She paused in her eagerness, for he had jumped to his feet and was now standing before her, a rigid, statuesque figure, with head bent and arms hanging inert by his side.
“You do not love me, Suzanne,” he said with an infinity of sadness, which went straight to her own loving heart, “else you would not dream of thus condemning me to three months of exquisite torture.... I have had my answer.... Farewell, my gracious lady ... not mine, alas! but another man’s ... and may Heaven grant that he love you well ... not as I do, for that were impossible....”
His voice had died away in a whisper, which obviously was half-choked with tears. She, too, had risen while he spoke, all her hesitation gone, her heart full of reproaches against herself, and of love for him.
“What do you mean?” she asked trembling.
“That I must go,” he replied simply, “since you do not love me....”
Oh! how thankful she was that this merciful darkness enwrapped her so tenderly. She was so young, so innocent and pure, that she felt half ashamed of the expression of her own great love which went out to him in a veritable wave of passion, when she began to fear that she was about to lose him.
“No, no,” she cried vehemently, “you shall not go ... you shall not.”
Her hands sought his in the gloom, and found them, clung to them with ever-growing ardor; she came quite close to him trying to peer into his face and to let him read in hers all the pathetic story of her own deep love for him.
“I love you,” she murmured through her tears. And again she repeated: “I love you. See,” she added with sudden determination, “I will do e’en as you wish.... I will follow you to the uttermost ends of the earth.... I ... I will marry you ... secretly ... an you wish.”
Welcome darkness that hid her blushes! ... she was so young—so ignorant of life and of the world—yet she felt that by her words, her promise, her renunciation of her will, she was surrendering something to this man, which she could never, never regain.
Did the first thought of fear, or misgiving cross her mind at this moment? It were impossible to say. The darkness which to her was so welcome was—had she but guessed it—infinitely cruel too, for it hid the look of triumph, of rapacity, of satisfied ambition which at her selfless surrender had involuntarily crept into Marmaduke’s eyes.
A WOMAN’S HEART
It is difficult, perhaps, to analyze rightly the feelings and sensations of a young girl, when she is literally being swept off her feet in a whirlpool of passion and romance.
Some few years later when Lady Sue wrote those charming memoirs which are such an interesting record of her early life, she tried to note with faithful accuracy what was the exact state of her mind when three months after her first meeting with Prince Amede d’Orleans, she plighted her troth to him and promised to marry him in secret and in defiance of her guardian’s more than probable opposition.