An hour later, and he was at the cabin door, pleading for one kind word, entreating her to let him see her, were it only for a few moments, to know that she was not utterly broken down by the peril she had passed through. He pleaded in vain. She would give no answer—she would speak no word. Indeed, in that dull agony of shame and despair it seemed to her as if a dumb devil had entered into her. Her parched lips seemed to have lost the power of speech. She lay there, staring straight before her at all the swinging things on the cedar panel—the books and photographs—and lamps and frivolities, vibrating with every movement of the sea. Her hands were clenched until the nails cut into the flesh. Her heart was throbbing with a dull, slow beat that made itself torturingly audible. Did God create His creatures for such agony? Had she been foredoomed everlastingly—in that awful incomprehensible ante-natal Eternity—foredoomed to this fallen state, to this unutterable shame?[Pg 174]
CHAPTER I."You need feel no compunction about leaving me," she paid. "I shall be perfectly happy in the woods with nurse, and baby, and my books."
"My love, you have been dreaming," said Disney, soothing her with womanly gentleness. "Lie down again, my poor dear. See, let me arrange the pillows and make you quite comfortable.""When he went home two years ago he gave me to understand he was going to settle down at the Mount, and spend the rest of his days in peace and respectability," said Captain Hulbert. "Yet, very soon afterwards, he and his yacht were off again like the Flying Dutchman, and the next I heard of him was at Leghorn, and six months later he was coasting off Algiers; and the following spring he was in South America; and the Vendetta was laid up at Marseilles, where he begged me to go and look after her, and take her to myself until such time as he should want her again. I was with him for a few days at Leghorn, where he seemed ill and out of spirits. I don't think you can have used him over well in this part of the world, Mrs. Disney," he added, half in jest. "I fancy some of you must have snubbed him severely, or his tenants must have worried him by their complaints and exactions. I could not get him to talk about his life at the Mount. He seemed to have taken a disgust for the old home."
"Let us hope that he has pulled up in time, and that he may get a young wife before he is many years older. I have no desire that my sister's son should be a peer. I only want to see her happy with a husband who shall be worthy of her.""I am happy, Martin, quite happy, happier than I ever thought to be, now that you are home again. What have I more to desire?"
Isola wandered up the hill-path, past the little shrine where the way divided, the point at which she had seen her husband and his party vanish in the sunny morning. She felt a sudden sense of loneliness now the sun was gone; a childish longing for the return of her friends, for evening and lamplight, and the things that make for cheerfulness.[Pg 243] She was cold and dull, and out of spirits. She had left the house while the sun was shining, and she had come without shawl or wrap of any kind, and the mistral made her shiver. Yet she had no idea of hurrying home. The loneliness of the house had become oppressive before she left it; and she knew there would be some hours to wait for the return of the excursionists. So she mounted the steep mule-path, slowly and painfully, till she had gone two-thirds of the way to Colla; and then she sat down to rest on the low stone wall which enclosed a little garden in a break of the wood, from which point there was a far-stretching view seaward.He looked at her horror-stricken, their two faces close to each other as he bent over her pillow.
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"Believe, at least, that you will be the last, as you are the only woman I ever asked to be my wife."
"Oh no; they are not dead; they are at Dinan," she said, almost as if it were the same thing."Ah, and you will soon love her for her own sake."详情
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