During all these hours Orion had been in the solitude of his own rooms. Next to them was little Mary’s sleeping-room; he had not seen the child again since leaving his father’s death-bed. He knew that she was lying there in a very feverish state, but he could not so far command himself as to enquire for her. When, now and again, he could not help thinking of her, he involuntarily clenched his fists. His soul was shaken to the foundations; desperate, beside himself, incapable of any thought but that he was the most miserable man on earth—that his father’s curse had blighted him—that nothing could undo what had happened—that some cruel and inexorable power had turned his truest friend into a foe and had sundered them so completely that there was no possibility of atonement or of moving him to a word of pardon or a kindly glance—he paced the long room from end to end, flinging himself on his knees at intervals before the divan, and burying his burning face in the soft pillows. From time to time he could pray, but each time he broke off; for what Power in Heaven or on earth could unseal those closed eyes and stir that heart to beat again, that tongue to speak—could vouchsafe to him, the outcast, the one thing for which his soul thirsted and without which he thought he must die: Pardon, pardon, his father’s pardon! Now and then he struck his forehead and heart like a man demented, with cries of anguish, curses and lamentations.
About midnight—it was but just twelve hours since that fearful scene, and to him it seemed like as many days—he threw himself on the couch, dressed as he was in the dark mourning garments, which he had half torn off in his rage and despair, and broke out into such loud groans that he himself was almost frightened in the silence of the night. Full of self-pity and horror at his own deep grief, he turned his face to the wall to screen his eyes from the clear, full moon, which only showed him things he did not want to see, while it hurt him.
His torture was beginning to be quite unbearable; he fancied his soul was actually wounded, riven, and torn; it had even occurred to him to seize his sharpest sword and throw himself upon it like Ajax in his fury—and like Cato—and so put a sudden end to this intolerable and overwhelming misery.
He started up for—surely it was no illusion, no mistake-the door of his room was softly opened and a white figure came in with noiseless, ghostly steps. He was a brave man, but his blood ran cold; however, in a moment he recognized his nocturnal visitor as little Mary. She came across the moonlight without speaking, but he exclaimed in a sharp tone:
“What is the meaning of this? What do you want?”
The child started and stood still in alarm, stretching out imploring hands and whispering timidly:
“I heard you lamenting. Poor, poor Orion! And it was I who brought it all on you, and so I could not stay in bed any longer—I must—I could not help....” But she could say no more for sobs. Orion exclaimed: