Adrien Leroy (Chapter 6, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 6

Love is the universal epidemic, effectual in all climes and conditions;
there is no inoculation that will secure exemption from its influence;
only given a warm human heart, and there is the natural susceptibility.

So it is from high to low. The little blind god takes no count of
difference in fortune or rank in life. Dynasties fall, thrones totter to
the ground, crowns tumble to dust on kingly heads; but love rules and
lives on, immortal, triumphant, unconquerable.

Jessica had never heard of Romeo and Juliet, of Faust and Marguerite, or
King Cophetua and the beggar maid. All she knew was that she loved, was
conscious only that for a kind word from the lips of the man who had
befriended her, for a glance from those dark eyes; she would gladly have
given up all the other glories the world could have put before her.

Poor Jessica, how sweet and yet how bitter had been the awakening in
that gilded cabinet. How sweet to find herself there in reality, and not
only in a dream; how bitter to know that she had no right there and that
she must go!

That splendid golden room, with, all the wonderful undreamt-of things,
was not for her. She looked down at her wet, dirt-stained dress, at her
worn, ragged shoes, at her cold, red hands, and shuddered. She had no
right there. Should she take advantage of his goodness to remain and
sully the beauty of his palace--for to her it seemed little less--by her
unworthy presence? No, woman-child as she was, she shrank from the
thought; then caught up her hat and arose, resolute.

"He will think me ungrateful," she murmured with half-closed eyes. "He
will think--no matter, he will forget me before half an hour. I will go
back to Johann and chance the beating. This is no place for one like
me."

With a little graceful gesture she bent over the mantel and pressed her
lips to the spot where Adrien had rested his arm; then with noiseless
steps she stole from the room.

The sun was breaking through the morning mist, but she shivered as its
warm rays touched her, and with a weary sigh turned towards Soho.

It was all over, the little patch of fairy-light in the dreary darkness
of her existence, and as she reminded herself of this fact she shuddered
again.

Looking back, she remembered but little beyond the days she had passed
with Johann and his shrewish wife. This strange adventure had been the
first ray of sunshine in her poor existence. No wonder that she was
unhappy at parting with it.

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