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      "Tabitha gets fidgety if I am out after dusk."

      "I will tell himat the last," she faltered. "In that parting hour I shall not shrink from telling him allhow I sinned against himalmost unawaresdrifting half unconsciously[Pg 264] into a fatal entanglementand thenand thenagainst my willin my weakness and helplessnessalone in the power of the man I lovedbetrayed into sin. Oh God! why do you make me remember?" she cried wildly, turning upon the priest in passionate reproachfulness. "For years I have been trying to forgettrying to blank out the pastpraying, praying, praying that my humble, tearful love for my husband and my child might cancel those hours of sin. And you come to me, and question me, and on pretence of saving my soul, you force me to look back upon that bygone horrorto live again through that time of madnessthe destruction of my life. Cruel, cruel, cruel!"

      And as to Mme. de Genlis, it appears more than probable that if she had followed the advice of Mme. de Custine, as she promised to do, and remained [393] at the h?tel de Puisieux she would still have been a great literary and social success and also a better and happier woman.

      Her husband read to her for the greater part of the long gloomy day. He read St. Thomas Kempis for some part of the time. The book had been on the little table by her side throughout her illness. He read two or three of Frederick Robertson's sermons, and for occasional respite from too serious thought he read her favourite poemsAdona?s, Alastor, and some of Shelley's lovely lyrics, and those passages in Childe Harold which had acquired a new charm for her since she had grown familiar with Rome.


      Allegra was all sympathy and affection. She would go with themyes, to the end of the world. To go to San Remo would be delightful.


      "But why wait a year? Can you not prove me trusty and true in less than a year?"


      He discovered her suddenly while he was shaking hands with Belinda, and his quick glance of pleased surprise did not escape that young lady's steely blue eyes. Not a look or a breath ever does escape observation in a village drawing-room. Even the intellectual people, the people who[Pg 43] devour all Mudie's most solid bookstravels, memoirs, metaphysics, agnostic novelseven these are as keenly interested in their neighbours' thoughts and feelings as the unlettered rustic in the village street.