Nancy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 371 pages of information about Nancy.

“Nancy!” he says, in a low voice, not looking at me, but still facing the flowers and the sunshiny autumn sward, “do you believe that—­that—­ this fellow cares about her really?—­she is too good to be made—­to be made—­a mere cat’s-paw of!”

“A cat’s-paw!” cry I, turning quickly round with raised voice; the blood that so lately retired from it rushing again headlong all over my face; “I do not know—­what you mean—­what you are talking about!”

He draws his breath heavily, and pauses a moment before he speaks.

“God knows,” he says, looking solemnly up, “that I had no wish to broach this subject again—­God knows that I meant to have done with it forever —­but now that it has been forced against my will—­against both our wills—­upon me, I must ask you this one question—­tell me, Nancy—­tell me truly this time”—­(with an accent of acute pain on the word “this")—­“can you say, on your honor—­on your honor, mind—­that you believe this—­this man loves Barbara, as a man should love his wife?”

If he had worded his interrogation differently, I should have been sorely puzzled to answer it; as it is, in the form his question takes, I find a loop-hole of escape.

“As a man should love his wife?” I reply, with a derisive laugh, “and how is that?  I do not think I quite know!—­very dearly, I suppose, but not quite so dearly as if she were his neighbor’s—­is that it?”

As I speak, I look up at him, with a malicious air of pseudo-innocence.  But if I expect to see any guilt—­any conscious shrinking in his face—­I am mistaken.  There is pain—­infinite pain—­pain both sharp and long-enduring in the grieved depths of his eyes; but there is no guilt.

“You will not answer me?” he says, in an accent of profound disappointment, sighing again heavily.  “Well, I hardly expected it—­ hardly hoped it!—­so be it, then, since you will have it so; and yet—­” (again taking up the note, and reading over one of its few sentences with slow attention), “and yet there is one more question I must put to you, after all—­they both come to pretty much the same thing.  Why”—­ (pointing, as he speaks, to the words to which he alludes)—­“why should you have taken on yourself the blame of—­of his departure from Tempest? what had you to say to it?”

In his voice there is the same just severity; in his eyes there is the same fire of deep yet governed wrath that I remember in them six months ago, when Mrs. Huntley first threw the firebrand between us.

“I do not know,” I reply, in a half whisper of impatient misery, turning my head restlessly from side to side; “how should I know?  I am sick of the subject.”

“Perhaps!—­so, God knows, am I; but had you any thing to say to it?”

He does not often touch me now; but, as he asks this, he takes hold of both my hands, more certainly to prevent my escaping from under his gaze, than from any desire to caress me.

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Project Gutenberg
Nancy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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