Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/339

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A Study in Temptations.
323


He had his hand on the bell when Jane entered: she had returned with some message for the Dowager. When she saw her ladyship's pallid face and Warbeck's distress she looked from one to the other and grew pale herself.

"Grandmama," she faltered, "are you feeling ill?"

"He has killed me," said the Countess, pointing to her grandson, "he has given me my death-blow. I shall never recover." She rose with some difficulty from her chair, and drew herself up to her full height.

"Lean on me," said Jane, with a nice disregard of Warbeck.

"No," said the Dowager; "henceforth I lean on no one. My staff has failed me when I needed it most. When I can no longer support myself, I must fall. Where I fall, there let me lie. Remain where you are, my dear, I will not be followed. Solitude now is my only refuge!" and this marvellous invalid walked out of the room with grave and majestic steps, leaving Jane and her cousin Warbeck face to face, and alone.