The Garden of Survival
THERE was, then, you will remember, but an interval of minutes between the accident and the
temporary recovery of consciousness, between that recovery again and the moment when the
head fell forward on my knee and she was gone. That "recovery" of consciousness I feel bound
to question, as you shall shortly hear. Among such curious things I am at sea admittedly, yet I
must doubt for ever that the eyes which peered so strangely into mine were those of Marion
herself--as I had always known her. You will, at any rate, allow the confession, and believe it
true, that I--did not recognize her quite. Consciousness there was, indubitably, but whether it was
"recovery" of consciousness is another matter, and a problem that I must for ever question
though I cannot ever set it confidently at rest. It almost seemed as though a larger, grander, yet
somehow a less personal, soul looked forth through the fading eyes and used the troubled breath.
In those brief minutes, at any rate, the mind was clear as day, the faculties not only unobscured,
but marvellously enhanced. In the eyes at first shone unveiled fire; she smiled, gazing into my
own with love and eager yearning too. There was a radiance in her face I must call glory. Her
head was in my lap upon the bed of rugs we had improvised inside the field: the broken motor
posed in a monstrous heap ten yards away; and the doctor, summoned by a passing stranger, was
in the act of administrating the anaesthetic, so that we might bear her without pain to the nearest
hospital--when, suddenly, she held up a warning finger, beckoning to me that I should listen
I bent my head to catch the words. There was such authority in the gesture, and in the eyes an
expression so extraordinarily appealing, and yet so touched with the awe of a final privacy
beyond language, that the doctor stepped backwards on the instant, the needle shaking in his
hand--while I bent down to catch the whispered words that at once began to pass her lips.
The wind in the poplar overhead mingled with the little sentences, as though the breath of the
clear blue sky, calmly shining, was mingled with her own.
But the words I heard both troubled and amazed me:
"Help me! For I am in the dark still!" went through me like a sword. "And I do not know how
I took her face in both my hands; I kissed her. "You are with friends," I said. "You are safe with
us, with me--Marion!" And I apparently tried to put into my smile the tenderness that clumsy
words forswore. Her next words shocked me inexpressibly: "You laugh," she said, "but I----" she
I stroked her face and hair. No words came to me.