"Object! Of course not, Martin. I shall be very pleased for your sister to come here."This was the last time Mrs. Vansittart Crowther appeared in a friendly manner at the Angler's Nest, for after two or three further invitations—to a picnic—to tea—to lunch—had been declined, in most gracious little notes from Isola, that good lady perceived that there was some kind of barrier to friendly intercourse between her and Colonel Disney's wife, and she told herself with some touch of honest middle-class dignity that if Martin Disney was proud she could be proud too, and that she would make no further offer of friendship which was undesired.
"His lordship's brother."
Isola looked at her sister-in-law, and they both rose at this moment, the Church almost tumbling over the Navy in eagerness to open the door; Navy winning by a neck."I'm rather sorry we accepted the Glenaveril invitation," he said to Isola. "The man is such an unmitigated cad."
To all his interrogations her answer had been the same. She was not unhappy. She had everything in life that she desired. There was nothing that he could give her, no possible change in their existence which could add to her content. All this should mean domestic peace, a heart at ease; yet all this was unsatisfying to Martin Disney; for his instinct told him that his wife was not happy—that the element of gladness was, for some inscrutable reason, banished from her life."I don't know about that, but I am ready to row to the Land's End, now Martin is back," said Isola, and those few words seemed the sweetest Martin Disney had heard since Colonel Manwaring's daughter promised to be his wife.
"Oh, I have the Cornishman's passion for his native soil; but I am not so rooted to it as to pine in exile. I shall be happy enough in the South, with my dear young wife; especially if I see the roses come back to your cheeks in that land of flowers."[Pg 218]"And you would not for the world do him any wrong?" pursued the priest, more and more earnest as he went on, pale with emotion, his whole power of observation concentrated upon the whitening face and lowered eyelids of the woman sitting at his feet.
"Is there anything in either of those stories to sadden you more than the thought of sin and sorrow saddens all of us?"
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What had he said? Only a few agitated words—only a revelation. He loved her, loved her with all the passion of his passionate soul; loved her as he had never loved before. They all tell the same story, these destroyers of innocence; and, for that one burning moment, they all mean what they say. Every seducer has his hour of sublime truthfulness; of generous feeling; of ardent heroic aspirations; the hour in which he would perish for the woman he loves; cut off his right hand; burn out his eyes; leap off a monument; do anything except surrender her, except forego his privilege to destroy her.
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