Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/109

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"Malice, madam? No! I am not a woman!"

The Abbess looked at him wistfully still; the answer was affirmative, yet she was not wholly secure that this was the meek and lowly mercy which she sought to win from him.

Then yon forgive them, my son, and would remember, if you met them, the Lamb of God's injunction, 'If thy enemy smite thee on one cheek, give him the other,' and would refrain from all vengeance—would you not?"

Erceldoune's hand came down on the massive oak table standing by him with a force that shook it to its centre.

"By my honour, madam, I would remember it so, that the life should not be left in one of them! Forgive? Ay! when I have turned dastard like them."

The Mother Superior gazed at him with perplexed trouble in her eyes; the childlike innocent woman could not understand the strong unfettered nature of the man, with its deep passions and its fiery honour, which made the low serpent meanness of malice as impossible and incomprehensible to him as it made the chastisement of cowardice and the vengeance of treachery instinctive and impera-