316 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
line head for leavening two feminine ones, and
he liked you from the first. I feel sure it would
do you good if you talked it over with him,
" I can't talk it over with anyone any more,"
Katherine answered desperately. " Let me go
back to Laigueglia. I am glad to have seen
you both. You have been very good to me,
and I know you will be, but let me be for a
little while, and then I will write to you ; and
till then promise not to say that you have seen
u Yes, dear, I will, we both will."
"Now let me go."
" Are you in a pension ? "
"No, I have a room over a little shop in
Laigueglia. It looks on the sea. I want to go
back and sit in the dark and think it all out
They walked back with her almost in
silence, along the bare white road, beside the
sea. The village was dark and still, though it
was hardly eight o'clock, for light is dear in
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 317
Italy, and the little lamp beside which the
peasants sit on the long winter evenings hardly
do more than betray the shadows round them.
The church at the end of the little street
looked high and staring white ; the sands and
the dark sea beyond were plain enough, but
they could make out nothing else. They
stopped before the house in which Katherine
lodged ; the shop was closed, there was no
sign or sound of life ; but she pushed open the
door and showed them that it had been left
ajar in order to admit her. Mrs. Oswell looked
curiously in at the narrow passage, but there
was nothing to be seen. For one moment
Katherine thought of asking her to enter and
see the room that was now her home, but her
courage failed, she wanted to be alone so
much. She was aching to get up to it the
little whitewashed room with the coloured
pictures round it, and the fantastic ceiling
decorated in cheap Italian fashion she wanted
to throw open the window and look outwards
towards the sea.
318 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
"Good-bye," and she held out her hands.
Mrs. Oswell kissed her on both cheeks.
" You must write fco us," she said.
"After the New Year," Katherine answered,
putting her weary head down for one moment
on the friendly shoulder ; " I want to rest and
be still till then."
" It will be the best thing for you," Mr. Os-
well said understandingly, "and be assured
that we shall say nothing till you give us
SHE groped her way up-stairs and pushed
open the door. The room was faint with the
scent of flowers she had gathered in the morn-
ing. She struck a match and looked round as
if to be sure that the place was the same one,
and she the same woman who had come back
to it after the experiences of the evening. A
white letter on the table caught her eye ; it
had come by hand and not by post. " Jim ! "
she cried. U A letter from Jim!" and she
clutched it in her left hand, while with the
right she tremblingly held the match to a
candle. Then she tore open the envelope.
"We are on our way to England, and I
stopped at Alassio, in order to see you. Am
going on by the next train, 10.20 to-niglit.
320 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
Miss Bennett said you had left Tier to return to
your place, but there seems to be some mistake.
I will get food, and return at a little before
nine, and walk as far as the church and back.
If you get this, will you let me see you, even
if it is only for a minute f "
" And I might have missed you," she
gasped. " Oh, my dear ! To think I shall see
you again ! " She read his letter a second
time, and kissed it ; then joyfully extinguished
the light and went down the dark stairs, out of
the house and swiftly along the street, feeling
like a swallow flying south. Someone was
waiting by the church. She stopped and hesi-
tated, and a little cry escaped her.
" Oh, Jim, dear oh, Jim ! I thought I
should never, never see you again. I can't
bear it I can't bear it, indeed. The happiness
is too great " and she burst into tears.
"Why, Kathy my dear Kathy." He put
his arms round her, and looked down at her
face, though in the dim light he could hardly
see it. "Is it as bad as that, my dear? I
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 321
hoped that it was better for you, and that it
was only I who went on caring. I couldn't
make myself go away for ever without seeing
you once more, or without a single word
"Oh, Jim!" she whispered with a great
sigh of thankfulness. "I thought we should
never meet again. Nothing in the world will
"My poor little girl look here let us
come and sit on the beach. I saw a seat there.
The population of Laigueglia appears to be
dead and buried."
"Oh, to think that we are together again,
and by the Mediterranean," she said in a voice
trembling with joy. "It is like a wonderful
dream." And she clung to his arm as they
went towards the sea. "Now, tell me," she
went on, when they had found the seat " tell
me, have you been angry what did you think
why didn't you send me a single word in the
Mummy's letter ? "
"Angry, my child? No. I have thought
nothing except that I love you, and for that
322 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
reason had better not write. I was ill when
the Mummy wrote that confounded fever got
hold of me again but we thought that it
would worry you if you knew. I say, what a
wonderful place this is ! I wish we could stay
here for ever, you and I." He looked up for
a moment as a breath from the orange-trees
was wafted to him. To the left was the still
village, to the right the Corniche road going
on to Andora ; in front the sands and the sea ;
a little way ahead, at each end of the bay,
were the dark rocks, and on the left the island
of Gallinara ; in the background were the
mountains, and over everything the strange
spell of night and silence. "If we could only
have a century of it," he said, with a long sigh.
u Ah, if we could," she echoed eagerly.
"But tell me about the Mummy where is
she ? "
"At present she is waiting for me at Ven-
timiglia. We came from Genoa to-day, get to
England the day after to-morrow. I told her
I must see you again ; the train goes by the
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 323
station, and I couldn't pass it. She was very
angry, and thought it wrong; perhaps it is,
but never mind. I got out at Alassio as we
came by, and go on by the next train, 10.20,
which is the mail through to Marseilles. We
should have had to wait for it in any case, and
I wait here with you. "
u And she wouldn't come and see me too ? "
He shook his head. "And she won't forgive
"My dear, she wants you to write to your
uncle, or. else to go to England as soon as I am
gone, to her house, and to let her write to your
husband and see what can be done."
"And do you wish it too 3 "
"I can't wish it," he said gently, "but
something ought to be done."
"He thinks that I am dead," and she ex-
plained briefly the mistake about her box and
the meeting with the Oswells. " Why should
he ever know that I am alive ? Jim, I have
been sorry that I told you," she whispered.
"You might have married me and taken me
324 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
to India and nobody would have known. He
would have been thankful that I was dead, and
we should have been happy all our lives. It
would have done no one any harm. I couldn't
have done it because I couldn't have borne to
deceive you. But would it have been wrong ? "
" It doesn't do to fly in the face of the law ;
it has a way of avenging itself."
" Yes, I know Mr. Oswell said that too;
but would it have been wrong in itself?
Would it be wrong if you took me away now
and he never knew that I was alive, and we
were faithful to each other all our lives ? "
"It won't do, dear," and he shook his
head. "We have got to do the best we
can in the world and to put the best we know
"But it wouldn't do anyone any harm,"
"That is a thing we can never insure.
Look here, Kathy," he said, resting his two
hands across her shoulder and trying to see
her face through the darkness. "Suppose we
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 325
did as you say, and called each other man and
wife in India."
" I always feel as if I were married to you,"
"Do you, my sweet? Tell me why."
" Because we loved each other and told
each other so, up at Generoso. And you
kissed me," she whispered, lower still, but with
a courage the darkness gave her, "and held
me in your arms, and I knew that you cared
for me, and I felt my heart so full of love for
you. Nothing can undo it, nothing as long as
I live, or try as much as I will it is like a
"And it shall be like one to me," he said
tenderly ; " but we are going to do the right
thing for all that, and not the wrong one.
Suppose, as I say, my darling, that we did live
as man and wife in India, and he found it out.
There would be a divorce."
"But that would set me free."
" At a terrible price. We might have chil-
dren some day, you and I ; we should wish for
326 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
them if we were natural people. Would you
like them to grow up and find out our dis-
grace ? It is no good, my dear, nothing will
make a wrong thing right, and no amount of
repenting will ever undo it. We should have
to turn the world backwards to blot it out,
even though we were forgiven a dozen times
over, for a deed once done is done to all eter-
nity, that is what we so seldom realise. I
love you with all my heart, God knows ; but
I am not going to make the woman I love
afraid to look other people in the face. The
fact that we love each other ought to make
us strong enough to do the right thing, or the
love is rather poor stuff. The hardness of it
won't be all yours ; it will be worse for me in
India, knowing that you are with him, per-
haps, and with an indefinite dread that will
make me long to blow his brains out."
" Oh, Jim, I know that you are right,"
and resting her face down on his hands she
kissed them. "Yes, let me," she said, as he
tried to draw them away. u Let me, I want
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 327
to kiss your hands, I am not good enough for
you to kiss my face for I have been trying to
make you do wrong."
"No, she hasn't," he said tenderly, "she
is only a little weak woman my little Eve,
and I love her, my dear, my sweet, I love her.
And since she can't be my wife, I will promise
her never to marry anyone else as long as I
"But I should like you to marry and be
happy, Jim. When you say that you love
me it makes me feel as if I could do anything
in the wide world," and she took his hands
and put them together, and rested her fore-
head down upon them. "Anything in the
wide world," she repeated, after a long min-
ute's silence, "no matter how difficult it is.
It gives me strength, and I will prove it I
will, indeed. Give me a little time just to
gather myself together, and you shall see.
Don't ask me I can't tell you, but it shall be
done not yet, but in a little time. When do
you start for India ? "
328 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
u On the 26th of January."
"Till then," she said with a gasp. "Till
that day let your poor Eve live in her Eden,
to think of you and love you, and grow strong
to do that which is most difficult. Hark ! the
clocks are striking. Those are the Alassio
clocks ; we hear them all this way when the
wind is in the right quarter. What time does
your train go, Jim ? Ten-twenty ? That was
half -past nine," she went on excitedly. " You
must go, dearest, you must go, and perhaps
it is better. Let me walk back with you to
Alassio ; the late train doesn't stop here. Let
us have this one last walk together."
" No. You would have to come back alone
and in the dark. I shall scurry along quickly
enough by myself. We will have five minutes
more together here, my sweet, and then good-
" Shall you write to me ? " she asked.
" Better not. We shall hear of each other
through the Mummy. All things have to be
paid for, Kathy. Is even the sorrow of part-
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 339
ing too big a price for having met and loved
each other ? "
"No," she whispered, "and I will make
it another-thank offering, Jim, dear, be sure
of that, though to-night I can't tell you how
or when it will be."
" It is time to go," he said reluctantly, and
turned her face up to his and looked at it as
though he never expected to see it again in
this world. Then they walked back slowly
to the village.
"Jim," she said, "you will go past Lai-
gueglia in the train. I will listen for it by
the open window, and shall see it as it goes
by between me and the sea."
"I sha'n't know which is your win-
"Yes, you shall," she exclaimed. "I will
light a candle and hold it up, and you will see
it in the darkness and know when you are
"That is splendid, my darling. By Jove!
I have a box of lights in my pocket ; I will
330 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
light one as an answer. You will see it plain-
ly. What ! is this the place already 3 "
"Yes, Jim, already," she answered woe-
A quarter past ten. She was standing by
the open window counting the minutes : five
more and he would start from Alassio. " I will
do it," she was saying to herself. U 0h, my
dear, my dear, what does the rest matter now
that I have had that one hour with you, have
seen your face and heard your voice and felt
your kisses ? I could walk to the stake and be
burnt and not feel it while this joy is so strong
upon me. It helps me to know how they bore
things in the old days for love of Christ. Oh,
Jim, my dear, my dear! There is nothing I
would not do for love of you. Hark ! it is
coming the train has started he will be here
directly ! " With feverish haste she lighted
the candle and stood with it by the open win-
dow looking out into the darkness. Nearer
and nearer it rumbled nearer quicker it
was passing. She waved the flickering can-
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 331
die, and suddenly there was a little flash from
one of the windows of the dark train. A cry
escaped her: "Oh, my darling!" she ex-
claimed. "It is all over for ever and ever;
but I will do even that for love of you ! "
THE weeks dragged by. Every day lagged,
every hour drew itself out to the uttermost,
and yet each one as it passed left dread and
fright wrapped closer and closer round Kath-
erine's heart. She felt as if she were living her
last days of life ; in three weeks the end would
come, and she knew perfectly what that end
would be. Sometimes the old longing beset her
to journey on and see the rest of the world.
" My dear beautiful world," she said to herself
as she walked up the little red road towards
the spot where King Otho's daughter had once
lived in a cottage and found happiness, u I
wish I could go on could tramp on through
you for ever, seeing all your seas, looking up
at your mountains, and staying to rest a little
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 333
among the people who belong to you. I am
strong and well and young, and don't want to
die ; but when I do I am glad to think that I
shall be put into the earth and grow into it till
I become just a little part of the world itself.
Perhaps some day I shall come out in the sun-
shine again, and feel it falling soft and warm
upon me ; or shall have seed planted in me
and flowers growing up, or wind myself round
the root of a great tree while my soul climbs
into a branch and looks down on the little
figures walking to and fro, till it is time for
them, too, to pay themselves as tribute into
the earth on which they have lived."
The New Year came. Miss Bennett was
dying, painlessly, but surely. Her sister had
arrived, a gaunt, cheerful woman, evidently
quite reconciled to her sister's going, and hop-
ing not to be detained too long away from her
husband and children.
" Poor Sarah was a woman who always
grumbled," she explained to Katherine it was
the last afternoon of Miss Bennett's life. " She
334 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
was never satisfied with things, and I don't
wonder ; she found them pretty hard, poor
dear. Father wasn't fond of her as a child,
and after mother died he hurried her away
from home to earn her living. She taught
French and music in schools for years, and
saved a little money, and went to stay with
some rich cousins in Staffordshire ; and that
was the worst thing that ever happened to her,
for she fell in love with a man who has been
the ruin of her life, though she hasn't seen him
for years and years now."
" How was he the ruin of her life ? " Kath-
erine asked. She and Mrs. Wells were walk-
ing up and down the garden of the pension,
while Miss Crockett watched a few minutes be-
side the invalid.
" He thought she was well off, so he made
love to her, and she liked him. Afterwards,
when he found she had no money, he jeered at
the idea of marriage, and deserted her. She
has never ceased thinking of him, or cared for
anyone else, though she knows perfectly what
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 335
he is. It is knowing what he is that has made
her so hard and dissatisfied."
" But do you think she likes him still ? "
" I feel certain that she thinks of him day
and night, though she hasn't seen him for fif-
teen years. He's a bad man, and cares for
nothing but money and hurting people who
come in his way. Some men like to see others
suffer, and he does ; for I know many things
about him besides his conduct to Sarah. I
saw him just before I left London, and told
him she was dying. He said she had written
and asked him to come out and say good-bye
"And he refused?"
"He was too busy, he said, and a cruel,
triumphant look came over his face, as if he
rejoiced that she was dying and alone. I don't
wonder his wife ran away from him, though he
only married her a year or two ago a girl,
too, as if any girl would live with Edward
Belcher ! "
"Edward Belcher! Is that his name?"
336 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
Katherine exclaimed. Mrs. Wells was look-
ing at the orange- trees, and did not see her
"Yes, that is his name," she answered.
" And Sarah has spent her whole life loving a
man who doesn't even exist, or, rather, wasted
it, hoping he would be different and begin to
exist as she imagined him, and that he, who
has never cared for anything or anyone but
himself, would then begin to care for her.
Well, I have a good husband myself, and I
don't believe in men being bad, unless it is one
now and then, but I don't believe that men
ever suffer what women do on their account ;
it is a good thing if some -of us can plague them
a bit. Let's go in. Miss Crockett said she
would put up a white handkerchief at the win-
dow when Sarah woke, and I saw her pin it to
Miss Bennett was awake and sensible. Her
eyes wandered restlessly round the room. "I
don't want you, Grace," she said to her sister ;
" I want to talk to Katheriue about her own
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 337
concerns, while you go and get her some tea.
I have been thinking about that money," she
said when they were alone u the hundred
pounds that came to Generoso. Did you send
it to me ? You wanted to give me some money
a few days before. I thought, perhaps
She closed her eyes for a moment, unable to go
on. "Did you?" she asked, clutching at the
frill of the square white pillow under her
"No, indeed, I didn't," Katherine an-
swered ; and wondered whether she might tell
her the truth. But while she hesitated, a
smile that was almost happy broke over Miss
"I am glad of that," she said, "and Grace
knows nothing about it either. I think," and
she looked up with a strange expression in her
eyes, "that it was sent me by someone I have
known a long, long time, and used to like very
much. I am glad he sent it," she whispered ;
"it shows that he thought of me, and wanted
me to be comfortable at the last. I wish you
338 A FLASH OP SUMMER.
knew him, Katherine ; perhaps you will one
day. I heard only lately that he married
someone who was called Kerr. Perhaps it was
a relation you will know him," she went on
in a half-rambling manner, "then you can give
him the message. Grace never liked him, and
perhaps she wouldn't give it."
" Give what message ? " Katherine asked, in
a low voice.
"To Edward. I should like him to know
that nothing made any difference perhaps he
didn't mean to be unkind. He had to be pru-
dent a man has to be prudent, you know.
Perhaps things were hard upon him when he
was a boy it always tells oh people when they
"What shall I say to him ?
"That I sent him my love. I know you
will do it some day, for you are a good girl,
and I hope you will marry young Alford.
Don't let anything stand in the way it is a pity
to let anything stand in the way money or
anything." She shut her eyes for a moment,
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 339
and then the smile broke over her face again.
"I am glad that I know," she said, in a happy
satisfied voice, u that he sent me his money
he has given me everything I have had for the
last two months he must have felt that I be-
longed to him."
That night Miss Bennett died.
ANOTHER fortnight, nearly three weeks, and
then Katherine sat in her little room at Lai-
gueglia writing letters. She felt as if she
would never get through them, for she stopped
so many times to gather courage : every word
seemed to be torn out of her heart and life.
The first one was to Mrs. Alford.
u jim told me that you were very an-
gry," it ran, "and I could tell that it was so
from the letter you sent me before he came.
But you said in that letter, and he repeated it,
that you wished me to go to you if I did what
you and he considered to be right. And this I
am going to do, dear Mummy. I know Jim
starts on the twenty-sixth, a week to-morrow,
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 341
and on that day I shall leave Laigueglia and
journey slowly towards England, slowly, for
my feet will have to be dragged one after the
other even though they are taking me to you
at Chil worth. I will write to my uncle by
this post, as you wished, telling him every-
thing that I have done, and giving him your
address, and saying that he will find me there.
I will write to Mr. Belcher too, telling him
that I am coming, and that Uncle Robert will
know my whereabouts. Now, will you forgive
me everything, dearest Mummy ? Though I
fear I do not do it so much for love of -what is
right, as for love of Jim and you. But just as
I have learnt to see that of one sin another is
born, so perhaps of one good deed, and that your
kindness to me, and of one thing that is divine
for surely love that is strong and pure is di-
vine good may be born ! However terrible it is
to do, I know that what I am doing is right
though it seems to me as if the wrong would
have been better, since it would have made for
happiness. But this, again, is only one of the
34:2 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
tangles we cannot understand, and I know that
we should steer towards the light, though we
lose everything we care for most on the way.
I know, too, that I would give thankfully
and joyfully any hopes or happiness that
might be mine, or even my life itself, for love
of Jim and you, and I give you this deed in
token of it.
" I shall be with you on Monday night,
dear Mummy, and will tell Uncle Robert so.
Perhaps he will not come to me till Tuesday,
and then I shall have that little time alone
with you, and you will make me strong to
carry out all this ; and I will love you and try
to comfort you a little because Jim is with you
no longer. Let me send my love to him for
love of him has only led me to do what is
right, dear Mummy, and I do not think that
Heaven would grudge it to me. Tell him that
I shall start on my journey towards you on
that same day Friday, the 26th that he will
start on his away from you.
" Your loving KATHERINE."
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 343
Then there came the long explanatory let-
ter to her Uncle Robert, and one to Mrs. Os-
we]l telling her all that she had done and beg-
ging that she might find a line awaiting her
when she arrived at Chilworth. And then she
wrote a little note to Susan, apologising for all
the trouble she had caused her, and hop-
ing that some day they might meet again.
Last of all there was the letter to her hus-
band. It was more difficult than any other to
u . . . You never cared for me," she said,
"but I do not wonder, for I was so much
younger than you, and knew so little ; I al-
ways felt in your way and I was. But I was
not fair to you, and did wrong when I took my
fate altogether into my own hands, and I beg
you to forgive me and to let me live quietly
away from you, so that you do not remember