If there had been another reason for his conduct, she thought, any reason save the one he gave! If a father had forbidden marriage between them, or if he had feared the anger of his mother, her pride, at least, would not have suffered. But he had made it clear, “damnably clear,” as he has stated it, that the only obstacle to his marrying her was his own will.
But he had suffered, too. She had seen him white and haggard with longing for her, and she knew pretence too well to doubt that thus far she was the supreme attraction in his life. The thing that hung black over all was the unchangeableness of the cause of her trouble. She could never be anything but Katrine Dulany; he had decided that she was not worthy to become Katrine Ravenel. Wherein, then, did these Ravenels excel? Her rebellious Irish heart put questions for her clear head to answer. Were they a generous, high-minded, clear-souled people? Folk-tales, passed by word of mouth, of the ill doings of Francis sixth, as well as Francis fifth of the name, told her they were not. Certain dusky faces with the Ravenel mouth and chin had spoken to her of a moral code before which her clean soul stood abashed. Were they more intelligent, more dignified, more refined? The narrow-mindedness of them answered these questionings in the negative. Were they; and here that self-belief, which seems placed like a shell to protect all genius, entered its own, demanding; were they of the specially gifted, as she knew herself to be?
But through the turmoil of heated thought one idea became fixed, however. She must leave Carolina and work; determinedly, doggedly; work to save her reason. Unformulated plans were taking shape in her mind even while she sobbed forth her grief. If she could but study, she thought!
“There must”—and here she spoke aloud, her hands clinched in the pine-needles—“must, must be found some way to do it!”
And by some curious mental twist, as she made the resolution, there came back to her the words of some old reading:
"No great artistic success ever came to any woman, that had not its root in a dead love."
As she lay face downward, her body convulsed with weeping, it was ordered that Dermott McDermott should take a short cut through that part of the grounds to the boat-landing, on one of his lightning-like trips to foreign parts. He had just encountered Frank riding like the wind, his face haggard and drawn, and at the sight of Katrine’s distress he drew conclusions, with rage and a dancing madness in his eye.
“If ye’ve hurt her, Frank Ravenel, if I find when I come back ye’ve hurt her, you’ll answer to me for it! God! how you will answer to me!” he cried.
* * * * *
There is this about life: that frequently when we think the worst has happened it is but the forerunner of worse to come.
As Katrine lay tossed by misery and shame, Nora O’Grady, with her kilted linsey-woolsey skirt turned up, her white kerchief loosened over her bosom, and her brogans twinkling in her haste, came running along the road, her face twitching with sorrow. Ever and anon in her speed she dried her eyes on her apron and a moan escaped her.