was a thought of horror. She could have nerved herself to death by the most excruciating of torments, but for this, not all the grace of heaven could, fortify her.
To be his mate, to be capable of loving him, she must descend to his level, and that she neither could nor would do. His prey, his fuel, his wreck—that she must become, but she could be nothing else—nothing else. As the day of her marriage approached her nervous trepidation became so acute that she could hardly endure the least noise. A strange footfall startled her and threw her into a paroxysm of trembling. The sudden opening of a door made her heart stand still.
When her father had died, poignant though her sorrow had been, she had enjoyed the full powers of her mind. She had thought about the necessary preparations for the funeral, she had given orders to the servants, she had talked over the dear father to Jamie, she had wept his loss till her eyes were red. Not so now; she could not turn her thoughts from the all-absorbing terror; she could not endure an allusion to it from anyone, least of all to speak of it to her brother, and the power to weep was taken from her. Her eyes were dry; they burnt, but were unfilled by tears.
When her father was dead she could look forward, think of him in paradise, and hope to rejoin him after having trustily executed the charge imposed on her by him. But now she could not look ahead. A shadow of horror lay before her, an impenetrable curtain. Her father was covering his face, was sunk in grief in his celestial abode; he could not help her. She could not go to him with the same open brow and childish smile as before. She must creep to his feet, and lay her head there, sullied by association with one against whom he had warned her, one whom he had regarded as the man that had marred his sacred utility, one who stood far below the stage of virtue and culture that belonged to his family and on which he had firmly planted his child. What was in her heart Judith could pour out before none; certainly not before Aunt Dionysia, devoid of a particle of sympathy with her niece. Nor could she speak her trouble to Uncle Zachie, a man void of resources, kind, able for a minute or two to sympathize, but never to go deeply into any trouble and understand more of a wound than the fester on the surface. Besides,