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Chapter I
 To and fro, like a wild creature in its cage, paced that handsome woman, with bent1 head, locked hands, and restless steps. Some mental storm, swift and sudden as a tempest of the tropics, had swept over her and left its marks behind. As if in anger at the beauty now proved powerless, all ornaments3 had been flung away, yet still it shone undimmed, and filled her with a passionate4 regret. A jewel glittered at her feet, leaving the lace rent to shreds5 on the indignant bosom6 that had worn it; the wreaths of hair that had crowned her with a woman's most womanly adornment7 fell disordered upon shoulders that gleamed the fairer for the scarlet8 of the pomegranate flowers clinging to the bright meshes9 that had imprisoned10 them an hour ago; and over the face, once so affluent11 in youthful bloom, a stern pallor had fallen like a blight12, for pride was slowly conquering passion, and despair had murdered hope.  
Pausing in her troubled march, she swept away the curtain swaying in the wind and looked out, as if imploring13 help from Nature, the great mother of us all. A summer moon rode high in a cloudless heaven, and far as eye could reach stretched the green wilderness14 of a Cuban cafetal. No forest, but a tropical orchard15, rich in lime, banana, plantain, palm, and orange trees, under whose protective shade grew the evergreen16 coffee plant, whose dark-red berries are the fortune of their possessor, and the luxury of one-half the world. Wide avenues diverging17 from the mansion18, with its belt of brilliant shrubs19 and flowers, formed shadowy vistas20, along which, on the wings of the wind, came a breath of far-off music, like a wooing voice; for the magic of night and distance lulled21 the cadence22 of a Spanish contradanza to a trance of sound, soft, subdued23, and infinitely24 sweet. It was a southern scene, but not a southern face that looked out upon it with such unerring glance; there was no southern languor25 in the figure, stately and erect26; no southern swarthiness on fairest cheek and arm; no southern darkness in the shadowy gold of the neglected hair; the light frost of northern snows lurked27 in the features, delicately cut, yet vividly28 alive, betraying a temperament29 ardent30, dominant31, and subtle. For passion burned in the deep eyes, changing their violet to black. Pride sat on the forehead, with its dark brows; all a woman's sweetest spells touched the lips, whose shape was a smile; and in the spirited carriage of the head appeared the freedom of an intellect ripened32 under colder skies, the energy of a nature that could wring33 strength from suffering, and dare to act where feebler souls would only dare desire.
Standing34 thus, conscious only of the wound that bled in that high heart of hers, and the longing35 that gradually took shape and deepened to a purpose, an alien presence changed the tragic36 atmosphere of that still room and woke her from her dangerous mood. A wonderfully winning guise37 this apparition38 wore, for youth, hope, and love endowed it with the charm that gives beauty to the plainest, while their reign40 endures. A boy in any other climate, in this his nineteen years had given him the stature41 of a man; and Spain, the land of romance, seemed embodied42 in this figure, full of the lithe43 slenderness of the whispering palms overhead, the warm coloring of the deep-toned flowers sleeping in the room, the native grace of the tame antelope44 lifting its human eyes to his as he lingered on the threshold in an attitude eager yet timid, watching that other figure as it looked into the night and found no solace45 there.
She turned as if her thought had taken voice and answered her, regarded him a moment, as if hesitating to receive the granted wish, then beckoned46 with the one word.
Instantly the fear vanished, the ardor47 deepened, and with an imperious “Lie down!” to his docile48 attendant, the young man obeyed with equal docility49, looking as wistfully toward his mistress as the brute50 toward her master, while he waited proudly humble51 for her commands.
“Manuel, why are you here?”
“Forgive me! I saw Dolores bring a letter; you vanished, an hour passed, I could wait no longer, and I came.”
“I am glad, I needed my one friend. Read that.”
She offered a letter, and with her steady eyes upon him, her purpose strengthening as she looked, stood watching the changes of that expressive52 countenance53. This was the letter:
Six months ago I left you, promising54 to return and take you home my wife; I loved you, but I deceived you; for though my heart was wholly yours, my hand was not mine to give. This it was that haunted me through all that blissful summer, this that marred55 my happiness when you owned you loved me, and this drove me from you, hoping I could break the tie with which I had rashly bound myself. I could not, I am married, and there all ends. Hate me, forget me, solace your pride with the memory that none knew your wrong, assure your peace with the knowledge that mine is destroyed forever, and leave my punishment to remorse56 and time.
With a gesture of wrathful contempt, Manuel flung the paper from him as he flashed a look at his companion, muttering through his teeth, “Traitor57! Shall I kill him?”
Pauline laughed low to herself, a dreary58 sound, but answered with a slow darkening of the face that gave her words an ominous59 significance. “Why should you? Such revenge is brief and paltry60, fit only for mock tragedies or poor souls who have neither the will to devise nor the will to execute a better. There are fates more terrible than death; weapons more keen than poniards, more noiseless than pistols. Women use such, and work out a subtler vengeance61 than men can conceive. Leave Gilbert to remorse—and me.”
She paused an instant, and by some strong effort banished62 the black frown from her brow, quenched63 the baleful fire of her eyes, and left nothing visible but the pale determination that made her beautiful face more eloquent64 than her words.
“Manuel, in a week I leave the island.”
“Alone, Pauline?”
“No, not alone.”
A moment they looked into each other's eyes, each endeavoring to read the other. Manuel saw some indomitable purpose, bent on conquering all obstacles. Pauline saw doubt, desire, and hope; knew that a word would bring the ally she needed; and, with a courage as native to her as her pride, resolved to utter it.
Seating herself, she beckoned her companion to assume the place beside her, but for the first time he hesitated. Something in the unnatural65 calmness of her manner troubled him, for his southern temperament was alive to influences whose presence would have been unfelt by one less sensitive. He took the cushion at her feet, saying, half tenderly, half reproachfully, “Let me keep my old place till I know in what character I am to fill the new. The man you trusted has deserted66 you; the boy you pitied will prove loyal. Try him, Pauline.”
“I will.”
And with the bitter smile unchanged upon her lips, the low voice unshaken in its tones, the deep eyes unwavering in their gaze, Pauline went on:
“You know my past, happy as a dream till eighteen. Then all was swept away, home, fortune, friends, and I was left, like an unfledged bird, without even the shelter of a cage. For five years I have made my life what I could, humble, honest, but never happy, till I came here, for here I saw Gilbert. In the poor companion of your guardian's daughter he seemed to see the heiress I had been, and treated me as such. This flattered my pride and touched my heart. He was kind, I grateful; then he loved me, and God knows how utterly67 I loved him! A few months of happiness the purest, then he went to make home ready for me, and I believed him; for where I wholly love I wholly trust. While my own peace was undisturbed, I learned to read the language of your eyes............
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