The Vehement Flame eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 364 pages of information about The Vehement Flame.

It was quite dark by this time, and chilly; she had meant to sit down for a while, with her back against the locust tree, and think how, at last, he was going to realize her love!  But when she reached the bank of the river she stooped and felt the winter-bleached grass, and found it so wet with the small, fine rain which had begun to fall, that she was afraid to sit down.  “I’d add to my cold,” she thought.  So she stood there a long time, looking at the river, leaden now in the twilight.  “How it glittered that day!” she thought.  Suddenly, on a soft wind of memory, she seemed to smell the warm fragrance of the clover, and hear again her own voice, singing in the sunshine—­

“Through the clear windows of the morning!”

“I’ll leave my coat on the bank,” she said; “but I’ll wear my hat; it will keep my hair from getting messy. ...  Oh, Maurice mustn’t let her call him ‘Maurice’!  I wish I’d made that clearer in my letter.  Why didn’t I tell him to give her that five cents? ...  I wonder how many ‘minutes’ we have had now?  We had had fifty-four, that Day.  I wish I had calculated, and put the number in the letter.  No, that might have made him feel badly.  I don’t want to hurt him; I only want him to know that I love him enough to die to make him happy.  Oh—­will it be cold?”

It was then that she took, slowly, one step—­and stood still.  And another—­and paused.  Her heart began to pound suffocatingly in her throat, and suddenly she knew that she was afraid!  She had not known it; fear had not entered into her plans; just love—­and Maurice; just hate—­and Edith!  Nor had “Right” or “Wrong” occurred to her.  Now, old instincts rose up.  People called this “wicked”?  So, if she was going to do it, she must do it quickly!  She mustn’t get to thinking or she might be afraid to do it, because it would be “wicked.”  She unfastened her coat, then fumbled with her hat, pinning it on firmly; she was saying, aloud:  “Oh—­oh—­oh—­it’s wicked.  But I must.  Oh—­my skirts will get wet ...  ‘Kiss thy perfumed garments’ ...  No; I’ll hold them up.  Oh—­oh—­” And as she spoke her crazy purpose drove her forward; she held back against it—­but, like the pressure of a hand upon her shoulder, it pushed her on down the bank—­slowly—­slowly—­her heels digging into the crumbling clay, her hands clutching now at a tuft of grass, now at a drooping branch; she was drawing quick breaths of terror, and talking, in little gasps, aloud:  “He’ll forget Edith.  He’ll have Jacky.  He’ll know how much I love him....”  So, over the pebbles, out on to the spit of sand; on—­on—­until she reached the river’s edge.  She stood there for a minute, listening to the lisping chatter of the current.  Very slowly, she stepped in, and was ankle deep in shallow water,—­then stopped short—­the water soaked through her shoes, and suddenly she felt it, like circling ice, around her ankles!  Aloud, she said, “Maurice,—­I give you Jacky.  But don’t let Lily call

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The Vehement Flame from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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