Part 6 out of 11
In a moment the truth flashed upon him. He had been standing on a trap-
door which opened from the cabin floor into the hold of the ship. Over
this trap-door old Ralph Brandon had seated and bound himself. Was it to
guard the treasure? Was it that he might await his descendant, and thus
silently indicate to him the place where he must look?
And now the fever of Brandon's conflicting hope and fear grew more
intense than it had ever yet been through all this day of days. He
stooped down to feel what it was that lay under his feet. His hands
grasped something, the very touch of which sent a thrill sharp and
sudden through every fibre of his being.
_They were metallic bars!_
He rose up again overcome. He hardly dared to take one up so as to see
what it might be. For the actual sight would realize hope or destroy it
Once more he stooped down. In a sort of fury he grasped a bar in each
hand and raised it up to the light.
Down under the sea the action of water had not destroyed the color of
those bars which he held up in the dim light that came through the
waters. The dull yellow of those rough ingots seemed to gleam with
dazzling brightness before his bewildered eyes, and filled his whole
soul with a torrent of rapture and of triumph.
His emotions overcame him. The bars of gold fell down from his
trembling hands. He sank back and leaned against the wall.
But what was it that lay under his feet? What were all these bars?
Were they all gold? Was this indeed all here--the plunder of the
Spanish treasure-ships--the wealth which might purchase a kingdom--
the treasure equal to an empire's revenue--the gold and jewels in
A few moments of respite were needed in order to overcome the tremendous
conflict of feeling which raged within his breast. Then once more he
stooped down. His outstretched hand felt over all this space which thus
was piled up with treasure.
It was about four feet square. The ingots lay in the centre. Around
the sides were boxes. One of these he took out. It was made of thick
oaken plank, and was about ten inches long and eight wide. The rusty
nails gave but little resistance, and the iron bands which once bound
them peeled off at a touch. He opened the box.
Inside was a casket.
He tore open the casket.
_It was filled with jewels!_
His work was ended. No more search, no more fear. He bound the
casket tightly to the end of the signal-line, added to it a bar of gold,
and clambered to the deck.
He cast off the weight that was at his waist, which he also fastened
to the line, and let it go.
Freed from the weight he rose buoyantly to the top of the water.
The boat pulled rapidly toward him and took him in. As he removed
his helmet he saw Frank's eyes fixed on his in mute inquiry. His face
was ashen, his lips bloodless.
"Heavens!" cried Frank, "can it be?"
"Pull up the signal-line and see for yourself," was the answer.
And, as Frank pulled, Louis uttered a cry which made him look up.
Louis pointed to the sun. "Good God! what a time I must have been down!"
"Time!" said Frank. "Don't say time--it was eternity!"
September 1, 1848.--Paolo Langhetti used to say that it was useful
to keep a diary; not one from day to day, for each day's events are
generally trivial, and therefore not worthy of record; but rather a
statement in full of more important events in one's life, which may be
turned to in later years. I wish I had begun this sixteen months ago,
when I first came here. How full would have been my melancholy record by
Where shall I begin?
Of course, with my arrival here, for that is the time when we separated.
There is no need for me to put down in writing the events that took
place when _he_ was with me. Not a word that he ever spoke, not a
look that he ever gave, has escaped my memory. This much I may set down
Alas! the shadow of the African forest fell deeply and darkly upon me.
Am I stronger than other women, or weaker? I know not. Yet I can be calm
while my heart is breaking. Yes, I am at once stronger and weaker; so
weak that my heart breaks, so strong that I can hide it.
I will begin from the time of my arrival here.
I came knowing well who the man was and what he was whom I had for my
father. I came with every word of that despairing voyager ringing in my
ears--that cry from the drifting _Vishnu_, where Despard laid down
to die. How is it that his very name thrills through me? I am nothing to
him. I am one of the hateful brood of murderers. A Thug was my father--
and my mother who? And who am I, and what?
At least my soul is not his, though I am his daughter. My soul is
myself, and life on earth can not last forever. Hereafter I may stand
where that man may never approach.
How can I ever forget the first sight which I had of my father, who
before I saw him had become to me as abhorrent as a demon! I came up in
the coach to the door of the Hall and looked out. On the broad piazza
there were two men; one was sitting, the other standing.
The one who was standing was somewhat elderly, with a broad, fat face,
which expressed nothing in particular but vulgar good-nature. He was
dressed in black; and looked like a serious butler, or perhaps still
more like some of the Dissenting ministers whom I have seen. He stood
with his hands in his pockets, looking at me with a vacant smile.
The other man was younger, not over thirty. He was thin, and looked pale
from dissipation. His face was covered with spots, his eyes were gray,
his eyelashes white. He was smoking a very large pipe, and a tumbler of
some kind of drink stood on the stone pavement at his feet. He stared at
me between the puffs of his pipe, and neither moved nor spoke.
If I had not already tasted the bitterness of despair I should have
tasted it as I saw these men. Something told me that they were my father
and brother. My very soul sickened at the sight--the memory of Despard's
words came back--and if it had been possible to have felt any tender
natural affection for them, this recollection would have destroyed it.
"I wish to see Mr. Potts," said I, coldly.
My father stared at me.
"I'm Mr. Potts," he answered.
"I am Beatrice," said I; "I have just arrived from China."
By this time the driver had opened the door, and I got out and walked up
on the piazza.
"Johnnie," exclaimed my father, "what the devil is the meaning of this?"
"Gad, I don't know," returned John, with a puff of smoke.
"Didn't you say she was drowned off the African coast?"
"I saw so in the newspapers."
"Didn't you tell me about the _Falcon_ rescuing her from the
pirates, and then getting wrecked with all on board?"
"Yes, but then there was a girl that escaped."
"Oh ho!" said my father, with a long whistle. "I didn't know that."
He turned and looked at me hastily, but in deep perplexity.
"So you're the girl, are you?" said he at last.
"I am your daughter," I answered.
I saw him look at John, who winked in return.
He walked up and down for a few minutes, and at last stopped and looked
at me again.
"That's all very well," said he at last, "but how do I know that you're
the party? Have you any proof of this?"
"You have nothing but your own statement?"
"And you may be an impostor. Mind you--I'm a magistrate--and you'd
better be careful."
"You can do what you choose," said I, coldly.
"No, I can't. In this country a man can't do what he chooses."
I was silent.
"Johnnie," said my father, "I'll have to leave her to you. You arrange
John looked at me lazily, still smoking, and for some time said nothing.
"I suppose," said he at last, "you've got to put it through. You began
it, you know. You would send for her. I never saw the use of it."
"But do you think this is the party?"
"Oh, I dare say. It don't make any difference any way. Nobody would take
the trouble to come to you with a sham story."
"That's a fact," said my father.
"So I don't see but you've got to take her."
"Well," said my father, "if you think so, why all right."
"I don't think any thing of the kind," returned John, snappishly. "I
only think that she's the party you sent for."
"Oh, well, it's all the same," said my father, who then turned to me
"If you're the girl," he said, "you can get in. Hunt up Mrs. Compton,
and she'll take charge of you."
Compton! At the mention of that name a shudder passed through me. She
had been in the family of the murdered man, and had ever since lived
with his murderer. I went in without a word, prepared for the worst, and
expecting to see some evil-faced woman, fit companion for the pair
A servant was passing along. "Where is Mrs. Compton?" I asked.
"Somewhere or other, I suppose," growled the man, and went on.
I stood quietly. Had I not been prepared for some such thing as this I
might perhaps have broken down under grief, but I had read the MS., and
nothing could surprise or wound me.
I waited there for nearly half an hour, during which time no notice was
taken of me. I heard my father and John walk down the piazza steps and
go away. They had evidently forgotten all about me. At last a man came
toward the door who did not look like a servant. He was dressed in
black. He was a slender, pale, shambling man with thin, light hair, and
a furtive eye and a weary face. He did not look like one who would
insult me, so I asked him where I could find Mrs. Compton.
He started as I spoke and looked at me in wonder, yet respectfully.
"I have just come from China," said I, "and my father told me to find
He looked at me for some time without speaking a word. I began to think
that he was imbecile.
"So you are Mr. Potts's daughter," said he at last, in a thin, weak
voice. "I--I didn't know that you had come--I--I knew that he was
expecting you--but heard you were lost at sea--Mrs. Compton--yes--oh
yes--I'll show you where you can find Mrs. Compton."
He was embarrassed, yet not unkind. There was wonder in his face, as
though he was surprised at my appearance. Perhaps it was because he
found me so unlike my father. He walked toward the great stairs, from
time to time turning his head to look at me, and ascended them. I
followed, and after going to the third story we came to a room.
"That's the place," said he.
He then turned, without replying to my thanks, and left me. I knocked at
the door. After some delay it was opened, and I went in. A thin, pale
woman was there. Her hair was perfectly white. Her face was marked by
the traces of great grief and suffering, yet overspread by an expression
of surpassing gentleness and sweetness. She looked like one of these
women who live lives of devotion for others, who suffer out of the
spirit of self-sacrifice, and count their own comfort and happiness as
nothing in comparison with that of those whom they love. My heart warmed
toward her at the first glance; I saw that this place could not be
altogether corrupt since she was here.
"I am Mr. Potts's daughter," said I; "are you Mrs. Compton?"
She stood mute. An expression of deadly fear overspread her countenance,
which seemed to turn her white face to a grayish hue, and the look that
she gave me was such a look as one may cast upon some object of mortal
"You look alarmed," said I, in surprise; "and why? Am I then so
She seized my hand and covered it with kisses. This new outburst
surprised me as much as her former fear. I did not know what to do. "Ah!
my sweet child, my dearest!" she murmured. "How did you come here, here
of all places on earth?"
I was touched by the tenderness and sympathy of her tone. It was full of
the gentlest love. "How did you come here?" I asked.
She started and turned on me her former look of fear.
"Do not look at me so," said I, "dear Mrs. Compton. You are timid. Do
not be afraid of me. I am incapable of inspiring fear." I pressed her
hand. "Let us say nothing more now about the place. We each seem to know
what it is. Since I find one like you living here it will not seem
altogether a place of despair."
"Oh, door child, what words are these? You speak as if you knew all."
"I know much," said I, "and I have suffered much."
"Ah, my dearest! you are too young and too beautiful to suffer." An
agony of sorrow came over her face. Then I saw upon it an expression
which I have often marked since, a strange straggling desire to say
something, which that excessive and ever-present terror of hers made her
incapable of uttering. Some secret thought was in her whole face, but
her faltering tongue was paralyzed and could not divulge it.
She turned away with a deep sigh. I looked at her with much interest.
She was not the woman I expected to find. Her face and voice won my
heart. She was certainly one to be trusted. But still there was this
mystery about her.
Nothing could exceed her kindness and tenderness. She arranged my room.
She did every thing that could be done to give it an air of comfort. It
was a very luxuriously furnished chamber. All the house was lordly in
its style and arrangements. That first night I slept the sleep of the
The next day I spent in my room, occupied with my own sad thoughts. At
about three in the afternoon I saw _him_ come up the avenue My
heart throbbed violently. My eyes were riveted upon that well-known
face, how loved! how dear! In vain I tried to conjecture the reason why
he should come. Was it to strike the first blow in his just, his
implacable vengeance? I longed that I might receive that blow. Any thing
that came from _him_ would be sweet.
He staid a long time and then left. What passed I can not conjecture.
But it had evidently been an agreeable visit to my father, for I heard
him laughing uproariously on the piazza about something not long after
he had gone.
I have not seen him since.
For several weeks I scarcely moved from my room. I ate with Mrs.
Compton. Her reserve was impenetrable. It was with painful fear and
trembling that she touched upon any thing connected with the affairs of
the house or the family. I saw it and spared her. Poor thing, she has
always been too timid for such a life as this.
At the end of a month I began to think that I could live here in a state
of obscurity without being molested. Strange that a daughter's feelings
toward a father and brother should be those of horror, and that her
desire with reference to them should be merely to keep out of their
sight. I had no occupation, and needed none, for I had my thoughts and
my memories. These memories were bitter, yet sweet. I took the sweet,
and tried to solace myself with them. The days are gone forever; no
longer does the sea spread wide; no longer can I hear his voice; I can
hold him in my arms no more; yet I can remember--
"Das suesseste Glueck fuer die trauernde Brust,
Nach der schonen Liebe verschwundener Lust,
Sind der Liebe Schmerzen und Klagen."
I think I had lived this sort of life for three months without seeing
either my father or brother.
At the end of that time my father sent for me. He informed me that he
intended to give a grand entertainment to the county families, and
wanted me to do the honors. He had ordered dress-makers for me; he
wished me to wear some jewels which he had in the house, and informed me
that it would be the grandest thing of the kind that had ever taken
place. Fire-works were going to be let off; the grounds were to be
illuminated, and nothing that money could effect would be spared to
render it the most splendid festival that could be imagined.
I did as he said. The dress-makers came, and I allowed them to array me
as they chose. My father informed me that he would not give me the
jewels till the time came, hinting a fear that I might steal them.
At last the evening arrived. Invitations had been sent every where. It
was expected that the house would be crowded. My father even ventured to
make a personal request that I would adorn myself as well as possible. I
did the best I could, and went to the drawing-room to receive the
The hour came and passed, but no one appeared. My father looked a little
troubled, but he and John waited in the drawing-room. Servants were sent
down to see if any one was approaching. An hour passed. My father looked
deeply enraged. Two hours passed. Still no one came. Three hours passed.
I waited calmly, but my father and John, who had all the time been
drinking freely, became furious. It was now midnight, and all hope had
left them. They had been treated with scorn by the whole county.
The servants were laughing at my father's disgrace. The proud array in
the different rooms was all a mockery. The elaborate fire-works could
not be used.
My father turned his eyes, inflamed by anger and strong drink, toward
"She's a d----d bad investment," I heard him say.
"I told you so," said John, who did not deign to look at me; "but you
They then sat drinking in silence for some time.
"Sold!" said my father, suddenly, with an oath.
John made no reply.
"I thought the county would take to her. She's one of their own sort,"
my father muttered.
"If it weren't for you they might," said John; "but they ain't overfond
of her dear father."
"But I sent out the _invites_ in her name."
"No go anyhow."
"I thought I'd get in with them all right away, hobnob with lords and
baronets, and maybe get knighted on the spot."
John gave a long scream of laughter.
"You old fool!" he cried; "so that's what you're up to, is it? Sir John
--ha, ha, ha! You'll never be made Sir John by parties, I'm afraid."
"Oh, don't you be too sure. I'm not put down. I'll try again," he
continued, after a pause. "Next year I'll do it. Why, she'll marry a
lord, and then won't I be a lord's father-in-law? What do you say to
"When did you get these notions in your blessed head?" asked John.
"Oh, I've had them--It's not so much for myself, Johnnie--but for you.
For if I'm a lord you'll be a lord too."
"Lord Potts. Ha, ha, ha!"
"No," said my father, with some appearance of vexation, "not that; we'll
take our title the way all the lords do, from the estates. I'll be Lord
Brandon, and when I die you'll get the title."
"And that's your little game. Well, you've played such good little games
in your life that I've nothing to say, except--'Go it!'"
"She's the one that'll give me a lift."
"Well, she ought to be able to do something."
By this time I concluded that I had done my duty and prepared to retire.
I did not wish to overhear any of their conversation. As I walked out of
the room I still heard their remarks:
"Blest if she don't look as if she thought herself the Queen," said
"It's the diamonds, Johnnie."
"No it ain't, it's the girl herself. I don't like the way she has of
looking at me and through me."
"Why, that's the way with that kind. It's what the lords like."
"I don't like it, then, and I tell you _she's got to be took
This was the last I heard. Yet one thing was evident to me from their
conversation. My father had some wild plan of effecting an entrance into
society through me. He thought that after he was once recognized he
might get sufficient influence to gain a title and found a family. I
also might marry a lord. He thus dreamed of being Lord Brandon, and one
of the great nobles of the land.
Amidst my sadness I almost smiled at this vain dream; but yet John's
words affected me strongly--"You've played such good little games in
your life." Well I knew with whom they were played. One was with
Despard, the other with Brandon.
This then was the reason why he had sent for me from China. The
knowledge of his purpose made my life neither brighter nor darker. I
still lived on as before.
During these months Mrs. Compton's tender devotion to me never ceased. I
respected her, and forbore to excite that painful fear to which she was
subject. Once or twice I forgot myself and began speaking to her about
her strange position here. She stopped me with her look of alarm.
"Are you not afraid to be kind to me?" I asked.
She looked at me piteously.
"You are the only one that is kind to me," I continued. "How have you
"I can not help it," she murmured, "you are so dear to me."
She sighed and was silent. The mystery about her remained unchanged; her
gentle nature, her tender love, and her ever-present fear. What was
there in her past that so influenced her life? Had she too been mixed up
with the crime on the _Vishnu_? She! impossible. Yet surely
something as dark as that must have been required to throw so black a
cloud over her life. Yet what--what could that have been? In spite of
myself I associate her secret with the tragedy of Despard. She was in
his family long. His wife died. She must have been with her at the time.
The possibilities that have suggested themselves to my mind will one day
drive me mad. Alas, how my heart yearns over that lonely man in the
drifting ship! And yet, merciful God! who am I that I should sympathize
with him? My name is infamy, my blood is pollution.
I spoke to her once in a general way about the past. Had she ever been
out of England? I asked.
"Yes," she answered, dreamily.
She looked at me and said not a word.
At another time I spoke of China, and hinted that perhaps she too knew
something about the East. The moment that I said this I repented. The
poor creature was shaken from head to foot with a sudden convulsion of
fear. This convulsion was so terrible that it seemed to me as though
another would be death. I tried to soothe her, but she looked fearfully
at me for a long time after.
At another time I asked her directly whether her husband was alive. She
looked at me with deep sadness and shook her head. I do not know what
position she holds here. She is not housekeeper; none of the servants
pay any attention to her whatever. There is an impudent head servant who
manages the rest. I noticed that the man who showed me to her room when
I first came treats her differently from the rest. Once or twice I saw
them talking in one of the halls. There was deep respect in his manner.
What he does I have not yet found out. He has always shown great respect
to me, though why I can not imagine. He has the same timidity of manner
which marks Mrs. Compton. His name is Philips.
I once asked Mrs. Compton who Philips was, and what he did. She answered
quickly that he was a kind of clerk to Mr. Potts, and helped him to keep
"Has he been with him long?" I continued.
"Yes, a considerable time," she said--but I saw that the subject
distressed her, so I changed it.
For more than three months I remained in my room, but at last, through
utter despair, I longed to go out. The noble grounds were there, high
hills from which the wide sea was visible--that sea which shall be
associated with his memory till I die. A great longing came over me to
look upon its wide expanse, and feed my soul with old and dear memories.
There it would lie, the same sea from which he so often saved me, over
which we sailed till he laid down his noble life at my feet, and I gave
back that life to him again.
I used to ascend a hill which was half a mile behind the Hall within the
grounds, and pass whole days there unmolested. No one took the trouble
to notice what I did, at least I thought so till afterward. There for
months I used to go. I would sit and look fixedly upon the blue water,
and my imagination would carry me far away to the South, to that island
on the African shore, where he once reclined in my arms, before the day
when I learned that my touch was pollution to him--to that island where
I afterward knelt by him as he lay senseless, slowly coming back to
life, when if I might but touch the hem of his garment it was bliss
enough for one day. Ah me, how often I have wet his feet with my tears--
poor, emaciated feet--and longed to be able to wipe them with my hair,
but dared not. He lay unconscious. He never knew the anguish of my love.
Then I was less despairing. The air around was filled with the echo of
his voice; I could shut my eyes, and bring him before me. His face was
always visible to my soul.
One day the idea came into my head to extend my ramble into the country
outside, in order to get a wider view. I went to the gate.
The porter came out and asked what I wanted. I told him.
"You can't go out," said he, rudely.
"Oh, them's Potts's orders--that's enough, I think."
"He never said so to me," I replied, mildly.
"That's no odds; he said so to me, and he told me if you made any row to
tell you that you were watched, and might just as well give up at once."
"Watched!" said I, wonderingly.
"Yes--for fear you'd get skittish, and try and do something foolish. Old
Potts is bound to keep you under his thumb."
I turned away. I did not care much. I felt more surprise than any thing
else to think that he would take the trouble to watch me. Whether he did
or not was of little consequence. If I could only be where I had the sea
before me it was enough.
That day, on going back to the Hall, I saw John sitting on the piazza. A
huge bull-dog which he used to take with him every where was lying at
his feet. Just before I reached the steps a Malay servant came out of
He was about the same age as John. I knew him to be a Malay when I first
saw him, and concluded that my father had picked him up in the East. He
was slight but very lithe and muscular, with dark glittering eyes and
glistening white teeth. He never looked at me when I met him, but always
at the ground, without seeming to be aware of my existence.
The Malay was passing out when John called out to him,
"Hi, there, Vijal!"
Vijal looked carelessly at him.
"Here!" cried John, in the tone with which he would have addressed his
Vijal stopped carelessly.
"Pick up my hat, and hand it to me."
His hat had fallen down behind him. Vijal stood without moving, and
regarded him with an evil smile.
"D--n you, do you hear?" cried John. "Pick up my hat."
But Vijal did not move.
"If you don't, I'll set the dog on you," cried John, starting to his
feet in a rage.
Still Vijal remained motionless.
"Nero!" cried John, furiously, pointing to Vijal, "seize him, Sir."
The dog sprang up and at once leaped upon Vijal. Vijal warded off the
assault with his arm. The dog seized it, and held on, as was his nature.
Vijal did not utter a cry, but seizing the dog, he threw him on his
back, and flinging himself upon him, fixed his own teeth in the dog's
John burst into a torrent of the most frightful curses. He ordered Vijal
to let go of the dog. Vijal did not move; but while the dog's teeth were
fixed in his arm, his own were still fixed as tenaciously in the throat
of the dog.
John sprang forward and kicked him with frightful violence. He leaped on
him and stamped on him. At last, Vijal drew a knife from his girdle and
made a dash at John. This frightened John, who fell back cursing. Vijal
then raised his head.
The dog lay motionless. He was dead. Vijal sat down, his arm running
blood, with the knife in his hand, still glaring at John.
During this frightful scene I stood rooted to the spot in horror. At
last the sight of Vijal's suffering roused me. I rushed forward, and
tearing the scarf from my neck, knelt down and reached out my hand to
stanch the blood.
Vijal drew back. "Poor Vijal," said I, "let me stop this blood. I can
dress wounds. How you suffer!"
He looked at me in bewilderment. Surprise at hearing a kind word in this
house of horror seemed to deprive him of speech. Passively he let me
take his arm, and I bound it up as well as I could.
All this time John stood cursing, first me, and then Vijal. I said not a
word, and Vijal did not seem to hear him, but sat regarding me with his
fiery black eyes. When at last I had finished, he rose and still stood
staring at me. I walked into the house.
John hurled a torrent of imprecations after me. The last words that I
heard were the same as he had said once before. "You've got to be took
down; and I'll be d--d if you don't get took down precious soon!"
I told Mrs. Compton of what had happened. As usual, she was seized with
terror. She looked at me with a glance of fearful apprehension. At last
she gasped out:
"They'll kill you."
"Let them," said I, carelessly; "it would be better than living."
"Oh dear!" groaned the poor old thing, and sank sobbing in a chair. I
did what I could to soothe her, but to little purpose. She afterward
told me that Vijal had escaped further punishment in spite of John's
threats, and hinted that they were half afraid of him.
The next day, on attempting to go out, Philips told me that I was not to
be permitted to leave the house. I considered it the result of John's
threat, and yielded without a word.
After this I had to seek distraction from my thoughts within the house.
Now there came over me a great longing for music. Once, when in the
drawing-room on that famous evening of the abortive fete, which was the
only time I ever was there, I had noticed a magnificent grand piano of
most costly workmanship. The thought of this came to my mind, and an
unconquerable desire to try it arose. So I went down and began to play.
It was a little out of tune, but the tone was marvelously full and
sweet. I threw myself with indescribable delight into the charm of the
hour. All the old joy which music once used to bring came back.
Imagination, stimulated by the swelling harmonies, transported me far
away from this prison-house and its hateful associations to that happier
time of youth when not a thought of sorrow came over me. I lost myself
therein. Then that passed, that life vanished, and the sea-voyage began.
The thoughts of my mind and the emotions of my heart passed down to the
quivering chords and trembled into life and sound.
I do not know how long I had been playing when suddenly I heard a sob
behind me. I started and turned. It was Philips.
He was standing with tears in his eyes and a rapt expression on his
emaciated face, his hands hanging listless, and his whole air that of
one who had lost all senses save that of hearing. But as I turned and
stopped, the spell that bound him was broken. He sighed and looked at me
[Illustration: "I STOOD LOOKING AT HIM WITH A GAZE SO FIXED AND INTENSE
THAT IT SEEMED AS IF ALL MY BEING WERE CENTERED IN MY EYES."]
"Can you sing?"
"Would you like me to do so?"
"Yes," he said, in a faint imploring voice.
I began a low song--a strain associated with that same childhood of
which I had just been thinking--a low, sad strain, sweet to my ears and
to my soul; it spoke of peace and innocence, quiet home joys, and calm
delights. My own mind brought before me the image of the house where I
had lived, with the shadow of great trees around, and gorgeous flowers
every where, where the sultry air breathed soft, and beneath the hot
noon all men sank to rest and slumber.
When I stopped I turned again. Philips had not changed his attitude. But
as I turned he uttered an exclamation and tore out his watch.
"Oh, Heavens!--two hours!" he exclaimed. "He'll kill me for this."
With these words he rushed out of the room.
I kept up my music for about ten days, when one day it was stopped
forever. I was in the middle of a piece when I heard heavy footsteps
behind me. I turned and saw my father. I rose and looked at him with an
effort to be respectful. It was lost on him, however. He did not glance
"I came up to say to you," said he, after a little hesitation, "that I
can't stand this infernal squall and clatter any longer. So in future
you just shut up."
He turned and left me. I closed the piano forever, and went to my room.
The year ended, and a new year began. January passed away. My melancholy
began to affect my health. I scarcely ever slept at night, and to eat
was difficult. I hoped that I was going to die. Alas! death will not
come when one calls. One day I was in my room lying on the couch when
Mrs. Compton came. On entering she looked terrified about something. She
spoke in a very agitated voice: "They want you down stairs."
"Mr. Potts and John."
"Well," said I, and I prepared to get ready.
"When do they want me?"
"Now," said Mrs. Compton, who by this time was crying.
"Why are you so agitated?" I asked.
"I am afraid for you."
"Why so? Can any thing be worse?"
"Ah, my dearest! you don't know--you don't know."
I said nothing more, but went down. On entering the room I saw my father
and John seated at a table with brandy before them. A third man was
there. He was a thick-set man of about the same height of my father, but
more muscular, with a strong, square jaw, thick neck, low brow, and
stern face. My father did not show any actual ferocity in his face
whatever he felt; but this man's face expressed relentless cruelty.
On entering the room I walked up a little distance and stood looking at
"There, Clark; what do you think of that?" said my father.
The name, Clark, at once made known to me who this man was--that old
associate of my father--his assistant on board the _Vishnu_. Yet
the name did not add one whit to the abhorrence which I felt--my father
was worse even than he.
The man Clark looked at me scrutinizingly for some time.
"So that's the gal," said he, at last.
"That's the gal," said my father.
Clark waved his hand at me. "Turn round sideways," said he.
I looked at him quietly without moving. He repeated the order, but I
took no notice of it.
"D--n her!" said he. "Is she deaf?"
"Not a bit of it," said John; "but she's plucky. She'd just as soon
you'd kill her as not. There isn't any way of moving her."
"Turn round!" cried my father, angrily.
I turned as he said. "You see," said he, with a laugh, "she's been
piously brought up; she honors her father."
At this Clark burst into a loud laugh.
Some conversation followed about me as I stood there. Clark then ordered
me to turn round and face him. I took no notice; but on my father's
ordering it, I obeyed as before. This appeared to amuse them all very
greatly, just as the tricks of an intelligent poodle might have done.
Clark gave me many commands on purpose to see my refusal, and have my
father's order which followed obeyed.
"Well," said he, at last, leaning back in his chair, "she is a showy
piece of furniture. Your idea isn't a bad one either."
He rose from his chair and came toward me. I stood looking at him with a
gaze so fixed and intense that it seemed as if all my being were centred
in my eyes.
He came up and reached out to take hold of my arm. I stepped back. He
looked up angrily. But, for some reason, the moment that he caught sight
of my face, an expression of fear passed over his.
"Heavens!" he groaned; "look at that face!" I saw my father look at me.
The same horror passed over his countenance. An awful thought came to
me. As these men turned their faces away from me in fear I felt my
strength going. I turned and rushed from the room. I do not remember any
It was early in February when this occurred. Until the beginning of
August I lay senseless. For the first four months I hovered faintly
between life and death.
Why did they not let me die? Why did I not die? Alas! had I died I might
now have been beyond this sorrow: I have waked to meet it all again.
Mrs. Compton says she found me on the floor of my own room, and that I
was in a kind of stupor. I had no fever or delirium. A doctor came, who
said it was a congestion of the brain. Thoughts like mine might well
destroy the brain forever.
For a month I have been slowly recovering. I can now walk about the
room. I know nothing of what is going on in the house, and wish to know
nothing. Mrs. Compton is as devoted as ever.
I have got thus far, and will stop here. I have been several days
writing this. I must stop till I am stronger.
THE BYZANTINE HYMNISTS.
More than a year had passed since that visit to Thornton Grange which
has already been mentioned. Despard had not forgotten or neglected the
melancholy case of the Brandon family. He had written in all directions,
and had gone on frequent visits.
On his return from one of these he went to the Grange. Mrs. Thornton was
sitting in the drawing-room, looking pensively out of the window, when
she saw his well-known figure advancing up the avenue. His face was sad,
and pervaded by a melancholy expression, which was noticeable now as he
But when he came into the room that melancholy face suddenly lighted up
with the most radiant joy. Mrs. Thornton advanced to meet him, and he
took her hand in both of his.
"I ought to say, welcome back again," said she, with forced liveliness,
"but you may have been in Holby a week for all I know. When did you come
back? Confess now that you have been secluding yourself in your study
instead of paying your respects in the proper quarter."
Despard smiled. "I arrived home at eleven this morning. It is now three
P.M. by my watch. Shall I say how impatiently I have waited till three
o'clock should come?
"Oh no! don't say any thing of the sort. I can imagine all that you
would say. But tell me where you have been on this last visit?"
"Wandering like an evil spirit, seeking rest and finding none."
"Have you been to London again?"
"Where have I not been?"
By this time they had seated themselves.
"My last journey," said Despard, "like my former ones, was, of course,
about the Brandon affair. You know that I have had long conversations
with Mr. Thornton about it, and he insists that nothing whatever can be
done. But you know, also, that I could not sit down idly and calmly
under this conviction. I have felt most keenly the presence of
intolerable wrong. Every day I have felt as if I had shared in the
infamy of those who neglected that dying man. That was the reason why I
wrote to Australia to see if the Brandon who was drowned was really the
one I supposed. I heard, you know, that he was the same man, and there
is no doubt about that. Then you know, as I told you, that I went around
among different lawyers to see if any thing could be done. Nearly all
asserted that no redress was possible. That is what Mr. Thornton said.
There was one who said that if I were rich enough I might begin a
prosecution, but as I am not rich that did me no good. That man would
have been glad, no doubt, to have undertaken such a task."
"What is there in law that so hardens the heart?" said Mrs. Thornton,
after a pause. "Why should it kill all sentiment, and destroy so utterly
all the more spiritual qualities?"
"I don't think that the law does this necessarily. It depends after all
on the man himself. If I were a lawyer, I should still love music above
"But did you ever know a lawyer who loved music?"
"I have not known enough of them to answer that. But in England music is
not loved so devotedly as in other countries. Is it inconceivable that
an Italian lawyer should love music?"
"I don't know. Law is abhorrent to me. It seems to be a profession that
kills the finer sentiments."
"Why so, more than medicine? The fact is where ordinary men are
concerned any scientific profession renders Art distasteful. At least
this is so in England. After all, most depends on the man himself, and,
one who is born with a keen sensibility to the charms of art will carry
it through life, whatever his profession may be.
"But suppose the man himself has neither taste, nor sensibility, nor any
appreciation of the beautiful, nor any sympathy whatever with those who
love such things, what then?"
Mrs. Thornton spoke earnestly as she asked this.
"Well," said Despard, "that question answers itself. As a man is born,
so he is; and if nature denies him taste or sensibility it makes no
difference what is his profession."
Mrs. Thornton made no reply.
"My last journey," said Despard, "was about the Brandon case. I went to
London first to see if something could not be done. I had been there
before on the same errand, but without success. I was equally
unsuccessful this time.
"I tried to find out about Potts, the man who had purchased the estate,
but learned that it was necessary to go to the village of Brandon. I
went there, and made inquiries. Without exception the people sympathized
with the unfortunate family, and looked with detestation upon the man
who had supplanted them.
"I heard that a young lady went there last year who was reputed to be
his daughter. Every one said that she was extraordinarily beautiful, and
looked like a lady. She stopped at the inn under the care of a gentleman
who accompanied her, and went to the Hall. She has never come out of it
"The landlord told me that the gentleman was a pale, sad-looking man,
with dark hair and beard. He seemed very devoted to the young lady, and
parted with her in melancholy silence. His account of this young lady
moved me very strangely. He was not at all a sentimental man, but a
burly John Bull, which made his story all the more touching. It is
strange, I must say, that one like her should go into that place and
never be seen again. I do not know what to think of it, nor did any of
those with whom I spoke in the village."
"Do you suppose that she really went there and never came back?"
"That is what they say."
"Then they must believe that she is kept there."
"Yes, so they do."
"Why do they not take some steps in the matter?"
"What can they do? She is his daughter. Some of the villagers who have
been to the Hall at different times say that they heard her playing and
"That does not sound like imprisonment."
"The caged bird sings."
"Then you think she is a prisoner?"
"I think it odd that she has never come out, not even to go to church."
"It is odd."
"This man Potts excited sufficient interest in my mind to lead me to
make many inquiries. I found, throughout the county, that every body
utterly despised him. They all thought that poor Ralph Brandon had been
almost mad, and, by his madness had ruined his family. Every body
believed that Potts had somehow deceived him, but no one could tell how.
They could not bring any direct proof against him.
"But I found out in Brandon the sad particulars of the final fate of the
poor wife and her unfortunate children. They had been sent away or
assisted away by this Potts to America, and had all died either on the
way out or shortly after they had arrived, according to the villagers. I
did not tell them what I knew, but left them to believe what they chose.
It seemed to me that they must have received this information from Potts
himself; who alone in that poor community would have been able to trace
the fortunes of the unhappy emigrants."
There was a long silence.
"I have done all that I could," said Despard, in a disconsolate tone,
"and I suppose nothing now remains to be done. When we hear again from
Paolo there may be some new information upon which we can act."
"And you can go back to your Byzantine poets."
"Yes, if you will assist me."
"You know I shall only be too happy."
"And I shall be eternally grateful. You see, as I told you before, there
is a field of labor here for the lover of music which is like a new
world. I will give you the grandest musical compositions that you have
ever seen. I will let you have the old hymns of the saints who lived
when Constantinople was the only civilized spot in Europe, and the
Christians there were hurling back the Mohammedans. You shall sing the
noblest songs that you have ever seen."
"How--in Greek? You must teach me the alphabet then."
"No; I will translate them for you. The Greek hymns are all in
rhythmical prose, like the _Te Deum_ and the _Gloria_. A
literal translation can be sung as well as the originals. You will then
enter into the mind and spirit of the ancient Eastern Church before the
days of the schism.
"Yes," continued Despard, with an enthusiasm which he did not care to
conceal, "we will go together at this sweet task, and we will sing the
[Greek: cath castaen aemeran], which holds the same place in the Greek
Church that the _Te Deum_ does in ours. We will chant together the
Golden Canon of St. John Damascene--the Queen of Canons, the grandest
song of 'Christ is risen' that mortals ever composed. Your heart and
mine will beat together with one feeling at the sublime choral strain.
We will sing the 'Hymn of Victory.' We will go together over the songs
of St. Cosmas, St. Theophanes, and St. Theodore; St. Gregory, St.
Anatobus, and St. Andrew of Crete shall inspire us; and the thoughts
that have kindled the hearts of martyrs at the stake shall exalt our
souls to heaven. But I have more than this. I have some compositions of
my own; poor ones, indeed, yet an effort in the right way. They are a
collection of those hymns of the Primitive Church which are contained in
the New Testament. I have tried to set them to music. They are: 'Worthy
is the Lamb,' 'Unto Him that loved us,' 'Great and marvelous are thy
works,' and the 'Trisagion.' Yes, we will go together at this lofty and
heavenly work, and I shall be able to gain a new interpretation from
Despard spoke with a vehement enthusiasm that kindled his eyes with
unusual lustre and spread a glow over his pale face. He looked like some
devotee under a sudden inspiration. Mrs. Thornton caught all his
enthusiasm; her eyes brightened, and her face also flushed with
"Whenever you are ready to lead me into that new world of music," said
she, "I am ready to follow."
"Are you willing to begin next Monday?"
"Yes. All my time is my own."
"Then I will come for you."
"Then I will be waiting for you. By-the-way, are you engaged for to-
"There is going to be a fete champetre. It is a ridiculous thing for the
Holby people to do; but I have to go to play the patroness. Mr. Thornton
does not want to go. Would you sacrifice yourself to my necessities, and
allow me your escort?"
"Would a thirsty man be willing to accept a cooling draught?" said
Despard, eagerly. "You open heaven before me, and ask me if I will
His voice trembled, and he paused.
"You never forget yourself," said Mrs. Thornton, with slight agitation,
looking away as she spoke.
"I will be back at any hour you say."
"You will do no such thing. Since you are here you must remain and dine,
and then go with me. Do you suppose I would trust you? Why, if I let you
go, you might keep me waiting a whole hour."
"Well, if your will is not law to me what is? Speak, and your servant
obeys. To stay will only add to my happiness."
"Then let me make you happy by forcing you to stay."
Despard's face showed his feelings, and to judge by its expression his
language had not been extravagant.
The afternoon passed quietly. Dinner was served up. Thornton came in,
and greeted Despard with his usual abstraction, leaving his wife to do
the agreeable. After dinner, as usual, he prepared for a nap, and
Despard and Mrs. Thornton started for the fete.
It was to be in some gardens at the other end of Holby, along the shore.
The townspeople had recently formed a park there, and this was one of
the preliminaries to its formal inauguration. The trees were hung with
innumerable lamps of varied colors. There were bands of music, and
triumphal arches, and gay festoons, and wreaths of flowers, and every
thing that is usual at such a time.
On arriving, Despard assisted Mrs. Thornton from the carriage and
offered his arm. She took it, but her hand rested so lightly on it that
its touch was scarce perceptible. They walked around through the
illuminated paths. Great crowds of people were there. All looked with
respectful pleasure at Mrs. Thornton and the Rector.
"You ought to be glad that you have come," said she. "See how these poor
people feel it: we are not persons of very great consequence, yet our
presence is marked and enjoyed."
"All places are alike to me," answered Despard, "when I am with you.
Still, there are circumstances about this which will make it forever
memorable to me."
"Look at those lights," exclaimed Mrs. Thornton, suddenly; "what varied
"Let us walk into that grotto," said Despard, turning toward a cool,
dark place which lay before them.
Here, at the end of the grotto, was a tree, at the foot of which was a
seat. They sat down and staid for hours. In the distance the lights
twinkled and music arose. They said little, but listened to the confused
murmur which in the pauses of the music came up from afar.
Then they rose and walked back. Entering the principal path a great
crowd streamed on which they had to face.
Despard sighed. "You and I," said he, stooping low and speaking in a sad
voice, "are compelled to go against the tide."
"Shall we turn back and go with it?"
"We can not."
"Do you wish to turn aside?"
"We can not. We must walk against the tide, and against the rush of men.
If we turn aside there is nothing but darkness."
They walked on in silence till they reached the gate.
"The carriage has not come," said Mrs. Thornton.
"Do you prefer riding?"
"It is not far. Will you walk?"
They walked on slowly. About half-way they met the carriage. Mrs.
Thornton ordered it back, saying that she would walk the rest of the
They walked on slowly, saying so little that at last Mrs. Thornton began
to speak about the music which they had proposed to undertake. Despard's
enthusiasm seemed to have left him. His replies were vague and general.
On reaching the gate he stood still for a moment under the trees and
half turned toward her. "You don't say any thing about the music?" said
"That's because I am so stupid. I have lost my head. I am not capable of
a single coherent idea."
"You are thinking of something else all the time."
"My brain is in a whirl. Yes, I am thinking of something else."
"I'm afraid to say."
Mrs. Thornton was silent. They entered the gate and walked up the
avenue, slowly and in silence. Despard made one or two efforts to stop,
and then continued. At last they reached the door. The lights were
streaming brightly from window. Despard stood, silently.
"Will you not come in?"
"No, thank you," said he, dreamily. "It is rather too late, and I must
He held out his hand. She offered hers, and he took it. He held it long,
and half stooped as though he wished to say something. She felt the
throbbing of his heart in his hand as it clasped hers. She said nothing.
Nor did Despard seem able to say any thing. At last he let go her hand
slowly and reluctantly.
"You will not forget the music?" said he.
He took her hand again in both of his. As the light shone through the
windows she saw his face--a face full of longing beyond words, and
"Good-night," she faltered.
He let go her hand, and turning away, was lost amidst the gloom. She
waited till the sound of his footsteps had died away, and then went into
On the following morning Despard was walking along when he met her
suddenly at a corner of the street. He stopped with a radiant face, and
shaking hands with her, for a moment was unable to speak.
"This is too much happiness," he said at last. "It is like a ray of
light to a poor captive when you burst upon me so suddenly. Where are
"Oh, I'm only going to do a little shopping."
"I'm sure I wish that I could accompany you to protect you."
"Well, why not?"
"On the whole, I think that shopping is not my forte, and that my
presence would not be essential."
He turned, however, and walked with her some distance, as far as the
farthest shop in the town. They talked gayly and pleasantly about the
fete. "You will not forget the music," said he, on parting. "Will you
come next Monday? If you don't, I won't be responsible for the
"Do you mean to say, Sir, that you expect me to come alone?"
"I did not hope for any thing else."
"Why, of course, you must call for me. If you do not I won't go."
Despard's eyes brightened.
"Oh, then, since you allow me so sweet a privilege, I will go and
"If you fail me I will stay at home," said she, laughingly.
He did not fail her, but at the appointed time went up to the Grange.
Some strangers were there, and Mrs. Thornton gave him a look of deep
disappointment. The strangers were evidently going to spend the day, so
Despard, after a short call, withdrew. Before he left, Mrs. Thornton
absented herself on some pretext for a few moments, and as he quitted
the room she went to the door with him and gave him a note.
He walked straight home, holding the note in his hands till he reached
his study; then he locked himself in, opened the note, and read as
"DEAR MR. DESPARD,--How does it happen that things turn out just as they
ought not? I was so anxious to go with you to the church to-day about
our music. I know my own powers; they are not contemptible; they are not
uncultivated; they are simply, and wholly, and irretrievably
_commonplace_. That much I deem it my duty to inform you.
"These wretched people, who have spoiled a day's pleasure, dropped upon
me as suddenly as though they had come from the skies. They leave on
Thursday morning. Come on Thursday afternoon. If you do not I will never
forgive you. On that day give up your manuscripts and books for music
and the organ, and allot some portion of your time to, Yours,
On Thursday Despard called, and Mrs. Thornton was able to accompany him.
The church was an old one, and had one of the best organs in Wales.
Despard was to play and she to sing. He had his music ready, and the
sheets were carefully and legibly written out from the precious old
Greek scores which he loved so dearly and prized so highly.
They began with the canon for Easter-day of St. John Damascene, who,
according to Despard, was the best of the Eastern hymnists. Mrs.
Thornton's voice was rich and full. As she came to the [Greek:
anastaseos haemera]--Resurrection Day--it took up a tone of
indescribable exaltation, blending with the triumph peal of the organ.
Despard added his own voice--a deep, strong, full-toned basso--and their
blended strains bore aloft the sublimest of utterances, "Christ is
[Illustration: AND THEIR BLENDED STRAINS BORE ALOFT THE SUBLIMEST OF
UTTERANCES, 'CHRIST IS ARISEN']
Then followed a more mournful chant, full of sadness and profound
melancholy, the [Greek: teleutaion aspasmon]--the Last Kiss--the hymn of
the dead, by the same poet.
Then followed a sublimer strain, the hymn of St. Theodore on the
Judgment--[Greek: taen haemeran taen phriktaen]--where all the horrors
of the day of doom are set forth. The chant was commensurate with the
dread splendors of the theme. The voices of the two singers blended in
perfect concord. The sounds which were thus wrought out bore themselves
through the vaulted aisles, returning again to their own ears, imparting
to their own hearts something of the awe with which imagination has
enshrouded the Day of days, and giving to their voices that saddened
cadence which the sad spirit can convey to its material utterance.
Despard then produced some composition of his own, made after the manner
of the Eastern chants, which he insisted were the primitive songs of the
early Church. The words were those fragments of hymns which are imbedded
in the text of the New Testament. He chose first the song of the angels,
which was first sung by "a great voice out of heaven"--[Greek: idou, hae
skaenae tou Deou]--Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men!
The chant was a marvelous one. It spoke of sorrow past, of grief stayed,
of misery at an end forever, of tears dried, and a time when "there
shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying." There was a gentle
murmur in the flow of that solemn, soothing strain which was like the
sighing of the evening wind among the hoary forest trees; it soothed and
comforted; it brought hope, and holy calm, and sweet peace.
As Despard rose from the organ Mrs. Thornton looked at him with
"I do not know whether your song brings calm or unrest," said she,
sadly, "but after singing it I would wish to die."
"It is not the music, it is the words," answered Despard, "which bring
before us a time when there shall be no sorrow or sighing."
"May such a time ever be?" murmured she.
"That," he replied, "it is ours to aim after. There is such a world. In
that world all wrongs will be righted, friends will be reunited, and
those severed here through all this earthly life will be joined for
Their eyes met. Their spirit lived and glowed in that gaze. It was sad
beyond expression, but each one held commune with the other in a mute
intercourse, more eloquent than words.
Despard's whole frame trembled. "Will you sing the _Ave Maria_?" he
asked, in a low, scarce audible voice. Her head dropped. She gave a
convulsive sigh. He continued: "We used to sing it in the old days, the
sweet, never-forgotten days now past forever. We sang it here. We stood
hand in hand."
His voice faltered.
"Sing," he said, after a time.
"I can not"
Despard sighed. "Perhaps it is better not; for I feel as though, if you
were to sing it, my heart would break."
"Do you believe that hearts can break?" she asked gently, but with
Despard looked at her mournfully, and said not a word.
Their singing went on.
They used to meet once a week and sing in the church at the organ.
Despard always went up to the Grange and accompanied her to the church.
Yet he scarcely ever went at any other time. A stronger connection and a
deeper familiarity arose between them, which yet was accompanied by a
profound reverence on Despard's part, that never diminished, but as the
familiarity increased only grew more tender and more devoted.
There were many things about their music which he had to say to her. It
constituted a common bond between them on which they could talk, and to
which they could always revert. It formed a medium for the communion of
soul--a lofty, spiritual intercourse, where they seemed to blend, even
as their voices blended, in a purer realm, free from the trouble of
Amidst it all Despard had so much to tell her about the nature of the
Eastern music that he wrote out a long letter, which he gave her they
parted after an unusually lengthy practice. Part of it was on the
subject of music, and the rest of a different character.
The next time that they met she gave him a note in response.
"DEAR MR. DESPARD--Why am I not a seraph endowed with musical powers
beyond mortal reach? You tell me many things, and never seem to imagine
that they are all beyond me. You never seem to think that I am
hopelessly commonplace. You are kind in doing what you do, but where is
the good where one is so stupid as I am?
"I suppose you have given up visiting the Grange forever. I don't call
your coming to take me to the church _visits_. I suppose I may as
well give you up. It is as difficult to get you here as if you were the
Grand Lama of Thibet.
"Amidst all my stupidities I have two or three ideas which may be useful
in our music, if I can only put them in practice. Bear with me, and deal
To this Despard replied in a note which he gave her at their next
meeting, calling her "Dear Seraph," and signing himself "Grand Lama."
After this they always called each other by these names. Grand Lama was
an odd name, but it became the sweetest of sounds to Despard since it
was uttered by her lips--the sweetest, the most musical, and the
tenderest. As to himself he knew not what to call this dear companion of
his youth, but the name Seraph came into use, and grew to be associated
with her, until at last he never called her any thing else.
Yet after this he used to go to the Grange more frequently. He could not
stay away. His steps wandered there irresistibly. An uncontrollable
impulse forced him there. She was always alone awaiting him, generally
with a sweet confusion of face and a tenderness of greeting which made
him feel ready to fall on his knees before her. How else could he feel?
Was she not always in his thoughts? Were not all his sleeping hours one
long dream of her? Were not all his waiting thoughts filled with her
"How is it under our control
To love or not to love?"
Did he know what it was that he felt for her? He never thought. Enough
that he felt. And that feeling was one long agony of intense longing and
yearning after her. Had not all his life been filled by that one bright
Youth gave it to him. After-years could not efface it. The impress of
her face was upon his heart. Her voice was always in his ears. Every
word that she had ever spoken to him was treasured up in his memory and
heart with an avarice of love which prevented any one word from even
At church and at home, during service and out of it, in the street or in
the study, he saw only one face, and heard only one voice. Amidst the
bustle of committee meetings he was conscious of her image--a sweet face
smiling on him, a tender voice saying "Lama." Was there ever so musical
and so dear a word as "Lama?" For him, never.
The hunger of his longing grew stronger every day. That strong, proud,
self-secluded nature of his was most intense in all its feelings, and
dwelt with concentrated passion upon this one object of its idolatry. He
had never had any other object but this one.
A happy boyhood passed in the society of this sweet playmate, then a
young girl of his own age; a happy boyhood here in Holby, where they had
always been inseparable, wandering hand in hand along the shore or over
the hills; a happy boyhood where she was the one and only companion whom
he knew or cared for--this was the sole legacy of his early life.
Leaving Holby he had left her, but had never forgotten her. He had
carried with him the tender memory of this bright being, and cherished
his undying fondness, not knowing what that fondness meant. He had
returned to find her married, and severed from him forever, at least in
this life. When he found that he had lost her he began to understand how
dear she was. All life stood before him aimless, pointless, and
meaningless without her. He came back, but the old intercourse could not
be renewed; she could not be his, and he could only live, and love, and
endure. Perhaps it would have been wiser if he had at once left Holby
and sought out some other abode. But the discovery of his love was
gradual; it came through suffering and anguish; and when he knew that
his love was so intense it was then impossible to leave. To be near her,
to breathe the same air, to see her face occasionally, to nurse his old
memories, to hoard up new remembrances of her words and looks--these
now became the chief occupation of his hours of solitude, and the only
happiness left him in his life.
One day he went up with a stronger sense of desolation in his heart than
usual, going up to see her in order to get consolation from the sight of
her face and the sound of her voice. Their former levity had given place
to a seriousness of manner which was very different. A deep, intense joy
shone in the eyes of each at meeting, but that quick repartee and light
badinage which they had used of old had been dropped.
Music was the one thing of which they could speak without fear. Despard
could talk of his Byzantine poets, and the chants of the Eastern Church,
without being in danger of reawakening painful memories. The piano stood
close by, and always afforded a convenient mode of distracting attention
when it became too absorbed in one another.
For Mrs. Thornton did not repel him; she did not resent his longing; she
did not seem forgetful of what he so well remembered. How was it with
her who had given her hand to another?
"What she felt the while
Dare he think?"
Yet there were times when he thought it possible that she might feel as
he did. The thought brought joy, but it also brought fear. For, if the
struggle against this feeling needed all the strength of his nature,
what must it cost her? If she had such a struggle as he, how could she
endure it? Then, as he considered this, he thought to himself that he
would rather she would not love him than love him at such a cost. He was
willing to sacrifice his own heart. He wished only to adore her, and was
content that she should receive, and permit, and accept his adoration,
herself unmoved--a passionless divinity.
In their intercourse it was strange how frequently there were long
pauses of perfect silence, during which neither spoke a word. Sometimes
each sat looking at the floor; sometimes they looked at one another, as
though they could read each other's thoughts, and by the mere gaze of
their earnest eyes could hold ample spiritual communion.
On one such occasion they stood by the window looking out upon the lawn,
but seeing nothing in that abstracted gaze. Despard stood facing her,
close to her. Her hand was hanging by her side. He stooped and took that
little slender hand in his. As he did so he trembled from head to foot.
As he did so a faint flush passed over her face. Her head fell forward.
Despard held her hand and she did not withdraw it. Despard drew her
slightly toward him. She looked up into his face with large, eloquent
eyes, sad beyond all description, yet speaking things which thrilled his
soul. He looked down upon her with eyes that told her all that was in
his heart. She turned her head away.
Despard clung to her hand as though that hand were his life, his hope,
his joy--as though that alone could save him from some abyss of despair
into which he was falling. His lips moved. In vain. No audible sound
broke that intense stillness in which the beating and throbbing of those
two forlorn hearts could be heard. His lips moved, but all sound died
away upon them.
At last a stronger effort broke the silence.
It was a strange tone, a tone of longing unutterable, a tone like that
which a dying man might use in calling before him one most dear. And all
the pent-up feeling of years rushed forth in concentrated energy, and
was borne to her ears in the sound of that one word. She looked up with
the same glance as before.
"Little playmate," said he, in a tone of infinite sweetness, "have you
ever forgotten the old days? Do you remember when you and I last stood
hand in hand?"
His voice sounded like the utterance of tears, as though, if he could
have wept, he would then have wept as no man wept before, but his eyes
were dry through his manhood, and all that tears can express were shown
forth in his tone.
As he began to speak her head fell again. As he ended she looked up as
before. Her lips moved. She whispered but one word:
She burst into a flood of tears and sank into a chair. And Despard
stood, not daring even to soothe her, for fear lest in that vehement
convulsion of his soul all his self-command should give way utterly.
At length Mrs. Thornton rose. "Lama," said she, at last, in a low, sad
voice, "let us go to the piano."
"Will you sing the _Ave Maria_" he asked, mournfully.
"I dare not," said she, hastily. "No, anything but that. I will sing
Rossini's _Cujus Animam_."
Then followed those words which tell in lofty strains of a broken
Cujus animam gementem
Contristatam et flebentem
JOURNAL OF PAOLO LANGHETTI.
When Mrs. Thornton saw Despard next she showed him a short note which
she had just received from her brother, accompanying his journal. Nearly
two years had elapsed since she had last heard from him.
His journal was written as before at long intervals, and was as follows:
Halifax, April 10, 1847.--I exist here, but nothing more. Nothing is
offered by this small colonial town that can afford interest. Life goes
on monotonously. The officers and their families are what they are every
where. They are amiable and pleasant, and try to get the best out of
life. The townspeople are hospitable, and there is much refinement among
But I live for the most part in a cottage outside of the town, where I
can be secluded and free from observation. Near my house is the
Northwest Arm. I cross it in a boat, and am at once in a savage
wilderness. From the summit of a hill, appropriately named Mount Misery,
I can look down upon this city which is bordered by such a wilderness.
The winter has passed since my last entry, and nothing has occurred. I
have learned to skate. I went out on a moose-hunt with Colonel Despard.
The gigantic horns of a moose which I killed are now over the door of my
studio. I have joined in some festivities, and have done the honors of
my house. It is an old-fashioned wooden structure which they call the
So the winter has passed, and April is now here. In this country there
is no spring. Snow is yet on the ground. Winter is transformed gradually
till summer. I must keep up my fires till June, they say.
During the winter I have guarded my treasure well. I took a house on
purpose to have a home for her. But her melancholy continued, and the
state of mind in which I found her still endures. Will it ever change? I
gave out here that she was a relative who was in ill health. But the
winter has passed, and she remains precisely the same. Can she live on
long in this mood?
At length I have decided to try a change for her. The Holy Sisterhood of
Mercy have a convent here, where she may find a higher and purer
atmosphere than any where else. There I have placed her. I have told
nothing of her story. They think she is in grief for the death of
friends. They have received her with that warm sympathy and holy love
which it is the aim of their life to cherish.
O mater alma Christ! carissima,
Te nunc flagitant devota corda et ora,
Ora pro nobis!
August 5, 1847.--The summer goes on pleasantly. A bracing climate, a
cool sea-breeze, fishing and hunting in the forests, sailing in the
harbor--these are the amusements which one can find if he has the
She has been among the Sisterhood of Mercy for some months. The deep
calm of that holy retreat has soothed her, but only this much, that her
melancholy has not lessened but grown more placid. She is in the midst
of those whose thoughts are habitually directed to that work which she
longs after. The home from which she has been exiled is the desire of
their hearts. They aim after that place for which she longs with so deep
a longing. There is sympathy in all those hearts with one another. She
hears in their chants and prayers those hopes and desires, and these are
but the utterances of what she feels.
Here they sing the matchless Rhythm of Bernard de Morlaix, and in these
words she finds the highest expression that human words can give of the
thoughts and desires of her soul. They tell me that the first time they
sang it, as they came to this passage she burst into tears and sank down
O bona patria! lumina sobria te speculantur,
Ad tua nomina sobria lumina collacrimantur:
Et tua mentio pectoris unctis, cura doloris,
Concipientibus aethers mentibus ignis amoris.
November 17.--The winter must soon be here again.
My treasure is well guarded by the Holy Sisterhood. They revere her and
look upon her as a saint. They tell me wonderful things about her which
have sunk into my soul. They think that she is another Saint Cecilia, or
rather Saint Teresa, the Saint of Love and Longing.
She told them once that she was not a Catholic, but that any form of
worship was sweet and precious to her--most of all, the lofty utterances
of the prayers and hymns of the Church. She will not listen to dogmas,
but says that God wishes only love and praise. Yet she joins in all
their rites, and in this House, where Love is chiefly adored, she
surpasses all in the deep love of her heart.
January 2, 1848.--I have seen her for the first time in many months. She
smiled. I never saw her smile before, except once in the ship, when I
told my name and made her mother take my place in the cabin.
She smiled. It was as if an angel from heaven had smiled on me. Do I not
believe that she is one?
They all say that she is unchanged. Her sadness has had no abatement. On
that meeting she made an effort for my sake to stoop to me. Perhaps she
saw how my very soul entreated her to speak. So she spoke of the
Sisterhood, and said she loved them all. I asked her if she was happier
here than at my house. She said "No." I did not know whether to feel
rejoiced or sorrowful. Then she told me something which has filled me
with wonder ever since.
She asked me if I had been making inquiries about her family, for I had
said that I would. I told her that I had. She asked what I had heard. I
hesitated for a moment, and at last, seeing that she was superior to any
sorrow of bereavement; I told her all about the sad fate of her brother
Louis, which your old friend Courtenay Despard had communicated to his
uncle here. She listened without emotion, and at last, looking earnestly
at me, said,
"_He is not dead!_"
I stood amazed. I had seen the very newspapers which contained an
account of his death, I had read the letters of Courtenay Despard, which
showed how painstaking his search had been. Had he not traveled to every
place where he could hear any thing of the Brandons? Had he not written
at the very outset wherever he could hope to hear any thing? I did not
know what to say.
For Louis Brandon is known to have fallen overboard from the ship Java,
during a tremendous monsoon, several hundred miles away from any land.
How could he possibly have escaped death? The Captain, whom Courtenay
Despard found out and questioned, said he threw over a hen-coop and a
pail. These could not save him. Despard also inquired for months from
every ship that arrived from those parts, but could learn nothing. The
next ship that came from New South Wales foundered off the coast of
Africa. Three passengers escaped to Sierra Leone, and thence to England.
Despard learned their names, but they were not Brandon. The information
which one of them, named Wheeler, gave to the ship-owners afforded no
hope of his having been found by this ship, even if it had been
possible. It was simply impossible, however, for the _Falcon_ did
not pass the spot where poor Brandon fell overboard till months had
All these things I knew, and they came to my mind. She did not notice my
emotion, but after a pause she looked at me again with the same
earnestness, and said,
"_My brother Frank is not dead._"
This surprised me as much as the other.
"Are you sure?" said I, reverently.
"How did you learn this? All who have inquired say that both of your
brothers are dead."
"They told me," said she, "many times. _They_ said that my brothers
had not come among them to their own place, as they would have had to
come if they had left the earth."
She spoke solemnly and with mysterious emphasis. I said nothing, for I
knew not what to say.
On going home and thinking over this, I saw that she believed herself to
have the power of communicating with the departed. I did not know
whether this intelligence, which she believed she had received, had been
gained in her trance, or whether she thought that she had recent
interviews with those on high. I went to see her again, and asked this.
She told me that once since her recovery she had fallen into that state,
and had been, as she called it, "in her home."
I ventured to ask her more about what she considered a communion with
the departed. She tried to speak, but looked like one who could not find
words. It was still the same as before. She has in her mind thoughts
which can not be expressed by any human language. She will not be able
to express them till such a language is obtained. Yet she gave me one
idea, which has been in my mind ever since.
She said that the language of those among whom she has been has nothing
on earth which is like it except music. If our music could be developed
to an indefinite extent it might at last begin to resemble it. Yet she
said that she sometimes heard strains here in the Holy Mass which
reminded her of that language, and might be intelligible to an immortal.
This is the idea which she imparted to me, and I have thought of it ever
August 23--Great things have happened.
When I last wrote I had gained the idea of transforming music into a
language. The thought came to me that I, who thirst for music, and love
it and cherish it above all things--to whom it is an hourly comfort and
solace--that I might rise to utter forth to her sounds which she might
hear. I had already seen enough of her spiritual tone to know what
sympathies and emotions might best be acted upon. I saw her several
times, so as to stimulate myself to a higher and purer exercise of
whatever genius I may have.
I was encouraged by the thought that from my earliest childhood, as I
began to learn to speak so I began to learn to sing. As I learned to
read printed type so I read printed music. The thoughts of composers in
music thus became as legible to me as those of composers in words. So
all my life my knowledge has widened, and with that knowledge my love
has increased. This has been my one aim in life--my joy and my delight.
Thus it came to pass that at last, when alone with my Cremona, I could
utter all my own thoughts, and pour forth every feeling that was in my
heart. This was a language with me. I spoke it, yet there was no one who
could understand it fully. Only one had I ever met with to whom I told
this besides yourself--she could accompany me--she could understand and
follow me wherever I led. I could speak this language to her, and she
could hear and comprehend. This one was my Bice.
Now that she had told me this I grasped at the thought. Never before had
the idea entered my mind of trying upon her the effect of my music. I
had given it up for her sake while she was with me, not liking to cause
any sound to disturb her rapt and melancholy mood.
But now I began to understand how it was with her. She had learned the
language of the highest places and had heard the New Song. She stood far
above me, and if she could not understand my music it would be from the
same reason that a grown man can not comprehend the words of a lisping,
stammering child. She had that language in its fullness. I had it only
in its crudest rudiments.
Now Bice learned my words and followed me. She knew my utterance. I was
the master--she the disciple. But here was one who could lead me. I
would be the follower and disciple. From her I could learn more than in
all my life I could ever discover by my own unassisted efforts.
It was mine, therefore, to struggle to overcome the lisping, stammering
utterance of my purely earthly music; to gain from her some knowledge of
the mood of that holier, heavenly expression, so that at last I might be
able in some degree to speak to this exile the language of the home
which she loved; that we, by holding commune in this language, might
rise together to a higher spiritual realm, and that she in her solitude
might receive at least some associate.
So I proposed to her to come back and stay with me again. She consented
Before that memorable evening I purified my heart by fasting and prayer.
I was like one who was seeking to ascend into heaven to take part in
that celestial communion, to join in the New Song, the music of the
By fasting and prayer I sought so to ascend, and to find thoughts and
fit utterance for those thoughts. I looked upon my office as similar to
that of the holy prophets of old. I felt that I had a power of utterance
if the Divine One would only inspire.
I fasted and prayed that so I might reduce this grosser material frame,
and sharpen and quicken every nerve, and stimulate every fibre of the
brain. So alone could I most nearly approach to the commune of spirits.
Thus had those saints and prophets of old done when they had entered
upon the search after this communion, and they had received their
reward, even the visitation of angels and the vision of the blessed.
A prophet--yes--now, in these days, it is left for the prophet to utter
forth his inspiration by no other way than that of music.
So I fasted and prayed. I took up the words from the holy priesthood,
and I said, as they say:
Munda cor meum, ac labia mea, Omnipotens Deus, qui labia Isaiae
prophetae, calculo mundasti ignito!
For so Isaiah had been exalted till he heard the language of heaven, the
music of the seraphim.
She, my divinity, my adored, enshrined again in my house, bore herself
as before--kind to me and gentle beyond all expression, but with
thoughts of her own that placed between us a gulf as wide as that which
separates the mortal from the immortal.
On that evening she was with me in the parlor which looks out upon the
Northwest Arm. The moon shone down there, the dark, rocky hills on the
opposite side rose in heavy masses. The servants were away in the city.
We were alone.
Ah, my Cremona! if a material instrument were ever able to utter forth
sounds to which immortals might listen, thou, best gift of my father,
thou canst utter them!
"You are pale," said she, for she was always kindly and affectionate as
a mother with a child, as a guardian angel with his ward. "You are pale.
You always forget yourself for others, and now you suffer anxiety for
me. Do not suffer. I have my consolations."
I did not make any reply, but took my Cremona, and sought to lift up all
my soul to a level with hers, to that lofty realm where her spirit ever
wandered, that so I might not be comfortless. She started at the first
tone that I struck forth, and looked at me with her large, earnest eyes.
I found my own gaze fixed on hers, rapt and entranced. Now there came at
last the inspiration so longed for, so sought for. It came from where
her very soul looked forth into mine, out of the glory of her lustrous,
spiritual eyes. They grew brighter with an almost immortal radiance, and
all my heart rose up till it seemed ready to burst in the frenzy of that
Now I felt the spirit of prophecy, I felt the afflatus of the inspired
sibyl or seer, and the voice of music which for a lifetime I had sought
to utter forth now at last sounded as I longed that it should sound.
I exulted in that sound. I knew that at last I had caught the tone, and
from her. I knew its meaning and exulted, as the poet or the musician
must always exult when some idea sublimer than any which he has ever
known is wafted over his upturned spiritual gaze.
She shared my exaltation. There came over her face swiftly, like the
lightning flash, an expression of surprise and joy. So the face of the
exile lightens up at the throbbing of his heart, when, in some foreign
land, he suddenly and unexpectedly hears the sound of his own language.
So his eyes light up, and his heart beats faster, and even amidst the
very longing of his soul after home, the desire after that home is
appeased by these its most hallowed associations.
And the full meaning of that eloquent gaze of hers as her soul looked
into mine became all apparent to me. "Speak on," it said; "sound on, oh
strains of the language of my home! Unheard so long, now heard at last."
I knew that I was comprehended. Now all the feelings of the melancholy
months came rushing over my heart, and all the holiest ideas which had
animated my life came thronging into my mind, bursting forth into tones,
as though of their own accord, involuntarily, as words come forth in a
"Oh thou," I said, in that language which my own lips could not utter--
"oh thou whom I saved from the tomb, the life to which I restored thee
is irksome; but there remains a life to which at last thou shalt attain.
"Oh thou," I said, "whose spirit moves among the immortals, I am mortal
yet immortal! My soul seeks commune with them. I yearn after that
communion. Life here on earth is not more dear to me than to thee. Help
me to rise above it. Thou hast been on high, show me too the way.
"Oh thou," I said, "who hast seen things ineffable, impart to me thy
confidence. Let me know thy secret. Receive me as the companion of thy
soul. Shut not thyself up in solitude. Listen, I can speak thy language.
"Attend," I cried, "for it is not for nothing that the Divine One has
sent thee back. Live not these mortal days in loneliness and in
uselessness. Regard thy fellow-mortals and seek to bless them. Thou hast
learned the mystery of the highest. Let me be thine interpreter. All
that thou hast learned I will communicate to man.
"Rise up," I cried, "to happiness and to labor. Behold! I give thee a
purpose in life. Blend thy soul with mine, and let me utter thy thoughts
so that men shall hear and understand. For I know that the highest truth
of highest Heaven means nothing more than love. Gather up all thy love,
let it flow forth to thy fellow-men. This shall be at once the labor and
the consolation of thy life."
Now all this, and much more--far more--was expressed in the tones that
flowed from my Cremona. It was all in my heart. It came forth. It was
apprehended by her. I saw it, I knew it, and I exulted. Her eyes dilated
more widely--my words were not unworthy of her hearing. I then was able
to tell something which could rouse her from her stupor. Oh, Music!
Divine Music! What power thou hast over the soul!
There came over her face an expression which I never saw before; one of
peace ineffable--the peace that passeth understanding. Ah me! I seemed
to draw her to myself. For she rose and walked toward me. And a great
calm came over my own soul. My Cremona spoke of peace--soft, sweet, and
deep; the profound peace that dwelleth in the soul which has its hope in
fruition. The tone widened into sweet modulation--sweet beyond all
She was so close that she almost touched me. Her eyes were still fixed
on mine. Tears were there, but not tears of sorrow. Her face was so
close to mine that my strength left me. My arms dropped downward. The
music was over.
[Illustration: "I DID NOT MAKE ANY REPLY, BUT TOOK MY CREMONA, AND
SOUGHT TO LIFT UP ALL MY SOUL TO A LEVEL WITH HERS."]
She held out her hand to me. I caught it in both of mine, and wet it
with my tears.
"Paolo," said she, in a voice of musical tone; "Paolo, you are already
one of us. You speak our language.
"You have taught me something which flows from love--duty. Yes, we will
labor together; and they who live on high will learn even in their
radiant home to envy us poor mortals."
I said not a word, but knelt; and holding her hand still, I looked up at
her in grateful adoration.
November 28.--For the last three months I have lived in heaven. She is
changed. Music has reconciled her to exile. She has found one who
speaks, though weakly, the language of that home.
We hold together through this divine medium a lofty spirited
intercourse. I learn from her of that starry world in which for a brief
time she was permitted to dwell. Her seraphic thoughts have become
communicated to me. I have made them my own, and all my spirit has risen