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with soliciting eyes; and her lips, firmly closed, twitched.
“I am looking for the means of explaining to you how much I love her," I burst out. “And if I found a way, you could not understand. What do you know?what can you know?
I said this not in scorn, but in sheer helplessness. I was at a loss before the august magnitude of my feeling, which I saw confronting me like an enormous presence arising from that blue sea. It was no longer a boy-andgirl affair; no longer an adventure; it was an immense and serious happiness, to be paid for by an infinity of sacrifice.
“I am a woman,” she said, with a fluttering dignity. “And it is because I know how women suffer from what men say
Her face flushed. It flushed to the very bands of her hair. She was rosy all over the eyes and forehead. Rosy and ascetic, with something outraged and inexpressibly sweet in her expression. My great emotion was between us like a mist, through which I beheld strange appearances. It was as if an immaterial spirit had blushed before me. And suddenly I saw tears. tears that glittered exceedingly, falling hard and round, like pellets of glass, out of her faded eyes.
“Mrs. Williams," I cried, "you can't know how I love her. No one in the world can know. When I think of her—and I think of her always-it seems to me that one life is not enough to show my devotion. I love her like something unchangeable and unique altogether out of the world; because I see the world through her. I would still love her if she had made me miserable and unhappy.”
She exclaimed a low “Ah!” and turned her head away
for a moment.
“ “There are no words. Words are not meant for that: I love her so that, were I to die this moment, I verily believe my soul, refusing to leave this earth, would remain hovering near her.
She interrupted me with a sort of indulgent horror. “Sh! sh!" I mustn't talk like that. I really must not-and inconsequently she declared she was quite willing to believe me. Her husband and herself had not slept a wink for thinking of us. The notion of the fat, sleepy Williams, sitting up all night to consider, owlishly, the durability of my love, cooled my excitement. She thought they had been providentially thrown into our way to give us an opportunity of reconsidering our decision. There were still so many difficulties in the way.
I did not see any; her utter incomprehension began to weary me, while she still twined her fingers, wiped her eyes by stealth, as it were, and talked unflinchingly. She could not have made herself clearly understood by Seraphina. Moreover, women were so helpless—so very helpless in such matters. That is why she was speaking to me. She did not doubt my sincerity at the present time—but there was, humanly speaking, a long life before us—and what of afterwards? Was I sure of myself—later on—when all was well?
I cut her short. Seizing both her hands:
“I accept the omen, Mrs. Williams!” I cried. “That's it! When all is well! And all must be well in a very short time, with you and your husband's help, which shall not fail me, I know. I feel as if the worst of our troubles were over already.
But at that moment I saw Seraphina coming out on deck. She emerged from the companion, bare-headed, and looked about at her new surroundings with that air of imperious and childlike beauty which made her charm. The wind stirred slightly her delicate hair, and I looked at her; I looked at her stilled, as one watches the dawn or listens to a sweet strain of music caught from afar. Suddenly dropping Mrs. Williams' hand, I ran to her.
When I turned round, Williams had joined his wife, and she had slipped her arm under his. Her hand, thin and white, looked like the hand of an invalid on the brawny forearm of that man bursting with health and good condition. By the side of his lustiness, she was almost ethereal-and yet I seemed to see in them something they had in common-something subtle, like the expression of eyes. It was the expression of their eyes. They looked at us with commiseration; one of them sweetly, the other with his owlish fixity. As we two, Seraphina and I, approached them together, I heard Williams' thick, sleepy voice asking, “And so he says he won't?” To which his wife, raising her tone with a shade of indignation, answered, “Of course not.' No, I was not mistaken. In their dissimilar persons, eyes, faces, there was expressed a common trouble, doubt, and commiseration. This expression seemed to go out to meet us sadly, like a bearer of ill-news. And, as if at the sight of a downcast messenger, I experienced the clear presentiment of some fatal intelligence.
It was conveyed to me late in the afternoon of that same day out of Williams' own thick lips, that seemed as heavy and inert as his voice.
“As far as we can see,” he said, “you can't stay in the ship, Kemp. It would do no one any good—not the slightest good. Ask Sebright here."
It was a sort of council of war, to which we had been summoned in the saloon. Mrs. Williams had some sewing in her lap. She listened, ber hands motionless, her eyes full of desolation. Seraphina's attitude, lean