LOVE AND NO LEASING.
Their eyes met in the flashes of a double sunrise. Their hands met,
but the hand of each grasped the heart of the other. Two honester
purer souls never looked out of their windows with meeting gaze. Had
there been no bodies to divide them, they would have mingled in a
rapture of faith and high content.
The desolation was gone; the desert bloomed and blossomed as the
rose. To Dorothy it was for a moment as if Raglan were rebuilt; the
ruin and the winter had vanished before the creative, therefore
prophetic throb of the heart of love; then her eyes fell, not
defeated by those of the youth, for Dorothy's faith gave her a
boldness that was lovely even against the foil of maidenly reserve,
but beaten down by conscience: the words of the marquis shot like an
arrow into her memory: 'Love outlives all but leasing,' and her eyes
fell before Richard's.
But Richard imagined that something in his look had displeased her,
and was ashamed, for he had ever been, and ever would be, sensitive
as a child to rebuke. Even when it was mistaken or unjust he would
always find within him some ground whereon it MIGHT have alighted.
'Forgive me, Dorothy,' he said, supposing she had found his look
'Nay, Richard,' returned Dorothy, with her eyes fast on the ground,
whence it seemed rosy mists came rising through her, 'I know no
cause wherefore thou shouldst ask me to forgive thee, but I do know,
although thou knowest not, good cause wherefore I should ask thee to
forgive me. Richard, I will tell thee the truth, and thou wilt tell
me again how I might have shunned doing amiss, and how far my lie
was an evil thing.'
'Lie, Dorothy! Thou hast never lied!'
'Hear me, Richard, first, and then judge. Thou rememberest I did
tell thee that night as we talked in the field, that I had about me
no missives: the word was true, but its purport was false. When I
said that, thou didst hold in thy hand my comb, wherein were
concealed certain papers in cipher.'
'Oh thou cunning one!' cried Richard, half reproachfully, half
humorously, but the amusement overtopped the seriousness.
'My heart did reproach me; but Richard, what WAS I to do?'
'Wherefore did thy heart reproach thee, Dorothy?'
'That I told a falsehood--that I told THEE a falsehood, Richard.'
'Then had it been Upstill, thou wouldst not have minded?'
'Upstill! I would never have told Upstill a falsehood. I would have
beaten him first.'
'Then thou didst think it better to tell a falsehood to me than to
'I would rather sin against thee, an' it were a sin, Richard. Were
it wrong to think I would rather be in thy hands, sin or none, or
sin and all, than in those of a mean-spirited knave whom I despised?
Besides I might one day, somehow or other, make it up to thee--but I
could not to him. But was it sin, Richard?--tell me that. I have
thought and thought over the matter until my mind is maze. Thou
seest it was my lord marquis's business, not mine, and thou hadst no
right in the matter.'
'Prithee, Dorothy, ask not me to judge.'
'Art thou then so angry with me that thou will not help me to judge
'Not so, Dorothy, but there is one command in the New Testament for
the which I am often more thankful than for any other.'
'What is that, Richard.'