Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/132

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IDALIA

"You are ill?—you are in pain?" asked Lady George; and her voice was hurried and tremulous. Erceldoune set his teeth hard, his eyes straining into the warm haze where the lateen-hoat was winging her rapid way, out of reach, while thier own lay idly rocking on the waves.

"Pardon me—no," he said, in answer to them, for the man's nature was too integrally true to seek shelter under even a tacit acceptance of an untruth. "I saw one whom I recognised as having last seen in Moldavia the day the brigands shot me down. I fear that I foolishly startled you all?"

They thought it nothing strange that any link with the memory of his attempted assassination should have roused him; and he leaned over the boat's side following the now distant track of the light lateen-skiff with his eyes,—silent in the wild reasonless joy, and the bitter baffled regret, which swept together through his veins. The face that he had dreamed had bent over him in his anguish and extremity, was then a truth, a living loveliness, a life to be found on earth—no fever-born ideal of his own disordered brain; he had seen again, and seen now in the clearness of reason, the face of the woman who had been his ministering angel. Yet, as she had been lost to him then, so she was lost to him