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Marie Corelli
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 420 pages of information about Vendetta.
more indelible traces on my countenance.  Yet it has been proved that it is not always the hollow-eyed, sallow and despairing-looking persons who are really in sharp trouble—­these are more often bilious or dyspeptic, and know no more serious grief than the incapacity to gratify their appetites for the high-flavored delicacies of the table.  A man may be endowed with superb physique, and a constitution that is in perfect working order—­his face and outward appearance may denote the most harmonious action of the life principle within him—­and yet his nerves may be so finely strung that he may be capable of suffering acuter agony in his mind than if his body were to be hacked slowly to pieces by jagged knives, and it will leave no mark on his features while youth still has hold on his flesh and blood.

So it was with me; and I wondered what she—­Nina—­would say, could she behold me, unmasked as it were, in the solitude of my own room.  This thought roused another in my mind—­another at which I smiled grimly.  I was an engaged man!  Engaged to marry my own wife; betrothed for the second time to the same woman!  What a difference between this and my first courtship of her!  Then, who so great a fool as I—­who so adoring, passionate and devoted!  Now, who so darkly instructed, who so cold, so absolutely pitiless!  The climax to my revenge was nearly reached.  I looked through the coming days as one looks through a telescope out to sea, and I could watch the end approaching like a phantom ship—­neither slow nor fast, but steadily and silently.  I was able to calculate each event in its due order, and I knew there was no fear of failure in the final result.  Nature itself—­the sun, moon and stars, the sweeping circle of the seasons—­all seem to aid in the cause of rightful justice.  Man’s duplicity may succeed in withholding a truth for a time, but in the end it must win its way.  Once resolve, and then determine to carry out that resolve, and it is astonishing to note with what marvelous ease everything makes way for you, provided there be no innate weakness in yourself which causes you to hesitate.  I had formerly been weak, I knew, very weak—­else I had never been fooled by wife and friend; but now, now my strength was as the strength of a demon working within me.  My hand had already closed with an iron grip on two false unworthy lives, and had I not sworn “never to relax, never to relent” till my vengeance was accomplished?  I had!  Heaven and earth had borne witness to my vow, and now held me to its stern fulfillment.

CHAPTER XX.

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