The Dynamiter

Page 92

He laughed at himself; but still the gloom continued; and it was with more than the common relief of an arrival, that he leaped from the cab before the station.

Probably enough on purpose, Teresa had named an hour some thirty minutes earlier than needful; and when Harry had given the box into the charge of a porter, who sat it on a truck, he proceeded briskly to pace the platform. Presently the bookstall opened; and the young man was looking at the books when he was seized by the arm. He turned, and, though she was closely veiled, at once recognised the Fair Cuban.

'Where is it?' she asked; and the sound of her voice surprised him.

'It?' he said. 'What?'

'The box. Have it put on a cab instantly. I am in fearful haste.'

He hurried to obey, marvelling at these changes, but not daring to trouble her with questions; and when the cab had been brought round, and the box mounted on the front, she passed a little way off upon the pavement and beckoned him to follow.

'Now,' said she, still in those mechanical and hushed tones that had at first affected him, 'you must go on to Holyhead alone; go on board the steamer; and if you see a man in tartan trousers and a pink scarf, say to him that all has been put off: if not,' she added, with a sobbing sigh, 'it does not matter. So, good-bye.'

'Teresa,' said Harry, 'get into your cab, and I will go along with you. You are in some distress, perhaps some danger; and till I know the whole, not even you can make me leave you.'

'You will not?' she asked. 'O Harry, it were better!'

'I will not,' said Harry stoutly.

She looked at him for a moment through her veil; took his hand suddenly and sharply, but more as if in fear than tenderness; and still holding him, walked to the cab-door.

'Where are we to drive?' asked Harry.

'Home, quickly,' she answered; 'double fare!' And as soon as they had both mounted to their places, the vehicle crazily trundled from the station.

Teresa leaned back in a corner. The whole way Harry could perceive her tears to flow under her veil; but she vouchsafed no explanation. At the door of the house in Queen Square, both alighted; and the cabman lowered the box, which Harry, glad to display his strength, received upon his shoulders.

'Let the man take it,' she whispered. 'Let the man take it.'

'I will do no such thing,' said Harry cheerfully; and having paid the fare, he followed Teresa through the door which she had opened with her key. The landlady and maid were gone upon their morning errands; the house was empty and still; and as the rattling of the cab died away down Gloucester Street, and Harry continued to ascend the stair with his burthen, he heard close against his shoulders the same faint and muffled ticking as before. The lady, still preceding him, opened the door of her room, and helped him to lower the box tenderly in the corner by the window.

'And now,' said Harry, 'what is wrong?'

'You will not go away?' she cried, with a sudden break in her voice and beating her hands together in the very agony of impatience. 'O Harry, Harry, go away! Oh, go, and leave me to the fate that I deserve!'

'The fate?' repeated Harry. 'What is this?'

'No fate,' she resumed. 'I do not know what I am saying. But I wish to be alone. You may come back this evening, Harry; come again when you like; but leave me now, only leave me now!' And then suddenly, 'I have an errand,' she exclaimed; 'you cannot refuse me that!'

'No,' replied Harry, 'you have no errand. You are in grief or danger. Lift your veil and tell me what it is.'

'Then,' she said, with a sudden composure, 'you leave but one course open to me.' And raising the veil, she showed him a countenance from which every trace of colour had fled, eyes marred with weeping, and a brow on which resolve had conquered fear. 'Harry,' she began, 'I am not what I seem.'

'You have told me that before,' said Harry, 'several times.'

'O Harry, Harry,' she cried, 'how you shame me! But this is the God's truth.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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