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The Malefactor

II.2. The Shadow Of A Fear
For several minutes Lady Ruth said nothing. She was leaning back in the farthest corner
of her chair, her head resting slightly upon her fingers, her eyes studying with a curious
intentness the outline of Wingrave's pale, hard face. He himself, either unconscious of, or
indifferent to her close scrutiny, had simply the air of a man possessed of an
inexhaustible fund of patience.
"Wingrave," she said quietly, "I think that the time has gone by when I was afraid of
you."
He turned slightly towards her, but he did not speak.
"I am possessed," she continued, "at present, of a more womanly sentiment. I am
curious."
"Ah!" he murmured, "you were always a little inclined that way."
"I am curious about you," she continued. "You are, comparatively speaking, young, well-
looking enough, and strong. Your hand is firmly planted upon the lever which moves the
world. What are you going to do?"
"That," he said, "depends upon many things."
"You may be ambitious," she remarked. "If so, you conceal it admirably. You may be
devoting your powers to the consummation of vengeance against those who have treated
you ill. There are no signs of that, either, at present."
"We have excellent authority," he remarked, "for the statement that a considerable
amount of satisfaction is derivable from the exercise of that sentiment."
"Perhaps," she answered, "but the pursuit of vengeance for wrongs of the past is the task
of a fool. Now, you are not a fool. You carry your life locked up within you as a strong
man should. But there are always some who may look in through the windows. I should
like to be one."
"An empty cupboard," he declared. "A cupboard swept bare by time and necessity."
She shook her head.
"Your life," she said, "is molded towards a purpose. What is it?"
"I must ask myself the question," he declared, "before I can tell you the answer!"
 
 
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