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stole a look of content and happy waiting, world's end — to remember, perhaps, when And soon I knew that it was because of a at last he enters the heavenly gates. child that was coming. Her life was wait-" When she is dead, if I am living,” he ing, her heart was longing to see her little repeated. “I will come then to see her one's face; when she spoke there was a once again before they lay her down to light in her eyes, a smile that came and rest; and if not, then you will understand. went about her lips, and seemed to fill her Oh, mother, I loved her!” and suddenly soul with satisfaction. Then I knew and he let go his arms, and kissing me, turned understood. For this promise to her fu- away. ture she was glad; but for him who loved He went, and I stood watching. Is it her, whose wife she was, her heart had no not part of a woman's life that she must answer, no place. But why had he loved watch and wait so much, while all the her, and why was she his, this strange world seems slipping by, save that which woman of the silence and sadness? But never greets her eyes, and she is left alone none could tell me the history of it all. at last, faint with seared hope ?

Then came whole days and weeks in When he was gone, when the room was which they did not come to me. They empty again, and an air of desolation held aloof as if afraid, as if they had some spread slowly over all things, then I went secret and feared lest unwittingly they out into the gallery and looked at a picture might betray it, I did not hear their that had been ours for many a generation. voices, for there had grown up everywhere A hundred years ago it had all happened, a silence, nor see them, save when they that which was set forth, yet still in the crossed to the fir wood at the end of the picture a dead man lay with a dead woman garden. I watched them hurrying to it, on his heart. The hunters had gone forth one or the other, always alone, as if one in the morning, so the story ran, and she went with his sorrow, and one with her had waited woman forever waits. joy; but together they had no business When the evening came, a feast was set,

At last a day came when he stood and the revellers arrived. It was time before 'me and spoke — my boy with the for the huntsmen to return, but the hours brightness gone from his brave clear eyes. went on and there was not a sign of them.

“Mother,” he said, “ I am going. I do The night sped and still they lagged. At not know when I shall return, but be good last there were hurried steps, and a horseto her and do not blame her. It was my man stopped and entered. He tried to folly, my own headstrong madness.” lead away the fair young wife, but she “Going where, my son?”

stood still and speechless, as though “I do not know, dear inother,” he an- Heaven had put its hand on her. The swered, “ but far off, it cannot be too far," revellers gathered round with scared faces, he added bitterly. “Remember this, that and lips they did not dare to open lest she stays here, and the little one must be they should betray the fear that had seized happy. There is nothing to blame her them, trying to hide from her, though it for, — promise me you will think so? It were but for a moment, that which was was my own blindness and folly and ob- coming. But she stood silent in the stinacy." The tears came into my eyes, midst, till there was a sound that made and that last time I saw my boy's face it her start and her lips grow white the was but through their mist. I struggled tramp of many feet. Slowly and heavily to hide them, for we were never cowards the footsteps came nearer, as though above or wept as foolish women, who spend their them was a burden. She raised her head love and sorrow on tears and then forget, for a moment as they carried the dead man break down and weep when they should in. She watched them lay him down, most be still and show their hearts are then with a cry she fell forward, and her strong to bear as well as love.

heart stood still as it touched his. How “But when will you come back? I blessed were you, poor soul! How merasked, while round my throat a cold hand ciful was death, that just folded you in its seemed to tighten. “When will you come arins with him in one long sleep! A thouback?” I cried, with sick fear fastening sand things might have come between you at my heart.

in life, but when death had given you to “ I cannot tell. When she is dead, if I each other, no power beneath the sky am living.” He took me in his arms and could part you more. And yet they did raised his head to look at me. Then he not celebrate the feast that had been made was silent for a moment, as one who sees ready. Cruel and cowardly! They that a face he loves for a last time, and would when you could see and hear and share take its memory with him to the wide I their joy had rejoiced over your marriage

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for a few short years had not courage to like a blind fool, giving his lying and raise one single glass to that sweet mar- cowardice fine names to myself, and when riage that neither time, nor chance, nor I could do so no longer, thinking them a Heaven itself would undo.

thing apart from bimself, as little him as At.last I turned away from the picture the coat he wore; and yet besides there to go back to my own rooms, to sit alone was nothing that could be called by bis and think again; and as I turned I saw

name." that my son's wife had been behind me, “ But if

you

loathe him now?" looking up too at the lovers. There was " What then?" she cried bitterly; "it a mocking light in her eyes, a look of de- is too late. Can you drain wine from fiance on her face, and yet I thought she empty bottles, raise flames from cold trembled as she stood waiting for me to white ashes, or find life blood in a dead speak.

woman's heart? I could sit and wring “ I have been looking at that picture,” | my hands for the man who has never lived I said ; "it is a hundred years and more save in my imagination. I had scorn for since it all happened."

the thing I saw, but I broke my heart for “Yes,” she answered, “a hundred years the thing about which I had only dreamt. and more, and they have long been dead.” And I had no love for the man who loved

I put out my hand trying to touch hers, me and was content with so little. I was but she drew back coldly.

like a dead woman,'

" she burst out pas. My dear,” I said gently, “ your face is sionately, clasping her hands — " 1 bave white, and you look sad enough. Are you been ever since. They wanted me to grieving for your husband, or for those marry your son, and he wanted to marry two lying there, with all the world forever me; whether I wanted to marry him he at an end?

was too absorbed in his own madness to “ Not for them,” she answered bitterly. care. I married him," she went on bit. “They loved. Why should one grieve terly, 6 What did it matter? That in for those who love and are together? me that felt or knew or cared was dead, And why should I grieve for your son ? and all things were the same ; marriage He must go where he pleases."

vows were not more than other words had “But you two love and are apart.” come to be, all alike bitter, sad, and hope

“ No, we do not love !” she said fiercely. less." “We never loved. He loved, and I was “Tell me why he married you,”. I loved. It is ever so one loves, and the said, looking up at the picture of the other is loved.”

woman pillowed on her dead lover's “Tell me more," I whispered, for I breast, and holding on to the chair in could not raise my voice.

which the dead man's father had sat all “ There is nothing more to tell - or the years ago. I could have borne to have that I will tell. They made me marry seen my son lying as he who was brought him, and he would not be refused. He in to the untouched feast was lying ; but was mad, I think," she cried; "for what this that had come to pass -oh, God! was there in mne to love? And in him I that allowed it, what did it mean? found nothing, He was good -- not that he love you so much that he would marry goodness counts for much to a woman's you even without your caring for him? heart, and it was nothing to mine. He I looked at her while I spoke. Never had was good," she repeated wearily, “and she been beautiful; even when I saw her had many things to give. Yes, you may first she was worn and white and weary, look at me in wonder; but had he been her eyes were dull, her hair was faded, poor I should not have been his wife, and youth, though it was hers still, and though it was not I who wanted his money, would be for many a year, seemed blightbut those who had control of me. I had ed. What had my son with his merry no love for him, and he knew it. That heart and joyous voice seen in this strange had been given long before to a man who woman that he must take her to him? was a coward – yes, and worse. I see “He was mad, I suppose,” she anthat now, as we see many things when all swered, the excitement passing from her are too late. A coward, and yet I loved face, “as all are mad at some time. Lately, him better than your son - loved the he has been growing sane, and he has ground over which he trod when he came gone." and lied to me better than your son's “ Whither?" I asked breathlessly. voice when he swore he loved me and it “I do not know. What concern is it of was God's own truth. He deserted me, mine? He is better gone than here. He the man I loved, yet still I went on caring would not stay and let me go, because of

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the child that is coming. When that has up towards the sky. Everything was grey, come, then nothing will matter more to and cold, and silent. him or me.

I was so glad at first,” she The new year dawned. I thought of went on sadly, “ that it was coming; but the strange long years behind it that had that was only selfishness - just selfish had no history save that they were spent gladness, because I wanted it so. What in waiting; but with the new year there is there to rejoice at ? - one life more, a came no change to our still lives. life through us, to suffer and to sorrow, to The winter passed, the snow melted stare aghast at all the pitiless world can from even the coldest paths, and at last do, to sit alone at last when all the mock. once more there was the promise of spring. ery is over and wait for death. I wish it I watched the first bright sunshine glint were born dead !” she burst out suddenly: through the fir-trees and fleck the dark I cannot bear to think of another soul ground with its gold, I saw the shadows

I in the world, to ache and grieve, to strug. dance and the snowdrops raise their tengle with life till it is time to struggle with der heads. death. I wish it were born dead." The One day I stood by the window thinkwords echoed through the empty gallery ; ing how beautiful the world had grown, it seemed as if unseen listeners, gathering for there was happiness everywhere save near, whispered, and carried them through in one sad house. From my lips burst an open door into a world the portal of forth the cry of my heart, “ If he would which was close beside us, though mortal but come back again! A little bird eyes might not look up to see.

sang loud and clear; it was like a promise “I wish it were born dead," she cried of his return. I opened the window and again, and clasped her hands. Why did the sweet fresh air rushed in; it seemed I let them marry me to your son? Why to have journeyed from afar, to bring a was I so cruel? He, a good man, who message, to tell me that he remembered. knew life but to rejoice; and I, a woman I looked up at the sky, it was soft and whose heart had been given to another blue. “He must come back," I cried in man to tread under foot, and who had pain and longing that could not wait in known life but to sorrow. I thought it silence. My son's wife was beside me. would not matter, that it would be all the “He will never come," she said in her same, married or single; but it has not low and bitter voice, “ he will never come been so. I thought it would be like a play, and I a player could act my part; but I Why?" I asked. could not." Then she turned to me defi. “ I cannot tell you," she answer

wered, antly. “Do you hate me much?” she he will never come. I lied to him once, asked curiously.

and I deceived him - do you think he “No, I do not hate you,” I said slowly, will forgive ?” She asked it half scoffhardly knowing what she had asked or "I ingly; but as I turned to speak I saw had answered.

that she was trembling, that on her face “ I do not care; I cannot. Let me go ; there was a look of pain and fear. I want to be alone."

will never come again,” she echoed, “ till “But my son! Will he never return?” I am dead.” She put out her cold hand as

“I do not know. What is your son to if to touch me, but drew back and moved me?"

And in a mocking voice she away. added,

“ He will come when I am dead, The days went by and the sun shone perhaps.” She looked out at the fir wood down on a green world again. There were as she spoke; I knew that she was think flowers in the hedges and hidden in the ing of the burial-place just half a mile woods. The birds sang of the spring that beyond it. She turned away, and shiver- had come, of the summer that would soon ing with cold and weariness, walked slowly sweep over the hills, touching all things along the gallery; I watched her gown with its gold. In the distance I could trailing noiselessly over the shining Hoor, hear the song of the river as it hurried by a door shut, and I was alone.

rejoicing, overhead the swallows passed Then came a long silence in our lives. on their way to northern shores; and in Day after day, week after week passed the midst of all things there was the voice by, with never a sign of him. An old of a little child. It seemed so strange a woman sorrowing, a young one doggedly sound in this sad house, as if the world waiting; that was all. The leaves fell had grown young again, and even my old dead and yellow, the wind carried them beart leapt up and could have laughed for whistling over the grass towards the wood, joy. the branches, bare and brown, stretched At last the strange woman my son had

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married seemed as though she could bear turn." It was as though she had no other and be still no longer; her face softened, words to say but those few piteous ones, her voice changed, and one day, just for a "Entreat himn to return." But he did not moment, she let her head fall on my shoul- come. der, as if to gain a moment's rest.

She fell ill at last with a long, weary “Mother," she whispered - and before illness that only happiness could heal, and she had never said the word "I want that would not come nigh her. Many a him back. If he could see the child, per- time she called me to her as she sat alone haps he would forgive me, and some day as in a dream. love me once again. I want his love - I “Mother,” she said one day, “if I want it now. I am hungry for it, longing should die, and he comes back, tell him for it, and he does not know. I shall die this -- that I was never false to him. I if he does not come; tell him that for me, did not love him, but I was true - save in and beg him to come back again. I lied my thoughts. I did not say one single to him, and he will not believe me now. word for the other man to hear, nor write But it was all a madness; I did not say one line for him to read. I lied and stole one single word to the man I went all those away that awful night just for one last miles to see that night. I stood and moment to see that other one pass by. I watched him pass, and came away unseen. hid, and watched, and listened; I heard It ended there. Your son knew that it his footsteps drawing near; I

saw him did, though I had lied and schemed to go. pass, and when he had gone I stooped Itended there; surely he will forgive me, and kissed the ground over which his feet and love me again, even though it is but had trod - kissed it and put my face a little, when he sees the child.”

against the earth, and yet the love for him “But I do not understand,” I said be- had gone long years before, and only wildered. The tears fell slowly down her loathing of his cowardice and treachery face, as though her dull eyes grudged remained. But the man I knew would them; the lines about her mouth hardened pass along the road that night when I again, as she answered, in a low, fierce stood there to watch had once taken my voice,

life and youth into his hands, and given "I cannot tell you more. It is his secret them back no more. I did not steal out and mine; he will never tell you, neither to meet a man I loved, or crouch to kiss will I. But if he forgives me oh ! if he his footsteps. It was the ghost of days would but forgive me. Entreat him to that once had been — the ghost of my come back and see the child.”. She said own youth, and all its sweetness, of my old the last words softly; she stole nearer to life and all its promises, all its dreams me. She had known how to be gentle that he had held and killed. They seemed once, but pain and grief had made her to draw near once more when I saw him half afraid of all things in the world. coming, they went farther and farther

“Shall I tell him that you love him?” away into the hopeless distance as he I I asked.

loathed passed on." She answered like a woman in a dream. " And my son ?".

“ Yes, tell him that all my thoughts turn “And your son had followed me. The to him; it is like going home to think of man whom I went out to see went by not him. Only till he comes back the rooms knowing — the man who had held my life. of my dear home are empty; its fires Your son came near as I rose from the burnt low, its gardens silent and deserted. ground I had kissed, and my tears fell It seems as if I entered and waited for fast. I was angry and bitter and miserthe master, thinking of the blessedness of able. For some strange reason I wanted seeing him again, and of the misery this to make another suffer as I had suffered, longing will turn to if he delays. Yet I and the words I said burnt into his heart. am thankful to love him, for there is rest I watched them do it, and was glad.” She and safety for me now, even though he did not raise her head while she spoke, stays from me, just as one feels safe and nor turn from the window by which she rested in one's own home, though none is watched. there to bid one welcome. It is like " And now?" thinking of heaven, remembering that one “I want him back," she said, in her has walked through hell in past days, and even, monotonous voice. “I shall die if found how it could burn and mock and he does not come.” I put out my hand crush. Ask him to come back once more; to touch her, but she drew away, and alif he would listen to me once, then he most shuddered. “Oh, no, no," she said, would understand. Entreat him to re. “I cannot bear it. I was not made for

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that. I cannot laugh and cry, and be ca- | whispering, the busy world busying itself, ressed.” She raised her head, and broke the merry voices of the young, the chatout again: “ Tell him to come back, I tering of the old, and in the midst of it all want him so. I never loved him before - somewhere an empty room, a dead he went — before the child was born, but man. I love him now. I am dying for him; I never had any other home nor any one I Then once more they said she might dared to trust who loved me truly. I be trusted to go about the house again. want to bear him say that he forgives me, She seemed to have had some dream she to rest my head down on his arm, as I could not remember, some blow in the used once to bear my misery and be si- dark that had staggered her and carried lent, but would now to bear my happiness. away her senses. She seldom spoke, but Just once to see him, and then to die, if she would look up sometimes and say, he could love me no more.” She stopped “When he comes back he will see the speaking, but I could not reply. She was child.” She said it with a voice that was like a woman waiting to live or to die, but not her own, and looked up with a face which I could not tell. There was great that had changed. It was as if her former joy or terrible woe to come to her - I self had left her, -had journeyed out to did not dare to wonder which, only I felt him. Sometimes I wonder if they have that her lips were not made for laughter, met, he and she that used to be; if they and for her eyes to light up with joy and understand and all things are explained happiness would have seemed a strange between them at last; or if the life that thing indeed.

left her in those terrible weeks after the Day after day she sat watching, with message came, though it has found him, her face turned towards the copse, forever will yet return, crying out in its agony, watching, but never seeing him for whom " It is too late, too late.” she watched, till gradually there crept The woman who rose from her bed sat over her a pain that was despair. At last and watched by the window again, forever a messenger came over the long, straight with her face turned towards the hiil, till road across the hill. She saw him far she forgot all else, till she did not let her enough away, and opening the window sat eyes look down on her child's face, or with a smile on her face at last.

remember to caress the little hand that “He is bringing news,” she said, and touched her cheek. She did not know her voice made me start, for it was the when it drooped and faded and slipped voice of a happy woman, not of the one away from her arms. She saw them carry who had doggedly watched so long. She it across the grass to the burying-place took the letter from his hand with a cry beyond the firs, but she saw it with eyes of joy, and opened it with hands that that did not comprehend, and a heart that trembled and could hardly hold the scrap could not miss the little one who had of paper before her eager eyes. Then gone. with a loud cry she told its contents. There the story ends. Still she sits

“ It is too late too late, for he is and watches, while her youth slips away, dead !” and she fell forwards as the woman and round her the silence gathers deeper in the picture had fallen, only that for this and deeper as it stretches back far into poor soul there was no lover's heart to the distant past. Always the story is the serve her as a pillow.

same, always watching for one who never

comes and never will come again. The My son that was gone, that would never seasons pass; the villagers over the hill come back, my son that had been my babe laugh and weep and marry and die; to and my little one, my joy and my pride, them life brings its changes, but to us all and was gone forever, with never a soul things are the same. Yet some day they he loved beside him, with never a tender say she will awake and know - ah! poor voice to whisper to him or lips that loved soul, God keep you from it. him to kiss the dead lids over the tired I sit by the fire thinking. Only a little eyes. An empty heart, an empty house, while and I too shall be gone ; but the an empty world. My pretty boy whose watcher by the window will know not and voice was like the birds, my brave lad, care not, for all things are the same to my son a man of whom my heart was her. Life has left her but a single theme, proud, for whom my whole life ached. a single thing, a single name to know. In And the end of it all for him, the end of it fancy I can see her waiting alone in the all for us,

a still, cold corpse. The sun vast still room that is full of strangest shining, the birds singing, the green trees | memories. And I wonder if when she

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