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Cobwebs and Cables
written by "Stretton, Hesba, 1832-1911"
...usy was her brain that it could take no notice of them just now. So busy was it that all her life seemed to be hurrying and crowding and whirling through it, with swift pictures starting into momentary distinctness and dying suddenly to give place to others. It was a terrifying and enthralling phantasmagoria which held her spell-bound on the threshold of this ruined hovel, her husband's last shelter. At last she roused herself, and stepped forward hesitatingly. Her eyes had fallen upon a book or two at the end of a shelf as black as the walls; and books had always called to her with a voice that could not be resisted. She crept slowly and feebly across the mouldering planks of the floor, through which she could see the grass springing on the turf below the hut. But when she lifted up the mildewed and dust-covered volume lying uppermost and opened it, her eyes fell first upon her own portrait, stained, faded, nearly blotted out; yet herself as she was when she became Roland Sefton's wife. She sank down, faint and trembling, on the rough block of wood, and leaned back against the mouldy walls, with the photograph in her hand, and her eyes fastened upon it. His mother's portrait, and his children's, he had given up as evidence of his death; but he had never parted with hers. Oh! how he had loved her! Would to God she had loved him as dearly! But she had forsaken him, had separated him from her as one who was accursed, and whose very name was a malediction. She had exacted the uttermost farthing from him; his mother, his children, his home, his very life, to save her name from dishonor. It seemed as if this tarnished, discolored picture of herself, cherished through all his misery and desolation, spoke more deeply and poignantly to her than anything else could do. She fancied she could see him, the way-worn, haggard, weather-beaten peasant, as she had seen him last, sitting here, with the black walls shutting him out from all the world...

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