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HOME > Classical Novels > Love Among the Ruins > CHAPTER 5
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 Silence fell between them for a season, a silence deep and intangible as the darkness of the woods. The man's mood had recovered its subtle calm, even as a pool that has been stirred momentarily by the plashing of a stone sinks into rippleless . He sat with folded arms before the of the fire, watching the girl under his heavy brows.  
She was very fair to look upon, slim, yet spirited as a band of steel. Her ears shone out from her dusky hair like apple blossoms in a mist of leaves. Her lips were blood-red, sensitive, clean as the of a rose. Her great grief had chastened her. From the curve of her neck to the delicate strength of her white hands, she was as rich an idyll as a man could desire.
Fulviac considered her with a thought that leant towards her beauty. He had grown weary of love in his time; the passions of youth had burnt to dry ashes; possibly he had been luckless in his knowledge of the sex. He had married a wife of birth, a lady with a sharp nose and a lipless mouth, eyes of green, and a most unholy temper. She was dead, had been dead many years. The man had no desire to meet her again in heaven. As for this girl, he had need of her for revolutionary reasons, and his mood to her was more that of a father. Her spirit pleased him. Moreover, he knew what he knew.
Gazing at the flames, he spread his hands to them, and entered again on the confines of debate. His voice had the steady, of a bell a curfew. Its tone was that of a man not willing to be .
"Therefore, madame, I would have you understand that I desire in some measure to be a to the human race."
"I take your word for it," she answered him.
"That I am an ambitious man, somewhat vain towards fame, one that can glow in soul."
"A human sun."
"That loves to be thought great through warming the universe."
"Madame, you are epigrammatic."
"Or enigmatic, messire."
"As you will," he answered her; "your womanhood makes you an ; it is your birthright. Understand that I possess power."
"Fifty cut-throats tied to a purse."
"Consider me a serious figure in the world's sum."
"As you will, messire. You are an , a leader of fifty vagabonds, a man with ideals as to the establishing of justice. You are going to the country. Very good. I have learnt my lesson. But how is all this going to help me out of the wood?"
Fulviac took his sword, and balanced it upon his wrist. The red light from the fire flashed on the swaying steel.
"Our hopes are more near of , madame, than you imagine."
"Flavian of Gambrevault's raiders burnt your home, your father, your brethren. This happened but a day ago. You do not love this Flavian of Gambrevault."
Her whole figure spasmodically as at the of a sword. Her eyes, with widely open pupils, flashed up to Fulviac's face. She questioned him through her set teeth with a whisper of desire.
"How do you know this?"
His face ; the arm bearing the sword was steady as the limb of an oak.
"I am wiser in many ways than you imagine," he said. "Look at me, I am no longer young; I hate women; I patronise God. You are a child; to you life is dark and as this of pines. Your trouble is known to me, because it is my business to know of such things. It was my deliberate intent that you should fall into my hands to-day."
The girl was still astonied. She stared at him mutely with eyes. The man and his philosophy were beyond her for the moment.
"Well?" she said to him with a quaver of .
"First, you will honour me by saying that I have your trust."
"How may I promise you that?"
"Because I am surety for my own honour."
She smiled in his face despite the occasion.
"You seem very sure of your own soul," she said.
"Madame, it has taken me ten years to come by so admirable a state. Self-knowledge carried to the depths, builds up self-trust. I may take it for granted that you hate the Lord Flavian of Gambrevault?"
"Need you ask that!"
Her eyes echoed the mood of the flame. Fulviac, watching her, saw the strong of twisting her delicate features for the moment into pathetic ugliness.
"You have courage," he said to her.
"Ample, messire."
"Flavian of Gambrevault is the greatest lord in the south."
"I am as wise."
"On that score, this Flavian and Fulviac of the Forest are as day and night."
The man stood his sword pommel in the grass, and ran on.
"Some day I shall this same Flavian of Gambrevault. His blood will the blood of these your kinsfolk. Therefore, madame, you will be my ."
"That is all?" she asked him with a wistfulness in her voice that was even piteous.
Fulviac looked long into the fire like a man whose thoughts channel under the crust of years. Pity for the girl had gone to the heart under the steel cuirass, a pity that was not the of desire. His eyes took a new meaning into their keen depths; he looked to have grown suddenly younger by some years. When he again, his voice had lost its half-mocking and confidence. It was the voice of a man who strides generous and eager into the of fate.
"Listen," he said to her, "I may tell you that your sorrow has armed my manhood. Give me my due; I am more than a mere vagabond. You have been cruelly dealt with; I take your cause upon the cross of my sword."
"You, messire?"
"Even so. I need a good woman, a brave woman. You please me."
"You are a necessity to me."
"And why, messire?"
"For a matter of religion and of justice. Trust to my honour. You shall learn more in due season."
Yeoland, with incredulity, stared at the man in mute . Here was an amazing circumstance--robbery idealised, soul, body, purse, at one bold . In her mystification, she could find nothing to say to the man for the moment, even though he had promised her a refuge.
"You are very sure of yourself," she said at length.
"I am a man."
"Yet you leave me in ignorance."
"Madame, we are to undertake great deeds together, great . I could hold up an astonishing future to your eyes, but for the present I keep silence. Rest assured that you shall be accorded such honour as the herself could desire. Remember that I give you promise of , and a home."
The girl drew a deep breath, as though taking the spirit of the hour into her .
"If I refuse?" she said to him.
"You cannot refuse," came the level retort.
"And why, messire?"
"Your consent, though pleasant, is not necessary in the matter. I have long ago to appropriate you to my ambition."

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