Zibeline — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 111 pages of information about Zibeline Complete.
How could he conciliate his scruples of conscience with the aspirations of his heart?  The problem seemed then as insoluble as when it had been presented the first time.  But Valentine was saved.  For the moment that was the essential point, the only one in question.  The involuntary revelation of her secret had brought the color to her cheeks, the light to her eyes, a smile to her lips, in spite of the leaden band that seemed still pressing upon her head.  “How you have frightened me!” said Henri, in a low voice, seating himself on the side of the bed and taking her hand.  “Is that true?” she asked, softly pressing his fingers.  “Hush!” he said, making a movement to enjoin silence.  She obeyed, and they remained a few moments thus.  Nevertheless, he reflected that the account of the accident would soon be spread everywhere, that Valentine’s new friends would hear about it as soon as they arrived at the race-track that day, and that he could no longer prolong his stay beside her.

“Are you leaving me so soon?” Valentine murmured, when he said that he must go.

“I am going to tell my sister and the Chevalier de Sainte-Foy of your mishap.”

“Very well,” she replied, as if already she had no other desire than to follow his wishes.

He gave the necessary orders, and again took his place beside the bed, awaiting the second visit of the doctor, whose arrival was simultaneous with that of the Duchess.

This time the verdict was altogether favorable, with no mention of the possibility of any aggravating circumstances.  An inevitable feverishness, and a great lassitude, which must be met with absolute repose for several days, would be the only consequences of this dangerous prank.

The proprieties resumed their normal sway, and it was no longer possible for Henri to remain beside the charming invalid.

CHAPTER XXVII

DISTRACTION

The Duchesse de Montgeron, who had passed the rest of the day with Mademoiselle de Vermont, did not return to her own dwelling until eight o’clock that evening, bearing the most reassuring news.

Longing for fresh air and exercise, Henri went out after dinner, walked through the Champs-Elysees, and traversed the crossing at l’Etoile, in order to approach the spot where Zibeline lay ill.

If one can imagine the feelings of a man of forty-five, who is loved for himself, under the most flattering and unexpected conditions, one can comprehend the object of this nocturnal walk and the long pause that Henri made beneath the windows of Zibeline’s apartment.  A small garden, protected by a light fence, was the only obstacle that separated them.  But how much more insuperable was the barrier which his own principles had raised between this adorable girl and himself.

Had he not told his sister, confided to Eugenie Gontier, and reiterated to any one that would listen to him, the scruples which forbade him ever to think of marriage?  To change this decision, in asking for the hand of Mademoiselle de Vermont, would-in appearance, at least—­sacrifice to the allurement of wealth the proud poverty which he had long borne so nobly.

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Zibeline — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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