+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

do not display much eloquence on either
side. But it seemed to both the speakers
that they had said a great deal, and had
been talking for a long time.

They walked on silently until they came
to a little pier of masonry, railed in with
iron bars, and abutting on the sea. They
stood side by side, leaning over and looking
out over the blue Mediterranean sparkling
in the sunlight. A few fishing barks flitted
across the horizon. Near at hand, a little
gaily-painted boat moored to the stone wall
rocked up and down, and the waters made
a lapping sound around the keel.

White garments fluttered on the beach
where a party of washerwomen had
established a drying-ground. The women
talked and laughed loud and volubly, and
the breeze carried the shrill sounds fitfully
hither and thither. No other human being
was within sight. Behind them, were the
green alleys of the Villa Reale ; in front,
the blue sea and the bluer sky.

Veronica and Cesare de? Barletti stood
quite silent, she staring straight before her,
he with his gaze upon her face, and holding
her hand in his.

It seemed to him as though it were all a
dream. She broke the silence. He little
guessed how far away her thoughts had
been from him, during all those minutes.
He little guessed that they had been busy
with persons and places he had never
heard of. He had interpreted the tender
melancholy in her eyes, after his own fashion.

Her mind had flown away capriciously
to the old days at Shipley, and the
principal figure in her musings was Maud.
But she broke the silence : and in the
instant of opening her lips she was back
again in the present, and nervously alive to
every detail of her position.

"Do you think you could find out from
that doctorI can give you his name
whether Sir John's illness is really of an
alarming nature; whether he thinks
there is immediate danger?"

"Physicians will not speak of their
patients to a stranger," answered Barletti.
He, too, was prompt to enter into the
prosaic actualities; but he came back to
them out of fairyland with a sigh, and a
little shock, such as we feel in sleep when a
long delicious flight on dream-wings ends
with a sudden jar, and we alight.

"But you may not be a stranger to this
physician ! You may know him ! Besides,
if you spoke with him, I think you could
easily discover what his impression was,
without direct questioning. It would be
such a relief to my mind to know."

"Why do you not plainly ask Gale?"

"Oh I dare not!"

"You dare not! Is he harsh? Is he
cruel? I know his temper is furious, but
can he be harsh to you? These Englishmen
are sometimes very brutal."

"When I say I dare not, I mean for fear
of exciting him too much. You need not
alarm yourself for me; nor expend any
indignation, on that score, upon Sir John."

"Oh, Veronica, the thought of your
being treated with unkindness is
insupportable to me. Veronica, there can be
no tie of affection between you and that man.
He cannot value you, he cannot understand
you. It is horrible to see you bound to him!"

Barletti's horror of a loveless and ill-
assorted marriage was of very recent date.
It was not long since he had looked
upon the union of the rich Sir John Gale with
the beautiful Veronica, as a quite matter-
of-course and expedient arrangement,
transacted on fair principles of exchange.

"You must not speak so to me," said
Veronica, in a low voice.

"Veronica, I have told you that there is
nothing in the world I would not do for
your sake. And it is true. But there are
some things beyond my power. One of
them is to feign not to love you. I would
even do that, if you desired it, but I cannot.
You might as well ask me to fly to Capri

The strength of passion brushed away
her small reserves and affectations like
summer gossamer before a great wind.
She felt frightened at the potency of the
spirit she had evoked. She desired to be
loved, but within a convenient measure.
She had thought to conjure up a sprite to
serve her, not to rule her.

Her instinct taught her to appeal to his
compassion. She did it genuinely, for she
felt that she stood in need of help and

"I trusted you," she said, brokenly,
"andandyou seemed to be true and

"You will not tell me that you did not
know I loved you, Veronica! You did
know it. Oh, mio Dio, how I love thee !"

"Men are selfish and cruel ! There is
none whom I can trust. You should not
have said this to me now. You should

The tears began to roll down her cheeks
as she spoke. He was penitent when he