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      Miss Chetwynde is Lady Wyndovers ward, said Lord Selvaine. She has only just arrived in England, and this is her first acquaintance with Vanity Fair. I ought to add that she is wise enough not to dance, and so is reveling in the easy joys of the mere spectator.Guess again, he said, though you wouldnt hit it if you tried all night. Hands off! he added, as one of them made for the bundle. What do you say, Varley?

      Let it be so, he said after a pause, during which Esmeralda could picture him bending over her. She shuddered, and her hand pressed against her heart.

      What was Lostwithiel saying all this time in that gentle baritone, which was heard only by one listener? He was asking forgiveness for his indiscretion of the afternoon, and[Pg 70] in that prayer for pardon was repeating his offence. Isola was less inclined to be angry, perhaps, now. The magic of the dance was still upon her senses, the dance which had brought them nearer than all the days they had met; than all their long confidential conversations on the heights above the harbour, or on the river path, or dawdling on the bridge. She had felt the beating of his heart against her own, breath mingling with breath, the thrilling touch of his encircling arm; and it was as if he had woven a spell around her which made her his. She had never danced with her husband, who had no love of that heathenish art. In all their brisk, frank courtship there had been no intoxicating hours. She hardly knew what dancing meant till she waltzed with Lostwithiel, who had something of the fiery ardour of a Pagan worshipping his gods in wild gyrations upon moonlit mountain or in secret cave. She let him talk to her to-nightlet him pour out the full confession of his unhappy love. He spoke not as one who had hope; not with that implied belief in her frailty which would have startled her into prompt resistance. His accents were the accents of despair, his love was a dark fatality.

      "I am not going to the ball."

      "I own to having some hope of mercy," replied Captain Hulbert. "People have an idea that May marriages are unlucky; and perhaps we had better defer to a popular superstition. But it seems to me that June is a capital month for a yachtsman's honeymoon; and if I can persuade my dearest to remit half my period of probation, and fix the 1st of June for our wedding, I should be just half a year happier than I am now."


      Isola went to the little boat-house on the edge of the lawn, Tim following her. She pushed the light skiff down the slope into the water, and in a few minutes more her sculls were in the rowlocks and she was moving slowly up the river, between autumnal woods, in a silence broken only by the dip of the sculls and the little rippling sound as the water dropped away from them. A good deal of her life was spent like this, moving slowly up the river through that deep silence of the woodland shores. The river was as beautiful as the Dart almost, but lonelier and more silent. It was Martin Disney's riverthe river whose ripples had soothed his mother's dying earsthe last of all earthly sounds that had been heard in the stillness of the death-chamber.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, this means yes, does it not? Our lives have flowed on together so peacefully, so happily, since last October. They are to mingle and flow on together to the great sea, are they not, lovethe sea of death and eternity."