"Yes, I think that we know each other better now, Ella. That night aboard the yacht all the history of the past six months seemed to come before me. I saw what a wretch I had been, and I was overwhelmed with self-contempt."
"It was all my fault, dear Bertie. I was foolish--vain--a mere woman! Do not say that I did not take pride in what I called, in my secret moments, my conquest. Oh, Bertie! I had sunk into the depths. And then that letter! But we were saved, and I feel that we have been saved forevermore. I feel strong by your side now. And you, I know, feel strong, Bertie?"
"I have awakened from my dream, Ella. You called her your good angel too. Surely it was my good angel that sent me to her that evening!"
Ella was staring at him. He said that he knew everything. It appeared that she was the one who was not in the fortunate position of knowing all.
"Phyllis Ayrton--you were with her?"
"For half an hour. She was unconscious of the effect her words had upon me,--the words of another woman,--leading me back to the side of those who have gone forever. I listened to her, and then it was that I awoke. She did not know. How could she tell that the light of heaven was breaking in upon a soul that was on the brink of hell? She saved me."
"She told me nothing of that." There was a curious eagerness in her voice. "She told me nothing. Oh, how could she tell me anything? She knew nothing of it herself. She looked on you as an ordinary visitor. She told you that I fled to her. Oh, Bertie, Bertie! those hours that I passed--the terrible conflict. But when I felt her arms about me I knew that I was safe. Then Stephen entered. I thought that we were lost--you and I; that he had returned to find you waiting. I don't know if he had a suspicion. At any rate we were saved, and by her-- dear Phyllis. Oh, will she ever know, I wonder, what it is to be a woman? Bertie, she is my dearest friend--I told you so. I thought of her and you--long ago. Oh, why should you not think of her now that you have awakened and are capable of thought--the thought of a sane man?"
He sat with an elbow resting on the front of the opera box, his head upon his hand. He was not looking at her, but beyond her. He seemed to be lost in thought.