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A Lady of Quality Frances Hodgson Burnett

"In One who will do justice, and demands that it shall be done to each thing He has made, by each who bears His image"

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"His Grace knew what I came to do and how I should do it," the duchess said, unbending still. "But for affairs of State which held him, he would have been here at my side."

She held her place throughout the second night, and that was worse than the first--the paroxysms growing more and more awful; for Jack was within a yard, and stretched out a green and mouldy hand, the finger-bones showing through the flesh, the while he smiled awfully.

At last one pealing scream rang out after another, until after making his shuddering body into an arc resting on heels and head, the madman fell exhausted, his flesh all quaking before the eye. Then the duchess waved the men who helped, away. She sat upon the bed's edge close--close to her father's body, putting her two firm hands on either of his shoulders, holding him so, and bent down, looking into his wild face, as if she fixed upon his very soul all the power of her wondrous will.

"Father," she said, "look at my face. Thou canst if thou wilt. Look at my face. Then wilt thou see 'tis Clo--and she will stand by thee."

She kept her gaze upon his very pupils; and though 'twas at first as if his eyes strove to break away from her look, their effort was controlled by her steadfastness, and they wandered back at last, and her great orbs held them. He heaved a long breath, half a big, broken sob, and lay still, staring up at her.

"Ay," he said, "'tis Clo! 'tis Clo!"

The sweat began to roll from his forehead, and the tears down his cheeks. He broke forth, wailing like a child.

"Clo--Clo," he said, "I am in hell."

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She put her hand on his breast, keeping will and eyes set on him.

"Nay," she answered; "thou art on earth, and in thine own bed, and I am here, and will not leave thee."

She made another sign to the men who stood and stared aghast in wonder at her, but feeling in the very air about her the spell to which the madness had given way.

"'Twas not mere human woman who sat there," they said afterwards in the stables among their fellows. "'Twas somewhat more. Had such a will been in an evil thing a man's hair would have risen on his skull at the seeing of it."

"Go now," she said to them, "and send women to set the place in order."

She had seen delirium and death enough in the doings of her deeds of mercy, to know that his strength had gone and death was coming. His bed and room were made orderly, and at last he lay in clean linen, with all made straight. Soon his eyes seemed to sink into his head and stare from hollows, and his skin grew grey, but ever he stared only at his daughter's face.

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A Lady of Quality
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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