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Blind Man’s Holiday
by [?]

Thence he plunged into the story of his abdication from society. The story, pruned of his moral philosophy, deserves no more than the slightest touch. It is no new tale, that of the gambler’s declension. During one night’s sitting he lost, and then had imperilled a certain amount of his employer’s money, which, by accident, he carried with him. He continued to lose, to the last wager, and then began to gain, leaving the game winner to a somewhat formidable sum. The same night his employer’s safe was robbed. A search was had; the winnings of Lorison were found in his room, their total forming an accusative nearness to the sum purloined. He was taken, tried and, through incomplete evidence, released, smutched with the sinister devoirs of a disagreeing jury.

“It is not in the unjust accusation,” he said to the girl, “that my burden lies, but in the knowledge that from the moment I staked the first dollar of the firm’s money I was a criminal–no matter whether I lost or won. You see why it is impossible for me to speak of love to her.”

“It is a sad thing,” said Norah, after a little pause, “to think what very good people there are in the world.”

“Good?” said Lorison.

“I was thinking of this superior person whom you say you love. She must be a very poor sort of creature.”

“I do not understand.”

“Nearly,” she continued, “as poor a sort of creature as yourself.”

“You do not understand,” said Lorison, removing his hat and sweeping back his fine, light hair. “Suppose she loved me in return, and were willing to marry me. Think, if you can, what would follow. Never a day would pass but she would be reminded of her sacrifice. I would read a condescension in her smile, a pity even in her affection, that would madden me. No. The thing would stand between us forever. Only equals should mate. I could never ask her to come down upon my lower plane.”

An arc light faintly shone upon Lorison’s face. An illumination from within also pervaded it. The girl saw the rapt, ascetic look; it was the face either of Sir Galahad or Sir Fool.

“Quite starlike,” she said, “is this unapproachable angel. Really too high to be grasped.”

“By me, yes.”

She faced him suddenly. “My dear friend, would you prefer your star fallen?” Lorison made a wide gesture.

“You push me to the bald fact,” he declared; “you are not in sympathy with my argument. But I will answer you so. If I could reach my particular star, to drag it down, I would not do it; but if it were fallen, I would pick it up, and thank Heaven for the privilege.”

They were silent for some minutes. Norah shivered, and thrust her hands deep into the pockets of her jacket. Lorison uttered a remorseful exclamation.

“I’m not cold,” she said. “I was just thinking. I ought to tell you something. You have selected a strange confidante. But you cannot expect a chance acquaintance, picked up in a doubtful restaurant, to be an angel.”

“Norah!” cried Lorison.

“Let me go on. You have told me about yourself. We have been such good friends. I must tell you now what I never wanted you to know. I am–worse than you are. I was on the stage . . . I sang in the chorus . . . I was pretty bad, I guess . . . I stole diamonds from the prima donna . . . they arrested me . . . I gave most of them up, and they let me go . . . I drank wine every night . . . a great deal . . . I was very wicked, but–“

Lorison knelt quickly by her side and took her hands.

“Dear Norah!” he said, exultantly. “It is you, it is you I love! You never guessed it, did you? ‘Tis you I meant all the time. Now I can speak. Let me make you forget the past. We have both suffered; let us shut out the world, and live for each other. Norah, do you hear me say I love you?”