Chapter XXXIV. Sacrificed
 

"Standing in the midst of these things, so much a part of his chosen life that they seemed a vital part of himself, he heard the voices in the garden."

Alone in his little study--the door locked--Big Dan battled with himself. Everywhere in the room were things that cried aloud to him of his ministry; his library--books of peculiar interest to ministers, papers and pamphlets filled with matters of the church, written for church men, his sermons--one lying half-finished on the study table, the very pictures on the walls and the unanswered letters on his desk. Standing in the midst of these things, so much a part of his chosen life that they seemed a vital part of himself, he heard, the voices in the garden. He knew that she was there.

Since the beginning men like Dan Matthews have fought for women like Hope Farwell. For such women such men have committed every crime, endured every hardship, braved every danger, made every sacrifice, accomplished every great thing. Few of the race today are strong enough to feel such passion. It was primitive--but it was more. For there had been bred into this man something stronger than his giant physical strength--a spirit, a purpose, fitting such a body.

The little clock on the mantel struck the hour. Softly, slowly, the sweet-toned notes rang out:

One! Two! Three! Four!

With face white and drawn Dan went to the window. All that afternoon, knowing that she was there, he had denied himself even the sight of her. Now he would see her.

He watched as, without a glance toward his window, the young woman left her friends and went slowly into the house. Five--ten--fifteen--twenty minutes! The ticking of the little clock seemed to beat on Dan's brain with sledge-hammer blows.

Then he saw her come out on the front porch of the cottage. Slowly she walked out into the yard, until screened from the street by the big lilac bush. Turning she faced toward his window. She waved a greeting. She even beckoned to him to come. The man swayed and put out his hand to grip the window casing. Again she beckoned him--come. When he did not leave his place and only waved a hand in return, she went slowly back into the house.

Then Dan Matthews, minister--man, staggered back from the window to fall on his knees in prayer.

It was perhaps two hours before sunrise when Dr. Harry's horse stopped suddenly in a dark stretch of timber six miles from town. Dimly the man in the buggy saw a figure coming toward him.

"Hello!" he said sharply; "what do you want?"

The man in the road laughed a strange, hoarse, mirthless laugh, saying as he continued to advance, "I thought it must be you. You nearly ran me down." And Dan climbed in by the physician's side.

The minister made no explanation, nor did his friend, after the first few surprised questions, press him. But when they were turning in towards Dan's gate the big fellow burst forth, "Don't stop, Harry--not here! For God's sake, if you love me, take me on to your house for a little while!"

Then did Dr. Harry guess the truth that later he came to know.