Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/324

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still have nothing with which to reproach me," she thought, while she watched the grey sea flash between the scarlet blossoms of the japonica tendrils. Then she tamed away from the window, and rang a hand-bell that had once belonged to Catherina Medici: like the one whose long slender palm had before touched the spiral column of its handle, she never hesitated in any course when her resolve was taken, she never swerved when once she had decided.

The Nubian slave, who attended her wherever she travelled as her maid, answered the summons from where she stood in the ante-chamber.

"Tell Paulus that I start for Naples this morning. He knows what to do. I leave by ten."

The Nubian bowed to the ground, and withdrew. Her mistress stood beside the table where the bell was placed, thoughtful still, with the shadow that had gathered on her deepening in the purple light that fell through violet curtains near. She was not a woman to whom regret was familiar;—many would have said she was too heartless: it was rather because she had seen, and known, and penetrated too much to be lightly touched;—but a great tearless pain gathered in her eyes, and her hand closed with a gesture of impatience on the sharp metal circle of the bell.