[ocr errors]


delicate pale fragrance; mountain moss time, against men, against winds and and wild azalea, all indescribably faint storms and seasons. There broods frozen and beautiful. It seemed as if our souls winter, eternally arrested on the summit. and senses were refreshed and purified by As for the autumn in the valley, it is a this calm ether, and able to receive the lovely and plentiful show; yellow crops sacrament of nature, the outward sign and not all reaped yet, bronzed ears and the inward grace. Far beyond one blaz; sheaves in the homestead, fax swinging ing slope of green and crimson studded from the galleries of the châlets, cut wood flowers, and across the vast valley, rose for winter piled against the outer walls. the great might and silence of the moun- The roar of the torrent is in the air, and tain-chain, and higher still a line of mingles with the pastoral sounds. All clouds was striking sail in solemn rank over Switzerland the rush of running and drifting towards the peaks. A sense water echoes, from the desperate streams of awe-stricken, all-embracing beauty, of that course in the valleys, to the sweet, all-enclosing power and mystery, came high, mountain rivulets flashing their way upon us as we stood together.

I felt as to the plain. if I had lived for years alone with Fina 6. There is one solemn end to our terand her father. He, too, seemed to feel race, the other clatters with knives and some of the same companionship, for he forks, and is within view of the narrow turned from her to me and said very gen- village street. A deep gutter has been tly,

cut in the centre of the road, crossed at "Fina will never forget our walk to-intervals by foot-stones. The children, gether, nor the wonderful things we have with their brown faces and white heads, seen to-day: My old violin has often sit swinging their bare legs over the watalked of it, but it never showed us whatter; they stand on the steps of the we have seen to-day. And then with a châlets, they peep from crazy balconies half sigh, “How her mother would have that start from every corner, loaded with enjoyed it all!' he added.

green and crimson flower-pots; and then « But though we all enjoyed our walk, there are figures everywhere climbing it was too long. Mr. Arnheim was ill for ladders, leaning from upper windows, as two days, I am sorry to say; Fina and 1 they do in German picture-books. A have scarcely been beyond the green ter- horse led by a baby comes to drink at the race of the hotel since then. I am not trough at the corner of the road; a goromantic as you know, and so I like sit-cart rolls by, dragged by a pretty young ting where I can see the road and the mother — she has tied her child by a linen people passing, There go two Swiss cloth to the shafts; the baker shuffles maidens. I wish I could draw them for from beneath his gable, our host of the you. They seem to be carrying two of Bear appears for a moment in his doorthe mountains on their backs.

Opposite is the country coffeeknow whether they are going to set them house, with “ Milk and Beer Shop" down in sight of the new hotel or else- painted in rude letters over the doorway; where. Now our artist goes by. He is a and through the open lattice and behind Mr. Bracy, and staying in the hotel. He the red curtains you see the country-folk walks about with his head on one side, refreshing themselves at wooden tables. and his portfolio under his arm. Sketch- Bowls piled with beautiful red and gold ing in such a place as this seems to me a are set before them. It is only a feast of ludicrous process.

You might as well apples, but Paris himself might have attempt to sketch a sonata with a penny plucked them. The Golden Age never whistle as to set down the Eiger on one produced a more sumptuous crop, blazing page and the Wetterhorn and its crown crimson and lighting the dark kitchen. of cloud on another. There would be Then, beyond all the clamor of the little some sense in it if he were to draw that village, the voices, the bleating of goats, nice load of wood and its white horse. the splashing of waters, you come upon

" I don't know how to describe every: the little church, silent in its slated nightthing here.

Life begins at dawn and cap, watching over the tranquil gravegoes on till starlight. The terrace itself yard where people lie asleep, as befits is rather a choking place, scented with good resormers, not beneath the shadow heavy perfumes, but through its green of the cross, but under strange taberwindows and delicate curtain of hanging nacles and devices, among weeds and tendril and white blossom, a great sight is flowers, with the rocks of the Fishhorns revealed. Rise, noble Eiger, with dizzy to bound the view, and the valley opening heights and battlements piled against to the westward.

I don't way.

[ocr errors]


You see I have taken the opportunity cumstances round about one.

In comof your absence to rhapsodize a little. paring one life with another people often How glad we should all be if there was forget to take states of mind into consid. any chance of your coming, if only for a eration, and do not realize how habit and fortnight! We will use all our influence natural adaptability often make a sort of with Mr. Gredig's sallow son to get you a artificial happiness when none other might room on the proper side of the house, seem possible. 6. Leave human nature with the view. Do think of it and of all alone,” said a French lady two hundred you will have to write down in your be- years ago, “and it will make some happiloved diary.

ness for itself out of the things round “Always your most affectionate about it.” In many ways I like the mo- SOPHY KING.notonousness of my existence, my early

walks, my return home. I have friends

without a name who look a kindly greetI HAVE almost made up my mind to ing; I have a correspondent to whom I burn my diaries. I have been looking owe many a happy half-hour; I live a them over to-night, and there they are great deal outside my quiet room as well lying in a heap, a cairn upon the floor. as in it. My landlady keeps my home Each year passing by has added its stone. bright for me and in good order, and welMy neighbor, Josephine Ellis, came in to comes me back to cheering cups of unsee me, and exclaimed at the pile. I told stinted bohea. In the morning, when I her it was the funeral pyre of my familiar set off on my day's peregrinations, the blue devils. There they were, all dated street looks pleasant if the sun shines, and and docketed. “ Have you never kept a friendly even in the mist. It is not one diary?I asked.

of your dreary, stucco, suburban rows; “What should I put into a diary?” but a little, old, cheerful, vulgar street, said she. Nothing ever happens in our with a certain stir of humanity and life house. I was quite glad when the little about it, and a barber's shop at the corpage-boy tumbled down-stairs yesterday ner. and broke the teacups. But Bessie has And here let me note down a curious matched them already, and everything is little discovery I have made since my life the same again as ever.”

in Old Street began. There is nothing in “I don't write my diary when I have reality more regular than this apparently anything better to do," I replied. " It is erratic street life that we see flowing past only when you are a very long time with as though without method or reason ; but out coming to see me, or when Sophy people whose business takes them at cerKing does not write, that I have recourse tain hours in certain directions know how to it."

the same figures recur at the same places Living alone as I do, busy and trudging with a curious order and persistence. As about all day with my lessons, and tired I go to my lessons in the early morning I at night, most of my dissipation comes to am met again by certain faces at certain me in the shape of pen and ink. For my corners. Some of them seem friends alpublic opinions, indeed, I subscribe to most after a week or two of silent recognithe Daily News; but for my private feel- tion. I know the trim clerks on the way ings I have long kept a diary. The extra to their offices, and three organ-men who blank sheets are very convenient to vent meet under the same tree in Kensington one's moods upon, and there is a certain Gardens, morning after morning, to settle amusement in the £ s. d. column, down the plan of their day's campaign. I diswhich the figures go tumbling headlong liked them at first, but by degrees beto the terrible total at the bottom. But I came quite interested in their well-being. confess that, with the best good will in the A pug dog, anxiously followed by a lady world, there are times when a clean ruled and gentleman, always meets me at a cerpage is not much comfort, when a well- tain tree along the path, and looks up in balanced column is of little avail, when my face inquiringly. At the gate is the what you want is a voice — a hand, rough apple-woman, sitting at her stall. All or clumsy though it be — something alive these people have become quite habitual that is not the eternal reflection of your and component parts of my mind by deown self in the glass or on the paper be- grees. We meet in sunshine; we meet in fore you. In many ways, however, I am rain. Shall I ever forget one lovely mornwell contented with my lot. It seemed a ing when some miracle had been worked hard one at first, and perhaps things don't for us, and the mists had descended in a change; but one suits oneself to the cir- silver vapor, through which we humdrum

people drifted, silently appearing, vanish- I remember meeting Josephine Ellis in ing, transfigured in a pale, dazzling cloud the east wind one day at the street corner, of light? Another day was even more and being quite frightened by her face, it beautiful, when the whole world of the looked so grey, so set, so utterly stony Gardens suddenly flashed into glittering, and miserable. I spoke to her, but she diamond-like hoarfrost, every blade and didn't notice me and hurried on. The twig, every dead leaf, every iron railing church bells were clanging overhead, and touched by this magic. But these are the clouds tossing up into the high blue holidays. Who does not know London's sky. The sky always looks highest at workaday livery of heavy, dull grey, the the corner just by the steeple, where all laurel bushes and trees of changeless the roads meet, where the cabs and carts hue, the dark, straight rows of smut and cross each other's track, and one old brick? The skies seem made of bricks, street goes winding uphill by the church, the houses of smut and mist. The world while the other meanders off into the goes out suddenly; the beautiful, shining, country, past the suburban gardens and gay world, all alight and alive, all full of villas, past Hammersmith and its bridges. the voices of children and the hum of and stagnant ditches, into the open fields. strollers, seems blown out with a puff; Another road, joining on to this one, goes and the people are gone too. One day back to the very heart of London, with a you are walking in company with a thou- steady rumbling pulse of cabs, carts, carsand bustling fellow-creatures, in windy, riages, all laden. Besides these, there. sunshiny places, where the very stones at was the foot-stream, into which I saw your feet are shining and full of hope; Josephine engulfed. the next, you are plodding -- no, not plod- I watched her tall, quick figure sliding ding, it is too hopeful a word -you are through the crowd. She was dressed all standing still on one foot, shuddering, in black, for the family were still in and not knowing where to step next. mourning for poor Mrs. Arnheim, the

The weather of our souls is not alto- second daughter, who had died abroad gether unlike this outward weather which the year before. Josephine in her flowis supposed to affect our bodies more ing robes was a noble-looking woman, especially People say that music only with a lovely mouth and a hooked nose, can express certain moods and things. not a snub like her sister Bessie's; nor Weather seems to me to have a language was her hair red, but black, waving and of its own which everybody understands, frizzling like the Greek ladies' hair on the even animals and even growing things as coins. Her face is often grey, often dull. well as philosophers and idiots. Govern. It was bright enough when I knew her esses should be philosophers, I suppose, first, seven years before she passed me

Ι but I am afraid my poor little pupils, who in the east wind that day. Long afterare everything but idiots, tell which wind wards she came and told me what had is blowing not from personal but from re. happened that day, and my heart sank for flected experience. Clang! clang! clang! her. the bell shakes in the east wind, and jars She has an odd, hard, plausible way of and jars the unfortunates who are of irri- relating the most intimate things. Her table nerve and temper, and who are con- manner is at times just like her sister demned to come out in it while the grim Bessie's, and I could shake her for it, but reverberations smite and swing and strike her looks are Mrs. Arnheim's, who is those who are already stricken. Happy, gone, and her heart is her own; faithful, and comfortable, and thick-skinned people gentle, diffident, reserved, unchanging. do not feel such passing sounds and influ- Poor Josephine! How I should have ences any more than children do. Alas ! liked to see her happier! She said that, for the nervously irritable, there is a as she hurried along on that bewildering whole world of undiscovered misery, of walk through the crowd, the sound of the chill atmospheres, of impatient annoy- church bells seemed to be her own story ances, into which they drift. And those proclaimed in some noisy, obstreperous who fall victims to these idiotic demons, fashion : “Away with him! Away with mere soulless worries of the moment him! Go! go! go! go! go! Send him without meaning or tragedy to dignify off!” the bells had seemed to say while their pranks - demons with whom battle she pushed quickly forward, not letting is ignominious and victory almost as un- herself dwell on much else beyond the worthy as defeat — may well grudge the difficulty of passing in and out among the precious hours of life that pass struggling many people, who were crowding the narwith minor and intolerable worries. row pavement. To her it was all like a


dream from her own heart, and she won- seemed to her best, but her heart resisted. dered to find herself quite alone in this Josephine was weak, afraid of the colonel crowd, elbowing, shouldering, pushing, and Bessie, and full of tender solicitude while all the while the incessant bell kept for the dear old mother who loved her up its maddening clang of parting. children, but whose love and longing for

their happiness only seemed in one way

or another to bring so much trouble and JOSEPHINE Ellis at thirty might have sorrow upon them. “ He" said she did been a handsome, happy woman, with a not love him enough. It might be so. home and more to do than she could find She had seen him a dozen times, perhaps, time sor, with many cares and anxieties, but it seemed to her she knew every look and a thousand things to occupy her, with and line in his face as well as she did her a child or two to tend, or with small mearis mother's well-loved seams. When he was perhaps to eke out to the uttermost (which angry with her, she felt angry for him, is in itself a profession), with cheerful angry with herself. Ah! if he thought noise and bustle in her life, and plenty of she did not love him enough, it was betcoming and going, of healthy fatigue and ter for him to be free, and not tied to a peaceful rest - all this might have been half-hearted woman. So Josephine said hers, and besides and beyond it all a “Good-bye.” It was easily done; too blessing of faithful love and companion- easily done, she thought. She wrote to ship; but, unfortunately for herself, she her lover to meet her in Kensington Garwas of good family, well-connected, ac- dens that east-windy autumn day, and customed to every comfort, devoted to her there, by the pond, among babies and mother, yielding and obedient to the elder nursemaids, to the plash of the dull ripsister, who had ruled the house ever since ples, and to the sound of the children's Josephine could remember. A shabby, voices and the greedy gabble of the watermiddle-aged doctor of humble extraction, fowl, with mists rising blue against the without any practice to speak of, and with stems of the trees, she let his warm hand a patched and shabby home in Pimlico; drop and turned away alone, strangely was not to be welcomed as a husband, light of heart as people are who have except in defiance of every law which she made up their minds, very sad as a woman had been brought up to look upon as sa- may well be, who is turning away from cred. She had been little more than a life's happiness, from its cheer and interchild at the time of her sister Mary's est, to a chamber, swept, indeed, and garelopement, but she could remember the nished, and empty. dismay it caused. Poverty she did not It is true there are married people and fear (though she somewhat exaggerated unmarried ones in the world, and some of its terrors), but remorse she feared, and the married live utterly alone, and some renewed anguish for her mother; and she of the unmarried have their hearts full dreaded her sister's blame and her friends' and overflowing, and live married to the shoulder-shrugs. And then he, though so lives and interests of others. But Jose. poor, though of such humble origin, ven- phine Ellis was not one of these. She tured to reproach her; he was rude, he had not energy of character or force of was angry. " If she loved him, why did will enough to compel circumstances. she hesitate ?” he asked; “if she did not She was going home to a lonely life and love him, it was he who would wish to she knew it. She had spared her mother break it off. She must face it; she must a cruel pang and she grudged it. She had be perfectly simple and honest about it.” sent him from her, and it was she would His vehemence filled her with fears of remember and he who would forget in what he might demand from her in the time. This also she knew and accepted. future.

But presently, as she walked along and It is not one of the smallest difficulties the bells began to clang aloft once more, of life, that of being perfectly true and every note seemed to her like a crash of single-minded in the inidst of a great net- pain falling on her heart, - every stroke work of influences, of which the ropes seemed to buffet, to bewilder her. She and strings and threads pull from genera- i could have cried out loud, only she was tions and generations back, and spread too well brought up to make a disturbance out in every direction. When Josephine in the street, and so she trudged on, crossbroke off her engagement, she scarcely ing the road under a horse's nose and knew what she was doing. She hoped beedless of the driver's cry. As she was things would come right. She said one turning the corner of the street that leads thing, she meant another, she did what to her home in Old Palace Square, she


[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

saw some little children in rags with flut- I have vagued away in a sort of circle tering pinafores, dancing hand in hand to round my diaries still heaped on the floor, the tune of the very bells that sounded to and Josephine standing between me and her like a knell. Then she reached home the lamp. She was perfectly composed, at last. There was the house with its and looked as if she had never done any; broad front and usual row of windows, thing but tie her bonnet-strings. The the blinds were not down, there were no window was open, and the huge, still stars mutes standing at the door to show to were glowing over the opposite house, others that a second funeral had taken the lighted panes of which looked like place, that a tender friendship was dead lanterns. and buried away by the Round Pond. “I am waiting for a servant to fetch

A long time of waiting followed, while me,” said Josephine. " Thomas and Besshe hoped, she knew not what, and noth- sie won't let me stir without one, and it ing came of her hopes; and then she isn't worth a battle. One thing more," began to be afraid, but nothing happened. she added, “ I wanted to tell you. I have Then she thought she hated John Adams had a letter from Fina, and a few lines (that was the doctor's name), until one from her father. He persists in refusing day by chance she saw him in the distance, to let us send him one farthing of Mary's a long way off, at the end of a street; and money, I think it is very wrong. He then she felt her whole heart melt with drags this child from place to place, and forgiveness. But he did not see her, and lives in a strange, miserable, hand-towalked on his way.

mouth way, when he might have enough, Facts cannot be changed, but in time and welcome.” we can change ourselves, with help from “My dear,” said I,“ don't ask me what new things to push away the old ones; I think. No wonder Mr. Arnheim is but for poor Josephine, só few new things sore, remembering how he has been treator thoughts or events came to make a ed. An honest man doesn't like to be so difference, that at thirty she was the same treated. Your brother once called him women she had been at twenty-five, less "adventurer' to his face.” five years of hope, and youth, and confi- “ He calls him that fiddler' now," said dence. She did not fall ill, but she Josephine, with a faint smile. dimmed as people do. Her brightness seems to think it equally disgraceful, and faded, and her hair fell out of its pretty is quite furious because Mr. Arnheim crisp waves.

won't take the money: Ah! it is true “She wants change,” said Bessie the what you say, honest men can't bear such tyrant, sharply, when she saw her mother mean suspicions. Do you know," she anxiously watching Josephine with soft, went on, “I sometimes think, if it had squirrel-like eyes. “ Thomas is going not been for Bessie, and Thomas, who abroad. Let her go with him.” But always agrees with her, we might have all Josephine protested she did not want made it up years before our poor Mary anything, only to be left alone.

died. I sometimes think things might Thomas was Josephine's and Bessie's be different even But oh! Mary elder brother. He had retired from the ought not to have left us as she did,” the army with a colonelcy when he married girl continued with a sudden outburst of the second time, and had settled down as emotion. “It half killed mamma, and a country gentleman in Sussex. On the she would have died, I know she would present occasion he had got a cough, have died, if I too had deserted my post.” which gave him and his good-natured wife I scarcely knew how to answer Joseno little anxiety, and had come up to town phine's outburst. She stood trembling to consult a doctor about it. The starched for an instant, and then all the moment's colonel had been struck with the change emotion seemed to pass away, and there in Josephine, and complained of her dress again stood the set, handsome, fashiona. to his wife.

ble goddess I was used to see.

The gods, "Josephine don't make anything of we know, are forbidden to weep, and perherself,” he said; "she was a pretty girl haps some such decree had been issued not long ago, but now she is a perfect to the Ellis household, for Josephine

My mother looks the young- forced back her tears. est of the two. I wish you would give At that instant an interruption came in her a hint or two, Rosa."

the shape of a crash outside the door. But, notwithstanding Rosa's excellent Mrs. Taplow looked in demurely. hints, Josephine's complexion did not im- “Miss Ellis's servant has come, ma'am. prove.

The poor boy has met with an accident






« VorigeDoorgaan »