‘You throw down one end of the chain,’ she said.
‘In the name of heaven, then,’ cried I, ‘release yourself.’
She shook her head. ‘That is not my meaning.’
Note the predicament of a lover who has a piece of dishonesty lurking in him. My chilled self-love had certainly the right to demand the explanation of her coldness, and I could very well guess that a word or two drawn from the neighbourhood of the heart would fetch a warmer current to unlock the ice between us, but feeling the coldness I complained of to be probably a suspicion, I fixed on the suspicion as a new and deeper injury done to my loyal love for her, and armed against that I dared not take an initiative for fear of unexpectedly justifying it by betraying myself.
Yet, supposing her inclination to have become diverted, I was ready frankly to release her with one squeeze of hands and take all the pain of she pain, and I said: ‘Pray, do not speak of chains.’
‘But they exist. Things cannot be undone for us two by words.’
The tremble as of a strung wire in the strenuous pitch of her voice seemed to say she was not cold, though her gloved hand resting its finger-ends on the table, her restrained attitude, her very calm eyes, declared the reverse. This and that sensation beset me in turn.
We shrank oddly from uttering one another’s Christian name. I was the first with it; my ‘Ottilia !’ brought soon after ‘Harry’ on her lips, and an atmosphere about us much less Arctic.
‘Ottilia, you have told me you wish me to go to England.’
‘We shall be friends.’
’Yes, Harry; we cannot be quite divided; we have that knowledge for our present happiness.’
’The happy knowledge that we may have our bone to gnaw when food’s denied. It is something. One would like possibly, after expulsion out of Eden, to climb the gates to see how the trees grow there. What I cannot imagine is the forecasting of any joy in the privilege.’
‘By nature or system, then, you are more impatient than I, for I can,’ said Ottilia. She added: ’So much of your character I divined early. It was part of my reason for wishing you to work. You will find that hard work in England—but why should I preach to you Harry, you have called me here for some purpose?’
‘I must have detained you already too long.’
‘Time is not the offender. Since I have come, the evil——’
‘Evil? Are not your actions free?’
’Patience, my friend. The freer my actions, the more am I bound to deliberate on them. I have the habit of thinking that my deliberations are not in my sex’s fashion of taking counsel of the nerves and the blood.
In truth, Harry, I should not have come but for my acknowledgement of your right to bid me come.’
’You know, princess, that in honouring me with your attachment, you imperil your sovereign rank?’