Under Two Flags eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 714 pages of information about Under Two Flags.

But to do this she must sacrifice herself.  She stood mute, irresolute, a shudder running through her till her diamonds shook in the light; the heavy tears stole slowly down, one by one, and fell upon the blurred and blackened paper; her heart ached with an exceeding bitterness.  Then shudderingly still, and as though there were a coward crime in the action, her hand unclosed and let the letter fall into the spirit flame of a silver lamp, burning by; the words that were upon it merited a better fate, a fonder cherishing, but—­they would have compromised her.  She let them fall, and burn, and wither.  With them she gave up his life to its burden of shame, to its fate of exile.

She would hear his crime condemned, and her lips would not open; she would hear his name aspersed, and her voice would not be raised; she would know that he dwelt in misery, or died under foreign suns unhonored and unmourned, while tongues around her would babble of his disgrace—­and she would keep her peace.

She loved him—­yes; but she loved better the dignity in which the world held her, and the diamonds from which the law would divorce her if their love were known.

She sacrificed him for her reputation and her jewels; the choice was thoroughly a woman’s.

CHAPTER XIII.

In the cafe of the Chasseurs.

The red-hot light of the after-glow still burned on the waters of the bay, and shed its Egyptian-like luster on the city that lies in the circle of the Sahel, with the Mediterranean so softly lashing with its violet waves the feet of the white, sloping town.  The sun had sunk down in fire—­the sun that once looked over those waters on the legions of Scipio and the iron brood of Hamilcar, and that now gave its luster on the folds of the French flags as they floated above the shipping of the harbor, and on the glitter of the French arms, as a squadron of the army of Algeria swept back over the hills to their barracks.  Pell-mell in its fantastic confusion, its incongruous blending, its forced mixture of two races—­that will touch, but never mingle; that will be chained together, but will never assimilate—­the Gallic-Moorish life of the city poured out; all the coloring of Haroun al Raschid scattered broadcast among Parisian fashion and French routine.  Away yonder, on the spurs and tops of the hills, the green sea-pines seemed to pierce the transparent air; in the Cabash old, dreamy Arabian legends, poetic as Hafiz, seem still to linger here and there under the foliage of hanging gardens or the picturesque curves of broken terraces; in the distance the brown, rugged Kabyl mountains lay like a couched camel, and far off against the golden haze a single palm rose, at a few rare intervals, with its drooped, curled leaves, as though to recall, amid the shame of foreign domination, that this was once the home of Hannibal; the Africa that had made Rome tremble.

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Under Two Flags from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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