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Browning's Heroines
written by "Mayne, Ethel Colburn, -1941"
...reaches up to you, Drawn by those eyes!" But even as she gazes, she sees that the eyes "are altering—altered!" She knows not why, she never has understood this sudden, wondrous happening of her marriage, but the eyes to which she trusts are altering—altered—and what can she do? . . . With heartrending pathos, what she does is to clutch at his words to her, the music which had lifted her, and now perhaps will lift him too by its mere sound. "I love you, love" . . . but what does love mean? She knows not, and her "music" is but ignorant echo; if she did know, she could prevent this change, but the change is not prevented, so it cannot have been just the words—it must have been in the tone that his power lay to lift her, and that she cannot find, not understanding. So in the desperate need to see and hear him as he was at first, she turns to her last device— ". . . Or stay! I will repeat Their speech, if that contents you. Only change No more"— and thus to him, but half aware as yet, sure only that she is not the dream-lady from afar, Phene speaks the words that Lutwyche wrote, and now waits outside to hear. [Pg 62]"I am a painter who cannot paint; In my life, a devil rather than saint; In my brain, as poor a creature too; No end to all I cannot do! Yet do one thing at least I can— Love a man or hate a man Supremely: thus my lore began . . ." The timid voice goes on, saying the lines by rote as Phene had learned them—and hard indeed they must have been to learn! For, as Lutwyche had told his friends, it must be "something slow, involved, and mystical," it must hold Jules long in doubt, and lure him on until at innermost— "Where he seeks sweetness' soul, he may find—this!" And truly it is so "involved," that, in the lessons at Natalia's, it had been thought well to tutor Phene in the probable interruptions ...

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