“What I did,” she said at length slowly, “was done, no doubt, in a moment of weakness; I gave way to the need of sympathy. Had my friend been a man of less worth, he might have misunderstood me, and then I might indeed have been shamed. But I knew him and trusted him.”
“Which means, that you were false to me in a way I never was to you. It is you who have broken the vow we made to be faithful to each other.”
“I cannot read in your heart. If you still love me, it is a pity; I can give you no love in return.”
He drew nearer, and looked at her despairingly.
“Cecily! when I came last night, I had a longing to throw myself at your feet, and tell you all my misery—everything, and find strength again with your help. I never feared this. You, who are all love and womanliness, you cannot have put me utterly from your heart!”
“I am your wife still; but I ask nothing of you, and you must not seek for more than I can give.”
“Well, I too ask for nothing, But I will prove—”
She checked him.
“Don’t forget your philosophy. We both of us know that it is idle to make promises of that kind.”
“You will leave London with me?”
“I shall go wherever you wish.”
“Then we will make our home again in Paris. The sooner the better. A few days, and we will get rid of everything except what we wish to take with us. I don’t care if I never see London again.”
In the evening, Cecily was again at the Denyers’ house. Madeline lay without power of speech, and seemed gradually sinking into unconsciousness. Mrs. Denyer had been telegraphed for; a reply had come, saying that she would be home very soon, but already a much longer time. than was necessary had passed, and she did not arrive. Zillah sat by the bed weeping, or knelt in prayer.
“If your mother does not come,” Cecily said to her, “I will stay all night. It’s impossible for you to be left alone.”
“She must surely come; and Barbara too. How can they delay so long?”
Madeline’s eyes were open, but she gave no sign of recognition. The look upon her face was one of suffering, there was no telling whether of body or mind. Hitherto it had changed a little when Zillah spoke to her, but at length not even this sign was to be elicited. Cecily could not take her gaze from the blank visage; she thought unceasingly of the bright, confident girl she had known years ago, and the sunny shore of Naples.
The doctor looked in at nine o’clock. He stayed only a few minutes.
At half-past ten there came a loud knocking at the house-door, and the servant admitted Mrs. Denyer, who was alone. In the little room above, the two watchers were weeping over the dead girl.
THE TWO FACES