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Chapter 78 (continued)
'Yes--for every kind and honest word you uttered, went to my heart. For you, who have borne so much from me--for you, who owe your sufferings and pain to my caprice--for you to be so kind--so noble to me, Joe--'
He could say nothing to her. Not a syllable. There was an odd sort of eloquence in his one arm, which had crept round her waist: but his lips were mute.
'If you had reminded me by a word--only by one short word,' sobbed Dolly, clinging yet closer to him, 'how little I deserved that you should treat me with so much forbearance; if you had exulted only for one moment in your triumph, I could have borne it better.'
'Triumph!' repeated Joe, with a smile which seemed to say, 'I am a pretty figure for that.'
'Yes, triumph,' she cried, with her whole heart and soul in her earnest voice, and gushing tears; 'for it is one. I am glad to think and know it is. I wouldn't be less humbled, dear--I wouldn't be without the recollection of that last time we spoke together in this place--no, not if I could recall the past, and make our parting, yesterday.'
Did ever lover look as Joe looked now!
'Dear Joe,' said Dolly, 'I always loved you--in my own heart I always did, although I was so vain and giddy. I hoped you would come back that night. I made quite sure you would. I prayed for it on my knees. Through all these long, long years, I have never once forgotten you, or left off hoping that this happy time might come.'
The eloquence of Joe's arm surpassed the most impassioned language; and so did that of his lips--yet he said nothing, either.
'And now, at last,' cried Dolly, trembling with the fervour of her speech, 'if you were sick, and shattered in your every limb; if you were ailing, weak, and sorrowful; if, instead of being what you are, you were in everybody's eyes but mine the wreck and ruin of a man; I would be your wife, dear love, with greater pride and joy, than if you were the stateliest lord in England!'
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