226 A Me7ital Struggle.
shadows all about her, she looks so pale, so broken—with
her beautiful head bowed, and her quivering fingers hiding
the eyes through which the cruel tears are running—that
a terrible fear lays siege to his soul. " It shall be as you
-will," he says, " If only you can assure me you will be
" I shall be happy," she declares feverishly, as though
resolute to beat down her o-wn misgivings; but, even as
she says It, her tears break forth afresh.
A few minutes later she lifts her head, and looks at him.
" Have I disenchanted you? A nervous woman Is a thing
to be avoided. Is It not ? " she asks, with a brave attempt
to appear like her former self. She forces to her lips a
wan sad smile, though still the hea-vy drops hang on her
lashes. '' Y'ou should have come to my rescue sooner," she
says, still smiling that little wintry gleam of gaiety. " It
is not every day the proposal Is made by the woman ! "
"I hope—I think you will never regret It," returns
Clanbrassil, regarding her gravely. " If I were quite
certain this was for your good, and that you would never
In the future wish unsaid the words you have now uttered,
I should at least be satisfied."
" Be satisfied, then," returns she gerrtly. But the dull
aching pain within her grows even less bearable as she
gives this expected asstrrance.
A slight pause ensues, and then—
" There Is no one else," asks be, looking directly at her.
" There Is no one else," returns she steadily but very
slowly; and when this last sentence passes her lips a long,
long sigh escapes her.
Clanbrassil, as though for the first time moved to hope,
lifts her hand and presses It to his lips. There is some¬
thing a little vehement, a little proprietary In the caress,
though hardly anything that could be called demonstrative.
Yet, as his lips meet her hand, Miss Heriot is conscious of
a sudden sharp shiver that shakes her from head to foot.
Only a few short minutes ago, when first she became alive
to the extreme generosity and gentleness of his disposition,
she had been as near lo-ving him as she ever could be ^ but
now, as he stands there, in possession as It were, when he