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A Strange Disappearance

20. The Bond That Unites
But he was not to be discouraged. "And after all this, after all you have suffered
for my sake and your own, do you think you have a right to deny me the one
desire of my heart? How can you reconcile it with your ideas of devotion, Luttra?"
"My ideas of devotion look beyond the present, Mr. Blake. It is to save you from
years of wearing anxiety that I consent to the infliction upon you of a passing
pang."
He took a bold step forward. "Luttra, you do not know a man's heart. To lose you
now would not merely inflict a passing pang, but sow the seeds of a grief that
would go with me to the grave."
"Do you then"--she began, but paused blushing. Mrs. Daniels took the
opportunity to approach her on the other side.
"My dear mistress," said she, "you are wrong to hold out in this matter." And her
manner betrayed something of the peculiar agitation that had belonged to it in the
former times of her secret embarassment. "I, who have honored the family which
I have so long served, above every other in the land, tell you that you can do it no
greater good than to join it now, or inflict upon it any greater harm than to wilfully
withdraw yourself from the position in which God has placed you."
"And I," said another voice, that of the Countess de Mirac, who up to this time
had held herself in the background, but who now came forward and took her
place with the rest, "I, who have borne the name of Blake, and who am still the
proudest of them all at heart, I, the Countess de Mirac, cousin to your husband
there, repeat what this good woman has said, and in holding out my hand to you,
ask you to make my cousin happy and his family contented by assuming that
position in his household which the law as well as his love accords you."
The girl looked at the daintily gloved hand held out to her, colored faintly, and put
her own within it.
"I thank you for your goodness," said she, surveying with half-sad, half-admiring
glances, the somewhat pale face of the beautiful brunette.
"And you will yield to our united requests?" She cast her eye down at the spot
where her father and brother had cowered in their shackles, and shook her head.
"I dare not," said she.
Immediatey Mrs. Daniels, whose emotion had been increasing every moment
since she last spoke, plunged her hand into her bosom and drew out a folded
paper.
"Mrs. Blake," said she, "if you could be convinced that what I have told you was
true, and that you would be irretrievably injuring your husband and his interests,
by persisting in that desertion of him which your purpose, would you not consent
to reconsider your determination, settled as it appears to be?"
"If I could be made to see that, most certainly," returned she in a low voice whose
broken accents betrayed at what cost she remained true to her resolve. "But I
cannot."
"Perhaps the sight of this paper will help you," said she. And turning to Mr. Blake
she exclaimed, "Your pardon for what I am called upon to do. A duty has been
 
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