“And you will take care of me?” I cried, stretching out my arms toward him, with a sudden overwhelming sense of my loneliness and destitution.
“Yes, Pauline, to the end of my life or of yours; as if you were my sister or almost my child.”
“Dear Richard,” I whispered, as I buried my face on his arm, “if it were not for you I should not live through this dreadful time. I hope I shall die soon; as soon as I am better. But till I do die, I hope you will be good to me, and love me.” And I pressed his hand against my cheek and lips, like the poor, frantic, grief-bewildered child that I was.
At this moment there came a sound of movement in the stables: I heard one of the heavy doors thrown open, and a man leading a horse across the stable-floor. (The windows were open and the night was very still.) Richard started, and looked uneasily at his watch, stepping to the door to get the light.
“How late is it?” I faltered.
“Half-past three,” he said, turning his eyes away, as if he could not bear the sight of my face. I do not like to remember the dreadful moments that followed this: the misery that I put upon Richard by my passionate, ungoverned grief. I threw myself upon the floor, I clung to his knees, I prayed him to delay the hour of going—another hour, another day. I said all the wild and frantic things that were in my heart, as he closed the library-door and led me to my room.
“Try to say your prayers, Pauline,” was all he could answer me.
I did try to say them, as I knelt by the window, and saw in the dull, gray dawn, those two carriages drive slowly from the door.
Richard went away alone. Kilian indeed came down-stairs just as he was starting.
Sophie had awakened, and called him into her room for a few moments.
Then he came down, and I saw him get into the carriage alone, and motion the man to drive on, after that other—which stood waiting a few rods farther on.
He, full of modesty
Loved much, hoped little, and desired nought.
Fresh grief can occupy
With its own recent smart;
It feeds itself on outward things,
And not on its own heart.
A thing which surprises me very much in looking over those days of suffering, is, that during that day a frightful irritability is the emotion that I most remember—an irritability of feeling, not of expression: for I lay quite still upon the bed all day, and only answered, briefly and simply, the questions of Sophie and the maid.
I could not sleep: it was many hours since I had slept: but nothing seemed further from possibility than sleeping. The lightest sound enraged my nerves: the approach of any one made me frantic. I lay with my hands crushed together, and my teeth against each other, whenever Sophie entered the room.