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The Story of a New Zealand River


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the autumn set in late after the unusually hot summer, remembered afterwards as one of the worst for fires that the north had ever known. For two months Tom Roland kept bands of fighters ready for any emergency, and he was fortunate in escaping with nothing worse than some bad scares, two small burns, and the loss of one camp outfit. For weeks at a time the pall of smoke rolling up from the fires started on the gum-fields, in clearings and on waste lands, obliterated the horizons. The low, scrub-covered ground opposite the mill inside the turn of the river below Roland's house, had blazed for one week, raising showers of sparks that were watched anxiously lest they should carry across. The smoke from this section filled the houses about the bay so that everybody tasted it on their tongues when they woke in the morning.

There had been one weird period of several days when the late afternoon sun had seemed to step out of the great curtain behind it and to be rapidly approaching the earth with the awful ominousness of some bulging blood-red eye in a monster mad with the lust for wholesale destruction. Men stopped work to look at it, and women shivered as with a presentiment of evil. Its appearance was so extraordinary that the newspapers sought to find causes for it, and concluded that the huge fires going on in Australia at the same time accounted for the phenomenon.

As she sat much alone Alice felt there was some correspondence between the behaviour of the seasons and the happenings in her own little world. It seemed fitting to her that that particular summer and autumn should be out of the ordinary. The constant anxiety about fire on the part of her husband and David Bruce paralleled her restlessness. page 368 Those abnormal suns intensified the sense of unreality she had had about her life since the day she knew that Asia and Allen Ross had begun to live together.

It was not until more than two months of the relation had gone by that she began to accept it as something more than an excrescence on her experience. Then it began to fit in, to flow along with other things in her daily life.

She had managed to be so noncommittal after Asia's first return that they had both started without embarrassment upon the course they had since pursued. Alice had accepted without question the tale Asia told about the Haywoods. She had met Ross at tea two days later, taking her cue from the normal behaviour of the lovers. As time went on she had had relapses into amazement at their unruffled demeanour, moments of fear that they might be discovered, short periods of envy for their youth and courage, every kind of ebb and flow of emotion and decision about them. But all through she had outwardly preserved a serenity that completely deceived them, and that was praised as wonderful by David Bruce.

The lovers had been most discreet. Ross had come alone or with Lynne to dinner many times. He had never betrayed himself, nor had Asia. They had not shut themselves up to each other. They had joined in trips to the bush, in fire-fighting expeditions, in parties of various kinds. When they had gone alone in the launch up the river they arranged their start so that they were not seen leaving together. Ross always waited at or near the dell. When they went sailing down the river Lynne accompanied them so far, and landing below the gap, walked back through the bush. Bruce assured Alice that they might go on for a year like that, and that no one would suspect. If Roland thought anything about them, he never mentioned it.

This elimination of immediate danger affected Alice. She saw that it was bringing her to think differently of their action. She found herself wondering if, after all, the spiritual values they got did not justify them. She usually page 369 fell back from heresies of this kind into questions as to where it would end if everybody did as they were doing. But she watched them as much as she dared with interest, and sometimes with fascination.

One night towards the end of March she felt her loneliness and restlessness more than usual. It was the brown dress night, and she had almost come to believe that it had an uncanny influence over her. As she would have expressed it, it gave her the fidgets. If she had been a different type of woman she would have said it made her feel “naughty,” “wicked,” or “like the devil”; but, though she had heard such expressions on the mischievous lips of Dorrie Harding, it never occurred to her to use them, even in fun.

She had dressed carefully, knowing that Ross was coming to dinner, and hoping that Bruce would get down from the bush. But his failure to appear had put a note of disappointment into the meal, which seemed to her to have been unsatisfactory to the lovers also, because Roland, who was in a garrulous mood, monopolized the conversation with tedious repetitions of his fire-fighting exploits. She thought Asia and Ross were unusually quiet. She knew that Ross was soon to return to Sydney, and she rightly guessed that they hated to think that that summer of romance had to end. As she saw them go off together afterwards she could not help feeling sorry for them, seeing the inevitable changes they had to face.

After Roland had departed for the evening to visit the captain of a timbership that had arrived that afternoon, Alice sat down outside her window, leaving her children studying as usual in the dining-room. The night, heavy with smoke, was sultry and enervating, and yet had a curious goad in it that prevented one's giving way to it with pleasant limpness. There was also a haunting foreboding of winter, intensified by the crickets, that in keeping with the other exaggerations of the season were that year more numerous than ever. They seemed to Alice to chirp with a mournfulness worse than anything she had ever heard. page 370 She had not sat long before they and something in the night got on her nerves.

Getting up, she walked off down the front steps and round into the back garden, where she began to pace backwards and forwards along the centre path. The night settled down quickly, hastened by the smoke. Stars were visible only vaguely at the zenith. She began to stop at intervals to listen for sounds that might tell of Bruce's return. But though the night was very still she could hear nothing that resembled a horse's hoofs down the road.

She could never tell afterwards what it was that drove her out of the garden and along the path to his shanty. She knew that unless it was very late when he returned he would come to see her, for she had not seen him at all that day. Although it was long after the time when she had ever gone alone in the evening to see him, she felt she could not wait. All that was in her mind was the idea that she would see if he were there, and that if he were she would bring him back with her.

When she got near his shanty she paused at the sound of scrappy whistling. Then she saw a faint sheen of light radiating from his doorway. She listened to hear if he had any one with him. As she did so a shadow crossed the light, and a stream of water thrown from a dish careered out into the night and splashed upon the dry earth. Hearing no other sounds, she was reassured and went on.

David Bruce was standing in front of his mirror adjusting a tie when he heard her step on the porch.

“You,” he said, “I was just coming along.” He gave her a quick, curious look, wondering what had happened.

She stood in his doorway as if she were waiting to be asked in.

“I didn't hear you ride down, David.” Though her voice was natural she felt uncertain and nervous.

“No? I came slowly. The road is very dusty.”

“Have you had your dinner?”

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“Yes, in the bush. Aren't you coming in?” He turned from the mirror.

“Oh, yes.” She moved forward a few steps, and then stood hesitating.

As he put on his coat he wondered again why she had come. But he treated her unusual action as if it were a common one. He left her to seat herself while he lit his lamp, blew out his candle, put away his soiled clothes, and hunted for his pipe and tobacco.

Absent-mindedly Alice sat down on his bunk watching him, and looking aimlessly about the room. Her eyes stopped at one of his windows.

“You need a new curtain, David,” she said solemnly.

He surveyed the article she disapproved as if it had been an affair of state.

“Oh, do I? I hadn't noticed.”

When he had finally cleared his clothes away and collected his smoking materials on a little table, Alice stood up.

“I just came to meet you, David,” she said, as if it had suddenly dawned on her that she had to give a reason for her visit.

“Good gracious,”—he smiled easily—“sit down. Now that we are here we can stay here surely.” His amused eyes helped her to lose some of her nervousness.

“What's the matter?” he went on lightly. “Is it just the dumps, or something more serious?”

Seated in a chair opposite her, he smiled approvingly at the brown dress. But though his manner was airy he was sympathetically conscious of her restlessness. He had helped her to laugh at herself many times that summer. He had brought her to shed the remainder of her stock phrases about morals. He had seen her undergo transformations as the result of her clearer self-analysis. But he knew she was still a long way off peace of mind.

“I don't know what's the matter with me, David. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm getting like these modern page 372 women who revolt against domesticity.” Her troubled eyes looked into his and then over his shoulder at the wall.

“What!” he laughed softly. “You a feminist! What next?”

“Don't make fun of me, David. Do you really think my life now is a satisfactory thing? Do you?”

He saw she was bent on being serious, but he hoped to mitigate the intensity of her mood.

“Well, what do you think of doing? Do you propose to start a Browning club or a mothers' circle at the bay, or what?” Then he saw he had hurt her.

“David, don't, please.”

“Oh, don't mind me, my dear. Now I'm ready to listen. What's the trouble?” He leaned forward.

“I've been thinking this summer, David. And I'm beginning to hate my useless life. I've been asking myself what I do that is any good.” She paused.

“Yes? Go on.” He began to fill his pipe.

“I don't do anything that means anything in the house—you know that. I used to love the children all taking care of me, but now I hate it, and they will go on treating me as if I were an invalid. They turn me out of the kitchen, they fuss about my getting tired, they seem to live in dread of my headaches. Oh, David, I hate it! I hate it! I'm nothing to any of them, and it makes me so lonely. I haven't anything to do. I'm no use to Tom—I'm only half a woman to you——”

She stopped because his hand had closed her mouth. Impulsively slipping to his knees, he threw his arms about her.

“Oh, my dear, do stop that half-a-woman business. Start a movement, anything——”

He threw up his head, but before either of them could move there was a step on the porch and Roland stood in the doorway. His rubber shoes had not heralded his approach upon the dusty path. He had a yellow piece of paper in one hand.

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He blinked in the light from the nickel lamp, caught sight of the two at the bunk, and quickly drew back.

“Beg pardon,” he exclaimed, startled. “I didn't mean to intrude.”

Alice turned white in spite of the reassuring look Bruce shot at her as he drew away from her. It was the first time in all their experience that Roland had come upon them in anything like a compromising situation.

“You are not intruding,” Bruce said, getting to his feet. “Come in, Tom.”

“It's all right,” muttered the boss. “It'll do in the morning.”

“No, it won't do in the morning,” answered Bruce quietly. “Come in.”

But it was obvious the boss did not want to. He entered uncomfortably, and only when Bruce repeated the words almost as a command. He crumpled up the paper in his hand, bit his lips, and stared at the floor.

“Tom, this looks bad”—his partner looked straight at him, speaking with significant slowness—“and I'm afraid you won't believe me when I say that your wife and 'I have never been unfaithful to you in the conventional sense.”

As Roland looked up Bruce saw incredulity in his eyes, but not the anger he had expected to see.

“Well, then, you're a mighty strange pair,” was his blunt reply.

At these words Alice rose mechanically from the bunk. She, too, was amazedly conscious that he was not angry.

“I don't understand you,” said Bruce.

“Do you mean you've never made love to my wife?” Tom Roland stared at him as if his not doing so was a matter for investigation.

“I mean that, certainly.”

“You don't love her?”

“That is another story,” answered Bruce, in the same calm tones.

“You love her, and you expect me to believe that you page 374 haven't made love to her?” Roland stared again at him as if he were the sensational novelty at a circus.

“That is the truth.”

And the boss saw it.

“Well, I'm jiggered!” he muttered, looking at the floor again.

Alice dropped back on to the bunk, struggling for breath.

Even Bruce could not at once get the significance of it.

“Do you mean you have supposed your wife and I were lovers?” he asked, after a moment of dead silence.


“For how long?”

“Oh, I don't know exactly.” The boss bit his lips again, and kicked at the end of a rug. “Ever since you spoke to me about her anyway.”

“What!” exclaimed Bruce, raising a hand at Alice, who had turned to him in astonishment.

“Well, what else could I think?” The boss looked up with a simple air of inquiry.

“God!” exploded Bruce. “Look here, Tom. You have the morals of a barnyard! But have you never met a man who could keep his hands off a woman?”

“Precious few. And there was something wrong with them,” retorted the boss grimly

“Good God, man! There is some decency in the world. I've been in a position of trust. What the devil do you mean by thinking I would abuse your confidence in that way?”

Alice felt the world turning round her as she saw the two men face each other without hostility, without anger, with nothing but amazement in their eyes.

The boss was the first to lower his.

“Well, I thought you'd see I was giving you chances——”

“Giving me chances!” repeated Bruce.

“Yes,” spluttered Tom Roland. “I'd had mine and failed. I came to see I wasn't her style, and never would be, and I knew you were, and I owed you a lot——” His voice page 375 cracked, but he went on brokenly, “I thought about it—I had always done what I damn well pleased—I thought I could give you a turn. I wasn't in a position to judge anybody, and when you spoke about her health I thought that was what you wanted, and that it was up to me to let you alone. I knew she didn't love me—I don't think she ever did—it was just hard luck——” His voice broke, and bursting into hysterical sobs, he dropped into a chair.

As she listened to him Alice got to her feet again, and she stood staring at him, her throat dry and burning, and tears running unheeded down her cheeks. She did not know why she was crying. She still felt as if she were in a dream.

Bruce also looked at him as if they were all puppets in a show. Roland's words were as much a revelation to him as they were to Alice. He could hardly credit that the man he had worked with for years could have kept a thing like this from him.

When he recovered his full consciousness he stepped to the chair and put his hand on the boss's shoulder.

“Tom, get up,” he said hoarsely.

Controlling himself with an effort, Roland scrambled to his feet, and the two men looked at each other again, ignoring Alice, who stared stupidly from one to the other.

“You were willing to let your wife and me be lovers?” said Bruce slowly.

“After I'd thought about it, yes. And I stayed away a lot, and never came back without notice, and now you tell me you never saw it.”

He felt that the one great, magnanimous thing he had ever done, his secret pride for three years, had been thrown away.

Bruce saw. He held out his hand.

“Tom, I don't know what to say to you.”

Most uncomfortably the boss took it, wishing himself out of this. Then for the first time he took notice of the presence of his wife.

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“Do you want a divorce? You could get plenty of evidence.”

These words, shot at her, startled her out of her daze. She jumped, put out her hand, searching for something to hold on to, and turned beseechingly to Bruce.

But he did not look at her. Instead he walked to the door, leaned against it, and stared out into the night.

Roland looked impatiently at his wife, wondering why she did not answer.

“You must know by this time whether you want it or not,” he said. “If you do I'll give you no trouble. I've lived on and off with Mrs. Lyman for years. She'd make no fuss; she'd like to marry me.”

Alice felt as if she would choke. Words strained painfully out of her throat were strangled at birth. She turned agonized eyes on Bruce, but he never gave a sign. Her lips moved like those of a paralytic.

“What?” asked Roland, unable to hear.

“Do you want the divorce?”

Bruce only just heard her question.

There was a short pause, in which the room was as still as a vacuum.

The boss fidgeted, his hands working nervously.

“I can't say that I do,” he mumbled.

“Don't you want to marry Mrs. Lyman?” Her voice was a little stronger.

“Not particularly.”

“You have lived with her on and off for years, and you don't want to marry her?” she asked, not understanding.

He mistook the meaning of her tone.

“Well, that ain't remarkable,” he snapped. “Lots of men live with women they don't want to marry. Why don't you learn something about the world you're living in? You saints! You don't know what goes on under your nose. I'm no worse than other men. I'm not half as bad as some of them that you've met and been very pleasant to. If you knew more about life you wouldn't condemn me.”

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“I'm not condemning you,” cried Alice passionately, her face set in an effort at control. But she could not help herself. She sat down on the bunk and burst into tears.

“Oh, for God's sake,” he exclaimed impatiently. He hated any scenes he did not make himself, and he wondered why on earth they had all got into this.

His tone stiffened Alice. She pulled herself up, and rising, faced him again.

“Do you want things to go on as they are?”

“Yes, I suppose I'd prefer it,” he answered truthfully. “I don't hanker after any scandal. But I'm willing to go through with it if you both want me to.” He kicked again at the rug.

As she looked at his lowered face and nervous movements, Alice grew steady with resolution.

“I will not get the divorce unless you wish it.”

Her voice rang round the shanty. She fancied she saw Bruce move in the doorway. Her husband did not realize what that decision cost her, nor did he regard it as final.

“You don't have to decide it to-night. You can talk it over. You can live with each other, anyway, all you want to, as far as I'm concerned.”

He swung round as if he'd done with it.

Alice stood frozen, dry-eyed, looking from him to the man in the doorway.

Bruce turned as the boss stumbled towards him.

“Tom,” he began hoarsely. Roland raised a twitching, distressed face. “I hope you don't think I did things for you with this in view.”

“Holy Moses!” exclaimed the boss, with an impatient gesture. “Do you think I don't know better than that? That's why I'm willing—here, I don't want to talk any more about it. But what you two do in the future is no business of mine. You know what I've been, and you've never preached to me. Well, I'm grateful. I'll agree to anything you want to do. Only settle it soon. I hate suspense.”

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He moved towards the porch with only one desire—to get away from this emotional strain.

Bruce caught sight of the crumpled yellow paper, still in his hand.

“You wanted to see me,” he said, diverted by it.

“What?” jerked the boss.

“You came to see me about something.” He pointed to the paper.

“Oh, yes.” Roland was instantly relieved to come down to the comfortable subject of business. His manner brightened. “The Kauri Timber Company has telegraphed, urgent, to know how soon we can have a quarter of a million feet ready to ship to Australia. But I'll see you about it in the morning.” Fortified by this break he looked back more cheerfully at Alice. “Now, I don't want to chew this over. I've said all I want to say. For God's sake don't be tragic about it. I'm not blaming you or anybody.”

And with that he left them.

With the world turning dizzily around her Alice dropped back on to the bunk. For a minute or two, while Roland's rapid steps grew more and more muffled in the dust, she was unconscious even of Bruce's presence. She felt absolutely vacant, as if her whole mind had been swept clean of its contents. Her eyes were turned in the direction of the doorway, but it was some minutes before the still figure leaning there took form and meaning. Then its continued silence seemed to charge it with significance.

With her eyes glued upon him she remembered that she had refused the divorce, and that she had not seen his face since she had done so.

“David,” she called sharply, feeling herself growing sick with the fear that he would misunderstand her.

He turned at one, and to her amazement she saw that there was a smile—a smile that screwed up his eyes—on his face as he came towards her.

Stupidly she saw him drop into his chair and stretch out his legs. Then he looked straight at her.

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“There seems to have been an awful waste of good virtue somewhere, doesn't there?” he drawled.

She looked at him as if she had not heard him aright. She could not understand why his eyes held that expression.

“You think it's funny!” she exclaimed.

“Yes, my dear. I think it's one of the most humorous things I've ever known—and one of the most pathetic.”

Then it dawned upon her that he was seeing things in the situation she did not see, and that what was tremendous to her was merely incidental to him. She had not begun to think of her husband or his attitude; she had thought first of herself and Bruce, and how they might be affected by this new element in their situation. She saw that he did not seem to be taking seriously the fact that Roland had offered them the chance of a divorce, and that she had refused it. His power to remain undisturbed by such an emotion-raising proposition astonished her. She suspected that for some reason best known to himself he was bluffing.

“I couldn't ask him for a divorce, David, not so long as he wanted me for anything at all.” Her eyes searched his hungrily for the corroboration she wanted.

“That is right for you,” he said quietly.

His use of the pronoun puzzled her. He saw that it added to the questions crowding upon her mind, and to the look of distraction in her eyes. Seeing clearly himself that nothing would in the end be altered by Roland's liberality, he meant to keep her as unemotional as he could.

“I mean that,” he went on, as if they were discussing some simple matter. “You had to act as you felt. I understand perfectly why you feel as you do. Now you have decided that. Let it alone.”

But he knew she could not and would not dismiss it as easily as all that. He wondered how long it would take her to come to the alternative, which, to his thinking, was a much more complex and difficult thing to dispose of; and, though he knew her well enough to be sure, even then, what page 380 her final decision would be, he knew she would not reach it without a dovetailing of desires and prohibitions that would bring upon her another period of mental torture. He was pretty sure that nothing that he could say would prevent that period of suspended resolution.

He watched her as she sat uncomfortably perched on the edge of his bunk, her face lowered, her eyes fixed on something on the rug. Her hands were gripped in her lap. She looked singularly young. Her cheeks were flushed, contrasting vividly with the white skin of her neck and forehead. Her graceful figure gave no sign of age. After all, she was only forty-three, and in spite of all that she had gone through, her inherited vitality had triumphed, and had brought her to the master years crowned with an attractiveness that held all who looked upon it.

It was seldom that Bruce allowed himself to think of the power of her physical allurement for him. He had always known that if he began to make a habit of that he would have to go away. He knew she was not conscious of the amount of physical quality there was in any man's feeling for a woman. He knew she would have denied the amount of it in her feeling for him. He had wondered lately if she recognized the source of much of her recent restlessness, if she would admit it frankly when she surmised it. He guessed that Roland's words would bring her to realize it in some degree.

He was curiously impersonal in his speculation about her, as if it were some man other than himself who was affected. He was helped to this detachment by his amazement at and interest in Roland's behaviour, which had astonished him more than anything had astonished him for years.

As she sat, Alice felt his eyes upon her. For some time she tried to resist their clutching reach. She tried to think. She tried to drag some definite statement from the blurr of words that travelled with the speed of an electric fan through her brain. At last she got something, the memory of her husband's permission to live with Bruce, and once page 381 she got that there was no room in her mind for anything else.

When at last she could no longer resist Bruce's scrutiny, and when she raised her face, he saw that she had come to the alternative.

The gripping, questioning look that passed between them was a strange one to happen between two people who had been as intimate as they had been for years. Only for a second did Bruce allow anything of his physical hunger for her to show in his eyes, but short though that revelation was it stirred her to hot confusion. He shut down at once on his own feeling, seeing that she would need his help to find herself in this new struggle.

Drawing himself up in his chair, he leaned forward, while she gazed at him, fascinated.

“Well, he has given you something to think about,” he began quietly, “but you do not have to do all the thinking to-night, you know.”

His impersonal manner amazed her.

“David,” she burst out, “he said we could live together.” She said it as if she thought he did not realize it.

He smiled.

“Does his saying so settle it?”

Then she saw that in this first stage of her reaction she had actually thought that it might.

She did not answer, but dropped her face.

“This is something you have to decide,” he went on.

He saw her lips moving in a pitiful attempt to say something.

“What is it?” he asked gently.

“You would like me to live with you, David.” She did not look up.

As he drew himself up again she raised her eyes full of storm and stress. She was surprised to see that he appeared to be calm.

“Look here,” he began, in level tones, “you are not to allow what you know to be my desires unduly to influence page 382 you. There are times when a man's desires would make a prostitute of any woman. I want you to understand now that I will not have you at any time as a sacrifice, as a compromise, as anything that is not spontaneous and happy. If you ever come to me you will come to me as Asia went to Ross, and in no other way.”

Unconsciously he had raised his voice, and his words rang round the room.

He went on with her eyes glued on his face.

“You will have to think about it, and I cannot help you. You know how I feel, but you have to decide on your own feeling as well as mine, and your feeling is something I have no right to force. And, please, remember that until you decide there must be no playing with our emotions. We have to go on as we have been doing. It will be hard now that the possibility of change has come on us like this. I have not lost anything by growing older, and, you know, you have been growing younger lately.”

As he had talked her eyes had lit up with fire. She threw out her hands to him.

“Oh, David, I love you, and I want to do what you want.”

“I dare say.” He coolly ignored her hands. “But I won't have you that way.”

She shrank back, hurt that he had taken no notice of her impulsive gesture. But she knew he was right. She knew her cry was the cry of a creature desiring the mate it had chosen, the primitive hunger for the pleasure in sight that takes no thought of the uncomfortable reactions that may come to-morrow. Then she was fired with admiration for the man who knew her better than she knew herself, and who would not take advantage of her lapses.

“Oh, David,” her lips trembled, “I want to love you. I don't know whether I can—but I want to——” She looked as if she were about to move forward into his arms, but she stiffened herself up.

David Bruce rose to his feet.

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“My dear, I want you to go home. I am likely to become irresponsible if you stay much longer. Now this is going to be the devil for both of us. Tom's words have removed one of my strongest incentives to virtue, and if you begin to be shaky and to talk of your wants, well——” He made a comical gesture of helplessness.

Again his light tone helped her. She stood up, but she could not dispose of her emotions as easily as he could.

“David, I don't know what to do——” she began helplessly.

“You don't have to know to-night, my dear girl. You can't settle things of this kind in an hour. It will take you weeks—months. One day you will tell yourself that you can come to me, and the next you will know you can't. And you will have to fight it out alone. The one thing you must not do is to talk about it to me. It's a queer situation to come up between us now. I wish you would take my word for the end of it, but you won't.”

“What do you mean, David?” she asked, calmed by his positive words.

He looked at her with an inscrutable smile in his eyes.

“You can't do it,” he said.

But the subtle perversity that sleeps in human beings till the prick of opposition stirs it to life woke up in her at the prod of his words.

She flashed a look at him that was almost a declaration that she would. It was the primitive provocative feminine again. Recognizing it, she flushed and turned her face away.

“Come on home,” he said quietly.

She followed him out with a queer feeling that it was all a dream, and that she would wake presently, and be in a familiar world again.

They were half-way along the path before he spoke.

“Think about Tom a little,” he said. “I can't get him out of my head, and I don't believe you've thought about him.”

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Then she saw that she had not.

At the back gate he took her hand, raising it to his lips.

“My dear, I'd rather you did not think about this than worry. Remember I love you. I shall go on loving you whatever you decide. I don't expect you to do what other people can do. You can only be yourself. I shall be in the bush for a day or two. Try to say something to Tom; praise him a bit, if you can do it without being upset. Write him a letter if you can't say it.”

Resting his hand on her shoulder for a minute, he kissed her forehead. Then he turned and walked quickly back along the path.

Alice did not know why she began to cry, or why she cried on till she stopped from sheer exhaustion. When she got into bed she began to cry again, and she cried without thinking until she fell asleep.