222 A Meiital Struggle.
It is, indeed, tlie bitterest hour in all her life. To one
of her nature, .so strongly impregnated with pride, the
present situation contains nothing less than tortures too
great to be described. Never in all her after-life does
this sceno come back to her without causing her a thrill
At length she recovers herself sufficiently to look at
him, and then somehow It all comes out. The fatal thing
is said, and she only knows that she is still standing
there before liini, rigid, lowered for ever In her own
And It had taken such a little time. In a minute, as it
seemed, the terrible sentence had been uttered—had gone
out Into the world of sound, from whence it could never
be recalled. It is all over !
Suddenly she grows calm again, and determinedly com¬
pelling herself to face him, waits, with almost reckless
coolness, for his reply. For a full minute, she so waits.
Clanbrassil Is so utterly taken aback by the nature of
her request, so distinctly remote from anything he had
imagined, that at first he fails to recognise the importanco
of making her an immediate reply. He Is a rich man,
beyond doubt—richer than many who count themselves
moneyed people; but to lay one's bands at a moment's
notice on the sum she has mentioned would be difficult
to most men. For a little, then, he hesitates; not -svith
the most distant -view of refusing her, but simply because
he is wondering as to where the money Is to be got, w ith
as little delay as possible.
That Imogen should misunderstand his hesitation is but
" I see," she says slowly ; " it was, as I said, a monstrous
demand. Do not be unhappy about it, because you must
refuse tc gr'ant it."
" You mistake me," exclaims Clanbrassil, In a quick,
shocked tone. " You wrong me. I was but thinking how
and where I could procrrre the sum you mention with the
greatest readiness. I believe I know now. Where shall I
pay it in, to—to your father's account ? "
" You -will help me, then!" cries she, going nearer to