I had caught her in my arms, and the sting and torment of my remorse had closed them round her like a vice. Yes! my remorse. The white despair of Walter's face, when my cruel words struck him to the heart in the summer-house at Limmeridge, rose before me in mute, unendurable reproach. My hand had pointed the way which led the man my sister loved, step by step, far from his country and his friends. Between those two young hearts I had stood, to sunder them for ever, the one from the other, and his life and her life lay wasted before me alike in witness of the deed. I had done this, and done it for Sir Percival Glyde.
For Sir Percival Glyde.
I heard her speaking, and I knew by the tone of her voice that she was comforting me—I, who deserved nothing but the reproach of her silence! How long it was before I mastered the absorbing misery of my own thoughts, I cannot tell. I was first conscious that she was kissing me, and then my eyes seemed to wake on a sudden to their sense of outward things, and I knew that I was looking mechanically straight before me at the prospect of the lake.
"It is late," I heard her whisper. "It will be dark in the plantation." She shook my arm and repeated, "Marian! it will be dark in the plantation."
"Give me a minute longer," I said—"a minute, to get better in."
I was afraid to trust myself to look at her yet, and I kept my eyes fixed on the view.
It WAS late. The dense brown line of trees in the sky had faded in the gathering darkness to the faint resemblance of a long wreath of smoke. The mist over the lake below had stealthily enlarged, and advanced on us. The silence was as breathless as ever, but the horror of it had gone, and the solemn mystery of its stillness was all that remained.
"We are far from the house," she whispered. "Let us go back."
She stopped suddenly, and turned her face from me towards the entrance of the boat-house.
"Marian!" she said, trembling violently. "Do you see nothing? Look!"
"Down there, below us."
She pointed. My eyes followed her hand, and I saw it too.
A living figure was moving over the waste of heath in the distance. It crossed our range of view from the boat-house,