Chapter XXV

"Oh, I'm so glad to get you back!" cried Carroll over and over again, as she clung to him. "I don't live while you're away. And every drop of rain that patters on the roof chills my heart, because I think of it as chilling you; and every creak of this old house at night brings me up broad awake, because I hear in it the crash of those cruel great timbers. Oh, oh, OH! I'm so glad to get you! You're the light of my life; you're my whole life itself!"--she smiled at him from her perch on his knee--"I'm silly, am I not?" she said. "Dear heart, don't leave me again."

"I've got to support an extravagant wife, you know," Orde reminded her gravely.

"I know, of course," she breathed, bending lightly to him. "You have your work in the world to do, and I would not have it otherwise. It is great work--wonderful work--I've been asking questions."

Orde laughed.

"It's work, just like any other. And it's hard work," said he.

She shook her head at him slowly, a mysterious smile on her lips. Without explaining her thought, she slipped from his knee and glided across to the tall golden harp, which had been brought from Monrovia. The light and diaphanous silk of her loose peignoir floated about her, defining the maturing grace of her figure. Abruptly she struck a great crashing chord.

Then, with an abandon of ecstasy she plunged into one of those wild and sea-blown saga-like rhapsodies of the Hungarians, full of the wind in rigging, the storm in the pines, of shrieking, vast forces hurtling unchained through a resounding and infinite space, as though deep down in primeval nature the powers of the world had been loosed. Back and forth, here and there, erratic and swift and sudden as lightning the theme played breathless. It fell.

"What is that?" gasped Orde, surprised to find himself tense, his blood rioting, his soul stirred.

She ran to him to hide her face in his neck.

"Oh, it's you, you, you!" she cried.

He held her to him closely until her excitement had died.

"Do you think it is good to get quite so nervous, sweetheart?" he asked gently, then. "Remember--"

"Oh, I do, I do!" she broke in earnestly. "Every moment of my waking and sleeping hours I remember him. Always I keep his little soul before me as a light on a shrine. But to-night--oh! to-night I could laugh and shout aloud like the people in the Bible, with clapping of hands." She snuggled herself close to Orde with a little murmur of happiness. "I think of all the beautiful things," she whispered, "and of the noble things, and of the great things. He is going to be sturdy, like his father; a wonderful boy, a boy all of fire--"

"Like his mother," said Orde.

She smiled up at him. "I want him just like you, dear," she pleaded.