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vous movement at its corners. And, again, Hotel Vénat. Though a tradesman, he had the hands, -thin and white and long ; with tact as well as education ; various interests fingers and thumbs turning back prodig, and real kindliness. He could mix quite iously : flexible, subtle, sensitive. And easily with “his betters"-found his the spare figure, still quite straight, dressed “betters" much more his equals than his in the black frock-coat of his business neighbors had been. At the Vénat, an hours. Original or eccentric : man argument with an English chaplain brought whom men and women looked at : either him into contact with a family of threeliked or feared.
Colonel Image, a military politician, very At home for years within a stone's throw well connected, and busy in the House ; of the Angel, he had all bis life been a and his wife, who was above all things Londoner. Energy and diligence he had fashionable ; and his daughter, who was had from his boyhood, but country color blonde and nineteen. had never come into his cheeks ; no robust Richard Pelse must certainly then, with ness of the sea's giving, into his frame. all his earlier deficiencies and disadvanAll his pursuits were of the town--and tages, bave been picturesque, and almost nearly all his recollections. His mother elegant, as well as interesting. The imwas a widowed little news-agent-a with- pulsive Miss Image found him
so. In the ered woman, once pretty and vivacious-- garden, from his ground-floor bedroom, who kept, when he was a child and a lad, there had been a vision of a tall white figher news-shop in a by-way, two doors from ure, of floating muslin, of pale colored North Audley Street. His father! He hair. Nearer, there were seen dancing never knew him.
eyes, large and gray, and a mouth that When he was twelve years old his was Cupid's bow. At table d'hôte there mother died, and a customer of theirs, a was heard the voice that he liked best, and druggist of the quarter, took him as liked at once. A voice? Hardly. An “ useful boy.” Had he ever changed and instrument of music. You listened to it risen so far afterward as to be a famous as to a well-used violin. physician, it would have been told of him, In the drawing-room he got into talk in pride, or as astonishing, that he had with her. Was she not, unexpectedly, been an errand boy only. As it was, he the ideal realized ?—the lady of the dream had in fact been that, but something be- of all his youth. sides. He was so intelligent that gradually But that night he reflected on the dishe had got into all the work of the shop. tance between them. He was no ambiHe was civil, and comely too. From sell- tious snob, scheming for marriage in a ing things behind the counter, he was sphere not his. The distance—the disput into the dispensary. He educated tance! No, there could never be marhimself; he passed his examinations ; he riage, or, his career must change first. became an assistant who was entirely Should he leave to-morrow, and forget the necessary ; then he became a partner. At encounter ? Should he enjoy her for two thirty-five he was a prosperous man and days, and forget her then instead, or hug alone ; the shop's earlier master having re the memory ? At all events, he did not tired. For Richard Pelse, before that go. happened, there had been twenty years of And on both sides, in the short two progress, and of self-denial ; no doubt of days--prolonged to three and four—there satisfactory, but of unremitting work. was interest and fascination. Perhaps he Then he allowed himself a holiday, and should have told her father who he was. with a valise by his side and a “ Bae- Instead of it, he told her. There was a deker" in his pocket, started for Switzer- recoil then-and it might have saved them.' land and Savoy.
Her knowledge of the world and of the II.
convenances-nineteen, but bred in society
--was suddenly uppermost. Nothing Mr. Pelse bad made more than half his more could be said to him, and she would tour and had got over his surprises, the mention to her mother as a piece of gossip sense of all that was strange, when he to be heard and forgotten-as the funny found himself, one Sunday, arrived at adventure of travelling and of chance acAix-les-Bains for two days' rest, and for quaintance—that the man was a shopthe charm of its beauty. He stayed at the keeper, a chemist ; might have sold her
sponges, nail brushes, eau de Cologne. nothing but class that divides us. Then the simplicity, the naturalness, done something already, if you recollect warmth, impulsiveness—which were in her how I began. I could do more, and go a too-came uppermost in their turn. She good deal further. You are the first lady would tell none of that. She would keep I ever talked to, intimately. You would him to herself, for the time at least—him change me—you would bring me up to and his secret. There was mutual attrac- you. tion, strong and unquestionable. Elective “ There is nothing in me to bring you affinities. "And such things had their up to, Dick. Think how young I am! I rights.
am a little fool, who happened to take a Wilful and independent—it seemed so fancy to you. Pretty, am I? But a little then-she laid herself out to be with him. fool, after all. You treated me so gravely Mrs. Image was indolent, physically. In and so well. I had been flattered often the morning the military politician was enough. And I was mad to be respected. wont to wait in the ante-chamber of a man There is no chivalry left. of science who was great on the healing Your respect was flattery, too. . .. Here waters ; later in the day he was borne is my photograph, because I trust you. from the Bath House, closely mutiled, in But forget me, forget me! My last word. a curtained chair, and put to bed till Take my hand. And good-by !" dinner-time at the hotel. He was not He took her hands—both of them and seriously ill, however, and the treatment, so saw the last of her. And, by another which had begun a fortnight before Rich- train, he too went back to London, to the ard Pelse's arrival, would now soon be chemist's shop. over. Anyhow their opportunities were It was curious, at first, to think, as he numbered. There was an end to meetings was making up prescriptions, or giving
-chance meetings, after all, though wished them to his assistants, that she was within for on both sides—at noon, under the a stone's throw of that pestle and mortar : shade of the grouped trees in a sun-smit- almost within sight of the green and red ten park encircled by the mountains ; at and straw-colored jars that stood in his night, amid the soft illuminations of the shop window and were the sign of his Villa des Fleurs, whither Miss Image was calling. His shop was in Orchard Street ; chaperoned ; again at breakfast time, when their house in Manchester Square. Once, almost from the open windows of the hotel did she pass the shop? Once, when he could be discerned, here and there, be- was on the Oxford Street pavement, was tween luxuriant foliage, gold and green- that she, borne along in a Victoria ! beyond the richness of walnut and chestnut But gradually he was training himself to branch, beyond the vines, beyond the pop- forget all that. He was loyal, obedientlar marshes and the sunny fields-a Jevel was accepting the inevitable. Was it not flash of turquoise, which was the Lac de a chance fancy? Was it not in sheer imBourget.
pulsiveness-in recognition of he wondered “ We go to-night,” said Beatrice, what in him, besides the deepest admiration meeting Mr. Pelse by the Roman Arch, —that she had flung him her confidence ; when she had deposited her father for his honored him by liking! Could that last last consultation.
with her! Could it anyhow have lasted ! “ Should I speak to Colonel Image ?” Probably he would never see her again. he urged, almost hopelessly.
Might he not one day console himself ?“I was mad for you to do it ; but you he once half whispered. No—it could never must. Nothing could possibly come never be that. He was so dainty about of it but harm. Yon must be loyal and women ; he was so particular—he either obey me. There is not the very ghost of wanted nothing, or exacted so much—the a chance for us. ... Oh! you won't experience of a rapid fascination would think of me very long. You have your never be repeated. He was an idealist, own life, you know; and I must have of those who want, in women, a picture mine. Silly, silly lovers! I might wait ; and a vision : not a housekeeper. but then it could never, never be. Dick !
III. --forget me !"
“And in England we live almost in the The autumn dragged along. Pelse had next street," he said to her. “There is acquired from America the rights to an
exclusive sale of a particular preparation of arms, detaching veil and the broad velvet the Hypophosphites, and the Society hat; a minute afterward, laying aside her doctors—the men who had charge of furs and her warm wraps, the glowing face Royalty and of over-tasked celebrities, of of a swift walker in the winter weather smart people, and of the very rich-had was made visible : the blonde head, the taken to recommend it. The extra work slim and straight and rounded figure had which that involved made him very busy, got up to the fireplace. She put her hand and his own more accustomed work, in all out toward Richard Pelse. He took it, its thousand details, was done at his shop exclaimed to her, by her name : nothing with such a singular nicety-of which he
“ Beatrice !!! - wheeled a chair to of course was the inspirer—that the shop the fire. And down she sat. was more and more frequented.
“ Yes. I could stand it no longer. I Winter succeeded to autumn. A thick have passed the place so often. I wis fog had Jain for days over Orchard Street.
mad to see you.
They are gone into the Then there came a little snow. But in the country on a visit. I could manage it toparlor over the shop--with the three win- night. She looked quite good and sweet dows closely curtained—one could have and serious-passionate it might be, as well forgetfulness of weather. There was the as young, but, at all events, no intriguing neat fireplace ; the little low tea- table ; a Miss. Strange—the intuitive trust she had bookcase in which Pelse—before that crit- in him, to come there so ! Perhaps you ical event at Aix-les-Bains-had been put can give me some tea ?” ting, gradually, first editions of the Eng. He flew downstairs to order it-a bell's lish Poets ; a cabinet of china, in which summons would have been inadequate to but always before Aix-les-Bains—he had the occasion, and would have given no vent taken to accumulate some pretty English to his delight. Ten minutes after, it was things of whitest paste or finest painting : in front of the fire. The lamp was just a Worcester cup, with its exotic birds, its behind her. Might he be calm now; lasting gold, its scale-blue ground, like might he be excited ? Might he be parlapis lazuli or sapphire ; a Chelsea figure ; alyzed with astonishment ? She was so something from Swansea ; white plates of quiet and so bright, he was made quiet too. Nantgarw, bestrewn with Billingslėy's pink She sat there as in an old and daily place gray roses, of which he knew the beauty, -the blonde head, the eyes, the figure's the free artistic touch. How the things lines. He was so happy. Suddenly his had lost interest for him! “From the house was made a home. moment,' says some French art critic, “ How have you been ?
How are that a woman occupies me, my collec- you ?”! But before he answered, he had tion does not exist. And many a woman given her a stool, respectfully : had put a may lay claim to occupy a French art critic; cushion at her head.
" How good of only one had occupied Richard Pelse. you !" she said, with her gray eyes very
It was on an evening in December, when beautiful : thanking him for his mental atPelse was in the sitting-room, tired with titude : not for his cushion and his stocl. the day's labors, and not particularly happy Well, you know, I have been trying with the evening newspapers—for, apart to forget you. Have you changed your from any causes of private discontent, the mind ?” She gazed into the fire. Pall Mall had told him that our upper the time come for me to speak ?” he classes were unworthy of confidence, and continued. His chair was close beside from the St. James's he had gathered that hers. Why did you come here ??' even the lower could scarcely boast com “I suppose I felt you cared about me. plete enlightenment-it was on an evening And I was sick of not coming. I suppose in December, when the chemist was so
I felt you
were a friend. No, I don't circumstanced, that his neat servant, open- think I have changed my mind at all. ing the door of the parlor, held it back But I am one of the girls wbo can do mad for the entrance of a veiled tall lady. things. And girls who can do mad things, “Miss Image,” said the servant, for the once or twice in their lives at all events, name had been frankly given her.
commoner- much commoner-than The servant vanished. Richard Pelse proper people think. So here I am ! rose from his seat, with his heart beating. 'Tisn't wonderful. Father and mother are The tall lady was standing there with lifted at Lord Sevenoak’s."
His brow clouded. Again, and, as it gone as much as the last note of Scharseemed, with emphasis, the difficulty of wenka's wild music. class. Difficult i Impossible, was it not! For she never came back. The voice. Yet this was what he said :
the figure's lines, the blonde head, and the “You will come again? And one day eyes, and the mouth that was Cupid's bow I will speak. Beatrice, Beatrice, -I am -no'more in Richard Pelse's sitting-room. yours! Have it as you will-it shall all be Aflirt, was she? Heartless !--changeable ? as you will—but you know that you can -a child ? Who shall say ? For weeks, never go away for good.”
be waited. Then, a short letter. “O! “If you are nice to me, very likely I Dick : It is of no use, you know. You'll shall come ever so many times. I can't have to forgive me, because I was wrong stay very long to-night. There--my cup. and rash. Only, Dick, understand that it Ah ! 'you have got a piano? Whose is is all over. I could never do that again. it ?''-opening it—"A Bechstein. Sit If I say I owe Father and Mother somestill there. I will play.”
thing, you know I'm not a fraud-you She tried the instrument a moment, know I mean it. After all, we should first. Certain chords. Then, with turned never have done together. Yet, I love you. head, she waited silently : was making her Think of me kindly. Good-by!” choice. For, whatever it was, it would And she kept her word, and it was over. have to be from memory. There was not No lamplight welcomed her ; nor fire a single music book.
gleamed for her ; nor chairs were placed In a minute, she had chosen. It was a again on the cosey hearth, for two. And, plunge into a weird wild dance. in the closed piano, there slept, forever, * You know whose that is ?”
Scharwenka's wild music. “ No." “ Polish. Xaver Scharwenka's. Now
IV. the same again, and then another.' And they were played, and then she rose from But Pelse had to move from Orchard the piano. "My cloak, please. Thank Street. Change of scene; change of you.”
people. And good-by-with all his heart He went to the window curtain : listened to the fashionable custom-to the infor the rumble of the street, for all the city roads of the elegant who reminded him of was about them—they two. But the Her, though with a difference. He must noises of the town had ceased.
seek a new life, in some work-a-day quar“Snowing fast !” he said, coming back ter. To be with the busy and the comfrom the red curtains. “ Can you go ?” mon-not with any chosen or privileged
“It is only two minutes' walk," she humanity, but just humanity : nothing answered. "And I don't quite think I else. To be with people who really sufsee them cheeking me. Besides, I will fered ; not with people who wanted hairtind some excuse or other for wet things. dyes. So it was that when a long-estab0! You think me mean. You don't ap- lished druggist of Islington passed away prove of prevarications. But prevarica- old and decrepit, with a business neglected tions give me to you.” Her smile would and lessened, Richard Pelse come near the have melted mountains. “Thank you" “ Angel”-to the dingy shop you mounted -near the door. “I suppose I shall into by two steep steps from the pavement come back many times. Dick! I feel-to the dingy shop with the small-paned, like it.” He looked enraptured. She old-fashioned windows ; with the little put her hand out, and he took it. Always mahogany desk at which who stood at it respectful, reverential, he had had an commanded the prospect of the City Road. angel's visit. From the Heavens, duwn He sold the Orchard Street business ; and, into Orchard Street, what divine, un- taking with him only the youngest and dreamt of, guest ! “0! but you wor- least qualified of his young men--and the ship me too much," she said. She china and the First Editions, to coax his brushed his cheek with her lips, and her thoughts to return again to these first loves hand stayed in his.
-he established himself afresh, and did “You must come back many times,” his own work. Gradually he was recoghe almost gasped. For all his manhood nized as rather an exceptional person in yearned for her. And she was gone--and the quarter. And his energy was great
enough to allow him, little by little, year of wound at all ? For in intervals of busiby year, to build up a trade.
ness he had come again to hug his First Things were slack in the forenoons, and Editions. They knew him at book sales, a face sometimes depressed, sometimes at Sotheby's. He dusted his own Worpreoccupied, looked out into the street ; cester carefully. Was it not of the best and Pelse would stand at his desk with period ?— with the “
As bright eyes and clenched mouth, rapping a contrast to his quarter's commonness, a tune nervously, with the long lean fingers. he had begun to cultivate the exquisite After Islington's early dinner, important with the simple in his daily ways.
His people were abroad—the people who lived food was soinetimes frugal, but it was in the squares on the west side of Upper cooked to perfection. When he allowed Street—and the wife of a City house himself a luxury, for himself and one rare agent, pompous and portly, patronized crony-an unknown artist of the neigh(with the breadth of the counter, and all borhood, discovered tardily ; a professor that that conveyed, between them) a man of languages who understood literature ; whom Beatrice Image had once kissed. or a brother druggist whom business deal. Acquaintance with these folk was strictly ings caused him to know-it was nothing limited. The shopkeeper, refined and su short of the best that he allowed bimself : persensitive, was not good enough com
he admitted not the second rate : he was pany for the genteel.
an idealist still. The fruit with which But when evening canie, he was wont to just once or twice in summer be too busy to think for an instant of his autumn he regaled a pretty child, was not social place. The prescriptions brought to an apple or an orange, but grey-bloomed him were few, but the shop-and on Sat- grapes, or a peach, quite flawless. The urday night especially—was crowded by glass of wine which he brought out from the smaller bourgeoisie, with their little the parlor cupboard to the weak old wants ; the maid of all work from the Liv.
woman, accommodated with a
hair, was erpool Road arrived hurriedly in her cap, a soft Madeira, or a sherry nearly as old as and was comforted ; Mr. Pelse was the she was. It had known long voyages. It recipient of sorry confidences from the Ger was East India, or it was Bristol Milk, man clerks of Barnsbury. He was help- Yes ; he was fairly prosperous ; and ful and generous-kind to the individual showed no sign of wound. and a cynic to the race. Late in the even Even the collector” within him reing the gas flared in the little shop. Its asserted itself in novel enterprise. To shutters were just closed when the cheap the Worcester,
the playhouse, almost within sight, vomited Nantgarw, the Chelsea, the First Ediforth its crowd, and loafers were many tions, there came to be added bits that about the bars of the “ Angel" and at were faultless, of Battersea Enamel-casket the great street corner, and omnibus and and candlesticks, saltcellars, needle-case, tramcar followed each other still upon the and rose pink patch-box : best of all the long main roads. The night of the dainty étui, with the rare puce ground. second-rate suburb.
Yes : he was prosperous. And that went on for years ; and he was Still, the nerves had been strained for a bachelor with no relations ; getting vis- many a year ; and suddenly were shattered. ibly older and thinner; and a shock of Speechless, and one side stiffenedwhite hair crowned now the pale forehead, stricken now with paralysis—Mr. Pelse lay over the dark brilliance of the keen, quick in the bedroom over the shop ; understandeyes. Long ago he had read in the news- ing much, but making small sign to serpaper of the marriage of Miss Image-a vant or assistant or medical man. His last day when he had been wondering where, view-before a second and a final seizureof all places in the wide world, the one was of the steady February rain; the weary face might be ?
London afternoon ; the unbroken sky;
the slate roofs, wet and glistening ; the " Where is she now? What lands or skies Paint pictures in her friendly eyes ?”
attic windows of the City Road. He had
lived—it seemed to him—so long. The Then he had read of her marriage. Past—that moment of the Past, however Hers, at least, was a wound that had virid-might, one thinks, be quite forhealed. His !—but what sign was there gotten.