“Well, at least for you, I am no hypocrite,” she said, with a quivering lip. “You know what I am.”
“Yes, I know, and I am at your feet.”
The tears dropped from Julie’s eyes. She turned away and hid her face against one of the piers of the wall.
Delafield attempted no caress. He quietly set himself to draw the life that he had to offer her, the comradeship that he proposed to her. Not a word of what the world called his “prospects” entered in. She knew very well that he could not bring himself to speak of them. Rather, a sort of ascetic and mystical note made itself heard in all he said of the future, a note that before now had fascinated and controlled a woman whose ambition was always strangely tempered with high, poetical imagination.
Yet, ambitious she was, and her mind inevitably supplied what his voice left unsaid.
“He will have to fill his place whether he wishes it or no,” she said to herself. “And if, in truth, he desires my help—”
Then she shrank from her own wavering. Look where she would into her life, it seemed to her that all was monstrous and out of joint.
“You don’t realize what you ask,” she said, at last, in despair. “I am not what you call a good woman—you know it too well. I don’t measure things by your standards. I am capable of such a journey as you found me on. I can’t find in my own mind that I repent it at all. I can tell a lie—you can’t. I can have the meanest and most sordid thoughts—you can’t. Lady Henry thought me an intriguer—I am one. It is in my blood. And I don’t know whether, in the end, I could understand your language and your life. And if I don’t, I shall make you miserable.”
She looked up, her slender frame straightening under what was, in truth, a noble defiance.
Delafield bent over her and took both her hands forcibly in his own.
“If all that were true, I would rather risk it a thousand times over than go out of your life again—a stranger. Julie, you have done mad things for love—you should know what love is. Look in my face—there—your eyes in mine! Give way! The dead ask it of you—and it is God’s will.”
And as, drawn by the last, low-spoken words, Julie looked up into his face, she felt herself enveloped by a mystical and passionate tenderness that paralyzed her resistance. A force, superhuman, laid its grasp upon her will. With a burst of tears, half in despair, half in revolt, she submitted.
In the first week of May, Julie Le Breton married Jacob Delafield in the English Church at Florence. The Duchess was there. So was the Duke—a sulky and ill-resigned spectator of something which he believed to be the peculiar and mischievous achievement of his wife.
At the church door Julie and Delafield left for Camaldoli.
“Well, if you imagine that I intend to congratulate you or anybody else upon that performance you are very much mistaken,” said the Duke, as he and his wife drove back to the “Grand Bretagne” together.