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Malbone: An Oldport Romance Thomas Wentworth Higginson

XVII. Discovery

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When they reached Hope's door, she turned and put out her arms for Emilia, as for a child. Every expression had now gone from Hope's face but a sort of stony calmness, which put her infinitely farther from Malbone than had the momentary struggle. As he gave the girlish form into arms that shook and trembled beneath its weight, he caught a glimpse in the pier-glass of their two white faces, and then, looking down, saw the rose-tints yet lingering on Emilia's cheek. She, the source of all this woe, looked the only representative of innocence between two guilty things.

How white and pure and maidenly looked Hope's little room,--such a home of peace, he thought, till its door suddenly opened to admit all this passion and despair! There was a great sheaf of cardinal flowers on the table, and their petals were drooping, as if reluctant to look on him. Scheffer's Christus Consolator was upon the walls, and the benign figure seemed to spread wider its arms of mercy, to take in a few sad hearts more.

Hope bore Emilia into the light and purity and warmth, while Malbone was shut out into the darkness and the chill. The only two things to which he clung on earth, the two women between whom his unsteady heart had vibrated, and both whose lives had been tortured by its vacillation, went away from his sight together, the one victim bearing the other victim in her arms. Never any more while he lived would either of them be his again; and had Dante known it for his last glimpse of things immortal when the two lovers floated away from him in their sad embrace, he would have had no such sense of utter banishment as had Malbone then.

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Malbone: An Oldport Romance
Thomas Wentworth Higginson

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