Chapter XVII. London Leave and Phyllis
 

The leave train pulled into the Boulogne station exactly twenty-six hours late. As Barry stepped off the train he was met by the R. T. O., an old Imperial officer with a brisk and important military manner.

"You are the O. C. train, sir?" he inquired.

"I am, sir," replied Barry, saluting.

"You have had a hard time, I understand," said the R. T. O., drawing him off to one side and speaking in a low tone.

"Yes sir, we have had a hard time," replied Barry, "at least the men have. This is my report, sir."

The R. T. O. took the document, opened it, glanced hurriedly through it.

"Ah," he said, "ninety-seven casualties, thirteen fatal. Very bad. Six burned. This is truly terrible."

"There were only two soldiers burned, sir," replied Barry, "but it is terrible, especially when you think that the men were going on leave and were supposed to have got quit of the danger zone."

"Very, very terrible," said the officer. "You ran off the track, I understand."

"No, sir, it was a collision. There must have been gross carelessness, sir," said Barry. "I trust there will be an investigation. I have taken the liberty to suggest that, sir, in my report."

Barry's voice was stern.

"You need have no apprehension on that score, sir," said the R. T. O., with his eyes still upon the report. "This is very clear and concise. I see you make no mention of your own services in connection with the affair, but others have. I have had a most flattering telegram from the officer commanding the R. A. M. C., as also from the Divisional Commander, mentioning your initiative and resourcefulness. I assure you this will not be forgotten. I understand you are a padre?"

"Yes, sir," replied Barry, who was getting rather weary of the conversation.

"All I have to say, then, sir, is that the Canadian army must be rich in combatant officers for, if you will pardon me, it strikes me that there is a damned good combatant officer lost in you."

"If I were a better padre," replied Barry, "I would be content."

"I fancy you have little ground for complaint on that score," said the R. T. O., for the first time smiling at him.

"May I ask, sir," replied Barry, "if my responsibility ends here?"

"Yes, unless you want to take charge of the boat."

"I'd rather not, sir, if you please. How long before she sails?"

"About three hours. Have you anything to do?"

"I should like to visit the R. A. M. C. hospital. I should also like to phone the American hospital at Etaples."

"Very well, you can easily do both. I will run you up in my car, if you care to wait a few moments until I put through some little matters here. Then if you will be good enough to join me at breakfast, I can drive you up afterwards to the hospital. This is my car. I think you had better step in and sit down; you look rather used up."

"Will you allow me to speak to some of the men first, sir?"

"Oh, certainly. Do anything you like. There are your men."

As Barry moved along the line of men drawn up on the platform, he was followed by a rising murmur of admiration, until, as he reached a group of officers at the end, a little Tommy, an English cockney, lifting high his rifle, sang out:

"Naow then, lads, 'ere's to our O. D," adding after the cheers, "'e's a bit ov ol raa-ght, 'e is!"

"Men," said Barry, "I thank you for your cheers, but I thank you more for your splendid behaviour night before last. It was beyond praise. You couldn't save all your comrades, but you would willingly have given your lives to save them. That's the true spirit of the Empire. It's the spirit of Humanity. It's the spirit of God. If I were a combatant officer--"

"You'd be a good 'un, sir," cried a voice.

"If I were a combatant officer, I should like to lead men like you into action."

"We'd follow you to 'ell, sir," shouted the little cockney.

"Oh, I hope not," replied Barry. "I'm not going that way. May I say, in wishing you every good luck, that you are a credit to your country, and I can say nothing higher. I wish to thank the officers who so splendidly did their duty and gave such valuable service. Good luck to you, boys, and give my love to all at home."

Again the men broke into cheers, and Barry, shaking hands with the officers, turned away toward the car. As he was entering the car, Sergeant Matthews came over to him.

"I want to thank you, sir, for getting me free of the R. A. M. C. up there. I feel rather bad, but since my wife is waiting to meet me in London, I was anxious to get through."

"All right, sergeant," replied Barry. "I'll get you to a hospital in London, when we arrive. You are not feeling too badly, I hope."

"A little shook up, sir," said the sergeant.

At the R. A. M. C. hospital a bitter disappointment awaited him. He found that the V. A. D. had departed for England, but just where no one seemed to know. In her last letter to him, received before the last tour in the trenches, she had mentioned the possibility of a visit to London, and had promised him further information before her departure, but no further word had he received.

His inquiry at Etaples was equally unproductive of result. Paula and her father had also gone to England. They had taken the V. A. D. with them, and their address was unknown. The matron of the hospital believed that they had planned a motor trip to Scotland, for they had carried Captain Neil Fraser off with them, and were planning a visit to his home. They expected to return in about three weeks.

By the bitterness of his disappointment, Barry realised how greatly he had counted on this meeting with his friends. Were it not for the hope of being able to discover them in England, he would have turned back up the line, there and then, and found among the only friends he had on this side of the ocean relief from the intolerable weight of loneliness that was bearing him down.

He walked out to the cemetery, and stood beside his father's grave. There for the first time it came over him that henceforth he must go all the way of his life without the sight of that face, without the touch of that hand on his shoulder, without the cheer of that voice. In floods his sense of loss swept his soul. It took all his manhood to refrain from throwing himself prone upon the little mound and yielding to the agony that flooded his soul, and that wrought in his heart physical pain. By a resolute act of will, he held himself erect. While he blamed and despised himself for his weakness, he was unable to shake it off. He did not know that his mental and emotional state was in large measure a physical reaction from the prolonged period of exhausting strain, his treble tour in the trenches, with its unrelieved sense of impending destruction, that its endless procession of broken, torn bodies, with its nights of sleepless activity, with its eternal struggle against depression, consequent upon the loss of his comrades, its eternal striving after cheeriness and more than all the shock of the train wreck, with its scenes of horror; all this had combined to reduce his physical powers of resistance to the point of utter exhaustion.

As he stood there in that cemetery with its rows of crosses, silently eloquent of heroism and of sacrifice, the spirit of the place seemed to breathe into him new life. As his eyes fell upon the cross bearing his father's name, he seemed to see again that erect and gallant figure, instinct with life and courage. There came to him the memory of a scene he had never forgotten. Again he was with his father in the little home cottage. How dear it had been to him then! How dear to him, today! Once more he felt the strong grip of his father's hand and heard his father's voice:

"Good night, boy. We don't know what is before us, defeat, loss, suffering, that part is not in our hands altogether, but the shame of the quitter never need and never shall be ours."

Unconsciously as if he were in the presence of a superior officer, he lifted his hand in salute, and with a sense of renewal of his vital energies he returned to the boat.

During the crossing his mind was chiefly occupied with the problem of discovering the whereabouts of the V. A. D. or his American friends. He had never learned her London address, if indeed she had one. He remembered that she had told him that her home had been turned into a hospital. He had some slight hope that he might be able to trace her by the aid of her uncle.

Arrived in London, his first duty was to see Sergeant Matthews, whose injuries in the wreck were apparently more serious than at first supposed, safely disposed in a hospital ambulance. Thereupon he proceeded to the Hotel Cecil, and set himself seriously to the solution of his problem. He was too weary for clear thinking and as the result of long, confused and very vexing cogitation, he resolved upon a letter to Commander Howard Vincent, R. N. R. This, after much labour, he succeeded in accomplishing. Thereafter, much too weary for food, he proceeded to his room, where he gave himself up to the unimaginable luxury of a bath in a clean tub, and with an unstinted supply of clean towels, after which riotous indulgence, he betook himself to bed. As he lay stretched between the smooth clean sheets, he found it impossible to recall a state of existence when clean sheets had been a nightly experience. The chief regret of these semi-unconscious moments preceding slumber was that sleep would rob him of this delicious sense of physical cleanness and well-being.

He was wakened by a knock at his door, followed by a hesitating apology for intrusion. Rejoicing in the luxury of his surroundings, and in the altogether satisfying discovery that he might sleep again, he turned over and once more was lost in profound slumber. A second time he was aroused by a mild but somewhat anxious inquiry as to his welfare.

"I want nothing, only a little more sleep," and again luxuriating for a few moments in his clean sheets and his peaceful environment, he resigned himself to sleep, to waken with a comfortable sense of pleasant weariness, which gradually passed into a somewhat acute sense of hunger.

He decided, after due consideration, that he would plumb the depths of bliss, unmeasured and unknown, and have breakfast in bed. He went to the window and looked out upon the murky light of a London day. He decided that it was still early morning, and rang for the waiter. He was informed by that functionary that breakfast was impossible, but that if he desired he could be supplied with an early dinner.

"Dinner!" exclaimed Barry.

He looked at his watch, but found that he had neglected to wind it, and that consequently it had stopped.

"What time do you make it, waiter?"

"Half after six, sir."

He decided that he would rise for dinner, 'phoned for a paper and his mail, and lay back between the sheets once more, striving to recapture that rapturous sense of welfare that had enwrapped him the night before. Luxuriating in this delightsome exercise, he glanced lazily at the heading of his paper, and then cried, as the paper boy was leaving the room,

"Hello! here, boy! what day is this?"

"Friday, sir," said the boy, gazing at him in astonishment.

"Friday? Are you sure?"

"Yes, sir, Friday, sir. What does the paper say, sir?"

"Oh, yes, of course. All right."

He had gone to bed on Wednesday night. He knew that because he remembered the date of his letter to Commander Howard Vincent, R. N. R. He made the astounding discovery that he had slept just forty-four hours. Then he made a second discovery and that was that of his precious eight days' leave, three were already gone.

After he had dined he inquired at the desk for his mail, and searched through the telegrams, but there was nothing for him.

Then he betook himself to the streets, aware that the spectre of loneliness was hard on his trail, and swiftly catching up with him. London was roaring around him in the dark, like a jungle full of wild beasts, of whose shapes he could catch now and then horrid glimpses. Among all the millions in the city, he knew of no living soul to whom he could go for companionship, nor was there anything in form of amusement that specially invited him.

There was Grand Opera, of course, but from its associations with his father he knew that that would bring him only acute misery. Gladly would he have gone to the hospitals, but they would be shut against him at this hour. He bought an evening paper, and under a shaded lamp studied the amusement columns. Some of the Revues he knew to be simply tiresome, others disgusting. None of them appealed to him. Aimlessly he wandered along the streets, heedless of his direction, conscious now and then of an additional pang of wretchedness as he caught a glimpse now and then at a theatre door of young officers passing in with sweet faced girls on their arms,

At length in desperation he followed one such pair, and found himself listening to Cinderella. Its light and delicate fancy, its sweet pathos, its gentle humour lured him temporarily from his misery, but often there came back upon him the bitter memory of his comrades in their horrid environment of filth, danger and wretchedness.

He found some compensation in the thought that these officers beside him were like himself on leave, and while he envied them, he did not grudge them their delight in the play, and their obviously greater delight in their lovely companions beside them, but this again was neutralised by the bitter recollection of his own hard fate which denied him a like joy.

After the play he stood in the entrance hall, observing the crowd, indulging his sense of ill-usage at the hands of fate as he saw the officers lingering with many unnecessary touches over the cloaking of their fair partners, and as he caught the answering glances and smiles that rewarded their attentions.

His eyes followed the manoeuvrings of the painted ladies as they hovered about the doors, boldly busy with their profession. He understood as never before the nature of their lure and the overpowering subtlety of the temptation cast by them over the lonely soldier in London.

Close at his side he heard a voice:

"How do you like it, boy? Not bad, eh?"

"Awfully jolly, dad. It's perfectly fine of you."

He turned and saw a grey-haired gentleman, with upright soldierly figure, and walking with him, arm in arm, a young officer, evidently his son. He followed them slowly to the door, and eager to share if he might the joy of their comradeship, he listened to their talk. Then as they disappeared into the darkness, sick at heart, he passed out of the door, stood a moment to get his bearings, and sauntered beyond the radius of the subdued light about the entrance, into the darkness further on.

He had gone but a few paces, and was standing beneath a shaded corner light, meditating the crossing of the roaring street, when he heard behind him an eager voice crying,

"Captain Dunbar! Captain Dunbar!"

Swiftly he turned, and saw in the dim light a dainty figure, opera coat flowing away from gleaming arms and shoulders, a face with its halo of gold brown hair, with soft brown eyes ashine and eager parted lips, a vision of fluttering, bewildering loveliness bearing down upon him with outstretched hands.

"What," he gasped, "you! Oh, you darling!"

He reached for her, gathered her in his arms, drew her toward him, and before either he or she was aware of what he intended to do, kissed her parting lips.

"Oh, how dare you!" she cried, aghast, pushing him back from her, her face in a red flame. "Oh, I'm so glad. I was afraid I should lose you."

Barry, appalled at his own temerity, his eyes taking in the sweet beauty of her lovely face, stood silent, trembling.

"Well, aren't you going to tell me you are glad to see me?" she cried, smiling up at him saucily.

"Phyllis," he murmured, moving toward her.

"Stop," she said, putting her hands out before her, as if to hold him off. "Remember where you are. I ought to be very angry, indeed."

She drew him toward a dark wall.

"But you aren't angry, Phyllis. If you only knew how I have wanted you in this awful place. Oh, I have wanted you."

She saw that he was white and still trembling.

"Have you, Barry?" she asked, gently. "Oh, you poor boy. I know you have been through horrible things. No, Barry, don't. You awful man," for his hands were moving toward her again. "You must remember where you are. Look at all these people staring at us."

"People," he said, as if in a daze. "What difference do they make? Oh, Phyllis, you are so wonderfully lovely. I can't believe it's you, but it is, it is! I know your eyes. Are you glad to see me?" he asked shyly, his hungry eyes upon her face.

"Oh, Barry," she whispered, the warm flush rising again in her cheeks, "can't you see? Can't you see? But what am I thinking about? Come and see mamma, and there's another dear friend and admirer of yours with her."

"Who? Not Paula?"

"No, not Paula," she said, with a subtle change in her voice. "Come and see!"

She took his arm and brought him back to a motor standing at the theatre entrance.

"Oh, mamma, I have had such a race," she cried excitedly, "and I have captured him. Barry, my mother."

Barry took the offered hand, and gazed earnestly into the sad brown eyes that searched his in return.

"And here's your friend," said Phyllis.

"Hello, Pilot," said a voice from a dark corner of the car.

"What, Neil! Oh, you boy," he cried in an ecstasy, pushing both hands at him. "You dear old boy. How is the arm, eh? all right?"

"Oh! doing awfully well," said Captain Neil. "And you?"

"Oh, never so well in all my life," cried Barry. "Yet, to think of it, ten minutes ago, or when was it, I was in there a miserably homesick creature, envious of all the happy people about me, and now--"

While he was speaking, his eyes were on Mrs. Vincent's face, but his hand was holding fast to her daughter's arm. "Now it's a lovely old town, and full of dear people."

"Where are you putting up?" asked Mrs. Vincent.

"The Cecil."

"Let us drive you there then," she said.

During the drive Barry sat silent for the most part, listening to Phyllis talking excitedly and eagerly beside him, answering at random the questions which came like rapid fire from them all, but planning meanwhile how he should prolong these moments of bliss.

"How about supper?" he cried, as they arrived in the courtyard of the hotel. "Come in. I want you to; you see I have so much to ask and so much to tell Captain Fraser here, and three of my days are gone already. Besides, I want you to awfully."

Mrs. Vincent looked at his face, which for all its brightness was worn and deep-lined, and her compassionate motherly heart was stirred.

"Of course we'll come. We want to see you and to hear about your experiences."

"Oh, bully!" cried Barry. "I shall always remember how good you are to me to-night."

He was overflowing with excitement.

"Oh, this is great, Neil. It's like having a bit of the old battalion here to see you again."

While waiting for their orders to be filled at the supper table, Captain Neil turned suddenly to Barry and said, "What's all this about a train wreck and the gallant O. C. train?"

"Yes, and this rescuing of men from burning cars," exclaimed Phyllis.

"And knocking out insubordinates."

"And being mentioned in despatches."

"And receiving cheers at the station."

"Now where did you get all that stuff?" inquired Barry.

"Why, all London is ringing with it," said Captain Neil.

"Nonsense," said Barry; "who's been stuffing you?"

"Well," said Phyllis, "we came across your sergeant to-day in the hospital. Such a funny man."

"Who? Fatty Matthews?" asked Barry, turning to Captain Neil.

"Yes, it was Fatty," said Captain Neil, "and if you had your rights by his account, you ought to be in command at this moment of an army corps at the very least. But you were O. C. leave train, were you not?"

"Yes, to my dismay I was made O. C., but I met a chap, Captain Courtney, a very decent fellow, my adjutant, and made him carry on."

"My word, that was a stroke!"

"We had a wreck, a ghastly affair it was, though it might have been a lot worse. The R. A. M. C. people did magnificently, and the men behaved awfully well, so that we managed to get through."

"And what about the O. C.?" inquired Captain Neil.

"Oh, nothing special. He just saw that the others carried on. Now tell me about you people. What have you been doing and what are you going to do?"

"Well, 'we're here, because we're here,'" chanted Captain Neil.

"And why didn't you send me word as to your movements?" said Barry. "What hours of agony you would have spared me!"

"But I did," replied Phyllis. "I sent you our town address and told you everything."

"Now isn't that rotten!" exclaimed Barry. "Never mind, I've found you, and now what's the programme?"

"Well," cried Captain Neil with great enthusiasm, "we are all off to Edinburgh to-morrow, where we meet the Howlands, and then for a motor trip through the Highlands and to my ancestral home."

Barry's face fell. "To-morrow?" he said blankly, with a quick look at Phyllis. "And you are all going?"

"Not I," said Mrs. Vincent, "but why should you not join the party? You need just such a change. It would do you good."

"Sure thing he will," cried Captain Neil.

During the supper they had firmly resolved to taboo the war. They talked on all manner of subjects, chiefly of the proposed motor trip, but in spite of the ban their talk would hark back to the trenches. For Captain Neil must know how his comrades were faring, and how his company was carrying on, and Barry must tell him of their losses, and all of the great achievements wrought by the men of their battalion. And Barry because his own heart was full of all their splendid deeds let himself go. He told how Sally and Booth had met their last call, of the M. O. and his splendid work in rescuing the wounded.

"No word in all of this of the Pilot, I observe," interjected Captain Neil.

"Oh, he just carried on!"

Then he told how at last the M. O. went out, and how on his face there was only peace. He had to tell of Corporal Thom, and how he gave himself for his comrades and how Cameron kept the faith, a long list of heroes he had to enumerate, of whom the world was not worthy, whose deeds are unknown to fame, but whose names are recorded in the books of God. And then reverently he told of McCuaig.

As Barry talked, his heart was far away from London. He was seeing again that line of mud bespattered men, patiently plodding up the communication trench. He was looking upon them sleeping with worn and weary faces, in rain and mudsoaked boots and puttees, down in their flimsy, dark dugouts. He was hearing again the heavy "crash" of the trench mortar, the earth shaking "crumph" of the high explosive, the swift rush of the whizbang. Before his eyes he saw a steady line of bayonets behind a crumbling wall, then a quick rush to meet the attack, bomb and rifle in hand. He saw the illumined face of his dying friend.

As he told his tale, his face was glowing, his eyes gleaming as with an inner fire.

"Oh, God's Mercy!" he cried, "they are men! They are men! Only God could make such men."

"Yes, only God," echoed Mrs. Vincent after a long pause. "They are God's men, and to God they go at last. Truly they are God's own men."

While Barry was speaking, Phyllis, her hands tightly clasped, was leaning forward listening with glistening eyes and parted lips. Suddenly she rose, and went hurriedly to the door.

"Forgive me," said Barry, turning to Mrs. Vincent. "I should not have talked about these things. It's Neil here that drew me out. It's his fault."

In a few minutes Captain Neil arose and saying, "I'll see where Phyllis has gone," went out at the same door.

"They are very great friends," said Mrs. Vincent. "We are very fond of Captain Fraser. Indeed, he is like one of our family."

"A fine, brave chap he is," said Barry warmly, but with a queer chill at his heart.

"Phyllis has made some very delightful friends in France. Those Americans at Etaples were very good to her," and she continued to chat in her soft, gentle voice, to which Barry gave a courteous hearing but very casual replies. His heart and his ears were attentive for the returning footsteps of those who had so abruptly deserted them. While Mrs. Vincent was talking, an ugly question was thrusting itself upon his attention, demanding an answer. He could see--any one with eyes could see--that there was between Phyllis and his friend Captain Neil some understanding. Just what was between them Barry longed to know. It flashed upon him that upon the answer to that question his whole future hung, for if this girl was more than friend to Captain Neil, then the joy of life had for him been quenched. No motor trip for him to-morrow. He had had enough heart-wrenching to bear as it was without that. No! If between these two a closer relation than that of mere friendship existed, his way was clear. He would return to the trenches to- morrow.

"Oh, here you are, dear," said Mrs. Vincent, as Phyllis and Captain Neil returned to the room. "You found the air too close, I fear."

"No," said Phyllis with simple sincerity, "it was Barry. I saw those men, and I could not bear it. I can't bear it now." Her lips were still trembling, and her eyes were filled with tears.

"And yet," said Barry, "when you were over there in the midst of it all, you never once weakened. That's the wonder of it. You just go on, doing what you must do. You haven't time to reflect, and it's God's mercy that it is so. Thank God we have our duty to do no matter what comes. Without that life would be unbearable."

"Now, what about to-morrow?" said Captain Neil briskly, as Mrs. Vincent rose from the table. "We must settle that. What about it, Barry?"

"I don't know. Do you think I should go? It's your party and it's already made up."

"Not quite," said Phyllis, looking shyly at him. "You belong to the party more than any of us, you know."

"Then what about Paula?" said Barry. "This is her party, is it not?"

Phyllis was silent.

"I think, Captain Dunbar," said Mrs. Vincent, "if you would like it, you ought to go. You need something of the kind, and you will fit in admirably with the party, I am quite sure. To-day," she added with a little laugh, "I was doubtful as to the propriety of these young people going off all the way to Edinburgh by themselves, but you know in these war times we do extraordinary things, but now if you join them, my scruples will be removed."

"Some chaperon," whispered Captain Neil audibly to Phyllis. Then he added briskly, "Well, then, that's settled. To-morrow at 8:37 we meet at King's Cross, 8:37, remember."

But for Barry the matter was far from settled.

"I can't quite make up my mind to-night," he said. "I shall be at King's Cross, however, in the morning at any rate."

"But, Barry," began Phyllis, protesting, "you must--I want--"

She ceased speaking abruptly, her face flushing and then going suddenly white.

"Oh, rot, old man," said Captain Neil, impatiently, "you will come. Of course he'll come," he added to Phyllis.

They moved together out of the room, Mrs. Vincent and Captain Neil leading the way.

"Oh, Barry, aren't you going?" said Phyllis in a low voice.

"How can I answer that?" he replied, almost in anger. "Do you ask me to go? Do you want me to go?"

"Of course, we all want you to go," said the girl.

"Is that your answer?" His voice was tense; his face strained. "If that is all, Phyllis, I must say 'Good-bye' to-night. Why should I go with you? Why should I stay here in London? There's nothing for me here. The war is the only place--"

"Oh, Barry," she said, her eyes bright with tears, "how unkindly, how terribly you talk." Then with a swift change of mood she turned upon him. "What right have you to talk like that?" she cried in sudden wrath. "What have I done--what have we done to you?"

"Wait, Phyllis," he cried desperately. "Oh, let them go on," he added impatiently. "For Heaven's sake, is there no place about here where I can talk to you?" They were both pale and trembling. "I must talk to you to-night--now--at once." He stood between her and the door. "Can't you see I love you? I love you, do you hear? If you don't love me, why should I live?"

"Oh, Barry," said the girl, in a hurried voice. "You must not talk like this. Come this way. I know this place." She hurried out by a side door, down a corridor, and into a small parlour, with cosy corners, where they were alone.

"Now, Phyllis," said Barry, facing her, with a settled fierceness in his voice and manner. "I am quite mad, I know, to love you, but I do. I can't help it any more than breathing. I have no right to tell you this, perhaps. I am nobody, and I have nothing to offer any girl. I see that now. Oh, I see that clearly now, but I never thought of that part of it before. I only loved you. How could I help it? I hardly knew myself until tonight. But I know now," he added in a voice of triumph, the gloom lifting from his face, and the fierce light fading from his eyes. "Yes, I know now, Phyllis. I love you. I shall always love you. I love you and I am glad to love you. Nothing can take that from me."

All this time she was standing before him, her face white, her lips parted, a look of wonder, almost of fear, in the brown eyes, so bravely holding his, her hands pressed hard upon her bosom, as if to stay its tumult.

"I have no right to say this to you," said Barry again. "You belong to a great family. Perhaps you are rich. Great Heavens!" he groaned. "I never thought of that. You are beautiful. Many men will love you, great men and rich men will love you. You are so wonderful. Why, there's Captain Neil, he--"

"Captain Neil," echoed Phyllis, with infinite scorn in her voice.

"Well, many men."

"Many men," she repeated, her lips beginning to tremble. "Oh, Barry, can't you see? You blind boy. There's only one man for me, Barry, and that's you, just you." She came near to him, laid her hands upon his breast, her eyes looking into his.

"Phyllis," he said, putting his arms round her, a great wonder in his voice. "It can't be true! Oh, it can't be true! Yet your eyes, your dear eyes say so. Phyllis, I do believe you love me."

The little hands slid up around his neck; he drew her close.

"Phyllis, my dear, dear, love," he whispered.

He felt her body suddenly relax, and as she leaned backwards in his arms, still clinging to him, he bent over her and his lips met hers in a long kiss.