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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

A Wooing In Mid-Air

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"Then," said Natasha, taking a step towards him, and laying her hand on his arm as she spoke, "when you have made war impossible to the rivalry of nations and races, and have proclaimed peace on earth, then I will give myself to you, body and soul, to do with as you please, to kill or to keep alive, for then truly you will have done that which all the generations of men before you have failed to do, and it will be yours to ask and to have."

As she spoke these last words Natasha bowed her proudly-carried head as though in submission to the dictum that her own lips had pronounced; and Arnold, laying his hand on hers and holding it for a moment unresisting in his own, said--

"I accept the condition, and as you have said so shall it be. You shall hear no more words of love from my lips until the day that peace shall be proclaimed on earth and war shall be no more; and when that day comes, as it shall do, I will hold you to your words, and I will claim you and take you, body and soul, as you have said, though I break every other human tie save man's love for woman to possess you."

Natasha looked him full in the eyes as he spoke these last words. She had never heard such words before, and by their very strength and audacity they compelled her respect and even her submission. Her heart was still untamed and unconquered, and no man was its lord, yet her eyes sank before the steady gaze of his, and in a low sweet voice she answered--

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"So be it! There never was a true woman yet who did not love to meet her master. When that day comes I shall have met my master, and I will do his bidding. Till then we are friends and comrades in a common Cause to which both our lives are devoted. Is it not better that it should be so?"

"Yes, I am content. I would not take the prize before I have won it. Only answer me one question frankly, and then I have done till I may speak again."

"What is that."

"Have I a rival--not among men, for of that I am careless--but in your own heart?"

"No, none. I am heart-whole and heart-free. Win me if you can. It is a fair challenge, and I will abide by the result, be it what it may."

"That is all I ask for. If I do not win you, may Heaven do so to me that I shall have no want of the love of woman for ever!"

So saying, he raised her hand to his lips and kissed it, in token of the compact that was made between them. Then, intuitively divining that she wished to be alone, he turned away without another word, and walked to the after end of the vessel.

Natasha remained where she was for a good half-hour, leaning on the rail that surrounded the deck, and gazing out dreamily over the splendid and ever-changing scene that lay spread out beneath her. Truly it was a glorious world, as she had said, even now, cursed as it was with war and the hateful atrocities of human selfishness, and the sordid ambition of its despots.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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