“Oh, when I first met him,” she said tremulously, “I was frightened; but it was not he who frightened me—it was the rush of my own feeling. I did not know what I felt, but I thought I might die, and he was so like himself as I had first known him—but so changed, too; there was something so wonderful about him, something that must make any stranger feel sorry for him, and yet it is beautiful—” She stopped for a moment and wiped her eyes, then went on bravely: “And the next day he came, and waited for me—I should have come here for him if he hadn’t—and I fell in with the mistake he had made about my name. You see, he’d heard I was called ‘Madame d’Armand,’ and I wanted him to keep on thinking that, for I thought if he knew I was Mrs. Harman he might find out—” She paused, her lip beginning to tremble. “Oh, don’t you see why I didn’t want him to know? I didn’t want him to suffer as he would—as he does now, poor child!—but most of all I wanted—I wanted to see if he would fall in love with me again! I kept him from knowing, because, if he thought I was a stranger, and the same thing happened again—his caring for me, I mean—” She had begun to weep now, freely and openly, but not from grief. “Oh!” she cried, “don’t you see how it’s all proven to me?”
“I see how it has deluded you!” said Miss Elizabeth vehemently. “I see what a rose-light it has thrown about this creature; but it won’t last, thank God! any more than it did the other time. The thing is for you to come to your senses before—”
“Ah, my dear, I have come to them at last and for ever!” The words rang full and strong, though she was white and shaking, and heavy tears filled her eyes. “I know what I am doing now, if I never knew before!”
“You never did know—” Miss Ward began, but George stopped her.
“Elizabeth!” he said quickly. “We mustn’t go on like this; it’s more than any of us can bear. Come, let’s get out into the air; let’s get back to Quesnay. We’ll have Ingle drive us around the longer way, by the sea.” He turned to his cousin. “Louise, you’ll come now? If not, we’ll have to stay here with you.”
“I’ll come,” she answered, trying bravely to stop the tears that kept rising in spite of her; “if you’ll wait till”—and suddenly she flashed through them a smile so charming that my heart ached the harder for George—“till I can stop crying!”
Mr. Earl Percy and I sat opposite each other at dinner that evening. Perhaps, for charity’s sake, I should add that though we faced each other, and, indeed, eyed each other solemnly at intervals, we partook not of the same repast, having each his own table; his being set in the garden at his constant station near the gallery steps, and mine, some fifty feet distant, upon my own veranda, but moved out from behind the honeysuckle screen, for I sat alone and the night was warm.