Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/164

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

closed the door, and glided, ghost-like, to the bedside. There the two maidens stood, both beautiful, with the pale beauty of the dead between them. But she, who had first entered, was proud and stately; and the other, a soft and fragile thing.

'Away!' cried the lofty one. 'Thou hadst him living! The dead is mine!'

'Thine!' returned the other, shuddering. 'Well hast thou spoken! The dead is thine!'

The proud girl started, and stared into her face, with a ghastly look. But a wild and mournful expression passed across the features of the gentle one; and, weak and helpless, she sank down on the bed, her head pillowed beside that of the corpse, and her hair mingling with his dark locks. A creature of hope and joy, the first draught of sorrow had bewildered her.

'Edith!' cried her rival.

Edith groaned, as with a sudden compression of the heart; and removing her cheek from the dead youth's pillow, she stood upright, fearfully encountering the eyes of the lofty girl.

'Wilt thou betray me?' said the latter, calmly.

'Till the dead bid me speak, I will be silent,' answered Edith. 'Leave us alone together? Go, and live many years, and then return, and tell me of thy life. He, too, will be here! Then, if thou tellcst of sufferings more than death, we will both forgive thee.'

'And what shall be the token?' asked the proud girl, as if her heart acknowledged a meaning in these wild words.

'This lock of hair,' said Edith, lifting one of the