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Chapter 7: Recognition--a Timid Girl (continued)
"I will go on," he said; adding hesitatingly,--"Since you are not very well off, perhaps you would accept this trifle from me. It is only a shilling, but it is all I have to spare."
"Yes, I will take it," said the stranger gratefully.
She extended her hand; Gabriel his. In feeling for each other's palm in the gloom before the money could be passed, a minute incident occurred which told much. Gabriel's fingers alighted on the young woman's wrist. It was beating with a throb of tragic intensity. He had frequently felt the same quick, hard beat in the femoral artery of his lambs when overdriven. It suggested a consumption too great of a vitality which, to judge from her figure and stature, was already too little.
"What is the matter?"
"But there is?"
"No, no, no! Let your having seen me be a secret!"
"Very well; I will. Good-night, again."
The young girl remained motionless by the tree, and Gabriel descended into the village of Weatherbury, or Lower Longpuddle as it was sometimes called. He fancied that he had felt himself in the penumbra of a very deep sadness when touching that slight and fragile creature. But wisdom lies in moderating mere impressions, and Gabriel endeavoured to think little of this.
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