‘So I thought, Juley! so I thought,’ cried Rose, at the new light, and Juliana smiled contemptuously, and the light flickered and died, and all was darker than before in the bosom of Rose. She had borne so much that this new drop was poison.
‘Of course it must be that, if it is anything,’ Juliana pursued. ’You were made to be happy, Rose. And consider, if it is true, people of very low birth, till they have lived long with other people, and if they have no religion, are so very likely to do things. You do not judge them as you do real gentlemen, and one must not be too harsh—I only wish to prepare you for the worst.’
A dim form of that very idea had passed through Rose, giving her small comfort.
’Let him tell you with his own lips that what he has told your mother is true, and then, and not till then, believe him,’ Juliana concluded, and they kissed kindly, and separated. Rose had suddenly lost her firm step, but no sooner was Juliana alone than she left the bed, and addressed her visage to the glass with brightening eyes, as one who saw the glimmer of young hope therein.
’She love him! Not if he told me so ten thousand times would I believe it! and before he has said a syllable she doubts him. Asking me in that frantic way! as if I couldn’t see that she wanted me to help her to her faith in him, as she calls it. Not name his name? Mr. Harrington! I may call him Evan: some day!’
Half-uttered, half-mused, the unconscious exclamations issued from her, and for many a weary day since she had dreamed of love, and studied that which is said to attract the creature, she had not been so glowingly elated or looked so much farther in the glass than its pale reflection.
Cold through the night the dark-fringed stream had whispered under Evan’s eyes, and the night breeze voiced ‘Fool, fool!’ to him, not without a distant echo in his heart. By symbols and sensations he knew that Rose was lost to him. There was no moon: the water seemed aimless, passing on carelessly to oblivion. Now and then, the trees stirred and talked, or a noise was heard from the pastures. He had slain the life that lived in them, and the great glory they were to bring forth, and the end to which all things moved. Had less than the loss of Rose been involved, the young man might have found himself looking out on a world beneath notice, and have been sighing for one more worthy of his clouded excellence but the immense misery present to him in the contemplation of Rose’s sad restrained contempt, saved him from the silly elation which is the last, and generally successful, struggle of human nature in those who can so far master it to commit a sacrifice. The loss of that brave high young soul-Rose, who had lifted him out of the mire with her own white hands: Rose, the image of all that he worshipped: Rose, so closely wedded to him