When Dartmouth entered the drawing-room
at Rhyd-Alwyn the next evening, a half hour after
his arrival, he found Sir Iltyd alone, and received
a warm greeting.
“My dear boy,” the old
gentleman exclaimed, “I am delighted to see
you. It seems an age since you left, and your
brief reports of your ill-health have worried me.
As for poor Weir, she has been ill herself. She
looks so wretched that I would have sent for a physician
had she not, in her usual tyrannical fashion, forbidden
me. I did not tell her you were expected to-night;
I wanted to give her a pleasant surprise. Here
she is now.”
The door was pushed open and Weir
entered the room. Dartmouth checked an involuntary
exclamation and went forward to meet her. She
had on a long white gown like that she had worn the
morning he had asked her to marry him, but the similarity
of dress only served to accentuate the change the
intervening time had wrought. It was not merely
that she had lost her color and that her face was
haggard; it was an indefinable revolution in her personality,
which made her look ten years older, and left her
without a suggestion of girlishness. She still
carried her head with her customary hauteur, but there
was something in its poise which suggested defiance
as well, and which was quite new. And the lanterns
in her eyes had gone out; the storms had been too
heavy for them. All she needed was the costume
of the First Empire to look as if she had stepped
out of the locket he had brought from Crumford Hall.
As she saw Dartmouth, the blood rushed
over her face, dyeing it to the roots of her hair,
then receded, leaving it whiter than her gown.
When he reached her side she drew back a little, but
he made no attempt to kiss her; he merely raised her
hand to his lips. As he did so he could have
sworn he saw the sun flashing on the domes beneath
the window; and over his senses stole the perfume
of jasmine. The roar without was not that of
the ocean, but of a vast city, and-hark!-the
cry of the muezzin. How weird the tapestry looked
in the firelight, and how the figures danced!
And he had always liked her to wear white, better even
than yellow. He roused himself suddenly and offered
her his arm. The butler was announcing dinner.
They went into the dining-room, and
Dartmouth and Sir Iltyd talked about the change of
ministry and the Gladstone attitude on the Irish question
for an hour and a quarter. Weir neither talked
nor ate, but sat with her hands clasped tightly in
her lap. Dartmouth understood and sympathized.
He felt as if his own nerves were on the rack, as if
his brain had been rolled into a cord whose tension
was so strained that it might snap at any moment.
But Sir Iltyd was considerate. He excused himself
as soon as dessert was removed, on the plea of finishing
an important historical work just issued, and the young
people went directly to the drawing-room. As Dartmouth
closed the door Weir turned to him, the color springing
into her face.
“Tell me,” she said, peremptorily;
“have you discovered what it meant?”
He took her hand and led her over
to the sofa. She sat down, but stood up again
at once. “I cannot sit quietly,” she
said, “until I know. The enforced
repression of the past week, the having no one to speak
to, and the mystery of that dream have driven me nearly
mad. It was cruel of you to stay away so long-but
let that pass. There is only one thing I can
think of now-do you know anything more than
when you left?”
He folded his arms and looked down.
“Why should you think I could have learned anything
at Crumford Hall?” he demanded, with apparent
“Because of the restraint and
sometimes incoherence of your letters. I knew
that something had happened to you; you seemed hardly
the same man. You seemed like-Oh,
I do not know. For heaven’s sake, tell me
what it is.”
“Weir,” he said, raising
his head and looking at her, “what do you think
She put up her hands and covered her
face. “I do not know,” she said,
uncertainly. “If there is to be any explanation
it must come from you. With me there is only
the indefinable but persistent feeling that I am not
Weir Penrhyn but the woman of that dream; that I have
no right here in my father’s castle, and no
right to the position I hold in the world. To
me sin has always seemed a horrible thing, and yet
I feel as if my own soul were saturated with it; and
what is worse, I feel no repentance. It is as
if I were being punished by some external power, not
by my own conscience. As if-Oh, it
is all too vague to put into words-Harold,
what is it?”
“Let us sit down,” he said, “and
talk it over.”
She allowed him to draw her down onto
the sofa, and he looked at her for a moment.
Then, suddenly, the purely human love triumphed.
He forgot regret and disgust. He forgot the teachings
of the world, and the ideal whose shattering he had
mourned. He remembered nothing but that this
woman so close to him was dearer than life or genius
or ambition; that he loved her with all the strength
and passion of which a man is capable. The past
was gone, the future a blank; nothing remained but
the glorious present, with its impulses which sprang
straight from the heart of nature and which no creed
could root out. He flung his arms about her,
and the fierce joy of the moment thrilled and shook
him as he kissed her. And for the moment she too
Then his arms slowly relaxed and he
leaned forward, placing his elbow on his knee and
covering his face with his hand. For a few moments
he thought without speaking. He decided that
he would tell her something to-night, but not all.
He would give her a clue, and when she was alone she
might work the rest out for herself. Then, together,
they would decide what would be best to do. He
took her hand.
“I have something to tell you,”
he said. “I did not tell you before I left
because I thought it best not, but things have occurred
since which make it desirable you should know.
You do not know, I suppose, that on the night of our
dream you got up in your sleep and wandered about
She leaned suddenly forward.
“Yes?” she said, breathlessly. “I
walked in my sleep? You saw me? Where?”
“In the gallery that overhangs
the sea. I had gone there to watch the storm,
and was about to return to my room when I saw you coming
toward me. At first I thought you were the spirit
of your grandmother-of Sioned Penrhyn.
In your sleep you had dressed yourself like the picture
in the gallery, and the resemblance was complete.
Then, strangely enough, I walked up to you and took
your hand and called you ’Sioned’-”
“Then you told me that you were
dead, and had been wandering in the hereafter and
looking for me; that you could not find me there, and
so had come back to earth and entered into the body
of a dead child, and given it life, and grown to womanhood
again, and found me at last. And then you put
your cold arms about me and drew me down onto a seat.
I suddenly lost all consciousness of the present,
and we were together in a scene which was like a page
from a past existence. The page was that of the
dream we have found so difficult a problem, and you
read it with me, not alone in your room-Weir!
What is the matter?”
She had pushed him violently from
her and sprung to her feet, and she stood before him
with wide-open, terror-stricken eyes, and quivering
in every limb. She tried to speak, but no words
came; her lips were white and shrivelled, and her
tongue clove to the roof of her mouth. Then she
threw up her arms and fell heavily to the floor.