“Then he fell across the bed exhausted. He was dying. I had rung for help, but no one had come, and I ran out of the room to call on the landing. When I came back he was sitting up in bed, all dressed, and still with his hat on. It was the last flicker of his strength. His eyes glittered. He began to speak. How he stared at me! I shall never forget it!
“‘I am dying!’ he said hoarsely. ’They were right, after all. I shall lose her. I would sell my soul to keep her, yet death takes me from her. She is young and beautiful, and will live many years. But I have loved her, and where I have loved let others beware. I shall never be far from her, and if another man should dare to cast eyes on her I will curse him. The heat of my jealousy shall blast his very soul. He, too, shall die. Rosa was mine in life, and she shall be mine in death. My spirit will watch over her, for no man ever loved a woman as I loved Rosa.’ Those were his very words, Carl. Soon afterwards he died.”
She recited Clarenceux’s last phrases with such genuine emotion that I could almost hear Clarenceux himself saying them. I felt sure that she had remembered them precisely, and that Clarenceux would, indeed, have employed just such terms.
“And you believe,” I murmured, after a long pause, during which I fitted the remarkable narration in with my experiences, and found that it tallied—“you believe that Lord Clarenceux could keep his word after death?”
“I believe!” she said simply.
“Then there is no hope for me, Emmeline?”
She looked at me vaguely, absently, without speaking, and shook her head. Her lustrous eyes filled with tears.
Just as I was walking away from the hotel I perceived Rosa’s victoria drawing up before the portico. She saw me. We exchanged a long look—a look charged with anxious questionings. Then she beckoned to me, and I, as it were suddenly waking from a trance, raised my hat, and went to her.
“Get in,” she said, without further greeting. “We will drive to the Arc de Triomphe and back. I was going to call on Mrs. Sullivan Smith,—just a visit of etiquette,—but I will postpone that.”
Her manner was constrained, as it had been on the previous day, but I could see that she was striving hard to be natural. For myself, I did not speak. I felt nervous, even irritable, in my love for her. Gradually, however, her presence soothed me, slackened the tension of my system, and I was able to find a faint pleasure in the beauty of the September afternoon, and of the girl by my side, in the smooth movement of the carriage, and the general gaiety and color of the broad tree-lined Champs Elysees.
“Why do you ask me to drive with you?” I asked her at length, abruptly yet suavely. Amid the noise of the traffic we could converse with the utmost privacy.