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Malbone: An Oldport Romance Thomas Wentworth Higginson

XXII. Out Of The Depths

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That ideality of nature which love had developed in this man, and which had already drooped a little during his brief period of marriage, was born again by the side of death. While Philip wandered off silent and lonely with his grief, John Lambert knelt by the beautiful remains, talking inarticulately, his eyes streaming with unchecked tears. Again was Emilia, in her marble paleness, the calm centre of a tragedy she herself had caused. The wild, ungoverned child was the image of peace; it was the stolid and prosperous man who was in the storm. It was not till Hope came that there was any change. Then his prostrate nature sought hers, as the needle leaps to the iron; the first touch of her hand, the sight of her kiss upon Emilia's forehead, made him strong. It was the thorough subjection of a worldly man to the higher organization of a noble woman, and thenceforth it never varied. In later years, after he had foolishly sought, as men will, to win her to a nearer tie, there was no moment when she had not full control over his time, his energies, and his wealth.

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After it was all ended, Hope told him everything that had happened; but in that wild moment of his despair she told him nothing. Only she and Harry knew the story of the young Swiss; and now that Emilia was gone, her early lover had no wish to speak of her to any but these two, or to linger long where she had been doubly lost to him, by marriage and by death. The world, with all its prying curiosity, usually misses the key to the very incidents about which it asks most questions; and of the many who gossiped or mourned concerning Emilia, none knew the tragic complication which her death alone could have solved. The breaking of Hope's engagement to Philip was attributed to every cause but the true one. And when the storm of the great Rebellion broke over the land, its vast calamity absorbed all minor griefs.

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Malbone: An Oldport Romance
Thomas Wentworth Higginson

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