A Spinner in the Sun (Chapter 7, page 2 of 7)

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Chapter 7

By the way, what had he done with the necklace? He remembered now. He had thrown it far into the shrubbery, for the pearls were dead and the love was dead.

"First from the depths of the sea and then from the depths of my love." The mocking words, written in faded ink on the yellowed slip of paper, danced impishly across the pages of Ralph's letters. He had a curious fancy that if his love had been deep enough the pearls would not have turned black.

Impatiently, he rose from the table and paced back and forth restlessly across the library. "I'm a fool," he growled; "a doddering old fool. No, that's not it--I've worked too hard."

Valiantly he strove to dispel the phantoms that clustered about him. A light step behind him chimed in with his as he walked and he feared to look around, not knowing it was but the echo of his own.

He went to a desk in the corner of the room and opened a secret drawer that had not been opened for a long time. He took out a photograph, wrapped in yellowed tissue paper, and went back to the table. He unwrapped it, his blunt white fingers trembling ever so slightly, and sat down.

A face of surpassing loveliness looked back at him. It was Evelina, at the noon of her girlish beauty, her face alight with love. Anthony Dexter looked long at the perfect features, the warm, sweet, tempting mouth, the great, trusting eyes, and the brown hair that waved so softly back from her face; the all-pervading and abiding womanliness. There was strength as well as beauty; tenderness, courage, charm.

"Mate for a man," said Dexter, aloud. For such women as Evelina, the knights of old did battle, and men of other centuries fought with their own temptations and weaknesses. It was such as she who led men to the heights, and pointed them to heights yet farther on.

Insensibly, he compared Ralph's mother with Evelina. The two women stood as far apart as a little, meaningless song stands from a great symphony. One would fire a man with high ambition, exalt him with noble striving--ah, but had she? Was it Evelina's fault that Anthony Dexter was a coward and a shirk? Cravenly, he began to blame the woman, to lay the burden of his own shortcomings at Evelina's door.

Yet still the face stirred him. There was life in those walled fastnesses of his nature which long ago he had denied. Self-knowledge at last confronted him, and would not be put away.

"And so, Evelina," he said aloud, "you have come back. And what do you want? What can I do for you?"

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