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She had not long to wonder. She unlocked her door, and went into the adjoining cabin, while the boat came alongside, and woman and baskets were hauled upon the deck.
Chapter 10 A WICKED DEVICE.
They stood at an angle of the hill-path looking up the river, and saw the yacht take in her canvas as she came into the haven under the hill; that sheltered harbour, with its[Pg 144] two rivers cleaving the hills asunder, one winding away to the right towards Lerrin, the other to the left towards Trelasco and Lostwithiel. It looked so perfect a place of shelter, so utterly safe from tempest or foul weather; and yet there were seasons when a fierce wind from the great Atlantic came sweeping up the deep valleys, and all the angry spirits of the ocean seemed at war in that narrow gorge. To-night the atmosphere was unusually calm, and Isola could hear the sailors singing at their work.He pointed to Martin Disney's letter, lying open on the solicitor's table.
And without waiting for either consent or remonstrance, he lifted her in his strong arms, and carried her to the library. Almost immediately, she showed signs of returning animation. He then withdrew to the piazza, where Mr. Bergan shortly joined him; and explanations were mutually given and received."Lostwithiel."
Late wisdom is apt to taste of the flower of folly whence it is distilled. So, at least, thought Mrs. Bergan, when, months afterward, she looked back upon her dinner-party, and seemed to see in it the beginning of trouble. But it is probable that nothing which she could have done, or left undone, would have availed to alter the natural, irresistible course of events. At the most, she may have hastened its current a little. Her dinner-party only furnished a convenient point of meeting for lives inevitably tending toward each other, for influences long converging, and certain to meet at last, in clash or harmony. Without it, there must needs have been a swift birth of friendship between Carice and Astra, at their next meeting; which meeting could not have been much longer deferred. Without it, Doctor Remy would assiduously have spun his web for self-advantage, fastening his threads indifferently to whatever or whomsoever seemed to promise the best support, and quickly unfastening them whenever a prop failed him. Without it, the hearts of Bergan and Carice would sooner or later have inclined toward each other, by reason of an instinct truer and surer than maternal foresight or forestalling."Not for the world, not for my life," she said, with her hands tightly clasped, her eyes still hidden under the heavy lids, tearless nowand with dry and quivering lips, from which the words came with a dull and soulless sound. "I would die to save him an hour's pain. I would fling away this wretched life rather than grieve him for a moment."