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The Two Destinies

23. The Kiss
SHE had need of me again. She had claimed me again. I felt all the old love, all the old
devotion owning her power once more. Whatever had mortified or angered me at our last
interview was forgiven and forgotten now. My whole being still thrilled with the mingled
awe and rapture of beholding the Vision of her that had come to me for the second time.
The minutes passed--and I stood by the fire like a man entranced; thinking only of her
spoken words, "Remember me. Come to me;" looking only at her mystic writing, "At the
month's end, In the shadow of Saint Paul's."
The month's end was still far off; the apparition of her had shown itself to me, under
some subtle prevision of trouble that was still in the future. Ample time was before me
for the pilgrimage to which I was self-dedicated already--my pilgrimage to the shadow of
Saint Paul's. Other men, in my position, might have hesitated as to the right
understanding of the place to which they were bidden. Other men might have wearied
their memories by recalling the churches, the institutions, the streets, the towns in foreign
countries, all consecrated to Christian reverence by the great apostle's name, and might
have fruitlessly asked themselves in which direction they were first to turn their steps. No
such difficulty troubled me. My first conclusion was the one conclusion that was
acceptable to my mind. "Saint Paul's" meant the famous Cathedral of London. Where the
shadow of the great church fell, there, at the month's end, I should find her, or the trace of
her. In London once more, and nowhere else, I was destined to see the woman I loved, in
the living body, as certainly as I had just seen her in the ghostly presence.
Who could interpret the mysterious sympathies that still united us, in defiance of
distance, in defiance of time? Who could predict to what end our lives were tending in
the years that were to come?
Those questions were still present to my thoughts; my eyes were still fixed on the
mysterious writing--when I became instinctively aware of the strange silence in the room.
Instantly the lost remembrance of Miss Dunross came back to me. Stung by my own
sense of self-reproach, I turned with a start, and looked toward her chair by the window.
The chair was empty. I was alone in the room.
Why had she left me secretly, without a word of farewell? Because she was suffering, in
mind or body? Or because she resented, naturally resented, my neglect of her?
The bare suspicion that I had given her pain was intolerable to me. I rang my bell, to
make inquiries.
The bell was answered, not, as usua l, by the silent servant Peter, but by a woman of
middle age, very quietly and neatly dressed, whom I had once or twice met on the way to
and from my room, and of whose exact position in the house I was still ignorant.
 
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