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could doubt it? What happiness, what spot of conscious self-judgment they ever peace even, could she look to were he to willingly abrogate. Mrs. Cathers had recover? It was not merely that he was even abrogated this. From the moment beartless, selfish, unfaithful even - the that Algernon — bitten like other young colonel was not more exacting in his men with the eclecticisms of his day standard of masculine virtue than another, had joined the standard of æsthetic revolt, and he had encountered similar failings and proclaimed his abhorrence of all prebefore. It was nothing positive, in fact, vailing modes of apparel, Mrs. Cathers so much as what was negative. It was had submitted. She had followed in his the innate hollowness of the man. Tap wake as a faithful recruit follows his offi. him where you would, he rang unsound. cer to the battle-field, had laid down her * There was not a point, not even a defect, taste at his feet, as she might have laid upon which you could lay a finger and her life, and accepted his in its place withsay, “Here at least is solid ground.” Such out a murmer. She would have worn a union as his and hers what was it in poke bonnets or white linen caps for the its essence but the union between the liv- rest of her natural life, had Algernon ing and the dead?. Life is growth, and taken it into his head to become a Quaker there was no growth in him, and had his or a Cowley brother. What she had worn life been prolonged - yea, to the age of was scarcely less abhorrent to the natural patriarchs — there never would have been. woman. As for any reason or object for Character, the ethical side of humanity, these -- to her unaccountable aberrawas to all practical purposes absolutely tions she had not a notion. Algernon non-existent.
preferred them, as he preferred many un. It was only when he encountered poor accountable things, and that was enough. Mrs. Cathers a shock which with true Why he preferred them, she had no more manly cowardice be avoided as much as pretensions to know than the weathercock possible — that he relented. Pity then upon the steeple pretends to know or got the upper hand. The poor 'thing's share the inmost councils of Eolus. wild despair was enough indeed to move And now the authority upon which she the pity of any creature born of woman. had formed herself was slipping away Long as it had been foreseen by others, to from her, the prop on which she had her it was the inconceivable, the utterly leaned was falling to the ground, and the impossible, that was happening. She was poor maternal parasite, what, in pity's too good and pious, perhaps too matter- name, was to become of her? Where was of-fact for that wild sense of revolt which she to turn, and what was she to do? longs at any cost to avenge itself, which Henceforward to all intents and purposes would discharge its unavailing bolts her life was over and done with, more against the smiling heavens themselves. piteous indeed than were it so, seeing that Astonishment was her prevailing feeling, a thing which is doomed, but still lives, is a wonder that the earth and stars, the a sadder one by far than where the struground sun itself could gaze unmoved upon gle is already past. Had some form of so inconceivable a consummation. She maternal sutteeism been in force there is seemed to those about her to sbrink and little doubt she would have accepted it, pine from hour to hour, collapsing like would have followed her Algernon to the some air-plant whose patron root is dying, tomb just as she would have followed him and which as a consequence shares its in anything conceivable that he had sug. doom.
gested while living. Poor tender unreThere are natures which in all tender- quiring mother! What wonder that the ness can only be described as parasitic; hearts of all who saw her in those days which are as absolutely dependent upon bled when they thought of her future? another as the cytinus of Italian pine The colonel was a good deal puzzled woods is dependent upon the cistus on about his little friend Jan. Had any realwhich it feeds. From the moment of her ization of her father's peril presented itself son's birth Mrs. Cathers's whole life, hab- to her small mind? he wondered. He had its, tastes, pride, happiness, had been not seen much of her lately, so had not formed, concentrated upon, centred in this had any opportunity of talking to or being one object. She could hardly be said to questioned by her. The next time, howhave any separate existence, so absolute ever, he went to the villa, she suddenly had been the identification. No more sprang up from a window-sill upon which touching proof of this could be found she had curled herself to wait for her than her dress — the very palladium of mother. It was in a passage near the sicksimple feminine souls like hers the last 1 room and was kept dark, the persiennes
being tightly drawn. The child looked melting indistinguishably one into an
| more like a little gnome than ever, in the other, tossed into steeper curves and dim light, penetrated here and there by sharper descent than ever Atlantic billows thin threads of sunshine; her mop of fair in their wildest, rolling up and up, till hair stood on end like the wig of an elec- they culminated in the steep serrated trical doll, her thin arms waved excitedly, ridge where the watch-towers of Bargilio as she seized him by the flap of his coat. showed grey against the greyness.
“ Colonel Laurie ! Colonel Laurie ! The sense of stillness was extraordiPleath I want to ask you zumthing. Where nary; the gravity of night; the peculiar is fadie going?” she inquired eagerly: sanctity of solitude. If ever there was a
Going ? The colonel stopped short. night to carry a man's thoughts into the What had the child heard ? he wondered. silent mystery, into the very soul of things, How much did she 'know? 6 What do this was one. Our thoughts, however, you mean, Jan dear?” he asked gently. are for the most part a mixed and froward
I heard Peacock, muddie's maid, tell Aock, high and low, good and bad, jostle Cox zat he was going — going fast one another in our brains, as the Tuppers and I want to know where he ith going and Shakespeares, the Fenelons and the to?"
Feuilletonists, jog elbows in our bookNever the readiest of men, the enquiry shelves. To-night our sober friend was found the colonel unprepared with a re- in a restless mood, carried out of his usual ply. Jan took advantage of his hesita- self by some unaccountable exhilaration, tion.
some feeling of anticipation, due proba. “ Becauth I thought per-waps it was to bly to the night; to the soft thick southern En-ger-land he was going,” she contin- dusk, the intoxicating scent of the chestued in her little shrill deliberate voice, nut-trees, to the whole environment and with its conscientiously emphasized pro- atmosphere, since what exciting or internunciation. “And I thought if he was esting was likely to befall him on that sad going vezy far vezy far indeed - I hilltop? Of all inappropriate melodies, would wather he went than muddie. too, nothing but the well-worn strains of Wouldn't you?”
Moore's bacchanalian love-song must If the first question was a difficult one choose to make a lodgment to-night in his to answer, the second was a poser indeed! not very musical brain. Twice the colonel tried to find a reply, and May moon is beaming, love, the glowboth times failed. The alternative the worm's light is gleaming, love" child's question put before him was too and over again, for no reason that he startling, it literally unmanned him. At could imagine, that demon of a tune would length he fairly turned, and, muttering break out, like some impish crowd that something about looking for her uncle, will have its fing, no matter who may be ran down the stairs and out into the gar-dead or dying. When he got near the den, leaving Jan - a long thread of sun- villa he thought that he had got the better light entangling itself in her web of yellow of it, but just as he was reaching the gate hair - gazing after him with an expres- it suddenly broke out again. "And the sion of surprised displeasure.
best of all ways to lengthen our days, is to He kept away after this for several steal a few hours from the night, my days. There was nothing for him to do, love !” he told himself, and there was something He was near turning back, he was so ghoul-like in hanging vaguely about the scandalized. It was not audible, it is precincts of the sick-room. One evening, true, yet the silence seemed to be ringing about a week later, he and young Mor- with its indecorous levity, the funereal daunt had come back from a long walk on cypress overhead to be pointing horrified the hills, and the impulse took him about fingers upwards with an air of sanctified bedtime to wander out again in the direc- reprobation. tion of Lugliano. It was a delicious He went on after a while, treading his night - delicious, that is, for all who way along the narrow footpath, where the were not called to spend it in a rather cypresses hardly left room to pass. When stuffy bedroom. Soon he was in the wood, he came to the front of the house he stood under the great cathedral-like roof of still, looking upwards. A door was open chestnut-trees, which made an almost con- upon a small wooden balcony, and through tinuous dome over his head. Emerging the aperture came a dull stream of yellow into an open space not far below the sum- light. Some one was standing upon the mit, the whole forest world seemed to lie balcony, a woman, by the dress, but a like a map around him, a sea of tree-tops, shadow from one of the trees fell across
• The young
her, so that it was impossible to make out “He ought to have had a different wife; who it was. Presently, however, she that has been his misfortune throughout,' moved and lifted her head, and then he she went on. “ There is no knowing what saw that it was Lady Eleanor.
a difference that might not have made. His heart began to beat and vibrate A wife that would have suited him, that with great thick thuds; a sort of vertigo, would have understood his tastes, and born of the southern night, seemed to sympathized with him, who would have overtake and envelop him, and he half cared for the same sort of things as he lifted his arms towards her. She too saw did; not a stupid headstrong creature who him suddenly, and started a little; but, thought she knew better than any one. after a moment's hesitation, beckoned to Oh, John, what a fool, what a wretched, bim to stay where he was, and, leaving wretched fool one is when one is young! the balcony, came slowly down a little And to think " She paused, and her outside staircase, which led into the gar- voice sank again to a yearning passionate den, her white dress and white face mak- pity, “to think of the harm that one may ing her a ghostly enough visitant for those do ?” dim reaches of the moon.
He uttered an ejaculation of impatience. Speak low," she said, when she had “ Don't talk like that, Lady Eleanor,” he joined him, “ Mrs. Cathers has just fallen said irritably. “ You have no right to say asleep. Poor thing, she is so tired! Sh such things of yourself. You are tired has worn herself out with hope, and yet to-night, and overwrought; you cannot
- yet perhaps it is better for her that she judge fairly. God knows, no human being can hope.”
except yourself could find a shadow of “And you?" he said tenderly. Had blame to throw at you. Be just! Injushis life depended on it he could not at that tice is injustice, even if it is against onemoment have helped the tenderness of self.” his tone. Her face touched him inex- “I know. It is not that; you do not pressibly. It was so wan, and weak, and understand. I am not blaming myself white, the pale eyelids seeming hardly foolishly indeed. I do not say that — of able to retain their places above the weary late — I have not done what I could. But eyes,
-oh, I can't explain, you would never “Oh, I am well enough.” She paused. understand, no one could. It is that he and sighed a little. “It has been such a ought to have had a different wife from comfort having her here. She is so good. the very beginning; one who would not She talks to him of what he did when he have imagined such foolish, impossible was a little boy, and repeats verses to him things at first, and who would have had
little verses he used to learn about God more patience, more sense afterwards. If and heaven, and he likes it, and listens only -oh, if only I could have the time gladly. I wish I had thought of doing again! If I could have foreseen! If —" that sort of thing before. I don't know There came a slight sound from overwhy I didn't. Everything with me comes head. She stopped and listened. It was too late. I suppose it seemed ” — she repeated, and with a motion of the hand hesitated, and was silent.
she glided away up the steps, and disap“A mockery," was the word with which peared into the house. He waited for her hearer would have been inclined to some time, thinking that she might reapfinish the sentence. He did not so so, of pear, but as she did not do so, he at last
He waited instead, trying to fol. turned away and walked down the hill to low the course her thoughts had taken. his hotel. He was startled and unprepared, however, His soul was hard and sore within him. When she suddenly broke out again, this A numbness, heavy as lead, lay upon him time in a voice of yearning unspeakable as he walked along through the moonpity.
stricken tree-trunks. “She loves him," “ He is so young! Only twenty-seven ! he said to himself. “In spite of all he John, is it not cruel? Think of it! Twen- has done to cure her, she is not cured; ty-seven! Why, a man of twenty-seven she loves him. He will be dearer to her, may be anything. His whole life is still too, dead, than ever he could be living. before him. No one can tell what he may Living, he would have revolted her hourly be. No one!”
by his selfishness, his incapacity to underThe colonel was silent. It seemed to stand the very alphabet of anything noble him that the lines of Algernon Cathers's or honest. Now she will make haste to life had been pretty accurately laid down. forget all that. She will invent a touching It was not the moment to say so, however. I fiction, and call it by his name. Dying,
he will be to her forever the lover of her | Young Mordaunt and John Lawrence were youth, the one being she supremely loved. upon the ridge, but did not enter the villa. Her generosity and magnanimity will be They stood about the walks, not speaking his shield and buckler. Once dead - to one another, restless, uncomfortable. safe, therefore, from himself - - no other. The silence was extraordinary. Every dart will be able to assail him. His shrine breath seemed suspended. One or two will be in the very front of her life, empty, of the village people had gathered near but still the symbol of all that she has the entrance and stood there motioniess. loved, all that she ever can love!” Presently Dr. Mulligan came to the door
A sense of wrong and rankling injustice for a moment, -even his ruddy cheeks welled
within him as he walked along toned to greyness by the last supreme under the moonlight, — very type of calm struggle. and caressing tenderness. What was the “He is conscious,”
," he said. “ He use of honor, of faith, of manliness, he opened his eyes just now, and looked at asked himself bitterly, if such a one as your sister - nodding at young Morthat was allowed to quit the stage with all daunt. “He said something I can't the honors of war? He could have found swear what it was, but I think I caught it in his heart to drag Algernon Cathers Forgive. Poor fellow! he is stronger back, to insist upon his living, if only to than one would believe; nervous strength. prove what a hollow thing he was, to pluck Well, well, it is a hard job however you down with his own hand the painted mask take it, and, however often you see itwhich would henceforth conceal his iden- never seems to get a bit easier; never tity.
will, I suppose — and, with a sigh, the It was not to be, however. For good good man went back to his post. or for bad, credit or discredit, the last act The other two separated, by a mutual was reached, the curtain all but down, the impulse of unsociability, a reflection, perman about to quit the stage in all his stage haps, of that instinct which causes the apparel, knave or hero, king or scullion, stricken creature to seek a lonely hole. vile or noble, it mattered not perhaps very Young Mordaunt strolled up hill'in the much now. She must be a gainer. Yes, direction of the little chapel; John Lawthere was always that comfort. Whatever rence wandered down the slope some fifty the future might have in store for her, she yards or so below the villa, and threw could not fail to be a gainer, as surely as himself at full length upon the edge of a a block of Parian gains by being separated cleared space. from the neighborhood of some corrosive A sudden pity - a pity which seemed metal. She would never realize it, though. for the moment to sweep away all the She had loved him once, had poured choking tide of anger was filling him out upon him the uncounted treasure of for this man who was nearing his end, her love, and hers was not a nature to who had won and was losing her, who take back the gift. The recipient might before the sunlight had moved from yonbe unworthy, the gift bestowed under a der branch would possess her no longer. mistake. Never mind. It had been be. It was that more than the loss of life stowed, and that was enough. The cruel, which moved his pity. He had not de torturing years of alienation, of growing served her, had wronged, wounded, outclear-sightedness, would all be forgotten, raged her, done everything, in fact, a man swept away as though they had never ex. ought not to do, but still, poor fellow! isted, only the first few months of happi- poor wretch! -- he was losing her! ness, only the glad outgoing of a heart too
He tried to fix his mind upon that point young and happy to discriminate, would to the exclusion of all others. He had a remain. That love, that memory, was im- terror, a perfect dread and detestation of mortal, and no other — however tried, any touch of rejoicing springing up now, faithful, enduring — would ever be allowed a horror for that smug philosophy that even remotely to approach its shrine. announces that all is for the best
ing for our own best. What was to be CHAPTER IV.
was to be, but God forbid, he said to himHe did not see her again for nearly a self fervently, that he should rejoice now. week. The last struggle, as often happens He had lain there for perhaps threein consumption, was a hard one; hard quarters of an hour, soothed by the stillupon the sufferer, but perhaps harder still ness and the greenery, when a sound upon those who stood by. There came floated down to him from the ridge, a an afternoon, however, when it was known sound which to less attentive ears might to every one that the end had nearly come. I have been a mere wailing of wind amongst
the tree-tops. He hurried up, and five and stern, and whatever had to be done minutes later stood with his hand upon must be done at once. John Lawrence the latch of the little gate. The deadly and young Mordaunt hurried away in difsilence was broken; there was a subdued ferent directions. A messenger was sent sound and movement everywhere percep. to Lucca to see that all was in readiness. tible. Doctor Mulligan came for an in- Finally it was decided that they should go stant to a window, and nodded his head on in front, so as to smooth the way as significantly; he could hear a moving to much as possible. Mrs. Cathers’s condiand fro of feet, an opening and shutting tion was a serious embarrassment. The of doors, but over every other sound came poor thing passed from one state of unthe one which he had heard below, now consciousness to another, the intervals grown louder, the wailing of a creature in being filled with plaints, sobs, and wild anguish, inarticulate, terrible, uncontrol- appeals to her son to come to her, to lable. It tore into the hearts of all who speak one word, only one little word to heard it, that supreme expression of im- his poor mother; she wouldn't detain him potent agony, hardly human in its self- .- indeed she wouldn't! Her mind, worn abandonment. It seemed to ring, vibrate, by the prolonged strain, seemed to have beat in its passionate misery all about the suddenly given way completely. So en. silence; the woods, the walls, the very air feebled was it that the doctor seriously to be filled with the heart-piercing clamor. doubted the possibility of oving her, and At last it died away, changing first to suggested her being left where she was wild sobbings and moanings, then ceasing until she was a little recovered. She was suddenly, as if the merciful hand of un- aware, however, that her son was being consciousness had been laid upon the moved, and, that being the case, it was sufferer's eyes. The further windows had impossible, they found, to persuade her to been opened for additional air, and against remain behind, indeed there seemed a the light John Lawrence could see Lady cruelty in the bare suggestion. FortuEleanor and the doctor bending over a nately, as long as she was only allowed to prostrate figure which they were helping go, in all else she was docility itself. Her to lift and carry from the room. The poor natural submissiveness seemed to be even mother's hopes had given way at last. increased by her mental weakness. It was Hope may be an angel, but it is one which as if, in following her son to the grave, carries a spear, and when it leaves it often she felt herself still under his direction, kills.
still obeying the voice which, ever since John Lawrence's heart was full of pity; it could articulate, had been to her as the nevertheless after the first minute once voice of Heaven. In the train she sat all those cries of agony were out of his ears day gazing at a spot a little in advance of
- his thoughts turned with the precision the windows, never speaking, evidently of a magnet to a yet more pressing pre- seeing and heeding nothing. When night occupation. How was she feeling? Was came, they could not induce her to lie her heart, too, torn with an agony which down, it seemed as if she feared to interonly regard for others, only the stoicism rupt her journey by so doing. She sat of self-restraint, prevented her showing in and sat unweariedly, till the long darkness the same fashion? He had a wild desire wore away, and the sun again shone piti. to rush into the house — into the very lessly upon their travel-worn faces. Paris ; chamber of death -- to take her by the another eye-wearying stretch of daylight, hand, look into her eyes, assert his own followed by the noise and jar of the emclaim an older, better claim, he felt, barkation; then the paler sunshine, the than that of the man who was lying dead green fields speckled with that universal upon the bed, whose ring was upon her smuttiness which to all newly arrived eyes finger. It was an impossible impulse, he seems to be rapidly overwhelming the knew, to follow, an 'impossible right to whole of England. London, a blur and a claim. He must be patient; he must for- rattle, then a few hours' rest, and then on bear, he must wait. Wait! Torturing and on again, till the broad fields and famillesson ! slowest of all lessons to be learnt, iar red-brown banks of Devonshire were even by women who have had millenniums at length around them. to do it in. He turned away, sick, cold, At the Redcombe station John Lawaching with the sense of his own impo- rence met the party. It was the first time tence.
he had seen Lady Eleanor since the even. Happily there were other things to do. ing of her husband's death, and he had After the long inaction every one sprang looked forward to the meeting as a clue to to sudden activity. Italian law is sharp I what she was feeling. Now that he saw
LIVING AGE. VOL. LX. 3095