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Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/273

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There was a child 's bashfulness and simplicity in his declamation. He spoke as if ashamed to voice those inner and concealed sentiments that he had so studiously veiled throughout his life. Nothing hut the quick knowledge that she had seen him as he was in truth, kept her from laugh- ing at him. And then there came to her the rea- lisation, not without a sense of triumph, that she knew, beyond all others, this strange, reticent, re- tiring man whose very name had been feared by some of those esteemed as powerful. That of her alone, in all the world, he stood in awe.

"If I had known then who who you really were " she faltered. "If if I had not been so terribly disappointed, I should not have said what I did."

She paused ; but without ever looking up at him she knew that he recoiled as from a blow. And then, bravely, she took the plunge, and added in a voice that was scarcely louder than the exquisite sound of the wind's fingers playing upon a harp, "But now that I know my mistake, and that you have not been defeated, I I have nothing to re- tract."

She heard him coming slowly toward her, and lifted her eyes to his grim, rugged, homely face, and beheld it transfigured like the top of some weather-scarred crag suddenly illumined by sun-

light. The warmth and majesty of a great love