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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesIole - Chapter 16
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Iole - Chapter 16 Post by :MSCOTT Category :Long Stories Author :Robert W. Chambers Date :May 2012 Read :2434

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Iole - Chapter 16

CHAPTER XVI

He did. She listened, sometimes intently interested, absorbed, sometimes leaning back dreamily, her eyes partly veiled under silken lashes, her mouth curved with the vaguest of smiles.

He spoke as a man who awakes with a start--not very clearly at first, then with feverish coherence, at times with recklessness almost eloquent. Still only half awakened himself, still scarcely convinced, scarcely credulous that this miracle of an hour had been wrought in him, here under the sky and setting sun and new-born leaves, he spoke not only to her but of her to himself, formulating in words the rhythm his pulses were beating, interpreting this surging tide which thundered in his heart, clamoring out the fact--the fact--the fact that he loved!--that love was on him like the grip of Fate--on him so suddenly, so surely, so inexorably, that, stricken as he was, the clutch only amazed and numbed him.

He spoke, striving to teach himself that the incredible was credible, the impossible possible--that it was done! done! done! and that he loved a woman in an hour because, in an hour, he had read her innocence as one reads through crystal, and his eyes were opened for the first time upon loveliness unspoiled, sweetness untainted, truth uncompromised.

"Do you know," she said, "that, as you speak, you make me care for you so much more than I supposed a girl could care for a man?"

"Can you love me?"

"Oh, I do already! I don't mean mere love. It is something--_something that I never knew about before. _Every_thing about you is so--so exactly what I care for--your voice, your head, the way you think, the way you look at me. I never thought of men as I am thinking about you.... I want you to belong to me--all alone.... I want to see how you look when you are angry, or worried, or tired. I want you to think of me when you are perplexed and unhappy and ill. Will you? You _must_! There is nobody else, is there? If you do truly love me?"

"Nobody but you."

"That is what I desire.... I want to live with you--I promise I won't talk about art--even _your art, which I might learn to care for. All I want is to really live and have your troubles to meet and overcome them because I will not permit anything to harm you.... I will love you enough for that.... I--do you love other women?"

"Good God, no!"

"And you shall not!" She leaned closer, looking him through and through. "I _will be what you love! I will be what you desire most in all the world. I _will be to you everything you wish, in every way, always, ever, and forever and ever.... Will you marry me?"

"Will _you_?"

"Yes."

She suddenly stripped off her glove, wrenched a ring set with brilliants from the third finger of her left hand, and, rising, threw it, straight as a young boy throws, far out into deepening twilight. It was the end of Mr. Frawley; he, too, had not only become a by-product but a good-by product. Yet his modest demands had merely required a tear a year! Perhaps he had not asked enough. Love pardons the selfish.

She was laughing, a trifle excited, as she turned to face him where he had risen. But, at the touch of his hand on hers, the laughter died at a breath, and she stood, her limp hand clasped in his, silent, expressionless, save for the tremor of her mouth.

"I--I must go," she said, shrinking from him.

He did not understand, thrilled as he was by the contact, but he let her soft hand fall away from his.

Then with a half sob she caught her own fingers to her lips and kissed them where the pressure of his hand burned her white flesh--kissed them, looking at him.

"You--you find a child--you leave a woman," she said unsteadily. "Do you understand how I love you--for that?"

He caught her in his arms.

"No--not yet--not my mouth!" she pleaded, holding him back; "I love you too much--already _too much. Wait! Oh, _will you wait?... And let me wait--_make me wait?... I--I begin to understand some things I did not know an hour ago."

In the dusk he could scarcely see her as she swayed, yielding, her arms tightening about his neck in the first kiss she had ever given or forgiven in all her life.

And through the swimming tumult of their senses the thrush's song rang like a cry. The moon had risen.

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