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The Haunted Hotel

Chapter 12
'Do you think she is mad?' Agnes asked.
'I think she is simply wicked. False, superstitious, inveterately cruel-- but not mad. I
believe her main motive in coming here was to enjoy the luxury of frightening you.'
'She has frightened me. I am ashamed to own it--but so it is.'
Henry looked at her, hesitated for a moment, and seated himself on the sofa by her side.
'I am very anxious about you, Agnes,' he said. 'But for the fortunate chance which led me
to call here to-day--who knows what that vile woman might not have said or done, if she
had found you alone? My dear, you are leading a sadly unprotected solitary life. I don't
like to think of it; I want to see it changed--especially after what has happened to-day.
No! no! it is useless to tell me that you have your old nurse. She is too old; she is not in
your rank of life--there is no sufficient protection in the companionship of such a person
for a lady in your position. Don't mistake me, Agnes! what I say, I say in the sincerity of
my devotion to you.' He paused, and took her hand. She made a feeble effort to withdraw
it-- and yielded. 'Will the day never come,' he pleaded, 'when the privilege of protecting
you may be mine? when you will be the pride and joy of my life, as long as my life lasts?'
He pressed her hand gently. She made no reply. The colour came and went on her face;
her eyes were turned away from him. 'Have I been so unhappy as to offend you?' he
asked.
She answered that--she said, almost in a whisper, 'No.'
'Have I distressed you?'
'You have made me think of the sad days that are gone.' She said no more; she only tried
to withdraw her hand from his for the second time. He still held it; he lifted it to his lips.
'Can I never make you think of other days than those--of the happier days to come? Or, if
you must think of the time that is passed, can you not look back to the time when I first
loved you?'
She sighed as he put the question. 'Spare me Henry,' she answered sadly. 'Say no more!'
The colour again rose in her cheeks; her hand trembled in his. She looked lovely, with her
eyes cast down and her bosom heaving gently. At that moment he would have given
everything he had in the world to take her in his arms and kiss her. Some mysterious
sympathy, passing from his hand to hers, seemed to tell her what was in his mind. She
snatched her hand away, and suddenly looked up at him. The tears were in her eyes. She
said nothing; she let her eyes speak for her. They warned him--without anger, without
unkindness-- but still they warned him to press her no further that day.
 
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