Part 9 out of 9
a tranced eye, and turning a similar gaze on Sir Lukin, as if through
him, burst out: 'Oh, by George, I say, what a hugging that woman 'll
The cocking of ears and queries of Sir Lukin put him to the test of his
right to the remark; for it sounded of occult acquaintance with
interesting subterranean facts; and there was a communication, in brief
syllables and the dot language, crudely masculine. Immensely surprised,
Sir Lukin exclaimed: 'Of course! when fellows live quietly and are
careful of themselves. Ah! you may think you know a man for years, and
you don't: you don't know more than an inch or two of him. Why, of
course, Tom Redworth would be uxorious--the very man! And tell us what
has become of the Firefly now? One never sees her. Didn't complain?'
'Very much the contrary.'
Both gentlemen were grave, believing their knowledge in the subterranean
world of a wealthy city to give them a positive cognizance of female
humanity; and the substance of Colonel Launay's communication had its
impressiveness for them.
'Well, it's a turn right-about-face for me,' said Sir Lukin. 'What a
world we live in! I fancy I've hit on the woman he means to marry;--had
an idea of another woman once; but he's one of your friendly fellows with
women. That's how it was I took him for a fish. Great mistake, I admit.
But Tom Redworth 's a man of morals after all; and when those men do
break loose for a plunge--ha! Have you ever boxed with him? Well, he
keeps himself in training, I can tell you.'
Sir Lukin's round of visits drew him at night to Lady Singleby's, where
he sighted the identical young lady of his thoughts, Miss Paynham,
temporarily a guest of the house; and he talked to her of Redworth,
and had the satisfaction to spy a blush, a rageing blush: which avowal
presented her to his view as an exceedingly good-looking girl; so that
he began mentally to praise Redworth for a manly superiority to small
trifles and the world's tattle.
'You saw him to-day,' he said.
She answered: 'Yes. He goes down to Copsley tomorrow.'
'I think not,' said Sir Lukin.'
'I have it from him.' She closed her eyelids in speaking.
'He and I have some rather serious business in town.'
'Don't be alarmed: not concerning him.'
'Whom, then? You have told me so much--I have a right to know.'
'Not an atom of danger, I assure you?'
'It concerns Mrs. Warwick!' said she.
Sir Lukin thought the guess extraordinary. He preserved an impenetrable
air. But he had spoken enough to set that giddy head spinning.
Nowhere during the night was Mrs. Fryar-Gannett visible. Earlier than
usual, she was riding next day in the Row, alone for perhaps two minutes,
and Sir Lukin passed her, formally saluting. He could not help the look
behind him, she sat so bewitchingly on horseback! He looked, and behold,
her riding-whip was raised erect from the elbow. It was his horse that
wheeled; compulsorily he was borne at a short canter to her side.
The handsome Amabel threw him a sombre glance from the corners of her
uplifted eyelids; and snakish he felt it; but her colour and the line of
her face went well with sullenness; and, her arts of fascination cast
aside, she fascinated him more in seeming homelier, girlish. If the
trial of her beauty of a woman in a temper can bear the strain, she has
attractive lures indeed; irresistible to the amorous idler: and when, in
addition, being the guilty person, she plays the injured, her show of
temper on the taking face pitches him into perplexity with his own
emotions, creating a desire to strike and be stricken, howl and set
howling, which is of the happiest augury for tender reconcilement,
on the terms of the gentleman on his kneecap.
'You've been doing a pretty thing!' she said, and briefly she named her
house and half an hour, and flew. Sir Lukin was left to admire the
figure of the horsewoman. Really, her figure had an air of vindicating
her successfully, except for the poison she spat at Diana Warwick. And
what pretty thing had he been doing? He reviewed dozens of speculations
until the impossibility of seizing one determined him to go to Mrs.
Fryar-Gunnett at the end of the half-hour--'Just to see what these women
have to say for themselves.'
Some big advance drops of Redworth's thunderstorm drawing gloomily
overhead, warned him to be quick and get his horse into stables.
Dismounted, the sensational man was irresolute, suspecting a female trap.
But curiosity, combined with the instinctive turning of his nose in the
direction of the lady's house, led him thither, to an accompaniment of
celestial growls, which impressed him, judging by that naughty-girl face
of hers and the woman's tongue she had, as a likely prelude to the scene
to come below.
THE PENULTIMATE: SHOWING A FINAL STRUGGLE FOR LIBERTY AND RUN INTO
The prophet of the storm had forgotten his prediction; which, however,
was of small concern to him, apart from the ducking he received midway
between the valley and the heights of Copsley; whither he was bound,
on a mission so serious that, according to his custom in such instances,
he chose to take counsel of his active legs: an adviseable course when
the brain wants clearing and the heart fortifying. Diana's face was
clearly before him through the deluge; now in ogle features, the dimple
running from her mouth, the dark bright eyes and cut of eyelids, and
nostrils alive under their lightning; now inkier whole radiant smile, or
musefully listening, nursing a thought. Or she was obscured, and he felt
the face. The individuality of it had him by the heart, beyond his
powers of visioning. On his arrival, he stood in the hall, adrip like
one of the trees of the lawn, laughing at Lady Dunstane's anxious
exclamations. His portmanteau had come and he was expected; she hurried
out at the first ringing of the bell, to greet and reproach him for
walking in such weather.
'Diana has left me,' she said, when he reappeared in dry clothing.
'We are neighbours; she has taken cottage-lodgings at Selshall, about an
hour's walk:--one of her wild dreams of independence. Are you
'I am,' Redworth confessed.
Emma coloured. 'She requires an immense deal of humouring at present.
The fit will wear off; only we must wait for it. Any menace to her
precious liberty makes her prickly. She is passing the day with the
Pettigrews, who have taken a place near her village for a month. She
promised to dine and sleep here, if she returned in time. What is your
'Nothing; the world wags on.'
'You have nothing special to tell her?'
'Nothing'; he hummed; 'nothing, I fancy, that she does not know.'
'You said you were disappointed.'
'It's always a pleasure to see her.'
'Even in her worst moods, I find it so.'
'Oh! moods!' quoth Redworth.
'My friend, they are to be reckoned, with women.'
'Certainly; what I meant was, that I don't count them against women.'
'Good: but my meaning was . . . I think I remember your once comparing
them and the weather; and you spoke of the "one point more variable in
women." You may forestall your storms. There is no calculating the
effect of a few little words at a wrong season.'
'With women! I suppose not. I have no pretension to a knowledge of the
Emma imagined she had spoken plainly enough, if he had immediate designs;
and she was not sure of that, and wished rather to shun his confidences
while Tony was in her young widowhood, revelling in her joy of liberty.
By and by, was her thought: perhaps next year. She dreaded Tony's
refusal of the yoke, and her iron-hardness to the dearest of men
proposing it; and moreover, her further to be apprehended holding to the
refusal, for the sake of consistency, if it was once uttered. For her
own sake, she shrank from hearing intentions, that distressing the good
man, she would have to discountenance. His candour in confessing
disappointment, and his open face, his excellent sense too, gave her some
assurance of his not being foolishly impetuous. After he had read to her
for an hour, as his habit was on evenings and wet days, their discussion
of this and that in the book lulled any doubts she had of his prudence,
enough to render it even a dubious point whether she might be speculating
upon a wealthy bachelor in the old-fashioned ultra-feminine manner; the
which she so abhorred that she rejected the idea. Consequently,
Redworth's proposal to walk down to the valley for Diana, and bring her
back, struck her as natural when a shaft of western sunshine from a
whitened edge of raincloud struck her windows. She let him go without an
intimated monition or a thought of one; thinking simply that her Tony
would be more likely to come, having him for escort. Those are silly
women who are always imagining designs and intrigues and future
palpitations in the commonest actions of either sex. Emma Dunstane
leaned to the contrast between herself and them.
Danvers was at the house about sunset, reporting her mistress to be
on her way, with Mr. Redworth. The maid's tale of the dreadful state of
the lanes, accounted for their tardiness; and besides the sunset had been
magnificent. Diana knocked at Emma's bedroom door, to say, outside,
hurriedly in passing, how splendid the sunset had been, and beg for an
extra five minutes. Taking full fifteen, she swam into the drawing-room,
lively with kisses on Emma's cheeks, and excuses, referring her
misconduct in being late to the seductions of 'Sol' in his glory.
Redworth said he had rarely seen so wonderful a sunset. The result of
their unanimity stirred Emma's bosom to match-making regrets; and the
walk of the pair together, alone under the propitious laming heavens,
appeared to her now as an opportunity lost. From sisterly sympathy, she
fancied she could understand Tony's liberty-loving reluctance: she had no
comprehension of the backwardness of the man beholding the dear woman
handsomer than in her maiden or her married time: and sprightlier as
well. She chatted deliciously, and drew Redworth to talk his best on his
choicer subjects, playing over them like a fide-wisp, determined at once
to flounder him and to make him shine. Her tender esteem for the man was
transparent through it all; and Emma, whose evening had gone happily
between them, said to her, in their privacy, before parting: 'You seemed
to have been inspired by "Sol," my dear. You do like him, don't you?'
Diana vowed she adored him; and with a face of laughter in rosy
suffusion, put Sol for Redworth, Redworth for Sol; but, watchful of
Emma's visage, said finally: 'If you mean the mortal man, I think him up
to almost all your hyperboles--as far as men go; and he departed to his
night's rest, which I hope will be good, like a king. Not to admire him,
would argue me senseless, heartless. I do; I have reason to.'
'And you make him the butt of your ridicule, Tony.'
'No; I said "like a king"; and he is one. He has, to me, morally the
grandeur of your Sol sinking, Caesar stabbed, Cato on the sword-point.
He is Roman, Spartan, Imperial; English, if you like, the pick, of the
land. It is an honour to call him friend, and I do trust he will choose
the pick among us, to make her a happy woman--if she's for running in
harness. There, I can't say more.'
Emma had to be satisfied with it, for the present.
They were astonished at breakfast by seeing Sir Lukin ride past the
windows. He entered with the veritable appetite of a cavalier who had
ridden from London fasting; and why he had come at that early hour, he
was too hungry to explain. The ladies retired to read their letters by
the morning's post; whereupon Sir Lukin called to Redworth; 'I met that
woman in the park yesterday, and had to stand a volley. I went beating
about London for you all the afternoon and evening. She swears you rated
her like a scullery wench, and threatened to ruin Wroxeter. Did you see
him? She says, the story's true in one particular, that he did snatch a
kiss, and got mauled. Not so much to pay for it! But what a ruffian--
'I saw him,' said Redworth. 'He 's one of the new set of noblemen who
take bribes to serve as baits for transactions in the City. They help to
the ruin of their order, or are signs of its decay. We won't judge it by
him. He favoured me with his "word of honour" that the thing you heard
was entirely a misstatement, and so forth:--apologized, I suppose. He
'A thorough cur!'
'He professed his readiness to fight, if either of us was not contented.'
'He spoke to the wrong man. I've half a mind to ride back and have him
out for that rascal "osculation" and the lady unwilling!--and she a young
one, a girl, under the protection of the house! By Jove! Redworth, when
you come to consider the scoundrels men can be, it stirs a fellow's bile.
There's a deal of that sort of villany going--and succeeding sometimes!
He deserves the whip or a bullet.'
'A sermon from Lukin Dunstane might punish him.'
'Oh! I'm a sinner, I know. But, go and tell one woman of another woman,
and that a lie! That's beyond me.'
'The gradations of the deeps are perhaps measurable to those who are in
'The sermon's at me--pop!' said Sir Lukin. 'By the way, I'm coming round
to think Diana Warwick was right when she used to jibe at me for throwing
up my commission. Idleness is the devil--or mother of him. I manage my
estates; but the truth is, it doesn't occupy my mind.'
'My mind, I say.'
'Whichever you please.'
'You're crusty to-day, Redworth. Let me tell you, I think--and hard too,
when the fit's on me. However, you did right in stopping--I'll own--a
piece of folly, and shutting the mouths of those two; though it caused me
to come in for a regular drencher. But a pretty woman in a right-down
termagant passion is good theatre; because it can't last, at that pace;
and you're sure of your agreeable tableau. Not that I trust her ten
minutes out of sight--or any woman, except one or two; my wife and Diana
Warwick. Trust those you've tried, old boy. Diana Warwick ought to be
taught to thank you; though I don't know how it's to be done.'
'The fact of it is,' Redworth frowned and rose, 'I've done mischief.
I had no right to mix myself in it. I'm seldom caught off my feet by
an impulse; but I was. I took the fever from you.'
He squared his figure at the window, and looked up on a driving sky.
'Come, let's play open cards, Tom Redworth,' said Sir Lukin, leaving the
table and joining his friend by the window. 'You moral men are doomed to
be marrying men, always; and quite right. Not that one doesn't hear a
roundabout thing or two about you: no harm. Very much the contrary:--
as the world goes. But you're the man to marry a wife; and if I guess
the lady, she's a sensible girl and won't be jealous. I 'd swear she
only waits for asking.'
'Then you don't guess the lady,' said Redworth.
The desperate half-laugh greeting the name convinced more than a dozen
Sir Lukin kept edging round for a full view of the friend who shunned
inspection. 'But is it? . . . can it be? it must be, after all!
. . . why, of course it is! But the thing staring us in the face is
just what we never see. Just the husband for her!--and she's the wife!
Why, Diana Warwick 's the very woman, of course! I remember I used to
think so before she was free to wed.'
'She is not of that opinion.' Redworth blew a heavy breath; and it
should be chronicled as a sigh; but it was hugely masculine.
'Because you didn't attack, the moment she was free; that 's what upset
my calculations,' the sagacious gentleman continued, for a vindication of
his acuteness: then seizing the reply: 'Refuses? you don't mean to say
you're the man to take a refusal? and from a green widow in the blush?
Did you see her cheeks when she was peeping at the letter in her hand?
She colours at half a word--takes the lift of a finger for Hymen coming.
And lots of fellows are after her; I know it from Emmy. But you're not
the man to be refused. You're her friend--her champion. That woman
Fryar-Gunnett would have it you were the favoured lover, and sneered at
my talk of old friendship. Women are always down dead on the facts;
can't put them off a scent!'
'There's the mischief!' Redworth blew again. 'I had no right to be
championing Mrs. Warwick's name. Or the world won't give it, at all
events. I'm a blundering donkey. Yes, she wishes to keep her liberty.
And, upon my soul, I'm in love with everything she wishes! I've got the
'Habit be hanged!' cried Sir Lukin. 'You're in love with the woman.
I know a little more of you now, Mr. Tom. You're a fellow in earnest
about what you do. You're feeling it now, on the rack, by heaven!
though you keep a bold face. Did she speak positively?--sort of feminine
of "you're the monster, not the man"? or measured little doctor's dose
of pity?--worse sign.' You 're not going?'
'If you'll drive me down in half an hour,' said Redworth.
'Give me an hour,' Sir Lukin replied, and went straight to his wife's
Diana was roused from a meditation on a letter she held, by the entrance
of Emma in her bed-chamber, to whom she said: 'I have here the very
craziest bit of writing!--but what is disturbing you, dear?'
Emma sat beside her, panting and composing her lips to speak. 'Do you,
love me? I throw policy to the winds, if only, I can batter at you for
your heart and find it! Tony, do you love me? But don't answer: give me
your hand. You have rejected him!'
'He has told you?'
'No. He is not the man to cry out for a wound. He heard in London--
Lukin has had the courage to tell me, after his fashion:--Tom Redworth
heard an old story, coming from one of the baser kind of women: grossly
false, he knew. I mention only Lord Wroxeter and Lockton. He went to
man and woman both, and had it refuted, and stopped their tongues, on
peril; as he of all men is able to do when he wills it.'
Observing the quick change in Tony's eyes, Emma exclaimed: 'How you
looked disdain when you asked whether he had told me! But why are you
the handsome tigress to him, of all men living! The dear fellow, dear
to me at least! since the day he first saw you, has worshipped you and
striven to serve you:--and harder than any Scriptural service to have the
beloved woman to wife. I know nothing to compare with it, for he is a
man of warmth. He is one of those rare men of honour who can command
their passion; who venerate when they love: and those are the men that
women select for punishment! Yes, you! It is to the woman he loves that
he cannot show himself as he is, because he is at her feet. You have
managed to stamp your spirit on him; and as a consequence, he defends
you now, for flinging him off. And now his chief regret is, that he has
caused his name to be coupled with yours. I suppose he had some poor
hope, seeing you free. Or else the impulse to protect the woman of his
heart and soul was too strong. I have seen what he suffered, years back,
at the news of your engagement.'
'Oh, for God's sake, don't,' cried Tony, tears running over, and her
dream of freedom, her visions of romance, drowning.
'It was like the snapping of the branch of an oak, when the trunk stands
firm,' Emma resumed, in her desire to scourge as well as to soften. 'But
similes applied to him will strike you as incongruous.' Tony swayed her
body, for a negative, very girlishly and consciously. 'He probably did
not woo you in a poetic style, or the courtly by prescription.' Again
Tony swayed; she had to hug herself under the stripes, and felt as if
alone at sea, with her dear heavens pelting. 'You have sneered at him
for his calculating--to his face: and it was when he was comparatively
poor that he calculated--to his cost! that he dared not ask you to marry
a man who could not offer you a tithe of what he considered fit for the
peerless woman. Peerless, I admit. There he was not wrong. But if he
had valued you half a grain less, he might have won you. You talk much
of chivalry; you conceive a superhuman ideal, to which you fit a very
indifferent wooden model, while the man of all the world the most
chivalrous! . . . He is a man quite other from what you think him:
anything but a "Cuthbert Dering" or a "Man of Two Minds." He was in the
drawing-room below, on the day I received your last maiden letter from
The Crossways--now his property, in the hope of making it yours.'
'I behaved abominably there!' interposed Tony, with a gasp.
'Let it pass. At any rate, that was the prick of a needle, not the blow
of a sword.'
'But marriage, dear Emmy! marriage! Is marriage to be the end of me?'
'What amazing apotheosis have you in prospect? And are you steering so
particularly well by yourself?'
'Miserably! But I can dream. And the thought of a husband cuts me from
any dreaming. It's all dead flat earth at once!'
'Would, you lave rejected him when you were a girl?'
'I think so.'
'The superior merits of another . . .?'
'Oh, no, no, no, no! I might have accepted him: and I might not have
made him happy. I wanted a hero, and the jewelled garb and the feather
did not suit him.'
'No; he is not that description of lay-figure. You have dressed it, and
gemmed it, and--made your discovery. Here is a true man; and if you can
find me any of your heroes to match him, I will thank you. He came on
the day I speak of, to consult me as to whether, with the income he then
had . . . Well, I had to tell him you were engaged. The man has never
wavered in his love of you since that day. He has had to bear
This was an electrical bolt into Tony's bosom, shaking her from self-pity
and shame to remorseful pity of the suffering lover; and the tears ran in
streams, as she said:
'He bore it, Emmy, he bore it.' She sobbed out: 'And he went on building
a fortune and batting! Whatever he undertakes he does perfectly-approve
of the pattern or not. Oh! I have no doubt he had his nest of wish
piping to him all the while: only it seems quaint, dear, quaint, and
against everything we've been reading of lovers! Love was his bread and
butter!' Her dark eyes showered. 'And to tell you what you do not know
of him, his way of making love is really,' she sobbed, 'pretty. It . . .
it took me by surprise; I was expecting a bellow and an assault of horns;
and if, dear:--you will say, what boarding-school girl have you got with
you! and I feel myself getting childish:--if Sol in his glory had not
been so m . . . majestically m . . . magnificent, nor seemed to
show me the king . . . kingdom of my dreams, I might have stammered
the opposite word to the one he heard. Last night, when he took my hand
kindly before going to bed I had a fit for dropping on my knees to him.
I saw him bleed, and he held himself right royally. I told you he did;
--Sol in his moral grandeur! How infinitely above the physical monarch--
is he not, Emmy? What one dislikes, is the devotion of all that grandeur
to win a widow. It should be a maiden princess. You feel it so, I am
sure. And here am I, as if a maiden princess were I, demanding romantic
accessories of rubious vapour in the man condescending to implore the
widow to wed him. But, tell me, does he know everything of his widow--
everything? I shall not have to go through the frightful chapter?'
'He is a man with his eyes awake; he knows as much as any husband could
require to know,' said Emma; adding: 'My darling! he trusts you. It is
the soul of the man that loves you, as it is mine. You will not tease
him? Promise me. Give yourself frankly. You see it clearly before
'I see compulsion, my dear. What I see, is a regiment of Proverbs,
bearing placards instead of guns, and each one a taunt at women,
especially at widows. They march; they form square; they enclose me in
the middle, and I have their inscriptions to digest. Read that crazy
letter from Mary Paynham while I am putting on my bonnet. I perceive I
have been crying like a raw creature in her teens. I don't know myself.
An advantage of the darker complexions is our speedier concealment of the
Emma read Miss Paynham's letter, and returned it with the comment:
'Utterly crazy.' Tony said: 'Is it not? I am to "Pause before I trifle
with a noble heart too long." She is to "have her happiness in the
constant prayer for ours"; and she is "warned by one of those
intimations never failing her, that he runs a serious danger." It reads
like a Wizard's Almanack. And here "Homogeneity of sentiment the most
perfect, is unable to contend with the fatal charm, which exercised by an
indifferent person, must be ascribed to original predestination." She
should be under the wing of Lady Wathin. There is the mother for such
chicks! But I'll own to you, Emmy, that after the perusal, I did ask
myself a question as to my likeness of late to the writer. I have
drivelled . . . I was shuddering over it when you came in. I have
sentimentalized up to thin smoke. And she tells a truth when she says I
am not to "count social cleverness"--she means volubility--" as a warrant
for domineering a capacious intelligence": because of the gentleman's
modesty. Agreed: I have done it; I am contrite. I am going into slavery
to make amends for presumption. Banality, thy name is marriage!'
'Your business is to accept life as we have it,' said Emma; and Tony
shrugged. She was precipitate in going forth to her commonplace fate,
and scarcely looked at the man requested by Emma to escort her to her
cottage. After their departure, Emma fell into laughter at the last
words with the kiss of her cheeks: 'Here goes old Ireland!' But, from her
look and from what she had said upstairs, Emma could believe that the
singular sprite of girlishness invading and governing her latterly, had
yielded place to the woman she loved.
NUPTIAL CHAPTER; AND OF HOW A BARELY WILLING WOMAN WAS LED TO BLOOM WITH
THE NUPTIAL SENTIMENT
Emma watched them on their way through the park, till they rounded the
beechwood, talking, it could be surmised, of ordinary matters; the face
of the gentleman turning at times to his companion's, which steadily
fronted the gale. She left the ensuing to a prayer for their good
direction, with a chuckle at Tony's evident feeling of a ludicrous
posture, and the desperate rush of her agile limbs to have it over.
But her prayer throbbed almost to a supplication that the wrong done
to her beloved by Dacier--the wound to her own sisterly pride rankling as
an injury to her sex, might be cancelled through the union of the woman
noble in the sight of God with a more manlike man.
Meanwhile the feet of the couple were going faster than their heads to
the end of the journey. Diana knew she would have to hoist the signal-
and how? The prospect was dumb-foundering. She had to think of
appeasing her Emma. Redworth, for his part; actually supposed she had
accepted his escorting in proof of the plain friendship offered him
'What do your "birds" do in weather like this?' she said.
'Cling to their perches and wait patiently. It's the bad time with them
when you don't hear them chirp.'
'Of course you foretold the gale.'
'Oh, well, it did not require a shepherd or a skipper for that.'
'Your grand gift will be useful to a yachtsman.'
'You like yachting. When I have tried my new schooner in the Channel,
she is at your command for as long as you and Lady Dunstane please.'
'So you acknowledge that birds--things of nature--have their bad time?'
'They profit ultimately by the deluge and the wreck. Nothing on earth is
"tucked-up" in perpetuity.'
'Except the dead. But why should the schooner be at our command?'
'I shall be in Ireland.'
He could not have said sweeter to her ears or more touching.
'We shall hardly feel safe without the weatherwise on board.'
'You may count on my man Barnes; I have proved him. He is up to his work
even when he's bilious: only, in that case, occurring about once a
fortnight, you must leave him to fight it out with the elements.'
'I rather like men of action to have a temper.'
'I can't say much for a bilious temper.'
The weather to-day really seemed of that kind, she remarked. He
assented, in the shrug manner--not to dissent: she might say what she
would. He helped nowhere to a lead; and so quick are the changes of mood
at such moments that she was now far from him under the failure of an
effort to come near. But thoughts of Emma pressed.
'The name of the new schooner? Her name is her picture to me.'
'I wanted you to christen her.'
'Launched without a name?'
'I took a liberty.'
Needless to ask, but she did. 'With whom?'
'I named her Diana.'
'May the Goddess of the silver bow and crescent protect her! To me the
name is ominous of mischance.'
'I would commit my fortunes and life . . . !' He checked his tongue,
She had veered straight away from her romantic aspirations to the blunt
extreme of thinking that a widow should be wooed in unornamented matter-
of-fact, as she is wedded, with a 'wilt thou,' and 'I will,' and no
decorative illusions. Downright, for the unpoetic creature, if you
please! So she rejected the accompaniment of the silver Goddess and high
seas for an introduction of the crisis.
'This would be a thunderer on our coasts. I had a trial of my sailing
powers in the Mediterranean.'
As she said it, her musings on him then, with the contract of her
position toward him now, fierily brushed her cheeks; and she wished him
the man to make one snatch at her poor lost small butterfly bit of
freedom, so that she might suddenly feel in haven, at peace with her
expectant Emma. He could have seen the inviting consciousness, but he
was absurdly watchful lest the flying sprays of border trees should
strike her. He mentioned his fear, and it became an excuse for her
seeking protection of her veil. 'It is our natural guardian,' she said.
'Not much against timber,' said he.
The worthy creature's anxiety was of the pattern of cavaliers escorting
dames--an exaggeration of honest zeal; a present example of clownish
goodness, it might seem; until entering the larch and firwood along the
beaten heights, there was a rocking and straining of the shallow-rooted
trees in a tremendous gust that quite pardoned him for curving his arm in
a hoop about her and holding a shoulder in front. The veil did her
He was honourably scrupulous not to presume. A right good unimpulsive
gentleman: the same that she had always taken him for and liked.
'These firs are not taproots,' he observed, by way of apology.
Her dress volumed and her ribands rattled and chirruped on the verge of
the slope. 'I will take your arm here,' she said.
Redworth received the little hand, saying: 'Lean to me.'
They descended upon great surges of wind piping and driving every light
surface-atom as foam; and they blinked and shook; even the man was
shaken. But their arms were interlinked and they grappled; the battering
enemy made them one. It might mean nothing, or everything: to him it
meant the sheer blissful instant.
At the foot of the hill, he said: 'It's harder to keep to, the terms of
'What were they?' said she, and took his breath more than the fury of the
storm had done.
'Raise the veil, I beg.'
'Widows do not wear it.'
The look revealed to him was a fugitive of the wilds, no longer the
glittering shooter of arrows.
'Have you . . .?' changed to me, was the signification understood.
'Can you?--for life'. Do you think you can?'
His poverty in the pleading language melted her.
'What I cannot do, my best of friends, is to submit to be seated on a
throne, with you petitioning. Yes, as far as concerns this hand of mine,
if you hold it worthy of you. We will speak of that. Now tell me the
name of the weed trailing along the hedge there!
He knew it well; a common hedgerow weed; but the placid diversion baffled
him. It was clematis, he said.
'It drags in the dust when it has no firm arm to cling to. I passed it
beside you yesterday with a flaunting mind and not a suspicion of a
likeness. How foolish I was! I could volubly sermonize; only it should
be a young maid to listen. Forgive me the yesterday.'
'You have never to ask. You withdraw your hand--was I rough?'
'No,' she smiled demurely; 'it must get used to the shackles: but my
cottage is in sight. I have a growing love for the place. We will enter
it like plain people--if you think of coming in.'
As she said it she had a slight shock of cowering under eyes tolerably
hawkish in their male glitter; but her coolness was not disturbed; and
without any apprehensions she reflected on what has been written of the
silly division and war of the sexes:--which two might surely enter on an
engagement to live together amiably, unvexed by that barbarous old fowl
and falcon interlude. Cool herself, she imagined the same of him, having
good grounds for the delusion; so they passed through the cottage-garden
and beneath the low porchway, into her little sitting-room, where she was
proceeding to speak composedly of her preference for cottages, while
untying her bonnet-strings:--'If I had begun my life in a cottage!'--when
really a big storm-wave caught her from shore and whirled her to mid-sea,
out of every sensibility but the swimming one of her loss of self in the
'You would not have been here!' was all he said. She was up at his
heart, fast-locked, undergoing a change greater than the sea works; her
thoughts one blush, her brain a fire-fount. This was not like being
seated on a throne.
'There,' said he, loosening his hug, 'now you belong to me! I know you
from head to foot. After that, my darling, I could leave you for years,
and call you wife, and be sure of you. I could swear it for you--my life
on it! That 's what I think of you. Don't wonder that I took my chance
--the first:--I have waited!'
Truer word was never uttered, she owned, coming into some harmony with
man's kiss on her mouth: the man violently metamorphozed to a stranger,
acting on rights she had given him. And who was she to dream of denying
them? Not an idea in her head! Bound verily to be thankful for such
love, on hearing that it dated from the night in Ireland . . . .
'So in love with you that, on my soul, your happiness was my marrow--
whatever you wished; anything you chose. It's reckoned a fool's part.
No, it's love: the love of a woman--the one woman! I was like the hand
of a clock to the springs. I taught this old watch-dog of a heart to
keep guard and bury the bones you tossed him.'
'Ignorantly, admit,' said she, and could have bitten her tongue for the
empty words that provoked: 'Would you have flung him nothing?' and caused
a lowering of her eyelids and shamed glimpses of recollections. 'I hear
you have again been defending me. I told you, I think, I wished I had
begun my girl's life in a cottage. All that I have had to endure! . .
or so it seems to me: it may be my way of excusing myself:--I know my
cunning in that peculiar art. I would take my chance of mixing among the
highest and the brightest.'
'It brings you to me.'
'Through a muddy channel.'
'Your husband has full faith in you, my own.'
'The faith has to be summoned and is buffeted, as we were just now on the
hill. I wish he had taken me from a cottage.'
'You pushed for the best society, like a fish to its native sea.'
'Pray say, a salmon to the riverheads.'
'Better,' Redworth laughed joyfully, between admiration of the tongue
that always outflew him, and of the face he reddened.
By degrees her apter and neater terms of speech helped her to a notion of
regaining some steps of her sunken ascendancy, under the weight of the
novel masculine pressure on her throbbing blood; and when he bent to her
to take her lord's farewell of her, after agreeing to go and delight Emma
with a message, her submission and her personal pride were not so much at
variance: perhaps because her buzzing head had no ideas. 'Tell Emma you
have undertaken to wash the blackamoor as white as she can be,' she said
perversely, in her spite at herself for not coming, as it were, out of
the dawn to the man she could consent to wed: and he replied: 'I shall
tell her my dark girl pleads for a fortnight's grace before she and I set
sail for the West coast of Ireland': conjuring a picture that checked any
protest against the shortness of time:--and Emma would surely be his
They talked of the Dublin Ball: painfully to some of her thoughts.
But Redworth kissed that distant brilliant night as freshly as if no
belabouring years rolled in the chasm: which led her to conceive partly,
and wonderingly, the nature of a strong man's passion; and it subjugated
the woman knowing of a contrast. The smart of the blow dealt her by him
who had fired the passion in her became a burning regret for the loss of
that fair fame she had sacrificed to him, and could not bring to her
truer lover: though it was but the outer view of herself--the world's
view; only she was generous and of honest conscience, and but for the
sake of her truer lover, she would mentally have allowed the world to
lash and abuse her, without a plea of material purity. Could it be
named? The naming of it in her clear mind lessened it to accidental:--
By good fortune, she was no worse!--She said to Redworth, when finally
dismissing him; 'I bring no real disgrace to you, my friend.'--To have
had this sharp spiritual battle at such a time, was proof of honest
conscience, rarer among women, as the world has fashioned them yet, than
the purity demanded of them.--His answer: 'You are my wife!' rang in her
When she sat alone at last, she was incapable, despite her nature's
imaginative leap to brightness, of choosing any single period, auspicious
or luminous or flattering, since the hour of her first meeting this man,
rather than the grey light he cast on her, promising helpfulness, and
inspiring a belief in her capacity to help. Not the Salvatore high
raptures nor the nights of social applause could appear preferable: she
strained her shattered wits to try them. As for her superlunary sphere,
it was in fragments; and she mused on the singularity, considering that
she was not deeply enamoured. Was she so at all? The question drove her
to embrace the dignity of being reasonable--under Emmy's guidance. For
she did not stand firmly alone; her story confessed it. Marriage might
be the archway to the road of good service, even as our passage through
the flesh may lead to the better state. She had thoughts of the kind,
and had them while encouraging herself to deplore the adieu to her little
musk-scented sitting-room, where a modest freedom breathed, and her
individuality had seemed pointing to a straighter growth.
She nodded subsequently to the truth of her happy Emma's remark: 'You
were created for the world, Tony.' A woman of blood and imagination in
the warring world, without a mate whom she can revere, subscribes to a
likeness with those independent minor realms between greedy mighty
neighbours, which conspire and undermine when they do not openly threaten
to devour. So, then, this union, the return to the wedding yoke,
received sanction of grey-toned reason. She was not enamoured she could
say it to herself. She had, however, been surprised, both by the man and
her unprotesting submission; surprised and warmed, unaccountably warmed.
Clearness of mind in the woman chaste by nature, however little ignorant
it allowed her to be in the general review of herself, could not compass
the immediately personal, with its acknowledgement of her subserviency to
touch and pressure--and more, stranger, her readiness to kindle. She
left it unexplained. Unconsciously the image of Dacier was effaced.
Looking backward, her heart was moved to her long-constant lover with
most pitying tender wonderment--stormy man, as her threatened senses told
her that he was. Looking at him, she had to mask her being abashed and
mastered. And looking forward, her soul fell in prayer for this true
man's never repenting of his choice. Sure of her now, Mr. Thomas
Redworth had returned to the station of the courtier, and her feminine
sovereignty was not ruffled to make her feel too feminine. Another
revelation was his playful talk when they were more closely intimate.
He had his humour as well as his hearty relish of hers.
'If all Englishmen were like him!' she chimed with Emma Dunstane's
eulogies, under the influence.
'My dear,' the latter replied, 'we should simply march over the Four
Quarters and be blessed by the nations! Only, avoid your trick of
dashing headlong to the other extreme. He has his faults.'
'Tell me of them,' Diana cooed for an answer. 'Do. I want the flavour.
A girl would be satisfied with superhuman excellence. A widow asks for
'To my thinking, the case is, that if it is a widow who sees the
superhuman excellence in a man, she may be very well contented to cross
the bridge with him,' rejoined Emma. . . .
'Suppose the bridge to break, and for her to fall into the water, he
rescuing her--then perhaps!'
'But it has been happening!'
'But piecemeal, in extension, so slowly. I go to him a derelict, bearing
a story of the sea; empty of ideas. I remember sailing out of harbour
passably well freighted for commerce.'
'When Tom Redworth has had command of the "derelict" a week, I should
like to see her!'
The mention of that positive captaincy drowned Diana in morning colours.
She was dominated, physically and morally, submissively too. What she
craved, in the absence of the public whiteness which could have caused
her to rejoice in herself as a noble gift, was the spring of enthusiasm.
Emma touched a quivering chord of pride with her hint at the good augury,
and foreshadowing of the larger Union, in the Irishwoman's bestowal of
her hand on the open-minded Englishman she had learned to trust. The
aureole glimmered transiently: she could neither think highly of the
woman about to be wedded, nor poetically of the man; nor, therefore,
rosily of the ceremony, nor other than vacuously of life. And yet, as
she avowed to Emma, she had gathered the three rarest good things of
life: a faithful friend, a faithful lover, a faithful servant: the two
latter exposing an unimagined quality of emotion. Danvers, on the night
of the great day for Redworth, had undressed her with trembling fingers,
and her mistress was led to the knowledge that the maid had always been
all eye; and on reflection to admit that it came of a sympathy she did
But when Celtic brains are reflective on their emotional vessel they
shoot direct as the arrow of logic. Diana's glance at the years behind
lighted every moving figure to a shrewd transparency, herself among them.
She was driven to the conclusion that the granting of any of her heart's
wild wishes in those days would have lowered her--or frozen. Dacier was
a coldly luminous image; still a tolling name; no longer conceivably her
mate. Recollection rocked, not she. The politician and citizen was
admired: she read the man;--more to her own discredit than to his, but
she read him, and if that is done by the one of two lovers who was true
to love, it is the God of the passion pronouncing a final release from
the shadow of his chains.
Three days antecedent to her marriage, she went down the hill over her
cottage chimneys with Redworth, after hearing him praise and cite to Emma
Dunstane sentences of a morning's report of a speech delivered by Dacier
to his constituents. She alluded to it, that she might air her power of
speaking of the man coolly to him, or else for the sake of stirring
afresh some sentiment he had roused; and he repeated his high opinion of
the orator's political wisdom: whereby was revived in her memory a
certain reprehensible view, belonging to her period of mock-girlish
naughtiness--too vile!--as to his paternal benevolence, now to clear
vision the loftiest manliness. What did she do? She was Irish;
therefore intuitively decorous in amatory challenges and interchanges.
But she was an impulsive woman, and foliage was thick around, only a few
small birds and heaven seeing; and penitence and admiration sprang the
impulse. It had to be this or a burst of weeping:--she put a kiss upon
She had omitted to think that she was dealing with a lover a man of
smothered fire, who would be electrically alive to the act through a
coat-sleeve. Redworth had his impulse. He kept it under,--she felt the
big breath he drew in. Imagination began busily building a nest for him,
and enthusiasm was not sluggish to make a home of it. The impulse of
each had wedded; in expression and repression; her sensibility told her
of the stronger.
She rose on the morning of her marriage day with his favourite Planxty
Kelly at her lips, a natural bubble of the notes. Emma drove down to the
cottage to breakfast and superintend her bride's adornment, as to which,
Diana had spoken slightingly; as well as of the ceremony, and the
institution, and this life itself:--she would be married out of her
cottage, a widow, a cottager, a woman under a cloud; yes, a sober person
taking at last a right practical step, to please her two best friends.
The change was marked. She wished to hide it, wished to confide it.
Emma was asked: 'How is he this morning?' and at the answer, describing
his fresh and spirited looks, and his kind ways with Arthur Rhodes, and
his fun with Sullivan Smith, and the satisfaction with the bridegroom
declared by Lord Larrian (invalided from his Rock and unexpectingly
informed of the wedding), Diana forgot that she had kissed her, and this
time pressed her lips, in a manner to convey the secret bridally.
'He has a lovely day.'
'And bride,' said Emma.
'If you two think so! I should like to agree with my dear old lord and
bless him for the prize he takes, though it feels itself at present
rather like a Christmas bon-bon--a piece of sugar in the wrap of a rhymed
motto. He is kind to Arthur, you say?'
'Like a cordial elder brother.'
'Dear love, I have it at heart that I was harsh upon Mary Paynham for her
letter. She meant well--and I fear she suffers. And it may have been a
bit my fault. Blind that I was! When you say "cordial elder brother,"
you make him appear beautiful to me. The worst of that is, one becomes
aware of the inability to match him.'
'Read with his eyes when you meet him this morning, my Tony.'
The secret was being clearly perceived by Emma, whose pride in assisting
to dress the beautiful creature for her marriage--with the man of men had
a tinge from the hymenaeal brand, exulting over Dacier, and in the
compensation coming to her beloved for her first luckless footing on this
'How does he go down to the church?' said Diana.
'He walks down. Lukin and his Chief drive. He walks, with your Arthur
and Mr. Sullivan Smith. He is on his way now.'
Diana looked through the window in the direction of the hill. 'That is
so like him, to walk to his wedding!'
Emma took the place of Danvers in the office of the robing, for the maid,
as her mistress managed to hint, was too steeped 'in the colour of the
occasion' to be exactly tasteful, and had the art, no doubt through
sympathy, of charging permissible common words with explosive meanings:--
she was in an amorous palpitation, of the reflected state. After several
knockings and enterings of the bedchamber-door, she came hurriedly to
say: 'And your pillow, ma'am? I had almost forgotten it!' A question
that caused her mistress to drop the gaze of a moan on Emma, with
patience trembling. Diana preferred a hard pillow, and usually carried
her own about. 'Take it,' she had to reply.
The friends embraced before descending to step into the fateful carriage.
'And tell me,' Emma said, 'are not your views of life brighter to-day?'
'Too dazzled to know! It may be a lamp close to the eyes or a radiance
of sun. I hope they are.'
'You are beginning to think hopefully again?'
'Who can really think, and not think hopefully? You were in my mind last
night, and you brought a little boat to sail me past despondency of life
and the fear of extinction. When we despair or discolour things, it is
our senses in revolt, and they have made the sovereign brain their
drudge. I heard you whisper; with your very breath in my ear: "There is
nothing the body suffers that the soul may not profit by." That is
Emma's history. With that I sail into the dark; it is my promise of the
immortal: teaches me to see immortality for us. It comes from you, my
If not a great saying, it was in the heart of deep thoughts: proof to
Emma that her Tony's mind had resumed its old clear high-aiming activity;
therefore that her nature was working sanely, and that she accepted her
happiness, and bore love for a dower to her husband. No blushing
confession of the woman's love of the man would have told her so much as
the return to mental harmony with the laws of life shown in her darling's
pellucid little sentence.
She revolved it long after the day of the wedding. To Emma, constantly
on the dark decline of the unillumined verge, between the two worlds,
those words were a radiance and a nourishment. Had they waned she would
have trimmed them to feed her during her soul-sister's absence. They
shone to her of their vitality. She was lying along her sofa, facing her
South-western window, one afternoon of late November, expecting Tony from
her lengthened honeymoon trip, while a sunset in the van of frost, not
without celestial musical reminders of Tony's husband, began to deepen;
and as her friend was coming, she mused on the scenes of her friend's
departure, and how Tony, issuing from her cottage porch had betrayed her
feelings in the language of her sex by stooping to lift above her head
and kiss the smallest of her landlady's children ranged up the garden-
path to bid her farewell over their strewing of flowers;--and of her
murmur to Tony, entering the churchyard, among the grave-mounds: 'Old
Ireland won't repent it!' and Tony's rejoinder, at the sight of the
bridegroom advancing, beaming: 'A singular transformation of Old
England!'--and how, having numberless ready sources of laughter and tears
down the run of their heart-in-heart intimacy, all spouting up for a word
in the happy tremour of the moment, they had both bitten their lips and
blinked on a moisture of the eyelids. Now the dear woman was really
wedded, wedded and mated. Her letters breathed, in their own lively or
thoughtful flow, of the perfect mating. Emma gazed into the depths of
the waves of crimson, where brilliancy of colour came out of central
heaven preternaturally near on earth, till one shade less brilliant
seemed an ebbing away to boundless remoteness. Angelical and mortal
mixed, making the glory overhead a sign of the close union of our human
conditions with the ethereal and psychically divined. Thence it grew
that one thought in her breast became a desire for such extension of days
as would give her the blessedness to clasp in her lap--if those kind
heavens would grant it!--a child of the marriage of the two noblest of
human souls, one the dearest; and so have proof at heart that her country
and our earth are fruitful in the good, for a glowing future. She was
deeply a woman, dumbly a poet. True poets and true women have the native
sense of the divineness of what the world deems gross material substance.
Emma's exaltation in fervour had not subsided when she held her beloved
in her arms under the dusk of the withdrawing redness. They sat
embraced, with hands locked, in the unlighted room, and Tony spoke of the
splendid sky. 'You watched it knowing I was on my way to you?'
'That I might live long enough to be a godmother.'
There was no reply: there was an involuntary little twitch of Tony's
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Accidents are the specific for averting the maladies of age
Accounting for it, is not the same as excusing
Assist in our small sphere; not come mouthing to the footlights
Avoid the position that enforces publishing
Capacity for thinking should precede the act of writing
Chaste are wattled in formalism and throned in sourness
Could the best of men be simply--a woman's friend?
Enthusiasm has the privilege of not knowing monotony
Envy of the man of positive knowledge
Expectations dupe us, not trust
Externally soft and polished, internally hard and relentless
Fiddle harmonics on the sensual strings
Heart to keep guard and bury the bones you tossed him
Holding to the refusal, for the sake of consistency
I don't count them against women (moods)
I never knew till this morning the force of No in earnest
I wanted a hero
I'm in love with everything she wishes! I've got the habit
If he had valued you half a grain less, he might have won you
Infatuated men argue likewise, and scandal does not move them
It is the devil's masterstroke to get us to accuse him
Let never Necessity draw the bow of our weakness
Literature is a good stick and a bad horse
Material good reverses its benefits the more nearly we clasp it
Mistake of the world is to think happiness possible to the sense
Nothing is a secret that has been spoken
Nothing the body suffers that the soul may not profit by
Now far from him under the failure of an effort to come near
Our weakness is the swiftest dog to hunt us
Question the gain of such an expenditure of energy
Rare men of honour who can command their passion
Read with his eyes when you meet him this morning
She had sunk her intelligence in her sensations
Sympathy is for proving, not prating
The debts we owe ourselves are the hardest to pay
Trial of her beauty of a woman in a temper
We don't know we are in halves
We're a peaceful people, but 'ware who touches us
Weighty little word--woman's native watchdog and guardian (No!)
When we despair or discolour things, it is our senses in revolt
Who can really think, and not think hopefully?
Who venerate when they love
With that I sail into the dark
Women with brains, moreover, are all heartless