Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/303

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She turned her head to him with something of the goaded impatience of a stag at bay mingling with her careless dignity. "How can you ask? You have heard him say he will kill his assassin if they ever meet. And he would be justified."

"And his 'justification' would free you not a little. Ah, where is there any sophism that will curve round to its own point so deftly as a woman's!" thought her companion, while he bent forward with a gentle deference in his air, a hesitating sympathy in his tone:

"Count Phaulcon is my very good frend, it is true, madame; and yet I scarce think I deserved to be reminded of that by a rebuke, because I cannot choose but regret that ——"

"Regret nothing at my score, monsieur."

"What! not even that which you yourself regret?"

"When I tell you that there is such a thing, not before."

"You are very cruel——"

"Am I? Well, I have no great liking for sympathy, and not much need for it. If one cannot stand alone, one deserves, I fancy, to fall. Poets have made an idol and a martyr of the sensitive plant; their use of it is an unwise allegory: to shrink at every lunch, to droop at every stroke, to be at