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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about Darkness and Daylight.

“Don’t I?” and Richard smiled mournfully; then turning to Edith, he continued, And you, my darling, I would hear from you now.  Is it Richard or Arthur you prefer?”

“Oh, Richard,” Edith cried, “I meant to keep my vow, and never let you know.  I was going to be a true, a faithful wife, even if it killed me—­I certainly was—­but, forgive me, Richard, I did love Arthur first, Arthur best, Arthur most of all,” and again the “great cry” smote on Richard’s ear, touching a chord like that which is touched in a mother’s bosom when she hears her suffering infant’s wail.

“Edith,” he said, “if I insist upon it, will you still be my wife?”

“Yes, Richard, and it will not be so dreadful now that you know I do love Arthur best, for I do, I do, I can’t help it, and I have tried so hard.  He is young like me, and then I loved him first, I loved him best.”

And in this last the whole was embodied.  Edith loved Arthur best.  Richard knew she did, and turning to Arthur, he continued,

“And what will you do if I insist?  Will memories of the love you bore your lost Nina sustain and comfort you?”

Richard spoke half-tauntingly, but Arthur conquered the emotion of anger he felt arising within him at this allusion to the past, and answered mildly,

“As I hope for Heaven, I did love my poor Nina at the last, with a love which, had it been sooner born, would have made me a happier man; and Nina knew it too, I told her so before she died, and I would fain have kept her with me, but I could not, and now, if I lose Edith, too, it will not be so hard, because I did love Nina, and sweet memories of her will keep my soul from fainting, when I am far away from her little grave, far away from you, and far away from Edith.”

Arthur arose to leave the room, but Richard held him back, saying to him,

“You have answered well.  Now listen to me.  Edith Hastings cannot be dearer to you than she is to me, but think you I will compel her to be mine?  Should I be happy, knowing that always in her dreams another arm than mine encircled her dear form, that other lips than mine were pressed to hers, which moaned in sleep not Richard’s, but Arthur’s name?  And this would surely be.  The wife I mockingly called mine would be yours in spirit; whether on land or sea, and I ask for no such bride.  Were I sure I could win her love, even though it might not be in years, not all the powers of earth should wrest her from me.  But I cannot.  Such is her temperament that she would give me only hatred, and I do not deserve this from her.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t,” Edith sobbed, and Richard continued,

“Hush, my child, I know how it would be, even if I did forget it for a time.  You must not be the blind man’s wife, though the giving you up is like tearing me asunder.  And now, Edith, let me hold you once more as I never shall hold you again.  It will make me strong to do what I must do.”

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