MOLLY BAWN. 277
But the warning comes too late, Lowry, bent on his
own destruction, goes on vehemently :
' I do—too well. Have I not had time to learn it ?' he
says passionately. ' Have I not spent every day, every hour,
m thoughts of you? Have I not lived in anticipation of
our meeting ? While you, Cecil, surely you, too, were glad
when we were together. The best year I have ever known
has been this last, in which I have grown to—love you.'
'Pray cease,' says Cecil hurriedly, stepping back and
raising her hand imperiously. ' What can you mean ? You
must be out of your senses to speak to me like this.'
Although angry she is calm, and, indeed, scarcely cares to
give way to indignation before Lowry, whom she has always
looked upon with great kindness, and leather in the light of
a boy. She is a little sorry for him too that he should have
chosen to make a fool of himself with her, who, she cannot
help feeling, is his best friend. For to all the moodiness and
oddity of his nature she has been singularly lenient, bearing
with him when others would have lost all patience. And
this is her reward.
For a full minute Lowry seems confounded. Then ' I must
indeed be bereft of reason,' he says, in a lov/, intense voice,
' if I am to believe that you can receive like this the assur¬
ance of my love. It cannot be altogether such a matter of
wonder—my infatuation for you—as you would have me
think, considering how you'—in a rather choked tone—' led
'" Led you on ! " My dear Mr. Lowry, how can you talk
so foolishly ? I certainly thought I knew you very well,
and '—docketing off each item on her fingers—' I let you run
my messages now and then; and I danced with you; and
you sent me the loveliest fiowers in London or out of it; and
you were extremely kind to me on all occasions; but then so
many other men were kind also, that really beyond the
flowers'—going back to her second finger—' (which were
incomparably finer than tliose I ever received from anyone
else), I don't see that you were more to me than the others.'
' Will you not listen to me ? Will you not even let me
plead my cause ?'
' Certainly not, considering what a cause it is. You
must be mad,'
' You are cold as ice,' says he, losing his head, ' No