Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

She was

“ He cer

letter, written with the intention of giving aware that she had accepted the wrong her a fair chance. He had seen with great man and rejected the wrong, man. sorrow, -" with heartfelt grief,” that quar- steadily minded, now, at this moment, that rel between his mother and his own Clara. before she parted from Captain Aylmer, her Thinking, as he felt himself obliged to engagement with him should be brought to think, about Mrs. Askerton, he could not a close. Now, at this coming interview, so but feel that his mother had cause for her much at any rate should be done. She had anger. · But he himself was unprejudiced, tried to make herself believe that she felt and was ready, and anxious also, the word for him that sort of affection which a woanxious was underscored, to carry out man should have for the man she is to marhis engagement. A few words between ry; but she had failed. She hardly knew them might probably set everything right, whether she had in truth ever loved him; and therefore he proposed to meet her at but she was quite sure that she did not love the Belton Castle house, at such an hour, him now. No; — she had done with Aylon such a day. He should run down to mer Park, and she could feel thankful, Perivale on his journey, and perhaps Clara amidst all her troubles, that that difficulty would let him have a line addressed to him should vex her no more. In showing Capthere. Such was his letter.

tain Aylmer's letter to Mrs. Askerton she " What do you think of that?” said had made no such promise as this, but her Clara, showing it to Mrs. Askerton on the mind had been quite made up. afternoon of the day on which she had re- tainly shall not talk me over,” she said to ceived it.

herself as she walked across the park. “ What do you think of it ? ” said Mrs. But she could not see her way so clearly Askerton. “I can only hope that he will out of that further difficulty with regard to not come within the reach of my hands.” her cousin. It might be that she would be

“ You are not angry with me for showing able to rid herself of the one lover with it to you?”

comparative ease; but she could not bring “No; — why should I be angry with herself to entertain the idea of accepting you? Of course I knew it all without any the other. It was true that this man longshowing. Do not tell Colonel Askerton, or ed for her, — desired to call her his own, they will be killing each other.”

with a wearing, anxious, painful desire “Of course I shall not tell Colonel As- which made his heart grievously heavy, kerton; but I could not help showing this heavy as though with lead hanging to its

strings; and it was true that Clara knew 6 And

you
will meet him."

that it was so. It was true also that his “ Yes; I shall meet him. What else can spirit had mastered her spirit, and that his I do?

persistence had conquered her resistance, “ Unless, indeed, you were to write and the resistance, that is, of her feelings. But tell him that it would do no good.”.

there remained with her a feminine shame, “ It will be better that he should come." which made it seem to her to be impossible “ If

you allow him to talk you over, you that she should now reject Captain Aylmer, will be a wretched woman all your life.” and, as a consequence of that rejection, ac

" It will be better that he should come," cept Will Belton's hand. As she thought said Clara again. And then she wrote to of this, she could not see her way out of Captain Aylmer at Perivale, telling him her trouble in that direction with any of that she would be at the house at the hour that clearness which belonged to her in refhe had named, on the day he had named. erence to Captain Aylmer.

When that day came she walked across She had been an hour in the house bethe park a little before the time fixed, not fore he came, and never did an hour go so wishing to meet Captain Aylmer before she heavily with her. There was no employhad reached the house. It was now nearly ment for her about the place, and Mrs. the middle of April, and the weather was Bunce, the old woman who now lived there, soft and pleasant. It was almost summer could not understand why her late mistress again, and as she felt this, she thought of chose to remain seated among the unused all the events which had occụrred since the furniture. Clara had of course told her last summer, — of their agony of grief at that a gentleman was coming. “Not Mr. the catastrophe which had closed her broth. Will,” said the woman.. " No; it is not Mr. er's life, of her aunt's death first, and then Will,” said Clara; "his name is Captain of her father's following so close upon the Aylmer.” " Oh, indeed.” And then Mrs. other, and of the two offers of marriage Bunce looked at her with a mystified look. made to her, — as to which she was now Why on earth should not the gentleman

to you."

66

[ocr errors]

call on Miss Amedroz at Mrs. Askerton's | were many things as to which I could not cottage ? " I'll be sure to show ’un up, possibly agree with Lady Aylmer, and I when a comes, at any rate," said the old ought not to have gone." woman solemnly ; — and Clara felt that it I don't see that at all, Clara." was all very uncomfortable.

“ I do see it now.” At last the gentleman did come, and was “ I can't understand you. What things ? shown up with all the ceremony of which Why should you be determined to disagree Mrs. Bunce was capable. “ Here he be, with my mother ? Surely you ought at any mum.” Then Mrs. "Bunce paused a mo- rate to endeavour to think as she thinks.” ment before she retreated, anxious to learn “I cannot do that, Captain Aylmer.” whether the new comer was a friend or a “I am sorry to hear you speak in this foe. She concluded from the Captain's way. I have come here all the way

from manner that he was a very dear friend, and Yorkshire to try to put things straight bethen she departed.

tween us; but you receive me as though “I hope you are not surprised at my you would remember nothing but that uncoming " said Captain Aylmer, still holding pleasant quarrel." Clara by the hand.

" It was

so unpleasant, - so very un“ A little surprised,” she said, smiling. pleasant! I had better speak out the truth “But not annoyed ?'

at once. I think that Lady Aylmer ill-used “No; — not annoyed.”

me cruelly. I do. No one can talk me out “ As soon as you had left Aylmer Park I of that conviction. Of course I am sorry felt that it was the right thing to do ; — the to be driven to say as much to you, and I only thing to do, as I told my mother.” should never have said it, had you not come

I hope you have not come in opposition here. But when you speak of me and your to her wishes,” said Clara, unable to control mother together, I must say what I feel. a slight tone of banter as she spoke. Your mother and I, Captain Aylmer, are

"In this matter I found myself compelled so opposed to each other, not only in feelings, to act in accordance with my own judg- but in opinions also, that it is impossible that ment,” said he, untouched by her sarcasm. we should be friends ; - impossible that we

“ Then I suppose that Lady Aylmer is, – should not be enemies if we are brought tois vexed with you for coming here. I gether.”. shall be so sorry for that; - so very sorry,

This she said with great energy, looking as no good can come of it.”

intently into his face as she spoke. He was “ Well;— I am not so sure of that. My seated near her, on a chair from which he mother is a most excellent woman, one for was leaning over towards her, holding his whose opinions on all matters I have the hat in both hands between his legs. Now, highest possible value; a value so high, as he listened to her, he drew his chair still that that — that”

nearer, ridding himself of his hat, which he “ That you never ought to act in opposi- left upon the carpet, and keeping his eyes tion to them. That is what you really apon hers as though he were fascinated. mean, Captain Aylmer; and upon my word "I am sorry to hear you speak like this," I think that you are right.”

he said. No, Clara ; that is not what I mean, " It is best to say the truth.”. not exactly that. Indeed, just at present “ But, Clara, if you intend to be my I mean the reverse of that. There are some wife” things in which a man must act on his own

that is impossible now." judgment, irrespectively of the opinions of

“What is itapossible?

Impossible ihat I should become your « Not of a mother, Captain Aylmer.” wife. Indeed I have convinced myself

“Yes ; -- of a mother. That is to say, a that you do not wish it.” man must do so. With a lady of course it “ But I do wish it." is different. I was very, very sorry that “No; - no. If you will question your there should have been any unpleasantness heart about it quietly, you will find that you at Alymer Park.”

do not wish it." “ It was not pleasant to me, certainly." “ You wrong me, Clara." “Nor to any of us, Clara.”

At any rate it cannot be so." " At any rate, it need not be repeated.” “I will not take that answer from you." “I hope not.”

he said, getting up from his chair, and walk“ No; - it certainly need not be repeated. ing once up and down the room. Then he I know now that I was wrong to go to Aylmer returned to it, and repeated his words. “I Park. I felt sure beforehand that there will not take that answer from you. An en

“ Oh, no;

any one else.”

Well;

gagement such as ours cannot be put aside | under that woman's roof. Now she had relike an old glove. You do not mean to tell me pelled Lady Aylmer's counsels with scorn, that all that has been between us is to mean was living as a guest in Mrs. Askerton's nothing.” There was something now like house; and yet he was willing to pass over feeling in his tone, something like passion the Askerton difficulty without a word. He in his gesture, and Clara, though she had was willing not only to condone past offenno thought of changing her purpose, was ces, but to wink at existing iniquity! But becoming unhappy at the idea of his un- she, - she who was the sinner, would not happiness.

permit of this. She herself dragged up Mrs. " It has meant nothing,” she said. “ We Askerton's name, and seemed to glory in have been like children together, playing her own shame. at being in love. It is a game from which “I had not intended,” said be,“ to speak you will come out scatheless, but I have of your friend." been scalded.”

“I only mention her to show how impos- Scalded !”

sible it is that we would ever agree upon — never mind. I do not mean to some subjects, -- as to which a husband and complain, and certainly not of you." wife should always be of one mind. I knew

I have come here all the way from York- this from the moment in which I got your shire in order that things may be put right letter, — and only that I was a coward I between us.”

should have said so then." “ You have been very good, — very good “ And you mean to quarrel with me alto come, and I will not say that I regret together.” your trouble. It is best, I think, that we “ No; — why should we quarrel ? ” should meet each other once more face to Why, indeed ?” said he. face, so that we may understand each other. “But I wish it to be settled,” — quite set. There was no understanding anything dur- tled, as from the nature of things it must be, ing those terrible days at Alymer Park.” that there shall be no attempt at renewal Then she paused, but as he did not speak at of our engagement. After what has passed, once she went on. “ I do not blame you for how could I enter your mother's house ?” anything that has taken place, but I am quite “ But you need not enter it.” Now in sure of this, — that you and I could never his emergency he was willing to give up be happy together as man and wife.” anything, - everything. He had been pre

“I do not know why you say so; I do not pared to talk her over into a reconciliation indeed.”

with his mother, to admit that there had “You would disapprove of everything that been faults on both sides, to come down I should do. You do disapprove of what I am from his high pedestal and discuss the doing now."

matter as though Clara and his mother “ Disapprove of what ? ”

stood upon the same footing. Having rec“I am staying with my friend, Mrs. Ask- ognized the spirit of his lady-love, he had erton.”

told himself that so much indignity as that He felt that this was hard upon him. As must be endured. But now, he had been she had shown herself inclined to withdraw carried so far beyond this, that he was willherself from him, he had become more reso- ing, in the sudden vehemence of his love, to lute in his desire to follow her up, and to throw his mother over altogether, and to hold by his engagement. He was not em- accede to any terms which Clara might ployed now in giving her another chance,

propose to him.

“Of course, I would wish as he had proposed to himself to do, – but you to be friends,” he said, using now all was using what eloquence he had to obtain the tones of a suppliant; “ but if you found another chance for himself. Lady Aylmer that it could not be so” had almost made him believe that Clara “Do you think that I would divide you would be the suppliant, but now he was from your mother ? the suppliant himself

. In his anxiety to “ There need be no question as to that.” keep her he was willing even to pass over

there you are wrong.

There her terrible iniquity in regard to Mrs. Ask- must be such questions. I should have erton, — that great sin which had led to all thought of it sooner. these troubles. Ile had once written to her “ Clara, you are more to me than my about Mrs. Askerton, using very strong lan- mother. Ten times more.” As he said this guage, and threatening her with his mother's he came up and knelt down beside her. full displeasure. At that time Mrs. Askerton “You are everything to me. You will had simply been her friend. There had not throw me over.” He was a suppliant been no question then of her taking refuge indeed, and such supplications are very po

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6 Ah;

tent with women. Men succeed often 'by you are displeased with what my mother the simple earnestness of their prayers. may have said. I am not responsible for my Women cannot refuse to give that which is mother. Clara, say that you will be my asked for with so much of the vehemence of wite.” As he spoke he strove to take her true desire. “ Clara, you have promised to hand, and his voice sounded as though there be my wife. You have twice promised; were in truth something of passion in his and can have no right to go back because i heart.

SAND-MARTINS.

Where lovely mirage works a broidered hem

To fringe with phantom palms a robe of I PASSED an inland cliff precipitate :

sand; From tiny caves peeped many a sooty poll ; In each a mother martin sat elate,

When should they dip their breasts again and And of the news delivered her small soul.

play

In slumberous azure pools clear as the air, Fantastic chatter! hasty: glad, and gay, Where rosy-winged flamingoes fish all day, Whereof the meaning was not ill to tell :

Stalking amid the lotus-blossoms fair ; Gossip, how wags the world with you to-day?” Gossip, the world ways well, the world wags Then over podded tamarinds bear their flight, well."

While cassias feed the wind with spiceries ;

And so betake them to a south sea-bight,
And listening, I was sure their little ones
Were in the bird-talk, and discourse was

To gossip in the crowns of cocoa-trees
made
Concerning hot sea-flights, and trapic suns,

Whose roots are in the spray. O haply there, For a clear sultriness the tune conveyed ;

Some dawn – white-winged, they might

chance to find And visions of the sky as of a cup

A frigate standing in to make more fair Hailing down light on pagan Pharaoh's

The loneliness unaltered of mankind. And quivering air-waves trembling up and up, A frigate come to water. Nuts would fall, And blank stone-faces marvellously bland; And nimble feet would climb the flower.

flushed strand, When should the young be fedged, and with And northern talk would ring, and there withal them hie

The martins would desire the cool north land, Where costly day drops down in crimson light;

And all would be as it had been before. (Fortunate countries of the fire-fly,

Ayain at eve there would be news to tell ; Swarm with blue diamonds all the sultry Who passed should hear them chant it o'er and night,

o'er,

“ Gossip, how ways the world?” “Well, And the immortal moon takes turn with

Gossip, well!” them); When should they pass again by that red

The Argosy.

JEAN INGELOW. land

Band;

From Macmillan's Magazine. I in some odd corner of the newspaper ; MRS. GASKELL.

but still for each there would surely be

somewhere or other an obituary notice. THE deaths of our friends are like mile. And, as we were turning away from the stones on the road of life. So somebody grave where our friend lay buried, one of has said before ; and, I think, the metaphor is the mourners said to me, “ Do you know just enough, save that, as we get well for- what we were all thinking of in our hearts ? ward on our life journey, the milestones suc- We are wondering, in case this funeral had ceed each other so rapidly that we lose our been ours, what our friends would have writreckoning. The number of dead men we ten of us to-morrow.” Such thoughts must have known becomes so large that, at times, be present surely to all who write. We can we grow confused as to who is living and tell pretty well what our own record will be ; who is dead. In the first blush of youth we know it almost by heart, from the expresthere is — pardon the apparent cynicism of sion of deep regret at the beginning, to the the remark - a sort of not altogether un- very enumeration of our names at the close. pleasing sensation in being able to speak of But yet, though we may moralise on the holyour dead friend. To have known one who lowness of the custom, I suspect few of us had occupied some place in the world's no- would like to know that our friends would tice confers oon us a kind of brevet of full not follow our body to the grave, would not manhood. I am speaking, be it understood, honour us with some passing record of our pot of those lost loved ones of whom all works and lives. men, not cruelly cursed by fate, can say The world of English letters has just lost that as to their lives, they themselves were one of its foremost authors. Another of "pars magna,” — but of those common ac- the writers I have known has passed away quaintances whom we know neither more in the person of Mrs. Gaskell; and I think nor less than scores of others. Of such friend- this magazine would scarcely be worships — if I may so call these acquaintance- thy of itself unless it contained some short ships - persons with whom literature is a notice of the authoress of “ Mary Barton," profession or pursuit have, I think, more from one to whom, however slightly, she than most people. Authors, artists, editors, was known as a living woman, not as a wrireviewers, newspaper writers, are brought ter only. It is that which encourages me much together by the necessities of their po to say these few words in honour of her sition, and form, naturally enough, those kinds memory. of relations which entitle them in common Of her private life it would not only be parlance to oull one another friends. Thus unbefitting to speak, but I believe that its it becomes one of the privileges or pains, as record, even if it could be fully told by you choose to consider it, of a literary lite, those to whom it is known, would throw that you are not allowed to pass in quiet to but little light on the literary aspect of her the grave with no tribute save the tears of character. Thus much may be fairly said, those who have known and loved you. Ne- that it differed from those of most women mesis compels your associates to write of who write novels, in being more calm and you on your death, as you would have writ- less eventful. Neither necessity, nor the ten of them had they gone before. I re- unsatisfied solitude of a single life, nor, as I member once being present at the funeral fancy, an irresistible impulse, threw her of one whose lot had brought him into con into the paths of literature. She wrote, as tact with those who live by writing. All of the birds sing, because she liked to write"; us, who were assembled on the sunny slopes and ceased writing when the fancy left her. of that pleasant Highgate burying-ground, And the result of this was, that all her were men connected in some way with lite- works have, in their own way, a degree of rature. Many, perhaps most of us, were perfection and completeness rare in these unknown by name to the public for whom days, when successful authoresses pour out we wrote; but still one and all were so far volume after volume without pause or waitknown behind the scenes, if not upon the ing. For some eighteen years she had held stage, of literature, that we knew, if we a position amongst the first class of English died to-morrow, our deaths would be record- novelists; and yet, during the whole of that ed in newspaper paragraphs. For some period, she only published five novels of the might be reserved the typographic glories three-volume order. She was a mother of leaded print, of the black lines round the with many children, a wife approaching notice, of a place on the leader sheet; for middle age, when she first became an auothers there might be only afforded the ob- thoress. It was, as I have heard, to try and scure paragraph in minion type, buried drown the memory of a dead child, an only

« VorigeDoorgaan »