7. CHAPTER VII
At the moment when I showed myself in the doorway, Rachel rose from the piano.
I closed the door behind me. We confronted each other in silence,
with the full length of the room between us. The movement she had made
in rising appeared to be the one exertion of which she was capable.
All use of every other faculty, bodily or mental, seemed to be merged in
the mere act of looking at me.
A fear crossed my mind that I had shown myself too suddenly.
I advanced a few steps towards her. I said gently, "Rachel!"
The sound of my voice brought the life back to her limbs,
and the colour to her face. She advanced, on her side,
still without speaking. Slowly, as if acting under some influence
independent of her own will, she came nearer and nearer to me;
the warm dusky colour flushing her cheeks, the light of
reviving intelligence brightening every instant in her eyes.
I forgot the object that had brought me into her presence;
I forgot the vile suspicion that rested on my good name;
I forgot every consideration, past, present, and future, which I
was bound to remember. I saw nothing but the woman I loved coming
nearer and nearer to me. She trembled; she stood irresolute.
I could resist it no longer--I caught her in my arms, and covered her
face with kisses.
There was a moment when I thought the kisses were returned;
a moment when it seemed as if she, too might have forgotten.
Almost before the idea could shape itself in my mind,
her first voluntary action made me feel that she remembered.
With a cry which was like a cry of horror--with a strength
which I doubt if I could have resisted if I had tried--
she thrust me back from her. I saw merciless anger in her eyes;
I saw merciless contempt on her lips. She looked me over,
from head to foot, as she might have looked at a stranger who had
"You coward!" she said. "You mean, miserable, heartless coward!"
Those were her first words! The most unendurable reproach that a woman can
address to a man, was the reproach that she picked out to address to Me.