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A Circle In The Sand

A Circle In The Sand image
Parent Issue
Day
3
Month
February
Year
1899
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

(1 j4uior of "TAeftiss o God'TJn? Otter tfousc: ) Olga had beeu dead six mouths. He tbougbt of her grave in Greenwood, her inother's but the reach of au arm rom her - the íiuale to a story in those two mouuds - of Dr. Ericsson, gone to spend bis last years in Sweden, in the house where he was born and which had come to hirn a few months before through the death of a brother ; of Aune, but lately returned to her old rooms, her life uuchanged. David rose and paced the room, a line creepiug down between his brows. The silence seemed speaking to hirn of Anne tonight. She had been the star of his life. He freely acknowledged it. She had drained much of the bitterness from hie adversities. No man could have had a more satisfying compauion, a better friend. These blessings had been his, though they were ueither his right uor his reward. He wanted to teil her this and more. She had been ill, the result of a heavy cold, and on the morrow wonld leave for holidayin thesouth. Sometbingnrged him not to let her leave New York ■without expressing what she had no doubt come to realize - how much her going from under the same roof had taken from his life. "Yes, I miss her," he said in concentrated accents as be stood still and listened with the subtler inner hearing to the vast silence wrapping the house. He stepped into the hall. The gas was burning brightly, but the curve of the high staircase was lost in shadow. He thought of how often Anne had come down, humming a song. But a few nights before Dr. Ericsson's departure he remembered her coming back half way to say good uight to him, and how her long braid of hair becoming ed had swept his cheek like a silky lash. It had been au incident for a laugh then, but now the ïaeruory of her tress' touch, her hand, her eyes, made hini resent his loueliuess. He went into the drawing room, but carue out of it quickly. It was there among the teacups and in the flrelight he had asked Olga to be his wife, there her coffin had stood. It was a hated room. Ghosts were its tenautry. Going back to the study fire, he, lit a cigar. The past unrolled itself before him, and he tried to approxiinate the' years to come. . The deductions from hia reasoniug were as clear and strong as if spoken by a bell-like voioe beside him. Loneliness was horrible. It turned a man into an intellectual machine, warped his nature, put him out of touch with his kind. Üuce he had been prxmd to stand quite alone, absolute máster of every heart throb aud every moment, but he had tasted the joy of a ! thetic ■woiuau's daily corupanionship and was unfitted forever for a self laiiieu ure wnere tne ego was suprenie and am bition, the ruling passion. If be had learried this from tbe year of life vinder one roof with Anne, how much deeper the lesson would be if she had been his wife. If Anne had been his wife! The words filled him with passive regret as he lifted her photograph from the mantel aud loolred into the eyes whioh seeined even theré to questiou and comfort bim. If he could have loved her, if he conld trat love her now, as any man, the greatest, might be prond to love her. His feeling for hf;r was very near the richest his nature could germinate. Gentleuess and sympathy were in it, pride and reverence. It but lacked pas sion to make it perfect. This he had knowu for oue woman, a heady, nnreasoning, iutoxicating love, without snbstance or depth. Anne did not arouse it in him, he oould not add it to the involved longings which made her necessary to him, very probably it would forever escape him. Need this prevent him from astóna her to be bis wife, from ínaking her happy shonld she give herself to him? What he had to oflfer was better far than what he lacked - the fever of passion whicb could thrive in the most meager natures, the most evanescent, the basest ingrediënt of all in love. Anne could be dear and necessary to him without thismadnesswhichoould never corne again to him. Without being in ] love with her, he loved ber tenderly. Was there as mucb impórtanos in the subtle difference as romantic minds supposed? His bead was cool, his heart craving sympathy. He desired nrgently not so much Anne'skissasher companionship, not to give himself into her power and lose himself in her, but to know the happiness of her dependence on him. When his cigar was finished, he went back to the table and looked down at the letter he had commeuced to her. "My dear Anne." The stereotyped words were so wholly inadequate they irritated him. He crushed the paper in his palm and flung it into the fire. He would go to her. As he took his overcoat and hat from the stand in the hall, he muttered impatientlv : "What shall I say to her? How can I pnt it to her?" In a few inoments he was on the fitreet, making his way against the wind to her rooms on Washington place, where some of the mostcontented hours of bis life had been spent. The flamea in thestreet lamps danced nnder bis feet in the drenched paveroents, the crossed streets lay in stormy hadow, icicles on trees and palings clinked in the rush of the freezing rain; once the nnmbed face of a beggar looked at hina ; oncejkstray dog ■ sömëiy agalnsF Talm as bê sf rd Se'ön. The world seerned full of mist and pain, but there was ligbt in bis soul and when bo saw the firelight on Anne's Windows he feit almost ashanied of the sense of well being which carne to him j while otbers in the world sufïered. Aune opcned the door of the sitting room herself. She was all in white, of ] some thick, heavy falling material, and behind her darfc head the room swani in rosy gloom. The air was heavy with the perfume of roses. He seemed entering a garden with Aune by bis sidu, pale from her illness and with dovelike eyes. A soul wave of mutual comprehension made him feel his coming had been half expected and thal she was glad. When he had made her sit again in tbe low armchair and had arranged tbe silk pillow at a comfortable angle for her head, he sat down beside her and looked & her earnestly. "Almost better, aren't yon?" he said gladly. ' ' Yonr face is gettiug back its rounded look, and soon yon won 't get a single bit of sympathy. " "Almost better," Anne echoed, an excited catch in her voice. "I assure you, reposing on this pillow in a sort of Cleopatra attitude, I feel quite a fraud. I'd like to have gone for a tramp in this wild rain. Listen to it. How it sighs and spuiters, and then with what a sweep it comes on!" While the words lef t her lips she was thinking that it was strange and troubling to be there alone with David, the firelight on his near face, while beyond the close cnrtained Windows the storm called and called to them in vain. She knew why he had come. Her intuitivo mind, leaping to clusions, told her that words having no kin&hip to farewell -svere faltering on his lips. She feit a sudden uneasiness and excitement. The beating of her heart was painful. "You'll be gone a month?" "At least a month," she nodded. i "Pin reveling in the thonght of getting i back to suurnier and for the fli-st time ; sinelling a lily field in bloom. The word 'Bermuda' has an exotic sound to me. ' Have yon ever been there?" "No, " he sajd absently, and, leaning nearer, said earnestly, "i'll miss you so, Arme." His fingers touched hers, and she met his eyes. TJiey were grave and dominant. "And how l've missed you these lasi five weeks !". he went on. "I find myself listening for your step, for memory plays me cruel tricks. But you are gone, and I have to learn all over the ' lesson of philosophy. I'vegrown to bate the place. Just to look at the corner of the table where you used to pour coffee for me makes me blue. ' ' As he spoke quietly and half confidingly Aune became aware of a disappointment ïn herself. He was going to say more. What had been her dearest dreain was going to intensify itself into a certaïnty tonight, and yet she was aware that if some interruption had come and David had been forced to loave her with the words nnsaid she wonld have been relieved. "Yes, niissed you, and I will miss yon, ' ' lie continned and lif ted her hand to nis lips. "Does it matter that you are very dear to me, and I want you always? Will you be my wife, Anner Will you?" A sense of coming triumph filled David as he spoke.. He was aware he had not feared failure. Dtiring the laat year Anne had sa let herself be knitted with his life it seemed only a natural conclusión that he was as necessary to her as she to him. Besides, he had never failed in anything save his marriage, and without egotism he did not consider that this pale and lonely woman whose affection he had tested could disarmninf: him now. But Anne drew away from him, and while his hand still held hers a wave of relief from the deeps of her soul went over her. Sbe seemed suddenly set free from chains. David's manner, his gentle, tender words, had left her cold. He was elear eyed, sensible, happy, but températe and master of himself. She feit no desire to respond to his tonch or glance. Instead tbere leaped into her mind a regret that she must deny him without quite realizing why. "Anne, " he said again, his face anxious now - "Anne, can yon - can you love me? Will you marry me?" She 6tood up and turned her head away, still feeling strange to herself. When she epoke, she obeyed a new knowledge, imperátive, yet mystifying. "David," she said seriously, "I don't love you that way. " He renmined silent until she forced herself to look fully at him. "Ah, " he said, as if it were the first breath he had taken since she had replied, "isitso? I had hoped- but no matter now. " Anne gazed shrinkingly at his serious, composed face and held out her hands. He took them and looked tenderiy at her. "We'll forget this, Anne," he said. Her eyes looked frankly and sorrowfnlly into his. "I go away tomorrow. " Her fingera held his closely. "Say goodby, andsay it as if you forgave me." "For what? My dear Anne, you need no forgiveness f rom me. " "I'vé giVen you some pain, David. I'yodisappoiuted yqu._ I'm sorry." (To be coñtlnued)