A Strange Disappearance
would not leave my home at this time, if it distressed her; my desire being not to
injure her, only to protect myself.
"O the scorn that mounted to her brow at these weak words. Not scorn of me,
thank God, worthy as I was of it that hour, but scorn of my slight opinion of her.
"'Then I heard aright,' she murmured, and waited with a look that would not be
"I could only bow my head, cursing the day I was born.
"'Holman! Holman!' came in agonized entreaty from the bed, 'you will not rob me
of my daughter now?'
"Startled, I looked up. Luttra was half way to the door.
"'What are you going to do?' cried I, bounding towards her.
"She stopped me with a look. 'The son must never forsake the father,' said she.
'If either of us must leave the house this day, let it be I.' Then in a softer tone,
'When you asked me to be your wife, I who had worshipped you from the
moment you entered my father's house on the memorable night I left it, was so
overcome at your condescension that I forgot you did not preface it by the usual
passionate, 'I love you,' which more than the marriage ring binds two hearts
together. In the glamour and glow of my joy, I did not see that the smile that was
in my heart, was missing from your face. I was to be your wife and that was
enough, or so I thought then, for I loved you. Ah, and I do now, my husband, love
you so that I leave you. Were it for your happiness I would do more than that, I
would give you back your freedom, but from what I hear, it seems that you need
a wife in name and I will be but fulfilling your desire in holding that place for you. I
will never disgrace the position high as it is above my poor deserts. When the
day comes--if the day comes--that you need or feel you need the sustainment of
my presence or the devotion of my heart, no power on earth save that of death
itself, shall keep me from your side. Till that day arrives I remain what you have
made me, a bride who lays no claim to the name you this morning bestowed
upon her.' And with a gesture that was like a benediction, she turned, and
noiselessly, breathlessly as a dream that vanishes, left the room.
"Sirs, I believe I uttered a cry and stumbled towards her. Some one in that room
uttered a cry, but it may be that it only rose in my heart and that the one I heard
came from my father's lips. For when at the door I turned, startled at the deathly
silence, I saw he had fainted on his pillow. I could not leave him so. Calling to
Mrs. Daniels, who was never far from my father in those days, I bade her stop
the lady--I believe I called her my wife--who was going down the stairs, and then
rushed to his side. It took minutes to revive him. When he came to himself it was
to ask for the creature who had flashed like a beacon of light upon his darkening
path. I rose as if to fetch her but before I could advance I heard a voice say, 'She
is not here,' and looking up I saw Mrs. Daniels glide into the room.
"'Mrs. Blake has gone, sir, I could not keep her.'