness.

"_Her price is far above rubies; the heart of her husband doth safely
trust in her; her children rise up and call her blessed_..."
Involuntarily the words came to his mind with a sense of their
appropriateness.  Where had he heard them?  He did not know.  But
assuredly they were written for her.

He turned his head and glanced at the people near him.  With the finish
of the song they had started talking again, carrying on the
conversations which the music had interrupted.  No one seemed to have
been impressed, as he had been, with the moving power of the seductive
voice.  Possibly they had heard it often before: he heard it for the
first time, and felt profoundly stirred.

When he looked round again she had moved away, and formed one of a gay
group on the stoep.  He waited until she left this group, then, when he
saw her alone for a moment, he seized his chance and joined her.  Her
guests had been pressing her to sing again, but she declined.  For some
reason Dare was glad she refused.  He wanted no other song, perhaps with
an altogether different sentiment, to sweep away the emotions which the
first song had produced in his soul.  He was oddly stirred and excited,
moved out of his ordinary calm by a sensuous love song finely rendered
by a woman who was an artist, and yet surprisingly natural.

He did not compliment her on her singing.  It was the obvious thing to
do; but Dare seldom did the obvious.  If he could have thanked her in
his own way for the pleasure she had given, that would have been an
altogether different matter.  But his way was not consistent with
twentieth-century customs, nor was it practicable in the case of a
married woman in the company of her husband and friends.

"I've been exploring your beautiful grounds, Mrs Arnott," he said.
"What a delightful place you have here."

"Yes; isn't it?" returned Pamela, with ingenuous pride in her home.
"I'm so glad you like it.  I love it."

"I'm sure you must," he replied.

"You must come and see the garden in the day time," she added
graciously.  "From the lawn the view of the mountain is very fine,--if
you admire the mountain.  I never tire of watching it.  It adapts itself
to one's mood.  Or perhaps I should say its varying aspects affect one's
mood.  I sit out there and study it for hours at a stretch."

"I should like to do that," he said.

"Well, you shall, if you care to.  I like to share my mountain."

"Do you ever visit Johannesburg?" he asked.

"I haven't been there yet."

"You ought to," he said.  "It is an interesting city.  There are some
nice homes there, too--and gardens."

"You have a good garden, I suppose?"  Pamela said.  "You must have,
because you appreciate them."

"Ah! there are plenty of things which I appreciate that I haven't got,"
he replied.  "I am a bachelor, and live at hotels--when I'm above
ground," he added with a smile.  "A fairly unenviable existence, eh?"

"Why not change all that, and marry?" she suggested.

He regarded her contemplatively for a second, and then looked
deliberately away.

"I don't fancy I belong to the marrying sort," he said.

"Oh, nonsense!" returned Pamela brightly.  "Every one is the marrying
sort when he meets the right person."

"Yes!  Then I imagine the right person hasn't revealed herself."

"You should go in search of her," she said.

"I did once--five years ago."

"Yes?"  Pamela looked at him with a gleam of feminine interest in her
deep eyes.  "Five years ago you went in search of her...  And then?..."

"She had run away," he said, "and was married to some one else."

"Oh!"  Her voice had a disappointed ring.  This that she was hearing was
altogether the wrong kind of a finish to an interesting romance.  "Then
she wasn't the right person after all."

"She was for me," he replied with quiet conviction.  "But, you see, both
sides have a voice in these matters."

"But if she didn't care for you, she couldn't have been the right
person," she insisted.  "Believe me, the right person is waiting
somewhere."

"In that case," he said lightly, "when we meet I shall doubtless
recognise her.  I won't give her the chance to run away a second time.
A man who is dilatory in his love affairs deserves to spend his days
underground and his nights in hotels.  I'm not complaining."

Suddenly she laughed.

"I don't believe you are the least bit in earnest," she observed.  "You
are one of these contradictory people who look serious, and are always
laughing at life."

He scrutinised the smiling face with added interest.

"I don't as a rule take life seriously," he returned,--"and a very good
rule too.  If I am not mistaken, Mrs Arnott, it is a rule you practise
yourself."

"I don't know about that," Pamela said in her bright, young voice.  "I
take each day as it comes, and make the most of it.  That's the best
way, really."

"For you, perhaps," he answered.  "But some of us would have a dull time
if we had no to-morrow in contemplation.  I have no quarrel with to-day,
for instance; but there are days in my life I could cheerfully wipe off
the calendar."

"There used to be those kind of days in my life once," she rejoined.
She looked up at him, smiling, so radiant in her gladness that he was
forced to smile in sympathy with it.  "They make the present so much
jollier," she said.

"You enjoy by comparison," he returned.

"I suppose that's it--in a way; yes.  When you have followed my advice
you will do that too."

"The same prescription doesn't fit every case," he ventured.

"It doesn't cure every complaint," she allowed; "but it will cure
yours."

"Mine being?" he asked with an uplift of the brows.

"Loneliness."

He laughed at this diagnosis, and Pamela laughed with him.

"No woman ought to prescribe for that complaint," he said, "unless she
is prepared to provide the remedy."

"Ah! the patient has to find that for himself."

"And suppose it happens to be out of his reach?--suppose it runs away?"

Pamela looked thoughtful.

"There's an endless supply of the remedy always at hand," she returned
presently.

"That's merely another version of the fishes in the sea," he answered.
"But when I've shaped my appetite to sole, mackerel is no substitute.
I've hauled in my line...  I think you might have offered more original
advice than that," he added, slightly aggrieved.

"I wash my hands of your case," she said.  "You aren't needing advice.
You are entirely satisfied with your life as it is."

"Yes," he agreed.  "I am borrowing a leaf from your book and enjoying
the now."

CHAPTER THREE.

The following afternoon Dare called upon Pamela, and was glad to find
her at home and alone.  He was returning the next day to Johannesburg,
he explained, and was not likely to be in Cape Town again for some time.

Pamela entertained him in the garden, and gave him tea under the trees
on the lawn.  She expressed regret for her husband's absence: he had
motored into town, and would not be home before seven.

"He will be so sorry to miss you," she said.  "You had better stay and
dine with us."

He thanked her, but declined the invitation, pleading a prior
engagement.  The absence of Arnott occurred to him as rather an
agreeable accident; Mrs Arnott's sole company was sufficient for his
enjoyment.

She chatted inconsequently while she poured out the tea, and he watched
her, and admired again, as he had admired on the previous night, the
sweet expression of her face, her air of joyous youth.  In the daylight
she was less radiantly pretty than she had appeared by artificial light;
possibly, he decided, evening dress was more becoming to her than
day-wear; but she was fair enough in any guise to excite admiration.
Dare would have admired her sweet expression had she been otherwise
plain of feature; it was in his opinion beautiful of itself.

"Do you know, I've seen you before last night," he said, as he stirred
his tea, and contemplated her gravely across the little table that was
drawn up beside her chair.

"Seen me before?" she repeated, surprised.  "Where?"

"Were you ever in Port Elizabeth?" he asked.

"Yes, of course.  I was teaching there.  But that was five years ago."

"I saw you there," he answered,--"five years ago."

Pamela's blue eyes opened wide.  She scrutinised him closely, and shook
her head.

"I don't remember," she said.

"You wouldn't," he replied.  He helped himself to cake, and resumed in a
careless manner: "It was at a tennis tournament.  You were in the stand,
and I was playing in the men's singles."

"Did you win?" she asked.

He smiled.

"No; I played rottenly.  I came in defeated, and sat in the stand near
you."

"If you had won," she said, "I might possibly have noticed you."

"It would be kinder," he said, "if you spared defeat a few of your
glances.  You shook hands with the winner."

"How horrid of me!" she cried.

"Oh! well, he was a P.E. man.  I expect you were pleased he carried off
the honours.  I had to go back immediately; I went by the night train.
Soon afterwards I was back in Port Elizabeth.  I didn't see you on that
occasion."

Pamela looked away from him, and gazed thoughtfully above the trees at
the mountain which towered high above them, blue in the afternoon
sunlight, with dark purple shadows in its cleft sides that deepened into
black.

"I married just about that time," she said.

"So I heard."

She glanced at him curiously.

"You seem to have known quite a lot about me," she said.  "It's funny
hearing all this now."

"Yes," he agreed.  "Odd to have run up against you like this!  I knew
you again at once."

"You have a good memory for faces," she observed.  "I feel I ought to
have recognised you."

"Ah! but I was defeated," he reminded her smilingly,--"defeated all
round.  And there was no reason why you should have noticed a stranger
particularly.  They were pretty well all strange faces to me, you see;
and I was amusing myself by picking out a few.  It's a habit of mine.  I
fix on a face and construct a story in connection with it."

"Did you construct a story about me?"

"I forget," he returned evasively.  "Quite possibly I did...  But it was
entirely wrong, anyway.  When a man constructs a story in connection
with a girl's face, he doesn't provide her with a lover, unless--"

"Unless?" prompted Pamela.  She was faintly amused with the halting
recital which showed a tendency to break off at the most interesting
points.  She glanced at him with a laugh in her eyes, and repeated
encouragingly: "Unless?"

"Well, the answer is fairly obvious," he replied, smiling too.  "Do you
want me to go on?"

"No," she said, and flushed and looked away again, but the laughter was
still in her eyes.  "I think I can imagine the rest."

"It shouldn't require a great mental strain," he returned.

"If you amuse yourself in that fashion," Pamela remarked, "what a lot of
exciting adventures you can contrive."

"Make-believe adventures of that nature aren't exciting," he said.
"They're the last word in dulness really,--the substitute for the real
thing.  Sitting talking with you here is infinitely pleasanter than
weaving impossible romances.  Certainly, when one is stage-managing, one
can have things all one's own way; but it's a bloodless form of
amusement."

"Do you still visit Port Elizabeth--for the tennis tournament?" she
asked.

"No; that defeat of mine sickened me.  I've done with competing.  It's
the younger men's turn now."

Pamela looked amused.

"You are very easily discouraged," she said.  "I don't think I
altogether admire that easy acquiescence in failure: it's not a British
characteristic."

"Perhaps not," he allowed.  "But when one has suffered the knock-out
blow it's idiotic to enter the ring again."

At this junction Pamela's little girl, eluding her coloured nurse, ran
across the lawn towards her mother, having espied the tea-table from
afar.  In her eagerness for cake she overlooked the stranger, until
abruptly made aware of his presence as she hurled her plump body into
Pamela's arms.  The sight of the strange man sobered her gladness with
surprising suddenness.  The bright head dropped swiftly, and the
flushed, shy little face buried itself in Pamela's dress.

Dare smiled.  There was no doubt as to the child's identity; Pamela the
second was Pamela the first in miniature.

"Somebody's come for cake," said Pamela, and tried to lift the hidden
face from its resting place; but the child resisted her attempts.

"And somebody's got a nasty shock," Dare added, as he cut a slice of the
most tempting dainty on the table and held it out invitingly.  "Won't
you come and make friends?"

But Pamela the second merely peeped at him like a shy, inquisitive bird,
and nestled closer in the sheltering arms.  Experience, in the form of
her father, had led her to be distrustful of men.

"See, Pamela," coaxed her mother; "Mr Dare has a beautiful slice of
cake for you.  See!"

"Don't want it," Pamela pouted.

"But that's rude," remarked Pamela the first.  "You mustn't be naughty."

"Oh, don't!" pleaded Dare.  "You only prejudice my chances."  He leaned
over her chair, and placed the slice of cake in the chubby hand which
opened and closed upon it shyly.  "I'm awfully fond of cake too,
Pamela," he said.  "You eat that piece, and I'll eat a piece; and we'll
see who gets through first."

"You'll ruin her digestion," Pamela the elder observed with smiling
reproof, while Pamela the younger set her small teeth in the cake and
munched it with evident appreciation.  While she ate, she kept a
suspicious but interested eye on the stranger, who was eating cake also
with apparent whole-hearted enjoyment.  To Pamela the second's delight
the stranger's slice failed to disappear as rapidly as her own.

"You've won," he cried, as the last mouthful was crammed with unfair
haste upon its unmasticated predecessor.

Pamela the second licked her small fingers and laughed because the
stranger was beaten and looked so sorry about it too.  She hoped he was
going to cry.

"Let's try again," he suggested, and cut a second and smaller slice.

Pamela scrambled down from her mother's lap and approached near to him,
leaning with her small sticky hands on his knees, and her greedy blue
eyes on the cake.

"Try again!" she repeated delightedly, and held out an eager hand.

"It is just as well," remarked Pamela the first, "that this doesn't
happen often."

She met his eyes over the child's bright head and returned their quiet
smile.  In making his bid for baby favours he was gaining more than he
guessed.  Before the second piece of cake was finished, Pamela the
second was seated on his knee; and because he was badly beaten this time
also, and seemed to mind his defeat even more than before, she rested
her head contentedly against his sleeve, and evinced entire satisfaction
at his expressions of disappointment.  Pamela the second was
hard-hearted and crowed loudly over her success.

"I think you may claim to have won this time," said Pamela the first,
watching the child's friendly response to his overtures with pleased,
surprised eyes.

He caught the reference.

"Through another defeat," he said, "yes."

"It is a greater victory than you imagine," she added.  "I have never
known her won over by your sex before.  You are accustomed to children?"

"Not accustomed,--little people don't come my way; but I'm in sympathy
with them.  My tastes are infantile, you see."

He rose shortly afterwards and took his departure.  Pamela the second
had gone off in pursuit of other diversion: Pamela the first accompanied
him to the gate.

"I am sorry you are going back so soon," she said as she shook hands
with him.  "I don't feel as though we were new acquaintances.  I seem to
know you quite well."

"Five years," he returned...  "I regard the friendship as dating from
then.  We are quite old friends really."

"It's odd," she said, and laughed.  "I am going to adopt your view.  If
you have known me for five years, it stands to reason that I must have
known you too.  Good-bye.  Be sure to look us up when you come this way
again."

He looked into her eyes with a protracted, earnest gaze, and hesitated.

"I don't know when that will be," he answered slowly.  "I don't
anticipate coming this way again for some while.  When I do, you may be
very sure of one thing,--that I shall look you up."

Pamela went back to her seat under the trees, and thought about him for
the rest of the afternoon.  There was something--she could not define it
satisfactorily--in the man's personality that attracted her: she had
never met any one before with whom she had felt so quickly at home.  He
was companionable and sympathetic.  The odd mixture of serio-comic in
his conversation left her slightly in doubt as to the entire sincerity
of all he said; but this only further piqued her interest.  It was
possible to imagine him clothing in flippant language his deepest
feelings with a view to disguising their earnestness.  She could not
conceive him ever betraying emotion.  Abruptly she roused herself with a
laugh, and consulted the watch at her wrist.

"Seven o'clock!" she mused.  "A nice thing for a married woman to devote
nearly two hours in a sentimental reverie about a stranger!"

She went indoors to change her dress.  Arnott returned while she was
upstairs.  She heard him go to his dressing-room, and after a while he
crossed the landing to her room, hesitated at the door, and finally
entered.  She observed that he was looking worried again.  He appeared
excited and irritable, and a restlessness most unusual in him kept him
constantly on the move.  He fingered things on the dressing-table, and
brushed aside impatiently any article that came in his way.

Pamela wondered what it was that worried him so of late, but she did not
like to question him.  This worry harassed him usually on mail days.
She was beginning to connect the trouble with his English letters.  But
for the fact that he never showed any anxiety with regard to their
expenses, she would have concluded that he was financially embarrassed.
But not once had he suggested to her that it would be wise to practise
economy.  He was, as a matter of fact, far more extravagant than she
was.  He spent money with the careless indifference of a man whose
banking account more than sufficed for his needs.

"Mr Dare called this afternoon," remarked Pamela, watching her husband
as he fidgeted at her dressing-table.  "He leaves Cape Town to-morrow.
I thought you might like to see him, so I asked him to dine."

He faced round abruptly and stared at her, frowning and displeased.

"He isn't coming," she added, meeting his vexed gaze, and feeling for
the first time glad that Dare had refused the invitation.  "He was
engaged for to-night."

"I'm not sorry," he said, looking immeasurably relieved.  "I'd rather
have a quiet evening with you, Pam.  Last night tired me; I'm feeling
cheap."

"It was thoughtless of me to have asked him," said Pamela contritely.
"But it's all right, as it happens.  We'll have a Darby and Joan dinner,
and you shall be as surly as you please, and sit and smoke all the
evening.  There."

He pinched her ear.

"I'll take you at your word one of these days; and you'll see what a
bear I can be."

Pamela slipped her hand through his arm and they left the bedroom
together.  Although she had made a joke of the quiet evening they would
spend, she knew quite well that he would sit as she had promised he
should, silent and abstracted, so lost in gloomy thought that he would
seem oblivious of her presence.  She had seen him in this mood
frequently of late, and had grown familiar with the symptoms.

At dinner, quietly observant of him, she noticed that he ate scarcely
anything; but he drank more than usual.  When he exceeded his customary
allowance, it did not loosen his tongue; he became morosely silent, and
betrayed a tendency towards irritability if spoken to.  Pamela was a
tactful woman, and knew when to be silent.  But she was beginning to
resent her husband's want of confidence in her.  If there was a secret
worry that pressed upon his mind so that it threatened to become a
serious trouble, he ought to share it with her.  His silence showed a
lack of trust.  Surely by now he ought to realise that her love was
sufficiently strong to help her to understand and sympathise with him in
any trouble that might overtake him.  She desired to share his full
confidence, to have the strength of her love put to the test.  There was
no shadow of doubt in her own mind that it would rise to meet any
occasion.  A love which is entirely strong has no fear of the fire.

"To-morrow," she told herself, and stilled a cowardly impulse to put the
date further off, "when he is more himself, I will ask him to trust me."

Then she got up quietly, moved to the back of his chair, and kissed him
on his forehead.  He made no direct response, but his eyes, as they
followed her from the room, were alight with a passionate hunger that
quenched in its fiercer fire the slightly furtive expression of dread
which marred their ordinary frankness.

CHAPTER FOUR.

The morning found Arnott recovered from his overnight depression; and
Pamela's determination to inquire into things was less positive than on
the previous evening.  On reflection she decided to wait a little
longer.  Perhaps if she waited he would broach the matter himself.  It
might be that she was exaggerating the importance of this thing.  In any
case she would exercise patience and see what the next mail day brought
forth; if his letters caused him annoyance again she would ask him to
confide in her the nature of this worry which, while not allowed to
share it, was becoming her trouble too.  She could not look on and see
him bothered without feeling bothered in a measure also; and her entire
ignorance as to the nature of the trouble was worrying of itself.

Pamela held modern ideas as to a wife's right to share her husband's
confidence.  Marriage unless a mental as well as a physical union was no
marriage in her opinion.  She desired to face life at her husband's
side, and take all that it offered fearlessly, the bad as well as the
good.  It had been all good up to the present; but no sky is always
cloudless: eternal sunshine would dry up the generous fountains of life,
as unbroken happiness will narrow the sympathies and shrivel the best
emotions of the heart.  Pamela had a healthy appreciation of the blue
skies, but she was not in the least afraid of the rain.  So long as she
had her husband's love, so long as they were together, she believed that
she could meet any trouble, bear any sorrow bravely in the strengthening
knowledge of his great love for her.

So long as they were together...  She dwelt on that thought, smiling and
confident.  They were together, that was very certain; it seemed equally
certain that nothing could happen to separate them.  It was indeed such
an assured impossibility that she encouraged herself to consider it for
the pleasure of proving its absurdity.  Herbert, himself, had declared
that only death could divide them; and at twenty-six death looms very
indistinct along the vista of years.

Wandering in the garden, waiting for her husband who was going to motor
her out to Sea Point, Pamela speculated on these things with the easy
optimism natural to her, and indulged the happy conceit of creating
purely imaginary and highly impossible situations for the satisfaction
of filling them effectively,--a habit of make-believe which endured from
schoolroom days.  The appearance of the postman in the drive awoke her
from her dreaming to the realisation that the morning was slipping away.
Something must be detaining Herbert, possibly something to do with the
car.

She took the letters from the postman and went indoors.  One of the
letters was for herself.  It was addressed to her in her name before she
married, the name she had neither signed nor seen written for five
years.  It puzzled her that the writer of the letter should be familiar
with her present address and yet be ignorant of her change of name.  She
could not recall having seen the handwriting before.  The postmark was
London.  It was doubtless due to the mistake in the name on the envelope
that the letter had not found its way into Arnott's box at the post
office, and so have been collected by him when he fetched his own
letters on the previous evening.

She went into the sitting-room, and seated herself near the window, and
turned the envelope about in her hands.  Flailing to identify her
correspondent from the superscription, she finally opened it, and
withdrawing the closely written sheet of foreign paper, glanced first at
the signature.  "Lucy Arnott" was written in clear, firm characters at
the foot of the page.

Pamela's amazement was unbounded.  Who was Lucy Arnott?  And why should
a connection of her husband address her as Miss Horton?  She concluded
that it must be a connection of her husband; it was such an unlikely
accident that a stranger of the same name would write to her.

Curious, and vaguely troubled, Pamela began to read.  She read the
letter through, read with white, set face, and a mind which failed to
grasp the significance of what the cold, formal phrases expressed with
perfect lucidity.  It occurred to her that the thing was a cruel hoax, a
wicked, malicious lie.  She could not credit the truth of the writer's
assertion that she was Herbert Arnott's lawful wife, and that therefore
Pamela was not a wife at all--was not legally married...

Pamela tried to realise this abomination, and then thrust the horror
from her as too terrible for credence.  It could not be.  She knew that
she was married.  She had her marriage certificate.  Everything had been
done in order.  Whoever Lucy Arnott was, she could not disprove that.

"I don't know," the writer said, "whether you were aware of my existence
when you consented to pose as Herbert's wife.  I only heard recently
that he was living with a wife at Wynberg; therefore I cannot judge
whether you have been deceived, or are simply a willing accomplice.  If
it is a case of deception, you have my sympathy; if the latter, you will
not need, and would not appreciate, it.  I may state at once, in the
event of your cherishing the hope that I will divorce him, that I have
no intention of doing so.  I have no respect for the divorce laws, which
are man-made and for their own convenience, and I have no wish to have
my name dragged before the public.  I shall take no proceedings against
Herbert; it is a matter of entire indifference to me what he does, or
how he lives.  After this letter you will not hear from me again.
Having informed you of what I felt it right you should know, I leave it
to you to act as your conscience dictates.  If, as I am inclined to fear
from a too intimate knowledge of Herbert's character, you have been
cruelly duped, you may, if you stand in need of a friend, count on me as
a woman who has suffered also at the same hands and can therefore feel
for another."

Pamela sat with the letter in her lap and stared at the page unseeingly.
A little choking sound escaped her; it was scarcely a sob, more nearly
it resembled a catching of the breath.  She made no other sound.

For a long while she sat there motionless, holding the letter in her lap
between her limp, shaking hands.  It wasn't true...  It couldn't be
true...  This thought reiterated itself persistently in her bewildered
mind; but behind the thought, companioning it always, a doubt chilled
her unbelief in the writer's veracity,--a doubt which came, and came
again, until finally it asserted its right to a place in her thoughts;
and instead of the reiterated: It can't be true, the phrase shaped
itself: Suppose this thing were true?  Suppose this were the secret
worry which had troubled Herbert's peace of late...

And then suddenly she heard his voice calling her name, and, looking up,
saw him advancing towards her along the stoep.  He was looking hot and
slightly out of humour.  He had taken off his cap in order to cool his
brow; he carried it in his hand.

"It's no go, Pam," he said; "the drive is off for this morning.  There
is something wrong with the engine.  It's beyond me; the car will have
to go into town for repair."

He came up to the window, and stood in the aperture, and gazed at her in
surprise.  Never had he seen Pamela wear such a look as she wore then.
Her face was white; the blue eyes, dilated and dark with pain, stared
back into his own with the dazed, unseeing look of a sleep-walker.  For
the moment he believed she was ill; and he stepped through the window
hurriedly and bent over her with anxious solicitude.

"Pam!" he said...  "My dear, what is it?"

Then his eyes fell on the letter in her hands, and his face reddened and
then went very white.  It was evident that the handwriting was perfectly
familiar to him.

Pamela put the letter into his hand.

"Read it," she said dully.

"Good God!" he cried, and turned the thing he held in hands only a
little less unsteady than her own.  "How did you get hold of this?"

"It came by the post--just now."

"Damn!" he muttered under his breath, and read the letter deliberately.
When he had read it he crushed it in his palm and thrust it into his
pocket.

"I would have died sooner than you had read this," he said.

He made no attempt, she observed, to refute the charge.  Somehow she had
not expected him to; from the moment when his eye had fallen upon the
letter she realised that the information contained in it was true.  His
first wife was not dead.

"Why didn't you tell me?" she said.  She looked at him resentfully with
her darkened, pain-filled eyes.  "It wasn't fair to me...  You've
cheated me...  You--Oh!"

She broke off piteously, and looked away from him out through the
window; and he saw that she was weeping.  The tears ran down her cheeks,
and splashed unheeded on the hands that lay clenched in her lap and made
no move to check the bitter rain.  Arnott turned his eyes from the
piteous face.

"I couldn't tell you," he muttered...  "I loved you.  I dared not risk
losing you,--and I believed you would never know."

"It's--bigamy," she said, and caught her breath again sharply.

"Yes."

His voice was sullen.

"But that's punishable," Pamela said, and scrutinised him with wide,
distressed eyes...  "Isn't it?"

"Yes."

He made a sudden movement.  Before she could stay him he was on his
knees beside her, with his arms about her, holding her closely.

"I wanted you so badly," he said.  "It was the only way.  Oh!  Pamela,
believe me, I never meant to hurt you...  I never meant you to know.  My
dear--Oh! my dear, don't turn from me.  Forget that you've read that
letter,--forget that you ever received it.  Let things be as they were
before."

"But they can't be," she insisted.  "I'm not--"

She broke off and stared at him, frightened and dismayed.

"I'm not even _married_," she added, the horror of this truth revealing
itself in her tones.

"You are," he asserted sullenly.  "I married you..."

"But you couldn't," she persisted, "with your wife alive.  The law can
punish you for bigamy."

"Do you want the law to punish me?" he asked.

"No," she said.  "That wouldn't help me.  And... there's the child."

He frowned.

"You are distressing yourself unnecessarily, Pamela," he said.  "There
is no difference really.  You felt quite secure until to-day.  Your
position is as assured now as it ever was.  You are more my wife than
the woman who wrote that letter.  She has a legal right to my name; but
we were never mated as you and I are.  My first marriage was a bitter
mistake which I have ceased to consider long ago.  She stands for
nothing in my life.  You are everything to me--everything.  I'd fight to
keep you with my last breath."

"You ought not to have done it," Pamela said, and wrung her hands.  He
put his hand over hers and stayed her.  "You ought to have left me in
peace...  What peace is there for me now?  Any hour this thing may come
out.  It's not our secret,--yours and mine alone."

"It's yours and mine and hers," he said.  "She won't speak."

"How can you be sure?"  Pamela cried passionately.  "She told me."

"Yes--damn her!" he returned, and stood up abruptly.  "She has been
threatening to do that for months.  But I thought I could intercept the
letter.  I never dreamed of her writing to you like this...  But she has
done what she meant to.  She will be silent now."

"But things can't go on as they have been," Pamela said piteously.  "I
can't stay here, now I _know_.  I--Don't you see, Herbert?--it wouldn't
be right.  I should feel--"

She shivered suddenly, and broke down again and wept bitterly.

"Oh, dear heaven!" she wailed.  "What am I to do?"

"Do you mean," he said in a hard voice, "that you think of leaving me?"
Then, his calmness deserting him, he went to her and took her in his
arms and kissed her tenderly.  "Pamela," he whispered brokenly, "what I
have done, I did out of love for you.  It may be that I did you a wrong
in marrying you; but,--to give you up! ...  I couldn't.  Oh! my dearest,
believe me, I have fought hard...  I fought against my love for you; but
it was too strong; it broke down every barrier.  It would have broken me
if I could not have had you...  Dearest, speak to me...  Tell me that
you forgive me,--that you'll stick to me.  You can't leave me, Pam,--you
can't leave me.  My dear, I couldn't let you go."

Pamela freed herself from his embrace, and sat bade looking at him with
her miserable tear-blurred eyes.  She put up a hand and swept the hair
back from her brow.

"It wouldn't be right," she said, and stirred restlessly...  "I don't
know...  I must think."

She got up and passed him and walked towards the door.  He made no
attempt to stop her.

"I want to be alone," she said slowly...  "I want to think..."

She passed out, and the man, rising also and looking after her, stood
with a heavy frown darkening his face, his shaking hand pulling
nervously at his moustache.  The blow which he had so long dreaded had
fallen like a thunderbolt and threatened to destroy his home.  He could
not feel sure how Pamela would act now that she knew the truth.  Of her
love for him he had no shadow of a doubt; but women like Pamela
possessed scruples, queer principles of honour which hardened into
obstinacy when the question of right manifested itself beyond all
argument.  When a thing became a matter of conscience with such women,
it was all a toss up, he reflected, whether the woman will not
deliberately sacrifice herself to her sense of equity.  That as a
general rule on smaller matters she is less sensitive in regard to
points of honour, inclines her in moments of a serious decision to a
greater severity.  For the life of him he could not determine what
Pamela would decide to do after reflection.  The fact that she had
insisted on thinking the thing out alone occurred to him as the first
step in a moral victory which might spell disaster to the happiness of
both.

CHAPTER FIVE.

Pamela spent the day locked in her room.  She held no communication with
any one.  Arnott had no means of discovering how she was passing the
time, because on the one occasion when he pleaded for admission she
refused to open her door; and he went away troubled and sorely
dissatisfied.

He left the house and did not return until evening.

When she saw him go Pamela had a mad impulse to seize the opportunity
and escape from him, but she dismissed this idea almost immediately.  To
run away would be ridiculous: she was quite free to go at any time.  And
there was the child.  The child was her child; it did not belong to its
father.  That was the one right of the unmarried mother.  The child of
the dishonoured union belongs as nature intended to the mother.  Pamela
began dimly to understand why Herbert had so hated the thought of having
children; that at least was a point which counted in his favour.

She paced the room at intervals, walking restlessly between the window
and the door; but for the greater part of the time she remained seated
listlessly in a chair near the open window, staring out at the sunshine,
thinking, thinking always, trying to resolve what she ought to do, what
she intended doing.  The matter rested now between those two points.
She had no longer any real doubt as to what she ought to do.  Every
argument she advanced against taking the right step she recognised
perfectly as a deliberate oversight of duty in the pursuit of her own
happiness.  She wanted him so.  In despite of the wrong he had done her,
she loved him passionately, with a love which attempted to excuse the
injury because of the depth of feeling which had moved him to act as he
had acted, which held him to her still in defiance of every law.  He had
sinned out of love for her.  Was she too going to sin in order to keep
him?

She realised perfectly that if she went out of his life now, though it
might break her heart to leave him, though it would possibly break his,
she would save from the wreckage her virtue, her self-respect; to
continue to live with him, knowing what she knew, was to become an
abandoned woman, a woman of loose morals, the wings of whose happiness
would be clipped by the sense of her degradation.  She would be a thing
in the mire, soiled and ashamed,--Arnott's woman, no longer his wife...

She broke off in her reflections, weeping passionately.

"I couldn't bear it," she moaned.  "I couldn't bear it."

Then, when she grew a little calmer, she faced the alternative.  Life
without him... never to see him again.  To live in some place where her
story was unknown,--to know that he was alive, in the world somewhere,
hungry for her, aching for her, as she would ache for him,--and not be
able to go to him,--never to see his face, nor hear his voice again,--
never to feel the clasp of his arms, his kisses on her lips...  Would
that be more bearable than the other, she wondered, and shivered at a
prospect so utterly bleak and forlorn that she could scarce dwell on it
even in her thoughts.  How could she face separation from him?--such a
death in life for them both?

And then began again the struggle, the fight of the soul against the
desire of the flesh...

That evening Pamela went downstairs.  She dined with Herbert, or rather
sat through the meal; she could not eat.  Neither of them spoke much.
Once Arnott insisted on her drinking a glass of wine.  He had noticed
her lack of appetite; and he poured the wine into her glass, and stood
by her while she drank it.  He was keenly observant of her, and careful
not to let her see his attentive regard.  He wondered whether she had
arrived at any decision, whether she would speak about the matter later.
He was feverishly anxious to know what was in her mind.  If she was
bent on leaving him, he was determined to oppose her to the utmost, to
exert every art, every argument he could devise to induce her to alter
her decision,--to see the thing from his point of view,--to be
reasonable.

When she left the table, he rose also and followed her from the room.
In the hall, at the foot of the stairs, she paused, glanced at him
uncertainly, and changing her mind about going upstairs, entered the
drawing-room.  He followed her and shut the door.

"Tell me," he said, and stood facing her in the dull glow of the shaded
lights, his voice trembling with emotion, body and features tense with
the restraint he was bringing to bear on himself, to subdue the anxious
desire to hear her speak, to hear her pronounce her verdict, to know the
result of that long, miserable, mental struggle which he knew had been
taking place in the bedroom from which she had shut him out,--"tell me
what you have decided...  I can't bear this racking uncertainty any
longer, Pamela...  I can't bear it."

Pamela looked at him with perplexed, miserable eyes.

"I haven't decided," she said, "anything."

Suddenly her eyes filled with tears, there was a sound of tears in her
voice.

"I don't know what to do," she moaned.  "I've thought, and thought...  I
can't see a way out."

A momentary gleam of triumph leaped into his eyes.  He held out his
arms.

"My dear!" he said.

She made no move towards him.  She leaned forward, resting her arms on
the back of a chair, her gaze fixed on the carpet.

"There seems only one thing to do," she resumed in an expressionless
voice...  "There _is_ only one thing,--no decent minded woman would
consider any other course."

"You mean parting?" he said, and his face hardened.

"Yes,--parting," she echoed, and lifted her gaze and scrutinised him
intently.  "It won't undo the evil; but it sets things right, as far as
it is possible to right them now."

"Look here!" he cried.  He went to her and knelt on the chair upon which
she leaned and looked up into her face...  "Could you part from me? ...
Could you?  Think what we have been to one another,--all that our love
has meant, and then think of being apart,--always,--never seeing one
another even...  _Could_ you do it, Pam?"

Her troubled eyes met his, clouded with a mist of tears.

"Don't!" she muttered, and put a hand quickly to her throat.  "I've been
thinking about it--like that all day."

"And you can't face it!" he said.  He laid a hand firmly upon hers where
it rested upon the back of the chair.  "My dear... you can't face it...
I can't face it.  I've looked at the matter all round; and I can't face
parting now any better than I could face renunciation five years ago.
It's out of the question.  It can't be, Pamela.  We've gone a long way
beyond that."

"But the other thing,--to stay,--that's impossible too."

"No," he asserted.  "That's the only thing left us.  Except for the
compunction I feel in the pain this knowledge has brought you, it hasn't
altered anything for me.  I'm trying to look at it from your point of
view.  The relative values of our position are not changed for me, you
see.  When you have recovered from the shock of the revelation, I'm
hoping you will see things as I do.  Nothing is altered really.  I have
regarded you always sacredly as my dear wife.  You will ever remain so
to me.  Nothing can alter that."

"But I am not your wife," Pamela said.  "Do you think I can ever forget
that, now I know?  Every time that my eyes meet yours that thought will
be in my mind... not you wife,--only your--"

"Don't say it," he said sharply, and gripped her hand hard.  "You are my
wife."  He spoke with a certain obstinacy, as though his purpose were to
insist on her imagination taking hold of realities which she sought to
overlook, which were none the less realities to him because he justified
them by his own standard in defiance of conventional law.

"I'm not going to give you up, Pamela.  I'm going to keep you.  If you
left me I should follow you.  Don't you see that parting for us is
impossible?  If we loved less it might be easy to talk of parting,--easy
to assume a smug respectability, and give up a little for the
satisfaction of feeling virtuous.  But people don't give up everything
for the sake of virtue--and to part now would be giving up everything
for you and me."

"But I can't," she insisted, "continue to live here--as your wife.  It's
not only a case of conscience, it's a matter of self-respect.  I should
_hate_ myself."

This was a fresh issue.  He had not foreseen this, and he realised his
inadequacy to grasp the point; it was too intrinsically feminine for his
understanding.  He stared at her in baffled perplexity.

"Do you mean," he began, and paused, scrutinising her tortured face with
disconcerted, incredulous eyes.

He stood up, and moved away from her, and remained with his back to her,
facing the window.  Then abruptly he faced round again.

"What do you want to do?" he asked, his nerves on edge with the
intolerable strain.  "For God's sake, be reasonable!  I can't stand this
any longer.  Do you mean that you want to leave me?"

Pamela made no answer.  She bent forward and leaned her face in her
hands and broke into bitter weeping.  In a moment he was beside her.  He
took her in his arms, and drew her head down to his breast, and held her
so, still sobbing, with her face hidden in her hands.  Tenderly he
kissed the bright hair.

"Poor little woman!" he said.

She clung to him, sobbing and weeping in his embrace.

"Oh!  I can't," she wailed...  "I can't."

Again the light of victory shone in the man's eyes.  He held her more
closely.

"No," he said; "we couldn't do it...  Never to meet again! ...  We
couldn't do it, dear."

She drew back from his embrace and, seating herself in the chair,
continued to weep hopelessly.  He fell on his knees beside her.

"I'm a brute to have brought this on you," he muttered.  "But I loved
you so...  Dearest heart, say you forgive me."

He caught her wrists and pulled her hands from her face and kissed the
tear-drenched eyes.

"Pamela, my darling, forgive me.  I meant no harm to you.  I never meant
you to know."

She regarded him with brimming eyes.

"Oh!  I wish," she said, "that I didn't love you so well."

He kissed her hands.  He had won in this first struggle.  With patience,
he told himself, he would recover the whole ground.

For an hour Pamela remained with him, talking the matter threadbare.
Arnott did most of the talking; Pamela listened, acquiescing by her
silence to much that he urged in his own defence, occasionally
interrupting him, more occasionally disputing a point.  Gradually he
worked round to the subject of their future relations.  On this point
Pamela was more difficult.  She held views of her own in regard to that;
and the discussion at times took a bitter tone.  He pleaded, he argued
eloquently, he even offered concessions.  He was patient and displayed a
tender consideration which moved her to a corresponding tenderness, but
did not shake her resolve.

They were still at cross purposes when, heavy with fatigue and misery,
she arose and announced her intention of going to bed.  The discussion,
he recognised, would have to be postponed to some future time.  This
exasperated him; he left that the delay minimised his chances of
victory.  Further wrestling with her conscience might confirm her in her
resolution, would inevitably make persuasion more difficult.  Ultimate
victory depended largely on his success in wearing down her scruples
before they had time to harden into a conviction of duty.

He eyed her resentfully, and bit his lip to keep back the sharp words of
reproach which came to his tongue.

The puritanical strain in the composition of a good woman was the most
baffling factor to cope with; the element of passion became a weak, a
futile argument against its frigid strength.

"You are punishing me heavily, Pamela," he said.

She turned towards him slowly.  Her sad eyes dwelt for a long moment on
his face and then looked deliberately away.

"My dear, I am not wishing to punish," she said.  "It is equally hard
for me."

"Then why..." he began, and paused, irresolute and almost ungovernably
angry.  "It's monstrous," he muttered.  "Absurd!  We might as well be
apart altogether."

Pamela made no response, but went with a dragging step out of the room,
up the stairs to the bedroom where she had spent the tragic hours of
that weary day.

When he was alone, Arnott moved to a chair and seated himself, and
remained lost in a gloomy reverie, his sombre gaze fixed sullenly on the
floor.  The hand of the clock revolved slowly twice round the dial
before he roused himself from his bitter reflections.  He saw no way out
of this muddle.  If Pamela persisted in her present attitude it meant
the end of their happiness together; her daily presence in his home
under the conditions she imposed would prove merely an aggravation.

Arnott's nature was passionate, and his love for Pamela was of the
quality that refuses to be subdued.  He had never practised restraint;
the thought was intolerable.  The fever of desire which had led to his
bigamous marriage still fired his blood, and moved him to passionate
rebellion against Pamela's decree.  He refused to submit to this
cold-blooded arrangement.  He would have it out with her; he would
overcome her scruples; he would,--he must win.

He got up, switched off the lights in the room, and passed out into the
hall.  He switched off the hall light also, and went up the darkened
stairs.  From beneath the door of Pamela's room a thin line of light
told him that she was awake.  He fancied he heard a movement inside the
room, and listened.  Then deliberately he advanced and tried the door.
It was locked.

He gritted his teeth, and passed on and entered his dressing-room.  For
that night at least he had to admit defeat.  Oddly, at the moment,
though smarting with indignation at being thus determinedly denied
admittance, he respected her decision, even while bitterly opposed to
it,--he respected her.

He sat on the edge of his bed and beat softly on the carpet with his
foot.  A tormenting desire for her gripped him, as it had not gripped
him since the days before he had married her--those days when he had
recognised how impossible it was for him to do without her, when finally
he had flung every consideration aside and gone through the form of a
marriage, which he knew was no marriage, because he could not give her
up.  His need of her now was every whit as insistent as it had been
then.  Its very urgency had broken down every law, razed every barrier:
it should, he told himself, surmount also this new obstacle which fate
had flung in his path.

CHAPTER SIX.

They were difficult days which followed.  Pamela went about as usual,
but she looked white and worn, and evidences of sleepless nights and
much weeping disfigured her eyes.  Arnott, unequal to the tension,
decided on a brief separation, and took a trip round the coast.  His
absence--it was the first time he had gone away without her since their
marriage--might bring home to her some realisation of what life would be
like if they finally parted.  Perhaps, when she was alone, when she
missed his actual presence, she would relent.  If, when he returned, he
found her still obdurate he would broach the subject of a more complete
separation.

He did not seriously believe that she would bring herself to the point
of parting irrevocably.  As things were, it was more difficult to part
now than it would have been in the first shock of revelation.  She had
had time in which to adjust her mind to the altered conditions, to be
called upon to readjust it, to do so late what she had felt she ought to
have done at the beginning, and had failed to do, would add a fresh
humiliation to the former difficulty, would make the difficulty greater.
He felt fairly convinced that she would not willingly leave him, and he
meant to force her into compliance by holding out this suggestion as the
only possible alternative.

Pamela received the news of his intended departure with a sense of
relief.  She too had felt the strain to be well nigh intolerable, more
so in view of his increased kindness and consideration for her, which
made it so terribly difficult to refuse to listen to his pleading.  She
welcomed the thought of his absence as a relief from the constant pain
and embarrassment of his reproachful presence; but when he was gone she
missed him, missed him so sorely that she experienced, as he had hoped
she would, a sort of terror at the idea of living without him.  Almost
it seemed to her that the talked-of separation had actually taken place,
that he had gone away from her finally, that she would never see him
again.  A fear took hold of her imagination that he might have gone with
the intention of not returning, that this might be his way of avoiding
further distresses.  Perhaps he would write and inform her that he had
chosen this means as the best solution of the problem.  He had not, she
recalled, made any mention of returning.  He had stated simply that he
couldn't stand it, that he must get away.  And she had accepted this
without questioning, had felt glad that he should go.  She no longer
felt glad: she only wanted him back.

An aching sense of loneliness oppressed her as the days passed and
brought no letter from him.  She had expected to hear from him when the
boat reached Algoa Bay.  He sent no word until he was as far as Durban,
then he wrote briefly that he was going on further up the coast.  She
had no knowledge of his movements after that.  He did not write again.

In the weeks which followed she had ample time for reflection, time in
which to determine her future course of action.  She spent long hours in
the garden revolving things in her mind, trying to disentangle thoughts
and emotions and impulses of right and wrong, trying to sift them and
get them into some consecutive order.  And always she worked back to the
one impassable point, the point which his absence made so distressingly
clear, that life apart from him was a sheer impossibility.  She could
not face it.  The long lonely years...

And yet to continue to live with him! ...  That were to choose evil
deliberately.  And all their life together would be a lie,--an outward
respectability which at any moment was liable to exposure for the sham
it was.

From the bottom of her heart she wished that she might have remained in
ignorance of this horrible truth.  Then the responsibility of choice
would not have been hers.  She wanted to keep her happiness and her
peace of mind, and that was now impossible.  She wanted to continue as
Herbert's wife, and yet remain virtuous; and she could not; her
happiness or her virtue must be sacrificed, the one for the other.

Pamela prayed for strength and guidance, but her prayers held--as the
prayers of many people hold--reservations.  She attempted to bargain for
the retention of her happiness.  She asked to be shown the path of duty
clearly, and when it was revealed to her she shut her eyes.  There is
never great difficulty in seeing the road which is called Duty; it shows
always direct and straight ahead; but many people turn their backs on it
and look in the opposite direction, because the path of duty is an
uphill path, and it is not until one has reached the summit that one can
appreciate the fairness of the prospect and the exhilarating freshness
of the air.  Pamela stood in the valley, and the steepness and the
loneliness of the ascent appalled her.  Hers was not a nature fashioned
for high purposes.  The big battles of life require sterner moral
principles to bring them to a triumphant issue.  She was not gifted with
that altruism which enables one to meet a great crisis with the utter
self-abnegation by which alone such crises are successfully overcome.
Pamela fought her great battle handicapped by reason of her limitations.
The high ideals which, while unfaced with any great issue, she had
cherished with unconscious hypocrisy failed her in the stress of her
need.  She was just a weak, loving woman, stricken to the heart, and
lonely beyond words to describe,--a woman hungry for her lover, whose
last scruple of honour faded into nothingness in the period of his
absence.

Arnott came home unexpectedly.  He sent no intimation of his return; he
had not, as a matter of fact, intended to turn back when he did.  He
obeyed an odd impulse, prompted by a queer, unaccountable fear that if
he prolonged his absence Pamela might grow reconciled to doing without
him, might grow independent of him.  He felt no longer so confident that
his temporary separation had been a wise move.  He had prolonged it
unduly.  He had given her time to miss him, and had made the mistake of
giving her further time in which to grow used to the idea.  With this
doubt in his mind he hurried back.

He got back in the afternoon rather late for tea.  They had met with
contrary winds round the coast, and the boat was delayed some hours.
Arnott took a taxi at the docks and drove out to his home.  He dismissed
the taxi at the gate and carried his luggage himself up the path and
dumped it down on the stoep for one of the servants to take inside.
Then he looked about him with a strange feeling of unreality, and an
unexpected sensation of nervousness that manifested itself chiefly in
the dryness of his throat.  Where, he wondered, was Pamela?  This return
to a silent, unwelcoming house was disconcerting.  He forgot that he was
not expected, and began to feel unreasonably annoyed.

And then abruptly he became aware of Pamela, standing in the opening of
the drawing-room window, gravely regarding him.  He looked round
suddenly, and their gaze met.

"So you have come back?" she said.

Her eyes were deep and very intense; the man as he met their shining
look felt certain of his welcome.  He advanced towards her quickly.

"Couldn't stick it any longer, Pam," he said.  "I wanted you."

He held out his arms.  She went forward unhesitatingly, and put her arms
about his neck and drew his face to hers and kissed him.

"I am so glad you have come home," she said.

Arnott's clasp of her tightened.

"Oh!  Pam," he said, "how good, how jolly to have you again."

He drew her inside the room, looking away from her a little awkwardly,
looking about him with an overdone air of ease.  Pamela also, now that
their greeting was over, assumed an outward calm which she certainly was
not feeling, and busied herself with the tea things, having an equal
difficulty it seemed in meeting his eyes.  That, she discovered later,
was one of the developments of their adjusted relations, a sort of
furtiveness, that comprised a mixture of deprecation and a shamed
shyness that was more instinctive than anything else.  The realisation
of this hurt her; it detracted immensely from the beauty of their love.
But just at first she did not recognise it other than as a temporary
embarrassment; it did not distress her particularly.

"I was just going to have a lonely tea," she said, and rang the bell for
a fresh supply; "and now--there's you!"

She glanced at him brightly, a swift colour flushing her cheeks.  He
seated himself on the sofa near the tea-table, and studied her curiously
when he believed himself unobserved.  He speculated on what might be in
her mind, what the actual thoughts and feeling were which she hid so
successfully behind her welcoming manner.  For the first time within his
knowledge of her he realised a subtlety, a certain secretive force,
which he had not suspected in her.  It was like coming unexpectedly upon
a familiar spot and finding the view altered and contracted by
surprising innovations.  One felt that behind the obstructions the
prospect was exactly the same; it was one's own view that was restricted
and created these new impressions.

"It's good to be home," he said, and dropped into a discursive chat
about the places he had visited.  "Tried all I could to get rid of the
thought of you, Pam," he said at the finish, and glanced at her with a
sudden, faintly deprecating smile.  "It wasn't a bit of use.  You
pursued and brought me back...  God! how you haunted me at nights! ...
And your face looked back at me from the water whenever I gazed down at
the sea."

Pamela sat down beside him.  She slipped a hand into his, but she did
not look at him.

"It's been the same with me," she said,--"you were always there,
somehow.  I wonder...  I suppose there are lots of people like ourselves
who grow dependent on one another...  You've never been away from me
before."

"And you missed me?" he questioned.

She looked at him then with grave, perplexed eyes, and nodded.

"It was an experiment," he said presently.  "I wanted to see if we could
do it--and we can't...  We can't part."

"And we can't," Pamela repeated slowly.  "No, I don't think we can."

Suddenly she leaned forward and played nervously with a little fanciful
spoon in her saucer.

"I meant to," she said,--"at first.  I felt--I still feel it's the right
thing to do.  After you had gone away, I knew I couldn't.  I suppose I
am not a good woman really."  She broke off the jerky sentences, and
gazed at him somewhat wistfully.  "It's hard to want to be happy, and to
know that one ought not to be.  I suppose that's why she told me...  She
wouldn't leave me to be peacefully ignorant.  She wanted to stretch me
on the rack too."

"Lord knows!" he answered, and stirred his tea irritably.  "She's
threatened to tell you," he added, "ever since some fool of an
acquaintance, who'd been out here and was struck with the name, told her
that I was living here; but I thought I could intercept the letter.  I
didn't allow for it coming to the house.  I knew she would never make an
open scandal.  She's too proud, for one thing.  Besides, she is
absolutely indifferent.  So long as we are not in the same country, it
would never trouble her what I did."

"But," said Pamela, a little shyly, "she must have loved you once."

"I don't know," he said.  "I am beginning to doubt myself, whether it is
really love which brings the greater part of the world together.  Not
infrequently curiosity is at the bottom of it,--or the desire to make a
home.  The majority of cases, of course, are the result of passion,--the
fundamental scheme for the continuance of the race.  I don't see that
it's much use bothering one's head about these matters.  I married when
I was a hot-headed young fool; after I found out my mistake--too late.
I met love...  Well, I suppose I ought to have turned my back on love,--
and I didn't.  There you are."

"Yes," Pamela returned slowly.  "That is just the part I find it
impossible to excuse.  That was your big error; and it is going to be
responsible for our further wrong-doing."

"Look here!" he cried.  "Life is in one's own hands.  One either makes
it difficult by moralising, or simple by being philosophical and taking
all it has to offer.  It holds a lot of good for you and me, Pam...  Why
moralise?"

"Because," Pamela answered, and her eyes filled with unexpected tears,
"in making a deliberate choice of evil I don't wish to cheat myself into
believing that it is the only course open to me; it isn't.  If I am a
bad woman, I will at least be sincere."

He took her two hands and held them between his own and looked with
kindly tolerance into the sweet, distressed face.  He no longer felt any
need to plead with her; he knew his case was won.  Very tenderly he put
her hands to his lips.

"You odd inconsistency," he murmured, "how you delight in tormenting
yourself!  Can't you see that in this matter you are entirely blameless?
All the evil is mine.  You are driven into a corner, poor child.
Nobody in his senses would hold you responsible.  Put the blame on to
me, Pam,--I'm equal to shouldering it."  He slipped an arm about her,
and drew her closer.  "If it had all to be gone through again, I'd do
the same."

CHAPTER SEVEN.

For the first few months after Arnott's return Pamela enjoyed once more
the delirious happiness of a second honeymoon.  Arnott was very much in
love, very grateful to her for her acceptance of her awkward and
delicate position.  He was bent on making good in every way possible.
His love overflowed in floods of grave tenderness: he lavished upon her
unexpected and extravagant gifts.  Pamela appreciated his tenderness;
but the gifts--too frequent and haphazard, suggesting that he recognised
the necessity for pleasing and propitiating her--hurt her; it seemed to
her that they represented the price of her degradation.  She was
reminded continually that she was no longer a free woman: she was a
man's mistress, bought and owned by hire.  The price of the jewels he
heaped upon her might be taken as an estimate of her value.  Always he
had been generous to her; he had given her many valuable presents, on
her birthday, on their marriage day, and such like occasions, not, as he
did now, at odd moments as though he had constantly in his mind the
humiliation she endured for his sake, as though he felt the necessity to
express his gratitude in some fashion, to reward her uncomplaining
devotion.

Pamela endured many hours of secret shame over these glittering
evidences of his recognition of their altered relations.  But the thing
which wounded her most, wounded her whenever she looked into the clear
eyes of her child, whenever the sound of little feet, the sweet shrill
baby voice, fell upon her ears, was the knowledge that this little
innocent creature--her baby--was born out of wedlock, was a bastard.

Pamela's mind was growing accustomed to the use of ugly terms, which she
recognised fully that the world--if the world ever learnt the truth--
would connect with her name and with her child's.  Such terms had once
been an offence in her ears,--now they fitted her; they were no less an
offence, but she accustomed herself to them.  She was brutally frank
with herself in the matter of her voluntarily accepted, shameful
position.

But in one matter she determined she would always remain secretive; the
child should never learn the facts of her parents' marriage.  Neither
she nor Arnott could ever requite the injury they had done the child.
She had sinned in ignorance, his was the greater sin; but now her
responsibility, her culpability, exceeded his.  Her knowledge of the
truth made her duty to the child manifestly clear; but duty had fought
its unequal battle, and was beaten to the dust.

Pamela's honour had gone down into the mud, a beaten and trampled thing.
She had made her first great mistake, and already her punishment was
beginning.  In yielding against all her principles of right, though he
had fought his hardest to conquer her scruples of honourable decency,
she had lost to a great extent Arnott's respect.  At the moment when
knowledge first came to her, when she had so miserably tried to do what
was right, his respect for her had stood so high, had been so immense
and overwhelming and self-humiliating, that instead of hating her
chastity which threatened to part them, he had only loved her the more
strongly because of it, had admired and wanted her more insistently; now
he recognised that in this weak, yielding woman, whose passion for him
equalled his passion for her, subjugated all her finer qualities, he
held an easy captive; a captive who shrank from freedom, who had ceded
all right to be considered before and above himself.

When the first flush of triumph over his victory had worn off, and with
it his almost humble gratitude for her tender submissiveness, the
quality of his love underwent a change, a change which manifested itself
in surprising and disconcerting ways.  The sensualism in his nature,
which he had never allowed her to suspect hitherto, was no longer kept
under; little discourtesies, formerly never practised, became common
with him; on occasions he was openly rude to her.  He atoned for these
lapses afterwards with presents and demonstrations of greater affection.
He believed that Pamela forgot these occasions as soon as he did; she
always forgave readily and responded at once to his kinder moods; but
Pamela did not forget.  Each act of discourtesy, each rough word, left
its wound in her soul.

She realised, despite Arnott's reiterated insistence that, save for the
distress which this knowledge afforded her, everything remained really
unchanged, that this was not so.  The whole fabric of their world was
changed.  Their union became a deliberate criminal conspiracy, a furtive
defiance of the laws of the land; it had ceased to be a bond of
comradeship based on mutual esteem,--it had ceased to be a bond in any
sense of the word, save in their dependence on one another.  A love
which has once been fine and free and frankly expansive contracts in an
atmosphere of secrecy and shamed suppressions; it loses vitality.

There was in the changed conditions of her life much which influenced
very strongly Pamela's development.  Strange new emotions were born in
her with all the anguish of new birth; a deeper understanding and at the
same time a less generous conception of life grew in her.  She lost
something of her joyous irresponsibility and acquired a profounder
wisdom.  It was as though her mind developed while her soul's growth
remained temporarily arrested.  And during the process the girl in her
died for ever and the woman evolved in her stead.

No one can pass through a grave crisis and emerge unchanged from the
devastating floods that submerge one during the process.  It depends
entirely on the moral strength of the individual plunged into these deep
waters whether he or she rises above them grandly, or merely flounders
desperately until an insecure footing results as the waters recede.  The
calm mind, the braced purpose, of the moral victor, faces the dark hour
and conquers it, and gains even from the bitterest struggle much which
beautifies and is helpful to the soul, much which makes each succeeding
battle to be fought simpler of conquest than the last; on the other
hand, to reject the fight from motives of fear or other reluctance
leaves one not only a loser in the battle, but shorn of the necessary
armour wherewith to face the next fight.  Pamela had lost her battle;
she had thrown aside her armour and surrendered, because victory seemed
to promise only an empty reward.  She lost more than she knew by her
surrender; not only did she forfeit her self-respect, her purity, her
great gladness in life; she lost too the clean honest delight in
Arnott's love for her, in her love for him; the bright pleasant surface
of things was smudged and dull; she no longer breathed in the open; it
was as though ugly walls enclosed and stifled her soul.

Inexplicably, she blamed the woman who had enlightened her,--Arnott's
wife,--more than she blamed Arnott himself for these miserable new
conditions.  She rebelled at being forced to shoulder the responsibility
of her own act.  If only she had been left in ignorance! ...  From the
bottom of her stricken, aching heart she wished that she had never
received, never opened, that fatal letter.  She wanted to go back to the
period of her ignorance, wanted intensely to have her unsullied
happiness again; and that was impossible.  The door which has once stood
open no longer conceals what it guards, nor can the surface of a thing
that is tarnished attain to the same pristine beauty as before.

During those first months of knowledge, Pamela passed through many
varied phases; from dull misery, to heroic intention, which ended in a
passive defeat and an acceptance of the new conditions.  There followed
a period of shamed, yet glowing, happiness in Arnott's return.  This
phase waned all too speedily, and left only discontent and distressful
self-reproach, and a first doubt as to the selflessness of Arnott's
devotion.  After a while these emotions also faded, ceased in time to
harass her continually; and she drifted into a state of careless apathy,
a comatose condition of the soul, the result of which only future events
could determine, according to the influences and impressions that were
likely to bear on her life.

It was during this period of indifference, of atrophied emotions, and
moral inertia, that her second child was born to her,--a son.  What once
had been the crowning wish of her life was now granted when she had
ceased to desire the gift.  The birth of the boy was her final
humiliation.

Arnott, himself, awaited the coming of this child with mixed emotions;
its birth was at once a source of triumph and of disgust to him.  The
last remnant of respect he retained for Pamela died at the boy's birth.
He scorned her weakness, yet he rejoiced at it because of the more
complete hold it gave him upon her.  She could never reproach him with
being the father of their second child; she must even cease to reproach
him for the past.  She was now equally guilty with him.

Pamela had made her first great mistake in refusing to part from him;
her second greater mistake resulted in the birth of their son.

By an odd chance, as though an ironic fate decreed that this child
should perpetuate the older shame of his parents' bigamous marriage with
the later shame of his own birth, the baby was born on the anniversary
of the wedding day.  The old custom of keeping up that date as the most
festive day in the year would assuredly have lapsed, even had the boy's
coming not made it an impossibility.  Whatever Arnott felt about the
matter, Pamela could not have celebrated with her friends the mock event
which formerly had been to her a glad and sacred rite.  She deeply
regretted that the boy's birth fell on the same date.  Always she would
be reminded of that date, would be compelled to recognise it.  With each
year of the child's growth it would assume an added importance, call for
greater distinctiveness; the child when he grew old enough would insist
on its recognition.

Arnott bought her a diamond bracelet to celebrate the double event; but
he had sense enough not to present his offering until she was downstairs
again and able to take an interest in things.  He gave it to her one
afternoon out in the garden.

They had had tea together under the trees, and Pamela lay in her cane
lounge, so still and so unusually silent that he fancied she was drowsy,
and remained quiet also in order not to disturb her.  But Pamela was not
asleep; she was lost in thought.  Suddenly she opened her eyes and
looked at him fully.

"I have been thinking about a name for baby," she said.  "Have you any
preference in the matter?"

"No," he answered.

He thought he detected a slight shade of vexation pass across her face,
and added, after reflection:

"Why not Herbert? ...  We've reproduced you."

She flushed faintly.

"That was your wish," she said.  "But it seems to me confusing when the
children are christened after the parents."

"Well, it was merely a suggestion," he returned easily.

"I think I should like him called David, after my father," she added
presently.  "He was the best man I have ever known."

Arnott made no response.  The expression of her reason for her selection
seemed to him in the circumstances uncalled for.

"You don't dislike the name, I hope?" she asked.

"No.  I don't say I'd choose it.  It's rather Welsh, isn't it?"

"It's British," she replied, "anyway."

"Look here!" he said, dismissing the subject of the baby's name, and
fumbling in his pocket for the present which he had brought out with
him, "I've something here for a good girl."

He leaned forward and dropped the case into her lap.  Pamela took it up
and opened it carelessly.  She was growing a little bored with having to
express gratitude so frequently for his thought for her.

"Another!" she said, and held the bracelet in a languid hand.  She made
no effort to try it on.  "You really shouldn't be so extravagant,
Herbert.  I have more jewellery than I can possibly wear."

He went round to her chair and slipped the bracelet on her arm and
fastened it.

"It's pretty," he said...  "You like it?"

"It's beautiful," she replied.

"And my thanks?" he said.

He leaned over her.  Flushed, faintly reluctant Pamela lifted her face
in response.  He kissed her eagerly.  She always failed to understand
his appreciation of these exacted caresses.  It was one of his
peculiarities that he enjoyed what he gained masterfully more than what
was voluntarily ceded.

CHAPTER EIGHT.

Dare sat on the stoep of his hotel in Johannesburg reading a letter from
Mrs Carruthers, who kept up a spasmodic correspondence with him at his
own urgent request; her letters, he explained, gave him a sense of
living still in the world.  One clause in this letter interested him
particularly; it was a clause which referred to Pamela.

"I have just returned," the writer stated, "from the christening of the
Arnott baby,--a querulous man-child whom I have undertaken to keep
uncontaminated from the wiles of the devil,--a preposterous thing to ask
one human being to do for another.  Being a childless woman myself, I am
more afraid of my godson than of the devil, the latter being so
conveniently unsubstantial.  Whether it is the added cares of maternity,
or due to the fact that the connubial bliss I once dilated upon to you
is not so assertive as it was a year ago, your sweet-faced divinity is
decidedly less prepossessing in appearance.  I would never have believed
that a year could age a woman as it has aged Pamela Arnott.  Besides
looking older, she is considerably less gay.  But she is a dear woman,
all the same."

The writer passed on to other matters, and mentioned that she was glad
there was a chance of seeing him shortly.  She hoped while he was in
Cape Town he would spare them a few days.

Dare folded the letter and placed it in his pocket-book; then he sat
back in his chair and fell to thinking about Pamela.  Why, he wondered,
should a year make such a difference in a woman's appearance that to her
intimate friends who saw her continually this change should be so
apparent?  And what had caused the diminution in the married happiness
which, little as he had seen of the Arnott's home life, he too had been
conscious of?  Pamela had radiated happiness on the evening he first met
her.

He recalled Mrs Carruthers' words, uttered carelessly to him that night
in the garden, when she had alluded to the Arnotts' marriage as an
instance of perennial courtship, and had added, with a touch of sarcasm
not altogether innocent of malice: "But, after all, five years is but a
step of the journey."

That bore out what more than one married man had told him, that it was
the silliest mistake man or woman ever made to imagine that because one
is violently in love for a period that state of erotic bliss is going to
endure.

"It's beyond the bounds of possibility," one man had said to him
recently in palliation of his own unfaithfulness.  "And it's a good
thing all round for the race that we are as we are."

But Dare had a conviction that, given the right woman, his love would
endure to the end.  The right woman for him, he believed, was Pamela;
and she was beyond his reach.

Feeling as he did about Pamela, the wisest course for him to pursue was
to keep out of her way.  He realised this fully; at the same time he
desired very earnestly to see her.  Since she was ignorant of his
feeling in regard to her, he argued, there could be no harm in their
meeting; he had sufficient self-control to be able to converse with a
woman without allowing her to suspect that he was interested in her in
any marked degree.  Indeed, he would have found his interest difficult
to explain.  To assert that he had fallen in love at sight with the face
of a girl he had seen several years ago and never spoken to until he met
her later as a married woman, would have lain him open to ridicule; it
would have strained the credulity, he felt, of Pamela herself.  He had
heard of cases of love at first sight, but he had not believed in them
prior to his own experience.  It had always seemed to him that love
could be begotten only of some quality of deep attraction in the
personality of the individual.  Certainly had he not found those
attractive qualities in Pamela when eventually he met her, the romance
he had cherished for five years would have gone the way of dreams; but
his meeting with her kindled afresh the fires of his sleeping fancy; and
the romance, which had promised to remain only a sentimental memory, was
quickened into life.  What he had loved in the girl's face, he loved
again in her personality.  He was quite satisfied that Pamela was as
sweet as she looked; and he determined to play the unobtrusive part of
the silent male friend to this woman who was his ideal.  He would not
deny himself the pleasure of her society merely because he loved her.
Never from look or word of his should she guess his secret.  But if
destiny ever offered him the chance of serving her, he would count
himself well rewarded for his undeclared devotion.

The news concerning Pamela in Mrs Carruthers' letter, quite as much as
his own feelings, made him feverishly anxious to see her again.
Business was taking him to Cape Town; he decided that when he was
through with the business he would put in a little time on his own
account; and Mrs Carruthers' invitation fitted in with his plans.

He wrote her a cordial, but guarded, letter, in which he told her that
he would take her at her word and bring himself and his suit case along
and enjoy himself for a week.  He followed shortly after the despatch of
his letter.

Once arrived in Cape Town, the doubtful wisdom of his action in laying
himself open to the direct influence of Pamela's personality struck him
forcibly for the first time.  He stood to lose more than he was ever
likely to gain in thus venturing so close to the flame.  He was likely
to emerge from the conflict scarred pretty badly, he told himself.  But
no amount of prudent reasoning could overcome his desire to see her
again; that desire was paramount; it subdued every argument he brought
forward against it.  It was not wise, he allowed.  But was a man in love
ever wise?

He had resolved when he first met Pamela Arnott, and discovered in his
friend's wife the girl he had seen years before, to go out of her life
finally; he had felt that it would not be safe to continue an
acquaintance which could only be disturbing to himself, if indeed it
developed no further inconvenience; but that suggestion in Mrs
Carruthers' letter that everything was not as formerly in the conditions
of Pamela's life shook this resolution, unsettled him.  He wanted to
judge for himself.  If, as Mrs Carruthers had seemed to insinuate,
Pamela was no longer happy in her marriage, then perhaps...

He broke off in his reverie, frowning at his own unbidden thoughts.  If
there was a grain of truth in that disquieting statement, it was very
plain to him that the position of sympathiser was the last thing for him
to take upon himself.  The platonic, useful friend was very well in
theory, but it didn't answer put into practice as a rule, particularly
in the case of the disappointed wife fretting at the conditions of her
lot.

Dare had arrived at Mrs Carruthers to find her out, but he was
sufficiently at home in that house to be equal to settling himself in,
even to the ordering of refreshment, which, in the form of a whisky and
soda, was brought to him on the stoep.  Mrs Carruthers returned to find
him reading the English papers, and quietly smoking.

"You look as though you had been sitting there for years," she remarked,
as she came up the steps.  "When did you get here?"

He came forward with alacrity and took her extended hands.  Each
displayed unaffected pleasure in the other.

"Oh, about an hour ago!  How well you look!"

"I've been enjoying myself.  I suppose that's why...  Dickie's late."

She seated herself and began drawing off her gloves.  Dare returned to
his former chair.

"Tell me how you have contrived to get so much pleasurable excitement
out of the afternoon," he said.

"Oh, bridging," she said,--"and I won--enormously.  But never mind me.
What I want to know is, what has abruptly shaken your obduracy?  You
have persistently refused my pressing invitations for over a year,--and
now suddenly you arrive."

He sat forward and regarded her inquiring face with a faintly amused
smile.  Ever since he had known her she had subjected him to this kind
of suggestive inquiry.  She was always reading a motive in his simplest
act.

"Your last invitation arrived at a moment when it was possible, as well
as agreeable, to accept it," he explained.  "I couldn't get away
before."

"Umph!" she returned, and laughed.  "I thought perhaps--But no matter.
Your sex always suits its own convenience.  Now tell me exactly what you
want to do while you are here, and I'll lay myself out to be obliging.
That's a prerogative of my sex, and I've not noticed that you ever
attempt to check it."

"Why should one discourage anything so commendable?" he asked.

"That's no answer to my question," she observed.

"No," he returned.  "But, you see, the question scarcely needs answering
from my point of view.  What should I want to do, but enjoy your
society, and loaf delightfully?"

"Never at a loss," she said, and smiled at him approvingly.  "I hope
your ideas of loafing will fit in with my evening's arrangement I have
asked the Arnotts and three others in to make a couple of tables for
bridge.  I had a feeling at the back of my mind that you would wish to
see something of your sweet-faced Madonna during your stay, so I wasted
no time.  Considering that I am three parts in love with you myself,
that is rather magnanimous on my side."

"In any one else it might be," he returned; "but you were made like
that.  Besides, you are fully assured that no one on earth could shake
my intense admiration for yourself.  I wonder why you married Dick?" he
added speculatively.  "All the nicest women are married."

"I wasn't married when I met you first," she reminded him.  "The truth
of the matter is, you, like the majority of middle-aged bachelors, only
appreciate the fruit which grows beyond your reach."

"Middle-aged!" he protested.  "Come now!  I'm only thirty-five."

"And seventy is the limit the Psalmist gives us.  You have wasted your
time, my friend."

"Yes," he agreed abruptly, and sat a little straighten, "I'll have to go
the pace," he said, "in order to catch up."

"You can make the most of the years that are left you," Mrs Carruthers
replied crushingly, "but you can never catch up.  If people realised
that in their youth, they wouldn't waste their time as they do."

"I wish you wouldn't be so depressing," he expostulated.

"I'm not I'm merely lamenting your lost opportunities.  I'm for early
marriages, and big families, and bother the cost."

"That's all very fine.  But big families can't be launched
indiscriminately, and flung on the State."

"People are so prudent nowadays," she said; "they miss a lot of
happiness.  A jolly struggle is preferable to discreet luxury, with a
will at the finish, leaving everything to the stranger or organised
charities.  I was one of fourteen, and there wasn't a jollier or a
poorer home in the Colony."

She laughed, and thrust forward a small, misshapen foot.

"That comes of having to wear my elder sister's outgrown shoes.  But if
I had had my footgear made for me, my feet would probably have been flat
and large; and the sight of an incipient bunion brings back glorious
memories of childhood's makeshifts, and the joy of trying on coveted and
outgrown clothes.  We weren't proud as children.  And the bread and
butter and onions we ate for supper tasted lots better than the
eight-o'clock dinner I take now with Dickie."

She sighed deeply, and became suddenly grave.

"All the rest have big families themselves," she added wistfully.  "I'm
just out of it."

"Children are mixed blessings," he said consolingly.

"They aren't," she asserted.  "They give one the satisfied feeling of
carrying on.  When we haven't children, we just finish with our own
little lives."  She sat up and smiled at him with cheerful
encouragement.  "I have invited a girl for you this evening.  She is
young and fresh and--"

"Oh, don't!" he interposed hastily.

"She is quite nice to look at," Mrs Carruthers resumed, not heeding his
interruption.  "She comes of good stock, and is amiable, and not too
clever.  She dances well, and plays games well, and is thoroughly
domesticated,--an orphan, poor,--the eldest of a family of seven."

"Ye gods!" he murmured.  "Why didn't you invite the other six?"

"They aren't out," replied Mrs Carruthers.

He repressed a desire to smile.

"It is my particular wish that you pay her special attention," she
continued calmly, "with a view to an early and suitable marriage.  Now
don't make up your mind against it straightway.  It will be an admirable
thing for you, and I've set my heart on it."

He laughed outright.

"Oh, you woman!" he said.  "You inveterate matchmaker!  If your girl is
all you profess, why can't you find her some one younger and more human?
As my wife, she would have the devil of a time--you know she would."

"I think you are rather severe in your judgment of yourself," she
returned imperturbably.  "You are quite agreeable.  And you could
provide handsomely for a woman, and--other things."

"Oh, yes; fourteen of them, if necessary," he returned sarcastically.
"But I don't want them, really.  I should feel horribly embarrassed with
them."

"Oh, you would get over that!" she answered easily.  "You mustn't think
so much of yourself."

He got up and passed round to the back of her chair and laid his two
hands on her shoulders.

"You scheming little fiend!" he said.  "You have had this in your mind
all along when you have asked me repeatedly to come down."

"I have always wanted you to marry," she allowed, smiling up at him.
"You will make a delightful husband."

"Well, I'm not going to marry," he said.  "If you air any more of your
matrimonial plans, I'll make love to you.  I'll wreck your home."

"You couldn't," she said.  "Dickie would never trouble to be jealous of
any one."  She put up her two hands and laid them upon his where they
rested upon her shoulders.  "You will be nice to her, George, won't
you?" she said.  "You'll like her immensely, if only you let yourself."

"Of course I shall," he replied, and smiled grimly.  "I like every Eve's
daughter of you, worse luck!"

CHAPTER NINE.

Change in a person's appearance when it is due to mental conditions
varies according to mood and outside influences.  When Dare was face to
face with Pamela Arnott he decided that Mrs Carruthers had exaggerated
the want of look about which she had written: there was nothing to
excite sympathy, or even comment, in the faintly flushed, pleasantly
excited face which turned eagerly to greet him, as, on entering the
Carruthers' drawing-room, Pamela's eyes singled him out with a smiling
welcome in their blue depths.

When he had talked with her a little while he did notice that she looked
older; the girlishness, with its expression of frank gaiety, had faded
during the past eighteen months.

There was a more perceptible change he considered in Arnott himself.
The man had coarsened, in manner as much as appearance.  He was more
noisy and assertive, and inclined to be offhand when addressing his
wife.  Dare hated him for that,--hated him for his lack of courtesy, and
the absence of those small but significant attentions which had formerly
been so noticeable in his bearing towards her.  He seldom looked at her
now, never with the old tender, almost absurdly chivalrous regard which
one associates more with the lover than with the husband of some years'
standing.  Dare decided that he had put off the lover finally; that was
about what it amounted to.  But that, after all, cannot be reckoned a
calamity: men do not remain always obviously their wives' lovers.

"So glad to see you again," murmured Pamela, and her smile seemed to
demand that he should recall the length of the friendship he had once
insisted upon, with its consequent intimacy.  "I began to think you were
becoming a mere memory."

"So long as you didn't forget altogether!" he said, and looked earnestly
into her eyes.  "But I didn't think you would."

"One doesn't forget--pleasant things," she returned.  "Besides, it is
only a little over a year and a half since we met, isn't it?"

"A long year and a half ago," he replied enigmatically.

Pamela acquiesced with unusual gravity.  His speech broke in upon her
happy mood, disturbing the careless tenor of her thoughts.  A long year
and a half! ...  Truly it had been a long year and a half for her.  So
much had happened in the time: her whole life was altered with the
changing of the months.

"It has been a long year and a half," she replied abstractedly, not
thinking of the man at her side, nor of the interpretation he might put
upon her words, upon the weary discontent of her tones: she thought only
of the crowded events of the past eighteen months,--of the pain, the
sickening disillusion, the constant humiliation.  In certain
circumstances a year and a half may seem a lifetime.

He scrutinised her intently.  There was something, after all, in Mrs
Carruthers' report.  The discontent in her voice, the sadness of her
face, arrested his attention.  Had it been merely discontent, it would
have failed to move him particularly, but her look of sadness roused his
deepest sympathy.  He rebelled at the thought that any sorrow should
touch, should perhaps spoil, her life.  She lifted her glance to his
swiftly, on her guard, he fancied, against himself.

"I have had rather a dull time," she added, assuming a lighter manner.

"Dulness is depressing," he allowed.  "I have more experience of it than
you, I expect.  You've not been my way yet?"

"No," she returned slowly.  "I don't go from home much.  You see, there
are the children."

"True!" he said, and kept the conversation in the safer channel into
which she had directed it.  "And how is my little friend?"

"Oh, growing big--and naughty!  I am beginning to think of schoolroom
discipline for her."

"Oh, lord!" he said.  "That baby!  Let her run wild for a bit longer."

"You haven't to live with her," she said.  "But I only mean a nursery
governess.  She is getting beyond the control of coloured nurses.  I am
hoping I shall get Blanche Maitland.  She is so nice with children."

"Blanche...  Oh, I know," he said.

His glance followed hers across the room to where the girl Mrs
Carruthers was bent on his marrying was talking with their host.  So
Pamela's domestic arrangements were to clash with his.  He smiled at the
fancy.  Blanche Maitland was a tall girl, with a noticeably good figure,
a clear skin, and fine, dark, slumbrous eyes.  Her face in repose was
calm and unemotional and difficult to read; when she smiled it lighted
wonderfully.  She did not smile readily, but she looked really handsome
and delightfully shy when surprised into laughter.  She was laughing at
the moment Dare looked at her: he did not immediately remove his gaze.

"She is handsome," he observed.

"Is she?"  Pamela regarded the subject of their talk with renewed
interest.  "I never thought her that--but I suppose she is."

"She is," he affirmed.

"It isn't a necessary qualification in a governess," she said.

"It would be, if I were engaging one," he returned.  "I should make that
and an agreeable voice the principal requirements.  Personally, I am
interested in good-looking faces.  And plain people haven't a monopoly
of the virtues, you know."

"No," she answered.  "But they occasionally more than make up the
deficit in looks in agreeable qualities."

"The wise make the most of what they have," he replied.  "And sometimes
nature is lavish and adds kindliness and a sweet disposition to physical
perfection...  May I come and see you to-morrow?" he asked somewhat
abruptly.

"Do.  Come and dine--informally.  I'll ask the Carruthers."

He looked slightly dissatisfied.

"But I want you all to myself," he objected.  "I'm a selfish fellow; I
hate sharing.  I prefer rather to see my friends singly than in batches.
And Carruthers always wants to play bridge.  One can't talk.  He's
fussing about the tables already.  Let me come and look at the mountain
with you, and gossip, and drink tea.  We don't meet very often."

Pamela, if she felt a little surprised, was not displeased at his cool
readjustment of her invitation.  She returned his steady gaze with a
faint uplift of her brows and the hint of a smile in her eyes.

"If you really prefer that, of course you shall," she said.

"I've only a week," he said.  "I want to make the most of it."

"And when the week is up?"

"I return to my mole-like habits," he replied.

"And you haven't followed my advice?" she said.

"What was that?" he asked...  "Oh!  I remember.  Mrs Carruthers is
always giving me the same.  No; I don't think there is much chance of my
doing that."

Carruthers sauntered towards them with every intention, Dare realised,
of ending the tete-a-tete.

"You play at my table, Mrs Arnott," he said.  He glanced at Dare.  "The
wife has put you at the no-stakes table," he added, grinning.  "She
thinks it is good for your morals to play for love on occasions."

Dare regarded the speaker coolly.

"That sounds like your joke, rather than Mrs Carruthers'," he remarked;
"it's so feeble."

Carruthers chuckled.

"Ask her," he returned.

Pamela looked back at Dare over her shoulder as she moved away beside
her host.

"It's quite the best game, really," she said, and smiled at him.

"I admit it," he answered quietly, "when one is allowed to choose one's
partner."

Bridge without stakes was not much of a game, in Dare's opinion; but he
was obliged to acknowledge that Blanche Maitland played remarkably well.
He had never seen a girl play with such skill; and she held good cards.
They were partners.  This might have been due to chance, since they
cut; but he had a suspicion that Mrs Carruthers manipulated the cards.
She was clever enough, and deep enough, to do it, he reflected.

He did his best to oblige her in the matter of being agreeable; but, as
he complained to her later, when discussing the evening after the guests
had left, had he been the vainest of men he could not have flattered
himself that he had created a favourable impression in the quarter in
which she insisted he should exert his powers of fascination.

"She thought me a stick," he said.  "I'm not at all comfortably assured
in my mind that she didn't think me a fool.  I had an exhausting time
racking my brain for agreeable conversation.  She wouldn't help me.  It
isn't a ha'p'orth of use, my dear, trying to interest me in these
sphinx-like young women with no small talk.  You said she wasn't
clever."

"She isn't."

"You are mistaken.  No one who isn't clever dare be so deadly dull.  She
is profound.  I don't think I like your selection of a wife."

"You can't judge on a first acquaintance like that," she insisted.

"There you are entirely out.  All my loves have been at first sight."

"Then why haven't you married one of them?"

"Because they have all been provided with husbands," he answered.  "When
it is a matter of transgressing the moral law, one naturally hesitates."

"You seem singularly unfortunate," Mrs Carruthers observed
sarcastically.  "I believe you have only been in love once in your life.
You are true to that first love still."

"And who is that?" he inquired, looking down at her with mild curiosity
in his eyes.

"George Dare," she answered.

He laughed.

"Poor devil!" he remarked.  "If I didn't show him some affection, who
would?  Besides, it's a proof that there are lovable qualities in him.
If a man can't tolerate himself, he must be a fairly bad egg."

"You are not justified in making a virtue of egoism," she argued.  "And
you ought to marry.  It's a duty you owe the State...  Men are so
selfish!"

"Oh, come!" he remonstrated.  "One can't place all the big questions of
life on such a brutally practical basis.  There's the human side to be
considered.  Your argument lowers the beautiful to a mere matter of
essentials.  There is a spiritual element in marriage, after all."

Mrs Carruthers turned a frankly wondering, inquisitive gaze upon him,
with the disconcerting observation:

"If you were not in love, you wouldn't talk in that exalted strain.
It's unlike you."

"I didn't know I was such a material beast," he retorted.

His eyes met hers for a second or so, and then, to her increasing
amazement, avoided her gaze.  He thrust his hands in his pockets and
looked everywhere save at this woman whom he liked immensely, but whom
he hoped to keep comfortably outside his confidence.  He was afraid of
Mrs Carruthers' powers of divination.  When a woman takes an
affectionate interest in a man, she can become an embarrassment as much
as a pleasure.

"You _are_ in love!" she cried triumphantly.  "It's no use...  Own up
that I'm right."

"I believe that I have already admitted to you that it is a state which
frequently overtakes me," he replied.

But his manner, despite its banter, lacked assurance.  He felt that she
was not in the least deceived.

"And you never told me!" she said reproachfully.

"There is nothing to tell.  My love affairs never lead anywhere.
Besides, it's such an old story."

"Old!" she echoed.

He smiled at the indignant incredulity in her voice.

"It's running Jacob's romance pretty close now," he said.

"You are trying to put me off the scent," she declared,--"if there is
any scent.  You won't persuade me that you have been in love for seven
years, and that I knew nothing about it."

"Six years and nearly nine months, to be exact," he answered.

"And who, may I ask, was fortunate enough to win your unswerving
devotion six years and nine months ago?" she demanded, with fine
sarcasm.

"She hadn't a personality for me," he replied.  "I fell in love with a
face."

His listener eyed him derisively.

"She hadn't any body, I suppose?" she said.

"Oh, yes, I believe so.  The body was there, all right.  But if it had
been misshapen, or even, as you suggest, non-existent, that wouldn't
have made the slightest difference to my affections."

"Oh, don't try to humbug me!"  Mrs Carruthers exclaimed.  "You can't
convince me, after all you have said, that you are in love with nothing
more substantial than a face.  Where is the girl now?"

"She disappeared," he answered vaguely.  "I took the trouble to inquire,
believe me.  They told me she had married."

"That disposes of her," Mrs Carruthers responded, with that touch of
finality which convention brings to bear upon romance that can have no
legitimate ending.  "It is not decent of you to talk as though you were
in love with her still.  That's all finished, anyhow."

"One cannot regulate one's feelings," he protested, "to satisfy a silly
prejudice like that."

"But it's not fair to the girl," she urged.

"Good lord!" he ejaculated.  "The girl doesn't know...  How should she?
Didn't I tell you that I fell in love with a face?--Its owner was a
stranger to me.  I intended to effect an introduction; but some fellow
got ahead of me, and carried her off."

"Oh!" said Mrs Carruthers, manifestly relieved.

"A stranger!  Then she doesn't count.  You have simply been wearying me
with your nonsense."

"I'm sorry," he said.  "I thought you were genuinely interested.  When
you are bored you shouldn't appear so eager for details.  In a desire to
be obliging one is apt to become prosy."

Carruthers entered the room at the moment with a syphon of soda and
glasses.  Dare eyed the syphon discontentedly.

"I hope you are for offering me something more heartening than that," he
remarked.  "Your wife has reduced me to a state bordering on nervous
collapse.  She is starting a matrimonial agency.  I wish you would bear
me out in the lie that I've got a wife somewhere.  I fancy she thinks it
is not respectable to be unmarried."

"The whisky is on the table behind you," returned Carruthers, unmoved.
"As for bearing you out in the lie, how do I know it is one?  It isn't
to be credited that every man who poses as a bachelor is single."

"If you are going to talk in that strain," Mrs Carruthers observed,
"I'm going to bed.  It is past two."

She paused beside her husband, and pointed at Dare with a gesture that
conveyed a mixture of derision and tolerant amusement and a certain
affectionate malice.

"He has been treating me to a resuscitation of his dead and gone love
affairs," she explained, "because I am desirous of interesting him in
Blanche Maitland."

"Blanche Maitland!  Why not?" quoth Carruthers, squirting soda-water
into a glass.  "Devilish fine girl.  What!"

Dare held the door open for Mrs Carruthers.

"You've entrusted it to quite capable hands, you see," he said.  "The
worst of it is, old Dick is so hopelessly frank.  That is exactly how a
man would describe her, and that is exactly how I wouldn't choose to
have my wife described.  You'll have to try again, Connie."

She placed her hand affectionately on his sleeve.

"You are rather a dear, George," she said softly, and passed out,
leaving the astonished man to close the door behind her.

It took a clever woman to accept defeat gracefully, he reflected.

CHAPTER TEN.

The week Dare had promised himself at Wynberg overlapped and ran into
the better part of three weeks.  He gave as his reason for this
extension of his holiday that he was enjoying himself, and that he felt
he needed the rest.

"I suppose it is restful," Mrs Carruthers remarked to him once,
"mooning about the Arnott's garden all day.  Of course it is more of a
change for you than using this garden...  You do sleep here."

He looked at her oddly.  They were standing on the stoep together.  He
was just about to visit next door to take Mrs Arnott a book he had
promised her.  He had explained all this to Mrs Carruthers rather
elaborately, and had failed to meet her steady, disconcerting gaze with
his usual candour.  These daily explanations of his informal visits next
door called for much ingenuity, and were growing increasingly
embarrassing.  He disliked having to account for his doings; at the same
time courtesy to his hostess demanded something; he rather fancied that
it demanded more than it received.

"I admit the justice of that box on the ears," he said.  He held the
book towards her.  "We dine there to-night, I know; but I promised her
she should have this this afternoon.  Perhaps you wouldn't mind sending
it in with my compliments," he suggested.

"Pamela would be disappointed," she said.

"I believe she would," he agreed.

"George," she looked at him very gravely, and her tone was admonishing,
"I don't wish to annoy you,--but do you think you are acting wisely?"

"You couldn't annoy me," he answered.  "And I haven't considered the
question in that light...  What do you think?"

"I think you are growing too interested in Pamela," she replied.

He was silent for a second or so, turning the book he held in his hand
and gazing absently at its title.  Abruptly he looked up.

"You haven't overstated the truth," he said quietly, a little defiantly,
she fancied.

She shook her head seriously.

"I am sorry to hear you admit it.  From my knowledge of you, I should
have thought that, realising that you would at least have avoided her."

"I am not doing her any harm," he said.

"How can you be sure of that?  Two years ago I should have felt
confident that you couldn't.  I am not so positive now."

"You mean she cares less for her husband than she did?"

The eager light in his eyes as he put the question troubled her.  It was
not consistent with her opinion of Dare that he should behave other than
strictly honourably towards any woman.

"I don't think you ought to have asked that," she returned.  He changed
colour.

"No," he said; "perhaps not.  In any case, there wasn't any need.  It's
fairly obvious."

"Leave her alone," she counselled.

"Look here!"  He took a step nearer to her, and spoke quickly and with a
kind of repressed excitement that conveyed more than his actual words
how deeply he was moved.  "Don't start getting a lot of false ideas into
your head.  I'm not playing the despicable game you think I'm after.
I'm not amusing myself.  Amusing myself!  God! there isn't much
amusement in it.  I'm leaving on Saturday,--I've made up my mind to
that.  But I'm going to see as much of her as I can in the interval.
It's the last time...  I sha'n't come back, unless I can feel perfectly
sure of myself.  But I'm going to leave her with the knowledge that I am
her friend,--to be counted on if she needs me.  I only ask to serve her.
If she doesn't want my service, I will stand outside her life
altogether."

"My dear boy," she returned disapprovingly, "you are talking arrant
nonsense.  A married woman can have no need for a male friend such as
you propose to be.  He is either an object of ridicule to her, or she
grows too fond of him.  I am afraid you would not become an object for
ridicule with Pamela; she hasn't a sufficient sense of humour.  You had
far better give up going there."

"I can't do that," he said.  "But I promise you when I leave here I
won't come back."

"Then leave to-morrow," she advised.

"Not unless you turn me out."

"You know I won't do that," she said.  "But I don't like it, George.  I
am--disappointed in you."

"I'm sorry," he said, and having nothing more to add, he left her, and
walked away down the path.

She watched the tall figure disappear in the sunshine, and turned and
went indoors, feeling justly aggrieved with this man whom she liked
because he had fallen below the standard she believed him capable of
attaining to.  Love is either an elevating or a destructive factor; it
is the supreme test of the qualities of the individual.  She had
believed that George Dare was made of stouter stuff.  But the human
being does not exist, she philosophised, on whom one can count
absolutely.  One may be able to answer for a person's actions in
relation to most human events, then the unexpected event befalls and
one's calculations are entirely at fault.

Dare, as he walked away from her, was fully alive to the criticism his
behaviour evoked.  He had been aware of her unspoken disapproval for
days, had anticipated the inevitable remonstrance.  He admitted the
justice and the wisdom of her reproof, none the less it irritated him
intensely.  It is usually the self-acknowledged wrong that one most
resents the detection of by another.  When a man knows that his steps
are tending crookedly he likes to be assured that he is walking
straight; even though he recognises the assurance to be mistaken, it
gives him a comfortable sense of secure deception.

"After all," he reflected savagely, as though his conscience needed
reassuring on the point, "I am intending her no harm.  It's my soul that
gets scorched."

But he knew, as he crossed the Arnotts' lawn to where Pamela sat under
the trees waiting for him, that he was to a certain extent disturbing
her peace.  He filled the newly created blank in her life, added an
agreeable atmosphere of romance and excitement which for the time caused
her to cease to miss the happiness she was conscious of missing of late.
His homage was gratifying; it reinstated her in her own regard.  In
these ways he was securing a place for himself, making himself necessary
to her.

She looked round at his approach, and a light came into her eyes, a
smile to her lips, as he drew near.  With his critical faculties keenly
alert, following the recent interview, he noted more particularly the
gladness of her welcome, and felt the inexplicable something that was
like a mute bond of sympathy and understanding between them, perceived
the furtive shyness of her glance, the quick change of colour as their
hands met; and his mind became extraordinarily clear and active.  He
roused himself from his mental attitude of personal engrossment, and
forced himself to an impartial consideration of her position.  There was
not a shadow of a doubt about it, though she had possibly not discovered
the fact herself; she was becoming interested in him--in the man, not
merely the friend.  There wasn't any danger, he told himself,--not yet;
but there might be.

He recalled how every day since he had been in Wynberg he had seen her
on some pretext or other: they had aided one another in the invention of
trivial reasons for meeting.  He had not always had her to himself as
now: sometimes she had the children with her; on occasions Arnott was
present.  Arnott always seemed glad when Dare came in; he contrived
generally to monopolise the conversation, and was manifestly entirely
unaware of Dare's preference for his wife's society.  It simply did not
occur to him.  His friends always admired Pamela; he was never jealous,
perhaps because he felt so certain that this woman who had cleaved to
him in defiance of her principles of honour, would cleave to him always.
Although he was conscious of a waning of his own passion, it did not
strike him that any change in himself could possibly weaken her love.
He felt absolutely sure of her.

Pamela had been sewing before Dare joined her.  When he sauntered across
the lawn and drew up beside her chair, she dropped the work into her lap
and gave him her undivided attention.

"You've brought the book," she said, and took it from him with a pleased
smile.  "I rather wondered if you would come to-day."

"Didn't you feel fairly certain I would?" he asked, and fetched a chair
for himself, which he placed close to hers, facing her.

He seated himself.  Pamela did not answer his question.  She opened the
book and turned its pages idly.  It was a beautifully bound volume of
"Paolo and Francesca."  He had wished her to read it.  But she
understood quite well that the poem was a secondary matter; the bringing
it to her was the primary motive.

"I am glad to have this," she said.  "I think I shall like it.  The
outside is beautiful, anyway."

"So is the inside," he answered.  "But it is a bit on the tragic side.
You mustn't look for the happy ending."

"No," replied Pamela gravely.  She put the book down and gazed beyond
him at the sunshine that lay warmly on the garden, the golden mantle of
gaiety which mocks the sadness of the world.  "Life isn't all happy
ending, is it?"

"For many of us, no," he allowed.

"I think the really happy people," observed Pamela, wrinkling her brows
while she pursued her reflections, "are the people who feel least."

"You mean," he said, watching her, "the people who never love?"

"I didn't mean that exactly...  And yet, in a way, I suppose I did.  I
meant the people of moderate passions,--self-disciplined people whose
emotions are under control, whose minds are like a well ordered
establishment in which nothing is ever out of place.  They don't admit
disturbing elements, and so their lives run on in an even content.
There are no big joys and no big sorrows.  I have known several women
like that.  They suggest twilight somehow,--never the sunlight, and
never blank darkness.  They are restful."

"I prefer the glowing beauty of vivid contrasts myself," he said.  "A
world in which there is only twilight would be a prison house."

"And yet you can spend a good portion of your time in the mines!" she
said, bringing her face round and smiling at him.

He was glad she had introduced a lighter note into their talk.

"I get my contrasts that way," he returned.  "Besides, you can't imagine
how jolly it is to drop down into the warm darkness on a broiling sunny
day.  Come along to the mines some time, and I'll take you down."

"I should be scared to death," she declared.

Quite unexpectedly he put his strong, thin hand over hers.

"I don't think so," he answered.  "I wouldn't take you where there was
any danger.  You would be safe with me."

Pamela flushed deeply.  There was in the strong, steady pressure of the
nervous fingers which closed upon her hand so much of latent force, of
protective power, of sex, that she felt strangely frightened.  She
wanted to withdraw her hand, and could not; some influence stronger than
her own will prevented her.  She felt oddly stirred, and immensely
troubled and disconcerted.  With an effort she lifted her eyes,
disturbed and faintly questioning, to his.  He was leaning forward,
looking into the flushed face with earnest, compelling gaze.

"I'm going back to-morrow," he said jerkily, and was quick to see the
startled expression which darkened her eyes as he made the announcement.
"This is the last chance I have of seeing you alone.  Will you write to
me?"

"I don't think--I couldn't," she stammered nervously.

"Then will you promise me that if ever you are in any trouble, no matter
what, in which a friend who has your well-being at heart might perhaps
be useful, you will write to me? ...  You know that I am your friend?"
he inquired.

"I believe you are--yes."

"And will you promise what I have asked?" he persisted.

Pamela hesitated, and stared at him with perplexed, embarrassed gaze.

"But there isn't any need," she began...

"Not now; no.  I pray there never will be.  But you will promise?"

"Yes--oh! yes," she whispered, and, to her own intense dismay, burst
into sudden tears.  She dashed them hastily away with her disengaged
hand.  "You're--frightening me," she gasped.  "I don't know what you
mean."

"Don't cry," he said.  "I didn't mean to frighten you.  I'm not a beast.
I'm not making love to you.  But I just wanted you to know that
everything I possess, myself included, is at your service at any time,
and in any way you choose to command.  Perhaps you may never require my
services; but at least you know that I wish to be useful.  Don't
misunderstand me,--that is all I wish to convey."

He released her hand and sat back.  Pamela dabbed her eyes furtively,
ashamed of her emotional outburst, and angry with herself beyond measure
for behaving like a simpleton.

"How silly I am!" she murmured.  "I don't know what you must think of
me.  I don't know why I am crying."

"I think you are very sweet," he said gently, "and beautifully natural.
I probably startled you.  The unexpected is often disconcerting.  If you
had been one of the temperamentally even people of whom we have been
talking you wouldn't have been startled; but then, in that case, neither
should I have been offering knightly service after the manner of a hero
of romance.  As a sign that I am forgiven, will you sing this evening
the song you delighted us with on the night I first met you?"

"What was that?"  Pamela asked, still too confused to meet his eyes.

"Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix."

"Oh!  Saint-Saens...  Yes, of course I will."

When Dare returned next door, which he did earlier than Mrs Carruthers
expected, he amazed her with the abrupt announcement of his intended
departure on the morrow.

"You were right," he said, "and I was wrong.  I obey your marching
orders.  And now naturally," he added, smiling at her grimly, "you'll
enjoy the feminine satisfaction in a moral victory--which is a euphony
for getting your own way."

She approached him with a glad look on her face, which had in it a good
deal of admiration, and held out her hand as a man might do.

"I knew it," she cried triumphantly.  "Boy, you're straight."

He made a wry face as he shook hands with her.  Then suddenly he stooped
and kissed her.

"It's the least you can offer me," he said in explanation.

She laughed, well satisfied.  She had not been mistaken; he had
vindicated her belief in him.

CHAPTER ELEVEN.

Dare, as he sat at the Arnotts' dinner-table that evening, making the
extra man, the odd number, as he had done on a former occasion, was
conscious of two discrepant facts; namely, that he had not decided a
moment too soon to quit the danger zone of Pamela's seductive influence,
and that he was sincerely sorry he was leaving on the morrow.  The
regret was, perhaps, the keener sensation of the two; it balanced his
sense of moral satisfaction to a nicety.  The dinner was the funeral
feast of his only real love affair.  He intended, when he parted from
Pamela that night, never to see her again.

"I was a fool to come," he told himself.  "No one can handle fire and
expect to escape unhurt.  And I knew it was fire I was playing with."

Yet he would gladly have continued to act foolishly.  The strongest
inducement towards wisdom was the fear that Pamela herself might get
singed; fire which spreads ends in a conflagration.

One thing he noticed after the women had withdrawn, and it was not the
first time he had observed the same thing, was that Arnott drank more
than was good for him.  This possibly accounted for the coarsening so
evident in the man's general deportment.  It disgusted him; though
probably had he not been in love with the man's wife it would not have
struck him so unpleasantly.  It was revolting to think of a sweet,
refined woman contaminated by close association with a man of
intemperate habits.  Arnott was inclined to be offensive when he had
been drinking; it was on these occasions that he displayed discourtesy
towards his wife.  It enraged Dare to see how readily she recognised
these symptoms, and how tactful she was in her avoidance of friction.
It was as much as he could do at times to be civil to his host.
Arnott's self-indulgence was, he supposed, the cause of the cloud which
had disturbed the domestic peace.  If the man persistently made a beast
of himself, it was not surprising that his wife should lose her
affection for him.

He was thankful to escape from the dining-room and join Pamela and Mrs
Carruthers on the stoep.

Mrs Carruthers, doubtless as a sign of her approval of the decision he
had arrived at, acted that evening with a considerate kindness of which
he was keenly sensible and gratefully appreciative: she contrived with
admirable skill to engage her host and her husband in a political
discussion which bored her exceedingly, and which roused Arnott to a
heated denunciation of the Hertzog faction.  Like many men sufficiently
indifferent to public affairs to take no active part in them, Arnott was
a fiery critic of anti-imperialism, indeed of any opinions which failed
to accord with his own way of thinking.  Mrs Carruthers threw in the
necessary challenge at intervals in order to keep the talk from
flagging, and, to her own amazement, found herself defending some of the
backveld ideals.

"I am a staunch believer in race preservation," she announced.  "I
admire the Dutch for defending their principles, and insisting on the
recognition of their language."

"Language!"  Arnott sneered.

"Oh! it's a language of sorts, though we may not consider it exactly
important.  But it's a kind of instinct with them, like the Family
Bible, and a contempt for the natives.  I don't see why they shouldn't
uphold these things."

Dare, talking a little apart with Pamela, gazed thoughtfully at the
quiet darkness of the garden and proposed walking in it.  She hesitated
for the fraction of a second, and then complied.  He noted the slight
hesitation, and felt glad that she conquered her reluctance.  To have
refused his request would have seemed to suggest a want of confidence in
him.  Nevertheless, some impulse, prompted by the recollection of that
slight hesitation, impelled him to turn before they got beyond view of
the others on the lighted stoep, and confine their walking to the limit
of the path in front of the house.  He had not intended this at the
start; he longed for darkness and solitude.  The murmur of voices, the
little disjointed scraps of conversation overheard as they passed and
repassed, disturbed him irritatingly; Arnott's frequently raised,
assertive tones sounded intrusive, broke upon the quiet of the garden
discordantly, reminding the two who walked in it of his presence with a
needlessly aggressive insistence.

Dare tried to ignore these things, but they jarred his nerves none the
less.  He had not suspected until recently that he possessed any nerves;
but they had made many disquieting manifestations of their actuality of
late.

"I can't grow accustomed to the thought that you are leaving to-morrow,"
Pamela said to him presently.  Her voice was low, and betrayed
unmistakable regret.  The back of her hand brushed his lightly as they
paced the gravel slowly side by side.  The contact gave him immense
satisfaction; he was grateful to her for not increasing the space
between them and thus denying him this small pleasure.  "Of course I
knew you were only down for a short while; but your departure is a
little unexpected, isn't it?"

"I came for a week," he answered with a brief laugh.  "It's been a long
one as days are reckoned, but time skips along when one is enjoying
oneself...  It was sweet of you to say that, to allow me to think that
you will miss me a little.  We have had some pleasant times together.
The worst of these things is there always has to be an end.  I shall
miss you more than you will miss me."

"I wonder!" said Pamela.

He turned his head suddenly and looked her squarely in the eyes.  The
light from the stoep shone on her face and showed it very fair and pale
and pure.  She turned aside as though unwilling to bear his earnest
scrutiny.

"One grows used to people," she said.  "Somehow, I have always felt at
home with you.  When you go away I have a feeling that you won't come
back.  I had that feeling last time."

"Yet here I am," he said in a lighter tone.

"Yes," she said.  "I know.  It's stupid of me.  I hate losing sight of
friends.  I have so few."

"Few!" he echoed.  "I expect if I had half the number I should reckon
myself rich."

"You don't use the word in the sense I do," she returned.  "I meant the
friends one can depend upon... who wouldn't fail one under any
circumstances."

"I understand," he said, and added quietly: "I am glad you place me in
that category."

"You head the list," she answered with a faint smile.  "I'm not quite
sure your name doesn't stand alone."

While she was speaking the belief was suddenly confirmed in her that
this man was entirely sincere in his protestations of friendship, that
even if he heard the shameful story of her life with Arnott, he would
not withdraw his friendship.  She felt that she could rely on him, trust
him implicitly.  She also knew that if she needed help at any time he
was the one person in the world she would ask for it.  He was so
sympathetic that she believed he would understand, as no one else
without a similar experience could understand, her position.  He, at
least, would recognise that she had not acted solely from base motives.

"I shouldn't like to believe that," he said gently; "but I am proud to
top the list.  I have a feeling to-night," he added slowly,
unconsciously watching Arnott as the latter leaned forward in excited
argument with Mrs Carruthers, "that we shall yet prove our belief in
one another's sincerity.  Don't think I am suggesting all manner of
unnameable tragedies in your life,--the proof of loyal friendship is to
be helpful also in little things.  It's rather a rotten idea--isn't
it?--that a man can't be pals with a married woman."

"I think so," Pamela answered.  "Besides, you've disproved that in your
friendship with Connie."

Dare was silent for a moment.  There was, he knew, a very substantial
difference in the quality of his friendship with Mrs Carruthers and his
friendship with Pamela; sentiment was entirely absent in his feeling for
the one; in the latter case the whole fabric of his regard was built
upon it.  He had a fairly strong conviction that he would throw, over
Connie, throw over the whole world if need be, for this other woman.
But he also realised with an equal certainty that the one thing he would
not do was to allow her fair name to be sullied through his
indiscretion.  If it were necessary to the maintenance of a platonic
friendship to remain at a distance, he would avoid any future
possibility of their paths crossing.  That much he could do for her.  It
was the strongest proof of his regard.

"Men and women disprove that theory continually," he returned.  "But we
only hear of the failures, and that brings discredit on the idea.  One
might as reasonably argue that the divorce court brings discredit on the
married state.  The whole thing is absurd."

"I wonder why you never married," Pamela said suddenly.  "Somehow, I
can't think of you as a married man; and yet you must surely have
contemplated marriage.  Most men do at some time or another."

"I suppose," he said, "that you, like Connie, regard me as an old fogey
and past such things?"

"No," she answered simply.  "My husband was older than you when I--
when--"

She floundered helplessly, and paused in swift confusion.  It was
impossible, she found, to refer to her marriage; the word stuck in her
throat.  Always, it seemed to her in her distress, this galling
knowledge that she was not legally married was being forced upon her
realisation to her further humiliation.  Unable to complete the
sentence, she added lamely:

"A man is never too old."

He laughed.

"You think I might find some one to take pity on me even now?"

"I think," she returned warmly, "that the woman who wins you will be
very fortunate.  And you are only quizzing me in respect of age; you are
quite young yet."

"Only recently," he explained, "I have been called middle-aged, and it
hurt my vanity.  Age, like most things, is relative.  When one is in
one's teens forty appears senility; when one approaches forty it wears
quite another aspect,--a comfortably matured, youthful aspect compared
with which the teens are puerile.  The heart defies wrinkles.  I resent
being described as middle-aged: it tempts me to the committal of
youthful follies."

They had reached the end of the path and were beyond the circle of light
from the stoep.  Dare brought up abruptly, and instead of turning,
halted, and faced her in the gloom of the overhanging trees.  His eyes
scrutinised her face in the dimness with tender intensity.

"This is the last lap," he said.  "I'm going to take you back now, and
you'll sing for me.  `Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix.' ...  Don't you love
the words?  They express better than any words in our language could
just exactly how the dear particular voice affects one...  Oh! little
friend, I wish that fate did not decree that our paths in life must
diverge just here, and so seldom cross."

"That bears out what I have felt," said Pamela slowly, gazing steadily
bade at him.  "You won't come again."

"Who can say?" he returned.  "I feel--and I think you do too, though you
are too wise and sweet to say so--that it is better I should stay away.
I want you to bear me always kindly in your thoughts.  And when I am
near you I am never quite confident that I shall not say something which
may lower me in your esteem.  I shouldn't like to do that.  Man is but
human, and humanity has some of the brute instincts, though we flatter
ourselves we are only a little lower than the angels,--that little makes
all the difference.  Shall we turn back?"

Pamela acquiesced in silence, and walked in silence to the house.  She
was conscious that Dare talked, but she scarcely heard what he said in
her troubled preoccupation.  What he had said beyond there in the shadow
of the trees was repeating itself over and over in her mind.  She could
not misunderstand the purport of his words; and she felt sorry.  She
liked him so well.  She wanted to keep and enjoy his friendship,--wanted
him to be in her life, not forced by a recognition of the weakness he
hinted at to stand always outside.  Why could they not have remained
friends in the real sense of the word, as he had first suggested?  His
admission made it impossible.  She felt angry with him.  She wanted his
friendship so urgently.

"You are not offended with me?" he asked presently, struck by her
unheeding silence which insensibly conveyed a hurt resentment.  He put
the question twice before she answered him.

"No," she replied.  "But--"

"But?" he prompted gently.

"I want your friendship," she said quickly, with a little nervous catch
of her breath.  "I thought I had it...  And you are making it
impossible."

"Oh! no," he answered.  "I am making it very possible.  It is because I
feel I may perhaps be useful as a friend that I have been so honest with
you.  Don't make any mistake about that."

She made no response.  They were approaching within hearing of the
others, and Mrs Carruthers was leaning on the rail of the stoep,
watching their slow advance, observing them, it occurred to Pamela, from
the concentrated earnestness of her look, with an unaccountable
interest.  She leaned towards them as they came up.

"I'm on the verge of quarrelling with every one," she said with
remarkable cheerfulness.  "You've only arrived in time to prevent
bloodshed.  If you have tired of doing the romantic, come in and let us
have some music."

"Sing to us, Mrs Arnott," pleaded Carruthers,--"something soothing.  My
wife has been most extraordinarily aggravating."

Pamela made some laughing response, and joined him.  Mrs Carruthers
turned towards Dare, who remained standing alone at the top of the
steps.

"I have saved the situation for you this evening," she said, "and lost
my own temper.  But I am thankful for three things."

"And they are?" he inquired.

"That there is no moon,--that you turned back when you did,--and that
to-morrow is not many hours off."

"I never believed before," he returned drily, "that it was in your
nature to be unpleasant."

She smiled encouragingly.

"You are only beginning," she said, "to gauge my possibilities."

CHAPTER TWELVE.

Of the beauty of friendship much has been said and written, but little
of its danger.  In a friendship between the sexes there is always
danger; for a friendship between a man and a woman is based on an
entirely different sentiment from any other relation.  The danger may
not be apparent; in many cases it is latent; but the spark which will
ignite it is present in the attribute of sex, and the unforeseen
accident of circumstance may fire it at any moment.  Men realise this
more readily than women, perhaps because they are less given to subduing
these qualities.  Dare's resolve to act on Mrs Carruthers' advice and
flee the danger was the result of his recognition of it.  His sudden
departure was an acknowledgment of his own weakness, and at the same
time a proof of strength of purpose.  To act contrary to one's
inclination for the sake of principle entails sacrifice.

The sacrifice did not affect him solely.  This abrupt cessation of their
pleasant intercourse made a fresh break in Pamela's life.  For some
weeks after he had gone she missed his society greatly; his frequent,
unexpected visits had added a pleasurable excitement to her days; she
had grown used to his dropping in at all hours, had grown to look for
him.  Until he was gone she had not realised how much she had enjoyed
these visits; now that they had ceased she felt unaccountably lonely.

She sought distraction from the dulness of her home by going out a good
deal, and took up again with feverish energy the old round of social
pleasures which the tragic discovery of the deception of her marriage
had interrupted.  She had had little heart for such things of late, and
had made the baby's advent an excuse for retirement.

She started entertaining again in the lavish manner of happier days, and
so filled in the blank which Dare's departure had created.  She had not
suspected until he left how much she had grown to depend on him.  It
distressed her not a little to discover that she missed him so greatly;
she felt ashamed to acknowledge it even to herself.

Arnott was on the whole rather pleased to observe what he believed to be
Pamela's reawakened interest in life.  He had resented her persistent
avoidance of all save a favoured few of her former friends.  Her
attitude had struck him as a tacit reproach to himself, and this had
annoyed him.  Her resumption of neglected duties won him over to greater
amiability, and kept him more at home.  Since the birth of the boy, the
care of whom had been a tie upon Pamela, he had fallen into the habit of
motoring alone into Cape Town and spending much of his time at his club.
The parental role was not at all in his line.

He could not understand why Pamela refused to engage a capable European
nurse, and hand the care of the children over to her.  Nevertheless,
when Pamela suggested having a governess for them, he opposed the idea
vigorously.  A nurse was reasonable, he argued; but a governess was not
a servant, and would be continually in the way.  He disliked the idea of
admitting a stranger into the household.

Pamela allowed the matter to drop for a time, but she did not give it up
entirely.  She discussed it with Mrs Carruthers, and Mrs Carruthers
made inquiries for her, and ascertained that Blanche Maitland would be
quite willing to undertake the position.  After the lapse of a few
months Pamela broached the project with greater determination.  In the
interval she invited Blanche to the house on several occasions with a
view to accustoming Arnott to her.  It was following one of these
occasions that she opened the subject again.

"That girl seems to be here fairly often," Arnott remarked.  "What is
the attraction?"

"I like her," said Pamela.  "She is quiet, and nice."

"She's quiet enough," he admitted.

"I want you to agree to my engaging her as nursery governess," she said.
"Pamela is growing big enough to begin easy lessons, and both the
children need a white woman's care.  They must have an educated person
with them.  It is impossible for me to be with them all day."

"I don't see why a good European nurse," he began.

But she interrupted him firmly.

"There are very few good European nurses to be had out here," she
declared, and urged her reasons more strongly.

Arnott was not easily won over.  He resented the idea of a stranger in
the household, whom he could not ignore as he might a nurse, to whom it
would be necessary, he complained, to be civil.

"I don't see why a nurse shouldn't be good enough for our kids as well
as for other people's," he grumbled.  "A governess is always in the
way."

"I will take very good care she doesn't get in your way," Pamela
returned.  "And I don't fancy you will find it difficult to be civil to
Blanche."

"You can't treat a girl like that as if she were a nursemaid," he
objected.

"Of course not.  One need not go to extremes either way."

He looked at her with some displeasure, made an impatient sound between
his teeth, muttered: "Damn the kids!" and finally gave in.

"You'll never leave off pestering until you get what you want," he said.
"You can try the experiment, but as soon as it becomes a nuisance you
will have to make other arrangements."

"All right," Pamela agreed cheerfully, satisfied at having gained her
point, and feeling very little anxiety as to the result of her venture.
"You'll see; it will work admirably.  And I shall have far more leisure
to devote to your exacting self."

He suddenly smiled.

"I'm glad you recognise that you have neglected me of late," he
observed.  "I've been of no greater account in this household than a
piece of waste paper since the boy came."

Pamela flushed painfully.  It was the first time Arnott had made any
direct allusion to the change that was gradually alienating their
sympathies.  The knowledge that he too recognised it added to the
distress of her own unwilling acceptance of the inevitable estrangement.

"I too have felt that we were--were growing a little apart," she
faltered.  "You don't seem to need me quite so much as you did."

"What's the use of needing you when I can't have you?" he grumbled.
"The kids always come first with you."

"You don't mean that," she said quickly.

Arnott laughed, and put a careless arm about her shoulders.

"I'm only teasing, Pam," he said.  "You don't stand chaff like you used
to.  You were rare sport at one time.  What's changing you?"

"Life," she answered quietly.

"Oh, rot!" he ejaculated irritably.  "That's talking heroics.  Your life
runs on fairly even lines.  Don't be melodramatic."

He kissed her lightly, and released her.  The next day he brought her a
present out from town.  In this manner he believed he smoothed away
unpleasantness.

Pamela settled the matter of the governess by engaging her immediately,
thus giving Arnott no opportunity for reconsidering his reluctant
acquiescence.  Within the month Blanche Maitland was established in the
house, and very quickly made herself indispensable to Pamela.  She was
not only useful with the children; she took over many domestic duties
which she contrived to fit in without interfering with her legitimate
occupation.  Pamela stood out for a time against this encroachment on
her province.  She was not altogether satisfied to have her home run by
a stranger.  But Blanche seemed so anxious to prove helpful, and was so
excellent with the children, that little by little she gave way, until
practically the entire control passed into Miss Maitland's capable
hands.  After a while Pamela decided that it was rather agreeable to
have the housekeeping worries lifted from her shoulders.  She increased
Miss Maitland's salary in recognition of her worth, and became a mere
cipher in the management of her home.

The arrangement pleased Arnott.  Miss Maitland was more efficient as a
housekeeper than Pamela had ever been; and her release from these ties
enabled his wife to devote more of her time and attention upon himself.
She too was happier in the new arrangement.  Arnott showed a renewed
pleasure in her society.  Being a man who did not make friends, his
wife's companionship was to a great extent necessary to him; now that he
could enjoy it freely whenever he desired he fell into the habit of
wanting her and became somewhat exacting in his demands upon her
leisure.

But in this selfish dependency on her company there remained little of
the eager gladness in each other, the perfect understanding of happier
days.  Pamela was sensible of the difference, though she tried to ignore
it.  It was, she felt largely her own fault.  In the difficult time
following her enlightenment she had lost her influence over Arnott; had
allowed the power she had possessed to slip away from her in her timid
shrinking from ugly realities, and her newly acquired distrust of
himself.  She had strained his love and patience often in those days,
and she was reaping the result now.

These things troubled her no longer to the extent they once had done.
She was becoming reconciled to the changes in her life.  Although she
strove to fight against an increasing indifference in her own feeling
towards him, she knew that her love was not as perfect as it had been:
it had gone down under the shock, and come out of the wreckage of her
happiness a crippled thing.

When Pamela allowed her mind to dwell on these matters she became
frightened.  It was terrifying to contemplate what might result if they
ceased finally to care for one another.  Life together in such
circumstances would become unendurable.  Plenty of people lived together
who were mutually antipathetic, but not in the dishonoured relations of
her union with Arnott.  A real love alone offered any extenuation--if
extenuation could be urged--in defence of their sin against society.
She dared not admit a doubt of her loyal devotion, dared not cease to
struggle to retain Herbert's affection.  Her life became an endless
fight to keep alive the shrunken image of the old love.  A love which
needs constant tending and guarding and encouraging is a difficult plant
to keep flourishing: when one is compelled to resort to artificial
stimulus it is a proof that the nature has gone out of it.

Pamela had at one time regarded the Carruthers' married life as a rather
prosy affair; now she was inclined to envy the humdrum content of this
eminently well-mated couple.  If there was not much actual romance in
Connie Carruthers' life, there was solid satisfaction and entire trust.
She and Dick Carruthers had been comrades rather than lovers, and they
remained comrades still.

"Don't you think," Pamela observed to her one day, when she came in to
see her godson, and take tea, as she often did, with the children, "that
babies make a big difference? ...  They seem to come between the
parents...  They make a break.  I suppose it's because they claim so
much of one's time and attention."

"Yours don't get it, whatever they may claim," Mrs Carruthers answered.
"And children are the only decent excuse for marriage.  I wish I had a
dozen."

She looked at Pamela curiously, not quite sure what to make of her
speech, and not liking it particularly.  The children had just been
taken away by Miss Maitland.  Pamela had let them go reluctantly.
Whatever her opinion as to the desirability of children, she was
unquestionably devoted to her own.

"They make a difference," Pamela insisted.

"Of course they do.  They interfere with one's comfort.  It's good
discipline for selfish people.  Why, you silly person, you would be
miserable without your babies."

Pamela smiled drearily.

"I suppose I should--now.  But I sometimes wish they hadn't come...
especially the boy," she added wistfully.

Mrs Carruthers felt slightly uncomfortable.  She had an instinctive
dread of intimate confidences; and the tone of Pamela's plaint occurred
to her as significant of a desire to unburden herself.  If babies in the
house upset Arnott's temper, she did not wish to hear about it.  Arnott
was a man whom she cordially disliked.  It was not in the least
surprising to her that Pamela was finding life with him less of an idyll
than she had once believed it; the mystery was that she had not suffered
disillusion earlier; the man was so absolutely selfish.

"It isn't any use wishing," she replied with a downright commonsense
that damped Pamela's disposition to be confidential.  "And Blanche
relieves you of all trouble.  You were lucky to secure that girl.  I
knew she was a treasure.  She is the kind of girl who deserves to have a
home of her own to run.  But men usually marry the helpless, ornamental
women; they are connoisseurs merely in exteriors.  Not that there is
anything amiss with Blanche's exterior.  Dickie admires her
tremendously."

"She is very useful," Pamela said.  "The children like her."

"Don't you?"

"Oh! yes, of course."  Pamela's tone was a little uncertain; it
qualified her words, Mrs Carruthers thought.  "One can't have
everything," she went on, in the manner of one weighing advantages
against disadvantages, and finding the balance fairly even.  "She is an
enormous help to me--indeed, I am growing to depend too much on her.
But I don't see enough of the children since she came.  When I am home
and able to have them, she has some reason which interferes.  It is
always a sound reason.  But there is so much discipline in the nursery
now; it robs me of a good deal of enjoyment.  The children don't belong
to me any more."

"Well," said Mrs Carruthers, "you can soon alter that."

"It isn't so simple as it sounds," Pamela replied.  "I tried at first;
but one has to give way.  It is all for the benefit of the children.
It's no good employing any one like that, and interfering with her
authority.  She has to be with them always, and I only see them at odd
moments."

She broke off with a laugh.

"It's a shame to inflict all this grumbling on you; but I needed an
outlet.  It wouldn't do to grumble to Herbert because he was so greatly
against having a governess.  He would say it was what he foresaw, and
advise me to get rid of her.  I shouldn't like to do that.  I always
feel easy in my mind about them when I leave them now.  She is entirely
trustworthy."

"I think I should put my foot down upon that point," Mrs Carruthers
advised.  "That sort of thing can become annoying.  Some people are
greedy for authority, and if you give in to them they become arbitrary.
If you want the children any hour of the day, have them, whether it is
the time for their rest or any other legitimate exercise."

"And spoil their tempers," laughed Pamela.

"Rubbish!" scoffed Mrs Carruthers.  "Temper in the human animal
develops naturally.  One has to spank it out of them.  All children are
not brought up by rule, you know; it isn't possible in some households.
We were dragged up; but I must add that our tempers on the whole did not
suffer as a result.  Keep their little bodies nourished, and their minds
will develop of themselves.  The one thing, I suppose, every mother
strives to do is to develop her baby on the lines she considers the most
admirable; and the baby invariably develops on its own lines, because it
is an individual.  It is difficult to regard the infant as an
individual.  We imagine we form its character; but nature forms its
character in the embryo stage; we merely advance its development by the
aid of our own experience.  See more of your children, Pamela, my dear;
nothing will ever make up to you, nor to them, the enjoyment you forego
in your present separation."

She rose abruptly, and approached Pamela's side.  Stooping, she took the
wistful face between her hands and kissed it.

"I am a stony-hearted, philosophical lunatic," she said.  "Go and put on
your hat, you blessed infant, and come out for a walk with me."

CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

Miss Maitland had been some months in the house before Arnott became in
any degree alive to her actual presence.  He met her occasionally coming
in or going out.  Usually she had the children with her, and a coloured
girl in charge of the boy.  He always passed them, thankful that
politeness demanded nothing further than the raising of his hat.
Sometimes he encountered her on the stairs, when he felt constrained to
make a remark.  But she was exceedingly retiring, and appeared quite as
anxious as he was to avoid these encounters.  She had a habit of
effacing herself when he was at home.

But one day when he had been lunching with some men at his club, and
returned unexpectedly early in the afternoon with the intention of
running Pamela out to Camps Bay in the motor, he found that Pamela had
gone visiting; and Miss Maitland, who supplied this information, ceased
amazingly to stand as a mere cog in the wheel of his domestic machinery,
and assumed a distinct feminine personality that caught and held his
attention.  She was, he noted, and felt surprised that he noticed this
for the first time, a striking, fine-looking girl.

He had run upstairs to look for Pamela, and was calling for her loudly
when quite unexpectedly a door in the corridor opened, and Miss Maitland
appeared, closing the door softly behind her, and keeping her hand on
the knob.

"The children are asleep," she said, which he recognised was a warning
to him not to disturb them.

Instead of feeling annoyed, he stopped short and stared at her
apologetically.

"Sorry I was so inconsiderate," he said.  "I forgot.  Can you tell me
where Mrs Arnott is?"

Blanche explained.

"What a bore," he said.  "I particularly wanted her."

He surveyed the calm face turned gravely in his direction, with its
serene eyes and unsmiling lips, and was amused to see it change colour
under his scrutiny.  His interest was immediately aroused.  She assumed
from that moment an individuality that excited his curiosity.  Why, he
wondered, had he been so entirely unaware of her before?--not unaware of
her actual bodily presence in his home, but of her separate existence as
a sentient human being,--a feminine human being with possibilities of
engaging developments.

He held her for a few minutes in conversation; then, quite pleasantly
excited, he went downstairs, and sat on the stoep and smoked until
Pamela returned.

Pamela found him in a mood of high good humour, notwithstanding his
announcement that he had spent a solitary afternoon, chafing at her
absence.  The period of solitude had been less irksome than he allowed.
She leaned against the rail of the stoep near his chair, and gave an
account of her afternoon's doings, which had been fairly dull on the
whole.

"I would rather have been motoring," she finished.

Miss Maitland appeared with the children at this moment.  She had waited
until Pamela returned home, not caring to pass Arnott, for some
inexplicable reason, and fully alive to the fact that he was seated on
the stoep near the door.  It was late for their walk.  For the first
time since her arrival the rigid rule of regular hours was relaxed.

Pamela looked round in surprise.

"Going out?" she exclaimed, catching up Pamela, the younger, who had
flown towards her and flung herself into her arms.

Arnott sat up, regarding the governess under his eyes.  She had no look
for him.

"Baby slept late," she explained to Pamela.  "I thought we might manage
a short walk before tea."

"You come too," the little girl pleaded, tugging at Pamela's hand.

"Nonsense!" interposed Arnott.  "You have got Miss Maitland.  Daddy
wants mummy."

The child pouted her disappointment.

"You can have Miss Maitland," she said, with unflattering generosity.
"Pamela wants her mummy."

Arnott laughed.

"Suppose I come instead, kiddie?" he suggested.

But his small daughter was decided in her opinions, and unblushingly
frank in the expression of them.

"I want mummy," she announced.  "I don't want any one else."

"I'll tell you what I will do," he said, rising abruptly, to Pamela's
wondering amazement.  "The car is all ready for going out I'll take the
whole lot for a spin."  He tried not to look as though he were conscious
of acting in an altogether unprecedented manner, and added: "You can
nurse the boy between you."

"That will be jolly," said Pamela.

Little Pamela clapped her hands.

"That will be jolly," she echoed.

"I feel quite the family man," Arnott remarked later, when he had
settled Miss Maitland in the back with the children,--an arrangement
against which Pamela, the younger, at first protested loudly.  She
wanted her mummy.  Why couldn't Miss Maitland sit in front with daddy?

Pamela touched his arm affectionately as he seated himself beside her
and grasped the steering wheel.

"I love you in the role," she said softly.  "I wish you played it more
often."

He laughed constrainedly.

"We'll see how it works," he answered guardedly.

It worked well on the whole.  David howled lustily part of the time, for
no apparent reason, after the manner of small people; but he ceased his
cries when Pamela took him on her lap and coaxed him into a good temper.
That hour was the happiest she had spent for a long while.  It was the
first occasion on which Arnott had taken the children out, or evinced
any interest in them whatever.  She wondered what impulse had moved him
to act in this wholly unexpected and delightful way.  She understood him
sufficiently to realise that it was an impulse, and entertained no great
hope that it would develop into a practice; but even as an isolated
instance of parental affection it presented him in a new and more kindly
light.

Aware that he was giving her pleasure, Arnott experienced an agreeable
sense of virtuous complacency.  He speculated upon what the girl in the
tonneau was thinking, as she sat in her silent fashion, responding only
when necessary to Pamela's ceaseless prattle.  He looked round
occasionally to make some joking remark to the child, and once he
deliberately addressed himself to the governess.  She started when he
spoke to her, and answered briefly, and with faint embarrassment.  After
that one attempt at conversation he did not look round again.

"I like going out in the car," remarked little Pamela, when she was
lifted out on their return home.  "Why don't we go every day?"

"Daddy wouldn't be bothered with such a small fidget every day," he
answered.  "But you shall go again, if you are good."

"To-morrow?" demanded Pamela.

"We'll see," he returned, and drove the car round to the garage.

Pamela carried the boy upstairs to the nursery, and remained for the
nursery tea.  Then she changed her dress and went downstairs.  Arnott
was in the drawing-room when she entered.  She went to him and put her
arms about his neck and kissed him.

"Thank you, dear, for a very happy drive," she said.

He laughed awkwardly.

"Odd ideas of happiness some people have," he commented.

"It gave the children a lot of pleasure," she said.  "And it was a
change for Miss Maitland.  I have often wished to take her in the car,
but I haven't liked to suggest it."

"Why not?" he asked.

"I was afraid you might think it a nuisance.  It was one of the
conditions, you know, that I wasn't to let her get in your way."

"Oh, that!" he returned...  "Yes.  But you've taken me rather more
literally than I intended.  She is a very self-effacing young woman.
What on earth does she do with herself?  It must be fairly dull for her
to be always with the kids.  Why don't you have her down for an hour of
an evening? ...  I don't see why she shouldn't dine with us."

"I don't think that's necessary," she said.

"Just as you like," he answered.  "I only thought it would make it
brighter for her."

She considered the matter for a second or so, not altogether liking the
idea, and half wishing that he had not made the suggestion.  A third
person sharing their quiet evenings would end finally the pleasant
companionable home life which had once meant so much to both of them,
but which Pamela was forced to recognise was no longer all it had been.
Perhaps the addition of a third person would make the increasing strain
of these domestic evenings less apparent, might, by introducing a fresh
note, rouse them both from the apathy of indifference into which they
were drifting.  People could have too much of one another's undiluted
society; the presence of a third person, even if sometimes irksome,
stimulates the interest afresh.  And, as Arnott had remarked, it would
certainly be brighter for Blanche.

"If you are sure you don't mind," she said.

"Why should I mind?  The girl is harmless enough," he replied.  "I don't
like the idea of her spending her evenings alone."

"No," Pamela said, perching herself on the arm of his chair, and turning
a smiling face to his.  "I don't like it either.  But I am just a little
reluctant to admit her altogether as one of the family.  It's going to
put a finish to this comfortable state of affairs."

He laughed, and got an arm about her waist.

"I suppose it is," he allowed.  "But if you will introduce strange young
women into the happy home you must put up with that.  It was your doing,
remember."

"I know," Pamela assented.  "But you must admit, Herbert, that it has
been a success."

"I don't deny it," he returned.  "So far as I am able to judge, the
arrangement has worked towards the greater comfort of the establishment
all round.  That's one reason why I think we ought to study the girl.
At present she is being treated like an upper servant.  That won't do.
A girl needs some society outside the nursery."

"Very well," agreed Pamela.  "We will inaugurate the new system
to-morrow."

Accordingly on the morrow Miss Maitland joined them at dinner.  Although
Arnott himself had suggested, and practically insisted on this extension
of privileges, he made very little effort in helping Pamela in the
laborious task of sustaining conversation during the meal, or later when
they sat on the stoep.  The governess occupied herself with some sewing,
and Arnott sat under the electric light and read the papers, only very
occasionally throwing in a remark.  Pamela found the evening very
tedious, and was relieved when punctually at nine-thirty Miss Maitland
retired.  Never very talkative, Miss Maitland's powers of conversation
seemed to dry up in Arnott's presence.  She seldom looked at him, and
never addressed him spontaneously.

"Bit dull, isn't she?"  Arnott observed, when she had left them and gone
indoors.  He dropped his paper on to the floor and yawned.  Then he got
up.  "You don't seem to have the knack of setting her at her ease," he
said irritably.

"I don't see what more I can be expected to do," Pamela returned, a
little nettled.  "She is shy--I think of you.  When we are alone she is
more companionable."

"Well, I'm going in for a whisky," he said.  "Dull people always give me
a thirst."

He went inside.  Miss Maitland was mounting the stairs as he crossed the
hall.  He paused at the foot of the stairs and looked after her.

"Good-night,--mouse," he called softly.

She looked back over her shoulder and flushed warmly.

"Good-night," she answered, and gave him one of her rare smiles, and
hurried on.

He entered the dining-room, drank off a glass of whisky, and poured
himself out a second, which he carried with him on to the stoep and
placed in the armhole of his chair.  He had quite recovered his good
humour.  He smiled a trifle self-consciously, and leaned over the back
of Pamela's chair, and rallied her on her silence.

"Am I to sit through the rest of the evening with another speechless
young woman?" he inquired.

Pamela, who felt unaccountably depressed, made no direct reply to this.
Instead she observed:

"Blanche plays wonderfully.  Would it bore you if I suggested a little
music occasionally?  I think she would enjoy it, and it would relieve
the strain."

"It wouldn't bore me," he answered.  "I'm fond of music when it's good.
If she would like to strum, let her.  There was a time when you used to
sing to me.  But I haven't heard you sing for months, and then only when
we had people here."

Pamela remembered perfectly.  The last time she had sung was the night
Dare dined with them.

"You never seemed to care much," she said.

"Not care!  You didn't think that when I used to hang over you and the
piano on board ship," he laughed.

"Well, you don't take the trouble to hang over the piano any longer,"
she replied.

He straightened himself, and moved away, frowning impatiently.  Why, he
wondered, did a woman always demand open demonstration of a man's
affection?  As a sex they were tiresomely exacting.

"I'll get a gramophone," he said.

Pamela laughed.

"Some one has to hang over that.  That will be my job, I suppose?"

"No.  I will make myself independent of you.  Miss Maitland shall work
it."

"It seems," Pamela observed, "that she is to be a person of many
avocations,--nurse to the children, housekeeper for me, and companion to
you."

"Why not?" he said.  "She'll find the last job the most amusing."

"If this evening was a sample of your mutual interest, I should doubt
that," Pamela retorted.  "I never knew you could be so absolutely
wooden.  You did not make the least attempt to be agreeable.  After all,
it was your idea to have her down."

"It's no use, Pam," he answered coolly.  "I refuse to make a social
effort in my own home after eight o'clock.  I expect to be amused,--or
at least left in peace.  I didn't lay myself out to be entertaining when
I proposed her joining us.  She will fit in, in time.  Don't you worry."

He raised his glass, and took a long drink.

"If one is obliged to admit the stranger within one's gate, I prefer she
should err on the quiet side," he added.  He recalled the swift,
surprised flush, and the smile which the girl, pausing on the landing,
had given him; and he wondered whether in her own room she was thinking,
as he was, of that unexpected encounter, and the confidential
half-whisper of his murmured good-night.  It had, he felt, established a
sort of understanding between them.  Odd, he reflected, that he had
lived in the same house with her for months, and only now discovered in
her that quality of the essential feminine which made her an interesting
problem to the male mind.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

It seemed as though Arnott, after years of indifference, had abruptly
awoke to his duties as a father.  He began to take a quite extraordinary
interest in his children.  Exercise in the car ceased to be an
astounding treat and became an almost daily custom.  He even penetrated
into the nursery, usually when the children were in bed.  He bought
sweets for them, and chose this hour for presenting his gifts.

Pamela looked on, puzzled.  She refrained from any comment; she was on
the whole pleased; but she was not confident as to the staying qualities
of this sudden show of interest; and she awaited developments with a
doubt as to his entire sincerity in the new pose.  Not for a long time
did she connect the change in his attitude with the presence of Miss
Maitland in the nursery.  It spoke eloquently for Arnott's discretion
that Pamela was so blind to his intimacy with her children's governess;
had he been at all indiscreet in his conduct before the children they
would have carried tales.  It was in order to avoid the disconcerting
evidence of sharp eyes and small ears that he usually visited the
nursery when they were in bed.

During these visits he contrived to snatch a few minutes alone with
Blanche in the playroom, having previously closed the door between it
and the night-nursery.  These interviews began by being entirely
commonplace.  Arnott was carefully feeling his way; he had no desire to
precipitate matters; and the girl was shy.  He was satisfied that this
was not a pose; the girl really was shy.  She was also, he perceived,
pleasantly flattered by his attentions.

He began his overtures towards a greater familiarity by addressing her
by fanciful names.  He bought her elaborate boxes of chocolates, which
he gave her with some jesting remark about all little girls liking
sweets.  One day he gave her a brooch.  Blanche looked utterly confused
at receiving this present, and pushed it back hastily into his hand.

"Oh, no, please!  I can't take it," she said.

For a moment he looked disconcerted.

"Why not?" he asked.

The rich blood was showing under her skin in the way he enjoyed seeing
it, and the dark, mystery-eyes, as he called them, were lowered in quick
embarrassment.  She was obviously much distressed.  His annoyance
vanished.

"Please don't think me ungracious," she pleaded; "but I would rather you
didn't give me things like that."

He slipped the trinket into his pocket, and possessed himself of her
hand.

"Then I won't," he said.  "But I am sorry you won't let me."

He hesitated for a moment, studying her downcast face; then he bent
forward and kissed her lips.  She looked more confused than before, but
she did not draw back.  He kissed her again.

"Just to show that you are not vexed," he said.

After which he released her, and went downstairs with an air of elation,
and his pulses beating at a great rate with pleasurable excitement.  He
walked on to the stoep, whistling softly.  She didn't seem to mind, he
reflected.  He wondered why he had not kissed her before.

That evening, when she came downstairs, he spoke very little to her, and
studiously avoided looking at her.  She played accompaniments for Pamela
part of the time; and he sat alone on the stoep and smoked and watched
them through the French windows.  Once Pamela put her arm round the
girl's shoulders, and remained in this position while she sang.
Inexplicably her attitude jarred Arnott.  The girl sat very stiffly.
She did not, he observed, once lift her eyes from the sheet of music she
was reading.

Shortly before her usual time for retiring he left his seat, and went
upstairs, and waited on the landing until she appeared.  He heard the
drawing-room door open and close.  Then the piano sounded again, and
Pamela's voice, rich, and full, and sweet, came to his ears as he stood
there in the gloom of the landing, listening for Blanche's light
ascending footfall.

Presently she appeared, and stood, a dusky figure in the half light, her
simple white dress revealing soft full throat and rounded arms, and a
surprisingly graceful form.  She paused, startled at seeing him there,
and instinctively threw out a protesting hand.  He caught her to him,
and kissed her passionately, holding her strained against his breast.

"Oh, don't!" she gasped, a little frightened at the steel-like pressure
of his arms.

She was trembling from head to foot.  Never had she been kissed like
this in all her life before.  His passion scorched her, terrified her,
left her quivering with shame and mortification.  And yet she was not
angry.  These hot kisses raining upon her lips, his kisses earlier in
the day, roused in her the desire to be kissed.  An unemotional,
loveless girlhood had repressed, but not slain, the inherent qualities
of a passionate nature; Arnott's virile love-making was calling these
repressed emotions to life.  She wanted to be loved; she wanted to be
kissed; wanted to be made to feel that she counted in some one's life,--
was important,--necessary to some one.

At the moment of offering her feeble protest, when she yet yielded to
his caresses, it did not occur to her that Arnott had no right to make
her of account in his life.  That aspect of the case appealed to her
later, when she lay in bed unable to sleep for the unwholesome
excitement which fired her brain and quickened the beating of her heart.
When she considered Arnott in the light of a married man, and realised
that his making love to her was an insult, it sickened her.  She felt
angry--angry with him, and fiercely jealous of Pamela.  She hated
Pamela,--hated her for having all the things which she desired and had
not got,--hated her for her fair smiling prettiness, her kindness, her
utter lack of appreciation--as it seemed to Blanche--of all the good she
possessed.  Why should Pamela have everything, and she only the stealthy
kisses of a man whose kisses were an insult?

As she felt again in imagination the close pressure of his lips upon
hers, the grip of his arms, which had hurt her, frightened her, and yet
given her a thrill of sensuous pleasure, she turned her face to the
pillow and pressed her mouth against its coolness and cried weakly.  How
dared he kiss her like that? ...  How dared he endeavour to make her
love him when he could never be anything closer in her life than at
present?  It was cruel and mean of him...

Yet, despite her realisation of his baseness, she could not hate the
man.  Already he had succeeded beyond his expectation in rousing in her
a hungry craving for him, which, if he persisted in his selfish
persecution, could only end disastrously for her.  And he had no
intention to desist.  The game which he had started idly for his own
amusement was becoming absorbingly interesting.  That was how he
regarded the affair.  In his ungenerous pursuit of amusement he lost
sight of the girl's youth, of her helpless position in his household,
exposed to the evil influence of his attentions, and unable to protect
herself save by giving up her post, which he was comfortably assured
from the moment she suffered his caresses she would not have the
strength of mind to do.

He was not in love with her.  He was merely gratifying a sensual impulse
to take advantage of the moment.  It seemed absurd, he told himself, to
have a girl, eager for initiation, at hand and refrain from using the
opportunity.  She could stop him if she chose.

When she broke away from him on the landing, he went downstairs and
returned quietly to his seat on the stoep.  Pamela was still singing.
She ceased presently, and closed the piano and joined him.

"I believe you were asleep," she said, and perched herself on his knee.

His eyes flashed open instantly.  He had been leaning back with them
closed, lost in a comfortable reverie; her unexpected action startled
him into sudden alertness.

"Something very near it," he admitted.  "I believe, myself, I've been
dreaming."

"Pleasant dreams?" she demanded.

He took her chin in his hand.

"Confused," he answered.  "I'm not fully awake now...  Am I an old
fogey, Pam?"

"No," she replied, smiling.  "But you are not exactly a boy."

"Not a dashing hero," he rejoined.  "Then my dreams were deceptive.
Dreaming after dinner suggests age.  I'll have to buck up."

"Buck up now, and talk to me," Pamela said.  "You've been very slow this
evening."

"Have I?"  He took hold of her wrist and spanned it with his fingers.
"You are growing abominably thin," he remarked irrelevantly.

Involuntarily, he compared her slimness with Blanche Maitland's generous
lines, and decided that thinness was unbecoming.

"I never was plump," Pamela answered calmly, quite satisfied with her
own proportions, and unconscious of his comparison.

"No...  `A rag and a bone and a hank of hair' ...  How does the thing
go?"

"I don't think I want to hear any more of it," she said.

He laughed.

"Then don't grow any thinner.  You are getting to be all angles."

She got off his knee and took a chair some little distance from him.

"These unflattering remarks are not soothing," she said.  "I think I
prefer your silence."

Arnott felt carelessly amused.

"You needn't get ratty," he returned.  "It is only concern for your
well-being that is responsible for my criticisms.  The fact is, you need
a change, Pam.  I have half a mind to shut up the house and cart the lot
of you off to the seaside for a fortnight--Muizenberg, or somewhere
handy, so that I can get in every day and see that things here are going
on all right.  Miss Maitland could look after the kiddies, and you and I
could motor around, and forget all about Wynberg.  What do you say to my
plan?"

Pamela sat forward in her chair, her face alight with pleasure.

"Oh! that would be good," she said.  "I should love it?  Let it be
Muizenberg, Herbert.  The sea is so safe and warm there.  You could
teach Pamela to swim.  She hasn't a scrap of fear."

The suggestion took Arnott's fancy.  It occurred to him that he might
derive a good deal of pleasure in this way.  Surf bathing at Muizenberg
was noted.  He would have them all in the sea, and teach the governess
as well as Pamela aquatic accomplishments.

"Then that's settled," he said.  "I will secure rooms at the hotel
before the holiday rush.  If we get bored, we can return and leave the
children there."

"I shan't get bored," she said.  "I shall sit on the sands all day and
revel in idleness.  You can't think what a joy it will be to me to have
the children always.  I shan't want to go motoring.  One can do that any
time."

"You shall please yourself," he returned with unusual good humour.
"It's your holiday.  If you want to build castles in the sand, I'll help
you.  You must get yourself a bathing dress--we must all have bathing
dresses, and we will become amphibious."

"I really believe," observed Pamela, looking at him with a quiet smile,
"that you are actually keen on this adventure."

"I am," he replied.  "I told you I was dreaming myself youthful again.
I want to roll in the surf, and do all manner of foolish things...  Why
have we never done these things before?"

"It never occurred to me that you would agree to an annual seaside
trip," she answered.  "And I shouldn't care to go without you.  It is
only lately," she added thoughtfully, "that you have shown any
disposition to be bothered with the children.  You wouldn't let yourself
get interested in them before; and now I believe you realise that you
have missed a lot.  They are dear wee things."

"Oh! they are jolly little cards," he answered carelessly.  "I am
grateful to them in a sense.  They are the raison d'etre for this
excursion after all.  An old fogey like myself couldn't submit to the
indignity of paddling in the surf without the legitimate excuse of the
necessity for his presence in order to smack the little Arnotts with
their own spades when they become unruly.  It won't be all heaven, I
expect."

Pamela spent the next few days in preparing for the wonderful holiday,
assisted by her small excited family, and a silent and detached
governess, who looked on, while Pamela shopped extensively for every
one, with a furtive disapproval in her dark eyes, as though disliking
the idea of this change to the sea, and her compulsory participation in
it.

When Pamela presented her with a smart bathing costume she at first
declined the gift.

"I can't swim," she protested.  "And I'm afraid of the sea.  I shouldn't
like to bathe--really."

"Oh! but," said Pamela, feeling unaccountably disappointed, "we shall
all bathe.  You won't be afraid with Mr Arnott; he will teach you to
swim in no time.  It will be half the fun."

Blanche blushed at this suggestion that Arnott should teach her to swim,
and looked with greater disfavour than ever at the ridiculous garment in
Pamela's hand.

"I'm too big a coward to learn," she said.  "I should hate it.  Please
don't ask me."

Miss Maitland was, Pamela decided, a most unsatisfactory girl to deal
with.

She told Arnott of the difficulty, and held up the amazing garment of
navy alpaca and white braid for his inspection.

"It is so pretty," she said.  "And she looked at it as though it were
indecent."

He laughed.

"As a sex you are all more or less mock modest," he announced.  "You
will half undress of an evening, and blush to be discovered in a
perfectly decorous petticoat.  Pack the thing in with your own clothes,
and I'll undertake to state when she sees every one else in the water
she will yearn to get in too.  We will cure her of her distaste for salt
water."

And so the bathing dress went to Muizenberg in Pamela's trunk.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

With their arrival in Muizenberg Pamela took entirely upon herself the
care of the children.  She informed Miss Maitland that she was to regard
her stay there in the light of a holiday; she was to go and come as she
chose, and leave the children with her.

"But that won't be any holiday for you," objected Blanche.

"It is my holiday being with them," Pamela answered.

Robbed of her occupation, Miss Maitland sat on the sands alone and read
a book; while Pamela, with the aid of Maggie, the coloured nurse, bathed
and put to bed two very weary and rather fretful little people, tired
out with the excitement of the day, with a surfeit of undiluted
sunlight, and strong salt air.  They had rebelled at going to bed.  The
boy had howled his hardest when he was forcibly removed from the beach.
They had been naughty over tea, and cross at being undressed.  Pamela
had to be coaxed into saying her prayers.  But eventually they were put
into bed, and within five minutes of being there were sleeping soundly.

Arnott came in when they were asleep, and expressed surprise at finding
Pamela there.  She raised a cautious finger.

"Why don't you let Miss Maitland do this?" he asked.

"Because I like to do it myself," she replied in an undertone.

"Aren't you coming out?"

"No."

He left the room quietly, and strolled down to the beach.

The sun had set, and the turquoise of the sea had deepened; its waves no
longer shone with glancing lights.  The long stretch of white sand was
almost deserted; one or two people loitered on it, and down by the
water's edge, watching the incoming tide, the solitary figure of a girl
in a blue linen frock lent an unexpected touch of harmonious colour
against the silvery background of sand.  Arnott's glance fell on the
girl, and, his interest quickening at sight of her, he hastened his
steps.  She looked up at his approach, flushed warmly, and made a
movement as if to rise.  He stayed her.

"Don't move," he said, and dropped on the sands beside her.  "You looked
deliciously lazy.  What were you pondering over when I interrupted that
deep train of thought?"

She had been thinking about him, but she did not say so.  She kept her
gaze fixed on the long waves, rolling in in ceaseless regularity and
sweeping lazily up the beach, as she answered:

"I was thinking how beautiful it is here."

"So you like Muizenberg?" he said.  "I hoped you would.  Doesn't the sea
look jolly?"

"I'm afraid of the sea," she said slowly.

He was watching her intently, admiring the rich colour under her skin,
and the way in which the little tendrils of dark hair curled over the
small ears, admiring too the long line of her shoulder, and the soft
contour of the partly averted face.  At her admission he suddenly
smiled.

"So I heard," he replied.  "You must get better acquainted with it, and
then you will lose your fear.  I brought the gown along in my suit case.
We will christen it to-morrow."

"No," she said, startled, and flashed a quick, almost terrified look at
him.  There was a strong appeal in her tones.  "I don't wish to bathe--
really."

"Not to please me--Blanche?" he said, and dropped on his elbow on the
sand and possessed himself of her hand.

"Oh, don't!" she cried.  "Some one will see us."

"There is no one to see," he answered, with a cautious look about him.
"What a timid little mouse it is!"  He ran his hand up the loose sleeve
of her blouse and caressed her elbow with his fingers.  "Your skin is
like satin," he said, and smiled into her shrinking eyes.  "You mustn't
be angry with me, Blanche.  I have a very great affection for you.  And
I want you to be very happy with us,--I want you to consider yourself as
one of the family.  What would you say to my adopting you?"

"That you are talking nonsense," she answered.

He laughed quietly.

"I'll adopt you informally," he said.  "We needn't particularise the
relationship,--only you must understand that it places me in authority.
We will start with the order for sea-bathing.  To-morrow I give you your
first swimming lesson."

She made no verbal response to this.  With her disengaged hand she
played nervously with the sand, piling it in small heaps, and scattering
these to pile them anew.  He watched her in idle amusement.

"She is going to be good," he murmured.

"I think," Blanche said abruptly, "I ought to go in now.  The children
will be in bed."

"They are asleep," he replied.  "You know quite well you aren't wanted.
There is half an hour yet before we need bother about returning.  Talk
to me, you silent person.  Give me the benefit of all those repressed
thoughts of yours.  Whenever I watch you, you are always dreaming.  Do
you never tell your dreams?"

"They aren't worth telling," she answered coldly, with difficulty
restraining a desire to cry.

She wanted to beg him to desist from tormenting her, to leave her alone,
to ignore her as he used to do.  This persistent persecution worried
her.  She was no match for a man of his years and ripe experience.  She
was attracted by his personality, and at the same time afraid of him, a
dangerous combination of emotions for a girl of twenty-two.

"I would like to judge that for myself," he said.  "I incline to believe
I should find those day dreams interesting.  Is it love you think about
so much?"

"No," she answered bluntly.  "Love doesn't come my way.  I have no time
for it."

"It seems to me," he said, "that it comes very much your way...  You are
turning your shoulder on it now.  Come! let me see your face--dear."

"You must not talk to me like that," Blanche exclaimed with sudden
passion.  "You would not dare if your wife were here."

"My wife!" he echoed, and laughed.  "Thank God! she isn't here.  I don't
want any one just now but you,--you, with the sea and the salt wind and
that delicious shy look in your eyes...  You aren't angry, really?  I so
want to enjoy my holiday--here with you.  I don't believe you are angry,
but I think you are a little afraid of me."

She kept her face averted, and gazed steadily out to sea.  The waves
were sweeping up the wet sands until they almost reached her feet.  When
they came near enough to force her to move, she determined that she
would then return to the hotel.  She felt that she could not, while he
still held her hand, make an effort of herself to rise.

"Yes, I am afraid," she muttered.  "I am afraid."

Her lip quivered, and the hand lying unresponsively in his was icy cold.
He gripped it hard.

"You need not be afraid," he said.  "I have only a very kindly feeling
for you,--a tender feeling.  I want to give you pleasure.  One day you
will understand.  I do not wish you to be frightened of me.  I want you
to trust me.  There isn't the slightest reason why we shouldn't be the
closest of chums."

"There is every reason," she answered; "the secrecy of it alone proves
that.  You dare not give me your friendship openly."

"But it's the secrecy which makes it so jolly," he insisted.

"Scuffling in the dark!" she said scornfully.

He fondled her hand.

"It isn't dark now," he said.

"No.  But there is no one to heed us.  Presently we shall go back.  I
shall walk on ahead,--or follow--whichever suits you; and for the rest
of the evening we shall be distantly formal."  She faced him with an
expression of hard resentment in her eyes.  "You may find it amusing,"
she added bitterly; "but to me it is only humiliating.  I wish you would
leave me alone."

He sat up, and drawing his knees up, clasped them with his arms.

"Perverse!" he murmured, watching the encroachment of the waves with a
seemingly absorbed interest, and evading the girl's scornful, accusative
gaze.  "And I believed she was going to be sweet...  My dear girl," he
exclaimed, suddenly facing about, "you have made two misstatements which
it behoves me to correct.  We are not going to spend a formal evening,--
we are going for a walk in the moonlight.  You are not going to precede
me, nor will I permit you to follow me off the beach now.  We return
together.  It would be far more indiscreet to pursue the tactics you
have laid down, as it will be far pleasanter to adopt mine.  Better
leave yourself in my hands, my dear.  My knowledge of the world is more
profound than yours.  The greater length of time I have lived in it
justifies that assumption.  And my experience of life has taught me that
to deny oneself a single pleasure for the sake of some foolish scruple
is wasteful; it only brings regret, and profits one nothing.  The moral
is obvious."

"That is an unworkable theory," she answered.

"Not so," he returned.  "Take our own case, for instance.  We enjoy
being together.  What do we gain by denying ourselves that pleasure?
Nothing.  What do we lose by making the most of these opportunities?
Nothing.  It is absurd to lead a life of suppressions, to deny one's
self enjoyment, for purely imaginary reasons.  I delight in your
friendship.  I like you, your quiet, dark-eyed thoughtfulness.  I think
you would be kind to me, only you won't allow yourself to be kind.  Why?
Can't you see that I stand in need of your friendship?"

"There is your wife," she reminded him.

He made an impatient sound, and looked annoyed.

"Haven't you discovered yet that the children are more to her than I
am?" he demanded.  "I don't like second place.  I want to stand first in
some one's life.  I have no right to say such things to you, of course.
But that is how I feel."  He turned to her quickly, and spoke in swift
impassioned tones.  "Blanche, be a little kind to me.  It will cost you
nothing, and it will mean so much to me...  Will you try?"

"You don't consider me," she said, in a low, tremulous voice.  "Can't
you see how difficult it is for me to refuse? ...  I made a great
mistake in ever allowing you to kiss me.  I blame myself greatly for
that I didn't consider...  Be generous, and leave me alone."

Her appeal would have moved any one less deliberately selfish to desist;
its effect upon Arnott, to whom it appeared tantamount to a confession
of weakness, was merely gratifying.  He felt pleasantly confident, and
was satisfied for the present to rest at this stage in the development
of his pursuit.

It was beginning to matter to him more than he realised, the subjugation
of this girl's will to his own.  The quest he had begun in idle
amusement was becoming a serious business; it was a game no longer, but
a matter of deadly earnest.  Its very importance to him was hourly
increasing her value and desirability in his eyes.

He rose without a word, and offered her his hand and assisted her to her
feet.  They tramped back over the fine white sand in silence.  The girl
walked with her gaze fixed on the far horizon, where one blue expanse
melted into the other as sea and sky took on the grey shades of evening.
Her calm face masked successfully the whirl of emotions which stirred
her, but the eyes, staring out to sea, were eloquent of many unquiet
thoughts.

When they left the beach and stepped upon the firm road, he broke the
silence abruptly.

"Don't be too hard on me, Blanche," he said.  "I'm a lonely sort of
fellow.  You fit into the blanks, somehow.  I've been happier since you
came into my life.  Don't begrudge me any scrap of comfort I derive from
your society, my dear."

She made no response to this.  She crossed the road with heightened
colour and entered the hotel.  He followed her, and stood at the foot of
the stairs, looking after her as she slowly mounted and passed on to her
room.  Then he went to his own room to change.

He surveyed himself in the glass, and twisted the ends of his moustache,
and smiled complacently.  The glass told him that he had passed his
first youth; but it further assured him that he was still a good-looking
man, and that the lines which showed between his brows and about the
corners of his eyes, added the weight of a matured dignity which might
very well prove attractive in the eyes of a girl.  A girl would
naturally feel flattered by attentions from him.  Blanche, he knew, was
flattered.  She was interested in him; but she was fighting against the
influence he exercised over her.  When she ceased to fight she would
prove an easy conquest, he told himself.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

Men of Arnott's type are most dangerous on account of their
unscrupulousness.  A man who will commit bigamy because he recognises
that the virtue of the woman he desires is proof against any
relationship save the honourably married state, is capable of the
further infamy of unfaithfulness to the woman he has wronged.
Faithfulness is an unknown quality in such natures; it is at variance
with every other predominant quality that goes to the making of such
men.  Arnott was already unfaithful to Pamela in his thoughts.  His
sudden infatuation for the governess of his children developed
surprisingly until it became an obsession.  In his preference for her
society ordinary caution was disregarded, and little by little the last
decent pretences were allowed to slip away.

Pamela began to be dimly aware of certain things during their stay at
Muizenberg.  Arnott spent a great deal of time in Miss Maitland's
company.  He took her motoring, while Pamela remained with the children,
and in the evenings, when she and the children were at tea, they went
for long walks together, returning only in time for dinner.  Pamela
thought little of this at first.  She had elected to be with the
children, and had refused to motor with Herbert; she was pleased when he
asked Blanche to accompany him.  But after a while these excursions
became a daily practice; the morning bathe was merely a pretext for
teaching Blanche to swim Arnott pleased himself without any reference
whatever to Pamela's wishes or convenience.  She felt indignant.  It was
time, she decided, to remonstrate with him on the impropriety of paying
such marked attention to the girl.  She particularly disliked his
conduct towards her in the water.  After all, Blanche was in a sense in
her charge; she was responsible for her while she remained in her
family.

She informed Arnott on one occasion, when they were alone together, that
he spent too much time with Miss Maitland, and was unnecessarily
familiar.  She objected to his addressing her by her Christian name.  He
lost his temper at that.  He didn't see any harm in it, he told her; she
often called her Blanche.

"That's different," Pamela answered.  "It is scarcely a reason for your
doing so.  I don't like it."

After that he was rather more careful, and indulged in these
familiarities only when he felt certain that Pamela could not overhear.
But his conduct in other respects continued to affront her, and spoilt
her enjoyment entirely of the holiday which had promised so much
pleasure at the beginning.  She felt only anxious to return home.  Had
it not been for the disappointment it would have occasioned the
children, she would have curtailed the holiday.

When the fortnight was nearly expired, Arnott proposed remaining at
Muizenberg for another week, but Pamela refused to do this.  He did not
urge her.  He had put forward the suggestion in an offhand,
self-conscious manner; and when she objected, he merely remarked that he
thought it would be nice for the children, and then dropped the subject.
But her refusal incensed him.  Opposition to his wishes always made him
angry.  It exasperated him to be forced to submit to her decision; but
he swallowed his annoyance, and said nothing.

He went for a walk with Blanche, and confided to her that he was sick of
his life.  He derived immense consolation from her sympathetic silence,
and the return pressure of her fingers when he sought her hand,--the
first time she had responded in this way.  There being no one in sight,
he stooped and kissed her.

"You can't imagine what a help you are to me," he said.

"I am glad," she answered.  "No one has ever wanted my help before."

"I want it," he said.

"Just now,--because you are unhappy.  But it won't always be like that."

"It will," he insisted.  "I shall always want you.  You are necessary to
me.  You make life bearable."

"I don't think it very likely that I shall be with you much longer," she
said.

"Why?" he asked quickly.

She shook her head, and gave him one of her sphinx-like smiles.

"I can't explain," she replied.  "But I think it will be as I say."

"You don't want to leave us?" he asked.

She hesitated, and looked straight ahead along the hot white road.  The
expression of her face was difficult to read; the man, watching it
closely, learned nothing from it.  He was conscious only of the sudden
hardening of the lines about her mouth.

"Do I?" she murmured, rather to herself than to him, and added
slowly:--"I don't know."

"That's nonsense," he exclaimed impatiently.  "You must know whether you
are happy with us."

"I am not happy," she returned, without looking at him.  "I don't think
it should be difficult for you to realise that...  I don't think mine is
a happy nature," she continued in low, dispassionate tones.  "I can't
remember being ever really happy--as most people are happy--even as a
child.  There has been little enough of love or brightness in my life."

"I want to show you something of both," he said.  "I could, if you would
let me.  I care a lot for you, you know."

She smiled drearily.

"That's not of any use to me," she replied...  "You know that."

"I'll wait," he said confidently.  "You'll change your mind about that
some day."

The sun was sinking low towards the west, disappearing in a crimson
glory which reflected its red glow in their faces, and splashed the
girl's white skirt with vivid colour.  She stared at the dying splendour
of the day with discontented eyes, which read in the vision of this
royal withdrawal the melancholy inevitableness of destiny,--the futility
of striving against the combined forces of nature and habit and
inclination.  Why, as Arnott argued, should one refuse what life offered
from some unprofitable idea of right?  Life had offered her so little:
the only gladness she had known came to her through this man's disloyal
affection.  Nothing could result from their intercourse.  Already it
caused her more pain than pleasure.  But the unwholesome flattery of his
attentions held her captive to the intoxicating excitement of the
senses.  Each new licence he permitted himself, against which she
offered the vain resistance of a half-heartened remonstrance, left her
more unguarded to his persistent attack.  She despised herself for
accepting his caresses, for allowing him to talk to her as he did.
Always she resolved that each time should be the last; and on the next
occasion she yielded to him again.  When the mind becomes subordinated
to the senses moral victory is impossible.

"Let us rest here a while," Arnott said.

He drew her aside from the road, and spread his coat for her under the
shade of a tree.  He seated himself beside her, and smoked and talked
disconnectedly about himself,--of the aimlessness of his life, of his
unrealised hopes, his disappointments, and the unsatisfying nature of
his married life.  He did not speak to her of love; he contented himself
with trying to arouse her sympathy, and to place the disloyalty of his
conduct in a less condemnatory light.  He was the misunderstood,
unappreciated husband, whose sole function in his wife's eyes was to
provide her with the agreeable and comfortable things of life.

If this description was not altogether consistent with the home life as
she had observed it when she first came to live with them, Blanche
ascribed the discrepancy to her want of perception, or to the decent
deceptions he had practised in order to keep up before the world a
pretence of domestic amiability.  She was convinced he was quite sincere
in what he told her.  He was, as a matter of fact, talking himself into
a belief in Pamela's coldness.  He began to feel genuinely sorry for
himself in the role of the unappreciated husband divorced from the
sympathies of an indifferent wife.  Pamela was indifferent of late, he
reflected; she had grown strangely independent of him.

"You see how it is?" he said, and gazed appealingly into the dark calm
eyes that were watching him in wondering earnestness, while their owner
listened compassionately to this tale of married infelicity.  "It's all
the children with her.  I don't count in the ordinary sense.  God knows
why I married!  I've half a mind to chuck it--to disappear.  There are
times when I feel things can't go on like this much longer.  A man hates
being thwarted.  That's what I am,--thwarted continually."

He dug his heel into the ground and uprooted little tufts of grass and
kicked them irritably aside.

"If it wasn't for you," he said, "I couldn't stick it.  You are so sweet
and understanding and considerate.  When I am with you I can let myself
out, and that eases the strain.  Don't you ever marry, Blanche," he
added abruptly.  "It's the very devil to be tied hand and foot for
life... the very devil."

"I am never likely to have the opportunity," she answered in her cool,
indifferent manner.  "I don't get on with men.  They always want to be
amused, and I have nothing to say to them.  No man, save you, has ever
troubled to talk to me."

"I'm glad of that," he said.  "It's selfish of me; but I like to feel
that I have your undisputed friendship.  I'm a monopolist.  A woman who
held me alone in her thoughts could have the best of me,--the whole of
me.  I would give up everything for her."

"I suppose most men think that of themselves," observed Blanche.  "But a
man's world holds other things than love--a woman's world also, for that
matter, though it is not generally considered to.  No person gets the
whole of another person; at most one only shares."

"That's a frigid philosophy," he said.  "You are too young to be
cynical."

"I am young only in years," she answered.  "I've never had any youth.  I
don't know what it is to feel girlish.  All my life has been spent in
looking after other people's babies, with an insufficient education to
fit me for anything else.  That sort of life doesn't tend to make one
youthful."

"It's a rotten shame," he declared.  "I'd like to take you out of it,
and give you a right good time.  I'd teach you how to be young."

"I believe you could," she said, and smiled suddenly.  "Do you know what
I covet," she asked abruptly, "more than anything in the world?  Money."
She emitted a bitter little laugh.  "Now, confess, you don't think that
altogether nice of me."

"Well, I don't know," he replied.  "Life without money would be fairly
dull.  I had rather you had owned to a more feminine desire; it would
seem more natural."

"Not really," she contradicted.  "Where will you find a woman who will
marry a poor man if a richer offers?  Every one wants wealth.  It is the
only thing which gives one power, and is never disappointing.  If one is
wealthy one can snap one's fingers at the world."

"By Jove!" he muttered.

He looked at her oddly, removing the cigar from his mouth and waving
aside the smoke rings for his better observation of the intent,
inscrutable face, which in its earnest concentration appeared wholly
unaware of his scrutiny and the criticism in his eyes.  He was busy
taking stock of her, summing up from this unexpected admission to the
secrecy of her innermost thoughts, the nature of this surprisingly new
feminine type who imagined herself symbolic of all womanhood.  Like
himself, she was thorough egoist, hugging to her embittered,
discontented soul the sense of her own importance and the world's
callous neglect.  All the submissiveness, the gentle deferential manner
which had won for her Mrs Carruthers' patronage, and the confidence of
Pamela, fell from her like a soft garment which has concealed
effectively the deformities it cloaked.  The passionate, hungry,
dissatisfied soul of the girl was bared to the man's gaze.  He
recognised her true self for the first time, and smiled to himself at
the revelation.  He took pleasure in the knowledge that he was a wealthy
man.

"If a rich man offered, I suppose you would marry him?" he said,
brutally outspoken.

She did not resent the grossness of the question, neither did she give
him a direct answer.  She plucked the head from a wild flower growing in
the grass, and pulled it to pieces abstractedly while she talked.

"Wealth, when it is a personal possession, brings one absolute power,"
she said slowly.  "When one benefits through another's wealth one can
only enjoy what it gives.  If I had money of my own, I should be glad;
but I shall never have it.  If I were a man I would get it--somehow."

He laughed.

"That kind of reckless ambition leads men occasionally into awkward
scrapes," he said.  "Finance with a disregard for the methods of
acquirement is folly.  Your feminine logic disqualifies you for the
profession."

She looked at him a little contemptuously.

"A man always considers a woman a fool in business matters," she said.

"You've a good deal as a sex to learn yet," he returned, unmoved.

"Ah, well!"  She threw away the petals of the flower and stood up.
"It's all idle talk, anyway.  I suppose if I had even a moderate fortune
I'd do as other women occasionally do, invest it in something absolutely
safe."  She glanced at his recumbent figure, and at the coat lying on
the ground.  "If we don't turn back, we shall be late; and Mrs Arnott
will be displeased with me...  I am sorry my holiday is drawing to an
end."

"So am I," he said.

He picked up his coat, and vainly endeavoured to shake out the creases.

"It tells a tale," he said.

Blanche held it for him while he got into it.  She straightened the
collar and pressed it into shape.  He swung round suddenly and caught
her round the waist and kissed her.

"One day," he said, still holding her with his arm, "you shall have a
right royal holiday, and do as much spending as your avarice dictates.
I'd enjoy being your banker."

She flushed hotly and withdrew from the encircling arm.

"You must never say a thing like that to me again," she said.

Arnott merely smiled.  The cloak once discarded can never be resumed as
an effective disguise.  He had summed her up in his mind and placed her
to his entire satisfaction.  She was no more sincere and no less
vulnerable than the rest of her sex.  Arnott held women cheaply in his
thoughts, as men of his disposition are wont to do.  The only woman
whose cold virtue had opposed his libertine nature was his wife in
England; and he hated her memory even.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

That night Blanche sat up late in the little bedroom leading out from
the room where the children slept.  She sat at the open window, leaning
with her arms on the sill, looking out at the sea.  The moon silvered
the waters and touched the lazy waves where they folded over before
breaking upon the sands with a white darting flame, like liquid fire
glancing from wave to wave.  The murmur of the sea was in her ears, and
a warm salt breeze blew in through the opening and stirred the heavy
tresses of dark hair that, unloosened, fell about her bare shoulders in
becoming disarray.  Seen thus, with the light of the moon upon it, the
calm face, in its dark setting, was strangely alluring, almost
disturbingly beautiful.  The discontent in the sombre eyes, the weary
droop of her pose, lent a pathos that harmonised with the surroundings,
with the serene lonely beauty of the night, and the restless murmur of
the sea.

Beneath the outward quiet of her bearing, a ferment of passionate
emotions stirred incessantly.  The girl's spirit was in fierce revolt;
all the pride in her nature was up in arms.  Certain things which Arnott
had said to her on their walk that evening brought the angry blood
surging to her cheeks merely to recall.  She realised clearly that to
remain in her present position in his household and keep her
self-respect was impossible; to do so after what had passed were to give
him the right to insult her.  And yet she did not want to leave.  The
man exercised a hypnotic fascination over her.  He was the only man who
had ever made love to her,--who possessed the power to quicken her
pulses, and bring a gladness and a softened look into her eyes.  She
believed she loved him.  In an undisciplined, passionate way she did
love him.  He satisfied the hunger-ache in her heart.  He was the sole
human being to discover in her qualities to admire and like.  No one,
man or woman, had found her sufficiently attractive to desire her
friendship.  Blanche hated her own sex, and for the greater part
despised men.  For Arnott she experienced a kind of shrinking respect.
She admired his strength and virility, his temperamental and
intellectual force; even his position as a man of wealth and social
standing appealed to the latent ambition of her avaricious nature.
Because of these advantages which she enjoyed as his wife, she envied
Pamela bitterly.

In the next room the boy awoke and broke into fitful crying at finding
himself alone.  The girl frowned impatiently, but she did not move
immediately from her position at the window.  The Arnotts' room was
immediately opposite, with only the narrow space of the landing
separating the bedroom doors.  If the children cried in the night-time
it was not her business to attend to them.  Nevertheless, as the sobbing
continued, she roused herself and went softly into the room, and bent
over the child's bed, across which the moonlight fell wanly, bathing the
little rounded limbs in its white light.  Blanche picked up the sheet
which had fallen to the floor and spread it over the boy.  Her face, as
she hung over him, and patted the tiny shoulder soothingly, was
infinitely womanly.  The child was only half awake, and at her touch,
lulled into a sense of security by her presence, he sunk quickly back
into slumber.

As the sobbing died away the door of the room opened and Arnott entered.
Seeing the girl there, he closed the door softly behind him and
advanced to the bed and stood beside it, watching her as she bent over
the child, with the moonlight falling upon her, revealing the white arms
and bare shoulders, and the disarray of her hair.  She had taken off her
dress because the night was oppressive; her deshabille, and the
consciousness of his gaze brought the hot colour to her cheeks.  She
straightened herself, and, satisfied that the child slept, turned and
faced him in quick embarrassment.

"Why are you here?" she whispered.  "You shouldn't come in here.  Go
back."

"I heard the child cry," he answered.  "I didn't suppose I should find
you here.  Why are you not in bed?"

"I couldn't rest," she said.  "I was sitting at my window looking out at
the sea.  Then the boy awoke...  You shouldn't have come in.  Your
wife--"

"She is asleep," he returned...  "Besides, what does it matter?"

He made a movement towards her, but she drew back quickly.

"Blanche!" he muttered.

She swept the hair from her face with a weary gesture, and stood, a
drooping, dejected figure in the dim light, regarding the man with cold,
resentful eyes.

"You are making life very hard for me," she said.  "Why don't you leave
me alone?  To-day you have made me almost hate you.  You said things
which made me mad."

"I love you," he whispered sullenly.  "I can't help that, can I?"

"_Love_!"  The scorn in her voice stung him.  She pointed to the closed
door.  "In pity's name, go now, before you compromise me utterly.  Let
your love show that much consideration for me."

Without a word he turned and left the room, and she heard him enter his
own room and shut the door softly behind him.

Cautious as had been his movements, Pamela was fully aroused.  She
lifted herself in bed, and surveyed him as he entered with wide,
surprised eyes: their regard disconcerted him enormously.  He had not
anticipated her wakefulness; and he lied awkwardly in answer to her
inquiries.  She lay back again on the pillow without making any
response.  He wondered how long she had been awake, and whether she had
heard the opening and shutting of the children's door.  He would have
been wiser, he decided, had he made a truthful statement of his
excursion; the unconvincing falsehood had suggested a sinister motive
for his midnight wandering.

For neither Blanche nor Pamela was there any further sleep; Arnott alone
slumbered dreamlessly throughout the hot hours of the brief night.

The following day they left Muizenberg.  They did not return in the
order in which they had arrived.  Arnott motored home alone.  He left
earlier than the others.  At breakfast he announced his intention of
starting immediately, and asked Pamela if she was driving with him.  To
his immense relief she decided to return by train with the children.
Although no reference had been made to the previous night, he was
uncomfortably aware that he was convicted of lying.  He resented this.
He was angry with himself for having told that unnecessary lie; he was
more angry with Pamela for having, as he realised she had done, detected
the lie.  He did not feel at his ease with her.  Had she accused him
openly he would have blustered and asserted his right to act as it
pleased him; since she chose to ignore the matter, he felt himself at a
disadvantage.  She was placing him deliberately in the wrong.  This
incensed him.  Why, he asked himself with an oath, should she adopt this
self-righteous pose and snub him by her silence?  He was not going to
tolerate that sort of thing.  He would put his foot down, put it down
pretty effectively, and make her realise that he was master in his own
home.

That was the attitude he assumed when absent from her; when confronted
with her gentle, dignified presence he was considerably less bold.  He
shuffled and dissembled, and endeavoured by fitful bursts of kindness,
too forced to be convincing, to sustain the fiction of his unalterable
affection.

Pamela was a woman who believed in the power of silence.  To upbraid a
man, however deserving he were of reproof, was wasted effort; it gave
him an excuse for anger,--an angry person being unreasonable, nothing is
gained by exciting his ire.  Nevertheless, her distrust once aroused,
she became watchful and suspicious.  What she observed during the next
few weeks decided her that Blanche must go.  She could no longer doubt
that between her husband and the governess existed a secret
understanding prejudicial to the happiness of all concerned.

The thing was an amazing revelation to Pamela.  Though she had realised
for a long while that Herbert's love for her was no longer of the ardent
quality that at one time, when separation had seemed imminent, had made
their parting impossible, she had not supposed, despite the warning in
his wife's letter, despite her own bitter experience in watching the
waning of his love, that he was a man of loose principles who pursued
women idly for the gratification of a sensual nature.  The discovery was
a shock to her.  She felt wounded and humiliated.  It was an added
degradation for her to reflect that the man she had loved so well, who
had ruined her life, for whose sake she was living, according to the
world's judgment, in sin, was not the fine character she had believed
him to be,--was merely a selfish profligate, hunting women for his
pleasure, and carelessly breaking their lives.  At least she would save
Blanche from him, if that were possible.  It was no easy task for Pamela
to undertake.  She lacked the power of the wife's authority; and she
realised perfectly that it was the lack of this power which made Arnott
so brutally indifferent to her disapproval.

When she lodged her complaint he flew into a rage.  It was at night
when, Blanche having retired, they were alone together in the
drawing-room.  Arnott had been out of the room when Blanche left it; he
was frequently absent from the room about that hour; Pamela knew quite
well that he was in the habit of waylaying the girl on the stairs.  When
he entered, carrying the glass of whisky which was the ostensible reason
for his absence, she met him with the announcement that she intended to
part with Blanche and revert to the system of a coloured nurse for the
children.

"What for?" he demanded, and reddened awkwardly.

Pamela regarded him steadily.

"I do not think it wise to have her in the house," she answered.  "You
don't need to ask my reason.  You are quite aware why I consider her an
unfit companion for my children."

"Look here!" he said.  He placed the glass he carried on a table, and
approached the sofa on which she was seated, and stood leaning against
the head of it, looking at her angrily.  "You're fond of taking that
tone lately.  I don't like it.  What the devil do you mean by your
insinuations?"

"Need we discuss," she said, "what is so flagrant and abominable?  You
know what I mean.  You have given me every occasion lately for
distrusting you."

"I suppose you are jealous?" he said.  "Good Lord!"

He tapped the floor irritably with his foot, and eyed her for a second
or so in silence.  Then he leaned suddenly towards her.

"Suppose I insist on her remaining?" he asked, his face on a level with
hers.  "Suppose I put my foot down? ...  You've no right to object."

Pamela's expression froze as she stared bade into his angry eyes.  Not
at once did she grasp the magnitude of the insult he flung at her; as
his meaning broke fully upon her, she whitened to the lips.

"Ah! dear heaven!" she cried, and drew bade as though he had struck her.
"To think that you should say that to me,--that you should hold me so
cheaply in your thoughts!  How dare you?"

"Cheap!" he sneered.  "Women are cheap--and ungrateful.  I've given you
everything you wanted; I've denied you nothing...  I've been generous.
It has been a fair exchange.  If there are things you don't like, you've
got to put up with them.  You've got to stand this sort of thing."  He
worked himself into a rage.  "You and your damned jealousy!" he shouted.
"I've had enough of it.  I can't be decently civil to a girl but you
take it in the light of a personal slight.  I won't hear any more of
this tom-foolery.  The girl stays.  I won't be brow-beaten in this
fashion."

"Very well," Pamela said.  Despite her quiet manner, her voice broke;
she was trembling from head to foot.  "In that case, it is I who will
go.  If I had realised three years ago the position in which you held
me, I would have left you then.  Although to part then would have caused
me pain, it would have left untarnished my faith in you.  You've killed
that."

He made a grab at her and caught her by the shoulder and shook her
roughly.

"By heaven!" he cried.  "You tempt me to strike you.  So you would leave
me, would you?  What do you suppose will become of you and the children
without my protection? ...  You've lived with me for eight years,--
you've had everything I could give you; and in a moment of beastly
jealousy you talk as lightly of leaving me as though I were nothing to
you.  What are you going to do if you leave my protection?"

"I earned my own living before I met you," she answered.

"You hadn't the children then," he reminded her.

"No," Pamela admitted, and her eyes filled with tears.

"Don't you think they have a right to be considered?" he demanded.  "You
are not so damned selfish as to deny that, I imagine.  If you leave my
home, you ruin their future."

He was quick to see his advantage.  He did not wish her to take the step
she threatened.  Social ostracism in two countries was rather much for a
man, who has passed his youth, to face complacently.  He had come to a
time of life when the comforts of a home are indispensable; knocking
about the world, even if accompanied by a mistress, did not appeal to
his fastidiousness.  Her threat had taken him by surprise; he had not
considered this possibility; it found him unprepared.  He pressed his
point more insistently.

"You've got to consider them," he persisted.  "If things leak out it
will be beastly awkward for them when they are older.  You've no right
to make them suffer.  You've no right to force poverty on them as well
as disgrace.  And it will be poverty.  If you leave me, I will do
nothing for you, nor for them."

At that she turned her face and regarded him fixedly.

"If I leave you," she said, "I wouldn't desire you to do anything for
me,--but I can compel you to provide for the children."

He stared at her.  He apprehended her meaning fully, and his face went a
dull red.

"So you've sunk to that?" he said.  "You'd show up well--wouldn't you?--
as prosecutrix in a case of bigamy."

He moved away, and stood with his back to her, trying to master his
anger, trying to resist the devil in him which tempted him to murder
her.  At that moment he hated her as passionately as at one time he had
loved her.  It would have given him immense satisfaction to have hurt
her, to have seen her wince under his hands.

"Oh! you hold a trump card in that knowledge," he muttered.  "It was
clever of you to have thought of that."

Pamela made no response.  She remained perfectly motionless, looking
miserably away from him, staring unseeingly straight before her.  Arnott
glanced at her contemptuously, and flung out of the room.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

Pamela rose the next morning with a dumb anger in her heart.  She had
passed a sleepless night,--a night of anguish, such as she had not
experienced since the time following her discovery of the existence of
Arnott's wife.  She did not know how to act.  She needed advice sorely,
and knew of no one to whom she could turn in her trouble.  The delicacy
of her position made it impossible for her to seek outside help.
Whatever difficulty arose through her relations with Arnott, she must
face it alone.

On one thing she was resolved; the night's reflection had confirmed her
on this point; Blanche must go at once.  Arnott's insistence that the
girl should remain weighed with her very lightly, and failed to shake
her determination.

She went downstairs with her decision arrived at, with no intention of
discussing the matter again.  There was no one to discuss it with she
found on descending; Arnott had breakfasted and left the house, taking a
small amount of luggage with him.  This, she realised, was his way of
evading unpleasantness.  Possibly the recognition that he dared not
further assert his authority, coupled with a dislike for admitting
defeat had moved him to this course as the only dignified way out of a
dilemma.  He left her to act on her own responsibility.

Pamela breakfasted alone.  For the first time since their marriage she
experienced a relief in his absence.  She lingered over the meal,
encouraging a sense of independence which this solitariness gave her.
Had she known that he had gone away for ever it would not have troubled
her at the moment.  She did not wish him back.  Realising this with a
faint touch of surprise, she set herself to analyse her feelings in
regard to him.  It caused her something of a shock to discover from this
analysis that in three years her love for him had shrunk to
inconsiderable dimensions.  She was conscious of a feeling of contempt
for him which came dangerously near to repulsion.  The scene of the
previous night had killed her respect for him finally.  Further, it had
convinced her that he had ceased entirely to care for her.  This man of
uncontrolled passions had wearied of her, as doubtless he had wearied of
his first wife.  Possibly, if she had left him three years ago before
his passion had begun to wane, his love would have endured longer.  With
men of Arnott's temperament the inaccessible is always the most desired.

When she had finished breakfast she went upstairs to the nursery for her
difficult interview with the governess.  She had expected Miss Maitland
to come down with the children.  It was past the hour for their morning
walk.  To her amazement, when she entered the nursery, Maggie was in
sole charge, endeavouring with the willing incapacity of her type to get
the children into their walking things.  Pamela was helping her by
amusing the boy while she fitted his cap over the unruly curls.  At
sight of his mother the boy fought vigorously to go to her, while Pamela
darted gleefully forward with the news that there was no Miss Maitland
anywhere; she had looked in the bed and under the bed, and Maggie had
hunted too.  But Miss Maitland had gone, and her clothes had gone.  Some
one had come quite early and carried her trunk away.

"Perhaps," Pamela ended cheerfully, "some one came and fetched her away
in the night."

Her mother turned white while she listened to the child's excited
explanation.  She took the boy from Maggie, and while she proceeded with
his dressing, asked in a low voice what the girl knew about the matter.
Maggie's information was not more lucid than the child's.  No one, it
appeared, had seen Miss Maitland leave; but a strange boy had come for
her luggage at seven, and John had carried it downstairs.  The strange
boy had left a note for the missis.  Pamela asked for the note.  Maggie
had not seen it, but she believed it had been left in the hall.

Pamela finished dressing the children, and led little David downstairs.
She told Maggie to take them in the garden and let them play in the
shade; she would come out later and join them.  Then she turned back,
white and trembling, an ugly doubt haunting her mind, and searched for
the note that had been left for her.  Would the note, she wondered,
explain this horrible mystery, or merely increase her doubt?  It was
lying where the boy had left it on the hall table, and it was addressed,
she saw, in Blanche's handwriting.  She opened it and read it where she
stood.  The writer had omitted the formality of the customary mode of
address, she had also omitted to sign her name at the end.

"When you read this," she had written, "you will probably have heard of
my departure, and you will feel less surprise at the abrupt manner of my
leaving when I say that I was an unwilling listener to what passed
between you and Mr Arnott after I left the drawing-room last night.
For the sake of my reputation I could not remain beneath your roof an
hour longer than was necessary.  I made my preparations last night and
left early this morning.  I warn you, by the knowledge I possess, to be
careful how you discuss me and my actions.  If my reputation suffers I
shall know where to attach the blame."

Pamela folded the note carefully, and carried it with her into the
sitting-room, and sat down to think.  This girl held the dangerous
knowledge of her false position as Arnott's wife.  She meant to make use
of the knowledge if at any time it suited her to use it.  The thought
was bitterly humiliating.  For the time it swamped every other
consideration, even the doubt which had haunted her before reading the
note was lost sight of in the shock of this discovery.

She tried to recall what had been said on the previous evening that had
revealed their secret to this girl, who from her own admission had been
eavesdropping.  But of that interview no clear recollection remained.
She could not recall the scraps of actual talk; only the bitterness of
that monstrous duologue lingered in her memory, and the insults Herbert
had flung at her in his anger, and her own threat to leave him.
Reviewing the scene now, the sordidness of it gripped her, disgusted
her.  And to think that a third person should have deliberately listened
to that painful, miserable interview.  The thought of Blanche's
duplicity enraged her; the veiled threat conveyed in the note angered
her more than it alarmed her.  How dared she threaten her with the
disclosure of her infamously acquired knowledge?

She read the note carefully a second time.  There was no suggestion in
it that the writer's flight were in any sense connected with Arnott's
sudden departure.  And yet that veiled threat at the end...

Pamela pondered over this doubt for a long while; and the longer she
considered it the greater the doubt grew.  It occurred to her that
Blanche had had some motive in penning those offensive words.  Could it
be possible that after his angry exit last night Herbert had gone to
this girl and arranged with her the manner of her leaving?  Pamela
wished she knew.  Better the ugly truth than the horror of this
uncertainty.  At least she would know how to act if she knew the worst.
Possibly he would write, she reflected.  He could scarcely behave so
outrageously as to leave home in this secret fashion and tender no
explanation of his whereabouts, or his purpose in leaving.  There was
nothing for it but to wait and see what the days brought forth.  But
this waiting in utter ignorance was galling.  It forced home to her to
the full the degradation of her false position.  Had it not been for the
children she would have quitted his home finally.  But, as Arnott had
reminded her, the children were her first consideration; she had
forfeited the right to consider herself.

She allowed an hour to slip by in these unprofitable and bitter
reflections before she recollected her promise to the children, and
rising, went out into the garden to join them.  It caused her a shock of
dismay to discover Mrs Carruthers sitting under the trees with them--a
puzzled, perturbed Mrs Carruthers, fully informed by Pamela, the
younger, of the governess' mysterious disappearance.  She looked up when
Pamela came towards them, rose, and advanced to meet her.

"My dear," she said, "you look worried.  Whatever is this I've been
hearing from Pamela?  She tells me Blanche has gone."

It was impossible, Pamela realised, to keep Mrs Carruthers in ignorance
of obvious domestic events; but she would have preferred to delay
talking over these disturbing matters until she was better prepared.  It
had not occurred to her, until confronted with the actual difficulty,
that she would be called upon to discuss with any interested inquirer
the mysterious details of the absconding of her children's governess,
which, in conjunction with Arnott's unexpected departure on the same
day, might very easily give rise to gossip.  Arnott's interest in the
governess had aroused attention at Muizenberg, as Pamela was perfectly
aware.  She could only hope to avert scandal in regard to this event by
the caution with which she explained it.  So far as Mrs Carruthers was
concerned she felt that she could rely upon her absolute discretion; she
was the one woman she knew in whom she could have confided, had it been
possible to confide in any one.  But the nature of her trouble sealed
her lips; it was too sordid and shameful a story to impart to other
ears.

"Yes; she has gone," she answered.

"But why?" demanded Mrs Carruthers, who felt, through having
recommended Blanche, in a sense responsible for the girl.

"She ran away," piped Pamela junior's shrill treble.

"Go and play," said Pamela.  "Mummy wants to talk business."

"But you said you'd come and play too," the child protested.

"So I will presently.  Run away now, like a good girlie."

Mrs Carruthers drew a hand through Pamela's arm and strolled with her
along the path.

"I don't understand," she said.  "Why should Blanche leave you in this
manner?  It's such a mad thing to do.  What can the girl have been
thinking of?  It ruins her prospects.  One couldn't recommend her after
such extraordinary behaviour.  Maggie tells me she went before any one
was up.  But why, Pamela?  She must have had a reason."

"I suppose she had," Pamela agreed.  "The only thing I can think of is
that she knew I was going to dismiss her and simply forestalled me."

Mrs Carruthers looked perplexed.

"I thought you were entirely satisfied with her," she remarked.

"No," Pamela returned.  "In many respects she was admirable.  But I
never cared much for her; and as you know I found her system in the
nursery very trying.  She had too much authority.  I meant to try a
nurse again."

"Well, I am astonished," Mrs Carruthers exclaimed.  "I believed she was
a perfect treasure.  But the fact of your intention to dismiss her is no
warrant for her extraordinary behaviour.  To run away like that!  My
dear Pamela, it's absurd.  What does Mr Arnott think about it?"

At this sudden and wholly unforeseen question Pamela's composure forsook
her.  She flushed red, and then went so very pale that Mrs Carruthers,
watching her, could not fail to detect her agitation.  She did not know
what to make of these signs of distress.  Had Pamela been guilty of
making away with the governess she could not have appeared more
conscience-stricken.  Her eyes refused to meet Mrs Carruthers' steady
gaze: they shifted uneasily and sought the gravel of the path.

"I don't know," she stammered.

The answer, as much as her manner of uttering it, sounded disingenuous
even in her own ears.  She made an effort to collect her scattered wits,
conscious that she was conveying a suggestion to her friend's mind of
the very suspicions she was anxious to avert.

"Herbert had left before we knew about Blanche," she explained with
nervous haste.  "He went away this morning immediately after breakfast.
You see," she looked at Mrs Carruthers quickly, with wide apprehensive
eyes which appealed mutely for sympathy, "that makes it so much more
difficult for me,--his not being here to advise me.  Oh!  Connie, I am
so bothered.  I don't know how to act."

"That's awkward," said Mrs Carruthers, feeling too bewildered to detect
that the remark was scarcely tactful.

She thought for a moment.

"I'll ask Dickie when he gets home this evening what he thinks you ought
to do.  He'll come in and have a chat with you, if you like.  After all,
it isn't your business to bother about the girl if she chooses to serve
you such a trick.  I should put her out of my mind, if I were in your
place.  I am disappointed in that girl."

Suddenly tears rose in Pamela's eyes.  She tried hard to blink them away
unseen; but they welled bigger and bigger until they overflowed and
rolled down her white cheeks.  Mrs Carruthers slipped an arm about her
waist.

"You poor dear!" she said.

"It's stupid of me," murmured Pamela apologetically.  "But I'm so
worried.  I feel all unstrung.  It seems so odd for Blanche to have gone
away like that.  It's so difficult to explain."

"I shouldn't attempt explanations," Mrs Carruthers advised.  "When do
you expect Mr Arnott home?" she asked.

Again the distressing change of colour showed in Pamela's face, and
again her embarrassed, reluctant admission that she did not know when to
expect him puzzled her listener anew.  The whole business was
incomprehensible.

Mrs Carruthers' knowledge of the Arnott's affairs was greater than
Pamela realised.  Being fairly astute, her perception had led her to
detect more of the breach than was obvious to the ordinary observer.
Had she not already suspected it, Pamela's manner would have convinced
her that the governess' flight was not alone responsible for her present
distress.  A more personal trouble could alone account for the unhinged
state of her mind.  To avoid adding to her embarrassment, she left the
subject with the reflection that dwelling on annoyances merely
aggravated them, and proposed joining the children.

But Pamela's face haunted her for the rest of the day.  Despite a strong
disinclination to allow the suspicion, the belief that Arnott's absence
and the girl's flight were in some way connected, and not merely
coincident, as his wife had so lamely endeavoured to convey, was
difficult to banish.  Pamela's very anxiety to disprove the connection
suggested to the unbiassed mind that the connection was there.  Mrs
Carruthers did not like Arnott.  She threw that fact into the balance of
her judgment, and resolved to give him the benefit of the doubt.

CHAPTER NINETEEN.

Desire to be perfectly fair in her judgment of Arnott did not prevent
Mrs Carruthers from imparting her views to her husband, when discussing
with him that evening the mysterious happenings next door.  She first
acquainted him with the bare details, and asked for his opinion; since
he had no opinion to offer she proceeded to unfold hers.  Carruthers was
astounded; he was also, to his wife's amazement, annoyed with her.

"Perhaps you won't be so ready to recommend people in future," he
remarked.  "This is what comes of interfering in other people's
concerns."

"Don't be so unreasonable," she expostulated.  "The girl appeared to be
all right.  She was with the Smiths for years."

"Smith's dead, you see," he answered.

Mrs Carruthers stared.

"You think she was that sort of girl?" she asked.

"Well, I don't know," he returned, and looked a trifle sheepish.  "But
Arnott got her talked about pretty badly at Muizenberg.  A fellow who
was there at the same time told me it was scandalous the way he went
on."

Mrs Carruthers regarded her husband for a second or two in meditative
silence.  There was something in her suspicion after all; it was not
merely prejudice which had been responsible for connecting Arnott's
absence with the girl's flight in her mind.

"Dickie," she said, "I believe they have gone away together."

"I shouldn't wonder."

"I believe she knows it," Mrs Carruthers pursued.  She recalled
Pamela's stricken face, the evasive, frightened look in her eyes, her
halting admission of ignorance as to her husband's movements.  "The
brute!" she murmured, and added abruptly, "What a horrible thing to have
happened.  How is it going to end?"

"The usual way, I imagine," Carruthers replied.  "Unless of course she
decides to keep quiet for the sake of the kids."

A pause followed.  Carruthers bit the end off a cigar and lighted it
irritably.  He was wishing that the Arnott's affairs would not intrude
themselves on his domestic peace.  From his knowledge of his wife he
realised that, however disinclined, he would be dragged into the
business somehow.  He anticipated her proposal that he should act as
adviser to the deserted wife.  In general he was not abnormally selfish;
but he disliked being mixed up in other people's scandals; and he did
not see how he could keep out of this very well.  He smoked
energetically, and maintained a non-committal silence.  In the meanwhile
Mrs Carruthers rapidly reviewed the situation.

"But the girl..." she said suddenly, and broke off with a thoughtful
puckering of her brows.  "And I wanted George Dare to marry that girl,"
she added, ending the pause.

"It's a let off for him anyway," remarked Carruthers.

"I would never have believed her capable of such wickedness," she
observed presently.

"I don't see why you should believe it of her now," he ventured.  "After
all, you know nothing.  There may be quite a different explanation of
Arnott's absence.  Didn't his wife say where he had gone?"

"I didn't like to ask her.  She seemed to be in entire ignorance as to
his movements.  And she was so upset.  It was her manner that made me
suspicious.  She was dazed, and--oh! hopeless.  No one would take the
disappearance of a governess to heart like that.  I told her you would
run in for a chat and advise her what to do."

He groaned.

"Why couldn't you leave me out of it?" he protested.  "I can't advise
her.  I've no experience in these things.  You can tell her from me not
to bother her head about the matter.  I'll make inquiries to-morrow, and
find out what I can.  I don't suppose it will lead to much.  The girl is
old enough to look after herself, and Arnott's movements are no concern
of mine."

"Well, really!  Dickie, you might be more helpful," she said.

"That is being helpful," he insisted.  "It's a much more reasonable idea
than yours, and more discreet in the circumstances.  If things are
anything like so bad as you are trying to make out, the less I run in
there the better."

Mrs Carruthers laughed.

"You nice chivalrous person!" she scoffed.  "A fine friend you make for
a woman in distress."

"Distressed women aren't my forte," he said.  "You should enlist the
sympathies of an unmarried man.  These bachelors in their sublime
ignorance are bolder."

"I would enlist the help of George Dare," she said, "if it wasn't for
the unfortunate circumstance of his being--"

She broke off abruptly.  To finish the sentence would have been to abuse
Dare's confidence, and she had no wish to do that.

"Of his being what?"  Carruthers inquired, looking up.

"So far away," she finished lamely.  "You see, you are on the spot."

"Yes," he admitted.  "I wish I wasn't.  As though a man's own domestic
troubles aren't sufficient without his being expected to shoulder
another man's neglected responsibilities.  There are people whose
business it is to undertake these cases.  If Mrs Arnott wants advice
she knows where to procure it."

"Oh! a woman never goes to a lawyer until she has exhausted every other
resource," Mrs Carruthers interposed.

"You are letting your imagination run away with your commonsense,"
Carruthers resumed.  "It is more than possible that you have discovered
the proverbial mare's nest.  Because Arnott leaves home a few hours
after the governess has done a bunk is no reason for concluding that
they have eloped together.  The explanation is probably much more
simple."

"Then I wish you would explain it," she said with mild exasperation.

"Very likely they had a row," he returned; "and Arnott cleared out.
It's the male equivalent for feminine hysteria.  A jealous woman can
make things fairly uncomfortable."

"He shouldn't give her cause for jealousy."

"Well, there of course," replied Carruthers, amused, "your argument is
unassailable.  But these things will happen.  Man was born to be a
hunter, you know; and throughout the ages woman has remained his
favourite quarry.  It's pure instinct with us; and occasionally, as in
Arnott's case, instinct and opportunity occur simultaneously.  In
employing a good-looking underling, a married woman courts disaster."

"Dickie," exclaimed his disgusted wife, "how dare you talk like that?  I
am ashamed of you."

He laughed good-humouredly, and rose from his seat.

"And now," he said, "since you really wish it, I'll go in and comfort
Pamela.  I'm in the mood for it."

She gave him a bright look, in which a smiling sarcasm strove with her
satisfaction in having gained this concession.

"You have just time before dinner, my fine hunter," she observed.  "If
Pamela is in the humour, bring her back with you."

Pamela was in no mood to accept an invitation to dine out.  She was
indeed so distraught in manner and so extraordinarily depressed that
Carruthers did not propose it.  He did not know what to make of her; but
he was of his wife's opinion that the unceremonious departure of the
governess was not a sufficient cause for her obvious distress.  Rather
than adopt her theory, however, he clung to his belief that the Arnotts
had had a domestic difference of more than ordinary seriousness, and
that Arnott's sudden absence was the result.  The contemporaneous
disappearance of the governess was an awkward development.  Had he known
where to address the man, he would have wired to him and suggested the
propriety of his immediate return.  But having in mind what his wife had
confided to him, and baffled by Pamela's extraordinary reticence, it was
not in Carruthers to bring himself to the point of asking outright for
the address.  When he hinted at the advisability of summoning Arnott
home, Pamela ignored the suggestion.  He inclined to the view that she
actually did not know where he was.

Very much perplexed, Carruthers returned home.  He had relieved Pamela
of further responsibility in regard to Blanche Maitland, by promising to
look up the girl's friends and discover, if he could, what had become of
her.  That was as much as he could do, he informed his wife; and
reluctantly confessed, when she dragged the admission from him, that
Pamela had not appeared anxious for him to undertake the task.  The
interview had been most unsatisfactory.

"That bears out my suspicion," Mrs Carruthers declared.  "They have
gone off together, and Pamela knows it."

"Well, in that case," Carruthers remarked, as he went in to dinner, "we
shall all of us know it quite soon enough."

Carruthers' subsequent inquiries concerning Blanche Maitland elicited
very little information.  Her friends, if they knew anything definite,
were evidently pledged to secrecy.  They were aware that she had left
her late employment, but her present whereabouts were unknown to them;
they understood she was travelling.

That seemed to strengthen his wife's suspicion, Carruthers decided; but
reflecting that it was no business of his, he dismissed the matter from
his thoughts, having first informed Pamela that the girl's friends
appeared satisfied as to her well-being, and that therefore there was no
need for her to concern herself further about her.  Pamela took the news
very quietly.  She thanked him for the trouble he had been to on her
behalf; and it seemed to him that by her manner of thanking him she
intimated that there was nothing further he could do.  If, as Mrs
Carruthers insisted, she knew the two had eloped, it was plain she did
not intend to move in the matter for the present.  He admired her
reserve.  Whatever the trouble between herself and her husband might be
it was manifest she had no wish to discuss it.  Her attitude he
considered was highly correct and discreet.

Pamela passed an anxious week waiting for news of Arnott, but no letter
arrived from him.  A fortnight passed, a month, without bringing any
news.  This neglect confirmed her worst fears.  She began seriously to
consider her position.  If Herbert had deserted her she could not
continue living as she was doing in his house.  It was monstrous to
allow herself to be kept in this manner by a man who no longer wanted
her.

But the difficulty was how to act.  To seek outside advice, it would be
necessary to disclose the shameful secret of her marriage.  That, she
realised, with its consequent disgrace and imprisonment for Herbert,
would seem to him a paltry act of revenge on her part.  She experienced
as great a shrinking from punishing him, as from the thought of
publishing her own shame, and bringing ostracism on her children.

The expedient of writing to Dare and making the demand on his friendship
which he had asked her so urgently to make, crossed her mind more than
once.  She could consult him without fear that he would reveal her
secret to others.  His insistent request that she should appeal to him
if in any difficulty, seemed almost as though he had foreseen this
trouble looming ahead for her.  Could it be that he knew something of
Arnott's past?  Impossible!  No one, save themselves and Lucy Arnott,
knew of his bigamous second marriage.

She sat down to write to Dare one day at Arnott's desk in the room he
called his study.  Save that he kept it for his exclusive use and wrote
his letters there, it had no pretence at being a study; no one, least of
all Arnott, ever studied there.  Pamela opened the desk and searched for
writing materials.  Then she began a letter to Dare.

"You told me once," she reminded him, "that if ever I was in need of
help such as a friend only could render, I was to write to you.  My
friend, I am in need of help now.  I am in great trouble..."

Here she broke off, dissatisfied with this attempt, and tore the paper
into minute fragments and threw them into the waste-paper basket.  Then
she started again.  She got a little further with the second letter
before this too occurred to her as unsatisfactory and followed the fate
of the former attempt.  In all she wrote six letters, none of which
pleased her, and were each in turn consigned to the basket.  Then,
having exhausted the note-paper, she paused and sat back in the chair
and thought.  Was it wise after all to write to him?  What could he, or
any one, do to help her in her present distress?  It was a matter which
could only be settled between herself and Herbert, unless she was
prepared to face the ordeal of a public scandal.

But the memory of Dare's face as he had pleaded with her in the garden,
the sympathy of the strong kindly voice, the earnest insistence of his
manner when he spoke of his desire to be helpful, and his right as her
sincere friend to the privilege of her confidence, awoke in her a
craving for his help, for the comfort of his advice.  She was conscious
also of a wish for his presence; it would be an immense relief merely to
talk with him.

Quickly she resolved to make a further attempt to write to him, and
searched in the desk for another sheet of paper.  She opened the
drawers, and turned over their contents,--bills principally, and old
letters of Arnott's.  From among a pile of loose papers a cablegram fell
out, face upward, with a cutting from a newspaper pinned to the back of
it.  The writing caught Pamela's eye; the brief message on the little
yellow form was fully exposed.  "Lucy Arnott died this morning."  And
the cablegram was dated ten months ago.

Pamela took it up and stared at the message with dull, comprehending
eyes.  Ten months earlier Arnott had received this news of his wife's
death, and he had withheld the knowledge from her.  Ten months ago he
had it in his power to legalise their union, and he had not done it.  He
had wilfully deceived her in the matter of his wife's death.  There was
only one interpretation to put upon his conduct: he had no wish, no
intention, to right the wrong he had done her.

Pamela shivered, and laid the cablegram down on the desk and stared at
it, faint and sick with the pain and anger, the shamed resentment with
which this knowledge filled her.  Arnott's infamous conduct showed her
plainly how lightly he regarded her, how little of honour, of love or
respect he felt for the girl he had cheated into marrying him, and had
made the mother of his children.  Free now to marry her, he was
satisfied to keep her in the shameful position of a mistress, and to
follow lightly after illicit loves.

She recalled his words uttered on the last evening before he left home:
"Cheap!  Women are cheap."  That probably had been his attitude always
in regard to women.

She turned back the cablegram and looked at the printed form attached to
it.  It was a cutting from an English newspaper containing a brief
notice of Lucy Arnott's death.  Why, she wondered, had he kept the thing
lying about loose in his drawer where any one might read it?  She took
it up, closed the desk, forgetting Dare and her intention to write to
him, forgetting everything in face of this horrible ugly proof of
Herbert's treachery; and going up to her own room, she locked the
cablegram away in the safe where she kept her jewels.

CHAPTER TWENTY.

Oddly enough the first news of Blanche Maitland came to Mrs Carruthers
through Dare.

He mentioned in a letter that he had been to a music-hall entertainment
where to his amazement the sphinx-like young person, who was a paragon
of all the virtues, was playing accompaniments for the members of a
musical troupe, to which she apparently belonged.

"I understood she was fostering the Arnott babies," he wrote.  "You
don't keep me fully posted as to events, as you promised.  I tried to
get hold of her, but learnt that she had gone on to Pretoria.  It is an
odd life for a girl, but more amusing, possibly, than tending the future
generation."

Further on in the letter he said:

"I ran across Arnott in town--another surprise.  He was very surly, and
seemed to wish to avoid me, so I reconsidered my hospitable intention to
ask him to lunch with me.  How is She?  If you don't mention Her in your
next letter I shall run down and pursue my own inquiries."

Mrs Carruthers was highly perplexed.  Why, she wondered, if Blanche had
gone away with Arnott should she have joined a troupe of strolling
singers?  And if she had not gone away with Arnott, why was he in
Johannesburg at the same time?

Carruthers could not explain this also as a coincidence.  He did not
attempt to.  He remarked that it looked fishy, and asked his wife if she
intended to inform Pamela.  Mrs Carruthers was undecided.

"I don't know what to do," she confessed.  "I think I'll write to
George, and tell him to find out what he can about them.  It will be
necessary to explain certain things to him; I am sorry to be obliged to
do that."

"Why?" inquired Carruthers.

She looked at him for a moment uncertainly.  Dickie was a well-meaning
person, but he was not astute.  She possessed a beautiful contempt for
his perspicacity.

"George admires Pamela," she said.

Carruthers received this intelligence unmoved.

"He would be a little unusual if he didn't," he returned.  "I don't see
why that fact should make you hesitate to enlist his services; it's much
more likely to make him of use.  Dare is cut out for the role of knight
to distressed beauty; it suits his proportions; a stout man looks absurd
in the cast."

Mrs Carruthers showed impatience.

"If you can't help, don't make fatuous remarks," she said.  "George
takes it too seriously.  We don't want to complicate the present muddle.
If I felt that he might make a fool of himself over this business I
would sooner bite out my tongue than inform him."

"Then we aren't any forrader," Carruthers returned imperturbably,
"except that we have a clue to Arnott's whereabouts, which in my opinion
you have no right to keep from his wife."

"We don't know positively that she isn't fully informed," she replied.

Mrs Carruthers was worried, and felt consequently irritated.  Dare's
letter had reopened a subject which had been slipping comfortably into
the background of her thoughts.  She was sorry for Pamela, whom she
would willingly have helped had it lain in her power; but Pamela made no
offer to confide in her.  She never referred to Arnott's absence,--never
spoke of him now.  Mrs Carruthers formed the opinion that she still had
no knowledge of his movements, that she did not know when to expect him
back.  An unpleasant sense of mystery hung over the affair, which
imposed a painful constraint on their friendly relations.  Pamela
avoided intercourse with her neighbours, and was seldom to be seen
without the children; it was as though she used them as a shield to
guard against awkward encounters.  But that she was unhappy was very
obvious.  She had become transformed into a thoughtful, care-worn woman,
in whose eyes there lurked always a haunting expression of dread.  It
was this expression which, in spite of Pamela's aloofness, kept Mrs
Carruthers' sympathies alight, and moved her, against her very earnest
desire to keep George Dare from mixing himself up in Pamela's affairs,
to write to him, and request him to discover if he could what Arnott was
doing in Johannesburg.

Her letter brought Dare to Wynberg.  He descended upon her in his usual
informal manner, announcing his intended visit by telegram, and
following the announcement as speedily as circumstances permitted.  This
course was a practice with him of many years' standing, and never before
the present occasion had Mrs Carruthers resented it.  The receipt of
the telegram annoyed her.  She had asked him to find out certain things
about Arnott, and in response he had come away from the centre where he
could have instigated inquiries which might have elicited useful
information, led by some wild, unaccountable impulse which he ought, she
felt, to have resisted.  That he would come down had been the last
thought in her mind.

Dare received a frigid welcome.  He was in a way prepared for this.  The
letter she had written had been so vague and guarded in its wording that
he had read between the lines her desire to keep him in the dark as far
as possible as to the reason for the inquiries she wished him to make.
Dare had no intention of being kept in the dark in any matter relating
to Pamela.  He intended to find out things for himself.

"You don't appear overjoyed to see me," he observed to his unwelcoming
hostess, whose greeting of him lacked the warmth and kindliness he was
accustomed to from her.

"I am not," she answered severely.  "Whatever did you come for?"

"To see Pamela," he replied unhesitatingly.

"Why?"

"Because from your mysterious communication I judged she was in some
difficulty.  You gave me a few insufficient facts.  I want details.  If
you won't give them to me, she will."

Mrs Carruthers deliberated.

"I asked you to find out what Arnott was doing in Johannesburg," she
said presently.  "I fail to see what there was in that request to bring
you to Wynberg."

"Arnott is not in Johannesburg any longer.  He was leaving on the day I
met him," he returned.  "Why should you concern yourself about his
movements?  Presumably your request was not based on anxiety on his
account; therefore I concluded your concern must be for Mrs Arnott.  I
came down to find out."

"I hope you are not going to give me cause to regret having written that
letter," she said seriously.

"I hope not," he responded with equal gravity.  "Why should you imagine
anything of the sort?  As I told you before, I only wish to be helpful
to her."

She turned the subject, and talked to him on other matters; but Dare,
after a brief interval, brought the conversation back to the topic which
most interested him.  He got very little satisfaction from Mrs
Carruthers.  Carruthers was more communicative.  From him Dare heard the
whole story, embellished with details which Mrs Carruthers had not
heard.  Arnott was pretty freely discussed at the club, of which he and
Carruthers were members.  Carruthers had come round to believe in his
wife's theory that Arnott had eloped with the governess.  The fact that
she was touring with a musical troupe, was in his opinion merely a
blind.  When he tired of the girl, doubtless he would chuck it and come
home.

"Well," said Dare, "I'm glad you told me.  But I don't believe a word of
it.  He wasn't with the girl in Johannesburg, save in the sense of being
in the same town.  I'm going to clear up this business for my own
satisfaction.  To-morrow I shall call on Mrs Arnott."

"I supposed that was your object," Carruthers answered.  "But you won't
get much out of her.  It's my belief she is as ignorant as the rest of
us.  She's feeling this, Dare.  It makes me feel sloppily sentimental
merely to look at her.  The chap wants kicking.  You be careful what you
are doing, my boy.  I am rather of Connie's opinion that you'd be wiser
to keep out of this.  It's the devil of a business to attempt comforting
a pretty married woman.  Stick to widows and spinsters, I say.  What!"

"You're an awful old ass, Dickie," was all Dare said in response.

Dare experienced a curious exasperation in the knowledge that the
Carruthers both doubted the disinterestedness of his purpose in seeking
to be of use to Pamela.  A man may befriend the woman he loves without
any base thought in connection with her.  In coming to Wynberg to see
Pamela, Dare had no other intention than to be of service to her.  The
doubtful possibility of being able to serve a woman whose husband has
presumably deserted her, did not strike him.  Once in possession of the
facts he would be in a position at least to advise her; might, if things
were not as Carruthers represented them, assist in putting a stop to the
scandal that was afloat.  It was abominable to reflect that Pamela's
name was being bandied about at the clubs.

Pamela was in the garden when Dare called in the morning.  The boy was
asleep on a kaross spread under the trees, and she was seated in a chair
near him, sewing, when Dare opened the gate and entered.  The sound of
his footsteps on the hard gravel caused her to look up; and an
expression of quick alarm showed in her face as her eyes met his.

He advanced swiftly towards her; and, as he crossed the lawn, she rose
and stood, flushed, embarrassed, painfully self-conscious, looking at
him in a dismayed silence which she seemed unable to break.  Dare spoke
first.

"I've sprung a surprise on you," he said, and took her proffered hand
and held it firmly gripped in his.  "I'm staying next door."

"I didn't know you were expected," Pamela returned, recovering herself
with an effort, and giving him a welcoming smile.  "I haven't seen
Connie for days."

"It was a surprise for her too," he admitted.  "I came self-invited.
Are you busy?  I should like to stay for a chat, if I may."

"That's my only business at present," she said, and pointed towards the
sleeping child.  "I'm on guard."

Dare looked down at the child.

"The little chap grows," he remarked.  "He was only a baby when last I
saw him.  How's the girlie?"

"Oh! very well.  If you stay you will see her later.  She is out at
present.  Sit down, won't you?"

He drew a chair forward facing hers on the side farthest away from the
child, and sat down.  It recalled, save for the boy's unconscious
presence, the afternoon when he had last sat there with her, and had
wrung from her the promise which she had failed to keep.

"It is like old times, this," he observed, and scrutinised her
thoughtfully as he sat back in his seat.  Despite the flush in her
cheeks which the sight of him had brought there, he could not fail to
detect traces of the trouble which had wrought such a marked change in
her appearance that, had he needed assurance there was something in what
Carruthers had told him, her face would have supplied the necessary
proof.  "I'm awfully glad to see you again.  I came with that object,"
he said.

"To see me!"  Pamela looked puzzled.

"To see you," he repeated.  "Do you remember something I asked you to do
in this garden, the last time we sat here?"

Pamela did not immediately answer.  That she followed his question he
realised by the deepening of the flush in her cheeks.  She lay back in
her chair, very still and quiet, the long lashes drooping above her
eyes, veiling the trouble in their depths.  Dare sat forward now,
regarding her steadily.

"What was that?" she asked presently; and he knew that she put the
question merely to gain time.  She understood perfectly to what he
referred.

"You promised me that if ever you were in a position in which a friend
might prove helpful, you would extend to me a friend's privilege," he
said earnestly.  "Have you kept that promise?"

"I have not been in that position," Pamela replied without looking at
him.

Dare laid a hand on her dress.

"Pamela," he said quietly, "I think I deserve that you should be honest
with me."

She turned very white.  How he had learnt of the trouble which she
believed was known only to herself, she had no means of judging, but
that he was in possession of certain information his manner assured her.
She wondered how he had come by his knowledge,--how much he knew.
Suddenly she experienced again the longing to confide in him, the
intense desire for his sympathy and counsel which had moved her to the
point of writing to him on the day when she had discovered the further
proof of Arnott's treachery.  Since that day until now she had not
thought of appealing to him.

"I did write," she confessed in a low voice, "over a month ago; but I
tore the letter up.  Then something happened, and I felt I couldn't
write."

He looked at her for a moment or so in silence.  The flush had come back
to her cheeks, and the blue of her eyes as they met his darkened almost,
to black.  The pathos, and the wistfulness of them wrung his heart.

"I'm glad you thought of writing," he said; "that was something towards
it anyway.  I want you to go a little further and confide in me fully."

"I've thought of doing that,--I've wanted to," she said.  "But--"

She glanced at her sleeping child, and from him back into the strong,
sympathetic face of this man who sought to serve her, whose help she so
sorely needed.

"If I only knew what to do!" she cried.

"I'm telling you what to do," he answered.  "It seems to me perfectly
simple.  Whatever the difficulty is it can't make it easier hugging it
to yourself; and if it lies within the scope of human power to help you,
you know I'll do anything for you."  He leaned towards her suddenly and
grasped her hand.  "Pamela, don't you trust me?"

"Yes," she said, troubled and hesitating...  "Yes.  But I can't talk to
you here."

"No," he said.  "But later..."

"When Maggie comes for the child," she answered in a whisper, "we will
go indoors...  I--will trust you..."

CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

No matter how great a control a man exercises over himself in ordinary
circumstances, brought face to face with the painfully unexpected it is
frequently the self-contained man who loses the grip on his emotions,
and with it his more extended outlook in favour of an immense
concentration upon the personal factor created by the new development.
The story which Pamela unfolded produced some such effect on Dare.  The
emotions which moved him while listening to the sordid, pitiful tale
were varied.  The story of Arnott's bigamous marriage enraged him.  The
personal factor crept into that.  The man had not only cheated the girl,
he had cheated him,--robbed him of the only woman he had ever wished to
marry.  He had stolen her from him, having no right to her.  This
thought filled him with a bitter sense of personal loss, of personal
injury.  The element of self threw his imagination out of focus for the
time.  He had a very strong feeling that he wanted to, that he had to,
punish Arnott for that mean deception.  He would have enjoyed coming to
grips with the man.

Then he became acutely aware that Pamela was still talking, telling him
other things of an equally painful nature.  With an effort he brought
his mind back to the subject.

This part of the story was more difficult to tell.  Pamela told it in
short fragmentary sentences.  She concealed nothing.  She spoke of her
enlightenment, of the difficult choice offered her, and her inability to
choose the right course, in low strained tones and with downcast eyes.
She did not look at Dare while she spoke.  He was standing in front of
the window, with his back to the opening, watching her with grave intent
face which betrayed little of what he was feeling as he listened to the
difficult recital.  He was endeavouring, despite the disappointment her
confession caused him, to excuse, even to defend, her choice.  As she
urged, there had been the child to consider, and at that time she loved
the man.

Then she spoke of the waning of Arnott's love, of his frequent
unkindness, and her own increasing indifference.  Again Dare was
conscious of his personal interest in this part of the story.  The
self-confessed decrease in her love for the man who was not her husband,
affected him directly.  He felt glad that she had told him that.

She passed on to Arnott's infatuation for the girl, who was her
children's governess, of their disappearance on the same day, and the
inevitable conclusion which, against her own will, she had arrived at in
connection with that circumstance, and the fact that he had not written,
nor sent any explanation of his absence.

Then came the most difficult part of the whole narrative.  Pamela had
fetched the cablegram, which she had found in Arnott's desk and
transferred to the safe, and this she placed in Dare's hand as the
simplest way of explaining the duplicity she found impossible to put
into words.

"You see," she said, "that cablegram is a year old.  He received that
ten months before he left home...  And he never told me.  I found it
after he had gone.  He did not intend to take advantage of that
knowledge...  He didn't care."

Tears, the first she had shed, came into her eyes.  She wiped them away
quietly.

"He doesn't care," she said, "what becomes of me and the children."

Dare, as he held in his hands the cablegram which assured him that the
man who had tricked this woman to whom he was not lawfully married, was
now free to fulfil his obligation, realised perfectly that of all people
calculated to be of service to her in the present crisis he was the
worst chosen.  He was only conscious of a feeling of regret that the
barrier had been removed.  It swamped for the time the more chivalrous
emotion of pity for Pamela in her helpless position.  He stared at the
cablegram for a long while without speaking.  Then he said, still
without looking at her--

"I am afraid there isn't any reason for doubting the correctness of your
deduction in this instance.  The evidence is damning."  He lifted his
eyes from the paper suddenly and fixed them upon her.  "This matter
wants thinking over carefully," he said.  "I wasn't prepared for this.
It's worse than anything I had anticipated."

The sight of her distressed face, of the slow tears raining over her
cheeks, unnerved him, and at the same time called forth his better
qualities.  He forgot himself in the more worthy emotion of compassion
for her in her affliction.

"I hadn't any idea that things were as bad as this," he said.  "Thank
God! you told me.  I'll have to think out what's best to be done.  I'm
unprepared, you see...  But we've got to straighten the muddle somehow."

He had in his mind a plan, which had presented itself when she confessed
to the bogus nature of her marriage, whereby the muddle could be
straightened in, what seemed to him in the circumstances, the simplest
way; but in view of her present distress he hesitated to speak of that
now.  The knowledge of the death of Arnott's wife complicated things.

"Oh!" she cried, with soft vehemence.  "The comfort of having some one
to confide in,--some one I can trust!  I've been eating my heart out
these last two months.  The Carruthers are very kind,--but I couldn't
tell them what I have told you.  And Mr Carruthers wouldn't be able to
advise me.  He would wish me to consult a lawyer."  She clasped her
hands tightly in her lap.  "I couldn't have all these intimate,
disgraceful details publicly exposed."

"No," he said reassuringly; "of course not."

But he did not see how without publicity the matter could possibly be
satisfactorily arranged.  She might, he decided, have to agree to that
later.  But he refrained from troubling her at the present stage with
any such alternative.

"It appears to me," he said slowly, "that the first thing to be done is
to find Arnott.  Until I have seen him it is impossible to come to any
decision...  Have I your permission to let him know that I am in full
possession of the facts you have related?"

She looked a little frightened.

"Oh!" she said.  "Must you tell him that?  He will never forgive me."

"Do you think that matters?"  He tapped the cablegram he still held.
"In face of this, I don't think you have much to expect from him save
what is gained through compulsion.  We shall be forced to use our
knowledge."

She gazed up at him, faintly perplexed.

"What do you mean to do?" she asked.

"What do you want me to do?"

Pamela hesitated.  Any love which had remained from the wreckage of the
past had died with the finding of the cablegram after Arnott's
desertion.  It seemed to her that all sense of feeling had died with it,
except only the jealous maternal love, which gathered strength with the
decline of the rest.

"I want only one thing from him," she answered presently, her eyes
evading his without however falling...  "I've a right to that--his name.
Don't you think I am within my right in demanding that?"

"Yes," he agreed, "but--"

Pamela glanced at him swiftly.

"You think he won't consent?" she asked.

"I wasn't thinking that.  I imagine if it came to the point, we could
oblige him to consent.  But are you quite sure that course would be
wise?  Wouldn't it, perhaps, entail fresh suffering on you?"

"I was not considering myself," she said.  "It doesn't seem to matter
much what becomes of me."

He approached her, and stood over her, all the love that was in his
heart revealed in his earnest eyes.  He had not intended to speak of his
love then; the time occurred to him as ill chosen; but while she
discussed in such calm, dispassionate tones the only solution which
presented itself to her mind, it seemed to him, if he delayed showing
her another way out of her present trouble, the opportunity might not
offer itself again.

"Won't you," he said very quietly, "take my name instead?"

He seated himself on the sofa beside her, and possessed himself of her
hands, which he held in both his.  Pamela made no attempt to withdraw
them.  White and distressed and manifestly disconcerted, she averted her
gaze from his and stared past him out at the sunshine.  Her sole reason
for hesitating to write to Dare had resulted from the conviction that
his regard for her was deeper than that of a friend.  Her feeling for
him did not bear analysis either.  He was a man whom from the first she
had liked and respected; the respect remained unaltered, but the liking
had increased insensibly until it assumed an importance in her thoughts
which she found it best to discourage.  Not for a moment did it strike
her that he made this offer out of pity for her.  She knew that he loved
her,--that he wanted her.  His proposal filled her less with surprise
than concern.  She was sorry to know that her own broken life might
embitter his.

"Won't you," he repeated in the same quiet voice as before, "accept my
name?  I think you know that I love you.  I have loved you for a great
many years.  I shouldn't speak of that now; only it seems to me such a
tragic mistake you are making.  The life you contemplate would be a
wretched business.  You will spoil the happiness of two lives--yours and
mine--if you persist in it...  I think I could make you happy, Pamela,
if you would let me try."

Deliberately she faced round and met his gaze with sad blue eyes which
seemed to have lost entirely their old happy expression.

"I know you could," she answered, her voice almost a whisper.  "If it is
any sort of satisfaction to you to hear it, I love you too.  But I can't
do what you ask.  For the sake of my children I must marry their father.
Don't you see the difference it makes to them?"

"I thought it might be that," he said.  "But consider, Pamela,--they are
so young.  Don't you think they would be as happy and as safe under my
guardianship?"

"That isn't the point to consider," she answered steadily.  "When a
woman has been circumstanced as I have been she realises the enormous
difference these things make.  I've felt the sting of it,--the dread of
discovery,--the overwhelming sense of shame.  I should be a selfish
mother if I exposed my children to that.  In whatever light you stood to
them, you could never make good the position which they have a right to
as their father's children.  Later, when they grow up, the world will
make them feel that loss.  If there were only myself to think of I
wouldn't hesitate.  But we take upon ourselves a great responsibility
when we bring a life into the world...  It's for the sake of the
children...  Oh! believe me, dear, it's only for their sakes I refuse."

The earnestness of her manner, the tears which dimmed her eyes and were
with difficulty restrained, affected him deeply.  He realised that the
barrier which stood between them was insuperable as she saw it; but he
was far from satisfied that she was right.  Why in later years should
the question of the children's parentage arise?  He would take them away
from Africa, and adopt them legally.  He endeavoured to explain this to
her.  Pamela listened quietly; but he felt that he failed in convincing
her.

"It is dear of you," she said, and pressed his hand.  "But there is only
one way in which I can hope to retrieve my mistake.  I can't help
thinking that it is best for your sake that I cannot do what you ask.
The past clings to a woman.  She never succeeds in burying it.  I love
you for loving me.  I love you for wanting to marry me in spite of all
you know.  It is difficult for me to refuse; but it is better so."

"Oh!  Pamela," he said; "you are just racking me.  My happiness is bound
up in you.  I've nursed my love for you hopelessly for years, until
everything else has become subordinated to it.  It's part of myself.
And now that you have it in your power to grant what I ask, you refuse.
I want you, and you won't come to me."

"Don't make it harder for me," she pleaded.  "It isn't easy to refuse.
Can't you see, dear, I don't belong to myself any longer?  I belong to
the man who took my life and threw it aside when he had no further use
for it.  He has had the best of me,--my youth--my love."  He winced.
"Yes.  I loved him once--passionately.  I didn't believe it possible
that I could ever love any one as I loved him.  But I love you... not in
the same way."  She leaned towards him, and her eyes shone mistily, like
sapphires gleaming in some translucent pool.  "I was always a little
afraid of him.  Perfect love does not know fear.  I wish I could marry
you; but it isn't possible...  I belong to him--the father of my
children.  I've got to live for the children now.  Their claim on me
counts above every other consideration."

He drew her nearer to him by the hands he still held clasped in his, and
looked steadily into her face.

"And if he refuses?" he said hoarsely...  "Pamela, if he refuses to
agree to your demand?"

Pamela's eyes lingered on his for a while, the doubt which his question
aroused calling up a dread of numberless possibilities.

"Oh!" she said, and paused dismayed.  "He can't refuse," she added in
strained sharpened tones.

She turned her head aside, and quite suddenly, without premonition, she
was weeping in a furtive, frightened fashion that was immensely
disconcerting to Dare.  Her tears stabbed him.  He got up and wandered
away to the window and stood with his back to her in an attitude of deep
dejection.  A tormenting remorse gripped him.

"He can't refuse," he said reassuringly.  "That will be all right.  He
can't on the face of things refuse..."

CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

Dare lunched alone with Mrs Carruthers.  He was a little unpunctual;
but she waited for him, and they sat down as soon as he came in.  She
did not ply him with questions; she kept her curiosity within bounds
until the meal was well advanced.  He was strangely quiet and
preoccupied.  She did not know what to make of his dejected silence.
Mysteries were worrying to Connie Carruthers' practical nature.  It was
the flavour of mystery which clung about the happenings next door that
caused her, despite the warmth of her affection for Pamela, to avoid the
house of late.  She had the keen dislike of a healthy minded person for
anything in the way of concealment.  Discreet reticence was
praiseworthy, but furtive silence bred distrust.  His visit next door
had, it seemed to her, given George Dare the air of a conspirator.
Whatever shadow hung over the house had enveloped him in its gloom.  It
was absurd in her opinion for a man to allow his feeling for a married
woman to swamp him in this fashion; it betrayed a lack of dignity and
self-respect.

Dare did not wait for her to question him; he looked across at her
towards the finish of the meal, and plunged of his own accord into the
subject.

"That man, Arnott, is a double-dyed scoundrel," he said.  "He has left
that poor girl without a word.  She doesn't know where he is even.  He
doesn't write to her."

"I suppose," Mrs Carruthers observed calmly, "if he has eloped with
some one else he would be little likely to write to her.  Why, in the
name of commonsense, did she confide her troubles to you?  You will
become obsessed with the thought of the divorce court, and carry a ring
in your waistcoat pocket in anticipation of the decree absolute.  I wish
I had eaten my pen before I wrote that letter to you."

She became aware of the offence in Dare's look, and was instantly
contrite.

"George," she said, "I didn't mean to be an unfeeling beast.  But you
ought not to have come down.  You ought not to mix yourself up in the
Arnott's affairs.  You can't do any good."

"Some one's got to see her through," he said.  "You haven't done much in
the way of helping."

"She doesn't confide in me," Mrs Carruthers retorted drily.

"Perhaps you haven't given her the opportunity," he returned.  "I don't
think you have shown a particularly friendly spirit.  Why don't you see
more of her?  She is moped to death."

"My dear boy," she replied, wholly unruffled, "it is bad form to push
one's self forward where one is obviously not wanted.  Forcing
confidences is not in my line."  She sipped her coffee, and regarded him
with interest over the rim of the cup.  "I have asked her in here
repeatedly, but she invariably pleads the same excuse; she cannot leave
the children.  I am beginning to think with you that the possession of
children is a qualified blessing."

Dare made an unexpected exclamation.

"Oh, damn the children!"

He was so entirely sincere that he omitted to apologise.  She smiled
faintly, and continued her scrutiny of him and the sipping of her
coffee.

"Smoke," she said, "and give me a cigarette.  It assists the reasoning
faculties."

He got up, and went round the table to her with his open case in his
hand.  When he had lighted her cigarette he returned to his seat.

"I don't wish to appear inhospitable--" she began...

"I am leaving to-morrow," he interrupted her shortly.

She blew a cloud of smoke and followed it as it curled upward with her
eyes.  Then she looked again at Dare.  He was leaning with his elbows on
the tablecloth, his expression gloomily abstracted, his sombre eyes as
they met hers conveying a mute resentment.  Her attitude struck him as
peculiarly unsympathetic.

"You must not go in there again," she said.

He stared in some surprise.

"I have no intention of doing so," he answered.  "I didn't come down to
fool about, but to gain information.  I've learnt all I came to learn."

"And what use are you going to make of your information?" she asked.

She could not, despite the utmost caution, disguise her strong
curiosity.  That he would rest satisfied in the inactive role of
sympathiser she did not for a moment believe.  He would want to do
things, want to concern himself actively in what was after all no
business of his.  These lean men generally had a reserve of energy which
broke forth at awkward seasons, and manifested itself in disquieting
ways.

He knocked the ash from his cigarette against the rim of a saucer, and
refrained from looking at her as he replied.

"I don't know yet I suppose the immediate thing is to find Arnott, and
discover what the fellow is really up to...  I wish he were dead."

"That would certainly simplify matters," she said.  "But people don't
die merely to be obliging.  You'll find him very much alive, I expect."

He nodded in gloomy acquiescence.

"And while you are ransacking the country for Arnott, what about your
own affairs?" she inquired.

"Oh! that's all right.  I'm entitled to leave."  He emitted a short
laugh.  "I believe you regard me in the light of an irresponsible
person."

"I've met wiser people," she allowed.  "Quixotism is a form of
benevolent insanity.  Look at it how you will, your undertaking is
quixotic in the last degree."

"So long as it is only that," he returned, "I don't see why you need set
your face against it."

"It's the futility of it," she said, "that appeals to me.  What you
purpose doing is a job for the Supreme Court; and even the law cannot
force a man to return to his wife against his will."

Dare made no answer to this.  Had the position of affairs been simply as
she believed it to be, he would not be undertaking this quest.  An act
of plain desertion would, as she had stated, have been a matter for the
law to deal with.  But the Arnotts' case had to be kept out of the
courts if possible for Pamela's sake.  He was very clear on that point.
Pamela's mistake in continuing to live with Arnott after her discovery
of the truth made secrecy vitally important.  That was a point which
Arnott had probably taken into consideration.

"You are a big fool, George," she said; "but I love you for your folly.
I suppose most women admire quixotic men.  I am going to be amenable
now.  I'll do my part, never fear.  I'll stick to Pamela like a limpet.
There's a difficult time ahead for her,--a storm of scandal to be faced;
but we'll win through.  Thank heaven! no one has ever been able to fling
any mud at her!"

He gave her a quick look; she met it with a little uncertain laugh, and
a light of indulgent affection in her eyes.

"We are creatures of circumstance," she added; "but we are not ruled by
our passions,--not all of us."

To which Dare had nothing to say.  He was very conscious at the moment
of the dominating quality of his own passion; that he was not ruled by
it was due rather to circumstances being against him than to any
particular self-restraint.  Had Pamela been willing to accept his
proposal, he would have allowed no consideration to bar the way to their
immediate marriage.  As the case stood, however, his love was
sufficiently strong and unselfish to move him to act as a disinterested
friend who had at heart only an earnest desire to be of service to her.
He meant to find Arnott, and persuade the man if possible to fulfil his
obligation.

The quickest means of discovering Arnott's whereabouts, Carruthers
suggested, and Dare considered the advice sound enough to follow, was to
find Blanche Maitland, whose movements, if she were still in her
professional capacity, would be easier to trace.

"Though what on earth he expects to do when he does run across them,"
Carruthers remarked to his wife, "beats me.  Old George is off his
balance."

"This business of sex is a big muddle," he commented later,
philosophising while he undressed, to his wife's sleepy amusement.  "Odd
how it takes some fellows! ...  Seems to knock the brains out of an
average sensible chap.  Never thought old George would go silly over
somebody else's wife.  It's in some fellows, that sort of thing."

He fussed about at the glass, and got into difficulties with his tie.

"Jolly glad he didn't develop a tender passion for you, old girl...
Damn the thing!"

The tie came away in his hand and was flung into a drawer.  He banged
the drawer to with noisy impatience.

"It's just giving rein to one's feelings," he said, "that is the cause
of it.  One can't do that sort of thing,--it's not decent.  It's like
taking too much to drink because one enjoys the sensation of being
drugged.  We've got to observe the decencies of life; it's a social
obligation.  Pretty mess we'd make of things, if every one yielded to
his impulses."

He approached the bed and seated himself on the side of it and stared at
his wife with a perturbed expression on his usually good-humoured face.
She blinked an eyelid open, and returned his gaze with a kind of
one-sided attention, and a drowsy smile that mocked his serious mood.
Dickie in the role of moralist was unfamiliar and mildly diverting.

"George isn't yielding to his impulses," she said; "he's acting in
direct opposition to them."

"He's moonstruck over another man's wife," Carruthers returned; "and the
other man is moonstruck over somebody else.  What's that but encouraging
one's fool sentimentalities?  Some fellows enjoy messing about, and
imagining themselves in love with every fresh face."

"The hunter's instinct," she murmured sleepily.

Carruthers grunted.

"It's abnormal vanity," he replied... "that, and suggestion...  Just
giving rein to unwholesome thoughts.  I suppose, if I wanted to, I could
work up that sort of feeling in respect to lots of women."

She opened both eyes at this, and regarded him with wide curiosity.
Then she laughed.

"Silly old duffer!" she said.  "I don't think George's influence is good
for you.  You had better get to bed, and leave off talking nonsense.  I
want to go to sleep."

Carruthers got off the bed and repaired to his dressing-room, there to
continue his reflections on the sex problem while he proceeded with the
business of undressing.

"It's nosing about for the scent of these things," he mused, taking off
a shoe, and holding it in his hand with a contemplative eye upon it, as
though the sight of this familiar object presented aspects hitherto
unobserved.  "If a man trains his mind to think along commonsense lines,
his feelings don't run amok."

He dropped the shoe on to the carpet, and focussed his attention on the
pattern of his socks.

"Gods! what a muddle it is!" he muttered...  "A beastly lot of
sentiment,--a beastly uncomfortable time of it,--and then,--reaction.
And men go out of their way to tumble into these kind of messes.  Hanged
if I can understand it!"

The following morning he surprised his wife with the inquiry:

"Connie, were you ever in love before you met me?"

"Lots of times," she answered cheerfully.

"How was it you never married one of the crowd?" he asked, a trifle
nettled by the unexpectedly frank reply.

"Because none of them asked me," she replied with extraordinary candour.

"Oh!" he said.  He pondered this for a second or so.  "I suppose you
married me as a sort of substitute?" he added.

She gave a little amused laugh.

"Guess again," she said.

He went to her and put an awkward arm about her neck.

"Tell me," he entreated.  "I'm a duffer at guessing."

"My reason for marrying you was precisely the same as yours for marrying
me," she answered provokingly, and pulled the encircling arm closer.
Carruthers bent his head and kissed her.

"There isn't a better reason," he affirmed in satisfied tones.  "I guess
we're all right."

That before breakfast talk had the effect on Carruthers of inducing a
kindly mood which inclined him to view Dare's folly with greater
toleration.  He was even conscious of a certain sympathy with the man;
his overnight impatience had moderated considerably.  He threw out a few
suggestions, intended to be helpful; and promised, without being asked,
to keep Dare informed if anything transpired at that end.

Carruthers' cheerfulness had an irritating effect upon Dare.  He had
passed a sleepless night, kept awake by the worried thoughts which had
harassed him throughout the long hours; by the passion of longing which
possessed him, which refused, despite his utmost effort, to be subdued.
He wanted Pamela, wanted her urgently,--and he was fool enough to be
about to assist in bringing off a marriage between her and the villain
who had spoilt her life.  The irony of the situation struck him in its
full absurdity.  It was the consummation of a tragedy wearing comedy's
mask,--the enforced marriage of a man and woman who had ceased to care
for one another, for the sake of the new generation which had arisen as
the result of their one-time passion.

Her decision was right, of course.  It was the one unquestionably right
step she had taken in the whole miserable affair.  Because of its
unanswerable equity he could only acquiesce.

CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

Dare made inquiries in respect to the movements of the "Exotics," the
musical troupe with which Blanche Maitland had associated herself, and
without much trouble traced them to Bloemfontein, and came up with them
there.

On the evening of his arrival in the town he attended a performance at
which they were advertised to appear.  He wondered as he took his seat
in the hall whether he should find the girl he sought among the
performers, or if she had severed her connection with the troupe in
favour of a more private mode of life.

He gazed round the well-filled room with the object of ascertaining
whether Arnott was present.  He was not.  It was not very likely, Dare
decided, that he would be; to show up at these performances would suit
neither his inclination nor his policy.  Still, there was just a chance.

The room was very full.  It was a popular entertainment at popular
prices.  Dare resolved to satisfy his curiosity and then leave; he could
gain nothing from sitting through the entertainment, and the night was
extraordinarily close.  Fortunately the "Exotics" came on early in the
performance.  They were billed to appear again between the pictures
toward the finish.  Songs and character dances formed their repertoire.

Dare looked expectantly towards the platform as they came on.  There
were nine of them, men and women; the ninth being the accompanist.  She
walked on behind the others, and went straight to the piano, a tall,
striking-looking figure, clad in blue and silver which scintillated a
cold brilliance where the lights caught the filmy draperies.  It was
Blanche Maitland.  The calm, unsmiling face, set off by the stage
finery, and crowned with the dark glossy hair, aglitter with sham
diamonds, looked handsomer than he had ever seen it; but there was
something repellant, he thought, in its cold, unyielding beauty,
something unyouthful in her air of composed aloofness.  She moved and
acted like some handsome automaton.  Not once did he observe her smile,
or display interest in what she was doing.  She was wonderfully
inanimate.  And yet her performance at the piano was extraordinarily
skilful, far and away above he ordinary run of talent heard at these
entertainments.  One felt one wanted to hear her in something worthier
of her gifts.

Dare kept his seat until the performance came to an end; then he made
his way behind, and sent his card in to her.  He was not admitted to the
dressing-rooms; but she came out and interviewed him in the passage, to
the curious interest of one or two people who loitered there.  She was
manifestly surprised to see him, and pretended to have forgotten his
name, and when and where they had met.  He recalled the circumstances to
her.

"It was so long ago," she said; "I had forgotten."

"I don't call that kind," he returned.  "You see, I didn't forget I saw
you in Johannesburg last month."

"Yes!"  She looked at him with increased interest.  "We were there, of
course.  We have been to several places since.  We are working down
towards the coast."

"It is a change for you, this life," he said.  "Do you find it
agreeable?"

"Oh!  I don't know.  It amused me at first.  But I leave them at the
coast.  I came in as a stop-gap because their regular accompanist was
ill."

Her voice sounded a little weary, her face, too, underneath the rouge,
looked tired.

"I'd like to call on you to-morrow, if I may," he said, and paused
expectantly.

She hesitated, regarding him with vague suspicion in her eyes.  Then she
mentioned the boarding establishment at which they were staying, and
gave a reluctant permission.  It was not a fashionable hostelry;
presumably the "Exotics" were not flourishing in respect to funds.

"We might go for a drive," he suggested, "if you care about it."

She acquiesced, but without enthusiasm.  It occurred to Dare that her
manner was a little distrustful.  He smiled encouragingly.

"That's kind of you," he observed.  "I'm at loose ends in this place.
Then I'll be round about three, if that suits."

He did not feel quite satisfied when he parted from her that she would
keep the engagement; but on the following afternoon when he motored up
to the house, she came out dressed for the drive and met him at the
gate.  He was aware, as he helped her into the car, of several curious
faces watching them from the doorway and behind the dingy curtains of
the front room windows.  The "Exotics" were frankly interested in the
proceeding, and watched the car and its occupants with eager, envious
eyes until they were out of sight.

"I am glad you are giving up this life," Dare remarked to his silent
companion, as they spun along in the sunshine with the light wind in
their faces.  "It's all very well in its way, I don't doubt; but it's
just a trifle sordid, isn't it?"

"What is one to do?" she asked.  "One must live.  There isn't a wide
choice for women, as you know."

"That's true," he acknowledged, and was silent for a moment.  "Why did
you give up teaching?" he asked abruptly.

She reddened and appeared distinctly annoyed.

"That isn't a vastly amusing, nor particularly lucrative form of earning
a livelihood," she returned with sarcasm.  "How do you know I was
teaching?"

"I have recently been staying with the Carruthers," he replied.  "Mrs
Carruthers spoke of you.  I told her I had seen you in Johannesburg."

Blanche looked deliberately away.

"Mrs Carruthers!  Was she...  She was my very kind friend formerly,"
she remarked in an embarrassed, hesitating way.  "I should be sorry if
she thought less kindly of me now."

"Why should she?" he asked.

She brought her face round again, and her eyes, steady and inquiring,
met his fully.

"I don't think you are being quite sincere with me," she said.

Dare was unprepared for this direct attack.  He felt at a decided
disadvantage.  She was much more shrewd than he had expected.

"Now, I wonder why you should think that?" he asked.

"Oh!" she exclaimed sharply.  "Do you suppose I don't know that while
you were in Wynberg you heard me discussed?  I've got relations there;
they write to me.  The things people say!"

So already the gossip that was being circulated had reached her on her
journeying.  Dare scrutinised her closely, uncertain whether to treat
her frankly as she seemed to wish, or to attempt to acquire the
information he needed by less straightforward methods.  In the end he
resolved to be frank.  Despite all that he had heard relative to her
flight and her previous relations with Arnott, he had a strong
persuasion that the stories concerning her were mostly lies.  He
discredited entirely the tale of her elopement.  A girl does not run
away with a man and leave him immediately to follow the kind of life she
was at present leading.  The fact that Arnott had been in Johannesburg
at the same time that she was there called for some other explanation,
he decided.

"Don't you think that perhaps you have your own indiscretion to blame
for the stories that are being floated?" he asked.

His question seemed to surprise her.

"In what way should you say I have been indiscreet?" she inquired.

"The manner of your leaving is an open secret," he replied.

"There is no secret about it," she returned with some impatience.  "I
just went.  In my opinion I was quite justified in acting as I did."

"Quite possibly you were," he allowed.  "But unfortunately Mr Arnott
acted in the same ill-considered manner.  When people do these things
they must expect gossip."

She did not reply to this.  Dare judged from her silence that she was
fully informed as to the manner of Arnott's leaving home.  This seeming
knowledge of the man's movements shook his faith in her somewhat.

"I suppose you think, with others, that circumstance had something to do
with me?" she said presently.

"I would only believe that," he replied quietly, "if you told me so
yourself."

She looked at him quickly, and then turned her face aside, unwilling
that he should detect the shame in her eyes, and the gratitude that
strove with other emotions at his unexpected answer.  She knew so little
of this man, who was but a chance acquaintance; and yet already he
appeared inexplicably mixed up in her life, acquainted with all the most
intimate details concerning her.  It puzzled her why he should display
this interest in her affairs.  She felt that she ought to resent his
unwarranted interference; and yet oddly she did not feel resentful.  It
was after all rather a relief to have some one with whom to discuss
these matters, which were too private and difficult to speak of with
other people.  His knowledge of events seemed to constitute a reason, if
not a right, for his discussion of them.  But his intimacy with the
Arnotts, and with Mrs Carruthers, inclined her to be somewhat on her
guard with him.

"I don't know why you should be less ready than others to believe the
reports that are spread," she remarked.  "Your knowledge of me is so
slight.  We've met--three times, is it?"

"I am not judging from my knowledge of you, but from my knowledge of
human nature," he returned.

She laughed cynically.

"Has human nature revealed only its amiable qualities to you?" she
asked.

"Oh! no.  Not by any means.  But humanity is not without a moral sense.
The baseness which some natures reveal is a form of degeneracy,--a sign
of mental abnormality.  In the case of man or woman, deliberate
viciousness denotes a kink somewhere."

She pondered this.

"Yes," she allowed; "you are probably right.  But there are a good many
people with kinks.  I may have a kink myself...  I believe I have."

"Then straighten it out," he advised.

"Oh!" she said in a voice of weary irritation.  "What's the use of
talking?  Words are easy enough.  It's easy enough, perhaps, to act, as
well as think, finely when life runs smoothly.  But life is terribly
difficult for some of us--and dull.  The dulness, I think, is the
worst."

She stared out at the sunny landscape with hard, dissatisfied eyes, and
the bitterness in her voice increased as she continued:

"I took up this kind of thing--touring and playing--because I thought I
might find it brighter.  It seemed so at first... the lights, and the
people, and the noisy excitement of constant moving, constant change.
Now I find that too unutterably dull.  The tawdry dresses,--the
limelight,--the sea of white faces, staring, always staring,--cold,
unsympathetic, scarcely interested even.  I hate them.  I hate playing
those ridiculous airs on timeless, indifferent pianos.  I want
something...  I don't know...  I'm a fool to say all this.  I hope you
didn't invite me to drive with you in the belief that you would find me
an amusing companion?"

"I invited you to drive with me," he answered candidly, "because I
wanted to talk to you on the subject which you, yourself, started.  I am
very anxious, for Mrs Arnott's sake, as well as in your own interest,
to put a stop to a scandal which is none the less harmful because I
believe it to be a tissue of falsehoods.  Since you have heard the
scandal, I am spared the unpleasant task of paining you further by
repeating it.  If you choose, I believe you can help me in stopping the
thing.  Will you tell me, if you can, where Mr Arnott is to be got at?"

"How should I know?" she asked, flushing.

"I thought you might know," he answered, unconvinced by her words of her
ignorance as to Arnott's whereabouts.  "He was in Johannesburg when you
were there.  I could have settled this matter then, had I known of it.
But I've only just heard the talk.  I want to see him.  He ought to be
informed of the report that is going about, which his own indiscretion
is mainly responsible for.  I think, if he knew, he would see the wisdom
of putting an end to it."

"I don't," she replied unexpectedly.  "I don't think it would make the
least impression on him."

"Oh, come!" he said, surprised.  "What grounds have you for supposing
that?"

She glanced at the chauffeur's impassive back, and from it into Dare's
curious, perplexed face.

"Do you think this quite the place for discussing these matters?" she
asked.

Dare was obliged to admit the reasonableness of her remonstrance.
Although they had spoken in lowered voices, they could not be positive
that no part of their talk reached the driver's ears.

"We'll have tea somewhere," he said.  "Then we will drive out into the
country where we can get out and walk."

He leaned forward and gave the chauffeur his directions.  When he turned
to the girl again he was conscious of a new reserve which betrayed
itself in her manner.  She raised no objection to his arrangements; but
a marked constraint showed in her speech.  She fell back more and more
upon silence and left the talking to Dare.

CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

During tea, though there was ample opportunity for private talk at the
little table where they sat alone, Dare was careful to avoid any
reference to the business which had moved him to seek her out.  He
exerted himself to entertain her; and for the time it seemed as though
Blanche actually forgot her discontent in enjoyment of the moment.  But
when on paying the score Dare would have bought her a box of chocolates,
to his surprise the girl with hasty ungraciousness declined the gift.
She hated sweets, she said.

His action in purchasing chocolates for her had reminded her of Arnott
and the similar gifts he had showered on her in the past.  The incident
jarred upon her; and a return of her former reserve ensued.  Already she
regretted having accepted the invitation for this outing.  It was not
that she disliked the man, or that she mistrusted him; but she had a
presentiment that he would urge her to tell him things which it might be
against her own interests to disclose.  She sought to reassure herself
with the thought that he could not force her confidence.  Nevertheless
she experienced a doubt as to her powers of reticence; she had already
allowed him against her better judgment to discover that she was to a
certain extent acquainted with Arnott's doings.  And she had confessed
to some authority as to his actions.  That positive affirmation of the
line he would be likely to take had been an indiscretion.

Dare was himself so quietly confident that the girl, having nothing to
conceal, would aid him with any information which it lay in her power to
give that he did not anticipate difficulty in persuading her to disclose
her knowledge.  He believed that she also would wish to have the scandal
in which her name was concerned allayed finally.  It could not be
agreeable for her to know the opprobrious things that were being said of
her in connection with the man.  For her own sake she would wish that
stopped.

They re-entered the car and continued the journey.  When they were well
out into the country, Blanche said, turning to him suddenly:

"Don't let us stop...  What's the use?  I don't want to walk; it's
pleasanter driving.  And I must not be late in getting back."

"I will see that you are back in ample time," he answered.  "But I want
you to get out here.  You needn't walk far.  I'll tell the man to wait
for us at the bottom of this hill."

He spoke to the chauffeur, and the car stopped.  Dare got out and helped
the girl to alight.  She looked at him with faint resentment in her
eyes, as they remained standing together beside the road while the car
drove swiftly away.

"I asked you not to," she said protestingly.

"I know," he said.  "Forgive me for disregarding the request.  I wanted
to talk with you more privately.  Plainly we couldn't discuss this
matter before a third person."

"I don't wish to discuss it," she returned, getting off the road and
beginning to walk in the direction taken by the car.  "I fail to see why
you, who are almost a stranger to me, should persist in discussing a
subject which you must know is unpleasant for me to listen to.  It is
ungenerous of you to have brought me out with such an object."

"Oh! no," he replied.  "I can't see it in that light.  It is to your
interest, as well as to Mrs Arnott's, to clear up this matter."

"Please leave me out of it.  Would you," she asked, looking at him
deliberately, "have taken so much trouble on my account?"

"Possibly not," he admitted.  "But since it is my intention to get to
the bottom of this business, I could wish at the same time to be of
service to you.  It is not good for a girl to have her name coupled with
that of a married man.  You would be well advised in helping me to stop
the thing."

"It is easier to float a scandal than to stop one," she returned
impassively.

She glanced up at him as they strolled along over the coarse grass, and
smiled strangely.

"If you are acting for Mrs Arnott," she said, "you will have quite
enough to do in covering the traces of an older scandal."

He looked down at her quickly, and their eyes met in a long gaze of
challenge and inquiry.  There was so much of significance in the girl's
tones, in her eyes, and in her peculiarly malicious smile, that Dare had
an uncomfortable conviction that she knew more of the Arnotts' affairs
than he had supposed.  He began to think that she was not as guileless
as he had believed.

"To what do you refer?" he asked.

She stopped abruptly and confronted him with an air of sullen defiance,
an increase of angry colour in her cheeks.  Dare, perforce, halted also,
and faced her, perplexed beyond measure and distinctly annoyed.  This
sudden change of mood, with its suggestion of open antagonism, took him
aback.  He was conscious of a revulsion of feeling which amounted almost
to disgust.  He regretted that he had wasted his time in seeking her.

"I don't know by what right you question me," she said.  "If you want me
to tell you certain things, you must explain your reasons.  Confidence
for confidence, Mr Dare."

"Very good," he answered coolly.  "I want you to furnish me with Mr
Arnott's present address, to save me trouble in discovering it for
myself."

"Why do you want his address?" she inquired.

"I thought we had gone into that already," he replied.  "I wish to
persuade him to return to his home as the best and quickest means of
ending this scandal."

She shook her head.

"He won't," she answered positively.  "He can't...  He's ill."

This information moved Dare to a show of surprise.  For a moment he was
inclined to discredit the announcement; but the girl's manner gave no
indication that she was attempting to impose on him, and he accepted the
statement as true.  It was just possible that his illness accounted for
Arnott's silence.

"I left him at Pretoria," she said, starting to walk again.  "He is in a
nursing home."  She furnished the address.  "They won't let you see him,
if you go there," she added abruptly.

He made a note of the address on the back of an envelope, and
scrutinised her with puzzled uncertainty as he returned the envelope to
his pocket.

"What's the matter with him?" he asked.

"Paralysis."  She spoke curtly, with a kind of hard anger in her voice.
"He will get better, but he will never be quite well.  It will be a case
for nursing--always."

He observed a rush of tears to her eyes, but there was no softening in
her manner as she went on in dull, resentful tones:

"Everything that happens to me ends like that.  If it hadn't been for
this we were to have been married."

"Married!" he repeated, amazed.  "You! ...  But--"

"Oh! don't pretend," she interrupted impatiently, "that you don't know
they aren't properly married...  His wife is dead.  I made him show me
proofs of that when he asked me to marry him...  He thinks I am going to
marry him still."

"And are you?" he asked.

"I don't know...  I hate sickness.  But--he's rich.  Money makes things
so much easier."

He made a gesture of repulsion.

"You couldn't do a thing so vile as that, surely?" he said.

The horror and disgust he experienced at her callous reasoning revealed
itself in his voice, in his eyes as he stared down at her, scarce able
to credit what he heard.  She looked back at him fiercely.

"How dare you talk to me like that? ...  Can't you see all that such a
marriage means to a girl like me?  Why shouldn't I consider myself?"

"I was thinking of the woman who for years believed herself to be his
wife," he replied coldly.  "Now that he is free to marry her she has a
right to demand that he should fulfil his obligation."

"He won't," she declared.

"I think he will," he answered confidently.

"You mean--" she began, and stopped, eyeing him with quick suspicion.
"I wish I hadn't told you where he is," she cried passionately.  "But
they won't let you see him.  He's not in a condition to be worried.  You
can't bully a man in his condition."

"I have no intention of bullying him," he answered, placing considerable
restraint upon himself.  "I am going to offer him the choice between two
alternatives.  If he is wise he will accept the only decent course open
to him.  The consequences of refusal will be awkward for him."

"You don't take into consideration," she said, with bitter anger in her
voice, "that the threat with which you would intimidate him for your
purpose is one which I also can use to oblige him to oppose you, if I
wish.  You are overlooking me."

"I simply never dreamed of insulting you by harbouring such a thought,"
he returned.  "Even though you have flung the challenge, I couldn't
believe you capable of that."

"You will need to reconstruct your theories on human nature," she said
cynically.

"Oh! no.  One instance of failure doesn't damn the race.  I am not going
to take up your challenge.  I am going to regard it as a thing uttered
with ill-considered haste.  How you came by your knowledge puzzles me;
but one point I feel fairly confident on is that you won't use it.
Women don't do these things, Miss Maitland, whatever they may say in
moments of anger."

"Oh!  Women!" she exclaimed contemptuously.  "You are fond of
generalising.  But in this case, it isn't women; it's just myself.  I
have got the chance I have always longed for.  Do you think I am likely
to let it slip? ...  When he was taken ill so suddenly, and I feared he
was going to die, I was nearly mad with anxiety.  Then they told me he
wouldn't die, that he would probably live for many years--with care...
It was almost as great a shock to know that he was going to live and
be--like that always.  Do you think that woman, who calls herself his
wife, will want him like that? ...  Will be ready to devote her life to
nursing him?  I don't...  Not when she learns the whole story."

"We will leave it to her to decide," he answered quietly.

The picture she drew of Arnott as a helpless invalid was not pleasant to
dwell upon.  It appealed to Dare in the light of a horrible injustice
that Pamela should sacrifice herself to the care of an invalid husband,
a man who had deceived and deserted her, who needed to be urged even
then to return to her,--might possibly refuse to return.  She would be
wiser to yield to his entreaties and become his wife.  He was not quite
clear what legal relationship existed between Pamela and the man who had
married her bigamously; but he had an idea that before she could be free
of him it would be necessary for her to instigate divorce proceedings.
He was not at all sure she would do that, even if Arnott refused to
return to her.  The whole affair was horribly complicated.

"The decision won't rest with her, nor with you," Blanche observed after
a brief pause.  "You can't coerce a man like Mr Arnott.  He won't allow
you to arrange his life."

She spoke with a sort of furtive admiration of the man whose dominating
qualities and virile personality had first attracted her to him, and
ultimately conquered her reluctance to the extent of gaining her consent
to his proposal of marriage.  She had left his home to protect herself
from his less honourable intentions, had fled because she was afraid of
him and uncertain of herself; and he had followed, determined to possess
her at all costs.  Finding her still obdurate, and less accessible than
when she had lived beneath his roof, he had suggested marriage.  His
passion for her had become so imperative that it would brook no denial.
No argument which prudence suggested could deter him from carrying out
his purpose.  He flung every consideration aside, as he had done once
before when inflamed with his desire for Pamela; and Blanche, tempted by
all that he could give her, as much as by the reciprocal passion he
inspired, consented readily to his proposal.  His sudden illness had
interfered with the plan, had made it for the time being impracticable;
but though she hesitated, appalled at the thought of a querulous
invalid, husband in place of the vigorous man whose imperious strength
had formed a large part of his attractiveness, Blanche had by no means
abandoned the intention of marrying him.  The worldly considerations
which had influenced her in the past proved a strong inducement still.

With a sudden desire to end the talk, she increased the pace at which
they were proceeding.  Dare, as he kept step with her, maintained a
constrained silence.  He felt inadequate to cope with the ugly, sinister
turn this affair had taken.  He did not know what to say to the girl.
There was nothing he could say that might not give fresh offence.  She
glanced up at him frowningly, incensed at this show of mute disapproval,
and remarked:

"I've told you things it would have been wiser to have kept to myself.
I don't know why I told you.  You must treat what I have said as
confidential, please."

"I can't promise that," he answered.  "But I will keep your name out of
this business as far as it is possible to do so.  After all, there is
nothing that you have told me that was not bound to come out.  You
couldn't marry a man who is known to have a wife and family, without the
whole story coming to light.  As soon as the facts are known Arnott will
have to take his trial on a charge of bigamy."

She turned pale as she listened to him.  It was borne in upon her that
this man was going to prove a determined and implacable enemy.  She felt
instinctively that he meant to oppose her with all his strength.

"She will never prosecute him," she said, sullenly defiant.

"She won't need to," he answered convincingly.  "The Crown will do
that."

"You are trying to intimidate me," she exclaimed with sudden passion.
"You have no right to threaten me."

He looked at her deliberately with a faint uplift of his brows.

"I am doing nothing of the sort," he answered.  "I am merely making a
plain statement of facts in order to show you what you will bring on the
man you talk of marrying if you carry out your determination to
encourage him in his cruel desertion of the woman he married.  Only
through you will the story of his crime ever come to be known."

She walked on with lowered gaze, making no reply.

CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

Dare paced the little balcony outside his room that night for many
hours, plunged in a gloomy reverie so made up of confused conjecture, of
scraps of that afternoon's talk, of memories of other talks he had had
with Pamela, and of doubts of Arnott, whose poor remnant of life she
might still insist on linking with her own, that connected thought
became impossible.  His mind was a confusion of conflicting ideas that
vied and strove with one another, and offered no solution of the
complicated muddle of the human tragedy in which he was so inextricably
involved.

On one point alone he was very clear: he did not wish Pamela to
consolidate her marriage with Arnott.  His love for her assumed
proportions of vast magnitude, so that he lost sight of every other
consideration save his own longing for her, and his repugnance for the
idea of her bright life being passed at the side of the moral and
physical wreck who did not want her, who would in all probability make
her life with him a perfect hell.

Dare chafed at the picture his imagination conjured up, the picture
which Blanche's words had brought vividly before him, of Arnott
paralysed, helpless, dependent as a child upon the care of the woman he
had treated so abominably, with nothing of love between them to help in
lightening the strain.  The idea was intolerable.  He brushed it aside
with a sense of intense disgust.  He felt that something must be done to
prevent the horrible injustice of this useless sacrifice on her part.
He must bring reason to bear with her, must use every argument to induce
her to relinquish this vain belief in a personal sacrifice as the only
means of retrieving her former mistake.  The thing was monstrous,
unthinkable; it must not be.

He went inside, switched on the light, and sat down to write to her.

"My dear," he began, and found it impossible to address her by name, so
let it stand at that.  "I hardly know what to say to you,--how to tell
you what I have learnt since my arrival here.  Things are pretty much as
you suspected--worse, indeed.  It may be a shock to you, but I don't
feel that it can greatly distress you to hear that your husband is ill.
He is never likely to be quite well again, if my information is correct
I have yet to verify this account, though I have no reason for doubting
its accuracy.  I am going on to Pretoria, where he is, to find out what
I can.  I will write to you again when I am more fully informed."

He paused, and read the letter through with some dissatisfaction.  Then
he bent over the paper again, and wrote quickly, with a certain
eagerness, as though the impulse which dictated what he wrote were
irresistible in the flood of emotions that inspired it.

"It is not a bit of use your thinking of going on with this.  The thing
is impossible.  My dear, it is not just for my own sake I urge you to
reconsider your purpose.  You can't do it.  I can't bear the thought of
your throwing away all chance of happiness for a man who has left you
finally, and is now paralysed and practically helpless.  It is
self-murder.  I won't permit it.  I love you, and I want you badly..."

Suddenly Dare flung down the pen, and tore the letter into fragments,
and burnt them with the aid of matches in the fireless grate.

"I can't write to her," he muttered.  "It reads all wrong somehow.  I
must go to her.  Things don't sound the same on paper.  I've got to see
her and speak to her.  I must see her."

He went out on the balcony again, and resumed his walk and his troubled
reflections, which helped not a whit in the solving of the muddle, but
only aggravated his sense of the absurd futility of the sacrifice Pamela
contemplated.  Her resolve was the outcome, he was convinced, of purely
intellectual reasoning.  If she would only admit the factor of passion,
the cold wisdom of her logic would go down before it, as the hardest of
glaciers will dissolve adrift in tropic seas.  It remained for him to go
to her, and make her feel the powerful influence of human love,--force
her to realise that, however much other considerations weighed in the
great social scheme, love counted above everything, mattered more than
anything else,--was the only thing really which did matter.  It was the
great fundamental principle of the entire universe.  He never doubted
that he could persuade her into seeing this thing as he saw it.  The
circumstances he felt justified him in the attempt.

The following day he took train for Pretoria.  Before seeing Pamela it
was necessary to investigate the truth of Blanche Maitland's story.
Unless he faced her with facts he could not hope to prevail with her,
and his facts must be acquired at first hand.

Dare was essentially a man of action.  To decide on a certain course
with him was to pursue it without delay to the finish.  He meant, if
possible, to see Arnott himself.  But when he arrived at Pretoria, and
applied at the address which Blanche had given, he was confronted with
the first difficulty; without the doctor's sanction he could not be
admitted to the invalid's presence.  Arnott's condition was sufficiently
grave to make the most stringent rules with regard to the sick-room
absolutely imperative.

It being near the time for the doctor's visit, he decided to wait in
order to see him.  He had given up the hope of an interview with Arnott.
Clearly the man was not in a condition to discuss the painful subject
of his domestic complications.  That matter would have to be left in
abeyance until he was well enough to cope with such things.  The delay
irked Dare, but it was unavoidable.  He sat in the little waiting-room
at the open window, and read a book of epitaphs, intended to be
humorous, but which struck him as dreary reading, and an odd selection
for the waiting-room of a nursing home.  He was relieved when the doctor
came in,--a young man with an energetic manner, and a display of haste.
His greeting of Dare was somewhat curt: the interviewing of his
patients' friends was not in his opinion part of his day's work; and he
was obviously anxious not to be delayed.  He did not sit down.  Dare,
who had risen, remained standing also.

"I understand," the doctor said, "that you are a friend of Mr Arnott,--
that you wish to see him?"

"I called with the purpose of seeing him," Dare answered, carefully
ignoring the first part of the speech.  "His people are anxious for news
of him."

The doctor looked doubtfully at the speaker.  He had wondered why, save
for the young woman who had called repeatedly during the first days
after the patient's admission to the home, and had manifested great
distress at his condition, no one belonging to him had troubled even to
make inquiries as to his progress.  He had concluded that there was no
one sufficiently interested in him to feel concern on his account.

"I am reluctant to allow any one to see him for the present," he said.
"He is getting on; but we have to avoid anything that might be likely to
excite him.  There is trouble with the brain unfortunately."

"That is worse than I had anticipated," Dare said, shocked and
disconcerted by this intelligence.  "Will you please tell me, so far as
it is possible to judge at this stage, what the result of this illness
is likely to be?  Is he to be an invalid for life?"

"Well, it is paralysis, you know," the doctor answered, "and a bad case.
Chronic alcoholism is mainly responsible.  He will be able to walk, we
hope--with the aid of sticks, of course.  But his brain will never be
quite clear.  He may, however, live a long while."

"That is to be regretted in the circumstances," Dare observed drily.

The doctor agreed with him, but he did not say so.  His business was to
patch the man up, and he was doing his best to attend to it.  He
furnished a few more details, and held out vague hopes of an improvement
in the mental condition.  The patient had a good constitution, though he
had done his utmost to ruin it; and if not crossed or excited, or
worried with business matters, the brain would become stronger, though
it would never be normally active again.

Dare gathered from the fragmentary talk that Arnott was to be a
semi-imbecile, just able to crawl about,--a reversion, in short, to
childhood with the hideous defects of decrepit age to make the reversion
more horrible.  The information turned him sick.  He was thankful to
leave the place and get out again into the sunshine.  He no longer
desired to see Arnott.  To reason with a man in that condition was
impossible.  Arnott had become a mere cipher in the drama, the finishing
act of which had to be decided between Pamela and himself.  It was
unthinkable that she should persist in devoting the future to his wreck
of humanity, to whom she owed no debt of duty, who had merely used her
for his pleasure, and discarded her when he tired through his
infatuation for a younger woman, which obsession possibly his failing
mental faculties were responsible for.

Dare left Pretoria the same day, and started on the long return journey
to the coast.  He was impatient to see Pamela, and at the same time
extremely nervous at the prospect of his interview with her.  He did not
know what to say to her, how to break to her the brutal fact of Arnott's
contemplated marriage, his determined and ruthless desertion of herself.
The man's actions, before his illness prevented the carrying out of his
designs, pointed conclusively to a deranged intellect.  With the cunning
of latent insanity he had arranged his plans, counting on Pamela's
silence in respect to his bigamous marriage with her, utterly regardless
of the stir which the scandal of his marriage with Blanche must create
in circles where he was known to have a wife and children already.  To a
man in full possession of his faculties the impossibility of concealing
the crime of bigamy would have been apparent, unless he fled the country
and married under an assumed name.

What, he wondered, would Pamela decide upon doing when she learnt the
entire truth?  He could not tell.  The uncertainty was nerve-racking.
He fretted and worried himself with conjectures all through that
tedious, seemingly unending journey,--during the hot dusty days as the
train rushed through the Karroo, and throughout the long sleepless
nights when, kept awake by his thoughts, he turned in weary discomfort
in his narrow berth in the darkened compartment, and longed for the
coming of day.

When he reached the terminus he despatched a telegram to Pamela to
inform her of his arrival, and his intention of calling upon her the
following morning.  Then he took a taxi and drove to the Mount Nelson.
He dined and went to bed, and slept soundly for the first time since
leaving Pretoria.

Pamela did not sleep at all.  The unexpected receipt of Dare's telegram
excited her, and kept her on the rack of expectation.  She had not
looked for him to return.  The telegram was the only communication she
had received from him, and it told her nothing, save that he was back
and wished to see her.  She knew that he must have something of
importance to tell her or he would not have turned back so soon.

The thought of the coming interview was vaguely disquieting.  So much
had passed between her and this man of a painful and intimate nature
that all the barriers of conventional friendship were down, and left her
exposed, as he was, to the onslaught of each new emotion inspired by
their mutual feeling.  She had thought of him so much since he had
pleaded his cause with her, and she had admitted her own love for him,--
had reviewed all their pleasant intercourse of the past, his kind,
patient, and unselfish devotion which later, in accepting her decision,
had yet lent itself to aid her in her unprotected and difficult
position, that the love which she had confessed to bearing for him had
strengthened considerably.  She looked up to him as to some one strong
and fine and worthy of a woman's entire trust.  Never for the man she
had believed to be her husband had she felt this reverence of love.  She
had admired him, had felt grateful to him for his passionate ardour for
herself.  Their marriage had proved a delirious period of excitement and
delight, until his passion cooled; but it had never roused in her a
lofty conception of love, or helped her to realise the seriousness of
life's responsibilities.  Her life as Arnott's wife had tended rather to
lower the standard of fine thinking, and reduce the principles of living
to the sensuous indolence of self-gratification, and an immense
concentration upon the importance of purely personal things.  She had
lived for herself, detached in sympathy from the wider world about her,
careless of the joys and sorrows of others as something altogether
outside her life.  And now sorrow had brought her into touch with the
world, had broadened her sympathies and her understanding, and decreased
proportionately the sense of her personal significance.

What is any life, however important to itself, however aggrandised by
the world's recognition, however necessary it may appear to others--to
one other even, but a breath which expands the lungs of the universe and
leaves them temporarily deflated as it passes on into the beyond?

CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

Pamela was alone and waiting for Dare when he presented himself at the
house on the following morning.  She turned slowly when the door of the
room opened, and advanced to meet him with a look of inquiry and of
welcome in her eyes.

She looked better, he observed, than when he had last seen her; the
anxiety that had sharpened her features and shadowed her face with an
expression of dread had yielded to a new calm, which suggested a mind
braced and prepared to meet and accept whatever offered.  Her composure
helped him enormously in quieting his nervousness, which before, and at
the moment of, his entry had been excessive.  He took her extended hand
and held it.

"You bring me bad news?" she said, observing his grave face with a
watchful scrutiny, and speaking in that quiet, level voice that one uses
sometimes in discussing things too serious and strange for ordinary
emotion.  "I felt it must be bad news when your telegram arrived...
You've seen him?"

"No," he answered.

He led her to the sofa near the French window on which he had sat with
her before when they had had their last interview.  The memory of that
former occasion was present in his mind.  It was possibly present in
Pamela's mind also; but the recollection caused no sense of
embarrassment.  Her love for, and confidence in, him had swept all
feeling of constraint away.  He seated himself beside her.

"I wrote to you," he said; "but I decided not to send the letter.  I
felt it was best to come down and explain.  Mr Arnott is in Pretoria.
I went there for the purpose of seeing him; but he is ill, and unable to
see any one.  I had an interview with the doctor who is attending his
case.  I thought you would wish to know exactly how matters are with
him."

He paused.  Pamela was gazing at him with wide serious eyes.  She showed
less surprise than he had expected.  She appeared somehow prepared, and
extraordinarily calm.  It made the telling easier.  It was as though she
had passed the final stage of emotionalism, had come through all the
stresses of anguished uncertainty, of distressed and tormented doubt and
wounded love, and emerged calm-eyed and efficient, amazingly controlled,
and clear as to her judgment.  She listened attentively without
interrupting him.  When he paused, she said:

"You are not preparing me to hear that he is dead?"

"No," he answered.  His feelings got the better of him, and he added
bluntly,--"I would to God I were!  Life--all that is left of it for
him--isn't worth the having.  And anyway, living or dead, he isn't
worthy of one thought of your compassion."

"Then he did go away with Blanche?" she said quietly.

"He followed her.  He meant to marry her--means to marry her still, if
her statement is to be believed.  I saw her in Bloemfontein.  It was she
who told me of his illness."

"What is the matter with him?" she asked, her earnest eyes holding his,
questioning his, refusing, it occurred to him, to allow what he was
telling her to bias her ultimate judgment.  She had accustomed herself
to ugly truths; she was not shocked or dismayed any longer, only anxious
to have her worst fears confirmed or disproved.  She desired to hear the
whole truth, whatever it held of pain or humiliation.  At least it could
hold no disillusion for her.

"He has had a stroke of paralysis, they tell me," Dare answered,
avoiding her eyes.

He was conscious of a sudden movement on her part, of a quick, inaudible
exclamation which was followed by a sharp indrawing of her breath.  He
did not look at her; he felt, without seeing them, that there were tears
of pity and of horror shining in her eyes.  He counted for something to
her still.  She was sorry for the man.  Dare felt unreasonably incensed.

"There is hope of a partial recovery," he continued dully, trying to
keep under the sudden sharp jealousy that gripped him as nothing he had
experienced in all their former talks had gripped and hurt.  "He'll get
about again, they think... walk a little.  His brain is affected--
slightly.  That will never be quite clear again..."

He broke off abruptly, and turned to her in protesting surprise.  She
was weeping.  The tears were welling in her eyes and coursing down her
cheeks.  Arnott ill--broken--touched the deepest springs of her
compassion.  All the bitterness in her heart against the man who had so
cruelly wronged her melted into sorrow for him in his terrible
affliction.  She no longer experienced any anger against him, only a
great pity,--pity for the miserable wreckage of his health, which stood,
it seemed to her, as a symbol of the wreckage of their love,--all the
promise and the strength and the beauty gone for evermore,--only the
dead ashes remaining in the furnace of life.

"Your tears are a big return for his cruelty to you," he said, trying
with ill success to hide the twinge of jealousy which caused him to
wince at sight of her grief.  "Some people might consider his condition
a perfectly just retribution.  You owe him nothing--not even pity."

"One doesn't only render what is due," she said, wiping her eyes slowly.
"That would make life too hard.  Could you expect me to hear unmoved
what you have just told me?  I thought I had schooled myself to bear
anything; but this is too awful.  I would rather have heard that he was
well and happy--with her."

"She is going to him," he said, bluntly.

"Going to him? ...  Now?"  Pamela's tone expressed wonder.  "You mean,
she loves him sufficiently to marry him--ill--like that?"

"I mean," he returned, watching her narrowly, "that she loves herself
sufficiently to put up with his condition on account of his wealth.  She
admitted that almost in as many words.  It's as much as he has any right
to expect."

"Oh! no," she said quickly.  "He is giving her more than that."

She was silent for a moment, looking thoughtfully beyond him towards the
garden which showed through the aperture of the long window, a fair and
peaceful background, in striking contrast to the tension within the room
and the unquiet of her mind.  Dare's gaze never left her face.  He was
watching her continually, trying to gauge her intention from his study
of her expression.  The slow tears still fell at intervals; but they
became fewer, and she wiped them mechanically with a small drenched
handkerchief, making no effort at concealment from him.  It seemed as if
in her preoccupation she was scarcely conscious of his presence.

"It's a sordid story," he said.  "I am sorry to have to distress you
with it; but you had to know...  It closes everything, you see,--puts a
finish to your part in his life.  He has flung aside his
responsibilities deliberately.  A man like that, devoid of all moral
sense, cannot be influenced.  I doubt you would accomplish anything, if
you went to him."

"At least, I must make the effort," she said slowly.  She turned to him,
a look of sad entreaty in her eyes, as though she would appeal to him to
help, instead of making things more difficult for her.  "Don't try to
dissuade me," she pleaded earnestly.  "Don't fail me.  I am relying so
much on your help."

"But," he urged gently, "don't you realise how impossible this thing has
become?  Think, even if you succeeded in persuading him to return--which
I doubt strongly you could succeed in doing--what would your life be
like with him,--half-imbecile, helpless, an invalid always? ...  It's
too horrible to contemplate."

She shuddered at the picture of Arnott which he drew, and hid her white
face in her hands and said nothing.

"It's not as though you owe him anything," he insisted.  "It's not as
though you love him any longer, or can even give him what he wants--that
girl, however little she brings him, can give him more than you.  You
are for defeating happiness all round, you see.  It's not worth it.  I
understand your reason for wishing to do this, but I can't feel it
justifies it in any sense."

He put an arm about her and drew her to him and held her close.

"Cut it, Pamela," he said.  "I'll take you home to England.  We'll be
married quietly over there--or in Europe somewhere.  It will be better
for the children in the long run, dear, believe me.  I can't get
reconciled anyhow to the idea of giving you up.  You belong to me.  I've
a right to you.  I have loved you always, from the day I saw you first
at that tournament so many years ago.  Arnott robbed me of you then.  I
can't let him step in a second time and take you from me...  Believe me,
Pamela, I wouldn't try to stand between you and what you consider to be
a duty if I saw any possible chance of happiness in it for you at all,--
if even I could feel that the result might justify the sacrifice.  It
won't.  It will be just death in life for you both.  And it's going to
be pretty hard on me too.  I could put up with that, if it spelt
happiness for you; but it doesn't.  Pamela, is it worth it? cheating
ourselves for a principle that isn't going to work any solid good for
any one?"

He drew her head to his shoulder, and gathered her closer in his arms
and kissed her, keeping his face pressed to the tear-wet cheek, feeling
the trembling of her body lying passive in his arms, and the little
choking sobs which escaped her as she wept in his embrace.  Would she
yield, he wondered?  Had she not in surrendering to his caresses partly
yielded already?

"It is asking too much of human nature to expect us to give up
everything," he said.  "I want you.  I am lonely without you.  It isn't
a case of making love,--a phase of feverish emotions.  I love you
honestly, earnestly.  I want you day after day.  I want your
companionship.  I want you to fill my life, as I shall hope to fill
yours.  I want you at my side--always.  Pamela, my dearest, you are not
going to snatch my hope away from me for no more solid reason than the
fulfilment of an imaginary duty which is going to benefit no one?
Life--without you--is empty for me."

"Oh! my dear!" she sobbed.  She lifted her face to his and kissed his
lips.  "I want to do as you wish.  I want to take the easy course; but
the other is the right course.  It isn't just happiness that is at
stake.  It is neither love for him, nor any sense of obligation to him,
that makes me desire to marry the father of my children...  It's just
the knowledge of what is due to them.  They count first.  They have to
be considered.  Do you think I don't realise," she added passionately,
withdrawing herself from his arms, "that I shall hate my life with
him,--that--God forgive me I--I shall possibly hate him? ... hate him
more every year, until even pity for him dies beneath the strain of
constant weariness, daily resentment.  What you offer tempts me sorely.
It's just dragging me to pieces to refuse you.  Life with you would be a
good and happy thing.  I want it, and I can't have it.  But it is
denying you which hurts more than denying myself.  My dear!--my dear!  I
wish you didn't care so much.  What can I do? ...  What can I say?"

"You can do," he answered, looking at her steadily, "what I ask you to
do, and leave the future of the children more safely in my hands than in
their father's.  His example can be no possible guide for them.  His
influence in the home will tend neither towards their happiness nor
their good.  At most, you can give them his name--they have a right to
that, as it is.  Think, Pamela...  Isn't your idea of what is right for
them merely a morbid fancy?  Let the man go.  You've lost your hold on
him.  Leave him to finish the muddle he has made of his life in his own
way.  He has proved himself incapable of faithfulness.  It isn't decent
that you should continue to live with him.  I show you a way out,--take
it.  Put yourself unreservedly in my hands."

"That's shirking," she said.  "I've always shirked."

"What else is there for you to do?" he asked.  "You can't straighten a
muddle which is none of your making.  There's a duty you owe to
yourself,--you're overlooking that Shake yourself free of this life
which is hurtful to you in every sense, and give me the right to protect
you, to act and think for you.  I can't countenance what you think of
doing.  I'm going to use my utmost effort to dissuade you.  See here,"
he said.  He took a note-book from his pocket, and wrote the address of
the Pretoria Home upon a page which he tore out and handed to her.
"Write to the doctor there, and ask him to give you all particulars of
Arnott's case.  He will possibly tell you more than he told me."

"His condition makes no difference," she answered, reading the address
he handed to her before putting the paper away.  "Ill or well, it
doesn't affect the main point."

"I know," he said.  "But you ought to ascertain what you can before
taking any decisive step.  Then, if you wish to see him, I will take you
there."

At this suggestion, which she had not before considered, she glanced at
him in quick dismay.

"I don't think--I could go to him," she said, hesitating nervously.
"I...  He must come home."

"That, of course," Dare answered, infinitely relieved, "is as you wish."

The possibility of Arnott consenting to return occurred to him as very
unlikely.

"You've got to face the chance of his refusal," he added abruptly.  He
leaned towards her.  "If he refuses, Pamela?--He may, you know."

She turned to him and laid a hand impulsively upon his arm.

"Don't tempt me to hope he will do that," she said.  "Be strong for both
of us...  I want you to be strong."

He took her face in his hands and held it for a moment looking deeply
into her eyes.

"Aren't you demanding rather much of me," he asked, "to insist that I
should aid you in my own defeat?  I'm only human, Pamela."

She answered nothing, but placing her hands on his wrists, she pulled
his hands from her face and carried them to her lips.  At this
unexpected act on her part Dare coloured awkwardly.  The next moment he
had seized her in his arms and covered her face with kisses.  As
abruptly as he had seized her, he released her and stood up.  He pulled
himself together with an effort, and walked as far as the window, where
he paused for a second or so, and then turned and came slowly bade, and
stood above her, looking down into the sweet, upturned face.

"When I came to you this morning," he said, "I had only one purpose,--to
win you,--to make you see that the only thing that really matters is our
love for one another.  I feel that still.  It's the only thing that
counts with me.  But I'm not going to worry you any more.  You've got to
follow your conscience in this.  I think you're wrong... time may prove
you wrong.  If it does, or if you fail in this, I count on you to let me
know.  I shall always be at hand--waiting.  You'll summon me, Pamela,
when the time comes?"

"Yes," she whispered.

She gazed into the strong face above her, sad now, and rather stern; and
the thought of all that she was losing in sending him out of her life
gripped her heart like icy fingers closing about the happiness of life.
And while she sat there, and he stood over her, gravely silent, the gay
sound of childish laughter broke upon the stillness, followed by the
quick patter of little feet along the stoep.  Dare looked round.

"Well, at any rate," he said, "you've got them."

The bitterness in his voice did not escape her.  She understood what he
was feeling, and, rising, she went to him and placed a hand gently on
his arm.

"The best thing that life has given me is your love," she said.  "There
is no sting of bitterness in that at all."

CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

Dare remained in Cape Town for a while.  Pamela had written to the
doctor at Pretoria; and he waited to learn the result of his report, and
hear what she decided upon doing.  If she changed her mind about going
up he meant to make the journey with her.

The report when it came differed very slightly from what he had told
her.  Arnott was making steady progress: it would be possible to move
him shortly if Mrs Arnott wished.  The doctor intimated that if she
desired to see her husband there was no reason against it.

Pamela showed the letter to Dare, and discussed with him the question of
whether she ought to go, whether in the circumstances it might not do
more harm than good.  She was obviously reluctant to follow the doctor's
suggestion, and at the same time convinced that it was little less than
a duty.  Dare felt himself inadequate to advise her.

"In any case," he said, "you will need to explain to the doctor that
your presence might be likely to excite the patient.  You can't keep him
in the dark."

Pamela considered this.

"I think," she said presently, looking at him a little uncertainly, "it
would be easier to explain things personally,--easier than writing.  I
think perhaps it would be best to go.  You think that, don't you?"

"Yes," he answered.  "If you are going through with the thing, it's no
good jibbing at obstacles.  When you have made up your mind I'll see
about tickets, and make all arrangements for the journey."

"You are going with me?" she asked.

"Of course," he answered.  "You don't suppose I would allow you to go
alone?  I'm seeing you through to the finish."

She looked at him with grateful eyes.

"I am so dreading this," she said.  "I don't know how I should manage
alone.  I'm growing altogether to depend on you.  It isn't fair to you."

But Dare would not allow this.

"It's the one return you can make me," he insisted,--"if there is any
return called for.  I am glad to be of any little service to you."

To be of service to her was the only thing left him.  This journey which
he proposed making with her was the last opportunity, he supposed, that
he would have of enjoying her society; the end of the journey meant the
parting of the ways for them.  He had no idea how the prospect of the
future appealed to her, but for him it held little in the way of hope or
interest.  He would go on with his work, and get what satisfaction he
could out of that,--it offered scope, and interest of one sort.  Had she
consented to marry him he would have retired and gone home; there was no
necessity for him to follow his profession; but without her, work became
a necessity of itself.  Too much leisure would only conduce to thought.

He supposed that in time he would become reconciled to his
disappointment; but for the present he could only realise the bitterness
of the loss of a happiness which fate had seemed to place within his
grasp, and had then wrested from him again with wanton caprice.  He
still held to it that Pamela was wrong in her decision; but while he
could not persuade her into recognising her mistake, he was obliged to
acquiesce in it.  In his brain there lingered a faint hope that the
journey to Pretoria would accomplish what he had failed to do,--that the
meeting with Arnott would convince her of the impossibility of reuniting
their severed lives.  Since it was a matter of principle only with her,
against which her nature revolted, he did not feel that there was any
disloyalty in desiring her defeat.  It would be best for her in the long
run, and her good mattered to him equally with his own.

If occasionally a doubt crept into Pamela's mind as to the ultimate
result of her journey, she did not encourage it.  There were certainly
moments when she shrank from her self-imposed task, moments when she
longed to give in, to take the happiness Dare offered and let the rest
go.  But reflection invariably induced a calmer mood, in which the
impossibility of surrendering to love, with the past like a black shadow
of disgrace between her and the happiness this man could give her, was
painfully manifest.  She had married Arnott, had clung to him when she
knew she was not legally his wife; to refuse her obligation now were to
degrade herself to the level of the women who subordinate honour to
pleasure, who have neither a sense of responsibility nor any sort of
pride.  She had trailed her flag in the mud once; it was given to her
now to raise it and cleanse it from the mire.  She trusted that she
would have the strength to go through with her undertaking to the
finish.

The question that presented the greatest difficulty in leaving home was
how to arrange about the children.  To leave them to the sole care of
coloured servants was impossible.  Mrs Carruthers solved this
difficulty as soon as she heard of Pamela's intended journey.  She
carried them off to her own home, rather pleased to be enabled by some
practical form of usefulness to salve a conscience which reproached her
for her hasty and, as she believed, unjust suspicions of Arnott, whose
illness, explaining the mystery of his silence, had closed the scandal
attending on his disappearance.

Dare, in supplying her with details of the illness, had carefully
omitted all mention of Blanche, and her part in Arnott's life.  It would
come with all the shock of a fresh scandal if by their subsequent acts
they revived the talk which had coupled their names already, and still
reflected discreditably on the girl.  He felt that the girl had yet to
be reckoned with.  She might prove a more formidable obstacle in
Pamela's path than the miserable wreck who had deserted her.  Since her
sole purpose was gain it would perhaps be possible to buy her off.  But
that eventuality would be a last consideration; purchased silence is
expensive, and often dangerous.  Dare had no intention of exposing
Pamela to blackmail.  Any money transaction that passed must be made
through himself, and kept from the Arnotts' knowledge.  In the matter of
Blanche Maitland he meant to exercise his own discretion.  He desired if
possible to keep her and Pamela from meeting.  It formed one of his
reasons for accompanying Pamela on her journey.

Mrs Carruthers, when she heard of this purpose of Dare's, pronounced it
the maddest of the many mad acts he had committed in connection with
this affair.  He was acting, in her opinion, with amazing indiscretion.

"Does it never occur to you that you are likely to get Pamela talked
about?" she asked him.

"What is there to cause talk?" he inquired, feeling oddly irritated at
her persistent opposition.

"Well, your devotion isn't exactly normal."

"Normal?" he said.

"Usual, if you prefer it," she conceded.  "It's practically the same
thing.  Disinterested service is a virtue ordinary human intelligence
cannot grasp."

"That is, perhaps, less the fault of human intelligence," he returned,
"than the misuse of service."

"No doubt," she allowed.  "Nevertheless, we suffer vicariously through
that same misuse.  But it's no good talking.  You have made up your
mind.  If it wasn't for how you feel about her the thing wouldn't be so
outrageous; but under the circumstances..."

She broke off and looked at him with perplexed, baffled eyes.  Dare
realised dimly what a puzzle and a disappointment he had become to her.
She had at one time, he was aware, regarded herself as an influence in
his life.  He almost smiled at the thought Influences are only powerful
so long as one is satisfied to submit to them; with the first sign of
breaking away, control ends.

"I'll bring her to the station and see you off, anyway," she finished.

"That will," he assured her, smiling openly now, "add an air of immense
respectability to the adventure."

The arrival of the little Arnotts, with their nurse, a considerable
amount of luggage, and numerous toys, gave Mrs Carruthers something
else to think of, and detached her mind successfully from Dare and his
misplaced affections.  She had suggested that the children should come
to her the day before Pamela left in order to see how the plan worked,
and also with the object of allowing their mother leisure in which to
make her own hurried preparations for the journey.  When Carruthers got
back that evening he found them already installed in his home; and his
wife, who, in making her arrangements, had not consulted him, was
reminded at sight of his amazed face that what she regarded in the light
of an agreeable duty he might view altogether differently.

"I believe I actually forgot that I possessed a husband," she said.

She regarded him for a second with bright, amused eyes.

"They've come to stay," she announced.  "I've adopted them--
indefinitely."

Carruthers demanded an explanation, and emitted a low dismayed whistle
when he learnt that their mother was going to Pretoria and might be away
some weeks.

"But she hasn't gone already?" he said, collapsing into a chair on the
stoep, and reluctantly submitting to having his foot used for the
unnatural purpose of equestrian exercise by Pamela's small son, who with
his sister was enjoying amazingly this unexpected change of residence.

"No.  But I thought it advisable to have them on trial before she left.
They go to-morrow."

"They!"  Carruthers ejaculated.

"George is going with her," she explained, with a smiling shrug of her
shoulders.

She watched the children, who were sprawling all over her husband to his
manifest discomfort, and, surveying the grouping, laughed.

"You look quite nice as the father of a family," she observed.  "I wish
they belonged here by right."

"I don't," he answered fervently.

"I kept them up for a romp with you before they go to bed; but I am
going to bundle them off now," she said.  "If you make a practice of
coming home a little earlier you will have a longer time with them."

"I shall make a practice of getting back half an hour later in future,"
he returned grimly, and rose from his seat in order to shake off his
tormentors.

Mrs Carruthers laughed brightly.

"Pamela will be in presently," she said, and stooped and lifted the boy
in her arms.  "Tell her to come upstairs to us.  She and George dine
here to-night."

She held the boy up for a good-night kiss.  Carruthers very unexpectedly
put his arm about her shoulders, and drew her with the boy in her arms
close to him, and kissed them both.  He stared after her as she went
inside with the children, and then turned thoughtfully away and sat down
again in his former seat.

"God forgive me for a miserable sinner!" he mused.  "But I'm not cut out
for a family man.  Though I suppose if the little beggars really
belonged here I'd get accustomed to it."

Pamela, coming up the garden path a few minutes later, discovered him
sitting there with the same lugubrious expression of face, and his hands
deep in his pockets, a perplexed and very much worried man.

He rose when she came near, and went to meet her, scrutinising her with
greater attentiveness than usual as she advanced, a little pale and
preoccupied, but looking surprisingly pretty and sweet and composed.  He
detected a new quality in her manner, a certain quiet force that was
restful rather than assertive, and in her wistful eyes, behind the
sorrow that dwelt there lately, shone a tender gleam of happiness that
had its secret springs in the realisation and support of an unselfish
human love which opened for her a door that had long been closed, and
let in a new light and sweetness upon her life.  Carruthers supposed,
unable otherwise to account for the change in her bearing, that the news
of her husband's illness had softened her, and healed the breach between
them.

"Come in to have a look how the creche you have started here is getting
along?" he asked, shaking hands.  "My authority in this house is
seemingly a negligible quantity, judging from my wife's act in setting
up an orphanage during the brief hours of my absence.  She wants to
stick to them too."

"I do hope," Pamela said, laughing, "that you won't find them a great
nuisance.  It is such a comfort to me to leave them here.  But I had
qualms about you when Connie proposed it."

"That's more than she had," he replied.

"They are fairly good on the whole, you will find," she said dubiously.

"Every mother thinks that," he retorted.  "I don't doubt they are as
troublesome as the general run of youngsters.  They were here five
minutes ago, and all over me.  Blest, if they don't seem more at home
than I am.  Your daughter is a forward little hussy, and as pretty as--
well, as her mother.  What!"

He smiled at her encouragingly, and leaned with his back against the
rail of the stoep, observing her as she stood bareheaded beside him,
with only a light wrap over her thin dress.

"So you are going to Pretoria?" he said.  "I hope you will find your
husband better when you get there.  If you want any arrangements made at
this end, I'll see to it.  I suppose you intend to bring him down?"

"I hope to," Pamela answered a little doubtfully.  "It depends on--on
circumstances."

"Of course," he agreed.  "No good hurrying him.  We'll look after the
youngsters all right.  You need not have them on your mind, anyway."

"No," she said, with a quick look of gratitude at him.  "You have
relieved me of that worry entirely."

"My share in it isn't much," he answered, smiling.  "As you may have
noticed, my wife generally gets her own way.  She has always wanted
babies, and now she has got 'em.  She's upstairs with them now.  I was
to tell you to go up.  The invitation, I understand, does not extend to
me."

Pamela made a move towards the entrance.  At the door she paused and
looked back at him over her shoulder.

"You're a dear," she said softly, and went inside.

"That's the worst of these ingratiating women," Carruthers reflected.
"They always contrive to get round one somehow."

CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

The mood in which Dare started on the journey to Pretoria was one of
mingled sensations.  A persuasion of irreparable loss qualified the
immediate satisfaction he experienced in being uninterruptedly alone
with Pamela.  The joy he felt in having her to himself, withdrawn from
outside influences, from ties and conventional restrictions, was
considerably reduced when he reflected that this present close
companionship was the forerunner of a more complete separation than any
they had previously known.  They were acting in deliberate concert in
closing all the tracks which had led to the converging of their life
paths, making it impossible that they should ever cross again.  In doing
this together they lost sight for the time of the reality of parting.
There was a flavour of adventure in the proceeding which Dare at least
appreciated; although it foreshadowed the inevitable parting, it seemed
to set it further apart,--a vague forbidding cloud which threatened to
break and deluge them later, but loomed remotely on the horizon of the
present, a misfortune that some unforeseen agency might yet avert.

Pamela remained very quiet and still during the first hour of the
journey.  The excitement and bustle of departure, with Mrs Carruthers
and the children, a noisy and somewhat unmanageable group about the door
of the compartment which Dare had secured to themselves, left her
slightly depressed when it subsided.  She leaned from the window as the
train glided out of the station, waving her handkerchief to the
children, whom Mrs Carruthers grasped determinedly one by either hand,
until the train bore her from their view; then, dispirited, conscious of
the abrupt reaction, she sank back in her seat, the sudden tears
smarting under her eyelids at the sense of loneliness which the fading
of the bright faces, the cessation of the gay childish voices, induced.

Dare busied himself with the disposition of the baggage and refrained
from noticing her.  It occurred to him that she might feel some slight
embarrassment in the first moments of realising how completely she was
cut off from outside things in this solitude of days to be passed in his
sole company.  He believed that she had not taken into consideration the
fact of this uninterrupted intercourse to which he had looked forward
with such eagerness; that aspect of the journey had probably never
presented itself to her mind.  In which surmise he was entirely right;
Pamela had not considered the matter of their complete isolation.  When
it dawned upon her it did not, however, cause her any embarrassment.
She was less self-conscious than Dare in respect to their relations.  It
never occurred to her to disguise from herself or from him the comfort
and pleasure she derived from his friendship.  When one is facing
serious issues the smaller concerns of life assume a proportionate
insignificance; and the appearance of one's actions ceases to disturb
the mind confident that its motives are right.

When Dare, having settled things in their places, sat down opposite to
her and offered her a pile of periodicals to help pass the time, she put
them down on the seat beside her, and evinced a disposition to talk.

Pamela had done so little travelling in the Colony that she was
interested in the scenery, and immensely impressed with its
magnificence, as any traveller must be, seeing it for the first time.
Had it not been for the serious object of the journey, she would have
enjoyed the experience thoroughly; but the thought of Arnott, of meeting
him, of the possible difficulty of persuading him to return with her, as
well as the shock of his illness, damped her spirit, hung over her like
a nightmare.  She was terribly afraid that this man who had treated her
so infamously would refuse her request even now.  The contemplation of
enforcing the fulfilment of his obligation by a threat of proceeding
against him chilled her.  If it came to the point, she could not, she
felt, do that.

"It's wonderful--this," she said, gazing out of the window at the wide
sweep of country through which they were passing.  "I've never been up
the line before.  It's new to me, travelling through sunlit spaces like
this.  See the flowers in the veld.  I can smell them as we pass."

He looked from the window with her, sharing her pleasure in the
unexpected beauty which developed and changed surprisingly, became more
assertive, more strikingly characteristic with every mile they
traversed, as leaving the green fertility of the Peninsula, and the blue
line of the Atlantic, behind, the train plunged into the rugged open
country, where the long lush grass was splashed with vivid colour, with
the orange and purple and crimson of the wild flowers that struggled
amid the tangled growth; where the mountain ranges showed blue in the
blue distance, which like an azure veil spread itself over the golden
riot of the sunshine.

"I've dwelt in fancy on this often," he said,--"travelling with you,--
seeing new places with you.  I'm fond of scenery.  I like going about.
But always I take you with me in imagination.  I knew you'd enjoy it.  I
enjoy it as I never enjoyed before--because of you."

Pamela did not remove her gaze from the landscape, but she slipped her
hand along the ledge of the window until it met his; and for a while
they remained in silence, watching the view together.

"I have often had a feeling that some day we should do this journey, you
and I," he said presently.  "But I didn't suppose it would be under
these conditions...  God knows what I thought!  I've always been a
dreamer...  I pictured breaking the journey with you.  There are one or
two places along the line that are well worth a visit.  It makes the
journey easier.  You will be pretty well tired out before we reach
Pretoria."

She nodded.

"Yes," she said.  "But we couldn't do that."

"No; I suppose we can't.  That's the pity of it.  But it is good as it
is," he added, glancing at her with a smile.  "We'll make the most of
this...  Why not?  It's the finish.  It will be something for me to look
back upon anyway, when you are just a memory to me."

Her face clouded at his words, suggesting in their quiet finality the
complete separation which the end of the journey promised.  In their
frank acknowledgement of their mutual love, both realised that meeting
in the future was impossible, at any rate for many years.  Perhaps when
time had reconciled them to parting they might meet again as friends.

"I have secured a berth for myself in the next compartment," he
observed, after a pause.  "I've got it to myself.  So if you require
anything when I am not with you, you have only to knock in to me, and I
shall hear.  When you want to be alone, just say the word, and I'll dear
out."

Pamela smiled at him gravely.  That was just what she did not want--to
be alone.  His presence was an immense comfort to her.  She doubted
whether she could have undertaken this difficult journey without him,--
have faced, without his support, the still more difficult task which
awaited her at the journey's end.  He inspired her with confidence and
courage.  She knew that as long as she needed him he would not fail
her,--he would see her through to the finish.

They lunched at a little table together in the dining-car, and
afterwards Dare insisted that she should rest for a while; for the day
was hot, and the compartment, with all the windows open, was
oppressively close.  He settled her comfortably, and went out into the
corridor to smoke.  And Pamela, drowsy with the heat and the motion,
fell asleep, and did not wake until nearly four.  When she opened her
eyes again, Dare was standing in the doorway of the compartment, looking
down at her.  He smiled as their glances met.  Then he came forward and
bent and kissed her.  She flushed brightly, and sat up.

"By all the rules of the game I ought not to have done that," he said.
"But--may I?"

She rose, and put her two hands on his shoulders and looked him squarely
in the eyes.

"Why not?" she said.

Her hands slipped round his neck until they met behind.

"We are hungry for love, and we are giving up everything.  Why should we
deny ourselves the bare crumbs?  And it will be ended so soon.  I don't
see any harm in it at all...  Do you?"

"No," he said, with his arms about her.  "I suppose I view it in much
the same way as yourself.  But the world wouldn't, you know."

"Oh, the world!"  Pamela pressed closer to him.  "We are out of the
world, dear, just for this journey.  We have left it behind... we're
away from it all--alone--you and I.  We are going to have this time
together,--a glimpse of Heaven to brighten the drab world when we get
back to earth.  I want to make the most of it--of every minute.  I don't
want to sleep away the hours, as I did this afternoon.  It wasn't kind
of you to send me to sleep.  Afterwards, when we are back in the world,
then I'll sleep, but not now.  To-night I shall sit up quite late.  I
shall keep you with me.  We'll watch the night close down upon the veld,
and look out upon the moving darkness together, and forget the world
entirely and all this weary business of life...  My dear! ...  Oh, my
dear!"

He bent his head lower until their lips met.

The long hot day drew to its close, and the brief twilight descended.
They dined as they had lunched at the little table together.  There were
very few passengers on the train; the seats in the dining-car, save for
one or two, were unoccupied.  This was due to the season.  It was a
satisfaction to Dare, as it insured their greater privacy.  He had
secured their compartments at the end of the corridor so that they
should not be disturbed with people passing; each detail had been
carefully considered and carried out, and everything that experience had
taught him as necessary to the comfort of a long train journey in the
hot weather had been provided.  Pamela lacked nothing which forethought
could devise.  Fruit there was in abundance, and cooling drinks
suspended from the carriage window in Dare's canvas water-bag.  The dry
air of the Karroo induces thirst.  Pamela, who had come away entirely
unprovided, was grateful to him for his thought for her.

"You are a wonderful person; you've forgotten nothing," she said.

"I am an old hand," he replied.  "I do not travel with a beautiful trust
in Providence, and a blind faith in the commissariat of the railway,
like this other wonderful person.  To-morrow and the next day you will
know what thirst means."

"I think we shall be able to satisfy it," she said, regarding the hamper
of fruit on the opposite seat.  "It's like a huge picnic, isn't it?  I
feel--excited."

He laughed, and passed an arm about her, holding her comfortably against
his shoulder.  She rested so for a while quietly.

"I have drunk of the waters of Lethe," she said, looking up at him after
a silence.  "I am like a woman whose memory has gone.  Everything is a
blank, save the present.  It's good, isn't it?"

"It's more than good," he replied.

He gazed down into the sweet face resting against his shoulder, and
smiled into the deep, serious eyes.

"Tired?" he asked.

"No," she answered.

"We've been travelling over nine hours," he said.  "We shall reach
Matjesfontein shortly."

"Do we stop there?"

"Only for a minute or two.  Then you will see the Karroo at night."

"It's night now," she said.  "But it isn't dark."

"It's a clear night," he answered.  "It won't get darker than this.  See
the stars, Pamela?"

She turned to look from the window.

"There is too much light in the carriage," she said, leaning out into
the warm dusk, and gazing upon the shadowed landscape which gave an
impression of movement, as though it swept past the lighted train.

Dare got up and switched off the light.  She turned her head quickly.

"Oh!  I didn't know you could do that," she said.  "That's much nicer."

He returned and seated himself beside her, and leaned from the broad
window with his face close to hers.  She touched his cheek with her own
caressingly.

"Night on the veld," she whispered,--"and just we two alone--watching.
All those other people... they don't count.  I love it--don't you?  Do
you notice the scents?  They are stronger than in the daytime.  What is
it.  I can smell as we go along?  Something... it's like heliotrope."

"The night convolvulus," he answered.  "The veld is smothered with it in
places.  All the best scents in Africa are night scents.  The night is
the best time of all."

"Yes; it's the best time," she agreed.  "A night like this! ...  Isn't
it perfect?  I am alive as I have never felt before.  It's as though all
my senses were quickened.  I didn't know it was possible to enjoy so
intensely.  I wish this could last for ever...  I wish that I might fall
asleep presently, and wake no more...  Don't let us talk...  Let us
watch together--like this,--and just feel..."

And so they remained, this man and woman who loved hopelessly, silent in
the darkened carriage, with faces pressed close against each other,--
intent on one another to the exclusion of every other thought,--clinging
together in a mute sympathy, and a love which had gone beyond utterance,
got above and outside ordinary physical passion, and stood for what it
was,--the supreme thing in their lives,--the best that life had offered
them, which neither separation nor sorrow could filch from their
possession.

And the train rushed on through the clear, luminous night that, warm
still and fragrant with the hundred different scents of the Karroo,
never darkened beyond a twilight duskiness, in which the veld showed
darkly defined against the deepening purple of the sky, where a young
moon rode like a white sickle amid the countless stars.

CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

Pamela awoke with the sun flashing in her eyes as the heavy lids lifted
reluctantly to the flush of the new day.  She sat up and looked from the
window which had remained open and unshuttered through the night.  Dare
had left her shortly before two o'clock, and she had slept soundly until
roused by the sun, which newly risen shone golden in a cloudless sky.
Already its fiery heat penetrated into the carriage, and struck fiercely
on her hands and face, and upon the cushions of the seat which felt warm
under her touch.

She wondered whether Dare had slept, whether he slept still?
Involuntarily her thoughts turned back to the overnight vigil.  She
reviewed with a regretful sense as of something past, gone irrevocably,
the quiet hours of intimate companionship, silent hours for the greater
part,--silent with that eloquence of wordlessness more assertive than
speech.  A raised voice would have sounded intrusive, breaking the
stillness of the darkened carriage where they had sat close together,
gazing out upon the dusk, and whispering at intervals the thoughts which
sprang straight from the heart to the lips.  That night with its beauty;
its stirrings of complex emotions, seeking and evading articulate
expression; its untellable happiness, made up mainly of physical
nearness and assimilated thoughts and feelings, had rolled back into the
past,--was curtained off for ever behind the obnubilating folds of
yesterday's mantle.  Only memory remained; the vivid hours had faded
away in the dawn.  Would any night ever mean so much to them again?

Pamela rose and made her toilet with the primitive arrangements provided
in the carriage.  She felt crumpled and unrefreshed, the effects of
sleeping fully dressed.  There was grit and sand in her hair.  She
brushed and rearranged it by the aid of the tiny suspended mirror.  Then
she dusted the compartment as well as she was able with a handkerchief;
the fine red sand of the Karroo penetrated everywhere, and lay thick
upon the baggage and the cushions of the seats.

She heard Dare moving in the next compartment; and felt glad that he too
was up early.  When he joined her they would have an early breakfast of
fruit and biscuits.

She was ready for him when he tapped on the door.  He slid the door back
in response to her permission to enter, and came in quietly and kissed
her.

"Sleep well?" he asked.

She nodded brightly.

"Like a top," she answered.

"You did it in a hurry then," he remarked.  "It's only six now."

"Only six!" she repeated.  "And feel how hot it is.  What will it be
like at noon?"

"If you travel through the Karroo in February," he said, "you must
expect to find it sultry.  You will have to keep the shutters closed on
the sunny side."

"But that shuts out the view," she objected.  "I'm just loving this.  I
never imagined anything so desolate and grand and inspiring."

"It's desolate enough," he admitted, glancing through the window out on
the wide scene.

They were in the heart of the Karroo now.  The arid sandy soil was
sparsely covered with scrub and stunted mimosa bushes, and at intervals
low hills sprang unexpectedly to the view, giving the effect of dark
excrescences on the flat face of the land.  Nothing green was visible;
everywhere the eye rested on parched, powdered soil and dry scrub,
beneath a brazen sky of hard, relentless blue.

They opened their baskets and broke their fast.  Pamela was frankly
hungry; the clear light air of the Karroo stimulates the appetite; and
this early morning breakfast, with the warm sunlight streaming in
through the windows, with the light warm breeze on her face, stirring
the hair at her temples, was a new experience.  She felt as she had felt
on the previous night, alive in every nerve and centre of her being,--
alert with the instinct of sheer gladness and joy in life; keenly
appreciative of each fresh sensation, each fresh aspect in the
constantly changing landscape as it unfolded itself to the view.

The stark barrenness of these vast tracks of no man's land appealed to
her senses acutely, stirred the imagination; contrasting sombrely with
the greater fertility which occasionally started up amid the desolation,
emphasising the sterility of the great plain which nursed these oases in
its bare bosom, and supplied them from sources denied itself.  Here,
where the land was richer, where the rivers, dry at this season, had
their beds between wooded banks, were to be seen small isolated groups
of native huts, reed thatched, and patched with sacking and pieces of
tin; and little naked piccaninnies ran forward to meet the train, and
danced and shrieked excitedly, holding out little dark supplicating
hands in greedy anticipation.  Pamela snatched a handful of fruit and
threw it to them, and leaning from the window, watched the eager race of
these children of the sun who scampered to get the prize.

"They are just sweet," she said, laughing.

"At a distance, yes," agreed Dare.  "They are characteristic of the
country anyway--healthy, untrammelled, uncivilised."

He got up and leaned from the window beside her.  They had left the
fertility behind.  The ground became more stony, more strikingly naked.
The railway wound in and out among the hills,--brown hills, covered with
scrub, and strewn with huge boulders.  There was no sight of a tree or
of any living thing.  The wind blew fitfully and more strongly; hot
breaths of it were wafted in their faces, carrying with it a fine red
grit which made the eyes sore.

Dare watched the eager, intent face with a slightly amused smile.
Pamela's keen enjoyment of everything reduced the discomfort of the long
tiring journey to a minimum.  She was making of it a picnic, and he was
glad to fall in with her mood.

"We will take advantage of the next stop," he said, "and make our way to
the breakfast-car.  I need something more substantial than fruit to face
the day upon."

He was wise in insisting upon a substantial breakfast; the heat, later
in the day, deprived them both of appetite.  Pamela refused to go to
lunch, and Dare, equally disinclined for food, remained with her in the
compartment, sitting opposite her on the shady side of the stifling
carriage, keenly observant of her as she sat, limp and pale with the
heat, but still interested; noting everything with languid, amazed blue
eyes while the train rushed onward across the burning plain, through
miles of uncultivated land, vast tracks of sun-drenched, treeless
desert, where in patches of startling green, showing vividly amid the
blackened scrub, its pale fingers pointing skyward, the milkbush
flourished, hardy plant of the dry Karroo, which like the cactus draws
its sustenance from the dews.  Bleached bones of cattle strewed the
ground in places, and about the farms, springing up occasionally out of
the barrenness, the lean stock moved listlessly, feeding on the
insufficient vegetation.

Farther on, in the dry bed of a river, a few hollow-flanked oxen lay,
too weak to rise, their big soft eyes dim with suffering; and on the
banks starved sheep were dying on the blackened veld, victims of the
merciless drought that had swept the land bare as though devastated by
fire.  The aasvogels, perched on the telegraph poles along the railway,
waited sombrely; grim birds of prey, with their bare ugly necks and
gloomy eyes, ready to swoop when the last faint flicker of life died
out.

Little whirlpools of dust rose on the flats, small, detached, yellow
clouds, disturbed by some local puff of wind; and across the hard blue
of the sky a few fleecy clouds floated lazily, throwing moving shadows
of dense black upon the kopjes that appeared at frequent and unexpected
intervals parallel with the line.  Lonely graves of British soldiers,
reminiscent of the ugly past, lay thickly at the foot of these deadly
hills.

"This," Pamela said, bringing her face round and looking with troubled
eyes at Dare, "makes my heart ache.  This is truly the Desolate Way.
But it's impressive,--it's amazing.  I feel all stirred."

"Yes," he said; "one can't help feeling that.  It's the actuality of
life struggling with death, an everlasting grapple with indeterminate
result.  One sees here the forces of nature incessantly warring, the
elements of productiveness and destruction constantly opposed.  One day
these elements will be brought into subjection.  The railway is the
first step in linking up these waste places with our tentative
civilisation.  This country is in the lap of the future."

"I would sooner see it as it is," she said.

"So would I," he agreed.  "Civilisation could never excite one's
imagination as this untamed land does.  It's a fine country,--worth the
sacrifice of a good deal."

"But not worth that," she said, and pointed to the cairns of stones with
the little wooden crosses standing above them.  There were so many of
these relics along the route.

"That's the part that shows," he returned.  "It has cost more than
that."

She was silent for a while, gazing from the window as she leaned back in
her seat Dare had bought some pineapples at De Aar that the natives were
selling on the platform, and he cut one of the fruit in half, and gave
it to her with a spoon, that being, he assured her, the only way in
which a pineapple should be eaten.

"If I had come alone," Pamela said, "I should have fared badly."

"You couldn't have made this journey alone," he said decidedly.  "It's
unthinkable."

The wind was rising steadily, a hot wind, that stirred the sticky red
sand and carried it in clouds towards them till it covered everything.
Whirlpools of red dust, rising skyward like tongues of furiously
swirling flame, travelled with extraordinary velocity along the ground.
There were farms here too, and cultivated patches of grain, and more
lean sheep; and at infrequent intervals, marking a spot of beauty in
this sterile waste, grew low, spiky, darkly green bushes starred with
white blossom resembling cherry blossom, and straggling clumps of the
prickly pear.

"And people live on these lonely farms," Pamela said.  "I wonder what
their lives are like?  Think of it, day after day--only this."

"Fairly dull," Dare commented.  "But it's extraordinary how little they
regard it.  I've stayed on some of these Karroo farms.  It isn't half
bad."

"As an experience, perhaps not...  But to live there!"

"There are conditions," he returned, "in which such isolation might be
agreeable."

"They would be quite extraordinary conditions," she rejoined.  "Most of
those people are probably ordinary folk with ordinary feelings.  I can't
imagine it myself.  It appears to me depressingly monotonous.  How tired
they must grow of one another."

He looked amused.

"It is possible to attain to that state of boredom even in big centres,"
he argued.

"Well, yes, of course.  But there are distractions.  One isn't so
entirely dependent on one another."

"That's the strongest argument in favour of these cut off places," he
returned.  "Such absolute dependence must develop qualities of
kindliness and toleration which would encourage the companionable
spirit.  I don't think it would irk me under the right conditions.  The
heart of the Karroo would be heaven with the right person to share one's
life."

"I suppose any exile might be acceptable in that case," Pamela said,
gravely returning his look.  "But I don't fancy it happens often in life
that the right people come together."

"That is sometimes their own fault," he answered quietly.  He leaned
suddenly towards her, and took and held her hand.  "We are in a fair way
to commit that blunder, Pamela.  We are stumbling forward, following
blindly the leading of a blind fate, and cutting the ground behind us,
closing every retreat.  I'm gripped with a conviction at times that we
are acting foolishly,--that afterwards we shall regret."

"Regret!" she echoed a little bitterly.  "Life is one long regret."

"It is in our own hands," he said.  "The choice is always ours."

"No," she said, "no!"

She drew her hand gently from his and turned her face aside quickly,
afraid to meet the love in his eyes, afraid of the earnest persuasion of
his manner as he presented their case anew for her consideration.  It
was hard to withstand him.  But free choice, she realised, was the one
thing which was not permitted them; for her it was not a question of
choice at all; it was a matter of controlled and unquestionable
necessity.  If she turned back now it would be to own herself beaten at
every point along the road of life.  That would insure regret also--more
than regret.  A shameful consciousness of failure would stultify any
satisfaction that love would bring them; and in watching her children
grow up about her she would be reminded continually of how completely
she had failed in her duty to them.  They would be to her always a
lasting reproach.

"You are bent on making a hard business of life," he said.

His voice held a dissatisfied ring; his eyes, as they rested on her
half-averted face, wore a look of baffled perplexity.  It had not been
his intention to make this further appeal; he was vexed with himself for
troubling her; but at the moment he could not have kept the words back.

"Whatever course I took the path would be difficult," she answered,
"because I took the wrong step years ago.  One can't go back, you see,
and start again.  One has to make the best of one's mistakes.  That's
why we are parting now, dear,--you and I.  There isn't any choice in it
at all."

He moved to her side of the compartment and sat down close to her.

"I've got to submit to your ruling," he said; "I know that...  And I'm
doing it, doing it with an ill grace, perhaps; but you can't expect too
much.  There's just one little ray of comfort left me, Pamela...  Shall
I tell you what that is?"

She slipped a hand into his.

"Tell me," she said softly.

"It's that I have a presentiment at the back of my mind that one day in
the future--how far off or how near, I cannot say--we shall come
together--be together always.  I don't feel that we are parting.  We
aren't parting--not finally.  This is an ugly phase in our intercourse--
a rude breaking away of vital things that entails a certain loss--
temporary loss.  Afterwards we shall meet again, farther along the
journey.  Then we'll finish the journey together."

She made no answer.  She turned to him in silence, and drew his face to
hers and kissed him with grave tenderness upon the mouth.  After that
they did not talk again for some considerable time.

CHAPTER THIRTY.

Night! ... night on the veld once more--another luminous night of stars
and sweet scents, and the haunting sense of mystery and isolation and
intimate companionship, interrupted at intervals of ever greater
frequency as the train ran into some wayside station, and hurrying forms
moved along the platform, and gazed with faint curiosity into the
unlighted carriage, as they passed the open windows and caught a
momentary glimpse of the dim faces of a man and woman watching together
in the night.

"Ghosts!"  Pamela said once, pressing closer against Dare.  "Shadows of
the night,--flitting in the darkness, and swallowed up in it again.  I
wonder what they make of us, those ghosts?--two live people alone in a
shadow world."

She shivered slightly as the train sped onward again.  Dare took a wrap
from the seat and placed it about her shoulders.  The temperature had
fallen perceptibly.  The fierce heat of the day was succeeded by the
cold of the Transvaal night,--the cold of a high bracing altitude,
following with surprising suddenness on the dry, burning heat of the
Karroo.  The fierceness and the desolation lay behind.  The country
presented here a fertile wooded beauty, startling in its greenness,
following upon the arid desert through which they had passed.

"Don't leave me to-night," Pamela said presently, gripping his hand
tightly.  "Stay, and let us see it out together.  It's the finish... our
last night.  To-morrow..."

"There is no to-morrow," he interposed quickly.  "We have no concern
with anything but the present I'll stay...  I want to stay.  Lean
against me, and sleep if you feel like it.  I'd like you to sleep,
Pamela."

She laughed softly.

"I don't want to lose one precious moment in sleep," she said.  "Now
talk to me."

"Last night," he reminded her, "you didn't want to talk."

"I know.  But to-night it's different.  There is so little time left.
We have got to crowd everything into to-night.  I want a store of
memories,--a little harvest of summer thoughts to draw upon when the
winter comes.  We've talked so little."

"We've managed to express a lot without words," he said.

"Yes," she said... "feelings.  We've expressed ourselves somehow mutely.
We get near to one another mentally.  When I can't see you any more I
shall still have that sense of nearness.  You'll be there--somewhere."

The arm with which he supported her held her more closely.  He looked
down at the shadowy outline of her face in the darkness where it rested
against his shoulder, and his lips tightened suddenly.  Why, in the name
of all that was absurd, were they parting like this? ... parting without
a sufficient reason,--for a scruple.  The impulse to plead with her once
more, to urge her more insistently than he had yet done, moved him
strongly.  He bent his face to hers quickly; but the words he would have
uttered died on his lips, as the soft, low-pitched voice that he loved
fell again on the silence, with a new note of tenderness in its tone.

"I think it is because of the trust you inspire that I love you so
well."

When we perceive, or imagine we perceive, certain qualities in another,
it is possible to inspire those qualities which we admire.  As he
listened to her, Dare was silent; the impulse to plead with her faded.
To deliberately shake her faith in him was a thing he could not do.
There must be no painful memories of those last hours together.

"There is no accounting for love,--love like ours," he said after a
brief pause.  "It's not a thing of reasons,--it's instinctive,--a common
bond of sympathy, of mental understanding, uniting us as no law could
unite us.  If we never meet again you will still belong to me, as I
belong to you.  No lesser love could ever come into my life,--it
wouldn't satisfy me.  I've given you everything.  You fill all the
crevices of my heart and brain.  You've succeeded in crowding out the
rest.  When we have gone our separate ways, following out our different
lives, as we shall be doing shortly, it will be some consolation to
reflect that we hold one another constantly in our thoughts.  You'll
write to me,--you can't refuse me this time.  I shall write,--often,
whenever the impulse moves me.  I am not going to lose touch with you
again.  If life gets too difficult for you, you will let me know.  I'm
always behind you, remember.  I'm there when you want me.  The time may
come, Pamela."

"Yes," she said.  "But you mustn't encourage me to become too dependent
on you.  I'm not going to be afraid of difficulties, dear.  Life _is_
difficult.  It has been difficult for me for some while past.  You
know...  You knew that time you stayed with Connie.  I think it was at
that time when things were so hard I first learnt how much I cared,--how
much you were to me I leaned on your strength then without realising it;
and when you left I missed you so.  It hurt--like hunger."

"It's like that with me always," he said.

"It is easier to bear now," she added, "since we've talked it over
together.  It is keeping it all pent up that frets one so.  It is
wrong,--don't you think?--to be afraid of loving,--to attempt to
suppress it as though it were something shameful.  There is nothing
shameful in love when one loves straight.  I'm proud of loving you,--
proud to know your love is mine.  It's an immense help to me, that
knowledge.  The world wouldn't see it as we see it.  I know.  That's
where the need for secrecy comes in.  But secrecy is just a little--
dishonouring, don't you think?"

He smiled faintly.

"The world is old in experience," he said.  "We couldn't go on meeting
and stay at this point, my dear.  Love between man and woman, however
steady and restrained, has its element of passion.  There must come
moments when one's feelings get out of hand.  The demand of love
increases.  You have only just accustomed yourself to the idea of
loving; when one grows familiar with the idea one has to explore
further.  That is why I am going out of your life, dear one, until I can
enter into it fully.  For you and for me there can be no half measures."

She was silent for a while, a little troubled at the flood of light he
had let in upon the situation which she had been viewing through the
haze of an impossible idealism.  She realised the truth of what he said;
and she felt suddenly ashamed, not at his having stripped away the sham
coverings ruthlessly, but for having wilfully blinded herself to obvious
realities.  She felt that she had been convicted of deliberate
dishonesty of thought.  If he saw this thing clearly, why had not she
also seen it without the need of his pointing it out?

"We are lovers, dear; we've admitted that," he resumed.  "We can't stop
at that unless we give up seeing one another.  I want you.  You are free
to come to me,--free, that is, save for your own scruples.  That is why
I feel that in making love to you I have not acted dishonourably.  I've
fought for our love,--it was a square fight, and I've lost.  You may be
right...  I can't say.  Anyway the decision rests with you.  I'm not
going against it.  I am going to remain in the background until your
need of me is as great as my need of you; then you'll send for me.  In
the meantime you need not be afraid to trust me.  I shall never seek to
persuade you against your will."

There was a further silence.  Pamela dared not venture upon speech
because of the tears which would have choked her utterance had she
attempted to express her feelings aloud.  He was so much more honest
than she was, so much finer and stronger.  She held him in her thoughts
so highly placed that Dare would have been amazed and considerably
embarrassed could he have realised the pinnacle to which he was elevated
in the opinion of this woman, whom he was conscious of looking up to as
infinitely better and simpler and altogether nobler of intention than
himself.  Compared with her direct and decent conceptions of life, her
quiet acceptance of duty, and sense of responsibility, his ideas
appeared carnal and extraordinarily limited and self-centred.  He did
not want to give up anything.  He rebelled at the sacrifice demanded of
him.  It was only because he recognised the impossibility of shaking her
resolution that he submitted at all.  Had she weakened for a single
moment he would have set himself to wear down her resistance with the
first sign of faltering on her part.  He had watched jealously for some
sign of her yielding from the hour when they were alone together, away
from the influences that had surrounded her in her home.  During the
past two days of intimacy and close companionship his hopes had run
high.  He did not understand how, loving him as she did, and admitting
her love so freely, she could yet persist in her determination to marry
the man who had wronged her so grievously.  It was beyond his powers of
comprehension entirely.  The day would come, he believed, when she would
recognise her mistake, would possibly even acknowledge it.  It was for
that day he would wait.  When it dawned, as dawn it surely must, he
would be ready.

The night grew colder as it advanced.  Dare unstrapped the rugs and
wrapped them about their knees.  Pamela was enveloped in his overcoat,
with nothing of herself visible but the dim outline of her face showing
above the collar, crowned by the pale masses of her hair.  She felt
wonderfully comfortable and wakeful.

This rushing through the windy starlight, through unfamiliar country
shrouded in the dusk and mystery of night, darkly revealed in silhouette
against the lighter sky, exhilarated her, filled her with a sense of
beauty and ever deepening wonder, as mile after mile was passed in the
noisy rush of that symbol of modern activity through the heart of a
partially developed country.  Black objects, shapes of trees and
outlines of scattered homesteads, started up out of the surrounding
obscurity, flashed darkly for a second on the landscape, and vanished,
and were succeeded by other shapes, formless, vaguely distinct outlines,
distorted and magnified in the gloom.  The quiet remote beauty of night
lay like a softening shadow upon the face of the land.

"I have always loved the night," Pamela said, speaking softly as though
wishful to avoid disturbing the tranquillity by raising her tones; "but
I have never loved it so well before, felt so at one with it.  It shuts
out the world, doesn't it? ... shuts out everything."

"It's you in the night I love," he said.  "That's where the magic for me
comes in.  If I hadn't you beside me I should probably be sleeping.
Place and time don't count, Pamela,--it's companionship that matters.
See the dawn, dear,--just breaking.  In a short while it will be light."

"Yes."

She stirred restlessly.  The thought of what the new day held for her
troubled her insistently, filled her with a shrinking sensation of
dread.  Before another dawn should break she would be faced with
gigantic issues; the biggest crisis of her life would have been met.
What did the future hold for her, she wondered.  Had it lain in her
power to lift the veil she would not have dared to look.

"I'm dreading the day, dear," she said, a little tremulously.  "I'm such
a coward...  I'm afraid,--of him."

"He's a sick man, Pamela," he said, desirous of reassuring her.
"Illness changes a man."

"I know," she said.

She was quiet for a while, watching the paling stars in the slowly
brightening heavens, observant of the gradual definement of the
landscape, as the light revealed it, first as a clear colourless picture
in the grey dawn, and later as a wonder of separate distinct shades of
green and amber beneath a sky already flushing with the promise of the
day.

He tried to distract her thoughts by speaking on impersonal topics, by
bringing the talk back again after a while to themselves.  He did not
speak of love.  That was all past and done with.  He assumed a new
attitude, was quietly protective and helpful and reassuring.  He drew up
her plans for her, and settled where they would stay.  It was Pamela's
wish that they should go to the same hotel.  He had suggested separate
hotels; but he gave in to her pleading.  After all what did it matter?
He was there to advise and help her; it was better that he should be at
hand.

"I am leaving everything to you," she said, regarding him wistfully.

"Of course," he answered.  "That's what I'm here for."

"There's one thing,"--she paused, then completed the sentence--"I want
you to do, if you don't mind...  It's been troubling me.  Would you tell
the doctor,--what you think necessary to make him understand?  I
shouldn't know how to explain..."

He smiled down into the distressed blue eyes, and laid his hand warmly
upon hers.

"I never intended you should explain," he answered.  "That's my job
too."

CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

They reached Pretoria shortly after nine.  Dare drove with Pamela to the
Grand Hotel where he engaged rooms.  They breakfasted together at a
small table in the public room.  A rather silent meal it proved; Pamela
was tired, and somewhat depressed now that they were arrived at their
destination; the fatigue of the long journey told upon her; and her eyes
were heavy, the result of insufficient rest.

All the glamour was ended; the pleasurable excitement, the sense of
adventure, of happy forgetfulness, was as a dream of the night which the
daylight dispelled utterly, leaving only a vague regret of glowing
memories dimly recalled and greatly missed.  She _felt_ as a woman might
feel who had been pleasantly drugged and wakes painfully in a bleak,
unlovely world.

Dare prescribed a warm bath and bed.  She could do nothing that morning.
He would see her again at the lunch hour, when she was rested, and tell
her what arrangements he had been able to make in the interval.

She acquiesced silently, too weary and depressed to care whether she saw
Arnott that day or the next.  Now that the meeting loomed so imminent
all her courage was oozing away.  She realised with a sense of horror at
herself that she shrank almost with repulsion from the thought of
standing beside the sick bed of the man she once had loved, for whom she
now felt nothing but a cold resentment, a bitter anger for the evil part
he had played in her life.  She did not desire to see him.  But the
reason which had led her to him governed her still.  Her future course
was none the less plain because it was difficult to follow.

The much needed rest brought with its refreshment a greater tranquillity
of mind; and when she met Dare at luncheon she was herself again, quiet
and composed, a little nervous obviously, but equal to facing the ordeal
when the moment for doing so arrived.

She was relieved to hear that she was not expected to visit the invalid
until the following morning.  She might not, Dare informed her, see him
even then.  It depended entirely upon how he received the news of her
presence whether she was admitted to his room.  He was making good
progress, and the doctors had no wish to retard his recovery by risking
the excitement of an emotional scene.

"I have vouched for your absolute discretion," he said, meeting the
wistful eyes with a reassuring smile.  "I don't fancy you are the sort
of woman who indulges in scenes."

"No," she said quietly.  "I've got beyond that."  She lowered her gaze
to the flowers in the centre of the table, contemplating their beauty
with a kind of tired relief.  Dare watched her intently.

"I feel," she added after a pause, "rather as though I had become
frozen.  I don't seem to care much what happens.  You'll go with me in
the morning, I suppose?"

"Naturally," he answered.

She raised her eyes again to his swiftly.

"After I have seen him once," she said, "it won't be so difficult.  I'll
be able to release you then from your kind office.  You mustn't waste
your time any longer on my account."

"I don't reckon it time wasted," he returned.

"Not wasted,--no.  I couldn't have managed without you.  But I feel it
is very selfish of me to have accepted so much from you.  You've set me
in the path.  I'll be able to walk it now unaided."

"We will talk of that," he said easily, "after you have seen him.  In
the meantime I am not going to let you dwell on the matter.  You are
going to drive with me this afternoon.  It's beautiful country about
here, and the roads are excellent.  We'll forget the painful purpose of
this journey, Pamela, and enjoy ourselves.  I claim that as my fee for
the services you insist on recognising."

"You are so good to me," she said.

Her voice was low and tenderly tremulous, and her eyes, lifted to his,
shone misty and soft and confiding.  Dare gripped the table with both
hands, and stared back at her across the flowers which divided them in
their slender crystal vase.  His face was tense.

"It is easy to be that," he answered gruffly, oblivious of the people in
the room, oblivious of everything but the sweet, tired beauty of her
face, and the trustful affection in the earnest eyes.

"I say," he added, recollecting himself, "let's get out of this."

She rose; and he followed her from the room, aware of the glances she
attracted in passing, and not indifferent to the covert looks directed
at himself.  He was well known in Pretoria; one or two faces there were
not unfamiliar to him.  He heard his name pronounced distinctly as he
passed through the doors in Pamela's wake.  It might be well after all,
he decided, to leave her as she suggested on the morrow.  It was
difficult to have continually in mind the necessity for playing the
discreet part of disinterested friend under observant eyes.  He had not
intended to leave so soon; but in the circumstances it was wiser; and
from Johannesburg he would have only a two hours' journey if the
necessity for his presence arose.  He would extract a promise from her
to wire to him if she found herself in any difficulty.

He did not unfold his plans to her then.  He decided to leave matters as
they stood until the morrow.  So much depended on the result of the
morning's interview.  It seemed to him that his own fate, being
inseparable from hers, hung in the balance of the next twenty-four
hours.

He felt almost as nervous as Pamela the following day, when he
accompanied her to the Home, and waited in the little room where he had
waited before to learn the doctor's verdict.

The matron came in and talked hopefully with Pamela of her husband's
progress.  Mr Arnott had been informed that his wife was there, and had
expressed the wish to see her.  She thought that very possibly the visit
would cheer him; he had shown a growing tendency towards depression of
late, which was not unusual in the early stages of convalescence.

Pamela listened very quietly to the amiable chatter of this pleasant,
capable looking woman, whose clear eyes were curiously observant of the
white-faced stranger, so tardy in her duty to her sick husband, so
little concerned, it seemed to her, about his condition now that she was
here.  The doctor had let fall some vague intimation of domestic
estrangement in instructing her as to the precautions necessary to take
in regard to this visit; but in view of the man's serious illness the
other woman looked on the wife's unforgiving attitude as heartless in
the extreme.  She did not know of the agony of suspense hidden behind
the quiet manner, the fear which the calm eyes concealed.  She noticed
only the stranger's wonderful composure, the utter lack of spontaneous
inquiry into her husband's case.  The only questions that were asked
were put by the man who accompanied her, and who appeared more
interested in the patient, if not more sympathetic, than the wife.

When the doctor entered the matron withdrew; and the medical man, an
older man than the junior partner whom Dare had interviewed on his first
visit, drew a chair forward and sat down opposite to Pamela.

He scrutinised her intently, with kindly interested gaze, thinking her
over in the light of the information he had received from Dare on the
previous day, which, meagre as it had been, had conveyed the impression
that the wife was much to be pitied.  Dare's version had explained the
young woman whose connection with Arnott had puzzled the doctor when
first called upon to attend this case.  Confronted with Pamela, he found
the situation difficult of comprehension.

"You must be prepared," he warned her, "for a terrible change in your
husband.  He's been very ill--he is very ill still.  But his recovery is
more satisfactory than we had hoped for.  You must be very careful not
to excite him."

"Yes," said Pamela gravely; and he felt that the warning was
unnecessary.

"He is expecting you," he added.  "I believe he is anxious to see you.
It is quite possible that this illness of his has wiped a good deal of
the near past from his memory.  I would advise you not to recall
anything of a painful nature.  Approach him if possible only on present
matters.  And cheer him up a little.  You can possibly do more for him
than I can at this stage."

Pamela smiled at him bravely.

"I have come with the intention of doing all that is in my power," she
answered gently.  "If he will let me, I will devote myself to him.  I
want to help him--if I can."

"I don't think there should be any difficulty about that," he replied.
"For a while you will have to be satisfied to leave him here.  Later, if
you wish, he can be moved to where you are staying.  He could not
undertake the journey to Cape Town yet."

"No?"  Pamela said, thinking abruptly of Connie and the children.  "I
had thought--"

"Too great a risk," he said decidedly.  "We'll err on the side of
caution, Mrs Arnott.  He is making such a splendid recovery, I should
be sorry if we did anything to retard it now.  I think you will have to
make up your mind to remain in Pretoria for a time.  I will let you know
as soon as I consider it safe for him to travel.  In any case the hot
weather would prohibit a long journey.  Didn't you find it very trying
coming up?"

"I don't think I mind the heat very much," she answered, evading a more
direct reply.

"That's fortunate," he returned, smiling, "because there is no getting
away from it out here."  He rose.  "Now, if you are ready, I will direct
you to Mr Arnott's room."

He glanced at Dare.

"You'll remain here?" he said.

Dare nodded.  Under his brows he was observing Pamela, who, with the old
nervous light in her eyes, was waiting near the door.  She did not look
at him as she passed out.  In silence she accompanied the doctor along
the passage to Arnott's room which was situated at the end of it.  The
door stood open, and a nurse who was standing inside came forth, and
took up her position in the passage within call in case she were needed.
The doctor motioned to Pamela to enter.

"I've brought Mrs Arnott to see you," he said.

His words broke the dead stillness that reigned in the room abruptly;
but as soon as he had uttered them and quietly withdrawn, the stillness
descended again, more deadly, more paralysing than before, it seemed to
Pamela, left alone for the first time with the man who when last she had
seen him had flung out of her presence in anger, and who now, moving his
head feebly on the pillow, turned a pallid, eager, so old face towards
her, and held out his hand to her, and broke into pitiful frying.

Pamela felt inexpressibly shocked.  She had prepared herself for a
change, but not so great a change as this.  His hair had whitened during
his illness; it was quite white, like a very old man's; his chin was
unshaven, and the unfamiliar beard was white also; his moustache alone
retained a few dark hairs.  His face was thin, and so altered that, but
for the eyes, she would have failed in recognising it.  And the sight of
him lying there, weak and helpless and so feebly crying, hurt her beyond
measure, moved her to an almost terrified compassion, so that for a
second she could not stir or speak.  Something seemed to clutch at her
heart and stop its beating.  She had never seen Arnott cry before.  The
thought of tears in connection with him would have occurred to her as
impossible.  And here he lay,--crying,--holding out a trembling hand to
her, and sobbing like a child.

With a swift, sudden movement, as though her limbs relaxed abruptly and
responded automatically to the rush of pity that leapt up within her,
submerging for the time all other feeling, she approached the bed and
knelt beside it and put her arms about him, as she might have put them
about a suffering child, appealing for sympathy.  She drew his head to
her shoulder, and with the so sadly altered face hidden from her sight
against her breast, felt her courage returning, and was able to
articulate his name, and murmur soothing words to him as she caressed
the silvered hair.

"Herbert!--my dear," she said; "it's Pamela.  It's all right, dear...
Don't cry... don't cry."

"I've been ill," he said, speaking thickly, with a slight impediment
that made the words difficult to understand.  "I've wanted you, Pam...
You've been a long time coming."

He spoke querulously, and sobbed again with a sort of complaining
self-pity, as though he felt she had been neglectful, that she ought to
have known and come to him before.  Pamela would have realised without
the doctor's preparation that the enfeebled mind had lost its power to
remember recent events.  It was quite possible that he did not realise
even where he was, that, had he been told, he would have failed to
recall the circumstances of his coming to Pretoria.  The subject of
their differences, of his desertion of her, had faded entirely from his
recollection.  He only knew that he was ill, that he had wanted her, and
that she had been long in coming.  He took up his complaint again.

"I've wanted you," he reiterated.  "I've kept on wanting you.  Why
didn't you come sooner?"

"I came as soon as I could," she answered soothingly.  "They would not
let me see you before.  You've been very ill.  You are getting better
now.  Soon you will be much stronger, and then we will go home."

He lay still for a second or so, taking in the significance of her
words.

"Home!" he repeated vaguely...  "Yes."

He drew in his breath quiveringly like a tired child, and lay back on
the pillow and stared at her with the familiar eyes set in the
unfamiliar face.  Pamela felt oddly disconcerted by his gaze, and only
with difficulty forced herself to meet it.  She wished that he would not
look at her, wished that he had remained with his face hidden against
her breast.

"I should like to go home," he said.

He spoke with a puzzled intonation as though not quite dear in his mind
as to where home was; but very sure of one thing, that home meant being
with Pamela, and that he wanted to be with her.

"You'll stay with me?" he asked presently.

"I will come and see you often," she answered, "every day.  I have come
to be with you.  As soon as you are able to be moved I will take you
away.  You must make haste and get strong."

"Yes," he said, "get strong.  I have had funny dreams," he added, still
keeping his eyes on her face.  "I get funny dreams now occasionally,--
when I'm awake.  That's strange, isn't it?  Why do I dream when I am
awake?"

"That is only weakness," she replied gently.  "Now I am here you won't
dream any more."

"No," he said, and seemed satisfied with her reply.  "I've thought
sometimes you were dead," he said; "but you aren't."  He stroked her
hand softly.  "I'm glad you're all right, Pam."

His eyes, still puzzled, still striving vainly to recall facts which
seemed to hover on the borderland of memory, and which always eluded
him, wandered from her face, wandered aimlessly about the room, and came
back to her face again with the same perplexed, inquiring look which was
so difficult to meet.  She felt that she wanted to push away the hand
that so loosely held hers, wanted to get upon her feet and rush from the
room,--away from the haunting sight of the grey, drawn face, and the
insistent, puzzled eyes,--away from the presence of this man who seemed
like a stranger to her, between whom and herself there yet existed an
ugly and dishonouring bond.

She controlled herself with a great effort and continued talking
soothingly to him, obeying mechanically the will power that had governed
her actions throughout.  But how much the effort cost her, only she,
herself, could ever realise.  While she stayed there with him, listening
to his thick, disconnected utterances, and replying with a gentleness
born of pity only, it seemed to her that something within her, something
that was vital and necessary to the appreciation of life, died utterly,
and left her apathetic and indifferent, a woman denuded of all the best
warm impulses of the heart.  The best of herself was dead; there only
remained the dull, unloving semblance of her former self.

CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.

On leaving Arnott's room, when comforted by her presence he fell asleep
and so freed her from the painful necessity of remaining beside him,
Pamela returned swiftly to the waiting-room, where Dare was, and,
entering, closed the door behind her, and stood leaning against it, with
her hand on the knob, as though fearful that if she released it some one
might intrude upon them, might perhaps induce her to return to the room
from which, as soon as she had seen he slept, she had fled in cautious
haste.  Her face was flushed, her eyes were bright and hard, and her
breath came with painful quickness, in short, spasmodic gasps.

Dare looked at her in some concern, and advancing, stood close to her,
and laid his hand upon her sleeve.

"Don't excite yourself," he said.  "Sit down, Pamela.  There's no hurry.
Get a grip on yourself."

She laughed shrilly.  And the next moment she was crying, holding to his
arm, and weeping on his shoulder.

"I'm a fool," she sobbed, "a fool...  I don't know why I'm crying.
Please, don't take any notice of me.  I'll be all right in a minute."

"Oh! my dear," she cried presently, raising her face, and looking up at
him through tear-blurred eyes, "you can't imagine...  He's an old man,
and childish.  He doesn't seem to remember--anything.  He was just glad
to see me...  And all the time I was only conscious of an eagerness, a
horrible eagerness, to get away,--to run from the room.  If it's going
to be like that always--"

"It won't," he interposed quietly.  "You've had a shock, I wish now I
had persuaded you not to come.  Sit down, Pamela.  Shall I ask for
anything for you?"

"No," she said, "I don't want any one to come in here.  I'm all
unnerved.  I don't know how I am going through with this."

"Then don't go through with it," he said.  "Chuck it.  It's not too late
now."

He led her to a chair and put her into it.

"What's the use of making yourself miserable, like this?" he said.

She looked at him in consternation, as he stood over her and made this
astounding suggestion in the quiet ordinary tones of a man offering
quite simple, commonplace advice.  He met her gaze steadily.

"You've tried," he said.  "It's not your fault if the job is too big for
your undertaking.  I've felt all along that you didn't appreciate fully
the difficulty of the task.  Give in, Pamela, and admit yourself
beaten."

"Give in _now_?" she cried.

"Why not?" he said.

She leaned back in the chair, her face paling; and for a second or so
neither spoke.  Dare remained waiting with a certain confidence for her
answer.  It occurred to him that she knew herself to be beaten.  All the
fight was gone out of her.  She had the air of a creature trapped and
frantically seeking a way of escape.  If he pointed the way in all
probability she would take it.

What decision she came to, or if she came to any decision, he had no
means then of knowing.  While he waited for her to speak the door of the
room opened, and the matron appeared, and stood on the threshold,
surveying the scene with manifest surprise.  Dare glanced over his
shoulder at her, but he did not move.

"Mrs Arnott is feeling a little upset," he said.

She came forward quickly.

"Shall I fetch anything?--water?"

"I don't think that is necessary," he replied.  And Pamela sat up with a
quickly uttered protest.

"It is nothing," she said.  "Just shock.  I wasn't prepared to see such
a change.  I've never seen any one ill,--really ill, like that, before.
I'm all right now.  It was stupid of me to be so foolish.  But," she
looked at the matron piteously, with quivering lips, "he is so altered,"
she said pathetically.  "He is quite old."

The matron felt puzzled.  In her long experience of sickness she had
never known the patient's appearance to be the chief concern of the
relatives.  She felt a little unsympathetic towards Mrs Arnott's
attitude.

"An illness like Mr Arnott's would change any one," she answered.  "The
difference will be less marked as he gains strength.  Your visit seems
to have done him good already.  He is sleeping quite quietly and
comfortably."

"I am glad," Pamela said simply.

She rose and turned appealingly to Dare.

"Shall we go now?"

"If you are ready," he said.

The matron held the door open.

"You are quite sure?" she asked, as she shook hands, and looked
searchingly into the frightened blue eyes of this surprising visitor,
"that you won't have something before you leave?"

"Quite sure, thank you," Pamela summoned a wintry smile to her aid.  "I
am sorry to have given so much trouble," she added.  "I won't be so
foolish again."

The matron repudiated the suggestion of trouble, and inquired if she was
to expect the visitor on the morrow.  Pamela hesitated for a barely
perceptible moment, during which Dare looked as though he would have
suggested the wisdom of refraining from making a definite arrangement.
He did not, however, speak; and Pamela answered reluctantly, after a
pause:

"To-morrow...  Yes, I will come to-morrow."

Out in the open air again, driving bade to their hotel, Dare asked her
why she had made the arrangement.

"There wasn't any need," he said.  "You might not feel up to it.
Besides, there's the point to be settled first.  If you are going to
draw back it has to be now."

"I can't draw back," she answered nervously...  "I can't."

"Can you go through with it?" he asked.  "That's the question.  To draw
back is quite ample.  In my opinion, it is what you ought to do.  Your
heart isn't in this, Pamela."

"No," she admitted.

She frowned faintly.

"Before I came my one fear was that he would be difficult; now that I
find him wanting me I'm holding back.  It's paltry of me.  I think if I
had come alone I should have found it easier."

"You mean," he said, "that I am trying to influence you?"

"Not trying...  I mean that your presence influences me.  It makes me
hate the thought of living with him.  There is no love in my heart for
him--not any.  When I saw him lying there so ill, so terribly altered, I
didn't want to go near him,--didn't want to touch him.  It was horrible.
I had to force myself to touch him.  That is how it will be, I suppose,
always.  It wasn't the sight of him so much as that thought which so
unnerved me.  And that woman thinks me an unfeeling brute.  Dear heaven!
if she only knew!"

"Look here!" he said.  "I can't stand this.  If you feel all that about
it you have no right to go on.  It's no fairer on him than on you.  It's
no kindness to him."

"I am not acting from any motive of kindness towards him," she answered.
"I'm paying the debt--and making him pay--which we owe to the children
we brought into the world.  That is my only reason for going on with
this.  I can't draw back.  I wish I could--even now."

The motor stopped before the hotel entrance.  Dare got out and helped
her to descend.

"I'm coming up to the balcony," he said.  "I want to talk."

Pamela went inside and passed up the stairs to her room.  She took off
her hat and gloves, and went out on to the balcony, and sat in the
shade, waiting for him.  He was not long in joining her.  He drew a
chair up close to hers and sat down.

"Now," he said, "we'll dispose of this matter finally.  My time is
short.  I intend to take the evening train to Johannesburg, unless, of
course, you change your mind; and then--"

"You'll take the evening train, dear," she said quietly.

He glanced at her sharply.

"You mean that?" he said.  "That's your final answer, Pamela?"

"Yes; that's my final answer."

"So be it," he replied, and looked away again, out across the busy,
sunny street.

"It doesn't alter anything," he added presently, speaking in sharp,
crisp tones that disguised whatever emotion swayed him at the moment.
"Matters stand between us as they were.  When you find life too hard,
you'll send for me.  I shall be able to judge from the tone of your
letters how things go with you.  In the meantime--save for one
occasion--we shall not meet again."

Pamela drew a deep breath, and for a time sat very still, her white face
tense and miserable, her eyes staring blankly into space.  In her mind,
like a refrain, his words were repeating themselves again and again,
conveying, somehow, little sense of meaning:

"In the meantime--save for one occasion--we shall not meet again."

Abruptly their full significance broke upon her.  She turned to him
quickly.

"What occasion?" she asked.

Dare sat back in his seat, contemplating her gravely.

"I've been thinking," he said, "all the way coming up, and again this
morning, about the girl--Blanche Maitland.  We haven't finished with
her," he added, noting Pamela's startled look.  "Of course if you had
decided differently, that would have been a matter we need not have
concerned ourselves with.  As things are, however, we have got to put it
beyond her power to do you any injury.  There is only one way that I can
see to prevent that.  Your marriage must take place as soon as
possible."

"But," Pamela began, and paused dismayed...  "I couldn't bear--"

"No," he interposed quickly.  "I know what you are feeling.  We'll
manage it as secretly as possible.  It may be necessary to move him from
that place.  I think it will be necessary.  We'll need to take the
doctor into our confidence--to a certain extent.  We'll suppress the
former marriage altogether, I think."

"Oh!" she said, and covered her eyes with her hand, and remained quiet.

He watched her keenly.

"If you leave it to me," he said, "I think I can manage it so that you
won't find it very humiliating.  Then, if the girl turns up, you are
better prepared to face her.  I fancy there won't be much difficulty in
squaring her.  She isn't out for revenge."

He leaned forward and laid a hand warmly upon hers.

"Is it too much altogether to face, dear?" he asked.  "I think it will
be best for you...  God knows, I don't wish you to do it!  I'd rather a
thousand times you followed my suggestion.  If you won't do that, then
the other course it seems to me is the only means of safeguarding your
position.  After all, it is merely hastening things a bit.  You always
intended legalising the marriage."

"Yes," she said, and was silent, thinking.  "I know you are right," she
added after reflection.  "I'll do whatever you think wise.  But I feel
that I ought not to let you undertake this too.  I am fairly heavily in
your debt already; and there is no return that I can make."

Dare smiled at her.

"There is no question of debt or gratitude between us," he replied.  "I
promised to see you through.  I am going to do that.  Afterwards..."

The sound of the luncheon gong filled in the pause.  Dare got up,
without completing the sentence, and putting his hand within her arm
walked with her through her room into the corridor.

"I have to go out after lunch," he said.  Though he did not explain his
reason for going, she felt that it was about her business.  "I shall
probably only get back in time to fetch my suit case, and say good-bye.
I wonder--will you be on the balcony, so that I shall be able to find
you?"

"I'll be there," she answered, "in the same place, outside my room."

And so, with the imminent prospect of coming separation hanging over
them, they went into luncheon together, and loitered over the meal,
talking fragmentally, as people do who have discussed everything of
vital interest and have come down to the bedrock of commonplace things.

"You'll wire me," he said once, returning to the subject occupying both
their minds, "if you find yourself in any doubt or difficulty?  It's
nothing of a journey between this and Johannesburg."

She promised; and Dare, satisfied on this point, went on with his meal
Pamela could not eat.  She trifled with the food which the waiter put on
her plate, and watched Dare, thinking of the many meals she would take
in that room without him; thinking of the lonely hours she would spend,
missing his companionship, missing him,--the lonely years, when the only
link between them would be the chain of letters she had promised to
interchange... those, and memory.

The future loomed so bleak and empty that she was afraid to look
forward.  Always she pictured herself shrinking, shrinking ever from the
pathetic sight of suffering,--from the shadow of the man that had been,
and the duty that would tie her continually to his side.  Pamela had yet
to learn that there is no path, upon the fingerpost of which Duty is
clearly inscribed, so difficult for the traveller's reluctant steps but
that beauty is to be met along the road, and peace waits at the finish.

CHAPTER THIRTY THREE.

Many emotions stirred Pamela while she waited through the sunny warmth
of the summer day for Dare's return.  The horror of the morning had
passed.  She was quite collected now, and able to dwell dispassionately
on the changed life that confronted her.

Dare had told her, and she had inclined to believe him, that only love
mattered.  Now, while she sat alone, thinking quietly, and reviewing all
her past life as it stood in relation to the future, she realised that
love is not the principal factor in life; it is merely a beautiful
adornment, a quality which tends to gladden, and sometimes to ennoble,
life; but it is not the base on which the structure is supported.  Love
is a separate emotion, a distinctly personal attribute.  Of itself it is
frankly selfish.  Only when it teaches self-abnegation can it be termed
a wholly beautiful thing.  To sacrifice everything for love, is to lower
love to a purely physical emotion; and love stripped of its spiritual
element becomes an ephemeral passion, a thing of mean delights, an
excitement, a quality shorn of all fineness and dragged down to the
commonplace of physical necessity.  That was the quality of the love she
had known in her married life; and that was why to-day, when she needed
the strength of love to support her, nothing of it remained but the
gaunt spectre of a long dead passion.

But to love warmly and intensely, in a quite human fashion--and to part!
...  That was not easy.  It made a greater demand on her fortitude than
anything she had yet been faced with.  But difficulties met courageously
present the weapons for their own defeat.  The power of conquest comes
of the determination to conquer.

When Dare returned, and came up to the balcony in search of her, he
discovered her, as he believed, asleep.  She was sitting so still, with
closed eyes, and was so deeply plunged in thought that she did not hear
him until he was close upon her.  Then her eyelids flashed open
abruptly, and a flush suffused the pallor of her cheeks.

"I've only got a minute," he said, pausing in front of her.  "The taxi
is waiting.  Come inside, Pamela.  We can't part here."

She was seated outside the windows of her room, and she rose as he spoke
and entered the room without answering him.  He followed her quickly.

"I've been seeing to things," he said.  "I'll write you.  There isn't
time to go into it now.  But it will be all right.  Don't bother your
head about anything until you hear from me."  He held her by the
shoulders and looked steadily into her eyes.  "It won't be long before
I'm back.  But this is our real parting.  This is the last time I shall
hold you so,--the last time I shall kiss your lips... my dear!"

She drew near to him.  Her face as she lifted it to his was
transfigured.  Never had he seen it so beautiful, so gravely tender.  A
yearning light of love lit her eyes, made them melting and wondrously
soft.  For a moment they remained looking at one another.  Then he
gathered her close in his arms, crushed her to him, and kissed her mouth
again and again.

"We're parting," he muttered, drawing back his head, and staring at her
without releasing her.  "I don't feel I can go somehow.  I feel I'm a
fool to go.  Why don't I stay and fight it out with you, Pamela?  You
little woman, the strength that is in you!  You don't answer.  Your eyes
just tell me I must go.  Well, I am taking part of you away with me--and
leaving the best of myself with you...  We'll go on...  We'll get used
to it in time, I daresay.  But it hurts, Pamela."

"Yes."  She touched his cheek softly with her hand.  "These last few
days," she said, "they're something to remember..."

"Something," he said, "yes."

"We've been very close," she whispered.  "Nothing--no bodily separation
can alter that.  The memory of your love will remain with me always.
I'm glad we've talked of love, dear,--that we haven't tried to hide
things from each other."

"Oh! we've talked," he said.  "But talking..."

He broke off, and caught her to him again.  Then he held her a little
way off, and scrutinised her long and earnestly.

"I don't understand," he muttered...

Suddenly his face softened.  He bent his head and kissed her again
quietly, and, releasing her, turned away.

"Good-bye," he said, a little abruptly, and opened the door of the room
and stepped into the corridor.

Pamela remained standing where he had left her, her arms hanging loosely
at her sides, her face strained and curiously set; and in her eyes,
glowing darkly in the white face, a shadowed look of suffering too deep
for utterance or the relief of tears.

When we stand at the parting of the ways how difficult seems the road,
how bitter the moment of farewell.  But sorrow is no longer enduring
than any other emotion.  We take our lives again, and go on.

CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR.

Some years later Dare sat in his room before an untidy desk with a
letter spread out before him among the litter of papers and things lying
about.  The letter was from Pamela, between whom and himself, since the
occasion when he had been present at her marriage in Pretoria, these
regular but infrequent communications formed the sole link.

This letter in its quiet reflective tone differed from any other he had
received from her.  It breathed through every line of it a calm
satisfaction, a resigned acceptance of the conditions of her life, that
was in no wise morbid, that held, indeed, a note of hope, of quiet
gladness even.  Clearly for her the turbulent discontent was past.  She
had glided into some forgotten backwater, and discovered there beauties
that lie unsuspected in these restful retreats of the mind.

  "I am thinking much of you to-day," she wrote.  "There is nothing
  unusual in that; but to-day my thoughts are more intent on you than at
  other times.  Your friendship means so much to me.  I doubt if any
  woman has ever received more unselfish service than I have had from
  you.  It has been a tremendous help to me.

  "Life has been very difficult often since we parted,--it is difficult
  still at times; but each year brings some compensation.  And in
  waiting on him, in caring for the straining thread of life,--it is
  straining very fine now,--I have learnt to understand him better, and
  to get back some of the old kindly feeling which I believed was dead.
  He is very dependent on me, and, despite the querulousness of ill
  health, truly grateful.  I am so glad we acted as we did, my dear,--
  that we didn't shirk.  Plainly this is the work it was intended I
  should do.  It is irksome to me no longer.  And if in doing it I have
  lost my youth, and that which was infinitely more precious, at least I
  have the satisfaction of knowing that the happiness we both
  relinquished remains a beautiful, untarnished memory, which for me, at
  least, lightens the burden of these weary years.

  "I am growing old now, dear.  You would scarcely know me.  My hair is
  turning grey.  I looked in the glass to-day and saw many little lines
  in my face which used not to be there.  What does it matter?  The
  outward semblance of youth, like the restless fever of love, is
  something which remains with us only for a short while.  But these
  things live on in our hearts, warm and glowing, like the fires on the
  hearth of winter when the glory of summer is gone.  To me you will
  always seem as I knew you first, as you will ever remain in my
  thoughts--a king among men.  I hope my son will grow up brave and
  strong, like yourself.  In my children I renew my youth."

Dare rested his elbow on the desk, and supported his head on his hand,
and fell to thinking.  "The straining thread of life,--it is straining
very fine now..."  When, he wondered, with his gaze fixed on the closely
written lines, would his summons come?

------------------------------------------------------------------------

The End.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Bigamist" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home