these my kisses on the hand, were on the heart itself, and dropped the seeds of eternal joy and comfort there.'
He leaped to his feet, and stood before her with such warm, god-like majesty of love and tenderness, that the girl gazed up at him as though he were the one benignant star in all her general night.
'Isabel,' cried Pierre, ' I stand the sweet penance in my father's stead, thou, in thy mother's. By our earthly acts we shall redeemingly bless both their eternal lots ; we will love with the pure and perfect love of angel to an angel. If ever I fall from thee, dear Isabel, may Pierre fail from himself ; fall back forever into vacant nothingness and night ! '
'My brother, my brother, speak not so to me ; it is too much ; unused to any love ere now, thine, so heavenly and immense, falls crushing on me ! Such love is almost hard to bear as hate. Be still ; do not speak to me.'
They were both silent for a time ; when she went on.
'Yes, my brother, Fate had now brought me within three miles of thee ; and—but shall I go straight on, and tell thee all, Pierre ? all ? everything ? art thou of such divineness, that I may speak straight on, in all my thoughts, heedless whither they may flow, or what things they may float to me ? '
'Straight on, and fearlessly,' said Pierre.
'By chance I saw thy mother, Pierre, and under such circumstances that I knew her to be thy mother ; and—but shall I go on ? '
'Straight on, my Isabel ; thou didst see my mother—well?'
'And when I saw her, though I spake not to her, nor she to me, yet straightway my heart knew that she would love me not.'
'Thy heart spake true,' muttered Pierre to himself ; 'go on.'