« ElőzőTovább »
"Well, sir,” said Elsworthy, “if with a pathetic turn of voice. "Not you're a-going to bear malice, I as I'm casting no blame on you, as haven't got nothing to say. But is well known to be” there ain't ten men in Carlingford “ Never mind what I'm well: as wouldn't agree with me that known to be," said the Curate; "the when a young gentleman, even if other day you thought I was the he is a clergyman, takes particklar villain. If you can tell me anynotice of a pretty young girl, it thing you want me to do, I will ain't just for nothing as he does it understand that—but I am not de—not to say watching over her pa sirous to know your opinion of ternal to see as sbe wasn't out late me,” said the careless young man. at night, and suchlike. But by- As he stood listening impatiently, gones is bygones, sir,” said Els- pausing a second time, Dr Marjoriworthy, " and is never
more to banks came out to his door and be mentioned by me. I don't stepped into his brougham to go ask no more, if you'll but do the off to his morning round of visits.
The Doctor took off his hat when “You won't ask no more ?" said he saw the Curate, and waved it the Curate, angrily; “ do you think to him cheerfully with a gesture of I am afraid of you? I have no- congratulation. Dr Marjoribanks thing more to say, Elsworthy. Go was quite stanch and honest, and and look after your business- would have manfully stood by his I will attend to mine ; and when intimates in dangerous circumwe are not forced to meet, let stances; but somehow he preferred us keep clear of each other. It
It was pleasanter to be will be better both for you and able to congratulate people than to me."
condole with them. He preferred The Curate passed on with an it, and nobody could object to so impatient nod; but his assailant orthodox a sentiment. Most prodid not intend that he should bably, if Mr Wentworth had still escape so easily. "I shouldn't been in partial disgrace, the Doctor
, have thought, sir, as you'd have would not have seen him in his easy borne malice,” said Elsworthy, glance down the road ; but though hastening on after him, yet keeping Mr Wentworth was aware of that, half a step behind. “I'm a hum- the mute congratulation had yet its bled man— different from what I effect upon him. He was moved ever thought to be. I could always by that delicate symptom of how keep up my head afore the world the wind was blowing in Carlingtill now; and if it ain't your fault, ford, and forgot all about Elsworsir-as I humbly beg your pardon thy, though the man was standing for ever being so far led away as to by his side. believe it was all the same it's As you're so good as to take it along of you."
kind, sir," said the Clerk of St What do you mean ?” said the Roque's," and, as I was a-saying, Curate, who, half amused and half it's well known as you're always indignant at the change of tone, ready to hear a poor man's tale, had slackened his pace to listen to perhaps you'd let bygones be bythis new accusation.
gones, and not make no difference ? “What I mean, sir, is, that if you That wasn't all, Mr Wentworth,” hadn't been so good and so kind- he continued eagerly, as the Curate hearted as to take into your house gave an impatient nod, and turned the-the villain as has done it all, to go on. “I've heard as this vilhim and Rosa could never have lain is rich, sir, by means of robbing known each other. I allow as it was of his own flesh and blood ;-but it nothing but your own goodness as ain't for me to trust to what folks did it; but it was a black day for says, after the experience I've had, me and mine," said the dramatist, and never can forgive myself for be
ing led away,” said Elsworthy; "it's joribanks's prescriptions. As the well known in Carlingford
sense of injury waxed stronger “For heaven's sake come to the and stronger in Rosa's bosom, she point and be done with it,” said the availed herself, like any other irraCurate. “What is it you want me tional, irresponsible creature, of such
. to do?"
means of revenging herself and an“Sir," said Elsworthy, solemnly, noying her keepers as occurred to “you're a real gentleman, and you her. Nobody ever took no care don't bear no malice for what was of me,” sobbed Rosa. “I never a mistake—and you ain't one to had no father or mother.
Oh, I turn your back on an unfortunate wish I was dead! I wish I was family--and Mr Wentworth, sir, dead !-and nobody wouldn't care!" you ain't a-going to stand by and see These utterances, it may be imagin
. me and mine wronged, as have al- ed, went to the very heart of the ways wished you well. If we can't errand-boys, who were collected in get justice of him, we can get dam- a circle, plotting how to release ages,” cried Elsworthy. “He ain't Rosa, when Elsworthy, mortified to be let off as if he'd done no harm and furious, came back from his -and seeing as it was along of unsuccessful assault on the Curate. you
They scattered like a covey of little “Hold your tongue, sir !” cried birds before the angry man, who the Curate. “I have nothing to do tossed their papers at them, and with it. Keep out of my way, or then strode up the echoing stairs. at least learn to restrain your “ If you don't hold your d-d tongue. No more — not a word tongue,” said Elsworthy, knocking more,” said the young man, indig- furiously at Rosa’s door, “I'll turn nantly. He went off with such you to the door this instant, I will, a sweep and wind of anger and by Nobody in Carlingford annoyance, that the slower and had ever before heard an oath issue older complainant had no chance from the respectable lips of the to follow him. Elsworthy accord- Clerk of St Roque's. When he went ingly went off to the shop where down into the shop again, the outhis errand-boys were waiting for cries sank into frightened moans. the newspapers, and where Rosa Not much wonder that the entire lay up-stairs, weeping, in a dark neighbourhood became as indignant room, where her enraged aunt had with Elsworthy as it ever had been shut her up. Mrs Elsworthy had with the Perpetual Curate. The shut up the poor little pretty husband and wife took up
powretch, who might have been peni- sitions in the shop after this, as far tent under better guidance, but who apart as was possible from each by this time had lost what sense of other, both resenting in silent fury shame and wrong her childish con- the wrong which the world in science was capable of in the general bad done them. If Mrs stronger present sense of injury and Elsworthy had dared, she would resentment and longing to escape; have exhausted her passion in abuse but the angry aunt, though she of everybody—of the Curate for not could turn the key on poor Rosa's being guilty, of her husband for unfortunate little person, could not supposing him to be so, and, to be shut in the piteous sobs which now sure, of Rosa herself, who was the and then sounded through and cause of all. But Elsworthy was through the house, and which con- dangerous, not to be approached or verted all the errand-boys with spoken to. He went out about out exception into indignant parti- noon to see John Brown, and dissans of Rosa, and even moved the cuss with him the question of heart of Peter Hayles, who could damages; but the occurrences which hear them at the back window took place in his absence are not to where he was making up Dr Mar- be mixed up with the present nar
rative, which concerns Mr Frank been very full of affairs of my own. Wentworth's visit to Lucy Wode- I thought at one time that my house, and has nothing to do with friends were forsaking me.
It was ignoble hates or loves.
very good of you to write as you The Curate went rapidly on to did.” the green door, which once more Upon which there followed anlooked like a gate of paradise. He other little pause. “Indeed, the did not know in the least what he goodness was all on your side,” said was going to do or say—he was Lucy, faltering. “If I had ever only conscious of a state of exalta- dreamt how much you were doing tion, a condition of mind which for us! but it all came upon me so might precede great happiness or suddenly. It is impossible ever to great misery, but had nothing in express in words one-half of the grait of the common state of affairs in titude we owe you,” she said with rewhich people ask each other“ How strained enthusiasm. She looked up do you do?” Notwithstanding, at him as she spoke with a little glow the fact is, that when Lucy entered of natural fervour, which brought that dear familiar drawing-room, the colour to her cheek and the where every feature and individual moisture to her eyes. She was not expression of every piece of furni- of the disposition to give either ture was as well known to him as thanks or confidence by halves ; if they had been so many human and even the slight not unpleasant faces, it was only “How do you sense of danger which gave piquancy do?” that the Curate found himself to this interview, made her resolute able to say. The two shook hands to express herself fully. She would as demurely as if Lucy had indeed not suffer herself to stint her grabeen, according to the deceptive titude because of the sweet susrepresentation of yesterday, as old picion which would not be quite as aunt Dora ; and then she seated silenced, that possibly Mr Wentherself in her favourite chair, and worth looked for something better tried to begin a little conversation than gratitude. Not for any conseabout things in general. Even in quences, however much they might these three days, nature and youth be to be avoided, could she be had done something for Lucy. She shabby enough to refrain from due had slept and rested, and the unfore- acknowledgment of devotion so seen misfortune which had come in great. Therefore, while the Perpetto distract her grief, had roused all ual Curate was doing all he could the natural strength that was in to remind himself of his condition, her. As she was a little nervous and to persuade himself that it about this interview, not knowing would be utterly wrong and mean what it might end in, Lucy thought of him to speak, Lucy looked up it her duty to be as composed and at him, looked him in the face, with self-commanding as possible, and, her blue eyes shining dewy and in order to avoid all dangerous and sweet through tears of gratitude exciting subjects, began to talk of and a kind of generous admiration; Wharfside.
for, like every other woman, she “I have not heard anything for felt herself exalted and filled with three or four days about the poor a delicious pride in seeing that the woman at No. 10," she said: “I man of her unconscious choice had meant to have gone to see her to proved himself the best. day, but somehow one gets so self- The Curate walked to the winish when—when one's mind is full dow, very much as Mr Proctor had of affairs of one's own.
done, in the tumult and confusion “Yes," said the Curate ; "and, of his heart, and came back again speaking of that, I wanted to tell with what he had to say written you how much comfort your letter clear on his face, without any had been to me. My head, too, has possibility of mistake. “I must
speak," said the young man ; “I take me, Lucy,” he said, after have no right to speak, I know; another pause, coming back to her if I had attained the height of self- with humility, “I don't venture to sacrifice and self-denial, I might, I say that you would have accepted would be silent—but it is impos- anything I had to offer ; but this I sible now.” He came to a break mean, that to have a home for you just then, looking at her to see now-to have a life for you ready what encouragement he had to go to be laid at your feet, whether you on; but as Lucy did nothing but would have had it or not ;—what listen and grow pale, he had to right have I to speak of such detake his own way. “What I have lights?” cried the young man. “It to say is not anything new,” said does not matter to you; and as for the Curate, labouring a little in his me, I have patience-patience to voice, as was inevitable when affairs console myself withhad come to such a crisis, “if I Poor Lucy, though she was on were not in the cruelest position the verge of tears, which nothing possible to a man. I have only an but the most passionate self-reempty love to lay at your feet; I straint could have kept in, could tell it to you only because I am not help a passing sensation of obliged—because, after all, love is amusement at these words. “Not worth telling, even if it comes to too much of that either,” she said, nothing. I am not going to appeal softly, with a tremulous smile. to your generosity," continued the “ But Patience carries the lilies of young man, kneeling down at the the saints,” said Lucy, with a touch table, not by way of kneeling to of the sweet asceticism which had Lucy, but by way of bringing him- once been so charming to the young self on a level with her, where she Anglican. It brought him back sat with her head bent down on her like a spell to the common ground low chair,
or to ask you to bind on which they used to meet; it yourself to a man who has nothing brought him back also to his former in the world but love to offer you; position on his knee, which was but after what has been for years, embarrassing to Lucy, though she after all the hours I have spent had not the heart to draw back, here, I cannot-part-I cannot let nor even to withdraw her hand, you go-without a word
which somehow happened to be in And here he stopped short. He Mr Wentworth's way. had not asked anything, so that “I am but a man,” said the Lucy, even had she been able, had young lover. “I would rather have nothing to answer; and as for the the roses of life—but, Lucy, I young lover himself, he seemed to am only a Perpetual Curate," he have come to the limit of his elo- continued, with her hands in his. quence. He kept waiting for a Her answer was made in the most moment, gazing at her in breathless heartless and indifferent words. expectation of a response for which She let two big drops—which fell his own words had left no room. like hail, though they were warmer Then he rose in an indescribable than any summer rain-drop out of tumult of disappointment and mor
eyes, and she said, with lips that tification-unable to conclude that had some difficulty in enunciating all was over, unable to keep silence, that heartless sentiment, “I don't yet not knowing what to say. see that it matters to me
“I have been obliged to close all Which was true enough, though the doors of advancement upon my- it did not sound encouraging; and self,” said the Curate, with a little it is dreadful to confess that, for a litbitterness; “I don't know if you tle while after, neither Skelmersdale, understand me. At this moment nor Wentworth, nor Mr Proctor's I have to deny myself the dearest new rectory, nor the no-income of the privilege of existence. Don't mis- Perpetual Curacy of St Roque's, had
the smallest place in the thoughts Miss Wodehouse could not quite of either of these perfectly incon- make out her own feelings on the siderate young people. For half subject. “Don't you think if you an hour they were an Emperor and had waited a little it would have Empress seated upon two thrones, been wiser ?” she said, in her timid to which all the world was subject; way; and then kissed her young and when at the end of that time sister, and said, “I am so glad, my they began to remember the world, darling-I am sure dear papa would it was but to laugh at it in their in- have been pleased,” with a sob which finite youthful superiority. Then it brought back to Lucy the grief became apparent that to remain in from which she had for the moment Carlingford, to work at "the dis- escaped. Under all the circumtrict," to carry out all the ancient stances, however, it may well be intentions of well-doing which had supposed that it was rather hard upbeen the first bond between them, on Mr Wentworth to recollect that he was, after all, the life of lives ;- had engaged to return to luncheon which was the state of mind they with the Squire, and to prepare had both arrived at when Miss himself, after this momentous mornWodehouse, who thought they had ing's work, to face all the complicabeen too long together under the tions of the family, where still Skelcircumstances, and could not help mersdale and Wentworth were hangwondering what Mr Wentworth ing in the balance, and where the could be saying, came into the room, minds of his kith and kin were rather flurried in her own person. already too full of excitement to She thought Lucy must have been leave much room for another event. telling the Curate about Mr Proctor He went away reluctantly enough and his hopes, and was, to tell the out of the momentary paradise truth, a little curious how Mr Went where his Perpetual Curacy was a worth would take it, and a little— matter of utter indifference, if not the very least—ashamed of encoun- a tender pleasantry, which rather intering his critical looks. The condi- creased than diminished the happition of mind into which Miss Wode- ness of the momentinto the ordinhouse was thrown when she perceiv- ary daylight world, where it was a ed the real state of affairs would be very serious matter, and where what difficult to describe. She was very the young couple would have to live glad and very sorry, and utterly upon became the real question to be puzzled how they were to live ; and considered. Mr Wentworth met underneath all these varying emo- Wodehouse as he went out, which tions was a sudden, half-ludicrous, did not mend matters. The vagahalf-humiliating sense of being cast bond was loitering about in the garinto the shade, which made Mrden, attended by one of Elsworthy's Proctor's fiancée laugh and made errand-boys, with whom he was in her cry, and brought her down al- earnest conversation, and stopped together off the temporary pedestal in his talk to give a sulky nod and upon which she had stepped, not “Good morning," to which the Cuwithout a little feminine satisfaction. rate had no desire to respond more When a woman is going to be mar- warmly than was necessary. Lucy ried, especially if that marriage falls was thinking of nothing but himself, later than usual, it is natural that and perhaps a little of the great she should expect, for that time at work” at Wharfside, which her faleast, to be the first and most pro- ther's illness and death had interminent figure in her little circle. rupted; but Mr Wentworth, who But, alas ! what chance could there was only a man, remembered that be for a mild, dove-coloured bride Tom Wodehouse would be his broof forty beside a creature of half ther-in-law with a distinct sensaher age, endued with all the natural tion of disgust, even in the moment bloom and natural interest of youth? of his triumph-which is one in