The Imperialist eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 394 pages of information about The Imperialist.
could.  Certainly the wind was taking her part and his, when in another moment her skirt whipped against him and he saw her face glimmer out.  A mere wreck of lines and shadows it seemed in the livid light, with suddenly perceiving eyes and lips that cried his name.  She had on a hat and a cloak, but carried no umbrella, and her hands were bare and wet.  Pitifully the storm blew her into his arms, a tossed and straying thing that could not speak for sobs; pitifully and with a rough incoherent sound he gathered and held her in that refuge.  A rising fear and a great solicitude laid a finger upon his craving embrace of her; he had a sense of something strangely different in her, of the unknown irremediable.  Yet she was there, in his arms, as she had never been before; her plight but made her in a manner sweeter; the storm that brought her barricaded them in the empty spaces of the street with a divinely entreating solitude.  He had been prepared to meet her in the lighted decorum of her father’s house and he knew what he should say.  He was not prepared to take her out of the tempest, helpless and weeping and lost for the harbour of his heart, and nothing could he say.  He locked his lips against all that came murmuring to them.  But his arms tightened about her and he drew her into the shelter of a wall that jutted out in the irregular street; and there they stood and clung together in a long, close, broken silence that covered the downfall of her spirit.  It was the moment of their great experience of one another; never again, in whatever crisis, could either know so deep, so wonderful a fathoming of the other soul.  Once as it passed, Advena put up her hand and touched his cheek:  There were tears on it, and she trembled, and wound her arm about his neck, and held up her face to his.  “No,” he muttered, and crushed it against his breast.  There without complaint she let it lie; she was all submission to him:  his blood leaped and his spirit groaned with the knowledge of it.

“Why did you come out?  Why did you come, dear?” he said at last.

“I don’t know.  There was such a wind.  I could not stay in the house.”

She spoke timidly, in a voice that should have been new to him, but that it was, above all, her voice.

“I was on my way to you.”

“I know.  I thought you might perhaps come.  If you had not—­I think I was on my way to you.”

It seemed not unnatural.

“Did you find—­any message from me when you came?” she asked presently, in a quieted, almost a contented tone.

It shot—­the message—­before his eyes, though he had seen it no message, in the preoccupation of his arrival.

“I found a rose on my dressing-table,” he told her; and the rose stood for him in a wonder of tenderness, looking back.

“I smuggled it in,” she confessed, “I knew your old servant—­she used to be with us.  The others—­from Dr Drummond’s—­have been there all day making it warm and comfortable for you.  I had no right to do anything like that, but I had the right, hadn’t I, to bring the rose?”

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The Imperialist from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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