When she awoke this thought was dominant. He was at home—safe—safe!

She listened at the door of his room to catch his cheery laughter with the first of the servants who might discover him. But no such sound came to her ears. She was nearly dressed when Mrs Harland entered her room.

“Well!” she cried. “Well! you have seen him? Good heavens, why do you look at me in that way? Have you not seen him?”

“Dear Madge,” said Mrs Harland, “your eyes have a strange gleam in them. What do you mean by asking me if I have seen him—him? Is there more than one him for me and for you?”

“But he came here late last night, he threw pebbles up at that window, and I let him into the hall and bound up a wound of his—a flesh wound only. I left him sleeping on the settee.”

Mrs Harland stared at her.

“My poor Madge!” she said. “You have had a vivid dream. How could he possibly have been here when not a week has passed since we got a cablegram from him? It would take him a week to get back to Cape Town alone.”

“I don’t try to explain anything,” said she. “Only he came into the hall as sure as we stand here together, and I bound up his wound—just below the elbow of the right arm. If I did not do so, where is the lace handkerchief? Here are all the things I was looking at before I heard the sound of the pebbles on the window, and the Medici handkerchief was there too. Where is it now?”

“Poor child! Poor Madge!” cried Mrs Harland. “You must try to keep your thoughts away from him for a day or two. You and I need a change of scene badly.”

“Oh, no; I am not going mad, I can assure you, my dearest mother,” said Madge. “I tell you that—where is the handkerchief?”

“There is the breakfast gong,” said Mrs Harland. “I believe you, dear; you were with him in heart.”

Madge laughed, and went downstairs. She gave a glance at the sconce in which she had lighted the candles; it contained four candles burnt down to the sockets.

The papers had no special news; but later in the day two telegrams arrived. One was for Mrs Harland, the other for Madge.

They tore open the covers with palpitating fingers.

The first dispatch said:

Flesh wound—very slight.” The second—that addressed to Madge—said: “Thank you, dearest.” They exchanged telegrams, but not a word.

He was invalided home after acting as escort to Cronje down to Cape Town, and saving a gun at Reddersburg (mentioned in despatches), but no one alluded to the wound which he had sustained on Christmas Day in a skirmish at the Modder.

One evening, however, when he was able to sit outside the house, Madge turned to him, saying: “What did you mean by sending me that telegram, ‘Thank you, dearest?

He gave a laugh.

“I wonder if you have still by you that Medici handkerchief?” he said.

“No,” she said, after a moment’s hesitation, “I must plead as Desdemona did about hers, it disappeared mysteriously. I cannot produce it for you, my lord.”

“Ah, now I should get as mad as any Othello,” said he, “but on second thoughts I will refrain.”

“Listen, dear Julian,” she said. “I am resolved to confess all to you, though you may think me a bit of a fool. Listen: on Christmas night I went to my room and seated myself before the fire, thinking of you, dearest,—your portrait was in my hands, and on the table were some of the treasures your hands had touched, the handkerchief among them. Then I heard—I seemed to hear—no, I prefer to tell the truth—I actually heard the sound of a pebble flung against my window. I looked out, I saw you on the drive, and I went downstairs and opened the hall door for you. You were wounded just where you were actually wounded—and I bound up your arm with the handkerchief and went to bed. In the morning there was no sign of your having been here, but—but—the handkerchief was gone. Don’t think me a goose.”

“A goose? Heavens! a goose!” he cried. “Listen to my story, dear. When I was wounded in that scrimmage, I fainted through loss of blood, and when I recovered my senses I went in search of the ambulance tent. It was late before I came across a transport waggon, which had been disabled by a shell. I crept inside it, but found nothing there, and I was dying of thirst. And then—then—you came to me with bandages and water—plenty of water in the cut-glass carafe that stands on the sideboard. You lighted a candle, bound up my arm, and left me comfortably asleep, where I was found by our ambulance in the morning. Yes, that’s the truth, and that is why I sent you the telegram, and this is the handkerchief with the stains upon it still.”

He drew the lace handkerchief out of his pocket and handed it to her. She gazed at it, but he only laughed and said—

“I told you ‘there’s magic in the web of it.’”

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