aspirations spring up unchecked by the too, liked being amongst the lime-trees. boundaries of space or doctrine. Do you He told his young friends what a privi. know, I am becoming sufficiently human lege it was to get a little closer to nature. to realize that this place gives me all the " When we are nearing the eod of our more pleasure because it has given pleas- lives,” he said, "we begin to realize how ure and comfort to thousands of my fellow much we have missed. Now I have been beings? It is lovely to think of this spot so much shut up in books all my life that being so near the great city, and within I have missed fresh air. Fresh air is betreach of all those who need that sooth- ter than books." ing balm which only nature can give. ! “ That is just what I feel,” Elkin An. wonder how many tired, disappointed Derley answered. “I, too, have missed so workers have sat here, and watched the much.” sunset, and have gone on their way again, The old man laughed. “ You have less weary and less disappointed ?"”. plenty of time,” he said.

They used to watch the children playing “ A few months at the most," was the games on the grass, and hide-and-seek be answer. hind the great trees.

“ Then it is a damned shame!” said the “How the trees must love the chil. old man, stamping on the ground with his dren !" Elkin said. “How they must love bad foot. “ What does it all mean, I wonto feel the touch of those little hands, and der? A worthless old fool like myself how they must love to hear the music of lingers on, and I assure you I have no those voices day by day through the particular wish for a prolonged existence. spring, the summer, and the autumn!” I have done my work, had my fun, and am

They used to see the same people time ready to go. Every one ought to be al. after time, and they amused themselves lowed his chance. 'I call it damnable !” by making up stories about them all. After that, he appeared to take a great There was one white-haired old man, who fancy to the two companions; and once he came regularly and sat on the bench which told Gertrude Hurst in confidence that he they generally occupied. He was much would see that the young man did not crippled with gout, but managed to crawl need for companionship when she was along, and to be very good-tempered in not able to be with him in Judge's Walk. spite of the gout. They christened him suppose you would have been lovers · The Professor." One evening he said under other circumstances ?” he asked, to them :

almost entreatingly. He seemed to have "Do you mind me sitting here with set his heart on that. you? I know lovers like to be alone, as a Gertrude smiled, and the old man looked rule; and I suppose you are lovers ? at her face and read in the smile what he When I was young, if an old buffer like wanted to know. myself had come and sat by me when I " That is enough, my dear," he said was with my sweetheart, I should have kiodly; "you have aoswered my question, sent him flying, gout or no gout.”.

and I am satisfied.” “Do poi move,” said Elkin Annerley, Her high-school work prevented her smiling. “It is we who are the new-com- trom coming to Hampstead in the morn. ers to Judge's Walk, and I dare say we ings, but she never failed to come some have taken possession of your particular time during each day, until at last the bench."

distance told on her, and so she took " I see you very often," said the old man. lodgings for herself close by, and traps. * I suppose you are lovers ? "

ferred herself and her shabby white cat Elkin Aonerley shook his head. “I am from Marylebone to Hampstead. Even dying,” he answered casually, “and my then she found the distance to the high companion is going in for an examina- school very trying in all the heat; but she tion."

assured Elkin that the fresh air more than " Ah !” said the old man. But although restored her, and he was content. He was he seemed disappointed with the informa- always thinking of her comfort, and altion, he continued to take an interest in ways anxious when she looked tired; and them, and always smiled his greeting and sometimes when they walked together up welcome when they came to sit on his and down Judge's Walk, he would notice bench. He did not often speak to them, that her step dragged, and he would say: but when he did choose to speak, they “ Ah! I was walking too fast for you. were always delighted with what he said. Why, I believe I have more strength than He had studied a great deal, and spoke you have !" eloquently of the books he loved. He, Then she would say: "I believe you


bave.” And he would never guess that come and sat by him, and had confided in her pace had been altered to suit his fails him, seeing no doubt that he was a person ing steps; for she pretended now not to to be trusted. She was about five years notice his weakness and his shortness of old. breath. She never offered him the help “When I was a baby," she had told him of her arm; she walked by his side, a mysteriously," I swallowed a tooth !” bright, cheery companion, hér arms folded “ Indeed " he had answered sympatightly together, according to her custom. thetically. Then, encouraged by his When they were tired of walking, they sympathy, she intrusted to him other conwould find their old particular bench, just fidences about her dolls, and about the under the sweet-scented limes, and they brown collie Rufus, who was her constant were happy though perhaps they never companion. She belonged to one of the spoke a word. One evening when they houses at the back of Judge's Walk, and were watching the sunset, and taking she came out to play around the dear pleasure in the beauty all around, the old trees, as she called them, or to have a white-haired man came and sat near them. romp with Rufus.

“Well,” he said cheerily, “my news is These were only little instances, it is that my gout is better. And pray, what true, but Gertrude Hurst listened with is your news, young people ?”

pleasure to all Elkin told her about his “Our news,” said Elkin Annerley, "is companions, and she learnt to like them that Miss Hurst is going to come out too. But he enjoyed those times most splendidly in her examination, which takes when Gertrude was by his side ; life was place on the 21st of July – that is to say, very lovely to him. It was so sad that he, in about three weeks' time."

this silent mathematical master, who was " And yourself ?” asked the old man supposed to be interested in nothing but kindly.

mathematics, should be entirely taken up “Oh, I am quite sure I shall live to with all things human, just as the end was hear of her success," said Elkin brightly. approaching and it was too late. lo the “That is all I ask; it is little enough, is evenings he still gave her a lesson, though it not?"

at times he was scarcely strong enough

for the effort. She sat patiently by his IV.

side, showing him all the deference she Thus time sped on, and when Gertrude would have shown him if he were lecturing had finished her high-school work, she at the New College. If he were a little would step over to Elkin's lodgings to irritable, she took his rebukes silently, hear how he was, and what news he had But be praised her sometimes, and said to give her, and to receive her mathemat. she was beginning to have mixed matheical lesson.

matics at her finger-ends, and that she “A procession of twelve coal-wagoos knew her book-work so well that she was passed by my window to-day,” he said, bound to pass on that alone. " and the horses were the finest I have At last the evening came when he was ever seen, capable of an infinite quantity to give her the last lesson ; for the examof work.". Or he would say," I saw that ination began on Monday, July 21st, and young artist, and I had a talk with him. they had settled between them that she I like him, for he is a hard worker." should cease working some few days be

That was the standard by which Elkin forehand, and enjoy the quiet of HampAnnerley judged people — their enthusi- stead, of course doing her teaching at

, asm for, and their capabilities of, work. school in the mornings. He interested bimself in the costermon- “ I am going to give you a very stiff gers who passed by with their donkey- problem in mixed mathematics," he said, carts, and made particular friends with a "and if you do it elegantly and well, you certain fish-woman and her husband. He will more than satisfy me. bought trifles from them, horrible, smell. She worked at it whilst he sat at the ing kippers and haddocks, in order to have open window. When she showed it to a few minutes' chat with them, and to help him, he was delighted. them along without patronizing them. “ I have not come back from Australia Thus he amused himself when he was in vain," he said brightly. “Now I flatter alone; and when Gertrude came in, he myself that I have really drilled you into always had something to tell her - how capital form; and if you are plucked this perhaps he had spoken to the old, white- time, I shall be inclined to behave as anxhaired man, or how he had begun a friend-ious and indignant mothers usually behave ship with a little gem of a child who had | on these occasions, – that is to say, go and storm the examiners in their own | Some of his pupils hastened up, eager to strongholds and remonstrate with them ! shake his hand, and to hear how he was Ah! but there is no fear of failure this feeling after his voyage to Australia. They time."

turned away sorrowfully when they saw So the lessons had come to an end, and the cruel change in his appearance. the two friends passed their time sitting “ You ought not to have come down," on the beach in Judge's Walk, or strolling Gertrude whispered to him reprovingly. slowly up and down, or talking to Elkin's “ I shall not come again,” was the quiet many acquaintances. The brown collie answer. “ I just wanted to see the whole Rufus followed them deferentially, recog- scene for myself. You remember it has nizing them to be the little golden-haired been my life for so long." girl's friends. She herself ran out to see At last, when Gertrude had done the them sometimes, and the old, white-haired mathematical papers, Elkin and she went man had his usual kindly word or look of carefully over them, and he was perfectly greeting for them. Once or twice they satisfied with her work. The teacher of got as far as the horse-pond, where they biology at the New College thought that watched the strong old wagon-horses en- she had also succeeded with his subject, joying their summer paddling, and the so that she had every reason to feel comchildren sailing their little ships. Elkin's forted. But however well one may feel anxiety was lest the ships shouid get one has done, it is scarcely safe to judge entangled in the wagon-wheels. “ The of possible success by feelings alone; and children would be so hurt,” he said anx- although Gertrude Hurst had vague hopes, iously.

she had also vague forebodings. Elkin “ Look after that ship!” he would cry laughed these forebodings away, and dewith his weak voice to the wagoners.

clared as usual that she was going to pass, But the men always steered clear of the and that he was going to live to hear of ships, and the horses lifted their great feet her success. But at times it seemed carefully, as though they well understood doubtful whether he could hold together that the ships were not to be interfered much longer; the doctors had said that with, nor the children's feelings hurt. he lived on by mere pluck, and Gertrude

These were Elkin Anderley's happiest knew well that he would not be able to days. He had never before come so near withstand another hæmorrhage. He suf. to love, to humanity, and to pature. Hy- fered much from weakness and fever, and perbolæ, asymptotes, diameters, indices, during these days of waiting to hear the permutations, logarithms, obtuse and acute result of the examination, he was angles, foci, and oblique cylinders were often able to go out. being shorn of their glory, and other things When Gertrude came to fetch him for a were gaining in loveliness, when it was too stroll on Judge's Walk, he usually said :late.

“No, not to-day. But you go, and tell me how the trees look, and whether the

limes are still fragrant, and whether the On the 21st of July, Monday, Gertrude children still play about on the grass.” Hurst went in for her examination - viz., One afternoon he did crawl out, and the lotermediate in Science of the Lon- sat in his old accustomed place under don University. Naturally nervous over his favorite lime-tree. The little goldenexaminations, she summoned together all haired girl and the dog Rufus ran up to her courage, feeling that she must succeed greet him as usual, and the old, whitethis time. And as she sat in the room haired man sat beside him. bending over her papers, the thought of • You've not been out for some time,” Elkin Anderley helped her, and she looked he said to Elkin. “I have missed you. at the men and women around her, and How do you feel to-day?” wondered whether they had such a stimu- Elkin looked up quickly, and made him lus to success as she had. One o'clock understand by a sign that he did not wish struck, and the interval between one and to discuss the matter before ertrude. So three was spent, as usual, in choking down he merely answered : some lunch, discussing the papers, and "I feel proud of my pupil. She has perhaps ficding fault with the examiners, done excellent papers. I own I have been according, of course, as the candidate was astonished at her progress.” satisfied or dissatisfied with the questions But he soon became very tired, and the set. The following day, at one o'clock, two friends strolled homewards. She saw Gertrude found Elkin Annerley waiting how weak he was; but she did not dare for her on the steps of Burlington House. I offer him the help of her arm, fearing to



[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

hurt his feelings. She knew how he suf- Her hand still rested against his cheek.
fered mentally; she knew that the mental She could not speak a word.
suffering was worse to him than the bodily “ Life is hard for the strongest,” he said
suffering itself. He had been so inde-again, “but you are gallant. I always
pendent all his life, and had asked so little thought you were gallant; I thought so
of any one, and her heart bled to see him the very first moment you came into my
so young, so weak, and so helpless, class-room at the New College. I have

“I am tired this afternoon,” she said to not spoken to you lately about ambition; him. “Will you let me have your arm?” but do you know, that of all ambitious He smiled brightly.

men, I am by nature the most ambitious ? “I am glad you asked me," he said, One by one I have had to give these am" for I noticed how tired you seemed. bitions up, and one by one my heart-strings Your work has been too much for you. broke. But a broken heart is better than Why, I do believe I am stronger than you a bitter one. Will you remember that, 10-day.”

child? Still, you know, one ambition does She took his arm; but it was he who remain, and that is to live long enough to had the support, and not she, and when hear of your success. I have missed other they reached his lodgings, he saok back things, but this one thing I am sure I shall exhausted.

not miss, for no one, not even the hardest "I can still smell the lime-trees,” he taskmaster, would grudge me twenty-four said to himself, as he loosened his scarf. more hours of life. You look very tired, " I am glad you persuaded me to go out child, and very anxious, but this time to with you, for it was pleasant to see the morrow you and I will both be smiling whole scene again. There is no cathe. because of your success. You must take dral more beautiful than that leafy cathe care of yourself. I want you to live long dral which we have just left. I hope you so that you may do much. As a teacher will always be fond of it, if only for my you have a great responsibility to fulfil. sake."

You have a broad, open mind yourself, Suddenly he was seized with a fearful therefore teach your pupils to take a wide fit of coughing, and Gertrude bent over view of life. Tell them that God, who, him anxiously, as he sat in his armchair so they believe, made the open-lying by the open window.

downs, and the free sky, and the boundless “ Elkin, what can I do for you?" she ocean, and the spreading fields — tell them asked sorrowfully. “What can I do to that God cannot wish our minds to be pent help you?”

up in a nut-shell. As our eyes ! cry for That was the first time she had called light, so our minds should cry for space, him Elkin. At the sound of her voice he always more space. Tell them this from looked up and smiled.

I want you to have all the things “If you do not mind," he said, " bring which I have missed. I want you to live that stool, and sit near me, and let me hold and love. And I want you to rejoice in

the sunshine and in nature. Do not make It was the first time he had ever asked yourself miserable with thought. There anything of her. He was silent for some is a great brick wall against which we kick minutes, and seemed to be thinking. She in vain — call it God, or Fate, or the First sat near him, and held his right hand in Cause. Just do your work well, and by her own. Then he spoke.

adding to the store of work well done, you “ You are only a child, only a child," he will help humanity, and you will earn your said mournfully, “and life is so hard for immortality, and your rest too." the strongest amongst us. I wish I could She rose and kissed him on the forehave had a long, strong life, so that I might head. “You have been so good to me,” have helped you. You are only a child, she whispered, “but I cannot say much to for all your independence.”

you to-night, for everything seems to me He rested her hand against his cheek. so mournful. And I cannot bear for you to " It is some comfort to me,” he said, after suffer. I would gladly give my life for a pause, “that you will live on to work. yours. What does it all mean, I wonder? It is splendid to think of you living and You are a rare spirit, and I am just a working. I have always had such a pas- simple girl, with no originality in me. I sion for work, and you know my great can well be spared and you cannot. And trouble has been that I have had to be idle. yet it is you who have to leave your work. But you will do your share of work for me Sometimes when I look at you it seems to as well as for yourself, and that is my me all a dream that you are ill." comfort."

"If I had been well,” he answered, as

[ocr errors]


your hand."

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


he watched her put on her hat and scarf, some man, more chivalrous than the “many things would have been different. others, called out: Yes, many things would have been differ- “ All right, Miss Hurst ; 24 is on the ent."

list." They stood there in the twilight, hand He made way for her, and she saw for in hand, and there was silence between herself. She waited just long enough to them for many minutes.

congratulate some of her friends, and to " Who knows?” he said cheerily, “you press in kindly sympathy the hand of the may gain the gold medal in your examina. middle-aged teacher whose number was tion."

not on the list. Then she hailed a han. "Whatever I gain,” she answered, “I som, and was just going to step into it shall owe to you.

when she told the man to wait a minute; " If you pass,” he said, “there will be and she ran back to have one more look at no more drudgiog, no more anxiety about the list. “ Just to be quite sure,” she said stray lessons, but a good post and a good to herself. She read all the numbers from salary. Come straight home to me, di- the beginning, and then came 19, 20, and rectly you bear the news to-morrow after- 24. She sprang lightly into the bansom, noon, and take a hansom. Tell the man and her face was radiant with happiness. to drive quickly. Do not delay one single " It is through his help,” she said to herinstant, for I shall be so aoxious to hear self, “and I am so proud and glad to think the good news.”

that I owe my success to him. If it had As he held out his hand, she raised it not been for bim I should have failed to her lips aod kissed it lovingly. “Good. again in mathematics; all the biology and night,” she said, “good-night, Elkin dear. chemistry in the world would not have God bless you.” And as she spoke, the saved me.” tears fell from her eyes, and he saw them. The weariness of the last few weeks

When he was left alone, there was a seemed to have left her; her face, ordina. strangely beautiful smile on his face. He rily so troubled, looked girlish and young koew now that whatever else he had again ; her only thought was how pleased missed, he had not missed love.

he would be to hear the good news, and

what a cosy evening they would pass toVI.

gether now that this anxiety was removed. It was about two o'clock on August At last she reached his lodgings, 12th when Gertrude Hurst went down to jumped out of the hansom, overpaid the Burlington Gardens to hear the verdict of cabman, and knocked loudly at the brass the examiners. Her number was 24. The knocker. The door was opened by the lists were not yet out when she arrived, old landlady. and the hall was full of men and women, "I have such good news for Mr. Aneach one more anxious than the other, nerley,” Gertrude said, smiling happily. although, of course, there were some who Then she noticed a strange expression on pretended not to be anxious at all, and the landlady's face. were talking on subjects which had noth- “Is anything wrong?” she asked, a ing to do with examinations, but who suddeo fear possessing her. nevertheless looked up eagerly, expecting “Oh, Miss Hurst,” the old landlady to see the list, which was to set all doubts said, "bow can I tell you? He died this at rest. Gertrude Hurst found many of morning at two o'clock.” her men and women friends, and they all Gertrude stood at the door speechless. told her that there was no need for her In that brief moment she knew that the to be anxious. She, in her turn, spoke loveliest part of life had been taken from many cheering words to a forlorn, middle her. She went silently up to the room aged teacher, who looked overworked and where Elkin Anderley lay, and there she under-fed. Gertrude thought only of El. stayed for full an hour. After that, they kin Anderley; all personal interest in the saw her standing on the door-step. matter had passed away, and it was for his “I am going for a walk," she told them. sake chiefly that she wished to see num- “ I shall be back later on." ber 24 on the list. “ Who knows?" she There were no tears in her eyes, and thought; "a great gladness often helps her face was almost expressionless. She people to live, when doctors have given walked up and down Judge's Walk, under ihem up."

the spreading branches, which cast their At last the list was brought in, and there shadows on the path; the Hampstead was a rush to the stand, and Gertrude bells were chiming a sweet melody; the could not get pear enough to see. But | lingering sun shone through the trees; the

« VorigeDoorgaan »