An Ambitious Man (Chapter 4, page 3 of 5)


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Chapter 4

As the young editor looked upon the girl before him, a passion of
yearning love took possession of him. A wild desire to seize her in
his arms and cover her pale face with kisses, made his heart throb to
suffocation and brought cold beads to his brow; and just as these
feelings gained an almost uncontrollable dominion over his reason,
will and judgment, the girl awoke and started to her feet in
confusion.

"Oh, Mr Cheney, pray forgive me!" she cried, looking more beautiful
than ever with the flush which overspread her face. "I came in to
ask about a word in your editorial which I could not decipher. I
waited for you, as I felt sure you would be in shortly--and I was so
TIRED I sat down for just a second to rest--and that is all I knew
about it. You must forgive me, sir!--I did not mean to intrude."

Her confusion, her appealing eyes, her magnetic voice were all fuel
to the fire raging in the young man's heart. Now that she was for
ever lost to him through his own deliberate action, she seemed
tenfold more dear and to be desired. Brain, soul, and body all
seemed to crave her; he took a step forward, and drew in a quick
breath as if to speak; and then a sudden sense of his own danger, and
an overwhelming disgust for his weakness swept over him, and the
intense passion the girl had aroused in his heart changed to
unreasonable anger.

"Miss Dumont," he said coldly, "I think we will have to dispense with
your services after to-night. Your duties are evidently too hard for
you. You can leave the office at any time you wish. Good-night."

The girl shrank as if he had struck her, looked up at him with wide,
wondering eyes, waited for a moment as if expecting to be recalled,
then, as Mr Cheney wheeled his chair about and turned his back upon
her, she suddenly sped away without a word.

She left the office a few moments later; but it was not until after
eleven o'clock that she dragged herself up two flights of stairs
toward her room on the attic floor at the Palace. She had been
walking the streets like a mad creature all that intervening time,
trying to still the agonising pain in her heart. Preston Cheney had
long been her ideal of all that was noble, grand and good, she
worshipped him as devout pagans worshipped their sacred idols; and,
without knowing it, she gave him the absorbing passion which an
intense woman gives to her lover.

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