17. CHAPTER XVII
She was not praying; she was trembling--trembling all over.
Vibration was easy to her, was in fact too constant with her, and
she found herself now humming like a smitten harp. She only
asked, however, to put on the cover, to case herself again in
brown holland, but she wished to resist her excitement, and the
attitude of devotion, which she kept for some time, seemed to
help her to be still. She intensely rejoiced that Caspar Goodwood
was gone; there was something in having thus got rid of him that
was like the payment, for a stamped receipt, of some debt too
long on her mind. As she felt the glad relief she bowed her head
a little lower; the sense was there, throbbing in her heart; it
was part of her emotion, but it was a thing to be ashamed of--it
was profane and out of place. It was not for some ten minutes
that she rose from her knees, and even when she came back to the
sitting-room her tremor had not quite subsided. It had had,
verily, two causes: part of it was to be accounted for by her
long discussion with Mr. Goodwood, but it might be feared that
the rest was simply the enjoyment she found in the exercise of
her power. She sat down in the same chair again and took up her
book, but without going through the form of opening the volume.
She leaned back, with that low, soft, aspiring murmur with which
she often uttered her response to accidents of which the brighter
side was not superficially obvious, and yielded to the
satisfaction of having refused two ardent suitors in a fortnight.
That love of liberty of which she had given Caspar Goodwood so
bold a sketch was as yet almost exclusively theoretic; she had
not been able to indulge it on a large scale. But it appeared to
her she had done something; she had tasted of the delight, if not
of battle, at least of victory; she had done what was truest to
her plan. In the glow of this consciousness the image of Mr.
Goodwood taking his sad walk homeward through the dingy town
presented itself with a certain reproachful force; so that, as at
the same moment the door of the room was opened, she rose with an
apprehension that he had come back. But it was only Henrietta
Stackpole returning from her dinner.