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of undeniable respectability. Cyril gave her a good deal of* old furniture, that looked very well in the quaint and neat and scrupulously clean rooms; also, he committed to Sally's charge such things as he had reserved for himself—a few books, a few pictures, some chairs and tables, and the mammoth bed from the Cedar Chamber, with sundry other family possessions that were, as advertisements say, "of no use to anyone but the owner." But in one of her airiest rooms Sally had arranged them all, and it pleased her to call the room Cyril's, and to keep it in order that he might occupy it whenever he came to Southchester, if he chose. Though, as Sally argued, " he wouldnaturally choose to go to Forest Range ;" she did not know that he would as soon now take up his quarters at Monkswood as at Forest Range.
"Well, Mr. Cyril, it is very good of you to come to me!" said Sally, fondly, as she held his hands. "I feel as if—now don't be offended with me—as if my little brother, who died years ago, had come to see me."
"You will never offend me, Sally; I shall always feel that you are something belonging to me, something left of the old times, that seem strangely precious now that they are gone away for ever. Yes! I come to you as a younger brother; you will be always my patient, motherly sister!"
"I hope so, Mr. Cyril: you are all that is left to me of the old Monkswood life."
"A life that cannot have many pleasant reminiscences, I fear."
"Looking back upon it, it seems very calm and pleasant; there were trials, certainly, but so there are in every lot, and I had grown into the dull, grave routine of Monkswood. I had grown to like it, and a visit now and then to Forest Range, was my dissipation ; just the little variety that seasoned the monotony of home. Only you were always the sunshine of Monkswood, Mr. Cyril. You will breakfast hero to-morrow morning, or rather this morning, before you go to Forest Range?"
"Sally, I shall not go to Forest Range to-mOrrow, or the next day, or any day."
"Mr. Cyril! Oh! what is it? You look so pale and stern. You have not offended Sir John, or my lady?"
"No, Sally! But Miss Ashburner has changed her mind, that is all!" And then he told her the whole story.
Her grief and indignation were so very sincere, that Cyril felt more comforted than he had been since the miserable truth had been disclosed to him; but he would not let her speak harshly of Elizabeth. It was something unprecedented in all the annals of his experience that Sally Hawkes should say hard things of any one ; but here she was, carried away in a tempest of feeling, pronouncing judgment against the offending heiress of Forest Range, and speaking more decidedly than any one had ever heard her speak before. And at last she sat down and cried heartily, for Sally was a far-seeing woman, and she at onco predicated to herself the mischief that would ensue. There was that in Cyril's altered face, which told her that this trial was telling upon him most adversely. "And what have you come for, then, Mr. Cyril?" she said presently.
"Well, Sally, I might have come to see you, to be sure that you are comfortable in your new home, and that no one is imposing on you!"
"I do not think you came to see me, Mr. Cyril."
"Perhaps not, primarily, but inclusively with other reasons, Sally. I really want to know how you are 'getting on,' as people say.
"Thank you, Sir. Cyril, very comfortably. My rooms are all occupied, and all my lodgers are of the stamp I wished when I purposed keeping house in this way. I have Mrs. Dunstan, the old prebend's widow, in the drawing-room, and Miss Cleverly in the downstairs parlour, and young Mr. Chasuble, the curate of St. Mildred's, has the two little rooms that you thought the nicest in the house."
"Then you have no anxieties, Sally?"
"Thank the Lord, no, Mr. Cyril! All has been very happily ordered. No one who really trusts in God can be very anxious, I think!"
"I have known good people very anxious—nay, miserably anxious!"
"Perhaps it was their temperament! Some people seem naturally to look at their surroundings through smoked glasses, and they are very unfortunate; for as each person has some sorrow more or less in his existence, he who is the victim of gloomy forebodings suffers every trouble apportioned to him twice or ten times over, and not only so, for he endures what may be called imaginary evils! He disquiets himself many a time about miseries that never come to pass. But Christian people should have faith; faith, that all is sure to be made clear at last, all ' ordered' for the very best."
"Do you think it is 'ordered ' for the very best, that I should lose Monkswood, and the last remnant of my decayed fortunes, and now the only woman who could ever make my life good and beautiful and bright'!"
"Yes! I know it is all 'ordered,' there is no doubt about it. And that, generally speaking, all these trials will be for the best, I am also sure; but whether it will be For The Best to you, individually, I cannot quite tell. I think it rests with yourself." "How, Sally?"
"The Word of Truth tells us, 'that all things work together for good to them that love God!' It does not tell us that they work together for good to those who love the world! that is, not specially, though out of all things good will be derived. I do not doubt!"
"You meanihat out of my trouble will spring good for other people but not for myself?"
"Yes! I do mean that, Mr. Cyril, for nothing happens in vain; what is a great calamity to one generation may be a fruitful blessing to another. But Mr. Cyril, why don't you secure the blessing for yourself? Why
don't you let these adverse 'things' which give' you so much pain, work together for your individual good?"
"By loving God, do you mean, and so qualifying myself for one of the elect?"
There was a mocking tone in Cyril's voice, a hardness in his face, that smote Sally to the heart. She shook her head sadly. "Oh! Mr. Cyril, you cannot qualify yourself for one of the elect. Unless God calls you, you cannot love Him!"
"What am I to do, then? Suppose He does not call me? Am I to blame in such a case!"
"Mr. Cyril! God calls all who humbly and heartily desire it. God has called you many a time, but you would not hear His voice, or hearing it, you would not obey. Oh. Sir! remember that there will come a last time! There will be a final call!"
"But loving God, Sally, is really very difficult work, and He has dealt very hardly with me!"
"No! no! not hardly, but very lovingly. Cannot you see that He is emptying your heart of all earthly good, that you may stretch out weak weary hands, and clasp the eternal treasure that is laid up where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, nor thieves break through aud steal? You have lost one inheritance, Mr. Cyril, but had you kept it, it could have been but for a few quickly fleeting years. Now you are called to a better and fairer inheritance that may be your's if you will have it, for Time and for Eternity, for it is incorruptible and undefiled, and it cannot fade away. Oh! Mr. Cyril dear! won't you take it? won't you set out for the Kingdom?"
"I feel too world-worn, too hardened, I believe, Sally, to set out for anywhere! If it is God's will that I should suffer such reverse and pain of mind, I cannot resign myself to it! I would alter it if I could. I feel like one who is unjustly treated. Why should I be singled out for sorrows that come, indeed, not as single spies, but in battalions? Why should I suffer, and Vivian Gower triumph? Why should mine be all the loss and his all the gain ?—mine the shadows and the darkness, and his the sunshine?"
"Is it the sunshine, or only the delusive light and warmth that a meteor may give?"
"I do not know; but this I do know, that with him all is pleasantness and satisfaction, while with me it is all wretchedness and discontent!"
"Dear Mr. Cyril, it is sorrow", I know, but it need not be wretchedness! Nothing but sin should make us really wretched, and for that wretchedness even, there is abundant consolation."
"Sally, your life and mine are very far apart. If it were in nothing else, you are a woman and I am a man, and you know Mrs. Barrett Browning, with the most charming naicete, confesses—
"Women cannot judge for men."
Also. I live in the busy world and you live here, in the cloister, as it were, in this calm, secluded St. Mildred's, with the sound of church bells and cathedral chimes about you, and your simple duties and few temptations."
"Mr. Cyril, dear! I like to hear the bells calling to praise and prayer; but you know:—
"There are in this loud stunning tide
"Sally, I must go to bed, we can talk again to-morrow, or as you would say to-day, for the cathedral clock struck the quarter after two some minutes since. If you begin to quote Keble there is no knowing where you will end, and I am mortally weary."
"Well, good night, Mr. Cyril, I have kept you talking too long. I hope you will sleep in the gable room comfortably. It is certainly the nicest in the house."
"I am sure it is, Sully, or you would not have assigned it to me. I know you of old."
Cyril slept very badly in the gable-room, and in the huge, heavy, curtained bed, which had been transported from the Cedar Chamber. No male Denham had even lain there before, save in unconscious infancy, in bridal days, or in the last great agony that parts the flesh and spirit. He was the first who had ever used it as an ordinary couch for ordinary sleeping purposes. Very soon the rosy morning light was touching the grey cathedral pinnacles, as they rose in all their fair and slender proportions above the roofs of the surrounding houses, and the birds began chirping and warbling about the projecting heams and hideous spout-heads of the ancient dwelling, and still Cyril tossed about beneath the faded canopy, and slumber refused to visit his heavy eyelids. He was thinking of many things, ramblingly, discursively, as one does think in hours of enforced sleeplessness; and at last his thoughts culminated in one point —his friend and hostess, Sally. "Yes!" he mused to himself "it is most absurd. I have always felt as if Sally were a sort of little mother to me; she talks as if she were a score of years older than myself, whereas, in truth, she is my senior only by six or seven years. She is good as an angel, and as true as gold, and she loves me with all her honest woman's heart! "Why should I not marry her? She is a lady by birth, though she was my mother's dependent! Why should I doom myself to a solitary life, because a capricious girl cannot, or will not, keep faith? Sally has had her love-dream, and so have I! and she is only six years older than myself! We could not live here, it would not be desirable, so near Monkswood and Forest Range; we should live in London, and be very quietly, comfortably happy. I am sure of Sally, I have known her all my life; she would never clasp my hand to-day, and let it go tomorrow; she would be faithful to me, if she ever promised! But if! I am not at all sure that Sally would Say "yes," even if I asked her; only if she were to say it, it would be said for evermore. She would never plead that—
'Colours seen by candlelight, Do not look the same by day!'
I could not properly love Sally, I know; but then, we have both of us followed that mocking phantom poets and novelists call Love,—only to be disenchanted; and might do each other good, I dare say, and jog on most respectably.''
Poor Cyril! Had it come to this? Was he willing to take the bread of life, and renounce for evermore its wine? Could he content himself with sober wintry days, calm indeed and mild, but leafless, fiowerless, grey, passing swiftly from the morning twilight to the evening shades; when once he had thought to sun himself in the glorious summer months, with wealth of song, and foliage, and fairest bloom? Musing thus, he fell asleep, and the morning was well on its way to noon, when he awoke from a dream of Monkswood, and Elizabeth as its mistress and his wife, and found himself in his own state-bed, in Sally's gableroom. He went down full of apologies, but not so sure, as when he fell asleep, of the expediency of converting Sally into Mrs Cyril Denham. And if he had doubted while he was dressing, his doubts were more than quadrupled when he went down stairs, and saw Sally's pure, meek face, with its sweetest but gravest expression bending over the coffee-cups He took one glance at the steadfast, calm countenance, the gentle brown eyes filled with anxious thought, the regular but faded features, the colourless and somewhat sunken cheek, and the plain bands of soft brown hair, already slightly streaked with grey; and decided, almost unconsciously, but very firmly, that he had been half dreaming when he entertained so ridiculous a notion. And since Sally had taken to housekeeping she had taken also to neat Quakerlike little caps, which became her
rather than otherwise, only they made her look much older than she really was, and gave her the staid, elderly matronly air Bhe desired to present as the mistress of an establishment. No; such a notion was not to be entertained by broad daylight. Sally would be shocked, pained, insulted; for certainly it had never occurred to her that Cyril was thinking of her in any other light than a faithful, humble friend, half sister and half mother. She would as soon have dreamed of being affianced to her pale, smooth-faced lodger, the high-church curate of St. Mildred's, who treated her exactly as if she were fifty years of age, and confided to her his own strong conviction that the clergy of the Church of England were equally bound with their brethren of the elder Church— viz., Rome, to vows of strict celibacy. And if Cyril said one word, that should reveal the light in which for a brief hour be had thought it possible to regard her, there would be an end to the kindly, sisterly intimacy which had grown with his growth, commencing in his early boyhood, when he was perpetually plunging into scrapes, to be dragged out or coaxed out by Sally HawUcs, then first sunning herself in the smiles of the man of sugarloaves and finest hyson ; and continuing to this day, when he found himself counting upon her as upon his only faithful friend. Certainly, Sir John and Lady Ashburuer were faithful still, and so probably were Agnes and Janet Anstruther, but then they were all associated with Elizabeth, and must therefore in some sort be henceforth dissociated from him. After all, Sally was the one to whom he could now pour out his heart most freely, secure of sympathy, of interest, of kindliest aid, if that were possible. Oh no! » thousand times, no! It would not do, to risk this firmly settled friendship, in a vain attempt to change its long-established aspects. Solly Hawkes must be still, the dear, good affectionate Sally she had ever been; and he must be the Mr. Cyril she had petted and lectured, and almost idolized so long: they
must go on so, for the remainder of their lives. And for once, Cyril showed himself to be not the child of impulse; though if Sally had been present when the idea of marrying her first started up in his mind, it is more than probable he would have proposed upon the spot Happily for his comfort and wellbeing, and for her own peace and happiness, he was in the gable-room, and she in her neat little chamber, fast asleep. And the colours that he had seen so vividly in the red glowing morning beams, did not look the same at the breakfast-table, with the full broad light of noon staring down upon him. He went to the afternoon service in the Cathedral, entering by a little door that he knew of in the cloisters, and glided into one of the stalls, where lie was not likely to be observed. How familiar it all seemed! The beautiful building itself, of which he seemed to know every arch and corbel, every shaft and capital, the dim soft light falling on the dark carving of the choir, the voices of the chorister*, the tones of the organ, the exquisite perspective of the long and high arched nave. And this was big last visit for many a year; his farewell to this "dim and mighty minster of old Time."
He listened to the service like one in a dream; he heard the saered words, but they fell all unheeded on his ear, and still more carelessly on Ilia heart; and yet there was something in the rising and falling waves of solemn sound, that soothed the weariness of his sorrow-laden spirit. All too soon for him, he heard the prayer of St. Chrysostom, and the Benediction; and the great Amen swelled once more along the ancient choir, and died amid the groinings of the " high embowed roof" The choristers and clergy formed in procession, and their white surplices flitted past the screen, and across the southern transept, and were lost in the gloom of the venerable cloisters; and then, the cathedral being nearly empty, Cyril rose from his tta-jij aia I walked slowly down the rt.i.e. lie paused when he came to the j eat western entrance, and cast
one long sweeping glance along the beautiful perspective of pillared aisle and lofty choir, and shadowy " ladyechapel," a lingering look of pain, for in his heart of hearts, he loved that glorious cathedral of his native Southamshire, and he might see it never more; for this was his farewell visit to the haunts of early years, as still he clung to the idea of leaving England, when the three months of pledged inaction should be past.
He came out into the brilliant light of the May afternoon, and took the lonely meadow way to St. Croix. How green those lawn-like meadows were! How vivid were the tender hues of bud and foliage! How fair the shifting beams that through the broad canopies of emerald verdure played on thetranslueent waters of the streams, that, like a flashing network, mingled and interwove with their flower-fringed currents! And howexultiugwas thecarol of the lark, as he rose above the leafy grove into the warm blue dome of sky, that brooded over all. Never was a Mayday softer or more beautiful; never seemed the grey hospital and the solemn minster-church of St. Croix so hallowed and so fair, as on that sunny afternoon; only Cyril himself was out of tune, and an unutterable sadness weighed down his heart.
He went to the porter's lodge for the key of the church, and crossing the great quadrangle, found himself once more within the tall, dark nave, where mould and damp were thick upon the heavy Norman pillars. It was the weight of centuries and the memories of a long-faded, but heroie Past, that made those lonely aisles so solemn.
And there, in the shadow of the chancel, the dim light falling through the richly-tinted eastern window, on the worn marble of the floor, and on the ancient altar-tombs where slept the Denhams who had held their own full proudly under Tudor and Stuart kings and queens, was the quiet grave where his mother slept in peace.
But what was Cyril's surprise to see upon the simple stone bright flowers of early summer—pearly