Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/291

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
283
FAIRY-GOLD.

one like him, made a certain acrid jealousy, a certain smartened bitterness, tinge even the passion into which she had surprised him when the dark eyes of Idalia glanced over him and read thoughts he had fancied unbetrayed by speech or sign, or when her careless ironies smote him back with the polished, piercing weapons of his own sceptic indifference, his own unyielding philosophies, which were as real in her as they had been till late in him.

For many years this woman had been but a name to him; only a name, through a succession of hazards, that had time after time kept, their meeting deferred; but a name that had given a personality to him, and had been interwoven with many of the more critical essays and enterprises of his career.

Moving through the gore-stained, artillery-trodden maze of Lombardic fields, where in some unrewarded skirmish, young, eager, patriotic lives had been shot down by the troops of Austria, gasping to their latest breath "Italia fara da se!" he had stood beside some shattered wreck of brightest manhood that had fallen there, down head-first into the yellowing wheat, and when he had thought all life was dead in that broken mass, above which the tangled corn-stalks nodded and met in summer