When Marguerite reached her room, she found her maid terribly anxious about her.
Your ladyship will be so tired, said the poor woman, whose own eyes were half closed with sleep. It is past five oclock.
Ah, yes, Louise, I daresay I shall be tired presently, said Marguerite, kindly; but you are very tired now, so go to bed at once. Ill get into bed alone.
But, my lady
Now, dont argue, Louise, but go to bed. Give me a wrap, and leave me alone.
Louise was only too glad to obey. She took off her mistresss gorgeous ball-dress, and wrapped her up in a soft billowy gown.
Does your ladyship wish for anything else? she asked, when that was done.
No, nothing more. Put out the lights as you go out.
Yes, my lady. Good-night, my lady.
When the maid was gone, Marguerite drew aside the curtains and threw open the windows. The garden and the river beyond were flooded with rosy light. Far away to the east, the rays of the rising sun had changed the rose into vivid gold. The lawn was deserted now, and Marguerite looked down upon the terrace where she had stood a few moments ago trying vainly to win back a mans love, which once had been so wholly hers.
It was strange that through all her troubles, all her anxiety for Armand, she was mostly conscious at the present moment of a keen and bitter heartache.
Her very limbs seemed to ache with longing for the love of a man who had spurned her, who had resisted her tenderness, remained cold to her appeals, and had not responded to the glow of passion, which had caused her to feel and hope that those happy olden days in Paris were not all dead and forgotten.
How strange it all was! She loved him still. And now that she looked back upon the last few months of misunderstandings and of loneliness, she realised that she had never ceased to love him; that deep down in her heart she had always vaguely felt that his foolish inanities, his empty laugh, his lazy nonchalance were nothing but a mask; that the real man, strong, passionate, wilful, was there stillthe man she had loved, whose intensity had fascinated her, whose personality attracted her, since she always felt that behind his apparently slow wits there was a certain something, which he kept hidden from all the world, and most especially from her.
A womans heart is such a complex problemthe owner thereof is often most incompetent to find the solution of this puzzle.
Did Marguerite Blakeney, the cleverest woman in Europe, really love a fool? Was it love that she had felt for him a year ago when she married him? Was it love she felt for him now that she realised that he still loved her, but that he would not become her slave, her passionate, ardent lover once again? Nay! Marguerite herself could not have told that. Not at this moment at any rate; perhaps her pride had sealed her mind against a better understanding of her own heart. But this she did knowthat she meant to capture that obstinate heart back again. That she would conquer once more and then, that she would never lose him She would keep him, keep his love, deserve it, and cherish it; for this much was certain, that there was no longer any happiness possible for her without that one mans love.
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