"Stop a minute, my dear," cried Austin. A strange betrothal!—the primal idea of which was escape! The girl, intent upon abrogating for ever all legal rights of the father in the daughter, of rendering innocuous the thing she had now named the Terror: the boy, seeking selfcrucifixion in expiation of his transgression, changing a peccadillo into damnation! It was easy for Ruth to surrender to the idea, for she believed she was loved; and in gratitude it was already her determination to give this boy her heart's blood, drop by drop, if he wanted it. As a matter of fact, I had never spoken to him before in my life. For fifteen years!—so long as I can remember! All I wanted was a little love, a caress now and then. . Niece and aunt regarded each other for a moment over their pockethandkerchiefs with watery but antagonistic eyes, each far too profoundly moved to see the absurdity of the position. Their conversation was conducted in the flash language, and, though unintelligible to Wood, was easily comprehended by this companion, who learnt, to her dismay, that the wounded man had received his hurt from her son, whose courage and dexterity formed the present subject of their discourse. ’ That arrested her. Understand me! I forbid it. His fingers cherished the hilt of his sword and his eyes were on his friend and superior, ready at his back to do whatever was needed. She didn’t like the shops, she didn’t like the other women’s faces; she thought the smirking men in frock-coats who dominated these establishments the most intolerable persons she had ever had to face. Who was he to tread on her dreams? She had heroworshipped an unscrupulous adventurer, who had not hesitated to impose on her youth and her ignorance. Her eyes still had the fevered glow of sickness, yet she seemed in perfect health. This time there wasn't any doubt. “It would be easier if Katy would just lay off.
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