Book the Second - the Golden Thread
17. XVII. One Night
Never did the sun go down with a brighter glory on the quiet corner
in Soho, than one memorable evening when the Doctor and his daughter
sat under the plane-tree together. Never did the moon rise with a
milder radiance over great London, than on that night when it found
them still seated under the tree, and shone upon their faces
through its leaves.
Lucie was to be married to-morrow. She had reserved this last
evening for her father, and they sat alone under the plane-tree.
"You are happy, my dear father?"
"Quite, my child."
They had said little, though they had been there a long time. When
it was yet light enough to work and read, she had neither engaged
herself in her usual work, nor had she read to him. She had employed
herself in both ways, at his side under the tree, many and many a time;
but, this time was not quite like any other, and nothing could make it so.
"And I am very happy to-night, dear father. I am deeply happy in the
love that Heaven has so blessed--my love for Charles, and Charles's
love for me. But, if my life were not to be still consecrated to you,
or if my marriage were so arranged as that it would part us, even by
the length of a few of these streets, I should be more unhappy and
self-reproachful now than I can tell you. Even as it is--"
Even as it was, she could not command her voice.
In the sad moonlight, she clasped him by the neck, and laid her face
upon his breast. In the moonlight which is always sad, as the light
of the sun itself is--as the light called human life is--at its
coming and its going.
"Dearest dear! Can you tell me, this last time, that you feel quite,
quite sure, no new affections of mine, and no new duties of mine,
will ever interpose between us? I know it well, but do you know it?
In your own heart, do you feel quite certain?"