“Clo,” he cried again—“thy mother—she was but a girl, and died alone—I did no justice to her!—Daphne! Daphne!” And he shook beneath the bed-clothes, shuddering to his feet, his face growing more grey and pinched.
“She loved thee once,” Clorinda said. “She was a gentle soul, and would not forget. She will show thee mercy.”
“Birth she went through,” he muttered, “and death—alone. Birth and death! Daphne, my girl—” And his voice trailed off to nothingness, and he lay staring at space, and panting.
The duchess sat by him and held his hand. She moved not, though at last he seemed to fall asleep. Two hours later he began to stir. He turned his head slowly upon his pillows until his gaze rested upon her, as she sat fronting him. ’Twas as though he had awakened to look at her.
“Clo!” he cried, and though his voice was but a whisper, there was both wonder and wild question in it—“Clo!”
But she moved not, her great eyes meeting his with steady gaze; and even as they so looked at each other his body stretched itself, his lids fell—and he was a dead man.
When they had had ten years of happiness, Anne died. ’Twas of no violent illness, it seemed but that through these years of joy she had been gradually losing life. She had grown thinner and whiter, and her soft eyes bigger and more prayerful. ’Twas in the summer, and they were at Camylott, when one sweet day she came from the flower-garden with her hands full of roses, and sitting down by her sister in her morning-room, swooned away, scattering her blossoms on her lap and at her feet.
When she came back to consciousness she looked up at the duchess with a strange, far look, as if her soul had wandered back from some great distance.
“Let me be borne to bed, sister,” she said. “I would lie still. I shall not get up again.”
The look in her face was so unearthly and a thing so full of mystery, that her Grace’s heart stood still, for in some strange way she knew the end had come.
They bore her to her tower and laid her in her bed, when she looked once round the room and then at her sister.
“’Tis a fair, peaceful room,” she said. “And the prayers I have prayed in it have been answered. To-day I saw my mother, and she told me so.”
“Anne! Anne!” cried her Grace, leaning over her and gazing fearfully into her face; for though her words sounded like delirium, her look had no wildness in it. And yet—“Anne, Anne! you wander, love,” the duchess cried.
Anne smiled a strange, sweet smile. “Perchance I do,” she said. “I know not truly, but I am very happy. She said that all was over, and that I had not done wrong. She had a fair, young face, with eyes that seemed to have looked always at the stars of heaven. She said I had done no wrong.”