Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Prima Donna: A Passage from City Life >> Page 194

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 194THE PRIMA DONNA
had been hurried by my own unregulated passions and imprudent
vanity. But this was no moment for reflections such as these. It
was evident that I now had no business there, even if the business
had been legitimate which had carried me there at first. To remain
longer in the house of one who had ordered my departure in language
of brutality, and whose conduct had provoked me to violence, was
surely against all received rules of gentility. And yet, how to leave
the poor woman to his rage? Would he not wreak upon her weak
person and unoffending head, all the venom which would be idly
shown against the bosom of superior manhood? This was my appre-
hension—the apprehension that made me linger, it was evident
that the Prima Donna, herself, was not entirely without it.
"Do not do not leave me," she exclaimed passionately, as she
beheld his departure,. while with hands clasped in something like a
mortal agony of fear, she approached me. "He will soon return—he
is terrible in his anger—he will do some dreadful act."
"Fear nothing —I will protect —I will stand by you to the last."
I spoke with the look and language of a knight of the middle
ages. Forgetful of the matter-of-fact and every-day character of the
busy world around me—the age of money-changers and their greatest
mart, —I was hurried away by my boyish feelings, and utterly lost
in the seventh heaven of heroism. I would have taken her hand in
mine as I addressed her; but the attempt brought about an instant
change in her manner. The fear of doing, seemed suddenly greater
than that of suffering, wrong; and in tears no less energetic if less
passionate than before, she now entreated my departure.
"Go, for God's sake, and leave me, leave me for ever. I do not
blame you no, no! But you cannot know the mischief you have
done. My husband will never forgive me for this folly; and every
moment of your longer stay will increase the difficulties, perhaps the
dangers, in my way."
I told her there should be no difficulties no dangers—that I
would stand by and shield her from all harm. At that moment I felt
myself equal to every danger; and would have faced the giant
Ascaparte himself in her battle. But she knew her own relation to
her jealous liege, and resolutely insisted upon my departure. I
lingered until longer delay would have been impertinence, and then
prepared to comply with her demand. But before leaving I proffered
my assistance in the event of any further difficulty. I put my card into