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with a look of shaken entreaty; then they left him, to wander restlessly about the room, as if to hold and keep all the safety of the inanimate things beside which her own existence was so fugitive and insecure.
Anthony gave her a slight sedative, and lay down beside her, taking her hand in his. He felt his old power flow back into him to meet her emergencies. He fixed his mind steadily upon Kitty's pain, and held it as the one point upon which his whole conscious being hung. He meant to take her pain away, reduce it, and keep it from her.
He had never yet succeeded in moving pain by his will; he had only helped by his actual service to relinquish the grip of it. The experiment he tried now was different. He determined literally to take Kitty's pain. He felt as if in the room beside them there was another strength more formidable than his own fighting for Kitty.
He did not know what the power was, but he was aware of it to his finger-tips. It seemed to be tearing at Kitty as desperate hands tear at a wall between themselves and safety. It was as if the power in the room wanted to take Kitty's life to pieces in order that something behind her life might escape.
It did not occur to Anthony that this was a benevolent power, for Anthony did not believe that there was anything behind Kitty's life; he was concerned only with what he saw, the inert and pain-stricken body beside him. Kitty spoke no word; only her eyes moved, moved as the eyes move of some one who is searching for something which they cannot find.
It was an unhurried, insistent search. Kitty herself knew nothing of it. She lay still with her small, stubborn mouth set to bear her pain, and all her faith centered upon Anthony.
For an hour the fight went on between Anthony and his unseen opponent, and then suddenly he felt it relax; the power, whatever it was, had withdrawn. Anthony knew instinctively that he had not conquered. This had been a voluntary retreat; but it was Anthony, and not the retreating power. who was exhausted.
"I'm better," Kitty said in a thin,
flickering voice; "much better, Tony. I 've not been better so quickly for a long time."
Anthony did not answer at once. He was too aware of a swift, massive pain set like a vise upon his arm and shoulder. He was astonished at the violence of this sensation, but his reason quickly supplied a cause. He had removed Kitty's pain by hypnosis, and had weakened himself too much in the process to be able to defend himself against the hysterical reaction of his own body.
He assured himself that he could not really have taken Kitty's pain, but he could, of course, really think he had taken it. This was the true explanation, and not the delusion which suggested itself to Anthony, that the power he had felt himself struggling against had agreed to transfer the pain in answer to his own intensity.
"Lie quite still, Kitty," he said, "while I make you a cup of tea. You want something to make you warm and . comfortable after that attack."
"You 're awfully clever, Tony," she murmured. "I want to ask you something rather queer. You won't mind, will you? What is there ahead of me to-morrow if - if things don't go right?"
"They will go right," said Anthony, quietly, lighting the spirit-lamp. "I am positive of it, or I should n't have suggested the operation. What is it you mean exactly by-'ahead of you'?"
"Well," Kitty explained, "you know when you set out on a railway journey, how quickly everything changes, and you don't. What I mean is, what will happen if nothing else changes, and you do? Or shall I just be dead?"
Anthony's mind shot back to Tom. It was curious how he and Kitty claimed with the same simplicity and without dread a prospect beyond mortality.
Tom had felt it more solidly than Kitty, but neither of them had had Anthony's blank incredulity in the face of the invisible. How could he believe what nobody could prove or see? And yet, since he had answered Tom's question, he had felt his skepticism shaken over and over again. He was no longer sure that there was nothing else.
"I used to think," said Anthony, slowly, watching Kitty's face as he chose his words to meet her need, "that there was nothing beyond death, that all our struggles and our troubles ceased automatically. I am not so sure now. When I thought like that I had n't been in love. There was nothing in my life that felt it wanted to reach beyond it. I can imagine now something stronger than death. I don't say there is something stronger, but I can imagine it. You see, I don't know how to put it quite, but since I 've known you, I 've cared, cared all round a lot more for everybody. Before I only knew things from the outside. My work was as good as I could make it, but I always stood outside it. Since I cared for you, lots of me gets inside. It is n't only liking to make a success; it 's caring for a person. It 's you, Kitty, who have given me that feeling."
"Have I really?" asked Kitty, incredulously. "How nice of you to tell me, Tony! I should have thought I 'd put you off. I've put off most people. I'm awfully glad you care more because of me. I care, too; that's what rather upsets me just now. I'm not afraid a bit, but I do feel sorry. I see now I must have done such a lot of harm not caring. I don't believe my doing all the things I ought n't really matters, do you?
"But not having cared enough about the people I did them with, that's all wrong, and having hurt poor women who loved their men, that 's rather awful, is n't it? I don't like to think of hurting people now I know what being hurt is like. Besides, if there is a God, I suppose we 're all in the same boat and part of Him; so the worst thing we can do is to hurt each other, is n't it?"
Anthony nodded. He did not attempt to evade Kitty's scruples. Brushing aside truth did not seem to him a kindness.
"We all do it," he said gently, "some of us from being too strict with our lives, so that we feel better than other people, and are worse, and perhaps those who have n't been strict enough— hurt as well. Because, if you have n't counted the cost, other people have to
Still, you 've paid
pay as well as you. a good deal by now, Kitty, and I suppose, if there is a God, what matters most, is to have learned love and courage. I don't see anything else I want to carry on myself into another world, and you 've had plenty of those. If you do go out anywhere, you'll take them both with you."
Kitty drew his hand against her cheek.
"I'll take love with me," she said, "now, Tony."
They were silent while Kitty drank her tea, then she said:
"I'm awfully sleepy, Tony, but it seems such a waste of time to go to sleep."
He bent over her and kissed her. "Go to sleep," he said. "There 's plenty of time really for everything, and it will make to-morrow better."
"To-morrow," said Kitty after a little pause, "is just a sort of adventure, is n't it, Tony? It'll be awfully funny if you and the monks and Peckham and I all come out some day in the same place. Can you hear the bell? They go and pray in the church at two o'clock."
Anthony listened from the open window. He heard very faintly the signal of the monks for their first prayers.
Kitty turned toward him smiling, and she was still smiling when Anthony saw that she was asleep. Anthony's mind stilled itself, and turned once more to meet its new ordeal.
He had determined what to do. Just as he had taken her pain, so he would take her life; he would take everything that menaced her, and dispose of it. It did not matter what the consequences were or what the risk; they would fall upon him and upon him alone. Kitty should go forth upon that great adventure freed of her pain and of the long year's waiting.
Anthony was intensely sure of himself now, and he was aware of nothing else with which he had to reckon.
KITTY slept placidly till six o'clock. She was not conscious of Anthony's leaving her or of his whispered conversation with Peckham at her door. She woke
to a bright fire and her morning tea with a sense of unusual security. Peckham always lit her fire early and brought her tea, but that was usually after a bad night, and this had been a good one.
Kitty's arm and shoulder
felt numb and stiff from the recent attack, but mere discomfort was a small thing after acute pain. It was a minute or two before Kitty remembered that the day held a new experience for her. Her nerve rose unfalteringly to meet it. "Well, Peckham," she said, "is it a nice day? Am I to have nothing to eat just when I'm hungry?"
"That 's Captain Arden's orders, Miss Kitty," said Peckham, firmly, "and I don't need to have starched caps and aprons to carry them out. It 's not many gentlemen would have been wishful to do their nursing themselves, with me by way of being hands and feet to them, when they could have had all the certificated sisters, or whatever they call themselves, and welcome. If I'd been his mother, Captain Arden could n't be more considerate of my feelings, and I can't say a word to thank him, Miss Kitty. I should say 'Ma'am,' for fear of not looking like flint, the way the young ladies do in the hospitals."
"Dear old Peckham!" said Kitty. "I 'll tell him you 're pleased. Is the cook down-stairs giving him a good breakfast?"
"I dare say he 'll be able to eat it," said Peckham, dubiously. "I don't wish to say anything about other people's servants at a moment like this, Miss Kitty; I will only remark that they mean well and leave it at that. The homlette the cook made him last night looked trod on, and the twenny maid wears corsets that pinch her to the bone, and scamps her work according, as well she may. Only one cup of tea, please, Miss Kitty, Captain Arden says, and then to lie still till he comes up to you. You're not to have no hair-pins in, and stockings you must. I wish I could have gone in with you, my dear lamb, but the captain says he'll take care of you there himself."
"Pooh!" said Kitty, "I sha'n't need any taking care of. Don't make faces at me, Peckham. I know you want to
say something religious to me, and I don't like religion first thing in the morning. Have you brought in the lace cap with the butterflies on and my best lawn nightgown? I'll wear my blue satin dressing-gown with the old lace collar."
"I ironed the butterfly cap last night, Miss Kitty," said Peckham, severely, "though I must say I think it out of place, butterflies not being what you should call upon in a time like the present."
"I don't know about that, Peckham," said Kitty. "You 're no more likely to suit eternity plain than pretty; rather less, I should think. However, I'll turn up here all right again, don't you fret. I shall just buzz off and then buzz back again, and don't forget I want to paste buckles on the blue slippers."
Peckham produced the blue slippers. "You stick to Captain Arden, whatever happens," Kitty added; "he 'll take care of you. Papa 's no good, poor old thing! I dare say he 'd like to be, but he 's like me; he has expensive tastes. Is that you, Tony? Come in and see what I look like. It's a pity that you are n't going to have more doctors. I shall be rather wasted on only two of you."
Kitty laughed at him from the fireside. She stood there, blue and white, like one of the June butterflies that haunt the down country.
"You have n't seen my post," she said. "Henry has sent me pink roses, and your mother a box of her own flowers, the flame-color cyclamen I love so. It was too sweet of her. And here's a wire from Daphne. 'All love and sympathy. Coming up to-morrow.' course you must stop her; their baby's nearly due, is n't it? But tell her I was awfully glad she wanted to come; but I'll tell her that myself, of course, later on. Your people are most awfully nice, Tony. I'm not surprised-" Kitty broke off suddenly. She was going to say that she was not surprised he had not wanted her to know them, but it might hurt him to remember this now; so she said instead: "I'm not surprised. You 're rather nice yourself." She looked up at him with the old provocative light in her eyes.
"Kitty laughed at him from the fireside. She stood there, blue and white, like one of the June butterflies that haunt the down country"
Anthony drew her to an arm-chair by the fire.
"I did n't mean you to get dressed so soon," he said gently. "Hilton Laurence may be a little late."
He sat down opposite her, and Kitty drew a cigarette out of a long silver box, lit it, and put it between his lips.
"You'll feel happier smoking," she said kindly. "Men always feel so stupid before things happen; they don't know what to do with their minds. It must be specially boring if they 're clever like you, Tony, because then they expect to say such awfully good things, and no one can say good things at last moments."
"I don't know that I want to say anything good," said Anthony; "but it's true there are things I 'd like to say to you." He spoke as unemotionally as possible, but the words fought themselves out of him.
ness of great moments. There was so much that lay unachieved between them, everything, except the slender thread of their strange tenderness. Anthony felt that he could say no more; his heart was dumb. He took her in his arms and kissed her. He was intensely aware of her life, of the response in her, the supple sweetness of her youth and its surrender; and deeper still he was aware that his own strength, which he held back for the sake of her frailness, was as incomplete to hold or protect her as if he had been a cripple.
Her slight, delicate body dragged at the root of his being. Her eyes smiled into his, sunny, dauntless, challenging eyes, as laughing as an open stream.
"There," she said, "off you go to meet your old wise men. Don't worry about It'll amuse me to think of all the funny things that may be going to happen in another half-hour."
Anthony forced himself to leave her, but his whole being resisted his will. He felt himself one with Kitty; to go from her was like falling over a cliff.
He guessed by the slam of the front door that Hilton Laurence had arrived. He bent his head to meet her lips and left her. It was a cold, black morning. The little, empty room Anthony had arranged as a theater was very hot and light, a large fire burned at red heat, and all the lights were on.
"You'd better have a pick-me-up," Hilton Laurence observed to Anthony after they had made their brief arrangements.
"I don't need one," said Anthony, quietly. "Shall I fetch her?"
"It's a rum job not having a nurse," said the anesthetist, fretfully. "I do dislike innovations in an operation case."
"Oh, well, as long as your tools are handy, and you have a man with a head on to stand by you," said Laurence, cheerfully, "it's all the same in the end. Nurses have a nice look and save a good deal of bother, especially with a nervous patient. But this is n't a nervous patient. She's had a lot to fight through, poor little woman. What are you going to use?”