my office without compensation, as I believe happened to

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And all the while she asked herself what it was that had brought him to this condition. Victoria knew sufficient of life and had visited hospitals enough to understand that mental causes were generally responsible for such breakdowns--Hilary had had a shock. She remembered how in her childhood he had been the object of her particular animosity; how she used to put out her tongue at him, and imitate his manner, and how he had never made the slightest attempt to conciliate her; most people of this sort are sensitive to the instincts of children; but Hilary had not been. She remembered--how long ago it seemed now!--the day she had given him, in deviltry, the clipping about Austen shooting Mr. Blodgett.

my office without compensation, as I believe happened to

The Hilary Vane who sat beside her to-day was not the same man. It was unaccountable, but he was not. Nor could this changed estimate of him be attributed to her regard for Austen, for she recalled a day only a few months since--in June--when he had come up to Fairview and she was standing on the lawn, and she had looked at him without recognition; she had not, then, been able to bring herself to bow to him; to her childhood distaste had been added the deeper resentment of Austen's wrongs. Her early instincts about Hilary had been vindicated, for he had treated his son abominably and driven Austen from his mother's home. To misunderstand and maltreat Austen Vane, of all people Austen, whose consideration for his father had been what it had! Could it be that Hilary felt remorse? Could it be that he loved Austen in some peculiar manner all his own?

my office without compensation, as I believe happened to

Victoria knew now--so strangely--that the man beside her was capable of love, and she had never felt that way about Hilary Vane. And her mind was confused, and her heart was troubled and wrung. Insight flashed upon her of the terrible loneliness of a life surrounded by outstretched, loving arms to which one could not fly; scenes from a famous classic she had read with a favourite teacher at school came to her, and she knew that she was the witness of a retribution, of a suffering beyond conception of a soul prepared for suffering,--not physical suffering, but of that torture which is the meaning of hell.

my office without compensation, as I believe happened to

However, there was physical suffering. It came and went, and at such moments she saw the traces of it in the tightening of his lips, and longed with womanly intuition to alleviate it. She had not spoken-- although she could have cried aloud; she knew not what to say. And then suddenly she reached out and touched his hand. Nor could she have accounted for the action.

"Are you in much pain?" she asked.

"No," he said; "it's only a spell--I've had 'em before. I--I can drive in a few minutes."

"And do you think," she asked, "that I would allow you to go the rest of the way alone?"

"I guess I ought to thank you for comin' with me," he said.



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