And my lord took off his nightcap, and wiped his eyes with it.
A GREEK GIFT
Julia, left alone, and locked in the room, passed such a night as a girl instructed in the world’s ways might have been expected to pass in her position, and after the rough treatment of the afternoon. The room grew dark, the dismal garden and weedy pool that closed the prospect faded from sight; and still as she crouched by the barred window, or listened breathless at the door, all that part of the house lay silent. Not a sound of life came to the ear.
By turns she resented and welcomed this. At one time, pacing the floor in a fit of rage and indignation, she was ready to dash herself against the door, or scream and scream and scream until some one came to her. At another the recollection of Pomeroy’s sneering smile, of his insolent grasp, revived to chill and terrify her; and she hid in the darkest corner, hugged the solitude, and, scarcely daring to breathe, prayed that the silence might endure for ever.
But the hours in the dark room were long and cold; and at times the fever of rage and fear left her in the chill. Of this came another phase through which she passed, as the night wore on and nothing happened. Her thoughts reverted to him who should have been her protector, but had become her betrayer—and by his treachery had plunged her into this misery; and on a sudden a doubt of his guilt flashed into her mind and blinded her by its brilliance. Had she done him an injustice? Had the abduction been, after all, concerted not by him but by Mr. Thomasson and his confederates? The setting down near Pomeroy’s gate, the reception at his house, the rough, hasty suit paid to her—were these all parts of a drama cunningly arranged to mystify her? And was he innocent? Was he still her lover, true, faithful, almost her husband?
If she could think so! She rose, and softly walked the floor in the darkness, tears raining down her face. Oh, if she could be sure of it! At the thought, the thought only, she glowed from head to foot with happy shame. And fear? If this were so, if his love were still hers, and hers the only fault—of doubting him, she feared nothing! Nothing! She felt her way to a tray in the corner where her last meal remained untasted, and ate and drank humbly, and for him. She might need her strength.
She had finished, and was groping her return to the window-seat, when a faint rustle as of some one moving on the other side of the door caught her ear. She had fancied herself brave enough an instant before, but in the darkness a great horror of fear came on her. She stood rooted to the spot; and heard the noise again. It was followed by the sound of a hand passed stealthily over the panels; a hand seeking, as she thought, for the key; and she could have shrieked in her helplessness. But while she stood, her face turned to stone, came instant relief, A voice, subdued in fear, whispered, ‘Hist, ma’am, hist! Are you asleep?’