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- Hilda Wade - 52/52 -

which has stood for something in science. You also--but you will forgive me. I have held on to life for your sake as an atonement for my sins. Now, I go! Cumberledge--your notebook. Subjective sensations, swimming in the head, light flashes before the eyes, soothing torpor, some touch of coldness, constriction of the temples, humming in the ears, a sense of sinking--sinking--sinking!"

It was an hour later, and Hilda and I were alone in the chamber of death. As Sebastian lay there, a marble figure, with his keen eyes closed and his pinched, thin face whiter and serener than ever, I could not help gazing at him with some pangs of recollection. I could not avoid recalling the time when his very name was to me a word of power, and when the thought of him roused on my cheek a red flush of enthusiasm. As I looked I murmured two lines from Browning's Grammarian's Funeral:

This is our Master, famous, calm, and dead, Borne on our shoulders.

Hilda Wade, standing beside me, with an awestruck air, added a stanza from the same great poem:

Lofty designs must close in like effects: Loftily lying, Leave him--still loftier than the world suspects, Living and dying.

I gazed at her with admiration. "And it is YOU, Hilda, who pay him this generous tribute!" I cried, "YOU, of all women!"

"Yes, it is I," she answered. "He was a great man, after all, Hubert. Not good, but great. And greatness by itself extorts our unwilling homage."

"Hilda," I cried, "you are a great woman; and a good woman, too. It makes me proud to think you will soon be my wife. For there is now no longer any just cause or impediment."

Beside the dead master, she laid her hand solemnly and calmly in mine. "No impediment," she answered. "I have vindicated and cleared my father's memory. And now, I can live. 'Actual life comes next.' We have much to do, Hubert."

Hilda Wade - 52/52

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