“You loved me—up there, Jane. The forest knew. The stream sang of it. It was in Kee-way-din and the rain. It was part of the primeval, when we lived a thousand years ago. Don’t you remember? I read it in your eyes that night when I came in with the deer. You ran out to meet me, like the cave-woman to greet her man. I was no longer the fugitive who had built your hut, or made your fires. You had learned that I was necessary to you, in other ways, not to your body—but to your spirit.”
“No. It’s not true.”
“That night you fed me—watched by me. I saw your eyes in my dreams, the gentleness in them, their compassion, their perfect womanliness. Such wonderful dreams! And when I awoke you were still there. I wanted to tell you then that I knew—but I couldn’t. It would have made things difficult for you. Then I got sick——”
“Don’t, Mr. Gallatin!”
He had taken her in his arms and held her face so that her lips lay just beneath his own.
“Tell me the truth. You loved me then. You love me now? Isn’t it so?”
Her lips were silent, and one small tear trembled on her cheeks. But he kissed it away.
“Look up at me, Jane. Answer. Whatever I am, whatever I hope to be, you and I are one—indivisible. It has been so since the beginning. There is no brute in me now, dear. See. I am all tenderness and compassion. One fire burns out another. I’ll clean your lips with new kisses—gentle ones—purge off the baser fire. I love you, Jane. And you——?”
“Yes—yes,” she whispered faintly. “I do love you. I—I can’t help it.”
“Do you want to help it?”
“No. I don’t want to help it.”
“Kiss me, Jane.”
She raised her moist lips to his and he took them.
Past and Future whirled about their ears, dinning the alarm, but they could not hear it, for the voice of the present, the in their hearts. The brougham rolled noiselessly on, and they did not know or care. Fifth Avenue was an Elysian Field, and their journey could only end in Paradise.
“Say it again,” he whispered.
“I can’t see your eyes, Jane. I want to see them now. They’re like they were—up there—aren’t they? They’re not cold, or scornful, or mocking, as they’ve been all evening—not cruel as they were—in the Park? It’s you, isn’t it? Really you?”
“Yes, what’s left of me,” she sighed. “It’s so sweet,” she whispered. “I’ve dreamed of it—but I didn’t think it could ever be. I was afraid of you ——”
“Oh, Jane! How cruel you were!”
“I had to be. I had to hurt you.”
“Because of my own pain. I wanted to make you suffer—as I suffered—only more.”