Emily drew a long breath, put her hand to her delicate throat, and turning away hastily moved into the window, and gazed out with wide-opened eyes; Her face suffused with a pale tint of carnation was too full of unbelieving joy to be shown to him yet. He had made a mistake, though not precisely the mistake he supposed. He was destined, so long as he lived, never to have it explained. It was a mistake which made all things right again, made the past recede, and appear a dream, and supplied a sweet reason for all the wifely duty, all the long fealty and impassioned love she was to bestow on him ever after.
It was strange, even to her, who was so well accustomed to the unreasoning, exaggerated rhapsody of a lover, to hear him; his rage against himself, his entire hopelessness; and as for her, she knew not how to stop him, or how to help him; she could but listen and wonder.
Nature helped him, however; for a waft of summer wind coming in at that moment, swung the rose-branches that clustered round the window, and flung some of their white petals on her head. Something else stirred, she felt a slight movement behind her, and a little startled, turned involuntarily to look, and to see her cap—the widow’s delicate cap—wafted along the carpet by the air, and settling at John Mortimer’s feet.
He lifted it up, and she stood mute while she saw him fold it together with a man’s awkwardness, but with something of reverence too; then, as if he did not know what else to do with it, he laid it on the table before an opened miniature of Fred Walker.
After a moment’s consideration she saw him close this miniature, folding its little doors together.
“That, because I want to ask a favour of you,” he said.
“What is it?” she asked, and blushed beautifully.
“You gave me a kiss, let me also bestow one—one parting kiss—and I will go.”
He was about to go then, he meant to consider himself dismissed. She could not speak, and he came up to her, she gave him her hand, and he stooped and kissed her.
Something in her eyes, or perhaps the blush on her face, encouraged him to take her for a moment into his arms. He was extremely pale, but when she lifted her face from his breast a strange gleam of hope and wonder flashed out of his eyes.
She had never looked so lovely in her life, her face suffused with a soft carnation, her lucid grey-blue eyes full of sweet entreaty. Nevertheless, she spoke in a tone of the quietest indifference—a sort of pensive wistfulness habitual with her.
“You can go if you please,” she said, “but you had much better not.”
“No!” he exclaimed.
“No,” she repeated. “Because, John—because I love you.”
THE TRUE GHOST STORY.
my lord, it comes!”
Hamlet the Dane.