The Maid-At-Arms eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 283 pages of information about The Maid-At-Arms.
...  And I—­I am sometimes frightened lest, in an overwhelming flood of love, that sign be torn away and no spectre of myself rise to confront me, barring those paths that lead to you....  Don’t touch me; Cato is looking at us....  He’s gone....  Wait, do not leave me....  I have been so wretched and unhappy....  I could scarce find strength and heart to let them dress me, thinking on your face when I answered you so cruelly....  Oh, cousin! where are our vows now?  Where are the solemn promises we made never to speak of love?...  Lovers make promises like that in story-books—­and keep them, too, and die sanctified, blessing one another and mounting on radiant wings to heaven....  Where I should find no heaven save in you!  Ah, God! that is the most terrible.  That takes my heart away—­to die and wake to find myself still his wife—­to live through all eternity without you—­and no hope of you—­no hope!...  For I could be patient through this earthly life, losing my youth and yours forever, ... but not after death!  No, no!  I cannot....  Better hell with you than endless heaven with him!...  Don’t speak to me....  Take your hand from my hand....  Can you not see that I mean nothing of what I say—­that I do not know what I am saying?...  I must go back; I am hostess—­a happy one, as you perceive....  Will I never learn to curb my tongue?  You must forget every word I uttered—­do you hear me?”

She sprang up in her rustling silks and took a dozen steps towards the door, then turned.

“Do you hear me?” she said.  “I bid you remember every word I uttered—­every word!”

She was gone, leaving me staring at the flowers and silver and the clustered lights.  But I saw them not; for before my eyes floated the vision of a slender hand, and on the wedding-finger I saw a faint, rosy circle, as I had seen it there a moment since, when Dorothy dropped her bare arms on the cloth and laid her head between them.

So it was true; whether for good or ill my cousin wore the ghost-ring which for ages, Cato says, we Ormonds have worn before the marriage-ring.  There was Ormond blood in Dorothy.  Did she wear the sign as prophecy for that ring Sir George should wed her with?  I dared not doubt it—­and yet, why did I also wear the sign?

Then in a flash the forgotten legend of the Maid-at-Arms came back to me, ringing through my ears in clamorous words: 

     “Serene, ’mid love’s alarms,
     For all time shall the Maids-at-Arms,
     Wearing the ghost-ring, triumph with their constancy!”

I sprang to the door in my excitement and stared at the picture of the Maid-at-Arms.

Sweetly the violet eyes of the maid looked back at me, her armor glittered, her soft throat seemed to swell with the breath of life.

Then I crept nearer, eyes fixed on her wedding-finger.  And I saw there a faint rosy circle as though a golden ring had pressed the snowy flesh.

XIII

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The Maid-At-Arms from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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