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A Strange Story, Complete By Edward Bulwer-Lytton Characters: 2180

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

If ever my heart vowed itself to Lilian, the vow was now the most trustful and the most sacred. I had relinquished our engagement before; but then her affection seemed, no matter from what cause; so estranged from me, that though I might be miserable to lose her, I deemed that she would be unhappy in our union. Then, too, she was the gem and darling of the little world in which she lived; no whisper assailed her: now I knew that she loved me; I knew that her estrangement had been involuntary; I knew that appearances wronged her, and that they never could be explained. I was in the true position of man to woman: I was the shield, the bulwark, the fearless confiding protector! Resign her now because the world babbled, because my career might be impeded, because my good name might be impeached,-resign her, and, in that resignation, confirm all that was said against her! Could I do so, I should be the most craven of gentlemen, the meanest of men!

I went to Mrs. Ashleigh, and entreated her to hasten my union with her daughter, and fix the marriage-day.

I found the poor lad

y dejected and distressed. She was now sufficiently relieved from the absorbing anxiety for Lilian to be aware of the change on the face of that World which the woman I had just quitted personified and concentred; she had learned the cause from the bloodless lips of Miss Brabazon.

"My child! my poor child!" murmured the mother. "And she so guileless,-so sensitive! Could she know what is said, it would kill her. She would never marry you, Allen,-she would never bring shame to you!"

"She never need learn the barbarous calumny. Give her to me, and at once; patients, fortune, fame, are not found only at L--. Give her to me at once. But let me name a condition: I have a patrimonial independence, I have amassed large savings, I have my profession and my repute. I cannot touch her fortune-I cannot,-never can! Take it while you live; when you die, leave it to accumulate for her children, if children she have; not to me; not to her-unless I am dead or ruined!"

"Oh, Allen, what a heart! what a heart! No, not heart, Allen,-that bird in its cage has a heart: soul-what a soul!"

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