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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 171 pages of information about Vain Fortune.

’Oh, she!  Well, you can marry her if you like.  That would not be a bad notion.  But if you do, you’ll forget all about me and Lady Hayward.’

‘No; I shall never forget you, Rose.’  He stretched his hand to her; but, irrespective of his will, the gesture seemed full of farewell.

‘I’m so much obliged to you,’ he said; ’had it not been for you, I might never have opened that letter.’

’Even if you hadn’t, it wouldn’t have mattered; you would have heard of your good fortune some other way.  But it is getting very late.  I must say good-night.  I hope you will have a pleasant time in the country, and will finish your play.  Good-night.’

Returning from the door, he stopped to think.  ’We have been very good friends—­that is all.  How strangely determined she is!...  More so than I am.  She is bound to succeed.  There is in her just that note of individual passion....  Perhaps some one will find her out before I have finished,—­that would be a pity.  I wonder which of us will succeed first?’

Then the madness of good fortune came upon him suddenly; he could think no more of Rose, and had to go for a long walk in the streets.

VII

‘Dearest Emily, you must prepare yourself for the worst.’

‘Is he dead?’

’Yes; he passed away quite quietly.  To look at him one would say he was asleep; he does not appear to have suffered at all.’

’Oh, Julia, Julia, do you think he forgave me?  I could not do what he asked me....  I loved him very dearly as a father, but I could not have married him.’

’No, dear, you could not.  Such a marriage would have been most unnatural; he was more than forty years older than you.’

’I do not think he ever thought of such a thing until about a month or six weeks ago.  You remember how I ran to you?  I was as white as a ghost, and I trembled like a leaf.  I could hardly speak....  You remember?’

’Yes, I remember; and some hours after, when I came into this room, he was standing there, just there, on the hearth-rug; there was a fearful look of pain and despair on his face—­he looked as if he was going mad.  I never saw such a look before, and I never wish to see such a look again.  And the effort he made to appear unconcerned when he saw me was perhaps the worst part of it.  I pretended to see nothing, and walked away towards the window and looked out.  But all the while I could feel that some terrible drama was passing behind me.  At last I had to look round.  He was sitting in that chair, his elbows on his knees, clasping his head with both hands, the old, gnarled fingers twined in the iron-grey hair.  Then, unable to contain himself any longer, he rushed out of the room, out of the house, and across the park.’

‘You say that he passed away quietly; he did not seem to suffer at all?’

‘No, he never recovered consciousness.’

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