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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/269

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN

 

THE PRINCESS ELOISE tiptoed to the shattered hall door, and, with infinite care, passed through and closed it behind her. Then, hesitant, perturbed, distressed, she looked down the long reaches, lonely as a deserted avenue, as if considering a direction for flight. She paused, torn between the tugging hand of convention and desire, that dragged her in diverse ways. Convention urged her that she was of the blood of proud and lasting kings, certain to find her place upon some potent throne, inevitably destined to rule, endowed by nature, and trained religiously to that small caste whose slightest wish becomes a necessity with the people beneath. But desire cried aloud that all was vain, all happiness lost, the world barren, the future a desert, if now she closed her ears to the cry of her heart. A choice of queendom lay before her; one over a vast number whom she might serve, and assist, with a high nobility of purpose, and the other over one subject, a strange, brusque, many-sided man who would give of strength, and soul, and fealty, all that he had to give and if need be, uncomplain-

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