Beth Norvell (Chapter 4, page 2 of 9)

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Chapter 4

It did not once occur to his mind that such artifices might be directed
as much toward herself as him; he lacked the conceit which could have
convinced him that they merely marked a secret struggle for mastery, a
desperate effort to crush an inclination to surrender before the
temptation of the moment. It was a battle for deliverance being fought
silently behind a mask of smiles, an exchange of sparkling commonplace;
yet ever beneath this surface play she was breathing a fervent prayer
that he would go away of his own volition and leave her free. Far more
clearly than he, the woman recognized the utter impossibility of any
serious purpose between them, and she fought his advances with every
weapon in her armory, her very soul trembling behind the happy smiling
of her lips. It was bravely attempted, and yet those dull weapons of
defence served merely to increase his interest, to awaken his passion,
and thus bind him more strongly to her. Safe once again from general
observation, he returned to the obscurity of the wings and to the
routine handling of trunks and scenery, feeling totally unable to
permit her to pass entirely out of his life. Within her own room she
dampened her pillow with tears of regret and remorse, yet finally she
sank to sleep strangely happy because he lingered. It was the way of a
woman; it was no less the way of a man.

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