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edge of most things wears off, whether it
sional lecture; and the two, without any
"You have gone back very much," he said at the close of the lesson. "And if you are not careful, you will not get through your examination. I think, though, that I am almost too irritable to be a good teacher now; you must bear with me."
"You are not irritable," she said, though the tears had darted to her eyes at some of his sharp observations.
"But I know better," he said. "I should not be able to do much teaching now. Only, if I am hard on you, it is because I am so anxious for you to do really well."
So day after day they worked together; and sometimes, when the lesson was over, he would sit by the fire reading the evening paper; or, more often than not, staring into the fire, and sometimes stealing a look across the table at Gertrude Hurst stooping over her papers.
"You seem better to-night," she would say to him sometimes, and he would smile, and let her think what she pleased. He never complained of his fate. If there had been any bitterness in his heart at being cut off in the midst of his work and his ambitions, something had come to sweeten his life. It was not religion, and it was not resignation.
One day when he had been coughing a great deal she said to him: "I think these lessons are too much for you, Mr. Annerley."
She was sorry at once that she had allowed him to think that she noticed his growing weakness, for he seemed to be quite annoyed.
"I'm not worse," he said sharply, "and these lessons are mere child's play to me. You surely do not flatter yourself that you have reached the mountain-tops of mathematics, where the brain reels? You are only at the base of the mountain. I tell you it is all child's play to me."
"Read me some Browning," he would ask; "I want to feel strong and vigorous again, and Robert Browning, of all the poets, helps one to do that."
He was quite alone in the world, and had no relations to care for him in his illness; but Gertrude Hurst watched over him as well as she could, and tried to be thoughtful for him in many ways. She spent her half holidays with him, and made every effort to be cheerful with him, although she was feeling over-worked and over-anxious, and altogether miserable. She was in that unsatisfactory state of mind when one analyzes everything life, its objects, its sorrows, and its pleasures; and having thus come even to analyze its pleasures, she had ceased to enjoy anything. Mercifully for her, and for all like her, this state of mind cannot last long at a time. There come, even to the most parched minds, oases in the desert of thought, and the heart is once more reconciled to life, its objects, its sorrows, and its pleasures. Once, when she confided to Elkin Annerley her state of mind, in consequence of his having reproved her for carelessness in her work, he said to her :
"Do not attempt to analyze anything if you want to live on happily. Never stop in the middle of your work and question yourself about the value of that work; for there is nothing so fatal as that. Those who do that, are lingerers by the wayside, and they will never reach their destination. Take my advice, Miss Hurst, and do not worry yourself with thought. If you must think, learn to think of nothing."
"But you have not succeeded in doing that," said Gertrude.
"Mathematics help me to do that," he answered; at least, I mean to say, that my reason becomes so occupied with these abstractions, and these indefinite concepill-tions are so engaging to my fancy, that my mind simply cannot contain thoughts of another genus. I should certainly advise people who are troubled with doubts and sorrows and misgivings about things in general, to turn to mathematics; for they give comfort by inducing forgetfulness."
So she did not again allude to his ness, until one night, after the lesson was over, she happened to speak of endurance, and she told him that his courage would always help her to endure. But he shook his head.
"Don't mistake it," he said; "it is not that people learn to endure; it is that the
"I don't believe a word of what you
say," she answered, as she shut the conicsection book with a bang. "You sit there and tell me gravely not to feel and not to think. Is it possible that you do not feel, and that you do not think? I would rather think and suffer, than be indifferent. At least to suffer, whether mentally or physically, is life; but indifference of mind, or paralysis of body, is death in life."
prove herself to be one of his worthiest pupils. She noticed a great difference in him, and saw that he was breaking up; but he was always cheery, and always said to her: "I shall live to know my one remaining ambition well fulfilled, and that is more than most men can say."
"Some day," he said, "you will feel this indifference growing on you, and you will understand what I mean. Take my advice, and just go through your life unquestioningly; and when you have a road to cross, just cross it without wondering whether it is worth taking the trouble to do so. If you stop and hesitate, some lumbering wagon will knock you down, and that will be the end of you. Come now, let us return to the mathematics."
They went on with their lessons for many weeks, and Gertrude Hurst saw no one else but Elkin Annerley. He took a great interest in all she did, and always liked to hear her chronicle of the day's work whether the pupils had been trying, and whether she had given a good history lesson. Once or twice she told him that she thought he did not take suffi. cient precautions about the cold and the damp, and that he ought not to go out in the evenings.
"Don't talk to me about precautions," he said impatiently, “for I am going to enjoy myself as long as I can, and it is my pleasure to come to you."
But one night after the lesson, he looked around her little room, which he had learnt to love, and he said:
'I shall not see this room again, after to-day. I feel now that I cannot get so far; but you will come to see me, will you not, and let me help you as long as I can ? There are only about six weeks before the examination begins, and I shall be able to hold out till that."
"Do you feel worse?" she asked anxiously. "I thought you looked a little better, and you will become still better as the spring warms into the summer."
But he shook his head, and smiled brightly at her. "I have told you many times," he said, "that I have no illusions about myself. Most consumptive people think they are going to get well; but I happen to be an exception. You will come to my lodgings, will you not?"
After that she went to his rooms, and had her lessons there; and he was delighted with her progress, especially in trigonometry, and said that she would yet
ABOUT the beginning of June he told her that he had decided to take rooms in Hampstead, and to spend his last few weeks under an open sky. "I have such a desire to be amongst the green trees," he said to her. "I feel that I have missed so many beautiful things in life, which were there ready for me, if I had only known and cared. I am not well enough to go far away from London, but I shall be quite content to sit under the Hampstead trees, and see the far-lying country, and hear the singing of the birds, and watch the children playing about. That will amuse me all the day long, for I do not care to read any more; indeed I cannot read when the fever comes over me."
So she searched for lodgings for him, and found a quaint, old-fashioned house within three minutes' walk of the Heath. It was situated on a hill leading up to the Heath; and he could sit at the window of the cheerful little sitting-room, and watch the people passing to and fro, and study all the life, which in this part remote from London, seemed to have something free and genial of its own. This alone was an endless source of amusement to Elkin Annerley. And then never an evening passed but that Gertrude Hurst found time to come to see him; and he still gave her lessons, and still praised her for her progress. She spent the whole of Saturday and Sunday at Hampstead, and brought a pile of exercise-books to correct; and then, when work was finished, they strolled out together on to the Heath, chiefly frequenting a beautiful part known as Judge's Walk. There were three rows of trees in Judge's Walk, splendid old elms and limes, and one solitary horsechestnut; they formed the aisles of a leafy cathedral, lovelier than any cathedral reared by human hands. The sun shone through the branches, just as in a cathedral the sun shines through the jewelled panes ; and the delicious scent of the limes stole through the air, casting fragrance all around. Elkin Annerley found happiness here every day.
"Here I can worship the unknown God," he said; "here dogmas are of no account, and our thoughts, and our hearts' best
aspirations spring up unchecked by the boundaries of space or doctrine. Do you know, I am becoming sufficiently human to realize that this place gives me all the more pleasure because it has given pleasure and comfort to thousands of my fellowbeings? It is lovely to think of this spot being so near the great city, and within reach of all those who need that soothing balm which only nature can give. I wonder how many tired, disappointed workers have sat here, and watched the sunset, and have gone on their way again, less weary and less disappointed?"
They used to watch the children playing games on the grass, and hide-and-seek behind the great trees.
"How the trees must love the children!" Elkin said. "How they must love to feel the touch of those little hands, and how they must love to hear the music of those voices day by day through the spring, the summer, and the autumn!"
They used to see the same people time after time, and they amused themselves by making up stories about them all. There was one white-haired old man, who came regularly and sat on the bench which they generally occupied. He was much crippled with gout, but managed to crawl along, and to be very good-tempered in spite of the gout. They christened him "The Professor." One evening he said to them:
"Do you mind me sitting here with you? I know lovers like to be alone, as a rule; and I suppose you are lovers? When I was young, if an old buffer like myself had come and sat by me when I was with my sweetheart, I should have sent him flying, gout or no gout."
"Do not move," said Elkin Annerley, smiling. "It is we who are the new-comers to Judge's Walk, and I dare say we have taken possession of your particular bench."
"I see you very often," said the old man. "I suppose you are lovers ?"
Elkin Annerley shook his head. "I am dying," he answered casually, "and my companion is going in for an examination."
"Ah!" said the old man. But although he seemed disappointed with the information, he continued to take an interest in them, and always smiled his greeting and welcome when they came to sit on his bench. He did not often speak to them, but when he did choose to speak, they were always delighted with what he said. He had studied a great deal, and spoke eloquently of the books he loved. He,
too, liked being amongst the lime-trees. He told his young friends what a privilege it was to get a little closer to nature.
"When we are nearing the end of our lives," he said, "we begin to realize how much we have missed. Now I have been so much shut up in books all my life that I have missed fresh air. Fresh air is better than books."
"That is just what I feel," Elkin Annerley answered. "I, too, have missed so much." "You have
The old man laughed. plenty of time," he said.
"A few months at the most," was the answer.
"Then it is a damned shame!" said the old man, stamping on the ground with his bad foot. "What does it all mean, I wonder? A worthless old fool like myself lingers on, and I assure you I have no particular wish for a prolonged existence. I have done my work, had my fun, and am ready to go. Every one ought to be al lowed his chance. I call it damnable !"
After that, he appeared to take a great fancy to the two companions; and once he told Gertrude Hurst in confidence that he would see that the young man did not need for companionship when she was not able to be with him in Judge's Walk.
"I suppose you would have been lovers under other circumstances?" he asked, almost entreatingly. He seemed to have set his heart on that.
Gertrude smiled, and the old man looked at her face and read in the smile what he wanted to know.
"That is enough, my dear," he said kindly; "you have answered my question, and I am satisfied."
Her high-school work prevented her from coming to Hampstead in the mornings, but she never failed to come some time during each day, until at last the distance told on her, and so she took lodgings for herself close by, and transferred herself and her shabby white cat from Marylebone to Hampstead. Even then she found the distance to the high school very trying in all the heat; but she assured Elkin that the fresh air more than restored her, and he was content. He was always thinking of her comfort, and always anxious when she looked tired; and sometimes when they walked together up and down Judge's Walk, he would notice that her step dragged, and he would say: "Ah! I was walking too fast for you. Why, I believe I have more strength than you have!"
Then she would say: "I believe you
have." And he would never guess that her pace had been altered to suit his failing steps; for she pretended now not to notice his weakness and his shortness of breath. She never offered him the help of her arm; she walked by his side, a bright, cheery companion, her arms folded tightly together, according to her custom. When they were tired of walking, they would find their old particular bench, just under the sweet-scented limes, and they were happy though perhaps they never spoke a word. One evening when they were watching the sunset, and taking pleasure in the beauty all around, the old white-haired man came and sat near them. "Well," he said cheerily, "my news is that my gout is better. And pray, what is your news, young people?"
come and sat by him, and had confided in him, seeing no doubt that he was a person to be trusted. She was about five years old.
"Our news," said Elkin Annerley, "is that Miss Hurst is going to come out splendidly in her examination, which takes place on the 21st of July that is to say, in about three weeks' time."
"And yourself?" asked the old man kindly.
"Oh, I am quite sure I shall live to hear of her success," said Elkin brightly. "That is all I ask; it is little enough, is it not?"
THUS time sped on, and when Gertrude had finished her high-school work, she would step over to Elkin's lodgings to hear how he was, and what news he had to give her, and to receive her mathemat ical lesson.
"A procession of twelve coal-wagons passed by my window to-day," he said, "and the horses were the finest I have ever seen, capable of an infinite quantity of work." Or he would say, "I saw that young artist, and I had a talk with him. I like him, for he is a hard worker."
That was the standard by which Elkin Annerley judged people—their enthusiasm for, and their capabilities of, work. He interested himself in the costermongers who passed by with their donkeycarts, and made particular friends with a certain fish-woman and her husband. He bought trifles from them, horrible, smelling kippers and haddocks, in order to have a few minutes' chat with them, and to help them along without patronizing them. Thus he amused himself when he was alone; and when Gertrude came in, he always had something to tell her-how perhaps he had spoken to the old, whitehaired man, or how he had begun a friendship with a little gem of a child who had
"When I was a baby," she had told him mysteriously, "I swallowed a tooth!" "Indeed!" he had answered sympathetically. Then, encouraged by his sympathy, she intrusted to him other confidences about her dolls, and about the brown collie Rufus, who was her constant companion. She belonged to one of the houses at the back of Judge's Walk, and she came out to play around the dear trees, as she called them, or to have a romp with Rufus.
These were only little instances, it is true, but Gertrude Hurst listened with pleasure to all Elkin told her about his companions, and she learnt to like them too. But he enjoyed those times most when Gertrude was by his side; life was very lovely to him. It was so sad that he, this silent mathematical master, who was supposed to be interested in nothing but mathematics, should be entirely taken up with all things human, just as the end was approaching and it was too late. In the evenings he still gave her a lesson, though at times he was scarcely strong enough for the effort. She sat patiently by his side, showing him all the deference she would have shown him if he were lecturing at the New College. If he were a little irritable, she took his rebukes silently. But he praised her sometimes, and said she was beginning to have mixed mathematics at her finger-ends, and that she knew her book-work so well that she was bound to pass on that alone.
At last the evening came when he was to give her the last lesson; for the examination began on Monday, July 21st, and they had settled between them that she should cease working some few days beforehand, and enjoy the quiet of Hampstead, of course doing her teaching at school in the mornings.
"I am going to give you a very stiff problem in mixed mathematics," he said, "and if you do it elegantly and well, you will more than satisfy me.'
She worked at it whilst he sat at the open window. When she showed it to him, he was delighted.
"I have not come back from Australia in vain," he said brightly. "Now I flatter myself that I have really drilled you into capital form; and if you are plucked this time, I shall be inclined to behave as anxious and indignant mothers usually behave on these occasions, that is to say, go
and storm the examiners in their own strongholds and remonstrate with them! Ah! but there is no fear of failure this time."
So the lessons had come to an end, and the two friends passed their time sitting on the bench in Judge's Walk, or strolling slowly up and down, or talking to Elkin's many acquaintances. The brown collie Rufus followed them deferentially, recognizing them to be the little golden-haired girl's friends. She herself ran out to see them sometimes, and the old, white-haired man had his usual kindly word or look of greeting for them. Once or twice they got as far as the horse-pond, where they watched the strong old wagon-horses enjoying their summer paddling, and the children sailing their little ships. Elkin's anxiety was lest the ships shouid get entangled in the wagon-wheels. 'The children would be so hurt," he said anxiously.
"Look after that ship!" he would cry with his weak voice to the wagoners.
But the men always steered clear of the ships, and the horses lifted their great feet carefully, as though they well understood that the ships were not to be interfered with, nor the children's feelings hurt.
These were Elkin Annerley's happiest days. He had never before come so near to love, to humanity, and to nature. Hyperbolæ, asymptotes, diameters, indices, permutations, logarithms, obtuse and acute angles, foci, and oblique cylinders were being shorn of their glory, and other things were gaining in loveliness, when it was too late.
ON the 21st of July, Monday, Gertrude Hurst went in for her examination - viz., the Intermediate in Science of the London University. Naturally nervous over examinations, she summoned together all her courage, feeling that she must succeed this time. And as she sat in the room bending over her papers, the thought of Elkin Annerley helped her, and she looked at the men and women around her, and wondered whether they had such a stimulus to success as she had. One o'clock struck, and the interval between one and three was spent, as usual, in choking down some lunch, discussing the papers, and perhaps finding fault with the examiners, according, of course, as the candidate was satisfied or dissatisfied with the questions set. The following day, at one o'clock, Gertrude found Elkin Annerley waiting for her on the steps of Burlington House.
Some of his pupils hastened up, eager to shake his hand, and to hear how he was feeling after his voyage to Australia. They turned away sorrowfully when they saw the cruel change in his appearance.
"You ought not to have come down," Gertrude whispered to him reprovingly. "I shall not come again," was the quiet answer. "I just wanted to see the whole scene for myself. You remember it has been my life for so long."
At last, when Gertrude had done the mathematical papers, Elkin and she went carefully over them, and he was perfectly satisfied with her work. The teacher of biology at the New College thought that she had also succeeded with his subject, so that she had every reason to feel comforted. But however well one may feel one has done, it is scarcely safe to judge of possible success by feelings alone; and although Gertrude Hurst had vague hopes, she had also vague forebodings. Elkin laughed these forebodings away, and declared as usual that she was going to pass, and that he was going to live to hear of her success. But at times it seemed doubtful whether he could hold together much longer; the doctors had said that he lived on by mere pluck, and Gertrude knew well that he would not be able to withstand another hæmorrhage. He suf fered much from weakness and fever, and during these days of waiting to hear the result of the examination, he was not often able to go out.
When Gertrude came to fetch him for a stroll on Judge's Walk, he usually said :— 'No, not to-day. But you go, and tell me how the trees look, and whether the limes are still fragrant, and whether the children still play about on the grass."
One afternoon he did crawl out, and sat in his old accustomed place under his favorite lime-tree. The little goldenhaired girl and the dog Rufus ran up to greet him as usual, and the old, whitehaired man sat beside him. "You've not been out for some time," he said to Elkin. "I have missed you. How do you feel to-day?"
Elkin looked up quickly, and made him understand by a sign that he did not wish to discuss the matter before Gertrude. So he merely answered:
"I feel proud of my pupil. She has done excellent papers. I own I have been astonished at her progress."
But he soon became very tired, and the two friends strolled homewards. She saw how weak he was; but she did not dare offer him the help of her arm, fearing to