Zibeline — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 139 pages of information about Zibeline — Complete.
the chief cause of this tragic event continued to pace to and fro in the gallery—­that gallery where, under the intoxication of a waltz, the demon of temptation had so quickly demolished all his resolutions of resistance.  A half-hour—­an age!—­elapsed before the skilled practitioner reappeared.  “There is no fracture,” he said, “but the cerebral shock has been such that I can not as yet answer for the consequences.  If the powerful reactive medicine which I have just given should bring her back to her senses soon, her mental faculties will suffer no harm.  If not, there is everything to fear.  I will return in three hours,” he added.  Without giving a thought to the conventionalities, Henri entered the bedchamber, to the great astonishment of the maids, and, installing himself at the head of the bed, he decided not to leave that spot until Valentine had regained her senses, should she ever regain them.  An hour passed thus, while Henri kept the same attitude, erect, attentive, motionless, with stray scraps of his childhood’s prayers running through his brain.  Suddenly the heavy eyelids of the wounded girl were lifted; the dulness of the eyes disappeared; her body made an involuntary attempt to change its position; the nostrils dilated; the lips quivered in an effort to speak.  Youth and life had triumphed over death.  With painful slowness, she tried to raise her hand to her head, the seat of her pain, where, though half paralyzed, thought was beginning to return.  Her eyes wandered to and fro in the shadowy room, seeking to recognize the surroundings.  A ray of light, filtering through the window-curtains, showed her the anxious face bending tenderly over her.  “Henri!” she murmured, in a soft, plaintive voice.  That name, pronounced thus, the first word uttered after her long swoon, revealed her secret.  Never had a more complete yet modest avowal been more simply expressed; was it not natural that he should be present at her reentrance into life, since she loved him?  With women, the sentiment of love responds to the most diverse objects.  The ordinary young girl of Zibeline’s age, either before or after her sojourn in a convent, considers that a man of thirty has arrived at middle age, and that a man of forty is absolutely old.  Should she accept a man of either of these ages, she does it because a fortune, a title, or high social rank silences her other tastes, and her ambition does the rest.  But, with an exceptional woman, like Mademoiselle de Vermont, brought up in view of wide horizons, in the midst of plains cleared by bold pioneers, among whom the most valorous governed the others, a man like General de Prerolles realized her ideal all the more, because both their natures presented the same striking characteristics:  carelessness of danger, and frankness carried to its extremest limit.  Therefore, this declaration—­to use the common expression—­entirely free from artifice or affectation, charmed Henri for one reason, yet, on the other hand, redoubled his perplexity. 
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Zibeline — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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