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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/255

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and put my hand in yours, and walk with you in defeat ! I was sick of illusion of sham royalty of polite lies ! I wanted your esteem ! Yours I all of it ! And now, I despise myself for it ! "

She stopped, choked by her own humiliation, and looked at him ; but his eyes were on the floor, his hands hanging listlessly open, his heavy shoul- ders and stalwart frame inert, and passive, as if all she had confessed, and all her scorn, were not capable of moving him. For a long time she stood thus, quivering, while he stood dumbly before her. The chirping of birds in the sunlit gardens out- side, the slow measured footsteps of the sentry in the corridor without, and that ominous, distant hum of Marken itself came to them accentuated in volume by their own silence. The echoes of her voice, like the appealing sobs of disillusionment coming from a hurt heart, died away like the last faint sounds of a requiem. Dumbly, like one as- tounded by some overwhelming surprise, he lifted his head and met her eyes. All the old bravery was gone from them. Gone, too, all the old mock- ery, the old readiness of response, the quick ac- ceptation of overchanging chance. Something in their great seriousness, in their very depths, made her catch her breath. She saw that he was hum- bly, yet desperately, fighting to speak ; that words were being sought and that none satisfied.

There was a clamorous, insolent note added to