"O Freude, habe Acht! Sprich leise, Dass nicht der Schmerz erwacht!"
It was late on the afternoon of the day that Helen's father had left for home, and David was going into the village with some letters to mail. Helen was not feeling very well herself and could not go, but she insisted upon his going, for she watched over his exercise and other matters of health with scrupulous care. She had wrapped him up in a heavy overcoat, and was kneeling beside his chair with her arms about him.
"Tell me, dear," she asked him, for the third or fourth time, "are you sure this will be enough to keep you warm?--for the nights are so very cold, you know; I do not like you to come back alone anyway."
"I don't think you would be much of a protection against danger," laughed David.
"But it will be dark when you get back, dear."
"It will only be about dusk," was the reply; "I don't mind that."
Helen gazed at him wistfully for a minute, and then she went on: "Do you not know what is the matter with me, David? You frightened me to-day, and I cannot forget what you said. Each time that it comes to my mind it makes me shudder. Why should you say such fearful things to me?"
"I am very sorry," said the other, gently.
"You simply must not talk to me so!" cried the girl; "if you do you will make me so that I cannot bear to leave you for an instant. For those thoughts make my love for you simply desperate, David; I cry out to myself that I never have loved you enough, never told you enough!" And then she added pleadingly, "But oh, you know that I love you, do you not, dear? Tell me."
"Yes, I know it," said the other gently, taking her in his arms and kissing her.
"Come back soon," Helen went on, "and I will tell you once more how much I do; and then we can be happy again, and I won't be afraid any more. Please let me be happy, won't you, David?"
"Yes, love, I will," said the man with a smile. "I do not think that I was wise ever to trouble you."
Helen was silent for a while, then as a sudden thought occurred to her she added: "David, I meant to tell you something--do you know if those horrible thoughts keep haunting me, it is just this that they will make me do; you said that God was very good, and so I was thinking that I would show him how very much I love you, how I could really never get along without you, and how I care for nothing else in the world. It seems to me to be such a little thing, that we should only just want to love; and truly, that is all I do want,--I would not mind anything else in the world,--I would go away from this little house and live in any poor place, and do all the work, and never care about anything else at all, if I just might have you. That is really true, David, and I wish that you would know it, and that God would know it, and not expect me to think of such dreadful things as you talk of."
As David gazed into her deep, earnest eyes he pressed her to him with a sudden burst of emotion. "You have me now, dearest," he whispered, "and oh, I shall trust the God who gave me this precious heart!"--He kissed her once more in fervent love, and kissed her again and again until the clouds had left her face. She leaned back and gazed at him, and was radiant with delight again. "Oh--oh--oh!" she cried. "David, it only makes me more full of wonder at the real truth! For it is the truth, David, it is the truth--that you are all mine! It is so wonderful, and it makes me so happy,--I seem to lose myself more in the thought every day!"
"You can never lose yourself too much, little sweetheart," David whispered; "let us trust to love, and let it grow all that it will. Helen, I never knew what it was to live until I met you,--never knew how life could be so full and rich and happy. And never, never will I be able to tell you how much I love you, dearest soul."
"Oh, but I believe you without being told!" she said, laughing. "Do you know, I could make myself quite mad just with saying over to myself that you love me all that I could ever wish you to love me, all that I could imagine you loving me! Isn't that true, David?"
"Yes, that is true," the man replied.
"But you don't know what a wonderful imagination I have," laughed the girl, "and how hungry for your love I am." And she clasped him to her passionately and cried, "David, you can make me too happy to live with that thought! I shall have to think about it all the time that you are gone, and when you come back I shall be so wonderfully excited,--oh--oh, David!"
Then she laughed eagerly and sprang up. "You must not stay any longer," she exclaimed, "because it is getting late; only hurry back, because I can do nothing but wait for you." And so she led him to the door, and kissed him again, and then watched him as he started up the road. He turned and looked at her, as she leaned against the railing of the porch, with the glory of the sunset falling upon her hair; she made a radiant picture, for her cheeks were still flushed, and her bosom still heaving with the glory of the thought she had promised to keep. There was so much of her love in the look which she kept upon David that it took some resolution to go on. and leave her.
As for Helen, she watched him until he had quite disappeared in the forest, after which she turned and gazed across the lake at the gold and crimson mountains. But all the time she was still thinking the thought of David's love; the wonder of it was still upon her face, and it seemed to lift her form; until at last she stretched wide her arms, and leaned back her head, and drank a deep draft of the evening air, whispering aloud, "Oh, I do not dare to be as happy as I can!" And she clasped her arms upon her bosom and laughed a wild laugh of joy.
Later on, because it was cold, she turned and went into the house, singing a song to herself as she moved. As she went to the piano and sat down she saw upon the rack the little springtime song of Grieg's that was the first thing she had ever heard upon David's violin; she played a few bars of it to herself, and then she stopped and sat still, lost in the memory which it brought to her mind of the night when she had sat at the window and listened to it, just after seeing Arthur for the last time. "And to think that it was only four or five months ago!" she whispered to herself. "And how wretched I was!"
"I do not believe I could ever be so unhappy again," she went on after a while, "I know that I could not, while I have David!" after which her thoughts came back into the old, old course of joy. When she looked at the music again the memory of her grief was gone, and she read in it all of her own love-glory. She played it through again, and afterwards sat quite still, until the twilight had begun to gather in the room.
Helen then rose and lit the lamp, and the fire in the open fire-place; she glanced at the clock and saw that more than a quarter of an hour had passed, and she said to herself that it could not be more than that time again before David was back.
"I should go out and meet him if I were feeling quite strong," she added as she went to the door and looked out; then she exclaimed suddenly: "But oh, I know how I can please him better!" And the girl went to the table where some of her books were lying, and sat down and began very diligently studying, glancing every half minute at the clock and at the door. "I shall be too busy even to hear him!" she said, with a sudden burst of glee; and quite delighted with the effect that would produce she listened eagerly every time she fancied she heard a step, and then fixed her eyes upon the book, and put on a look of most complete absorption.
Unfortunately for Helen's plan, however, each time it proved to be a false alarm; and so the fifteen minutes passed completely, and then five, and five again. The girl had quite given up studying by that time, and was gazing at the clock, and listening to its ticking, and wondering very much indeed. At last when more than three-quarters of an hour had passed since David had left, she got up and went to the door once more to listen; as she did not hear anything she went out on the piazza, and finally to the road. All about her was veiled in shadow, which her eyes strove in vain to pierce; and so growing still more impatient she raised her voice and called, "David, David!" and then stood and listened to the rustling of the leaves and the faint lapping of the water on the shore.
"That is very strange," Helen thought, growing very anxious indeed; "it is fearfully strange! What in the world can have happened?" And she called again, with no more result that before; until with a sudden resolution she turned and passed quickly into the house, and flinging a wrap about her, came out and started down the road. Occasionally she raised her voice and shouted David's name, but still she got no reply, and her anxiety soon changed into alarm, and she was hurrying along, almost in a run. In this way she climbed the long ascent which the road made from the lake shore; and when she had reached the top of it she gathered her breath and shouted once more, louder and more excitedly than ever.
This time she heard the expected reply, and found that David was only a few rods ahead of her. "What is the matter?" she called to him, and as he answered that it was nothing, but to come to him, she ran on more alarmed than ever.
There was just light enough for her to see that David was bending down; and then as she got very near she saw that on the ground in front of him was lying a dark, shadowy form. As Helen cried out again to know what was the matter, her husband said, "Do not be frightened, dear; it is only some poor woman that I have found here by the roadside."
"A woman!" the girl echoed in wonder, at the same time giving a gasp of relief at the discovery that her husband was not in trouble. "Where in the world can she have come from, David?"
"I do not know," he answered, "but she probably wandered off the main road. It is some poor, wretched creature, Helen; she has been drinking, and is quite helpless."
And Helen stood still in horror, while David arose and came to her. "You are out of breath, dear," he exclaimed, "why did you come so fast?"
"Oh, I was so frightened!" the girl panted. "I cannot tell you, David, what happens in my heart whenever I think of your coming to any harm. It was dreadful, for I knew something serious must be the matter."
David put his arm about her and kissed her to quiet her fears; then he said, "You ought not to have come out, dear; but be calm now, for there is nothing to worry you, only we must take care of this poor woman. It is such a sad sight, Helen; I wish that you had not come here."
"What were you going to do?" asked the girl, forgetting herself quickly in her sympathy.
"I meant to come down and tell you," was David's reply; "and then go back to town and get someone to come and take her away."
"But, David, you can never get back over that rough road in the darkness!" exclaimed Helen in alarm; "it is too far for you to walk, even in the daytime--I will not let you do it, you must not!"
"But dear, this poor creature cannot be left here; it will be a bitter cold night, and she might die."
Helen was silent for a moment in thought, and then she said in a low, trembling voice: "David, there is only one thing to do."
"What is that, dear?" asked the other.
"We will have to take her home with us."
"Do you know what you are saying?" asked the other with a start; "that would be a fearful thing to do, Helen."
"I cannot help it," she replied, "it is the only thing. And it would be wicked not to be willing to do that, because she is a woman."
"She is in a fearful way, dear," said the other, hesitatingly; "and to ask you to take care of her--"
"I would do anything sooner than let you take that walk in such darkness as this!" was the girl's reply; and with that statement she silenced all of his objections.
And so at last David pressed her hand, and whispered, "Very well, dear, God will bless you for it." Then for a while the two stood in silence, until Helen asked, "Do you think that we can carry her, poor creature?"
"We may try it," the other replied; and Helen went and knelt by the prostrate figure. The woman was muttering to herself, but she seemed to be quite dazed, and not to know what was going on about her. Helen did not hesitate any longer, but bent over and strove to lift her; the woman was fortunately of a slight build, and seemed to be very thin, so that with David's help it was easy to raise her to her feet. It was a fearful task none the less, for the poor wretch was foul with the mud in which she had been lying, and her wet hair was streaming over her shoulders; as Helen strove to lift her up the head sunk over upon her, but the girl bit her lips together grimly. She put her arm about the woman's waist, and David did the same on the other side, and so the three started, stumbling slowly along in the darkness.
"Are you sure that it is not too much for you?" David asked; "we can stop whenever you like, Helen."
"No, let us go on," the girl said; "she has almost no weight, and we must not leave her out here in the cold. Her hands are almost frozen now."
They soon made their way on down to where the lights of the little cottage shone through the trees. David could not but shrink back as he thought of taking their wretched burden into their little home, but he heard the woman groan feebly, and he was ashamed of his thought. Nothing more was said until they had climbed the steps, not without difficulty, and had deposited their burden upon the floor of the sitting room; after which David rose and sank back into a chair, for the strain had been a heavy one for him.
Helen also sprang up as she gazed at the figure; the woman was foul with every misery that disease and sin can bring upon a human creature, her clothing torn to shreds and her face swollen and stained. She was half delirious, and clawing about her with her shrunken, quivering hands, so that Helen exclaimed in horror: "Oh God, that is the most dreadful sight I have ever seen in my life!"
"Come away," said the other, raising himself from the chair; "it is not right that you should look at such things."
But with Helen it was only a moment before her pity had overcome every other emotion; she knelt down by the stranger and took one of the cold hands and began chafing it. "Poor, poor woman!" she exclaimed; "oh, what misery you must have suffered! David, what can a woman do to be punished like this? It is fearful!"
It was a strange picture which the two made at that moment, the woman in her cruel misery, and the girl in her pure and noble beauty. But Helen had no more thought of shrinking, for all her soul had gone out to the unfortunate stranger, and she kept on trying to bring her back to consciousness. "Oh, David," she said, "what can we do to help her? It is too much that any human being should be like this,--she would have died if we had not found her." And then as the other opened her eyes and struggled to lift herself, Helen caught an incoherent word and said, "I think she is thirsty, David; get some water and perhaps that will help her. We must find some way to comfort her, for this is too horrible to be. And perhaps it is not her fault, you know,--who knows but perhaps some man may have been the cause of it all? Is it not dreadful to think of, David?"
So the girl went on; her back was turned to her husband, and she was engrossed in her task of mercy, and did not see what he was doing. She did not see that he had started forward in his chair and was staring at the woman; she did not see him leaning forward, farther and farther, with a strange look upon his face. But there was something she did see at last, as the woman lifted herself again and stared first at Helen's own pitying face, and then vaguely about the room, and last of all gazing at David. Suddenly she stretched out her arms to him and strove to rise, with a wild cry that made Helen leap back in consternation:--"David! It's David!"
And at the same instant David sprang up with what was almost a scream of horror; he reeled and staggered backwards against the wall, clutching with his hands at his forehead, his face a ghastly, ashen gray; and as Helen sprang up and ran towards him, he sank down upon his knees with a moan, gazing up into the air with a look of agony upon his face. "My God! My God!" he gasped; "it is my Mary!"
And Helen sank down beside him, clutching him by the arm, and staring at him in terror. "David, David!" she whispered, in a hoarse voice. But the man seemed not to hear her, so overwhelmed was he by his own emotion. "It is Mary," he cried out again,--"it is my Mary!--oh God, have mercy upon my soul!" And then a shudder passed over him, and he buried his face in his arms and fell down upon the floor, with Helen, almost paralyzed with fright, still clinging to him.
In the meantime the woman had still been stretching out her trembling arms to him, crying his name again and again; as she sank back exhausted the man started up and rushed toward her, clutching her by the hand, and exclaiming frantically, "Mary, Mary, it is I--speak to me!" But the other's delirium seemed to have returned, and she only stared at him blankly. At last David staggered to his feet and began pacing wildly up and down, hiding his face in his hands, and crying helplessly, "Oh, God, that this should come to me now! Oh, how can I bear it--oh, Mary, Mary!"
He sank down upon the sofa again and burst into fearful sobbing; Helen, who had still been kneeling where he left her, rushed toward him and flung her arms about him, crying out, "David, David, what is the matter? David, you will kill me; what is it?"
And he started and stared at her wildly, clutching her arm. "Helen," he gasped, "listen to me! I ruined that woman! Do you hear me?--do you hear me? It was I who betrayed her--I who made her what she is! _I--I!_ Oh, leave me,--leave me alone--oh, what can I do?"
Then as the girl still clung to him, sobbing his name in terror, the man went on, half beside himself with his grief, "Oh, think of it--oh, how can I bear to know it and live? Twenty-three years ago, --and it comes back to curse me now! And all these years I have been living and forgetting it--and been happy, and talking of my goodness--oh God, and this fearful madness upon the earth! And I made it--I--and _she_ has had to pay for it! Oh, look at her, Helen, look at her--think that that foulness is mine! She was beautiful,--she was pure,--and she might have been happy, she would have been good, but for me! Oh God in heaven, where can I hide myself, what can I do?"
Helen was still clutching at his arm, crying to him, "David, spare me!" He flung her off in a mad frenzy, holding her at arm's length, and staring at her with a fearful light in his eyes. "Girl, girl!" he cried, "do you know who I am--do you know what I have done? This girl was like you once, and I made her love me--made her love me with the sacred fire that God had given me, made her love me as I made _you_ love me! And she was beautiful like you--she was younger than you, and as happy as you! And she trusted me as you trusted me, she gave herself to me as you did, and I took her, and promised her my love--and now look at her! Can you wish to be near me, can you wish to see me? Oh, Helen, I cannot bear myself--oh, leave me, I must die!"
He sank down once more, weeping, all his form shaking with his grief; Helen flung her arms about his neck again, but the man seemed to forget her presence. "Oh, think where that woman has been," he moaned; "think what she has seen, and done, and suffered--and what she is! Was there ever such a wreck of womanhood, ever such a curse upon earth? And, oh, for the years that she has lived in her fearful sin, and I have been happy--great God, what can I do for those years,--how can I live and gaze upon this crime of mine? I, who sought for beauty, to have made this madness; and it comes now to curse me, now, when it is too late; when the life is wrecked,--when it is gone forever!"
David's voice had sunk into a moan; and then suddenly he heard the woman crying out, and he staggered to his feet. She was sitting up again, her arms stretched out; David caught her in his own, gazing into her face and crying, "Mary, Mary! Look at me! Here I am--I am David, the David you loved."
He stopped, gasping for breath, and the woman cried in a faint voice, "Water, water!" David turned and called to Helen, and the poor girl, tho scarcely able to stand, ran to get a glass of it; another thought came to the man in the meantime, and he turned to the other with a sudden cry. "If there were a child!" he gasped, "a child of mine somewhere in the world, alone and helpless!" He stared into the woman's eyes imploringly.
She was gazing at him, choking and trying to speak; she seemed to be making an effort to understand him, and as David repeated his agonizing question she gave a sign of assent, causing a still wilder look to cross the man's face. He called to her again to tell him where; but the woman seemed to be sinking back into her raving, and she only gasped faintly again for water.
When Helen brought it they poured it down her throat, and then David repeated his question once more; but he gave a groan as he saw that it was all in vain; the wild raving had begun again, and the woman only stared at him blankly, until at last the wretched man, quite overcome, sank down at her side and buried his head upon her shrunken bosom and cried like a child, poor Helen in the meantime clinging to him still.
It was only when David had quite worn himself out that he seemed to hear her pleading voice; then he looked at her, and for the first time through his own grief caught sight of hers. There was such a look of helpless woe upon Helen's face that he put out his hand to her and whispered faintly, "Oh, poor little girl, what have _you_ done that you should suffer so?" As Helen drew closer to him, clinging to his hand in fright, he went on, "Can you ever forgive me for this horror--forgive me that I dared to forget it, that I dared to marry you?"
The girl's answer was a faint moan, "David, David, have mercy on me!" He gazed at her for a moment, reading still more of her suffering.
"Helen," he asked, "you see what has come upon me--can you ask me not to be wretched, can you ask me still to live? What can I do for such a crime,--when I look at this wreck of a soul, what comfort can I hope to find?" And the girl, her heart bursting with grief, could only clasp his hands in hers and gaze into his eyes; there was no word she could think of to say to him, and so for a long time the two remained in silence, David again fixing his eyes upon the woman, who seemed to be sinking into a kind of stupor.
When he looked up once more it was because Helen was whispering in his ear, a new thought having come to her, "David, perhaps _I_ might be able to help you yet."
The man replied in a faint, gasping voice, "Help me? How?" And the girl answered, "Come with me," and rose weakly to her feet, half lifting him also. He gazed at the woman and saw that she was lying still, and then he did as Helen asked. She led him gently into the other room, away from the fearful sight, and the two sat down, David limp and helpless, so that he could only sink down in her arms with a groan. "Poor, poor David," she whispered, in a voice of infinite pity; "oh, my poor David!"
"Then you do not scorn me, Helen?" the man asked in a faint, trembling voice, and went on pleading with her, in words so abject and so wretched that they wrung the girl's heart more than ever.
"David, how can you speak to me so?" she cried, "you who are all my life?" And then she added with swift intensity, "Listen to me, David, it cannot be so bad as that, I know it! Will you not tell me, David? Tell me all, so that I may help you!" So she went on pleading with him gently, until at last the man spoke again, in faltering words.
"Helen," he said, "I was only a boy; God knows that is one excuse, if it is the only one. I was only seventeen, and she was no more."
"Who was she, David?" the girl asked.
"She lived in a village across the mountains from here, near where our home used to be. She was a farmer's daughter, and she was beautiful--oh, to think that that woman was once a beautiful girl, and innocent and pure! But we were young, we loved each other, and we had no one to warn us; it was so long ago that it seems like a dream to me now, but we sinned, and I took her for mine; then I went home to tell my father, to tell him that she was my wife, and that I must marry her. And oh, God, she was a farmer's daughter, and I was a rich man's son, and the cursed world knows nothing of human souls! And I must not marry her--I found all the world in arms against it---"
"And you let yourself be persuaded?" asked the girl, in a faint whisper.
"Persuaded?" echoed David, his voice shaking; "who would have thought of persuading a mad boy? I let myself be commanded and frightened into submission, and carried away. And then five or six miserable months passed away and I got a letter from her, and she was with child, and she was ruined forever,--she prayed to me in words that have haunted me night and day all my life, to come to her and keep my promise."
And David stopped and gave a groan; the other whispered, "You could not go?"
"I went," he answered; "I borrowed money, begged it from one of my father's servants, and ran away and went up there; and oh, I was two days too late!"
"Too late?" exclaimed Helen wonderingly.
"Yes, yes," was the hoarse reply, "for she was a weak and helpless girl, and scorned of all the world; and her parents had turned her away, and she was gone, no one knew where. Helen, from that day to this I have never seen her, nor ever heard of her; and now she comes to curse me,--to curse my soul forever. And it is more than I can bear, more than I can bear!"
David sank down again, crying out, "It is too much, it is too much!" But then suddenly he caught his wife's hand in his and stared up at her, exclaiming, "And she said there was a child, Helen! Somewhere in the world there is another soul suffering for this sin of mine! Oh, somehow we must find out about that--something must be done, I could not have two such fearful things to know of. We must find out, we must find out!"
As the man stopped and stared wildly about him he heard the woman's voice again, and sprang up; but Helen, terrified at his suffering, caught him by the arm, whispering, "No, no, David, let me go in, I can take care of her." And she forced her husband down on the sofa once more, and then ran into the next room. She found the woman again struggling to raise herself upon her trembling arms, staring about her and calling out incoherently. Helen rushed to her and took her hands in hers, trying to soothe her again.
But the woman staggered to her feet, oblivious of everything about her. "Where is he? Where is he?" she gasped hoarsely; "he will come back!" She began calling David's name, and a moment later, as Helen tried to keep her quiet, she tore her hands loose and rushed blindly across the room, shrieking louder yet, "David, where are you? Don't you know me, David?"
As Helen turned she saw that her husband had heard the cries and come to the doorway again; but it was all in vain, for the woman, though she looked at him, knew him no more; it was to a phantom of her own brain that she was calling, in the meantime pacing up and down, her voice rising higher and higher. She was reeling this way and that, and Helen, frightened at her violence, strove to restrain her, only to be flung off as if she had been a child; the woman rushed on, groping about her blindly and crying still, "David! Tell me where is David!"
Then as David and Helen stood watching her in helpless misery her delirious mood changed, and she clutched her hands over her bosom, and shuddered, and moaned to herself, "It is cold, oh, it is cold!" Afterwards she burst into frantic sobbing, that choked her and shook all her frame; and again into wild peals of laughter; and then last of all she stopped and sprang back, staring in front of her with her whole face a picture of agonizing fright; she gave one wild scream after another and staggered and sank down at last upon the floor. "Oh, it is he, it is he!" she cried, her voice sinking into a shudder; "oh, spare me,--why should you beat me? Oh God, have mercy--have mercy!" Her cries rose again into a shriek that made Helen's blood run cold; she looked in terror at her husband, and saw that his face was white; in the meantime the wretched woman had flung herself down prostrate upon the floor, where she lay groveling and writhing.
That again, however, was only for a minute or two; she staggered up once more and rushed blindly across the room, crying, "I cannot bear it, I cannot bear it! Oh, what have I done?" Then suddenly as she flung up her arms imploringly and staggered blindly on, she lurched forward and fell, striking her head against the corner of the table.
Helen started forward with a cry of alarm, but before she had taken half a dozen steps the woman had raised herself to her feet once more, and was staring at her, blinded by the blood which poured from a cut in her forehead. Her clothing was torn half from her, and her tangled hair streamed from her shoulders; she was a ghastly sight to behold, as, delirious with terror, she began once more rushing this way and that about the room. The two who watched her were powerless to help her, and could only drink in the horror of it all and shudder, as with each minute the poor creature became more frantic and more desperate. All the while it was evident that her strength was fast leaving her; she staggered more and more, and at last she sank down upon her knees. She strove to rise again and found that she could not, but lurched and fell upon the floor; as she turned over and Helen saw her face, the sight was too much for the girl's self-control, and she buried her face in her hands and broke into frantic sobbing.
David in the meantime was crouching in the doorway, his gaze fixed upon the woman; he did not seem even to notice Helen's outburst, so lost was all his soul in the other sight. Fie saw that the stranger's convulsive efforts were weakening, and he staggered forward with a cry, and flung himself forward down on his knees beside her. "Mary, Mary!" he called; but she did not heed him, tho he clasped her hands and shook her, gazing into her face imploringly. Her eyes were fixed upon him, but it was with a vacant stare; and then suddenly he started back with a cry of horror-- "Great God, she is dying!"
The woman made a sudden fearful effort to lift herself, struggling and gasping, her face distorted with fierce agony; as it failed she sank back, and lay panting hard for breath; then a shudder passed over her, and while David still stared, transfixed, a hoarse rattle came from her throat, and her features became suddenly set in their dreadful passion. In a moment more all was still; and David buried his face in his hands and sank down upon the corpse, without even a moan.
Afterwards, for a full minute there was not a sound in the room; Helen's sobbing had ceased, she had looked up and sat staring at the two figures,--until at last, with a sudden start of fright she sprang up and crept silently toward them. She glanced once at the woman's body, and then bent over David; as she felt that his heart was still beating, she caught him to her bosom, and knelt thus in terror, staring first into his white and tortured features, and then at the body on the floor.
Finally, however, she nerved herself, and tho she was trembling and exhausted, staggered to her feet with her burden; holding it tightly in her arms she went step by step, slowly and in silence out of the room. When she had passed into the next one she shut the door and, sinking down upon the sofa, lifted David's broken figure beside her and locked it in her arms and was still. Thus she sat without a sound or a motion, her heart within her torn with fear and pain, all through the long hours of that night; when the cold, white dawn came up, she was still pressing him to her bosom, sobbing and whispering faintly, "Oh, David! Oh, my poor, poor David!"
Hast du im Venusburg geweilt, So bist nun ewig du verdammt!