Milady read in his eyes, Love! love!
Pardon for what? asked she.
Pardon me for having joined your persecutors.
Milady held out her hand to him.
So beautiful! so young! cried Felton, covering that hand with his kisses.
Milady cast on him one of those looks which make a slave into a king.
Felton was a Puritan. He dropped this womans hand to kiss her feet.
He more than loved her; he adored her.
When this crisis was past; when milady seemed to have recovered her self-control, which she had not lost even for an instant; when Felton had seen her cover again with the veil of chastity those treasures of love which were concealed from him only to make him desire them the more ardently,
Ah, now! said he, I have only one thing to ask of youthat is, the name of your true executioner. For in my eyes there is but one. The other was the instrument, that was all.
What, brother! cried milady; must I name him? Have you not yet divined who he is?
What! cried Felton; he!he again!he always! What!the real culprit!
The real culprit, said milady, is the ravager of England, the persecutor of true believers, the cowardly ravisher of the honour of so many womenhe who, to satisfy a caprice of his corrupt heart, is about to make England shed so much blood, who protects the Protestants to-day and will betray them to-morrow
Buckingham! Then it is Buckingham! cried Felton, in exasperation.
Milady hid her face in her hands, as if she could not endure the shame which this name recalled to her.
Buckingham, the executioner of this angelic creature! cried Felton. And Thou hast not hurled Thy thunder at him, my God! And Thou hast left him noble, honoured, powerful, for the ruin of us all!
God abandons him who abandons himself, said milady.
But He will draw down on his head the punishment reserved for the damned! said Felton, with increasing excitement. He wishes that human vengeance should precede heavenly justice.
Men fear him and spare him.
I, said FeltonI do not fear him, nor will I spare him!
Milady felt her soul bathed in a hellish joy.
Several knocks resounded on the door. This time milady really pushed him away from her.
Hark! said she; we have been overheard. Some one is coming! All is over! We are lost!
No, said Felton; it is only the sentinel warning me that they are about to change guard.
Then run to the door and open it yourself.
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