The New Magdalen HTML version

26. Great Heart And Little Heart
THERE was a pause.
The moments passed--and not one of the three moved. The moments passed--and not one
of the three spoke. Insensibly the words of supplication died away on Julian's lips. Even
his energy failed to sustain him, tried as it now was by the crushing oppression of
suspense. The first trifling movement which suggested the idea of change, and which so
brought with it the first vague sense of relief, came from Mercy. Incapable of sustaining
the prolonged effort of standing, she drew back a little and took a chair. No outward
manifestation of emotion escaped her. There she sat--with the death-like torpor of
resignation in her face--waiting her sentence in silence from the man at whom she had
hurled the whole terrible confession of the truth in one sentence!
Julian lifted his head as she moved. He looked at Horace. and advancing a few steps,
looked again. There was fear in his face, as he suddenly turned it toward Mercy.
"Speak to him!" he said, in a whisper. "Rouse him, before it's too late!"
She moved mechanically in her chair; she looked mechanically at Julian.
"What more have I to say to him?" she asked, in faint, weary tones. "Did I not tell him
everything when I told him my name?"
The natural sound of her voice might have failed to affect Horace. The altered sound of it
roused him. He approached Mercy's chair, with a dull surprise in his face, and put his
hand, in a weak, wavering way, on her shoulder. In that position he stood for a while,
looking down at her in silence.
The one idea in him that found its way outward to expression was the idea of Julian.
Without moving his hand, without looking up from Mercy, he spoke for the first time
since the shock had fallen on him.
"Where is Julian?" he asked, very quietly.
"I am here, Horace--close by you."
"Will you do me a service?"
"Certainly. How can I help you?"
He considered a little before he replied. His hand left Mercy's shoulder, and went up to
his head--then dropped at his side. His next words were spoken in a sadly helpless,
bewildered way.