He recurs to his victim’s merits, but only compassionately, and the compassion is chilled by the thought that she may in the end start across his path to thwart him. Thereat he is drawn to think of the prize she may rob him of; and when one woman is an obstacle, the other shines desirable as life beyond death; he must have her; he sees her in the hue of his desire for her, and the obstacle in that of his repulsion. Cruelty is no more than the man’s effort to win the wished object.
She should not leave it to his imagination to conceive that in the end the blind may awaken to thwart him. Better for her to cast him hence, or let him know that she will do battle to keep him. But the pride of a love that has hardened in the faithfulness of love cannot always be wise on trial.
Caseldy walked considerably in the rear of the couple of chairs. He saw on his way what was coming. His two young squires were posted at Duchess Susan’s door when she arrived, and he received a blow from one of them in clearing a way for her. She plucked at his hand. ‘Have they hurt you?’ she asked.
‘Think of me to-night thanking them and heaven for this, my darling,’ he replied, with a pressure that lit the flying moment to kindle the after hours.
Chloe had taken help of one of her bearers to jump out. She stretched a finger at the unruly intruders, crying sternly, ’There is blood on you— come not nigh me!’ The loftiest harangue would not have been so cunning to touch their wits. They stared at one another in the clear moonlight. Which of them had blood on him? As they had not been for blood, but for rough fun, and something to boast of next day, they gesticulated according to the first instructions of the dancing master, by way of gallantry, and were out of Caseldy’s path when he placed himself at his liege lady’s service. ‘Take no notice of them, dear,’ she said.
‘No, no,’ said he; and ‘What is it?’ and his hoarse accent and shaking clasp of her arm sickened her to the sensation of approaching death.
Upstairs Duchess Susan made a show of embracing her. Both were trembling. The duchess ascribed her condition to those dreadful men. ‘What makes them be at me so?’ she said.