“Yes, yes,” she said, weakly, “only—”
“And you will not forget the promise you have made me?”
“No,” she answered, and then she gazed anxiously toward the door. “Let us go,” she said imploringly; “it is all so hard for me to realize, and I feel so very faint.”
The two went slowly down the hallway, Mr. Harrison not even venturing to offer her his arm; outside they stood for a minute upon the high steps, Helen leaning against a pillar and breathing very hard. She dared not raise her eyes to the man beside her.
“You wish to go now?” he asked, gently.
“Yes, please,” she replied, “I think so; it is very late.”
Helen scarcely knew what happened during the drive home, for she passed it in a half-dazed condition, almost overwhelmed by what she had done. She answered mechanically to all Mr. Harrison’s remarks about his arrangements of the house and his plans elsewhere, but all reference to his wealth seemed powerless to waken in her a trace of the exultation that had swept her away before, while every allusion to their personal relationship was like the touch of fire. Her companion seemed to divine the fact, and again he begged her anxiously not to forget the promise she had given. Helen answered faintly that she would not; but the words were hard for her to say and it was an infinite relief to her to see Oakdale again, and to feel that the strain would soon be over, for the time at any rate.
“I shall stay somewhere in the neighborhood,” said Mr. Harrison. “You will let me see you often, Helen, will you not?”
“Yes,” answered Helen, mechanically.
“I will come to-morrow,” said the other, “and take you driving if you like; I promised to go back and lunch with your aunt to-day, as I thought I was to return to the city.” In a moment more the carriage stopped in front of Helen’s home, and the girl, without waiting for anyone to assist her, leaped out and with a hasty word of parting, ran into the house. She heard the horses trotting away, and then the door closed behind her, and she stood in the dark, silent hallway. She saw no one, and after gazing about her for a moment she stole into her little music-room and flung herself down upon the couch, where she lay with her head buried in her hands.
It was a long time afterwards when she glanced up again; she was trembling all over, and her face was white.
“In Heaven’s name, how can I have done it?” she whispered hoarsely, to herself. “How can I have done it? And what am I to do now?”
Nur wer der Minne Macht ent-sagt, nur wer der Liebe Lust verjagt
“Wie kommt’s, dass du so traurig
Da alles froh erscheint?
Man sieht dir’s an den Augen an,
Gewiss, du hast geweint.”
Helen might have spent the afternoon in that situation, tormenting herself with the doubts and fears that filled her mind, had it not been for the fact that her presence was discovered by Elizabeth, the servant, who came in to clean the room. The latter of course was astonished to see her, but Helen was in no mood to vouchsafe explanations.