Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

steps that led formerly to the stately | Vaughan fought out a little battle by rooms of abbot, monk, and austere himself. A strange revelation had brother.

come to him in these days. He, who The roof is lofty, and the proportions had passed unscathed through the of the church are noble and grand. It fierce perils of his early college and is full of a thousand memories, which curate days, bad fallen ignominiously touch even the most casual beholder. beneath the spell of a wondrous-voiced He cannot help it.

siren. He knew it. Oddly enough, he The pavement he treads to-day was did not resent it. trodden years and years ago by other The only thing that troubled him was feet that have been dust for centuries ; this : should he speak, or should he the aisles he paces were paced by other not? forms that passed into the shadows of He had learnt to know this girl pretty the silent land long before his advent well. She was the right hand of the on the scene. The air vibrates with parish, if not his own right hand; and, the haunting strains of harmony, of as far as he was concerned, nothing passion, of pleading, that fell upon it could have gone on without her. But centuries gone by. And, in those this did not enter into the considerapews, broken hearts and streaming eyes tion. He loved her, little as he knew murmured vows which changed to mist her. There was a charm about Kate before the stronger wiles of the enemy. Graham which endeared her infinitely

This old church has seen bloodshed, to the lonely man, who had had but and storm, and fury; ay,.it has seen little association with women for many many an awful scene in its day.

years of his life. But with a strange blending of the The question he debated long and fiuite with the infinite, there still rise auxiously within himself was the one the lymn of praise, the holy chant, the of age. He was forty, at least; she voice of prayer, within these sacred was twenty-seven. There is a wide walls.

gap between these two ages, a gap Something of this swept over Kate's which is not only of years, but involves mind as she stood there and sang, with tastes, opinions, habits — the hundred the twilight gathering fast over pillar, and one things which go to make up and tracery, and carving below. the details of a lifetime, for such his

She sang, as perhaps she had never existence seemed to Oscar Vaughan as sung before, a curious, half-dreamy he looked back. Pro and con he demeasure to words she had heard some- bated the subject during many a walk where, in some dream-land of her own. to and from that mission-room with

And, over the star-lighted aisles be- Kate Graham ; and sometimes she low, the beauty of the notes rang clear wondered at his frequent silences and and sweet as they rose and fell on the abstractions, thinking her liveliness heavy air.

offended and disturbed him. One listener, lingering in the south- If she had only known it, this but ein transept amid the tombs, stayed his endeared her the more to him. It was steps to hear her. He drew nearer a fierce battle, which absorbed many

- very gently, fearing hours of the sleepless nights and dreary Jest à movement might disturb or days through which he passed before startle the singer; and, standing at last arriving at a decision. in the folds of the rich tapestry that They met frequently, for Enderby is hung over the entrance to the choir, a small place, and most of the streets beneath the rood-screen, he felt the lead to one common centre, the great melody floating over him like some market-square, in which stands the wonderful seraphic measure which he grey old church, with the ancient gatewas unwilling to disturb by the faintest tower— the sole relic of the days when breath or movement.

Enderby was a walled town - opposite. . While she sang, the Rev. Oscar All the leading shops cluster round the

nearer

nearer —

66

[ocr errors]

Not a

church in the market-place, where once in what he said as well as in his mana week the farmers' carts come rattling ner. over the stones to draw up at the Standing still for an instant, Kate's King's Head, and be turned shafts first thought was of Oscar Vaughan. down in rows, while their inmates sell“ Oh, if he were but near !” she said butter and eggs, and chaffer and gossip mentally. “If he could only appear 1” in the booths,

which are

a strong She gave a quick glance to right and to feature of our open-air market. The left, but there was not a soul in sight. mission-room is close beside the old The man noted her look, and leered gate-tower; the vicarage is reached by horribly. the lane beyond St. Anne's. The walk “Ye may look, my pretty lady ; but thither is pleasant in summer, but dull nivir a creatur will ye see, I bet. Now in the dark evenings of winter; and to then,” he said boldly, “how much arrive at the gate-tower the churchyard longer will ye be ? Ye've got a tidy must be passed, where the high walls watch — hand it over. It'll sell, I supand the tall trees throw gloomy shad- pose warranted to go’ and all the ows across the narrow pathway. rest of it, eh? Well, I'll see that it

Every one knows everybody else in goes, anyhow.” He laughed loudly. Euderby. Even the pitmen at our col- Kate never moved.

She stood perliery have worked there long enough fectly still before him ; neither offering to be able to recognize the townsfolk, to give him the watch, nor making one and treat them with proper respect. movement with her hands, which reIt goes without saying that every mained clasped upon the books she one knew Kate Graham

our young carried. lady,” as she was called by the folk She was afraid, of course. round about.

being within call. A lonely spot - no But it is a fact that in even the best- one likely to pass at that hour, regulated circles there still may, and ruffian in possession of the scene. do, creep ill-conditioned creatures who These are not the things one naturally have no business of their own there, cares to enjoy on a peaceful walk home but who interfere with that of others. from work. Nevertheless, here they Such a being met Kate one night as were ; and here, too, was she. What she hurried homewards. Sbe was should she do ? alone for once. Her hands were filled Her nerves

were perfectly under with books ; her long, fur-lined cloak- control and she was cool and selffor it was winter — hung down over possessed

But the her dress, heavy with the night dews. moment was unpropitious. She walked rapidly, for the hour was Flight was useless ; the long cloak late, and she was anxious to get home; would, of itself, impede her progress ; and it was only when a dark shadow and the man was, doubtless, as fleet of came in the path and obstructed her foot as was she. way that she stopped suddenly and A show of fight would be but a poor Jooked up, with a vague sense of alarm. thing, too, for a single glance told her

“ Not so fast, miss, if ye please,” said keen eyes that her dainty umbrella a thick, coarse voice — the voice of a would snap like a twig in the hands of man who had beeu imbibing somewhat this demon of strength who stood betoo freely. “Hold on a minnit, and fore her. see if ye hasn't sunimut as ye can What should she do ? spare for a pore man as hasn't broke The moment was terrible. The sithisp fast this day.”

uation was one of the deepest peril. There was a good deal that was ob- One instant only stood Kate Graham jectionable in the man's manner. He irresolute waiting. whined, it is true ; but he whined un

There was no human help near. pleasantly, and there was even a dis- None to save – none to protect. Powtinct undertone of threat and defiance l erless, defenceless, she felt herself,

and a

no one nore so.

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Then - swift as a winged arrow from of nature, no doubt. They grazed in the Unseen, to whom she appealed — much delight, unconscious that a human she took her resolve.

soul was crying in its agony — as it best “ This man,” she murmured breath- knew how — fighting a lone battle, at lessly,

was once a little child - some- fearful odds, with sin, and evil, and wliere ; some one may have taught him danger. purer things.”

The lane was a deserted spot so late She flung back her head fearlessly, as this ; for there lingers a tradition and, lifting her solemn, clear eyes to that the prior of well-known memory, the wonderful deep blue vault of heaven who resisted the marauding intruders above, in which the stars were coming and was banged by them at his own out with minute distinctness, in the gate, still walks at intervals upon the same attitude and with the same voice ruined arch way that led formerly to. that had charmed men as rude and the ancient priory ; and few and brave women almost as rough as this being are the townsfolk, be they lovers or before her, she sang one of those sim-“ staid persons,” who will venture so ple, touching little strains by which far after nightfall along the "ghost's mothers lull their children to sleep and path." soothe them when in pain or trouble. Kate had never been nervous. Prob

It was very simple as to words and ably, not being “Enderby-born,” slie tune, just a quaint little measure that was less afraid of the ghost than the the man who formed the unwilling people of the place. But the reality of audience would be sure to know, and her danger was far greater than the to know well, and she sang as she had mere fictitious one of meeting any never done before — or since.

visionary foe. Not a tremor, not a quiver, in the At first the man stared blankly at her magnificently trained voice; not an in astonishment. The thought came echo in it of the haunting terror that quickly to him that she had gone mad filled her soul.

with fright. She was at his mercy.

The next moment he swore under his Good !

breath, for she was singing a little melShe would hold him now at hers. ody his mother had sung to him years. She was singing for life, for time, and years gone by. for honor. She was singing with her It seemed to sting him for a moment. * heart in her mouth,” as our country The strong words froze on his lips.. folks put it; but never, surely, did So, had not that mother taught him ?: Kate eclipse herself as she did then. He stood appalled ; then a sort of mes

She sang for more than this wretch meric entrancement came over hin.. to hear.

The music began to appeal to him in a She sang as

direct appeal to manner he recognized. Heaven. And every note as it rushed All wrong and sin seemed to drop out upon the cold night wind cried, away from his heart, and a sort of “Help!

Help! O Eternal Un- yearning awoke there — within for changeable! Help for thy child!"

something nobler, for something higher: The dead were sleeping in the church- and purer. yard near — the quiet dead, who turn On his part, he stood irresolute, yet. not, move not, trouble not, though partially subdued. their nearest and dearest may be in The girl sang on; she knew how extremest agony.

much depended on it. The man stoodi The cattle were feeding on the plain waiting – yielding fascinated.. beyond. They raised sleepy eyes full How would it end? of wonder at the unwonted sounds. One moment passed – one secondi Startled and pleased, they bent down longer. Then, a side gate in the wall again to feed in quiet content. The near them opened, as if by magic, and singing suited their moods ; it was part from it there stepped a tall, strong

a

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]

" The

man, his face set, his hands clenched. confess this as I am going away. Kate He took in the scene at once. The as vicaress will be a great mistake, in singing girl — the waiting man — the my opinion ; but Mrs. de Grey Stranton dark lane — the graves beyond — the would be a ten-thousand times greater starlit heaven above. All, all, he saw, one for all concerned, especially for but with all the terrible, definite sharp- the vicar, whom I pity. ness of the two prominent figures, he But, there – he is quite old enough heard the girl who sang; he knew the to look after himself. Kate says she is whole force of that awful interval already very happy. through which she had been passing. Perhaps she is. She saw him as he came with striding step towards them. Saw him

with eyes blinded by the sudden passion of tears that started in

From The Fortnightly Review. thankfulness to meet them.

THE LIMITS OF ANIMAL INTELLIGENCE. And, springing towards his out

SOME fifty years ago Sydney Smith stretched arm, she cried, with one long summed up clearly and tersely the prebursting cry of gladness, “ I am safe ! »

vailing views of his time with regard to as she was folded in his strong arms the difference between the mental procand sheltered there - forever.

cesses of meu and of animals.

most commou notion now prevalent Après

with respect to animals,” he says, “is What became of the man ?

that they are guided by instinct ; that I am sure I do not know. He came the discriminating circumstance beout of the darkness. He vanished tween the minds of animals and of into the darkness. It is to be hoped men is, that the former do what they she had done him some good.

do from instinct, the latter from reason. My sister will reign at the vicarage Now the question is," he continues,

Ill-natured people already call " is there any meaning to the word inher " the vicaress." She does not stinct ? What is that meaning ? and mind.

what is the distinction between instinct I am changing my curacy, if you and reason ? If I desire to do a certain must know. Clara de Grey Stranton, thing, adopt certain means to effect it, when she becomes Mrs. de Grey Gra- and have a clear and precise notion ham, won't care to sit down under my that those means are directly subsersister's “beck and call,"

vient to that end there I act from So I am on the wing.

reason ; but if I adopt means subserI shall miss Kate. My collars and vient to the end, and am uniformly cuffs - to say nothing of my buttons found to do so, and am not in the least and stockings — were always so unex- degree conscious that these means are ceptionably nice and comfortable, and subservient to the end there I cermy parochial duties so light.

lainly do act from some principle very Ah, yes; I shall miss her.

different from reason; and to that prin

1 I look upon the vicar as my natural ciple it is as convenient to give the enemy. Curates sometimes are apt to name of instinct as any other name.do so, you know; and in my case, of I would draw particular attention to course, the provocations are great, as one phrase — that concerning the uniany one will grant.

formity of the action in this very lucid Mrs. de Grey Stranton has some description of instinct ; first, because strong opinions on the subject. She it is the aspect of instinctive actions thinks the vicar has done the parish a which has of late years been specially signal injustice ; first, in marrying at insisted on; and, secondly, because it all ; secondly, in marrying a stranger; was on this rock of uniformity that the and thirdly, in not marryivg her. view according to which all the activ

Privately – I don't really mind. I'ities of animals are merely instinctive.

Dow.

” she says.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]

came

as

was destined to suffer shipwreck. Syd- | turn an hour or so afterwards I held ney Smith says, in effect, that animals the cleverer pup, so that it miglit be acting from instinct adopt means sub- seen how far the other had learnt bis servient to the ends to be attained, and lesson. He blundered, however, as are uniformly found to do so, but are before. Then we called him off, and not in the least degree conscious that allowed the other pup to have his turn. these means are subservient to the He, too, blundered for a little, and then ends. Now with regard to this last came back to us. We passed through clause, that concerning the conscious- the gap and called him after us. Again ness of the means as means to the end, he blundered ; but then, dropping the I shall have more to say presently. It cane, through, and, turning, is clearly very difficult, to say the least seized the cane by the middle, and of it, to see into the animal's mind and tried to pull it after him. Of course ascertain the nature of its conscious it caught, and fell out of his mouth. .state. But with regard to the uni- He then seized it nearer the end. formity of performance, which of us Even so it caught; but, by turning that has watched animals with any care his head about, after somê little can subscribe to this uniformity clause ? scrambling, he eventually pulled it The activities of any one of the higher through. animals are neither uniform throughout These pups, then, did not act alike; its own individual life — for it cannot both had to learn by experience how to be doubted that they learn and profit meet new circumstances.

Their acby experience - nor are they uniform tions were certainly not instinctive, if in all the members of the same kind or uniformity of performance is a characspecies. Among dogs, for example, as teristic of instinct.

Whether the pups among men, some are born fools, while were conscious of certain means some have good natural capacities. subservient to the end in view, is a Some years ago I was out with a gen- point on which there is likely to be tleman who was teaching' two Scotch difference of opinion. It is remarkterrier pups to carry sticks. Each had able, however, that the more intellia light cane in his mouth. After a gent pup when sent back in the first while we came to a gate, at the side of instance seized the cane at once by the which was a gap for foot-passengers end and dragged it through ; and if the between two uprights. We passed observations had been carried no furthrough and watched the puppies. ther, one might have supposed that he Both blundered against the uprights, clearly perceived the best means to which caught the ends of the canes. effect the desired result. But the secThere was a little scrimmaging and ond time he did not seize the end of some further ineffectual struggles, and the stick, and this may well lead one to then both dropped the sticks and came suppose that it was rather good fortune through. Their master seut. them than clear perception which made him back to 6 fetch." The first to arrive successful before. at the gap just put his head through, If, therefore, these performances of .seized a cane by the end and dragged it the puppies, and a thousand such acafter him. The other ran through the tions of the higher avimals, are gap, picked up the cane as usual by cluded from the class of instincts by the middle, and blundered as before. their want of uniformity and by their Again he dropped it and came through. more or less adequate adaptation to I then went back and placed the stick meet special and unusual circum. so that he could put his head through stances, how are we to place them ? and seize the end as the other had It is clear that if we adopt the broad done. But again he went through division of all activities into instinctive bodily, picked up the cane as before, on the one hand and rational on the and blundered. Then his master other hand, we must term them rataught him how to do it. On our re- tional. And this is the view advocated

[ocr errors]

ex

« VorigeDoorgaan »