Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/273

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265
FAIRY-GOLD.

and his faith was justified; it gave him, in reward, his bright, immortal love."

She turned her head and looked at him, gently, pityingly, almost tenderly.

"Ah! you are too loyal for this world, far too loyal to spend your heart on any woman's love. It is only fairy gold, believe me, which, if yon took it, would turn to ashes in your hand. And now,—a safe ride homeward to you, and good night."

She held her hand out to him with a sweet and gracious gesture, the more marked in her because she never gave her hand in familiar salutation; he bent over it, and touched it with his lips, a lingering kiss in which all his silenced heart spent itself.

She did not rebuke him; she had not power to speak coldly or chidingly to the man whose life was owed her, whose head had rested in his dying hour on her bosom. As he rode slowly out down the cedar avenue that passed in front of the terrace he looked up; she was leaning still over the marble parapet, her form distinct against the dark masses of myrtle foliage, the brilliance of the moonlight shining full upon her from the sea. She gave him a farewell sign of her hand as he bowed to his saddle, such as from her palace-prison Queen Ysonde might have given to her lover; and Ercel-