Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/228

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
220
IDALIA

that he whom she had rescued, should he spared from all shadow from her, from all love for her; she wished—now, at least—to save him. From what? From herself.

Yet it was not without pain on her side also, though that pain was concealed, that she spoke.

He looked at her steadily, the earnest, open, loyal, unartificial nature of the man striving in vain to read the motive and the meaning of the woman, and failing, as men mostly do.

His face grew very white under the warm brown left there by Asian and Algerian suns.

"If you command it, I must obey. My presence shall be no forced burden upon you. But you cannot command on me forgetfulness, and I could wish you had been merciful before, and left me to die where I lay."

Unconsidered, spoken from his heart, and the more profound in pathos for their brief simplicity, the words moved her deeply, so deeply, that tears, rarest sign of emotion with her that she had never known for years, rose in her eyes as they dwelt on him; her lips parted, but without speech; she stood silent.

The day was very still; sheltered by the cedars from the heat, the golden light quivered about