The Nest of the Sparrowhawk
The cry rang out in the night close to her, and arrested her fleeing footsteps. She
was close to the ha-ha, having run on blindly, madly, guided by that
unaccountable instinct which makes for the shelter of home.
In a moment she had recognized the voice. In a moment she was beside her
friend. Her passionate mood passed away, leaving her calm and almost at
peace. Shame still caused her cheeks to burn, but the night was dark and
doubtless he would not see.
But she could feel that he was near her, therefore, there was no fear in her. What
had guided her footsteps hither she did not know. Of course he had guessed that
she had been to meet her husband.
There were no exclamations or protestations between them. She merely said
"I am glad that you came to say 'good-bye!'"
The park was open here. The nearest trees were some fifty paces away, and in
the ghostly darkness they could just perceive one another's silhouettes. The mist
enveloped them as with a shroud, the damp cold air caused them to shiver as
under the embrace of death.
"It is good-bye," he rejoined calmly.
"Mayhap that I shall go abroad soon," she said.
"With that man?"
The cry broke out from the bitterness of his heart, but a cold little hand was
placed restrainingly on his.
"When I go ... if I go," she murmured, "I shall do so with my husband.... You see,
my friend, do you not, that there is naught else to say but 'good-bye'?"
"And you will be happy, Sue?" he asked.
"I hope so!" she sighed wistfully.
"You will always remember, will you not, my dear lady, that wherever you may
be, there is always someone in remote Thanet, who is ready at any time to give
his life for you?"
"Yes! I will remember," she said simply.
"And you must promise me," he insisted, "promise me now, Sue, that if ... which
Heaven forbid ... you are in any trouble or sorrow, and I can do aught for you,
that you will let me know and send for me ... and I will come."
"Yes, Richard, I promise.... Good-bye."
And she was gone. The mist, the gloom hid her completely from view. He waited
by the little bridge, for the night was still and he would have heard if she called.
He heard her light footsteps on the gravel, then on the flagged walk. Anon came
the sound of the opening and shutting of a door. After that, silence: the silence of
a winter's night, when not a breath of wind stirs the dead branches of the trees,
when woodland and field and park are wrapped in the shroud of the mist.