Shirley’s fingers were obliged to withdraw from the tutor’s. Louis was obliged to relinquish that hand folded, clasped, hidden in his own.

‘I thought I should have had to support her,’ he said, as he walked towards Briarmains, ‘and it is she who has made me strong. That look of pity—that gentle touch! No down was ever softer—no elixir more potent! It lay like a snowflake; it thrilled like lightning. A thousand times I have longed to possess that hand—to have it in mine. I have possessed it— for five minutes I held it. Her fingers and mine can never be strangers more—having met once, they must meet again.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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