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She laid herself down on the floor, close to the open French window. She broke out in a cold perspiration and she felt a veil of despair stealing over her, but such a strange misery it was, quite different from what she usually felt.
‘Oh, great God!’ she thought. ‘Have… have I… could I have taken too many?’
No, no, that would be too terrible. Death was so black, so empty, so mysterious, so final – but still, if it were so? And suddenly her fears melted away into an immeasurable restfulness. Well, if it were so, it was good, very good….
And she began to laugh with inaudible, nervous little laughs, while despair descended upon her with the crushing weight of a giant fist. She tried to defend herself from that giant fist with her hand, and her fingers became entangled in a cord about her neck. Oh, that was… that was his portrait, Otto’s portrait.
Could she indeed have taken too much? When tomorrow came should she…? She shuddered… Tomorrow morning, would they knock at her door in vain, and in the end would they find her lying there? A terrible thought indeed. She was wet through with perspiration, and her fingers again wandered to the locket. No, they should not find that portrait on her bosom. She raised herself up, and wrenched the portrait out of the locket. She could no longer see it properly, for it had grown dark in her room, and in her eyes the light was already failing; only the yellow glare of the street lamp fell with a dull reflection into the room. But she saw the likeness with her mind’s eye, with her fingers she touched the little piece of pasteboard, and she kissed it, kissed it repeatedly.
‘Oh, Otto,’ she faltered, in a heavy labouring voice, ‘it was you, you alone, my Otto, not Vincent, not St Clare, no one but you. You… oh, my Otto… oh, Otto… oh, great God!’
And she struggled despairingly between the agony of death and a calm resignation. Then, after covering the portrait with passionate kisses, she placed it in her mouth despairingly, having no strength left to tear it up, or to destroy it in any other way than by swallowing it. Thus, whilst a trembling sigh shook through her whole frame, she chewed, chewed the discarded proof of the portrait… of the portrait of Otto.
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Number of pages: 375
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What was said about Eline Vere
‘A vivacious and skilful performance, giving an evidently faithful picture of society, and evincing the art of a true story-teller.’ – Philadelphia Telegraph
‘Most careful in its details of description, most picturesque in its colouring.’ – Boston Post
'I have very much enjoyed it - what a vivid writer he is!' - Catherine Best, editor