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48. CHAPTER XLVIII: MISS THORNE SHOWS HER TALENT FOR MATCH-MAKING (continued)
'Mrs Bold--' at last he said, and then stopped himself.
If he could not speak, how was she to do so? He had called her by her name, the same name that any merest stranger would have used! She withdrew her hand from his, and moved as though to return to her seat. 'Eleanor!' he then said, in his softest tone, as though the courage were still afraid of giving offence, by the freedom which he took. She looked slowly, gently, almost piteously up into his face. There was at any rate no anger there to deter him.
'Eleanor!' he again exclaimed; and in a moment he had her clasped to his bosom. How this was done, whether the doing was with him, or her, whether she had flown thither conquered by the tenderness of his voice, or he with a violence not likely to give offence had drawn her to his breast, neither of them knew; nor can I declare. There was now that sympathy between them which hardly admitted of individual motion. They were one and the same,--one flesh,--one spirit,--one life.
'Eleanor, my own Eleanor, my own, my wife!' She ventured to look at him through her tears, and he, bowing his face down over hers, pressed his lips upon her brow; his virgin lips, which since a beard first grew upon his chin, had never yet tasted the luxury of a woman's cheek.
She had been told that her yea must be yea, or her nay, nay; but she was called on for neither the one nor the other. She told Miss Thorne that she was engaged to Mr Arabin, but no such words had passed between them, no promises had been asked or given.
'Oh, let me go,' said she; 'let me go now. I am too happy to remain,--let me go, that I may be alone.' He did not try to hinder her; he did not repeat his kiss; he did not press another on her lips. He might have done so, had he been so minded. She was now all his own. He took his arm from round her waist, his arm that was trembling with a new delight, and let her go. She fled like a roe to her own chamber, and then, having turned the bolt, she enjoyed the full luxury of her love. She idolised, almost worshipped this man who had so meekly begged her pardon. And he was now her own. Oh, how she wept and cried and laughed, as the hopes and fears and miseries of the last few weeks passed in remembrance through her mind.
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