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Chapter 35

  • Thus ran the 'last document,' commencing abruptly and without prefix:
  • "I have made up my mind to die. Not out of passion or petulance,—but fro_eliberate choice, and, as I think, necessity. My brain is tired o_roblems,—my body is tired of life; it is best to make an end. The idea o_eath,— which means annihilation,—is very sweet to me. I am glad to feel tha_y my own will and act I can silence this uneasy throbbing of my heart, thi_urmoil and heat of my blood,— this tortured aching of my nerves. Young as _m, I have no delight now in existence,—I see nothing but my love's luminou_yes, his god-like features, his enthralling smile,— and these are lost to me.
  • For a brief while he has been my world, life and time,—he has gone,—an_ithout him there is no universe. How could I endure the slow, wretched, passing of hours, days, weeks, months and years alone?— though it is better t_e alone than in the dull companionship of the self-satisfied, complacent an_rrogant fool who is my husband. He has left me for ever, so he says in _etter the maid brought to me an hour ago. It is quite what I expected o_im,—what man of his type could find pardon for a blow to his own  _amou_ropre!_  If he had studied my nature, entered into my emotions, or striven i_he least to guide and sustain me,—if he had shown me any sign of a great, true love such as one sometimes dreams of and seldom finds,—I think I shoul_e sorry for him now,—I should even ask his forgiveness for having marrie_im. But he has treated me precisely as he might treat a paid mistress, —tha_s, he has fed me, clothed me, and provided me with money and jewels in retur_or making me the toy of his passions,—but he has not given me one touch o_ympathy— one proof of self-denial or humane forbearance. Therefore, I owe hi_othing. And now he, and my love who will not be my lover, have gone awa_ogether; I am free to do as I will with this small pulse within me calle_ife, which is after all, only a thread, easily broken. There is no one to sa_e nay, or to hold my hand back from giving myself the final  _quietus._  I_s well I have no friends; it is good for me that I have probed the hypocris_nd social sham of the world, and that I have mastered the following har_ruths of life,—that there is no love without lust,—no friendship withou_elfinterest,—no religion without avarice,—and no so-called virtue without it_ccompanying stronger vice. Who, knowing these things, would care to take par_n them! On the verge of the grave I look back along the short vista of m_ears, and I see myself a child in this very place, this wooded Willowsmere; _an note how that life began to which I am about to put an end. Pampered, petted and spoilt, told that I must 'look pretty' and take pleasure in m_lothes, I was even at the age of ten, capable of a certain amount o_oquetry. Old  _rouis,_  smelling of wine and tobacco, were eager to take m_n their knees and pinch my soft flesh;—they would press my innocent lips wit_heir withered ones,—withered and contaminated by the kisses of  _cocottes_nd 'soiled doves' of the town !—I have often wondered how it is these men ca_are to touch a young child's mouth, knowing in themselves what beasts the_re! I see my nurse,—a trained liar and timeserver, giving herself more air_han a queen, and forbidding me to speak to this child or that child, becaus_hey were 'beneath' me;—then came my governess, full of a prurient prudery, a_ad a woman in morals as ever lived, yet 'highly recommended' and wit_xcellent references, and wearing an assumption of the strictest virtue, lik_any equally ' loose' clergymen's wives I have known. I soon found he_ut,—for even as a child I was painfully observant,—and the stories she and m_other's French maid used to tell, in lowered voices now and then broken b_oarse laughter, were sufficient to enlighten me as to her true character.
  • Yet, beyond having a supreme contempt for the woman who practised religiou_usterity outwardly and was at heart a rake, I gave small consideration to th_ifficult problem such a nature suggested. I lived,—how strange it seems tha_ should be writing now of myself, as past and done with !—yes, I lived in _reamy, more or less idyllic state of mind, thinking without being consciou_f thought, full of fancies concerning the flowers, trees and birds,—wishin_or things of which I knew nothing,— imagining myself a queen at times, an_gain, a peasant. I was an omnivorous reader,—and I was specially fond o_oetry. I used to pore over the mystic verse of Shelley, and judged him the_s a sort of demi-god;—and never, even when I knew all about his life, could _ealize him as a man with a thin, shrieking falsetto voice and 'loose' notion_oncerning women. But I am quite sure it was good for his fame that he wa_rowned in early youth with so many melancholy and dramatic surroundings,—i_aved him, I consider, from a possibly vicious and repulsive old age. I adore_eats till I knew he had wasted his passion on a Fanny Brawn,—and then th_lamour of him vanished. I can offer no reason for this, —I merely set dow_he fact. I made a hero of Lord Byron, —in fact he has always formed for m_he only heroical type of poet. Strong in himself and pitiless in his love fo_omen, he treated them for the most part as they merited, considering th_ingular and unworthy specimens of the sex it was his misfortune to encounter.
  • I used to wonder, when reading these men's amorous lines, whether love woul_ver come my way, and what beatific state of emotion I should then enjoy. The_ame the rough awakening from all my dreams,—childhood melted int_omanhood,—and at sixteen I was taken up to town with my parents to 'kno_omething of the ways and manners of society' before finally 'coming out.' Oh, those ways and manners! I learnt them to perfection! Astonished at first, the_ewildered, and allowed no time to form any judgment on what I saw, I wa_urried through a general vague 'impression' of things such as I had neve_magined or dreamed of. While I was yet lost in wonderment, and kep_onstantly in companionship with young girls of my own rank and age, wh_evertheless seemed much more advanced in knowledge of the world than I, m_ather suddenly informed me that Willowsmere was lost to us,—that he could no_fford to keep it up,—and that we should return there no more Ah, what tears _hed!—what a fury of grief consumed me !—I did not then comprehend th_ifficult entanglements of either wealth or poverty ;—all I could realize wa_hat the doors of my dear old home were closed upon me for ever. After that, _hink I grew cold and hard in disposition; I had never loved my mother ver_early,—in fact I had seen very little of her, as she was always awa_isiting, if not entertaining visitors, and she seldom had me with her,—s_hat when she was suddenly struck down by a first shock of paralysis, i_ffected me but little. She had her doctors and nurses,—I had my governes_till with me, and my mother's sister, Aunt Charlotte, came to keep house fo_s,—so I began to analyze society for myself, without giving any expression o_y opinions on what I observed. I was not yet 'out,' but I went everywher_here girls of my age were invited, and perceived things without showing tha_ had any faculty of perception. I cultivated a passionless and col_xterior,—a listless, uninterested and frigid demeanour,—for I discovered tha_his was accepted by many people as dullness or stupidity, and that b_ssuming such a character, certain otherwise crafty persons would talk mor_eadily before me, and betray themselves and their vices unawares. Thus my '
  • social education' began in grim earnest; —women of title and renown would as_e to their ' quiet teas,' because I was what they were pleased to call a
  • 'harmless girl,'—'rather pretty, but dull,'—and allow me to assist them i_ntertaining the lovers who called upon them while their husbands were out. _emember on one occasion, a great lady famous for two things, her diamonds an_er intimacy with the Queen, kissed her 'cavaliere servente,' a noted sportin_arl, with considerable  _abandon_  in my presence. He muttered somethin_bout me,—I heard it;—but his amorous mistress merely answered in a whisper—'
  • Oh, it's only Sibyl Elton,—she understands nothing.' Afterwards however, whe_e had gone, she turned to me with a grin and remarked—'You saw me kis_ertie, didn't you? I often do; he's quite like my brother!' I made no reply—_nly smiled vaguely; and the next day she sent me a valuable diamond ring, which I at once returned to her with a prim little note, stating that I wa_uch obliged, but that my father considered me too young as yet to wea_iamonds. Why do I think of these trifles now I wonder!—now when I am about t_ake my leave of life and all its lies! … There is a little bird singin_utside my bedroom window,—such a pretty creature. I suppose it is happy ?—i_hould be, as it is not human… . The tears are in my eyes as I listen to it_weet warbling, and think that it will be living and singing still to-day a_unset when I am dead!
  • That last sentence was mere sentiment, for I am not sorry to die. If I fel_he least regret about it I should not carry out my intention. I must resum_y narrative,—for it is an analysis I am trying to make of myself, to find ou_f I can whether there are no excuses to be found for my particula_isposition,—whether it is not after all the education and training I have ha_hat have made me what I am, or whether indeed I was born evil from the first.
  • The circumstances that surrounded me did not, at any rate, tend to soften o_mprove my character. I had just passed my seventeenth birthday, when on_orning my father called me into his library and told me the true position o_is affairs. I learned that he was crippled on all sides with debt,—that h_ived on advances made to him by Jew usurers,—and that these advances wer_rusted to him solely on the speculation that I, his only daughter, would mak_ sufficiently rich marriage to enable him to repay all loans with heav_nterest. He went on to say that he hoped I would act sensibly,—and that whe_ny men showed indications of becoming suitors for my hand, I would, befor_ncouraging them, inform him, in order that he might make strict enquiries a_o their actual extent of fortune. I then understood, for the first time, tha_ was for sale. I listened in silence till he had finished,—then I asked him—'
  • Love, I suppose, is not to be considered in the matter?' He laughed, an_ssured me it was much easier to love a rich man than a poor one, as I woul_ind out after a little experience. He added, with some hesitation, that t_elp make both ends meet, as the expenses of town life were considerable, h_ad arranged to take a young American lady under his charge, a Miss Dian_hesney, who wished to be introduced into English society, and who would pa_wo thousand guineas a year to him for that privilege, and for Aun_harlotte's services as chaperon. I do not remember now what I said to hi_hen I heard this,—I know that my long suppressed feelings broke out in _torm of fury, and that for the moment he was completely taken aback by th_orce of my indignation. An American boarder in  _our_  house !—it seemed t_e as outrageous and undignified as the conduct of a woman I once knew, who, favoured by the Queen's patronage with 'free' apartments in Kensington Palace, took from time to time on the sly, an American or Colonial 'paying-guest,' wh_dopted forthwith the address of Her Majesty's birthplace as her own, thu_owering the whole prestige of that historic habitation. My wrath however wa_seless;—the bargain was arranged,—my father, regardless of his proud lineag_nd the social dignity of his position, had degraded himself, in my opinion, to the level of a sort of superior lodging-house keeper,—and from that time _ost all my former respect for him. Of course it can be argued that I wa_rong,—that I ought to have honoured him for turning his name to monetar_ccount by loaning it out as a protective shield and panoply for an America_oman without anything but the dollars of a vulgar 'railway-king' to back he_p in society,—but I could not see it in that light. I retreated into mysel_ore than ever,—and became more than pleasantly known for my coldness, reserv_nd hauteur. Miss Chesney came, and strove hard to be my friend,—but she soo_ound that impossible. She is a good-hearted creature I believe,—but she i_adly bred and badly trained, as all her compatriots are, more or less, despite their smattering of an European education. I disliked her from th_irst, and have spared no pains to show it. Yet I know she will be Countess o_lton as soon as it is decently possible,—say, after the year's ceremoniou_ourning for my mother has expired, and perhaps three months' hypocritica_earing of black for me,—my father believes himself to be still young an_assably good-looking, and he is quite incapable of resisting the fortune sh_ill bring him. When she took up her fixed abode in our house, and Aun_harlotte became her paid chaperon, I seldom went out to any socia_atherings, for I could not endure the idea of being seen in he_ompanionship. I kept to my own room a great deal, and thus secluded, rea_any books. All the fashionable fiction of the day passed through my hands, much to my gradual enlightenment, if not to my edification. One day,—a da_hat is stamped on my memory as a kind of turning-point in my life,—I read _ovel by a woman which I did not at first entirely understand,—but on goin_ver some of its passages a second time, all at once its horribl_asciviousness flashed upon me and filled me with such a genuine disgust tha_ flung it on the ground in a fit of loathing and contempt. Yet I had seen i_raised in all the leading journals of the day; its obscenities were hinted as
  • 'daring,'—its vulgarities were quoted as 'brilliant wit,'—in fact so man_audatory columns were written about it in the press that I resolved to rea_t again. Encouraged by the ' literary censors' of the time, I did so, an_ittle by little the insidious abomination of it filtered into my mind an_stayed there._  I began to think about it,—and byand-by found pleasure i_hinking about it. I sent for other books by the same tainted hand, and m_ppetite for that kind of prurient romance grew keener. At this particula_uncture, as chance or fate would have it, an acquaintance of mine, th_aughter of a Marchioness, a girl with large black eyes and those ful_rotruding lips which remind one unconsciously of a swine's snout, brought m_wo or three odd volumes of the poems of Swinburne. Always devoted to poetry, and considering it to be the highest of the arts, and up to that period havin_een ignorant of this writer's work, I turned over the books with eagerness, expecting to enjoy the usual sublime emotions which it is the privilege an_lory of the poet to inspire in mortals less divinely endowed than himself, and who turn to him
  • "for help to climb Beyond the highest peaks of time."
  • Now I should like, if I could do so, to explain clearly the effect of thi_atyr-songster upon my mind,—for I believe there are many women to whom hi_orks have been deadlier than the deadliest poison, and far more soul- corrupting than any book of Zola's or the most pernicious of modern Frenc_riters. At first I read the poems quickly, with a certain pleasure in th_ere swing and jangle of rhythm, and without paying much attention to th_ubject-matter of the verse,— but presently, as though a lurid blaze o_ightning had stripped a fair tree of its adorning leaves, my senses suddenl_erceived the cruelty and fiendish sensuality concealed under the ornat_anguage and persuasive rhymes,—and for a moment I paused in my reading, an_losed my eyes, shuddering and sick at heart. Was human nature as base an_bandoned as this man declared it to be? Was there no God but Lust? Were me_nd women lower and more depraved in their passions and appetites than th_ery beasts? I mused and dreamed,—I pored over the 'Laus Veneris'—' Faustine'
  • and 'Anactoria,' till I felt myself being dragged down to the brute level o_he mind that conceived such outrages to decency. I drank in Swinburne's ow_iendish contempt of God, and I read over and over again his verses 'Before _rucifix' till I knew them by heart;—till they rang in my brain a_ersistently as any nursery jingle, and drove my thoughts into as haughty _corn of Christ and His teachings as any unbelieving Jew. It is nothing to m_ow,— now, when without hope or faith or love, I am about to take the fina_lunge into eternal darkness and silence,—but for the sake of those wh_have_  the comfort of a religion, I ask, why, in a so-called Christia_ountry, is such a hideous blasphemy as 'Before a Crucifix' allowed t_irculate among the people without so much as one reproof from those who elec_hemselves judges of literature? I have seen many noble writers condemne_nheard,—many have been accused of blasphemy, whose works tend quite the othe_ay,—but these lines are permitted to work their cruel mischief unchecked, an_he writer of them is glorified as though he were a benefactor to mankin_nstead of a corrupter. I quote them here, from bitter memory, that I may no_e deemed as exaggerating their nature—
  • "So when our souls look back to thee, They sicken, seeing against thy side, _Too foul to speak of or to see._
  • The leprous likeness of a bride, Whose kissing lips through his lips grown _Leave their God rotten to the bone._
  • When we would see thee man, and know What heart thou had'st towards man indeed,
  • Lo, thy blood-blackened altars; lo, The lips of priests that pray and feed,
  • While their own hell's worm curls and licks
  • The poison of the crucifix.
  • Thou bad'st the children come to thee,—
  • _What children now but curses come,_ What manhood in that God can be
  • Who sees their worship and is dumb?— No soul that lived, loved, wrought, and died _Is this, their Carrion CrucifiedI_
  • Nay, if their God and thou be one,
  • If thou and _this thing_ be the same, Thou should'st not look upon the sun,
  • _The sun grows haggard at thy name;_ Come down, be done with, cease, give o'er, Hide thyself, strive not, _be no more."_
  • From the time of reading this, I used to think of Christ as 'carrio_rucified';—if I ever thought at all. I found out that no one had eve_eproached Mr Swinburne for this term, —that it did not interfere with hi_hances for the Laureateship,—and that not even a priest of the church ha_een boldspoken or zealous enough in his Master's cause to publicly resent th_hameless outrage. So I concluded that Swinburne must be right in hi_pinions, and I followed the lazy and unthinking course of social movement, spending my days with such literature as stored my brain with a complet_nowledge of things evil and pernicious. Whatever soul I had in me was killed; the freshness of my mind was gone,—Swinburne, among others, had helped me t_ive mentally, if not physically, through such a phase of vice as had poisone_y thoughts for ever. I understand there is some vague law in existence abou_lacing an interdiction on certain books considered injurious to publi_orals,—if there is such a rule, it has been curiously lax concerning th_uthor of 'Anactoria'— who, by virtue of being a poet, passes unquestione_nto many a home, carrying pollution into minds that were once cleanly an_imple. As for me, after I had studied his verse to my heart's content, nothing remained sacred.—I judged men as beasts and women as little better,—_ad no belief in honour, virtue or truth,—and I was absolutely indifferent t_ll things save one, and that was my resolve to have my own way as far as lov_as concerned. I might be forced to marry without love for purely money- considerations,—but all the same, love I would have, or what I calle_ove;—not an 'ideal' passion by any means, but precisely what Mr Swinburne an_ few of the most-praised novelists of the day had taught me to consider a_ove. I began to wonder when and how I should meet my lover,—such thoughts a_ had at this time indeed would have made moralists stare and uplift thei_ands in horror,—but to the exterior world I was the very pink and pattern o_aidenly decorum, reserve and pride. Men desired, but feared me; for I neve_ave them any encouragement, seeing as yet none among them whom I deeme_orthy of such love as I could give. The majority resembled carefully traine_aboons,— respectably clothed and artistically shaven,—but nevertheless al_ith the spasmodic grin, the leering eye and the uncouth gestures of the hair_oodland monster. When I was just eighteen I 'came out' in earnest,—that is, _as presented at Court with all the foolish and farcical pomp practised o_uch occasions. I was told before going that it was a great and necessar_hing to be 'presented,'—that it was a guarantee of position and above all o_eputation,—the Queen received none whose conduct was not rigidly correct an_irtuous. What humbug it all was !—I laughed then, and I can smile now t_hink of it,—why, the very woman who presented me had two illegitimate sons, unknown to her lawful husband, and she was not the only playful sinner in th_ourt comedy! Some women were there that day whom since even / would no_eceive—so openly infamous are their lives and characters, yet they make thei_emure curtseys before the Throne at stated times and assume to be the ver_atterns of virtue and austerity. Now and then, it chances in the case of a_xceedingly beautiful woman of whom all the others are jealous, that for he_ittle slips she is selected as an 'example' and excluded from Court, whil_er plainer sisters, though sinning seventy times seven against all the law_f decency and morality, are still received,—but otherwise, there is ver_ittle real care exercised as to the character and prestige of the women who_he Queen receives. If any one of them  _is_  refused, it is certain she add_o her social enormities the greater crime of being beautiful, otherwise ther_ould be no one to whisper away her reputation,  _i_  was what is called a
  • 'success' on my presentation day. That is, I was stared at, and openl_lattered by certain members of my sex who were too old and ugly to b_ealous, and treated with insolent contempt by those who were young enough t_e my rivals. There was a great crush to get into the Throne Room; and some o_he ladies used rather strong language. One duchess, just in front of me, sai_o her companion—' Do as I do,— _kick out!_  Bruise their shins for them—a_ard as you can,—we shall get on faster then!' This choice remark wa_ccompanied by the grin of a fishwife and the stare of a drab. Yet it was a '
  • great' lady who spoke,—not a Transatlantic importation, but a woman o_istinguished lineage and connection. Her observation, however, was only on_ut of many similar speeches which I heard on all sides of me during the
  • 'distinguished' melee,—a thoroughly ill-mannered 'crush,' which struck me a_upremely vulgar and totally unfitting the dignity of our Sovereign's court.
  • When I curtsied before the Throne at last, and saw the majesty of the Empir_epresented by a kindly faced old lady, looking very tired and bored, whos_and was as cold as ice when I kissed it, I was conscious of an intens_eeling of pity for her in her high estate. Who would be a Monarch to b_oomed to the perpetual receiving of a company of fools! I got through m_uties quickly, and returned home more or less wearied out and disgusted wit_he whole ceremony,—and next day I found that my ' debut' had given me th_osition of a 'leading beauty' ; or in other words that I was now formally pu_p for sale. That is really what is meant by being 'presented' and 'comin_ut,'—these are the fancy terms of one's parental auctioneer. My life was no_assed in dressing, having my photograph taken, giving 'sittings' to aspirin_ashionable painters, and being 'inspected' by men with a view to matrimony.
  • It was distinctly understood in society that I was not to be sold under _ertain figure per annum,—and the price was too high for most would-b_urchasers. How sick I grew of my constant exhibition in the marriage-market!
  • What contempt and hatred was fostered in me for the mean and pitiabl_ypocrisies of my set! I was not long in discovering that money was the chie_otive power of all social success,—that the proudest and highest personage_n the world could be easily gathered together under the roof of any vulga_lebeian who happened to have enough cash to feed and entertain them. As a_xample of this, I remember a woman, ugly, passee and squint-eyed, who durin_er father's life was only allowed about half-a-crown a week as pocket-mone_p to her fortieth year,—and who, when that father died, leaving her i_ossession of half his fortune (the other half going to illegitimate childre_f whom she had never heard, he having always posed as a pattern of immaculat_irtue), suddenly blossomed out as a ' leader' of fashion, and succeeded, through cautious scheming and ungrudging toadyism, in assembling some of th_ighest people in the land under her roof. Ugly and passee though she was, an_erging towards fifty, with neither grace, wit, nor intelligence, through th_ower of her cash alone she invited Royal dukes and 'titles' generally to he_inners and dances,—and it is to their shame that they actually accepted he_nvitations. Such voluntary degradations on the part of really well-connecte_eople I have never been able to understand,—it is not as if they wer_ctually in want of food or amusement, for they have a surfeit of both ever_eason,—and it seems to me that they ought to show a better example than t_lock in crowds to the entertainments of a mere uninteresting and ugly nobod_ust because she happens to have money. I never entered her house myself, though she had the audacity to invite me,—I learned, moreover, that she ha_romised a friend of mine a hundred guineas if she could persuade me to mak_ne appearance in her rooms. For my renown as a 'beauty,' combined with m_ride and exclusiveness, would have given her parties a  _prestige_  greate_han even Royalty could bestow,— _she_  knew that and  _I_  knew that; an_nowing it, never condescended to so much as notice her by a bow. But though _ook a certain satisfaction in thus revenging myself on the atrociou_ulgarity of  _parvenus_  and social interlopers, I grew intensely weary o_he monotony and emptiness of what fashionable folks call 'amusement,' an_resently falling ill of a nervous fever, I was sent down to the seaside for _ew weeks' change of air with a young cousin of mine, a girl I rather like_ecause she was so different to myself. Her name was Eva Maitland—she was bu_ixteen and extremely delicate—poor little soul! she died two months before m_arriage. She and I, and a maid to attend us, went down to Cromer,— and on_ay, sitting on the cliffs together, she asked me timidly if I knew an autho_amed Mavis Clare? I told her no,—whereupon she handed me a book called ' Th_ings of Psyche.'
  • "Do read it!" she said earnestly. "It will make you feel so happy!"
  • I laughed. The idea of a modern author writing anything to make one fee_appy, seemed to me quite ludicrous, the aim of most of them being to awaken _isgust of life, and a hatred of one's fellow-creatures. However, to pleas_va, I read 'The Wings of Psyche,'—and if it did not make me actually happy, it moved me to a great wonder and deep reverence for the woman-writer of suc_ book. I found out all about her,—that she was young, pretty, of a nobl_haracter and unblemished reputation, and that her only enemies were th_ress-critics. This last point was so much in her favour with me that I a_nce bought everything she had ever written, and her works became, as it were, my haven of rest. Her theories of life are strange, poetic, ideal an_eautiful,—though I have not been able to accept them or work them out in m_wn case. I have always felt soothed and comforted for a while in the very ac_f wishing they were true. And the woman is like her books,—strange, poetic, ideal and beautiful,—how odd it is to think that she is within ten minutes'
  • walk of me now !—I could send for her if I liked, and tell her all,—but sh_ould prevent me carrying out my resolve. She would cling to me woman-like an_iss me, and hold my hands and say, 'No, Sibyl, no! You are not yourself,—yo_ust come to me and rest!' An odd fancy has seized me, … I will open my windo_nd call her very gently,—she might be in the garden coming here to se_e,—and if she hears and answers, who knows !—why, perhaps my ideas ma_hange, and fate itself may take a different course!
  • Well, I have called her. I have sent her name ' Mavis !' softly out on th_unshine and still air three times, and only a little brown namesake of hers, a thrush, swinging on a branch of fir, answered me with his low autumna_iping. Mavis! She will not come,—to-day God will not make her His messenger.
  • She cannot guess—she does not know this tragedy of my heart, greater and mor_oignant than all the tragedies of fiction. If she did know me as I am, _onder what she would think of me!
  • Let me go back to the time when love came to me,—love, ardent, passionate, an_ternal! Ah, what wild joy thrilled through me! what mad ecstasy fired m_lood !—what delirious dreams possessed my brain! I saw Lucio,—and it seeme_s if the splendid eyes of some great angel had flashed a glory in my soul!
  • With him came his friend, the foil to his beauty, —the arrogant, self- satisfied fool of a millionaire, Geoffrey Tempest,—he who bought me, and wh_y virtue of his purchase, is entitled by law to call himself my husband … "
  • Here I paused in my reading and looked up. The dead woman's eyes appeared no_o regard me as steadily as herself in the opposite mirror,—the head was _ittle more dropped forward on the breast, and the whole face very nearl_esembled that of the late Countess of Elton when the last shock of paralysi_ad rendered her hideous disfigurement complete.
  • "To think that I loved  _that!"_  I said aloud, pointing at the corpse'_hastly reflection. "Fool that I was indeed!—as great a fool as all men ar_ho barter their lives for the possession of a woman's mere body! Why, i_here were any life after death—if such a creature had a soul that at al_esembled this poisoned clay, the very devils might turn away aghast from suc_ loathly comrade !''
  • The candles flickered, and the dead face seemed to smile,— a clock chimed i_he adjoining room, but I did not count the hour,—I merely arranged th_anuscript pages I held more methodically, and read on with renewed attention.