« ElőzőTovább »
CHAPTER XXXIV. --TONY ASKS COUNSEL.
It was just as Bella said; Alice thing for those women whose grace had sent off that poor boy“ twice and beauty win homage and devoas much in love as ever.” Poor fel- tion thus to sport with the affeclow! what a strange conflict was tions of their worshippers, and that that that raged within him !-all in this exercise of a cruel power that can make life glorious, give they find an exquisite delight. But ecstasy to the present and hope to Alice was too proud and too highthe future, mingled with every- hearted for such an ignoble pastime. thing that can throw a gloom over But then he had read too that existence, and make it a burden and women sometimes fancy that, by a task. Must it be ever thus - encouraging a devotion they never must the most exquisite moments to reward, they tend to of our life, when we have youth elevate men's thoughts, ennobling and hope and health and energy, their ambitions, and inspiring be dashed with fears that make them with purer, holier hopes. us forget all the blessings of our What if she should mean this, and lot, and deem ourselves the most no more than this ? Would not her wretched of created beings ? very hatred be more bearable than
In this feverish alternation he such pity ? For a while this cruel travelled along homeward thought unmanned him, and he thinking of the great things he sat there like one stunned and could do and dare to win her love, powerless. now forth-shadowing the time when For some time the road had led all hope should be extinguished, between the low furze-clad hills of and he should walk the world alone the country, but now they had and forsaken. He went over in gained the summit of a ridge, and memory—who has not done so at there lay beneath them that wild one time or other !-all she had coast-line, broken with crag and said to him at their last meeting, promontory towards the sea, and inasking what ground there might be land swelling and falling in every for hope in this, what reason for fanciful undulation, yellow with belief in that. With what intense the furze and the wild broom, but avidity do we seek for the sands of grander for its wide expanse than gold in this crushed and crumbled many a scene of stronger features. rock! how eagerly do we peer to How dear to his heart it was ! How catch one glittering grain that shall inexpressibly dear the spot that whisper to us of wealth hereafter! was interwoven with every incident
Surely, thought he, Alice is too of his life and every spring of his good and too true-hearted to give hope ! There the green lanes he me even this much of hope if she used to saunter with Alice—there meant me to despair. Why should the breezy downs over which they she offer to write to me if she in- cantered—yonder the little creek tended that I was to forget her ? where they had once sheltered from “I wonder," muttered he, in his a storm ; he could see the rock on dark spirit of doubt_“I wonder if which he lit a fire in boyish imitathis be simply the woman's way of tion of a shipwrecked crew! It treating a love she deems beneath was of Alice that every crag and her ?” He had read in some book cliff, every bay and inlet, spoke. or other that it is no uncommon
"And is all that happiness gone
for ever ?” crie 1 he, as he stood and rapid river, swarming with alligazing at the scene. “I wonder,” gators ; the grassy slope, where thought he, "could Skeffy read her they had their house, and the tiny thoughts and tell me how she feels garden whose flowers, stuck down towards me ? I wonder will heat daybreak, were withered before ever talk to her of me, and what noon !-too faithful emblems of the will they say?" His cheek grew joys they illustrated ! hot and red, and he muttered to Surely,” thought he, “no boy himself, Who knows but it may be had ever such a rare playfellow as in pity ? ” and with the bitterness of Dolly ; so ready to take her share the thought the tears started to his in all the rough vicissitudes of a eyes and coursed down his cheeks. boy's pleasures, and yet to bring to
That same book-how it rankled, them a sort of storied interest and like a barbed arrow, in his side ! - captivation which no mere boy that same book said that men are could ever have contributed. What always wrong in their readings of a little romance the whole was
—that they cannot under- just because she knew how to imstand the finer, nicer, more subtle part the charm of a story to all springs of her action, and in their they did and all they planned !” coarser appreciation they constant- It was thus thinking that he enly destroy the interest they would tered the cottage. So still was give worlds to create. It was as
everything that he could hear the this thought flashed across his scratching noise of a pen as a ramemory the car-driver exclaimed pid writer's hand moved over the aloud, " Ah, Master Tony, did ever paper. He peeped cautiously in and
“ you see as good a pony as yon ? saw Dolly seated, writing busily he's carried the minister these at a table all strewn over with eighteen years, and look at him, manuscript : an open book, supporthow he jogs along to-day!”
ed by other books, lay before her, He pointed to a little path in at which from time to time she the valley where old Doctor Stewart glanced. ambled along on his aged palfrey, Before Tony had advanced a step the long mane and flowing tail of she turned round and saw him. the beast marking him out though “Was it not strange, Tony?" said nigh half a mile away.
she, and she flushed as she spoke. Why didn't I think of that be- “I felt that you were there before fore?" thought Tony. “Dolly Stew- I saw you ; just like long ago, when art is the very one to help me. She I always knew where you were has not been bred and brought up hid.” like Alice, but she has plenty of “I was just thinking of that same keen woman's wit, and she has all long ago, Dolly,” said he, taking a a sister's love for me besides. I'll chair beside her, as I came up just go and tell her how we parted, through the fields. and I'll ask her frankly what she thing is the same as it used to be
when we went to seek our fortune Cheered by this bright idea, he across the sandy desert, near the pursued his way in better spirits, Black Lake.” and soon reached the little path "No," said she, correcting ;“ the which wound off from the high- Black Lake was at the foot of road through the fields to the burn- Giant's Rock, beyond the rye
field.” side. Not a spot there unnassociat
“So it was, Dolly; you are right.” ed with memories, but they were Ah, Master Tony, I suspect I the memories of early boyhood. have a better memory of those days The clump of white thorns they than you have. To be sure, I have used to call the Forest, and where not had as many things happening they went to hunt wild beasts ; the in the meanwhile to trouble these little stream they fancied a great memories.”
says to it.”
There was a tone of sadness in “What a good girl you are!” her voice, very slight, very faint said he, and he fixed his eyes full indeed, but still enough to tinge upon her; nor did he know how these few words with melancholy. admiringly till he saw that her face,
“And what is all this writing her forehead, and even her neck, about?” said he, moving his hands were crimson with shame and conthrough the papers.
fusion. composing a book, Dolly ?”
“There is no such great goodness "No," said she, timidly; "I am in doing what is simply one's duty," only translating a little German said she, gravely. story. When I was up in London, “I don't know that, Dolly.” I was lucky enough to obtain the Come, come, Tony, you never insertion of a little fairy tale in a fancied yourself a hero, just because small periodical meant for children, you are willing to earn your bread, and the editor encouraged me to and ready to do so by some sacrifice try and render one of Andersen's of your tastes and habits.” stories ; but I am a very sorry
The allusion recalled Tony to himGerman, and, I fear me, a still sor- self and bis own cares, and after a rier prose writer; and so, Tony, the few seconds of deep thought he work goes on as slowly as that said, “I am going to make the venbridge of ours used long ago. Do you ture now, Dolly. I am called away remember, when it was made, we to London by telegraph, and am to never had the courage to pass over
leave to-morrow morning." it! Mayhap it will be the same “And are you fully prepared, with my poor story, and, when Tony, for the examination ?” finished, remain unread.”
Luckily for me, they do not re“But why do you encounter such quire it. Some accidental want of a piece of labour?” said he. “This people has made them call in all must have taken a week or more !” the available fellows at a moment's
“A month yesterday, my good warning, and in this way I may Tony; and very proud I am, too, chance to slip into the service un
Ι that I did it in a month."
challenged." “ And for what, in heaven's “Nay, but, Tony,” said she, rename?”
proachfully," you surely could face “For three bright sovereigns, the examination ?" Master Tony !” said she, blushing, “I could face it just as I could
“Oh, I didn't mean that,” said face being shot at, of course, but he, in deep shame and confusion. with the same certainty of being “I meant only, why did you engage bowled over. Don't you know, on such a hard task.”
Dolly, that I never knew my gram“I know you didn't mean it, mar long ago till you had dinned it Tony; but I was so proud of my into my head; and as you never success as an author, it would out. come to my assistance now, I know Yes,” said she, with a feigned air of well what my fate would be.” importance, “ I have just disposed “My dear Tony," said she,“ do of my copyright; and you know, get rid once for all of the habit of unTony, Milton did not get a great deal derrating your own abilities : as my more for ‘Paradise Lost.' You see,” dear father says, people very easily added she seriously, “what with make self - depreciation a plea of poor papa's age and his loneliness, indolence. There, don't look so and my own not over-great strength, dreary; I'm not going to moralise in I don't think I shall try (at least the few last minutes we are to have not soon) to be a governess again; together. Talk to me about yourand it behoves me to be as little as self." I can of a burden to him; and af- “It was for that I came, Dolly," ter thinking of various things, I said he, rising and taking a turn or have settled upon this as the best.” two up and down the room; for in
truth he was sorely puzzled how to "Slightly : it is seldom quite approach the theme that engaged free of pain. You have chosen a him. “I want your aid ; I want poor guide, Tony, when there is a your woman's wit to help me in a question of the habits of fine folk. difficulty. Here's what it is, Dolly,” None know so little of their ways as and he sat down again at her side, I do. But surely you do not need and took her hand in his own. guidance. Surely you are well "Tell me, Dolly," said he, suddenly, capable of understanding them in “is it true, as I have read some- all their moods.” where, that a woman, after having With all her attempts to appear made a man in love with her, will calm and composed, her lip shook boast that she is not in the least and her cheeks trembled as she bound to requite his affection if she spoke ; and Tony, more struck by satisfies herself that she has elevated her looks than her words, passed him in his ambition, given a higher his arm round her, and said, in a spring to his hope, made him, in kind and affectionate voice, “I see fact, something better and nobler you are not well, my own dear than his own uninspired nature Dolly; and that I ought not to had ever taught him to be ? I'm come here troubling you about my not sure that I have said what I own selfish cares; but I can never meant to say; but you'll be able help feeling that it's a sister I to guess what I intend.”
speak to." “You mean, perhaps, will 'Yes, a sister," said she, in a woman accept a man's love as a faint whisper—“a sister !” means of serving him without any And that your brother Tony intention of returning it ?”
has the right to come to you for Perhaps he did not like the fa- counsel and help.” shion in which she put his question, “So he has,” said she, gulping for he did not answer, save by a nod. down something like a sob; “but
" I say yes ; such a thing is pos- these days, when my head is weary sible, and might happen readily and tired, and when - as to-day, enough if great difference of station Tony-I am good for nothingseparated them."
Tell me,” said she, hastily, “how “Do you mean, if one was rich does your mother bear your going and the other poor ?”
away? Will she let me come and sit “Not exactly ; because inequali- with her often? I hope she will." ties of fortune may exist between “That she will, and be so happy persons of equal condition."
to have you, too ; and only think, In which case,” said he, hur- Dolly, Alice Lyle—Mrs Trafford, I riedly, "you would not call their mean—has offered to come and keep stations unequal, would you ?.” her company sometimes. I hope
“That would depend on how far you'll meet her there : how you'd wealth contributed to the habits like her, Dolly!” of the wealthier. Some people are Dolly turned away her head, so accustomed to affluence, it is so and the tears, against which she had much the accompaniment of their struggled so long, now burst forth, daily lives, that the world has for and slowly fell along her cheek. them but one aspect.”
“You must not fancy, Dolly, that “Like our neighbours here, the because Alice is rich and great Lyles, for instance ?” said he. you will like her less. Heaven
Dolly gave a slight start; like a knows, if humble fortune could sesudden pang of pain, and grew parate us, ours might have done so.” deadly pale. She drew away her "My head is splitting, Tony, hand at the same time, and passed dear. It is one of those sudden it across her brow.
attacks of pain. Don't be angry “Does your head ache, dear if I say Good-bye; there's nothing
, Dolly?" asked he, compassionately. for it but a dark room, and quiet.
"My poor dear Dolly," said he, was it that I did not place the pressing her to him, and kissing matter as clearly as I might ? Was her twice on the cheek.
I too guarded, or was I too vague ? “No, no!” cried she, hysterically, Well, well. I remember the time as though to something she was when, no matter how stupid I was, answering; and then, dashing away, she would soon have found out she rushed from the room, and Tony my meaning ! What a dreary could hear her door shut and locked thing that life of a governess must as she passed in.
be, when it could reduce one so “How changed from what she quick of apprehension and so readyused to be !" muttered he, as he witted as she was to such a state went his way ; “I scarcely can be- as this! Oh, is she not changed!” lieve she is the same ! And, after And this was the burden of his all, what light has she thrown on musings as he wended his way tothe difficulty I put before her? Or wards home.
CHAPTER Xxxy.-SIR ARTHUR ON LIFE AND THE WORLD IN GENERAL.
“ Here it is at last, mother,” were, ' Come up and be examined'? said Tony, holding up the “de- I think I'm a good-tempered felspatch " as be entered the cottage.
but I declare to you frankly, “ The order for the examination, if one of those ‘ Dons' were to put Tony !” said she, as she turned a question to me that I couldn't pale.
answer-and I'm afraid it would “No, but the order to do with- not be easy to put any other-I'd out it, mother dear ! — the order find it very hard not to knock him for Anthony Butler to report him- down! I mean, of course, mother, self for service, without any other if he did it offensively, with a test than his readiness to go chuckle over my ignorance, or wherever they want to send him. something that seemed to say, It seems that there's a row some- * There's a blockhead, if ever there where-or several rows—just now.
I know I couldn't Heaven bless the fellows that got help it !” them up, for it gives them no time Oh, Tony, Tony !” said she, at the Office to go into any imper- deprecatingly. tinent inquiries as to one's French, Yes, it's all very well to say or decimal fractions, or the other Tony, Tony; but here's how it is. qualifications deemed essential to It would be all up' with me. It carrying a letter-bag, and so they've would be by that time decided sent for me to go off to Japan. that I was good for nothing, and
“To Japan, Tony-to Japan ?” to be turned back. The moment
“I don't mean positively to would be a triumphant one for the Japan, for Skeffy says it might be fellow that 'plucked' me-it alTaganrog, or Timbuctoo, or Tam- ways is, I'm told—but I'll be shot boff, or some other half-known if it should be all triumph to him!” place. But no matter, mother; it's
"I won't believe this of you, so much a mile, and something be- Tony," said she, gravely. sides per day; and the short and not like your father, sir ! ” long of it is, I am to show myself “ Then I'd not do it, mother—at on Tuesday, the 9th, at Downing least if I could help it,” said he, Street, there to be dealt with as growing very red. I say, mother, the law may direct.”
is it too late to go up to the Abbey " It's a hasty summons, my poor and bid Sir Arthur good-bye? Alice Tony
asked me to do it, and I promised " It might be worse, mother. her.” What would we say to it if it “Well, Tony, I don't know how