Who Cares? - Part 39
And an instant later lay beneath the sweet burden of the girl whose call he had answered once again and to whom life broke like a gla.s.s ball at the sight of him and let her through into s.p.a.ce.
“You may go in,” said the doctor.
And Joan, whiter than a lily, rose from the corner in which she had been crouching through all the hours of the night and went to the doorway of the room to which Martin had been carried by the Nice Boy and Gilbert, the man who had been shocked back to sanity.
On a narrow bed, near a window through which a flood of sunlight poured, lay Martin from whom Death had turned away,–honest, normal, muscular, reliable Martin, the bullet no longer in his shoulder. His eyes, eager and wistful, lit up as he saw her standing there and the brown hand that was outside the covers opened with a sort of quiver.
With a rush Joan went forward, slipped down on her knees at the side of the bed, broke into a pa.s.sion of weeping and pressed her lips to that outstretched hand.
Making no bones about it, being very young and very badly hurt, Martin cried too, and their tears washed the bridge away and the barriers and misunderstandings and criss-crosses that had sprung up between them during all those adolescent months.
“Martin, Martin, it was all my fault.”
“No, it wasn’t, Joany. It was mine. I wasn’t merely your pal, ever. I loved and adored you from the very second that I found you out on the hill. You thought it was a game, but it wasn’t. It was the real thing, and I was afraid to say so.”
She crept a little nearer and put her head on his chest. “I was all wrong, Marty, from the start. I was a fool and a cheat, and you and Gilbert and Alice have paid my bill. I’ve sent Gilbert back to Alice, and they’ll forget, but it will take me all my life to earn my way back to you.” She flung her arm across his body, and her tears fell on his face.
“Oh, G.o.d,” he cried out, “don’t you understand that I love you, Joany?
Send all your bills to me. They’re mine, because I’m yours, my baby, just all yours. You were so young and you had to work it off. I knew all that and waited. Didn’t you know me well enough to be dead sure that I would wait?”
The burden on her shoulders fell with a crash, and with a great cry of pent-up grat.i.tude and joy her lips went down to his lips.
But the doctor was not so old that he had forgotten love and youth, and he left those two young clinging things alone again and went back into the sun.