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A Committee-Man Of ‘The Terror’
by [?]

‘”My God! You surprise me!” said she.

‘”But you accept my proposal?”

‘”No, no!”

‘”And yet I think you will, Mademoiselle, some day!”

‘”I think not.”

‘”I won’t distress you further now.”

‘”Much thanks . . . I am glad to see you looking better, Monsieur; I mean you are looking better.”

‘”Ah, yes. I am improving. I walk in the sun every day.”

‘And almost every day she saw him–sometimes nodding stiffly only, sometimes exchanging formal civilities. “You are not gone yet,” she said on one of these occasions.

‘”No. At present I don’t think of going without you.”

‘”But you find it uncomfortable here?”

‘”Somewhat. So when will you have pity on me?”

‘She shook her head and went on her way. Yet she was a little moved. “He did it on principle,” she would murmur. “He had no animosity towards them, and profited nothing!”

‘She wondered how he lived. It was evident that he could not be so poor as she had thought; his pretended poverty might be to escape notice. She could not tell, but she knew that she was dangerously interested in him.

‘And he still mended, till his thin, pale face became more full and firm. As he mended she had to meet that request of his, advanced with even stronger insistency.

‘The arrival of the King and Court for the season as usual brought matters to a climax for these two lonely exiles and fellow country-people. The King’s awkward preference for a part of the coast in such dangerous proximity to France made it necessary that a strict military vigilance should be exercised to guard the royal residents. Half- a-dozen frigates were every night posted in a line across the bay, and two lines of sentinels, one at the water’s edge and another behind the Esplanade, occupied the whole sea-front after eight every night. The watering-place was growing an inconvenient residence even for Mademoiselle V— herself, her friendship for this strange French tutor and writing-master who never had any pupils having been observed by many who slightly knew her. The General’s wife, whose dependent she was, repeatedly warned her against the acquaintance; while the Hanoverian and other soldiers of the Foreign Legion, who had discovered the nationality of her friend, were more aggressive than the English military gallants who made it their business to notice her.

‘In this tense state of affairs her answers became more agitated. “O Heaven, how can I marry you!” she would say.

‘”You will; surely you will!” he answered again. “I don’t leave without you. And I shall soon be interrogated before the magistrates if I stay here; probably imprisoned. You will come?”

‘She felt her defences breaking down. Contrary to all reason and sense of family honour she was, by some abnormal craving, inclining to a tenderness for him that was founded on its opposite. Sometimes her warm sentiments burnt lower than at others, and then the enormity of her conduct showed itself in more staring hues.

‘Shortly after this he came with a resigned look on his face. “It is as I expected,” he said. “I have received a hint to go. In good sooth, I am no Bonapartist–I am no enemy to England; but the presence of the King made it impossible for a foreigner with no visible occupation, and who may be a spy, to remain at large in the town. The authorities are civil, but firm. They are no more than reasonable. Good. I must go. You must come also.”

‘She did not speak. But she nodded assent, her eyes drooping.

‘On her way back to the house on the Esplanade she said to herself, “I am glad, I am glad! I could not do otherwise. It is rendering good for evil!” But she knew how she mocked herself in this, and that the moral principle had not operated one jot in her acceptance of him. In truth she had not realized till now the full presence of the emotion which had unconsciously grown up in her for this lonely and severe man, who, in her tradition, was vengeance and irreligion personified. He seemed to absorb her whole nature, and, absorbing, to control it.