“It is very dark,” she said.
Lady Bellamy’s eyes gave a flash of triumph, and then she stood watching the pitiable exhibition of human misery as curiously as ever a Roman matron did an expiring gladiator. When Angela was near the door, the letter still pressed against her heart, she spoke again.
“The blow comes from God, Angela, and the religion and spiritual theories which you believe in will bring you consolation. Most likely it is a blessing in disguise—a thing that you will in time even learn to be thankful for.”
Lady Bellamy had overacted her part. The words did not ring true, they jarred upon Mr. Fraser; much more did they jar upon Angela’s torn nerves. Her pale cheek flushed, and she turned and spoke, but there was no anger in her face, nothing but sorrow that dignified, and unfathomable love lost in its own depths. Only the eyes seemed as sightless as those of one walking in her sleep.
“When your hour of dreadful trouble comes, as it will come, pray God that there may be none to mock you as you mock me.” And she turned like a stricken thing, and went slowly out, blindly groping her way along.
Her last words had hit the victor hard. Who can say what hidden string they touched, or what prescience of evil they awakened? But they went nigh to felling her. Clutching the mantel-piece, Lady Bellamy gasped for air; then, recovering a little, she said:
“Thank God, that is over.”
Mr. Fraser scarcely saw this last incident. So overwhelmed was he at the sight of Angela’s agony that he had covered his face with his hand. When he lifted it again, Lady Bellamy was gone, and he was alone.
Three months had passed since that awful Christmas Day. Angela was heart-broken, and, after the first burst of her despair, turned herself to the only consolation which was left her. It was not of this world.
She did not question the truth of the dreadful news that Lady Bellamy had brought her, and, if ever a doubt did arise in her breast, a glance at the ring and the letter effectually quelled it. Nor did she get brain-fever or any other illness; her young and healthy frame was too strong a citadel to be taken out of hand by sorrow. And this to her was one of the most wonderful things in her affliction. It had come and crushed her, and life still went on much as before. The sun of her system had fallen, and yet the system was not appreciably deranged. It was dreadful to her to think that Arthur was dead, but an added sting lay in the fact that she was not dead too. Oh! how glad she would have been to die, since death had become the gate through which she needs must pass to reach her lover’s side.