When she said: “Your fire shall be lighted to-night to welcome you,” the man looked up, and was going to request that the trouble might be spared, but he nodded. His ghost saw the burning fire awaiting him. Or how if it sparkled merrily, and he beheld it with his human eyes that night? His beloved would then have touched him with her hand—yea, brought the dead to life! He jumped to his feet, and dismissed the worthy dame. On both sides of him, ‘Yes,’ and ‘No,’ seemed pressing like two hostile powers that battled for his body. They shrieked in his ears, plucked at his fingers. He heard them hushing deeply as he went to his pistol-case, and drew forth one—he knew not which.
On a wild April morning, Emilia rose from her bed and called to mind a day of the last year’s Spring when she had watched the cloud streaming up, and felt that it was the curtain of an unknown glory. But now it wore the aspect of her life itself, with nothing hidden behind those stormy folds, save peace. South-westward she gazed, eyeing eagerly the struggle of twisting vapour; long flying edges of silver went by, and mounds of faint crimson, and here and there a closing space of blue, swift as a thought of home to a soldier in action. The heavens were like a battle-field. Emilia shut her lips hard, to check an impulse of prayer for Merthyr fighting in Italy: for he was in Italy, and she once more among the Monmouth hills: he was in Italy fighting, and she chained here to her miserable promise! Three days after she had given the promise to Wilfrid, Merthyr left, shaking her hand like any common friend. Georgiana remained, by his desire, to protect her. Emilia had written to Wilfrid for release, but being no apt letter-writer, and hating the task, she was soon involved by him in a complication of bewildering sentiments, some of which she supposed she was bound to feel, while perhaps one or two she did feel, at the summons. The effect was that she lost the true wording of her blunt petition for release: she could no longer put it bluntly. But her heart revolted the more, and gave her sharp eyes to see into his selfishness. The purgatory of her days with Georgiana, when the latter was kept back from her brother in his peril, spurred Emilia to renew her appeal; but she found that all she said drew her into unexpected traps and pitfalls. There was only one thing she could say plainly: “I want to go.” If she repeated this, Wilfrid was ready with citations from her letters, wherein she had said ‘this,’ and ‘that,’ and many other phrases. His epistolary power and skill in arguing his own case were creditable to him. Affected as Emilia was by other sensations, she could not combat the idea strenuously suggested by him, that he had reason to complain of her behaviour. He admitted his special faults, but, by distinctly tracing them to their origin, he complacently hinted