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A Strange Disappearance

13. A Man's Heart
"That was the last time my eyes ever I rested upon my wife. Whither she went or
what refuge she gained, I never knew. My father who had received in this scene
a great shock, began to fail so rapidly, he demanded my constant care; and
though from time to time as I ministered to him and noted with what a yearning
persistency he would eye the door and then turn and meet my gaze with a look I
could not understand, I caught myself asking whether I had done a deed
destined to hang forever about me like a pall; it was not till after his death that the
despairing image of the bright young creature to whom I had given my name,
returned with any startling distinctness to my mind, or that I allowed myself to ask
whether the heavy gloom which I now felt settling upon me was owing to the
sense of shame that overpowered me at the remembrance of the past, or to the
possible loss I had sustained in the departure of my young unloved bride.
"The announcement at this time of the engagement between Evelyn Blake and
the Count De Mirac may have had something to do with this. Though I had never
in the most passionate hours of my love for her, lost sight of that side of her
nature which demanded as her right the luxury of great wealth; and though in my
tacit abandonment of her and secret marriage with another I had certainly lost the
right to complain of her actions whatever they might be, this manifest
surrendering of herself to the power of wealth and show at the price of all that
women are believed to hold dear, was an undoubted blow to my pride and the
confidence I had till now unconsciously reposed in her inherent womanliness and
affection. That she had but made on a more conspicuous scale, the same
sacrifice as myself to the god of Wealth and Position, was in my eyes at that
time, no palliation of her conduct. I was a man none too good or exalted at the
best; she, a woman, should have been superior to the temptations that
overpowered me. That she was not, seemed to drag all womanhood a little
nearer the dust; fashionable womanhood I ought to say, for somehow even at
that early day her conduct did not seem to affect the vivid image of Luttra
standing upon my threshold, shorn of her joy but burning with a devotion I did not
comprehend, and saying,
"'I loved you. Ah, and I do yet, my husband, love you so that I leave you. When
the day comes--if the day comes--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.'
"Yes, with the fading away of other faces and other forms, that face and that form
now began to usurp the chief place in my thoughts. Not to my relief and pleasure.
That could scarcely be, remembering all that had occurred; rather to my
increasing distress and passionate resentment. I longed to forget I was held by a
tie, that known to the world would cause me the bitterest shame. For by this time
 
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