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The Guilty River

3. He Shows Himself
I too, looked at the cottage, and made a discovery that surprised me at one of the upper
windows.
If I could be sure that the moon had not deceived me, the most beautiful face that I had
ever seen was looking down on us--and it was the face of a man! By the uncertain light I
could discern the perfection of form in the features, and the expression of power which
made it impossible to mistake the stranger for a woman, although his hair grew long and
he was without either moustache or beard. He was watching us intently; he neither moved
nor spoke when we looked up at him.
"Evidently the lodger," I whispered to Cristel. "What a handsome man!"
She tossed her head contemptuously: my expression of admiration seemed to have
irritated her.
"I didn't want him to see you!" she said. "The lodger persecutes me with his attentions;
he's impudent enough to be jealous of me."
She spoke without even attempting to lower her voice. I endeavored to warn her. "He's at
the window still," I said, in tones discreetly lowered; "he can hear everything you are
saying."
"Not one word of it, Mr. Gerard."
"What do you mean?"
"The man is deaf. Don't look at him again. Don't speak to me again. Go home--pray go
home!"
Without further explanation, she abruptly entered the cottage, and shut the door.
As I turned into the path which led through the wood I heard a voice behind me. It said:
"Stop, sir." I stopped directly, standing in the shadow cast by the outermost line of trees,
which I had that moment reached. In the moonlight that I had left behind me, I saw again
the man whom I had discovered at the window. His figure, tall and slim; his movements,
graceful and easy, were in harmony with his beautiful face. He lifted his long finely-
shaped hands, and clasped them with a frantic gesture of entreaty.
"For God's sake," he said, "don't be offended with me!"
His voice startled me even more than his words; I had never heard anything like it before.
Low, dull, and muffled, it neither rose nor fell; it spoke slowly and deliberately, without
laying the slightest emphasis on any one of the words that it uttered. In the astonishment
 
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