He raised his eyes steadily to mine and bowed low. I almost choked for one instant, and then I found voice and rushed on vehemently. “What she has told you is false; every word of it is false. I am not engaged to Richard Vandermarck; I never thought of such a thing till I came here, and found they talked about it. They ought to be ashamed, and I will go away to-morrow. And what she said about my mother is a wicked lie as well, at least in the way she meant it; and I shall hate her all my life. I have been motherless and lonely always, but God has cared for me, and I never knew before what evil thoughts and ways there were. I am not ashamed that I listened, though I didn’t mean to stay at first. I’m glad I heard it all and know what kind of friends I have. And those last cruel words you said—I never will forgive you, never—never—never till I die.”
He had put his hand out toward me as if in conciliation, at least I understood it so. I pushed it passionately away, rushed into my room, bolted the door, and flung myself upon the bed with a frightful burst of sobs. I heard his hand upon the latch of the door, and he said my name several times in a low voice. Then he went slowly up the stairs. And I think his room must have been directly over mine, for, for hours I heard some one walking there; indeed, it was the last sound I heard, when, having cried all my tears and vowed all my vows, I fell asleep and forgot that I was wretched.
La notte e madre di pensieri.
Now tell me how you
are as to religion?
You are a clear good man—but I rather fear
You have not much of it.
It was all very well to talk about going away; but the matter looked very differently by daylight. It was Sunday; and I knew I could not go away for a day or two, and not even then without making a horrid sort of stir, for which I had not the courage in cold blood. Besides, I did not even know that I wanted to go if I could. Varick-street! Hateful, hateful thought. No, I could not go there. And though (by daylight) I still detested Mary Leighton, and felt ashamed about Richard, and remembered all Mr. Langenau’s words (sweet as well as bitter), everything was let down a great many degrees; from the heights of passion into the plains of commonplace.
My great excitement had worked its own cure, and I was so dull and weary that I did not even want to think of what had passed the night before. If I had a sentiment that retained any strength, it was that of shame and self-contempt. I could not think of myself in any way that did not make me blush. When, however, it came to the moment of facing every one, and going down to breakfast, I began to know I still had some other feelings.