Yet they always spoke in the simplest way of this absorbing passion, as of something about which no reticence was needed; it was too sacred not to be mentioned; it would be wrong not to utter freely to all the world what was doubtless the best thing the world possessed. Thus Kenmure made Laura his model in all his art; not to coin her into wealth or fame,--he would have scorned it; he would have valued fame and wealth only as instruments for proclaiming her. Looking simply at these two lovers, then, it was plain that no human union could be more noble or stainless. Yet so far as others were concerned, it sometimes seemed to me a kind of duplex selfishness, so profound and so undisguised as to make one shudder. "Is it," I asked myself at such moments, "a great consecration, or a great crime?" But something must be allowed, perhaps, for my own private dis-satisfactions in Marian's behalf.
I had easily persuaded Janet to let me have a peep every night at my darling, as she slept; and once I was surprised to find Laura sitting by the small white bed. Graceful and beautiful as she always was, she never before had seemed to me so lovely, for she never had seemed quite like a mother. But I could not demand a sweeter look of tenderness than that with which she now gazed upon her child.
Little Marian lay with one brown, plump hand visible from its full white sleeve, while the other nestled half hid beneath the sheet, grasping a pair of blue morocco shoes, the last acquisition of her favorite doll. Drooping from beneath the pillow hung a handful of scarlet poppies, which the child had wished to place under her head, in the very superfluous project of putting herself to sleep thereby. Her soft brown hair was scattered on the sheet, her black lashes lay motionless upon the olive cheeks. Laura wished to move her, that I might see her the better.
"You will wake her," exclaimed I, in alarm.
"Wake this little dormouse?" Laura lightly answered. "Impossible."
And, twining her arms about her, the young mother lifted the child from the bed, three or four times in succession, while the healthy little creature remained utterly undisturbed, breathing the same quiet breath. I watched Laura with amazement; she seemed transformed.
She gayly returned my eager look, and then, seeming suddenly to penetrate its meaning, cast down her eyes, while the color mounted into her cheeks. "You thought," she said, almost sternly, "that I did not love my child."
"No," I said half untruthfully.
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