"Oh! yes," she cried, with tears in her voice, "if /he/ is willing, if he will come with me."
"So," the General said sternly, "you have neither country nor kin now, Helene?"
"I am his wife," she answered proudly, and there was something very noble in her tone. "This is the first happiness in seven years that has not come to me through him," she said--then, as she caught her father's hand and kissed it--"and this is the first word of reproach that I have heard."
"My conscience; he is my conscience!" she cried, trembling from head to foot. "Here he is! Even in the thick of a fight I can tell his footstep among all the others on deck," she cried.
A sudden crimson flushed her cheeks and glowed in her features, her eyes lighted up, her complexion changed to velvet whiteness, there was joy and love in every fibre, in the blue veins, in the unconscious trembling of her whole frame. That quiver of the sensitive plant softened the General.
It was as she had said. The captain came in, sat down in an easy- chair, took up his oldest boy, and began to play with him. There was a moment's silence, for the General's deep musing had grown vague and dreamy, and the daintily furnished cabin and the playing children seemed like a nest of halcyons, floating on the waves, between sky and sea, safe in the protection of this man who steered his way amid the perils of war and tempest, as other heads of household guide those in their care among the hazards of common life. He gazed admiringly at Helene--a dreamlike vision of some sea goddess, gracious in her loveliness, rich in happiness; all the treasures about her grown poor in comparison with the wealth of her nature, paling before the brightness of her eyes, the indefinable romance expressed in her and her surroundings.
The strangeness of the situation took the General by surprise; the ideas of ordinary life were thrown into confusion by this lofty passion and reasoning. Chill and narrow social conventions faded away before this picture. All these things the old soldier felt, and saw no less how impossible it was that his daughter should give up so wide a life, a life so variously rich, filled to the full with such passionate love. And Helene had tasted danger without shrinking; how could she return to the pretty stage, the superficial circumscribed life of society?
It was the captain who broke the silence at last.
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- 1the light upon them. They led upward. He mounted cautiously,
- 2stay in St. Louis at all, that perhaps it would be better
- 3perfect. Love! Ah, love! When the performance was ended
- 4a home in which it would find its most appropriate setting!
- 5And thus matters stood when, one hot night, Meriem, unable
- 6here I put myself to the task of showing them its charms;
- 7say nothing of my rather close friendship with the present
- 8be wishing to help me; it was always I, hard up or otherwise,
- 9damp freshness in the air of the passage, and a sort of
- 10and better my condition generally, so as to be worthy of
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- quarreled over trivial things, but there had been many
- the town in which he was eventually taken, and before that
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- or hedges under water, many fish which are left on the
- plainly warm toward me; he probably looked upon me as a