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Armadale

conscious of such a feeling as this was, with a character like Allan's, to act on it
headlong, lead him where it might. He had gone out on the previous morning to
look for Neelie with a peace-offering of flowers, but with no very distinct idea of
what he should say to her if they met; and failing to find her on the scene of her
customary walks, he had characteristically persisted the next morning in making a
second attempt with another peace-offering on a larger scale. Still ignorant of his
friend's return, he was now at some distance from the house, searching the park in
a direction which he had not tried yet.
After walking out a few hundred yards beyond the stables, and failing to discover
any signs of Allan, Midwinter retraced his steps, and waited for his friend's return,
pacing slowly to and fro on the little strip of garden ground at the back of the
house.
From time to time, as he passed it, he looked in absently at the room which had
formerly been Mrs. Armadale's, which was now (through his interposition)
habitually occupied by her son--the room with the Statuette on the bracket, and
the French windows opening to the ground, which had once recalled to him the
Second Vision of the Dream. The Shadow of the Man, which Allan had seen
standing opposite to him at the long window; the view over a lawn and flower-
garden; the pattering of the rain against the glass; the stretching out of the
Shadow's arm, and the fall of the statue in fragments on the floor--these objects
and events of the visionary scene, so vividly present to his memory once, were all
superseded by later remembrances now, were all left to fade as they might in the
dim background of time. He could pass the room again and again, alone and
anxious, and never once think of the boat drifting away in the moonlight, and the
night's imprisonment on the Wrecked Ship!
Toward ten o'clock the well-remembered sound of Allan's voice became suddenly
audible in the direction of the stables. In a moment more he was visible from the
garden. His second morning's search for Neelie had ended to all appearance in a
second defeat of his object. The nosegay was still in his hand; and he was
resignedly making a present of it to one of the coachman's children.
Midwinter impulsively took a step forward toward the stables, and abruptly
checked his further progress.
Conscious that his position toward his friend was altered already in relation to
Miss Gwilt, the first sight of Allan filled his mind with a sudden distrust of the
governess's influence over him, which was almost a distrust of himself. He knew
that he had set forth from the moors on his return to Thorpe Ambrose with the
resolution of acknowledging the passion that had mastered him, and of insisting,
if necessary, on a second and a longer absence in the interests of the sacrifice
which he was bent on making to the happiness of his friend. What had become of
that resolution now? The discovery of Miss Gwilt's altered position, and the
declaration that she had voluntarily made of her indifference to Allan, had
scattered it to the winds. The first words with which he would have met his friend,
if nothing had happened to him on the homeward way, were words already
dismissed from his lips. He drew back as he felt it, and struggled, with an
instinctive loyalty toward Allan, to free himself at the last moment from the
influence of Miss Gwilt.
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