« VorigeDoorgaan »
every possible occasion apparently tried themselves by peppering me in the hard to anticipate them. We never Crimea. had even a word of dissension either; “Dans l'amour il y a toujours l'un qui for whenever our tastes and opinions baise et l'un qui tend la joue,” says a differed on any subject, she invariably French writer, and he is quite right; insisted on yielding in my favour, and no two people are ever equally fond of obliged me to have my own way. But each other—there must always be an further than this we never got. I never excess of affection on one side or the saw her eye brighten at my approach, or other. But I think the remark might heard her voice take a tenderer tone be supplemented by saying that no two when she addressed me; there was no married people ever continued very long caress in her manner towards me, and equally indifferent to each other eithershe seemed perfectly indifferent as to the feeling being certain, in one of the whether I was with her or not. Like parties, eventually to change into love or two parallel lines we moved along, ever hatred. As a case in point: for some together, but ever apart—always near, time I used to think that our indifferbut never approximating ; and, beyond ence was perfectly well matched; but knowing that she had the sweetest and after a while, when the gloss of novelty most amiable disposition in the world, wore off, the feeling of delight with I knew no more of the inner life of which I entered on my fair possessions, thought and feeling of my own wife I used to wonder, though by no means than if she had been a thousand miles of an introspective habit, or given to away from me.
self-analysis, why it was that I was not “Strangers yet” we indeed were, even happier, why I experienced such a feelafter having been a year together; but ing of dissatisfaction at everything, and how completely so the relation of a little why I felt as though I were hungry and incident, which occurred at this period, thirsty, nay, starving in the midst of will best show. I had occasion to go up plenty, and when I had apparently all to town on business, for a week, one that heart could desire. But as time time; and on the day of my departure, wore on, and I found myself trembling after having shaken hands with the old at the sound of a certain light footfall
, lady and Mrs. Wynne, who was then and blushing like a schoolboy if by staying with us, I was just taking my chance my hand came in contact with a wife's hand also, when Alice called out: certain small white one, say in assisting
“Oh, Charley, I'm really ashamed of its owner in or out of the carriage, &c., you ! to think of bidding your wife I at last awoke to the startling and good-bye for a whole week in that cold painful conviction that I was deeply, fashion! Give her a parting kiss, sir, irrevocably, passionately in love with or I shall never think well of you again my own wife. I have used the words as long as I live.”
"startling and painful,” because I had I must confess that I felt myself never previously experienced a stronger growing most uncomfortably red when affection for anything feminine than my cousin said this ; but I at once bent that with which my favourite mare had my head to act upon her suggestion, inspired me, and because I was so and would have given the kiss, had not bitterly conscious of my wife's indifmy wife divined my intention and ference. Indeed, as I was thus fully coldly turned her cheek to me. Now I persuaded of her coldness, and too am sure that, had she known what it
proud to beg for her love, this state would cost me, she would not have of things might have gone on for ever, given me this rebuff, for she was kind- had not an event at length occurred ness itself; but as it was, so deeply which not only interrupted the even was I hurt and wounded by it, that I tenor of our way, but at once changed swear I never felt a keener or sharper the whole aspect of affairs; and it happang, even when the Russians amused
pened in this wise : One day, while out
riding, I was thrown from my horse, She hesitated a second, and then said and so severely hurt that my recovery timidlywas very slow indeed ; so slow that, as I “If you think you'd be lonely with had not been in good health previously, no one but Johnson, and would like the doctors began to fear the worst, and me to go with you, I will do so." at last informed me that if I wished my It was the old story; I knew it quite days to be long in the land, I must go well. She was as willing to practise to a milder climate before the winter self-denial in great things as in small; set in. I shall never forget my sensa- but I was determined to be firm on tions when these tidings were commu- this occasion, and resist the sweet tempnicated to me. Like Hezekiah of old, I tation of letting her come with me turned my face to the wall, and mourned against her will. So I answered promptly sore ; for I knew, of course, that there and decidedlywas no chance of my wife accompany
“ Not for the world." ing me, and the thought of leaving her And before I had time to explain my was worse than death to me. You see I reasons, as I had intended doing, she was under no misconception regarding had quitted the room, and I was once my feelings then; by that time I was more left alone with my sad thoughts. only too fully aware that for me the Well, the day came round only too world was but divided into two parts : quickly on which I was to bid adieu to where she was, and that dreary waste my home and all that was dearest to me where she was not.
on earth ; and when I saw the carriage For some time after the fiat had gone drive up in which I was to go to Southforth for me I lay on the couch in my ampton—I was too ill to travel by rail sanctum, as it were, stunned and speech- -I felt almost broken-hearted; for a less from grief; but I was at last aroused terrible presentiment had seized from the painful reverie into which I that I was about to look upon my wife had fallen by hearing some one enter for the last time. She was alone in the the room, and on turning round and library when I went to bid her goodlooking up, I saw my wife bending bye, and I remarked that she looked
paler than usual, and as if she had been "Good heavens, Leslie !" I exclaimed weeping : I therefore ventured to draw involuntarily, "you here!
her towards me, and as I bent over her know, for a moment I fancied I must I said, earnestlyhave been dreaming."
“ Leslie, my wife, I may never see She looked at me searchingly for a you again ; have some pity, and do not few seconds, and then said softly
turn away this time.” “I am so sorry to hear you are not She did not turn away; and, for the getting better, and the doctor says you first time in my life I pressed my lips must go abroad !"
to hers. But directly afterwards, being “ Yes; it appears I have only the afraid to trust myself to say more lest I alternative of going away for a time or should break down altogether, I left for ever."
the room, and in a few minutes more I “And whom should you like to go was driving down the avenue, weak and with you ?" she asked.
ill in body, and with such despair in my “Oh, I shall take Johnson, of course,'
heart that I did not care what became I replied. "But you will be lonely, will you not?” It was a singularly sweet day; the
Perhaps ; but I am accustomed to sky was blue and smiling, all nature being lonely. There's such a thing as seemed to rejoice, and the scenes through being alone in a crowd, you know, which I passed were beautiful exceedLeslie," I added, sadly, “and I've felt ingly. But what did it matter to me? what that is."
For me the world was fair in vain. No. 145.-VOL. XXV.
I could not divest myself of the were pleasant beyond description. The idea that my end was approaching, ozone in the air was so exhilarating that and, in the bitterness of my soul, I I felt better with every breath I drew; asked myself why I was not suffered to and besides that, there was such a glory die in peace at home, instead of being of sunshine abroad that it fell on the sent forth to perish, alone and deserted, blue waves with a sort of dazzling sheen in a foreign land ? Meanwhile, on I - lighting up both sea and sky with an went, until, after a very tedious journey, intensity of radiance that I never saw I at length arrived at Southampton. equalled, and rendering the elastic atWhen I got there I was obliged to go mosphere so sparkling and brilliant that to an hotel, as the vessel was not to the mere fact of existence under such start for some hours; but directly I circumstances was a pleasure in itself. entered the room which had been en- Then, too, there was the charm of being gaged for me, I started back, thinking I alone with her; at home she always had made some mistake, for I saw that seemed in a crowd, but now we two it was already occupied by a lady, who were isolated, so to speak, from the rest was standing in the window. She turned of the world, sailing over the wide round, however, as soon as she heard ocean together away and away, and she me coming in, and, in doing so, disclosed was so constantly by my side that I to my almost unbelieving gaze, the could gaze all day long into that sweet features of—my wife!
face which had for many months past “I could not let you go alone !” she become the one face in all the world said, as she advanced to meet me; “so you must let me go with you. I waited Hence at this period, if I was not to the last, thinking you might retract altogether happy, I at least enjoyed and ask me ; but as you did not do so tranquillity and peace. But I did not I came down by rail, and arrived half get well. On the contrary, I grew graan hour ago ; and now my place is dually so much weaker, that at last I taken, and my maid is here, and every- was unable to walk without help, and I thing is ready, and-and-it's too late could see that others besides myself to demur now, for I'm determined to go, were of opinion that my race was nearly even though you may not like it.”
Thus time went on, until we had “Like it !” I exclaimed fervently; nearly reached our destination; but the “oh, Leslie !” but then, fearing if I very night before our expected arrival I said too much I might frighten her back was suddenly awoke from my sleep by into her former coldness, I checked my hearing a terrible commotion on deck, self abruptly, and proceeded to tell her and a few moments afterwards Leslie that I really could not accept such a rushed into my cabin, exclaiming breathsacrifice at her hands; that I knew she lessly, “ Oh, Charley !"—it was the first was coming against her will, and that time she had ever called me som
-"the that thought would make me miserable, ship has sprung a leak and is sinking &c. &c. But she combated all my fast, and they are all making for the arguments, and overruled all my objec- boats! For God's sake get up as fast tions, and in the end she had her way. as you can, or we shall be too late!" When I sailed I did not go forth alone; Alas ! she might as well have asked my wife was with me.
a blind man to see as me to hasten. I That evening I was too much over- tried to do so, of course, but it was all in come by the combined effects of fatigue vain. My servant was not to be seen anyand excitement to leave my berth; but the where, and there was no one at hand to next morning as I lay on the deck, with help me, sauve qui peut being the order Leslie seated close beside me, and felt of the night; and having only the very the vessel bounding over the glad bright small assistance which poor Leslie could waters, the sensations I experienced render me, so many precious moments
were wasted, that by the time I had I folded her to my heart as I spoke ; succeeded in crawling up on deck all and so absorbed in each other had we the boats had put off except one, which become, that for some time we did not they said was too full to admit of their perceive that we were now quite alone taking any more in her. However, as on the deserted wreck, round which an Leslie was a woman, and a very light ominous silence reigned, for the last weight, I knew they would not refuse boat had departed, and the fog was so her, if she persisted and consented to go thick that it was out of sight as well as alone ; so I implored her to go and leave hearing. Indeed, it was owing to the me to my fate, and try and save herself; denseness of the fog, and the fact that but instead of complying she turned to the helmsman could not see where he me with a look in her white face which was going, that by a strange coincidence, I shall never forget to my dying day, almost simultaneously with the accident, and said, “No, nothing could induce the vessel ran upon a sort of sandbank,
If you must die, I will die with where the bow stuck fast and remained you. You are my husband-in life or immoveable, while the rest filled and sank. in death I will never leave you again !” To the bow we climbed, and though
O strange union of two hearts so long there was very little of it out of the divided ! O strange destiny, only to water, there was yet sufficient for us to lift the veil from those hearts when life cling to, and thus enable us to keep our was over, and the surging sea yawning heads and shoulders above it. But it to engulf them!
was both a painful and awful position, These were the thoughts which passed for every norve was strained, and we through my mind as she spoke, for there expected that each moment would be was that in her voice and manner which our last; nevertheless, we were obliged even in those dread moments filled me to remain in it during all the long hours with wild, unutterable rapture. And of that never-to-be-forgotten night-a when I put my arm round her and drew night apparently so interminable that her closer to me~ I had sunk exhausted ages of time seemed to have passed on my sofa, which still remained on
over us ere it ended. deck, and she was kneeling beside me However, when the morning dawned, and looked into her face, dim as the a joyful surprise awaited us. By some light was, I read such a revelation there, miscalculation—a most fortunate one for that for an instant I felt as if heaven us-we had been much nearer land had been suddenly opened to me, and I when the accident occurred than was gasped rather than said, “Oh, Leslie, thought; so near indeed that the people my love, my dearest ! is it-oh, is it on shore could distinctly see the subtrue ? have you at last learnt to care for merged wreck with their glasses; and me ?”
as they did so as soon as it was daylight, “Care for you!" she repeated; "that and immediately sent over a boat for is not the word. I-I—but I need not us, it thus came to pass that after all mind telling you all now. My husband, our pains and perils we got safe to land I love you—have long loved you with at last. my whole heart ; but because I knew Once we got there, all was well; and you did not care for me I was too proud before long, the danger through which to let you see it, or
we had passed, and the night of terror "Oh, my darling!” I cried in de we had spent, seemed only like a frightspair ; "why did you not tell me this ful dream, from which we awoke to a before? and how could
I as not to see that it is love for you, or soon begun to feel better too. The rather the fear of never being able to secret sorrow which had been eating my win yours, which has been killing me? heart away having been removed, my And now it is all too latetoo late!” bodily health improved rapidly, and in
time I became quite myself again. come sensuous, and thoughts so palpable Meanwhile, my wife's delight at my re- and tangible, as it were, that I almost covery was literally boundless; and as fancied I could see into the
heart she had also the discovery of my love of things, and hear the voice of Nature for her to rejoice over, the joy-bells as she chanted her low, soft hymn. And rang out such constant and merry peals when the beauty of surrounding objects, in both our hearts at this period, that from being seen with such marvellous for some time I do believe neither of us clearness and distinctness, affected me had a wish ungratified.
so powerfully, and all around, above, Oh! what pleasant days we spent and beneath, was pervaded by such a together then, and what a bright world subtle charm, I felt as if I had only we lived in! What long walks we existed before, and was now living for had, too, when I became equal to so the first time and in the fullest acmuch exertion; and what endless talks ceptation of that word. about the birth and growth of that feel- But such a state of things did not last, ing which had sprung up so mysteriously of course. Long before my cure was perin the breast of each, unknown to the fected, I one day received a letter from other, and which was now shedding England, which contained such disassuch sweet influence over our lives that trous tidings, that for some time I could earth appeared suddenly transformed hardly realize the extent of the misforinto a fairer place, and no element tune which had befallen us. It was from seemed wanting to render our happiness my man of business, who informed me perfect !
that we not only had been living too fast, Never was there a more prosaic or but that the Australian firm, in which less romantic fellow than I had been most of my wife's money was invested, previously ; but every man has his day having failed, we were consequently re
that day which comes no more than duced from affluence to comparative once to any of us—and this was mine, poverty! This was a sad blow to me, I wherein I was enabled to enjoy life and must confess; but indeed it was chiefly its pleasures with such a keen and on Leslie's account that I felt it to be so. superadded zest, that it appeared as I could not bear to think that she should though I had all at once acquired a new be deprived of the comforts and luxuries sense by means of which the others were to which she was accustomed ; and what quickened and intensified. But then, in added poignancy to my distress of mind addition to our new-found treasure, was, that I had at least been partly inthere was much in our position and strumental in bringing about her ruin. surroundings to make us feel uncom- But when she looked up smiling into monly jolly at this juncture also. For my face, and assured me both with as I always maintain that love in a large tongue and eyes, that so long as we were handsome house is a far pleasanter sort left together nothing could seem an evil of thing than love in a cottage, so am to her, I took comfort; and, though I I likewise of opinion that happiness still suffered horribly from the thought is doubly happiness when experienced that this calamity might have been beneath cloudless skies, and in such averted had I been at the trouble of inrich and glowing scenes as those amid vestigating into the state of affairs for her which we then found ourselves. We sake I hid my trouble far away out of had ample means; we were comparatively sight, and, with every appearance of young; life extended in a long vista far cheerfulness, set about making plans for and fair before us; we had pitched our the future, and regarding the very diftent in a most lovely spot; and above all, ferent life we should have to lead when we were enjoying such a perfect climate we returned home. that I have really seen days there when, I need hardly add that this crash so to speak, abstractions seemed to be- obliged us at once to hasten back to