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A Strange Disappearance

"I would say nothing," interrupted he calmly, stooping for the fan she had
dropped. "At an interview which is at once a meeting and a parting, I would give
utterance to nothing which would seem like recrimination. I--"
"Wait," suddenly exclaimed she, reaching out her hand for her fan with a gesture
lofty as it was resolute. "You have spoken a word which demands explanation;
what have I ever done to you that you should speak the word recrimination to
me?"
"What? You shook my faith in womankind; you showed me that a woman who
had once told a man she loved him, could so far forget that love as to marry one
she could never respect, for the sake of titles and jewels. You showed me--"
"Hold," said she again, this time without gesture or any movement, save that of
her lips grown pallid as marb!e[sic], "and what did you show me?"
He started, colored profoundly, and for a moment stood before her unmasked of
his stern self-possession. "I beg your pardon," said he, "I take back that word,
recrimination."
It was now her turn to lift her head and survey him. With glance less cool than
his, but fully as deliberate, she looked at his proud head bending before her;
studying his face, line by line, from the stern brow to the closely compressed lips
on which melancholy seemed to have set its everlasting seal, and a change
passed over her countenance. "Holman," said she, with a sudden rush of
tenderness, "if in the times gone by, we both behaved with too much worldly
prudence for it now to be any great pleasure for either of us to look back, is that
any reason why we should mar our whole future by dwelling too long upon what
we are surely still young enough to bury if not forget? I acknowledge that I would
have behaved in a more ideal fashion, if, after I had been forsaken by you, I had
turned my face from society, and let the canker-worm of despair slowly destroy
whatever life and bloom I had left. But I was young, and society had its charms,
so did the prospect of wealth and position, however hollow they may have
proved; you who are the master of both this day, because twelve months ago you
forsook Evelyn Blake, should be the last to reproach me with them. I do not
reproach you; I only say let the past be forgotten--"
"Impossible," exclaimed he, his whole face darkening with an expression I could
not fathom. "What was done at that time cannot be undone. For you and me
there is no future. Yes," he said turning towards her as she made a slight
fluttering move of dissent, "no future; we can bury the past, but we can not
resurrect it. I doubt if you would wish to if we could; as we cannot, of course you
will not desire even to converse upon the subject again. Evelyn I wanted to see
you once, but I do not wish to see you again; will you pardon my plain speaking,
and release me?"
"I will pardon your plain speaking, but--" Her look said she would not release him.
He seemed to understand it so, and smiled, but very bitterly. In another moment
he had bowed and gone, and she had returned to her crowd of adoring
sycophants.
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