The King's Achievement eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 426 pages of information about The King's Achievement.

But it was no less torture to think of it all, as she sat here.  She had faced the question before; but now the misery she had watched during these last three weeks had driven it home.  Day by day she had seen the old father’s face grow lined and haggard as the suspense gnawed at his heart; she had watched him at meals—­had seen him sit in bewildered grief, striving for self-control and hope—­had seen him, as the light faded in the parlour upstairs, sink deeper into himself; his eyes hidden by his hand, and his grey pointed beard twitching at the trembling of his mouth.  Once or twice she had met his eyes fixed on hers, in a questioning stare, and had known what was in his heart—­a simple, unreproachful wonder at the strange events that had made her so intimately responsible for his son’s happiness.

She thought of Margaret too, as she sat there; of the poor girl who had so rested on her, believed in her, loved her.  There she was now at Overfield, living in a nightmare of suspense, watching so eagerly for the scanty letters, disappointed every time of the good news for which she hoped....

* * * * *

The burden was an intolerable one.  Beatrice was scarcely conscious of where she sat or for what she waited.  She was living over again every detail of her relations with Ralph.  She remembered how she had seen him at first at Chelsea; how he had come out with Master More from the door of the New Building and across the grass.  She had been twisting a grass-ring then as she listened to the talk, and had tossed it on to the dog’s back.  Then, day by day she had met him; he had come at all hours; and she had watched him, for she thought she had found a man.  She remembered how her interest had deepened; how suddenly her heart had leapt that evening when she came into the hall and found him sitting in the dark.  Then, step by step, the friendship had grown till it had revealed its radiant face at the bitterness of Chris’s words in the house at Westminster.  Then her life had become magical; all the world cried “Ralph” to her; the trumpets she heard sounded to his praise; the sunsets had shone for him and her.  Then came the news of the Visitors’ work; and her heart had begun to question her insistently; the questions had become affirmation; and in one passionate hour she had gone to him, scourged him with her tongue, and left him.  She had seen him again once or twice in the years that followed; had watched him from a window hung with tapestries in Cheapside, as he rode down beside the King; and had not dared to ask herself what her heart so longed to tell her.  Then had come the mother’s question; and the falling of the veils.

Then he had called her; she never doubted that; as she sat alone in her room one evening.  It had come, thin and piteous;—­“Beatrice, Beatrice.”  He needed her, and she had gone, and meddled with his life once more.

And he lay in the Tower....

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The King's Achievement from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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