It was a warm day for the time of year Pratolungo's widow, like a wise woman, determined to make herself comfortable. She unlocked her packed box; she removed her traveling costume, and put on her dressing-gown; she took a turn in the room and, if you had come across her at that moment, I wouldn't have stood in your shoes for something, I can tell you!
"You have told me that you and he understand each other. What have you to dread after that?" "I have to dread Madame Pratolungo's influence, and my brother's infatuation for you," he answered. "The promises which he has honestly made to me, are promises which I cannot depend on when my back is turned, and when Madame Pratolungo may be with him in my absence.
Why should I leave my poor old father to go back to England, and mix myself up in Lucilla's affairs? After the manner in which she had taken her leave of me, had I any reasonable prospect of being civilly received? What had I, Pratolungo's widow, to do with this trumpery family entanglement? Nothing!
At the moment, however, when he opened the door, this ignoble sensation left me as suddenly as it had come. I felt myself Pratolungo's widow again, when I entered the room. A reading-lamp, with its shade down, was the only light on the table. Nugent Dubourg, comfortably reposing in an easychair, sat by the lamp, with a cigar in his mouth, and a book in his hand.
About that, there could be no doubt. I admitted at once that Nugent was her favorite. And more than this, I remembered accusing her myself of never having done justice to Oscar from the first. See the sixteenth chapter, and Madame Pratolungo's remark, warning you that you would hear of this circumstance again. Oscar went on. "Bear that in mind," he said.
I sat down helplessly, when I had done; feeling the serious necessity of clearing matters up between Lucilla and myself, before I went away, and still as ignorant as ever how to do it. To my own indescribable disgust, I actually felt tears beginning to find their way into my eyes! I had just enough of Pratolungo's widow left in me to feel heartily ashamed of myself.
This done, I left them and went out to meet Lucilla's father, on his return to the hotel. I wished to prevent him from disturbing them. After what had happened, it was good for those two to be alone. Madame Pratolungo's Last Words TWELVE years have passed since the events occurred which it has been the business of these pages to relate.
I thought you had offered yourself as Madame Pratolungo's escort to the rectory." She stopped, with a sudden frown. Her quick ears had detected my return into the room. "Oscar!" she exclaimed, "what does this mean? Madame Pratolungo and I have nothing more to say to each other. What has she come back for? Why don't you answer? This is infamous! I shall leave the room!"
My first proceeding, after reading those lines, was of course to put my arm again in his, and to draw him as close to me as close could be. My second proceeding followed in due time. I asked, naturally, for Madame Pratolungo's answer to that most affectionate and most touching letter. "I have no answer to show you," he said. "You have lost it?" I asked. "I never had it." "What do you mean?"
Finch, indicating his wife and child, "and suppose that I would communicate or sanction communication of any sort, with the persons who are responsible for it? My dear! Can you account for Madame Pratolungo's extraordinary question? It was useless to try to explain myself. It was useless for Mrs. All the poor damp lady could do was to beg me to write to her from foreign parts.
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