Part 1 out of 9
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, William Flis, and Distributed Proofreaders
MRS. HUMPHRY WARD
_WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALBERT STERNER_
TO ITALY THE BELOVED AND BEAUTIFUL,
INSTRUCTRESS OF OUR PAST,
DELIGHT OF OUR PRESENT,
COMRADE OF OUR FUTURE:--
THE HEART OF AN ENGLISHWOMAN
OFFERS THIS BOOK.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
THE BEAUTIFYING OF LUCY
'I would that you were all to me,
You that are just so much, no more.
Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free!
Where does the fault lie? What the core
O' the wound, since wound must be?'
'Let us be quite clear, Aunt Pattie--when does this young woman arrive?'
'In about half an hour. But really, Edward, you need take no trouble! she
is coming to visit me, and I will see that she doesn't get in your way.
Neither you nor Eleanor need trouble your heads about her.'
Miss Manisty--a small elderly lady in a cap--looked at her nephew with
a mild and deprecating air. The slight tremor of the hands, which were
crossed over the knitting on her lap, betrayed a certain nervousness; but
for all that she had the air of managing a familiar difficulty in familiar
The gentleman addressed shook his head impatiently.
'One never prepares for these catastrophes till they actually arrive,'
he muttered, taking up a magazine that lay on the table near him, and
restlessly playing with the leaves.
'I warned you yesterday.'
'And I forgot--and was happy. Eleanor--what are we going to do with Miss
A lady, who had been sitting at some little distance, rose and came
'Well, I should have thought the answer was simple. Here we are fifteen
miles from Rome. The trains might be better--still there are trains. Miss
Foster has never been to Europe before. Either Aunt Pattie's maid or mine
can take her to all the proper things--or there are plenty of people in
Rome--the Westertons--the Borrows?--who at a word from Aunt Pattie would
fly to look after her and take her about. I really don't see that you need
be so miserable!'
Mrs. Burgoyne stood looking down in some amusement at the aunt and nephew.
Edward Manisty, however, was not apparently consoled by her remarks. He
began to pace up and down the salon in a disturbance out of all proportion
to its cause. And as he walked he threw out phrases of ill-humour, so
that at last Miss Manisty, driven to defend herself, put the irresistible
'Then why--why--my dear Edward, did you make me invite her? For it was
really his doing--wasn't it, Eleanor?'
'Yes--I am witness!'
'One of those abominable flashes of conscience that have so much to
answer for!' said Manisty, throwing up his hand in annoyance.--'If she
had come to us in Rome, one could have provided for her. But here in this
solitude--just at the most critical moment of one's work--and it's all
very well--but one can't treat a young lady, when she is actually in one's
house, as if she were the tongs!'
He stood beside the window, with his hands on his sides, moodily looking
out. Thus strongly defined against the sunset light, he would have
impressed himself on a stranger as a man no longer in his first youth,
extraordinarily handsome so far as the head was concerned, but of a
somewhat irregular and stunted figure; stunted, however, only in comparison
with what it had to carry; for in fact he was of about middle height. But
the head, face and shoulders were all remarkably large and powerful; the
colouring--curly black hair, grey eyes, dark complexion--singularly vivid;
and the lines of the brow, the long nose, the energetic mouth, in their
mingled force and perfection, had made the stimulus of many an artist
before now. For Edward Manisty was one of those men of note whose portraits
the world likes to paint: and this 'Olympian head' of his was well known
in many a French and English studio, through a fine drawing of it made
by Legros when Manisty was still a youth at Oxford. 'Begun by David--and
finished by Rembrandt': so a young French painter had once described Edward
The final effect of this discord, however, was an effect of power--of
personality--of something that claimed and held attention. So at least it
was described by Manisty's friends. Manisty's enemies, of whom the world
contained no small number, had other words for it. But women in general
took the more complimentary view.
The two women now in his company were clearly much affected by the
force--wilfulness--extravagance--for one might call it by any of these
names--that breathed from the man before them. Miss Manisty, his aunt,
followed his movements with her small blinking eyes, timidly uneasy, but
yet visibly conscious all the time that she had done nothing that any
reasonable man could rationally complain of; while in the manner towards
him of his widowed cousin Mrs. Burgoyne, in the few words of banter or
remonstrance that she threw him on the subject of his aunt's expected
visitor, there was an indulgence, a deference even, that his irritation
'At least, give me some account of this girl'--he said, breaking in upon
his aunt's explanations. 'I have really not given her a thought--and--good
heavens!--she will be here, you say, in half an hour. Is she
young--stupid--pretty? Has she any experience--any conversation?'
'I read you Adele's letter on Monday,' said Miss Manisty, in a tone of
patience--'and I told you then all I knew--but I noticed you didn't listen.
I only saw her myself for a few hours at Boston. I remember she was
rather good-looking--but very shy, and not a bit like all the other girls
one was seeing. Her clothes were odd, and dowdy, and too old for her
altogether,--which struck me as curious, for the American girls, even the
country ones, have such a natural turn for dressing themselves. Her Boston
cousins didn't like it, and they tried to buy her things--but she was
difficult to manage--and they had to give it up. Still they were very fond
of her, I remember. Only she didn't let them show it much. Her manners
were much stiffer than theirs. They said she was very countrified and
simple--that she had been brought up quite alone by their old uncle, in a
little country town--and hardly ever went away from home.'
'And Edward never saw her?' inquired Mrs. Burgoyne, with a motion of the
head towards Manisty.
'No. He was at Chicago just those days. But you never saw anything like the
kindness of the cousins! Luncheons and dinners!'--Miss Manisty raised her
little gouty hands--'my dear--when we left Boston I never wanted to eat
again. It would be simply indecent if we did nothing for this girl. English
people are so ungrateful this side of the water. It makes me hot when I
think of all they do for us.'
The small lady's blanched and wrinkled face reddened a little with a colour
which became her. Manisty, lost in irritable reflection, apparently took no
'But why did they send her out all alone?' said Mrs. Burgoyne. 'Couldn't
they have found some family for her to travel with?'
'Well, it was a series of accidents. She did come over with some Boston
people--the Porters--we knew very well. And they hadn't been three days in
London before one of the daughters developed meningitis, and was at the
point of death. And of course they could go nowhere and see nothing--and
poor Lucy Foster felt herself in the way. Then she was to have joined some
other people in Italy, and _they_ changed their plans. And at last I got a
letter from Mrs. Porter--in despair--asking me if I knew of anyone in Rome
who would take her in and chaperon her. And then--well, then you know the
And the speaker nodded again, still more significantly, towards her nephew.
'No, not all,' said Mrs. Burgoyne, laughing. 'I remember he telegraphed.'
'Yes. He wouldn't even wait for me to write. No--"Of course we must have
the girl!" he said. "She can join us at the villa. And they'll want to
know, so I'll wire." And out he went. And then that evening I had to write
and ask her to stay as long as she wished--and--well, there it is!'
'And hence these tears,' said Mrs. Burgoyne. 'What possessed him?'
'Well, I think it was conscience,' said the little spinster, plucking up
spirit. 'I know it was with me. There had been some Americans calling on
us that day--you remember--those charming Harvard people? And somehow
it recalled to us both what a fuss they had made with us--and how kind
everybody was. At least I suppose that was how Edward felt. I know I did.'
Manisty paused in his walk. For the first time his dark whimsical face was
crossed by an unwilling smile--slight but agreeable.
'It is the old story,' he said. 'Life would be tolerable but for one's
virtues. All this time, I beg to point out, Aunt Pattie, that you have
still told us nothing about the young lady--except something about her
clothes, which doesn't matter.'
Mrs. Burgoyne's amused gesture showed the woman's view of this remark. Miss
Manisty looked puzzled.
'Well--I don't know. Yes--I have told you a great deal. The Lewinsons
apparently thought her rather strange. Adele said she couldn't tell what to
be at with her--you never knew what she would like or dislike. Tom Lewinson
seems to have liked her better than Adele did. He said "there was no
nonsense about her--and she never kept a fellow waiting." Adele says she
is the oddest mixture of knowledge and ignorance. She would ask the most
absurd elementary questions--and then one morning Tom found out that she
was quite a Latin scholar, and had read Horace and Virgil, and all the
'Good God!' said Manisty under his breath, resuming his walk.
'And when they asked her to play, she played--quite respectably.'
'Of course:--two hours' practising in the morning,--I foresaw it,' said
Manisty, stopping short. 'Eleanor, we have been like children sporting over
Mrs. Burgoyne rose with a laugh--a very soft and charming laugh--by no
means the least among the various gifts with which nature had endowed her.
'Oh, civilisation has resources,' she said--'Aunt Pattie and I will take
care of you. Now we have got a quarter of an hour to dress in. Only
first--one must really pay one's respects to this sunset.'
And she stepped out through an open door upon a balcony beyond. Then
turning, with a face of delight, she beckoned to Manisty, who followed.
'Every night more marvellous than the last'--she said, hanging over the
balustrade--'and one seems to be here in the high box of a theatre, with
the sun playing pageants for our particular benefit.'
Before them, beneath them indeed, stretched a scene, majestic,
incomparable. The old villa in which they stood was built high on the ridge
of the Alban Hills. Below it, olive-grounds and vineyards, plough-lands and
pine plantations sank, slope after slope, fold after fold, to the Campagna.
And beyond the Campagna, along the whole shining line of the west, the sea
met the sunset; while to the north, a dim and scattered whiteness rising
from the plain--was Rome.
The sunset was rushing to its height through every possible phase of
violence and splendour. From the Mediterranean, storm-clouds were rising
fast to the assault and conquest of the upper sky, which still above the
hills shone blue and tranquil. But the north-west wind and the sea were
leagued against it. They sent out threatening fingers and long spinning
veils of cloud across it--skirmishers that foretold the black and serried
lines, the torn and monstrous masses behind. Below these wild tempest
shapes, again,--in long spaces resting on the sea--the heaven was at peace,
shining in delicate greens and yellows, infinitely translucent and serene,
above the dazzling lines of water. Over Rome itself there was a strange
massing and curving of the clouds. Between their blackness and the deep
purple of the Campagna, rose the city--pale phantom--upholding one great
dome, and one only, to the view of night and the world. Round and above
and behind, beneath the long flat arch of the storm, glowed a furnace
of scarlet light. The buildings of the city were faint specks within
its fierce intensity, dimly visible through a sea of fire. St. Peter's
alone, without visible foundation or support, had consistence, form,
identity.--And between the city and the hills, waves of blue and purple
shade, forerunners of the night, stole over the Campagna towards the higher
ground. But the hills themselves were still shining, still clad in rose and
amethyst, caught in gentler repetition from the wildness of the west. Pale
rose even the olive-gardens; rose the rich brown fallows, the emerging
farms; while drawn across the Campagna from north to south, as though some
mighty brush had just laid it there for sheer lust of colour, sheer joy in
the mating it with the rose,--one long strip of sharpest, purest green.
Mrs. Burgoyne turned at last from the great spectacle to her companion.
'One has really no adjectives left,' she said. 'But I had used mine up
within a week.'
'It still gives you so much pleasure?' he said, looking at her a little
Her face changed at once.
'And you?--you are beginning to be tired of it?'
'One gets a sort of indigestion.--Oh! I shall be all right to-morrow.'
Both were silent for a moment. Then he resumed.--
'I met General Fenton in the Borgia rooms this morning.'
She turned, with a quick look of curiosity.
'I hadn't seen him since I met him at Simla three years ago. I always
found him particularly agreeable then. We used to ride together and talk
together,--and he put me in the way of seeing a good many things. This
morning he received me with a change of manner--can't exactly describe it;
but it was not flattering! So I presently left him to his own devices and
went on into another room. Then he followed me, and seemed to wish to talk.
Perhaps he perceived that he had been unfriendly, and thought he would
make amends. But I was rather short with him. We had been real friends;
we hadn't met for three years; and I thought he might have behaved
differently. He asked me a number of questions, however, about last year,
about my resignation, and so forth; and I answered as little as I could. So
presently he looked at me and laughed--"You remind me," he said, "of what
somebody said of Peel--that he was bad to go up to in the stable!--But what
on earth are you in the stable for?--and not in the running?"'
Mrs. Burgoyne smiled.
'He was evidently bored with the pictures!' she said, dryly.
Manisty gave a shrug. 'Oh! I let him off. I wouldn't be drawn. I told him
I had expressed myself so much in public there was nothing more to say.
"H'm," he said, "they tell me at the Embassy you're writing a book!" You
should have seen the little old fellow's wizened face--and the scorn of
it! So I inquired whether there was any objection to the writing of books.
"Yes!"--he said--"when a man can do a d----d sight better for himself--as
you could! Everyone tells me that last year you had the ball at your feet."
"Well,"--I said--"and I kicked it--and am still kicking it--in my own
way. It mayn't be yours--or anybody else's--but wait and see." He shook
his head. "A man with what _were_ your prospects can't afford escapades.
It's all very well for a Frenchman; it don't pay in England." So then I
maintained that half the political reputations of the present day were
based on escapades. "Whom do you mean?"--he said--"Randolph Churchill?--But
Randolph's escapades were always just what the man in the street
understood. As for your escapade, the man in the street can't make head or
tail of it. That's just the, difference."'
Mrs. Burgoyne laughed--but rather impatiently.
'I should like to know when General Fenton ever considered the man in the
'Not at Simla certainly. There you may despise him.--But the old man is
right enough as to the part he plays in England.--I gathered that all my
old Indian friends thought I had done for myself. There was no sympathy for
me anywhere. Oh!--as to the cause I upheld--yes. But none as to the mode of
'Well--there is plenty of sympathy elsewhere! What does it matter what
dried-up officials like General Fenton choose to think about it?'
'Nothing--so long as there are no doubts inside to open the gates to the
General Fentons outside!'
He looked at her oddly--half smiling, half frowning.
'The doubts are traitors. Send them to execution!' He shook his head.
'Do you remember that sentence we came across yesterday in Chateaubriand's
letters "As to my career--I have gone from shipwreck to shipwreck." What if
I am merely bound on the same charming voyage?'
'I accept the comparison,' she said with vivacity. 'End as he did in
re-creating a church, and regenerating a literature--and see who will count
Her hand's disdainful gesture completed the sally.
Manisty's face dismissed its shadow.
As she stood beside him, in the rosy light--so proudly confident--Eleanor
Burgoyne was very delightful to see and hear. Manisty, one of the subtlest
and most fastidious of observers, was abundantly conscious of it. Yet she
was not beautiful, except in the judgment of a few exceptional people, to
whom a certain kind of grace--very rare, and very complex in origin--is of
more importance than other things. The eyes were, indeed, beautiful; so was
the forehead, and the hair of a soft ashy brown folded and piled round it
in a most skilful simplicity. But the rest of the face was too long; and
its pallor, the singularly dark circles round the eyes, the great thinness
of the temples and cheeks, together with the emaciation of the whole
delicate frame, made a rather painful impression on a stranger. It was
a face of experience, a face of grief; timid, yet with many strange
capacities and suggestions both of vehemence and pride. It could still
tremble into youth and delight. But in general it held the world aloof.
Mrs. Burgoyne was not very far from thirty, and either physical weakness,
or the presence of some enemy within more destructive still, had emphasised
the loss of youth. At the same time she had still a voice, a hand, a
carriage that lovelier women had often envied, discerning in them those
subtleties of race and personality which are not to be rivalled for the
To-night she brought all her charm to bear upon her companion's
despondency, and succeeded as she had often succeeded before. She divined
that he needed flattery, and she gave it; that he must be supported and
endorsed, and she had soon pushed General Fenton out of sight behind a
cloud of witness of another sort.
Manisty's mood yielded; and in a short time he was again no less ready to
admire the sunset than she was.
'Heavens!' she said at last, holding out her watch.--'Just look at the
time--and Miss Foster!'
Manisty struck his hand against the railing.
'How is one to be civil about this visit! Nothing could be more
unfortunate. These last critical weeks--and each of us so dependent on
the other--Really it is the most monstrous folly on all our parts that we
should have brought this girl upon us.'
'Poor Miss Foster!' said Mrs. Burgoyne, raising her eyebrows. 'But of
course you won't be civil!--Aunt Pattie and I know that. When I think of
what I went through that first fortnight--'
'You are the only man I ever knew that could sit silent through a whole
meal. By to-morrow Miss Foster will have added that experience to her
collection. Well--I shall be prepared with my consolations--there's the
carriage--and the bell!'
They fled indoors, escaping through the side entrances of the salon, before
the visitor could be shown in.
* * * * *
'Must I change my dress?'
The voice that asked the question trembled with agitation and fatigue. But
the girl who owned the voice stood up stiffly, looking at Miss Manisty with
a frowning, almost a threatening shyness.
'Well, my dear,' said Miss Manisty, hesitating. 'Are you not rather dusty?
We can easily keep dinner a quarter of an hour.'
She looked at the grey alpaca dress before her, in some perplexity.
'Oh, very well'--said the girl hurriedly.--'Of course I'll change.
Only'--and the voice fluttered again evidently against her will--'I'm
afraid I haven't anything very nice. I must get something in Rome. Mrs.
Lewinson advised me. This is my afternoon dress,--I've been wearing it in
Florence. But of course--I'll put on my other.--Oh! please don't send for a
maid. I'd rather unpack for myself--so much rather!'
The speaker flushed crimson, as she saw Miss Manisty's maid enter the
room in answer to her mistress's ring. She stood up indeed with her hand
grasping her trunk, as though defending it from an assailant.
The maid looked at her mistress. 'Miss Foster will ring, Benson, if she
wants you'--said Miss Manisty; and the black-robed elderly maid, breathing
decorous fashion and the ways of 'the best people,' turned, gave a swift
look at Miss Foster, and left the room.
'Are you sure, my dear? You know she would make you tidy in no time. She
arranges hair beautifully.'
'Oh quite--quite sure!--thank you,' said the girl with the same eagerness.
'I will be ready,--right away.'
Then, left to herself, Miss Foster hastily opened her box and took out some
of its contents. She unfolded one dress after another,--and looked at them
'Perhaps I ought to have let cousin Izza give me those things in Boston,'
she thought. 'Perhaps I was too proud. And that money of Uncle Ben's--it
might have been kinder--after all he wanted me to look nice'--
She sat ruefully on the ground beside her trunk, turning the things over,
in a misery of annoyance and mortification; half inclined to laugh too
as she remembered the seamstress in the small New England country town,
who had helped her own hands to manufacture them. 'Well, Miss Lucy, your
uncle's done real handsome by you. I guess he's set you up, and no mistake.
There's no meanness about him!'
And she saw the dress on the stand--the little blonde withered head of the
dressmaker--the spectacled eyes dwelling proudly on the masterpiece before
Alack! There rose up the memory of little Mrs. Lewinson at Florence--of her
gently pursed lips--of the looks that were meant to be kind, and were in
reality so critical.
No matter. The choice had to be made; and she chose at last a blue and
white check that seemed to have borne its travels better than the rest. It
had looked so fresh and striking in the window of the shop whence she had
bought it. 'And you know, Miss Lucy, you're so tall, you can stand them
chancy things'--her little friend had said to her, when _she_ had wondered
whether the check might not be too large.
And yet only with a passing wonder. She could not honestly say that her
dress had cost her much thought then or at any other time. She had been
content to be very simple, to admire other girls' cleverness. There had
been influences upon her own childhood, however, that had somehow separated
her from the girls around her, had made it difficult for her to think and
plan as they did.
She rose with the dress in her hands, and as she did so, she caught the
glory of the sunset through the open window.
She ran to look, all her senses flooded with the sudden beauty,--when she
heard a man's voice as it seemed close beside her. Looking to the left, she
distinguished a balcony, and a dark figure that had just emerged upon it.
Mr. Manisty--no doubt! She closed her window hurriedly, and began her
dressing, trying at the time to collect her thoughts on the subject of
these people whom she had come to visit.
Yet neither the talk of her Boston cousins, nor the gossip of the Lewinsons
at Florence had left any very clear impression. She remembered well her
first and only sight of Miss Manisty at Boston. The little spinster, so
much a lady, so kind, cheerful and agreeable, had left a very favourable
impression in America. Mr. Manisty had left an impression too--that was
certain--for people talked of him perpetually. Not many persons, however,
had liked him, it seemed. She could remember, as it were, a whole track
of resentments, hostilities, left behind. 'He cares nothing about us'--an
irate Boston lady had said in her hearing--but he will exploit us! He
despises us,--but he'll make plenty of speeches and articles out of
As for Major Lewinson, the husband of Mr. Manisty's first cousin,--she had
been conscious all the time of only half believing what he said, of holding
out against it. He must be so different from Mr. Manisty--the little smart,
quick-tempered soldier--with his contempt for the undisciplined civilian
way of doing things. She did not mean to remember his remarks. For after
all, she had her own ideas of what Mr. Manisty would be like. She had
secretly formed her own opinion. He had been a man of letters and a
traveller before he entered politics. She remembered--nay, she would never
forget--a volume of letters from Palestine, written by him, which had
reached her through the free library of the little town near her home.
She who read slowly, but, when she admired, with a silent and worshipping
ardour, had read this book, had hidden it under her pillow, had been
haunted for days by its pliant sonorous sentences, by the colour, the
perfume, the melancholy of pages that seemed to her dreaming youth
marvellous, inimitable. There were descriptions of a dawn at Bethlehem--a
night wandering at Jerusalem--a reverie by the sea of Galilee--the very
thought of which made her shiver a little, so deeply had they touched her
young and pure imagination.
And then--people talked so angrily of his quarrel with the Government--and
his resigning. They said he had been foolish, arrogant, unwise. Perhaps.
But after all it had been to his own hurt--it must have been for principle.
So far the girl's secret instinct was all on his side.
Meanwhile, as she dressed, there floated through her mind fragments of what
she had been told as to his strange personal beauty; but these she only
entertained shyly and in passing. She had been brought up to think little
of such matters, or rather to avoid thinking of them.
She went through her toilette as neatly and rapidly as she could, her mind
all the time so full of speculation and a deep restrained excitement that
she ceased to trouble herself in the least about her gown, As for her hair,
she arranged it almost mechanically, caring only that its black masses
should be smooth and in order. She fastened at her throat a small turquoise
brooch that had been her mother's; she clasped the two little chain
bracelets that were the only ornaments of the kind she possessed, and then
without a single backward look towards the reflection in the glass, she
left her room--her heart beating fast with timidity and expectation.
* * * * *
'Oh! poor child--poor child!--what a frock!'
Such was the inward ejaculation of Mrs. Burgoyne, as the door of the salon
was thrown open by the Italian butler, and a very tall girl came abruptly
through, edging to one side as though she were trying to escape the
servant, and looking anxiously round the vast room.
Manisty also turned as the door opened. Miss Manisty caught his momentary
expression of wonder, as she herself hurried forward to meet the new-comer.
'You have been very quick, my dear, and I am sure you must be hungry.--This
is an old friend of ours--Mrs. Burgoyne--my nephew--Edward Manisty. He
knows all your Boston cousins, if not you. Edward, will you take Miss
Foster?--she's the stranger.'
Mrs. Burgoyne pressed the girl's hand with a friendly effusion. Beyond her
was a dark-haired man, who bowed in silence. Lucy Foster took his arm, and
he led her through a large intervening room, in which were many tables and
many books, to the dining-room.
On the way he muttered a few embarrassed words as to the weather and
the lateness of dinner, walking meanwhile so fast that she had to hurry
after him. 'Good heavens, why she is a perfect chess-board!' he thought
to himself, looking askance at her dress, in a sudden and passionate
dislike--'one could play draughts upon her. What has my Aunt been about?'
The girl looked round her in bewilderment as they sat down. What a strange
place! The salon in her momentary glance round it had seemed to her all
splendour. She had been dimly aware of pictures, fine hangings, luxurious
carpets. Here on the other hand all was rude and bare. The stained walls
were covered with a series of tattered daubs, that seemed to be meant
for family portraits--of the Malestrini family perhaps, to whom the
villa belonged? And between the portraits there were rough modern doors
everywhere of the commonest wood and manufacture which let in all the
draughts, and made the room not a room, but a passage. The uneven brick
floor was covered in the centre with some thin and torn matting; many of
the chairs ranged against the wall were broken; and the old lamp that swung
above the table gave hardly any light.
Miss Manisty watched her guest's face with a look of amusement.
'Well, what do you think of our dining-room, my dear? I wanted to clean it
and put it in order. But my nephew there wouldn't have a thing touched.'
She looked at Manisty, with a movement of the lips and head that seemed to
implore him to make some efforts.
Manisty frowned a little, lifted his great brow and looked, not at Miss
Foster, but at Mrs. Burgoyne--
'The room, as it happens, gives me more pleasure than any other in the
Mrs. Burgoyne laughed.
'Because it's hideous?'
'If you like. I should only call it the natural, untouched thing.'
Then while his Aunt and Mrs. Burgoyne made mock of him, he fell silent
again, nervously crumbling his bread with a large wasteful hand. Lucy
Foster stole a look at him, at the strong curls of black hair piled above
the brow, the moody embarrassment of the eyes, the energy of the lips and
Then she turned to her companions. Suddenly the girl's clear brown skin
flushed rosily, and she abruptly took her eyes from Mrs. Burgoyne.
Miss Manisty, however--in despair of her nephew--was bent upon doing her
own duty. She asked all the proper questions about the girl's journey,
about the cousins at Florence, about her last letters from home. Miss
Foster answered quickly, a little breathlessly, as though each question
were an ordeal that had to be got through. And once or twice, in the course
of the conversation, she looked again at Mrs. Burgoyne, more lingeringly
each time. That lady wore a thin dress gleaming with jet. The long white
arms showed under the transparent stuff. The slender neck and delicate
bosom were bare,--too bare surely,--that was the trouble. To look at her
filled the girl's shrinking Puritan sense with discomfort. But what small
and graceful hands!--and how she used them!--how she turned her neck!--how
delicious her voice was! It made the new-comer think of some sweet plashing
stream in her own Vermont valleys. And then, every now and again, how
subtle and startling was the change of look!--the gaiety passing in a
moment, with the drooping of eye and mouth, into something sad and harsh,
like a cloud dropping round a goddess. In her elegance and self-possession
indeed, she seemed to the girl a kind of goddess--heathenishly divine,
because of that mixture of unseemliness, but still divine.
Several times Mrs. Burgoyne addressed her--with a gentle courtesy--and Miss
Foster answered. She was shy, but not at all awkward or conscious. Her
manner had the essential self-possession which is the birthright of the
American woman. But it suggested reserve, and a curious absence of any
young desire to make an effect.
As for Mrs. Burgoyne, long before dinner was over, she had divined a great
many things about the new-comer, and amongst them the girl's disapproval of
herself. 'After all'--she thought--'if she only knew it, she is a beauty.
What a trouble it must have been first to find, and then to make that
dress!--Ill luck!--And her hair! Who on earth taught her to drag it back
like that? If one could only loosen it, how beautiful it would be! What
is it? Is it Puritanism? Has she been brought up to go to meetings and sit
under a minister? Were her forbears married in drawing-rooms and under
trees? The Fates were certainly frolicking when they brought her here! How
am I to keep Edward in order?'
And suddenly, with a little signalling of eye and brow, she too conveyed to
Manisty, who was looking listlessly towards her, that he was behaving as
badly as even she could have expected. He made a little face that only she
saw, but he turned to Miss Foster and began to talk,--all the time adding
to the mountain of crumbs beside him, and scarcely waiting to listen to the
'You came by Pisa?'
'Yes. Mrs. Lewinson found me an escort--'
'It was a mistake--' he said, hurrying his words like a schoolboy. 'You
should have come by Perugia and Spoleto. Do you know Spello?'
Miss Foster stared.
'Edward!' said Miss Manisty, 'how could she have heard of Spello? It is the
first time she has ever been in Italy.'
'No matter!' he said, and in a moment his moroseness was lit up, chased
away by the little pleasure of his own whim--'Some day Miss Foster must
hear of Spello. May I not be the first person to tell her that she should
'Really, Edward!' cried Miss Manisty, looking at him in a mild
'But there was so much to see at Florence!' said Lucy Foster, wondering.
'No--pardon me!--there is nothing to be seen at Florence--or nothing that
one ought to wish to see--till the destroyers of the town have been hung in
their own new Piazza!'
'Oh yes!--that is a real disfigurement!' said the girl eagerly. 'And
yet--can't one understand?--they must use their towns for themselves. They
can't always be thinking of them as museums--as we do.'
'The argument would be good if the towns were theirs,' he said, flashing
round upon her. 'One can stand a great deal from lawful owners.'
Miss Foster looked in bewilderment at Mrs. Burgoyne. That lady laughed and
bent across the table.
'Let me warn you, Miss Foster, this gentleman here must be taken with a
grain of salt when he talks about poor Italy--and the Italians.'
'But I thought'--said Lucy Foster, staring at her host--
'You thought he was writing a book on Italy? That doesn't matter. It's the
new Italy of course that he hates--the poor King and Queen--the Government
and the officials.'
'He wants the old times back?'--said Miss Foster, wondering--'when the
priests tyrannised over everybody? when the Italians had no country--and no
She spoke slowly, at last looking her host in the face. Her frown of
nervousness had disappeared. Manisty laughed.
'Pio Nono pulled down nothing--not a brick--or scarcely. And it is a most
excellent thing, Miss Foster, to be tyrannised over by priests.'
His great eyes shone--one might even say, glared upon her. His manner was
not agreeable; and Miss Foster coloured.
'I don't think so'--she said, and then was too shy to say any more.
'Oh, but you will think so,'--he said, obstinately--'only you must stay
long enough in the country. What people are pleased to call Papal tyranny
puts a few people in prison--and tells them what books to read. Well!--what
matter? Who knows what books they ought to read?'
'But all their long struggle!--and their heroes! They had to make
themselves a nation--'
The words stumbled on the girl's tongue, but her effort, the hot feeling in
her young face became her.--Miss Manisty thought to herself, 'Oh, we shall
dress, and improve her--We shall see!'--
'One has first to settle whether it was worth while. What does a new nation
matter? Theirs, anyway, was made too quick,' said Manisty, rising in answer
to his aunt's signal.
'But liberty matters!' said the girl. She stood an instant with her hand on
the back of her chair, unconsciously defiant.
'Ah! Liberty!' said Manisty--'Liberty!' He lifted his shoulders
Then backing to the wall, he made room for her to pass. The girl felt
almost as though she had been struck. She moved hurriedly, appealingly
towards Miss Manisty, who took her arm kindly as they left the room.
'Don't let my nephew frighten you, my dear'--she said--'He never thinks
like anybody else.'
'I read so much at Florence--and on the journey'--said Lucy, while her hand
trembled in Miss Manisty's--'Mrs. Browning--Mazzini--many things. I could
not put that time out of my head!'
On the way back to the salon the ladies passed once more through the large
book-room or library which lay between it and the dining-room. Lucy Foster
looked round it, a little piteously, as though she were seeking for
something to undo the impression--the disappointment--she had just
'Oh! my dear, you never saw such a place as it was when we arrived in
March'--said Miss Manisty. 'It was the billiard-room--a ridiculous
table--and ridiculous balls--and a tiled floor without a scrap of
carpet--and the _cold_! In the whole apartment there were just two bedrooms
with fireplaces. Eleanor went to bed in one; I went to bed in the other.
No carpets--no stoves--no proper beds even. Edward of course said it was
all charming, and the climate balmy. Ah, well!--now we are really quite
comfortable--except in that odious dining-room, which Edward will have left
in its sins.'
Miss Manisty surveyed her work with a mild satisfaction. The table indeed
had been carried away. The floor was covered with soft carpets. The rough
uneven walls painted everywhere with the interlaced M's of the Malestrini
were almost hidden by well-filled bookcases; and, in addition, a profusion
of new books, mostly French and Italian, was heaped on all the tables. On
the mantelpiece a large recent photograph stood propped against a marble
head. It represented a soldier in a striking dress; and Lucy stopped to
look at it.
'One of the Swiss Guards--at the Vatican'--said Mrs. Burgoyne kindly. 'You
know the famous uniform--it was designed by Michael Angelo.'
'No--I didn't know'--said the girl, flushing again.--'And this head?'
'Ah, that is a treasure! Mr. Manisty bought it a few months ago from a
Roman noble who has come to grief. He sold this and a few bits of furniture
first of all. Then he tried to sell his pictures. But the Government came
down upon him--you know your pictures are not your own in Italy. So the
poor man must keep his pictures and go bankrupt. But isn't she beautiful?
She is far finer than most of the things in the Vatican--real primitive
Greek--not a copy. Do you know'--Mrs. Burgoyne stepped back, looked first
at the bust, then at Miss Poster--'do you know you are really very like
her--curiously like her!'
'Oh!'--cried Miss Foster in confusion--'I wish--'
'But it is quite true. Except for the hair. And that's only arrangement. Do
you think--would you let me?--would you forgive me?--It's just this band of
hair here, yours waves precisely in the same way. Would you really allow
me--I won't make you untidy?'
And before Miss Poster could resist, Mrs. Burgoyne had put up her deft
hands, and in a moment, with a pull here, and the alteration of a hairpin
there, she had loosened the girl's black and silky hair, till it showed the
beautiful waves above the ear in which it did indeed resemble the marble
head with a curious closeness.
'I can put it back in a moment. But oh--that is so charming! Aunt Pattie!'
Miss Manisty looked up from a newspaper which had just arrived.
'My dear!--that was bold of you I But indeed it _is_ charming! I think I
would forgive you if I were Miss Foster.
The girl felt herself gently turned towards the mirror that rose behind the
Greek head. With pink cheeks she too looked at herself for a moment. Then
in a shyness beyond speech, she lifted her hands.
'Must you'--said Mrs. Burgoyne appealingly. 'I know one doesn't like to
be untidy. But it isn't really the least untidy--It is only
Her voice, her manner charmed the girl's annoyance.
'If you like it'--she said, hesitating--'But it will come down!'
'I like it terribly--and it will not think of coming down! Let me show you
Mr. Manisty's latest purchase.'
And, slipping her arm inside Miss Foster's, Mrs. Burgoyne dexterously
turned her away from the glass, and brought her to the large central table,
where a vivid charcoal sketch, supported on a small easel, rose among the
litter of books.
It represented an old old man carried in a chair on the shoulders of a
crowd of attendants and guards. Soldiers in curved helmets, courtiers
in short velvet cloaks and ruffs, priests in floating vestments pressed
about him--a dim vast multitude stretched into the distance. The old man
wore a high cap with three lines about it; his thin and shrunken form was
enveloped in a gorgeous robe. The face, infinitely old, was concentrated
in the sharply smiling eyes, the long, straight, secret mouth. His arm,
supporting with difficulty the weight of the robe, was raised,--the hand
blessed. On either side of him rose great fans of white ostrich feathers,
and the old man among them was whiter than they, spectrally white from head
to foot, save for the triple cap, and the devices on his robe. But into
his emaciation, his weakness, the artist had thrown a triumph, a force
that thrilled the spectator. The small figure, hovering above the crowd,
seemed in truth to have nothing to do with it, to be alone with the huge
spaces--arch on arch--dome on dome--of the vast church through which it was
'Do you know who it is?' asked Mrs. Burgoyne, smiling.
'The--the Pope?' said Miss Foster, wondering.
'Isn't it clever? It is by one of your compatriots, an American artist
in Rome. Isn't it wonderful too, the way in which it shows you, not the
Pope--but the Papacy--not the man but the Church?'
Miss Foster said nothing. Her puzzled eyes travelled from the drawing to
Mrs. Burgoyne's face. Then she caught sight of another photograph on the
'And that also?'--she said--For again it was the face of Leo
XIII.--feminine, priestly, indomitable--that looked out upon her from among
'Oh, my dear, come away,' said Miss Manisty impatiently. 'In my days the
Scarlet Lady _was_ the Scarlet Lady, and we didn't flirt with her as all
the world does now. Shrewd old gentleman! I should have thought one picture
of him was enough.'
* * * * *
As they entered the old painted salon, Mrs. Burgoyne went to one of the
tall windows opening to the floor and set it wide. Instantly the Campagna
was in the room--the great moonlit plain, a thousand feet below, with the
sea at its further edge, and the boundless sweep of starry sky above it.
From the little balcony, one might, it seemed, have walked straight into
Orion. The note of a nightingale bubbled up from the olives; and the scent
of a bean-field in flower flooded the salon.
Miss Foster sprang to her feet and followed Mrs. Burgoyne. She hung over
the balcony while her companion pointed here and there, to the line of the
Appian Way,--to those faint streaks in the darkness that marked the distant
city--to the dim blue of the Etrurian mountains.--
Presently, however, she drew herself erect, and Mrs. Burgoyne fancied that
'Ah! this is a hill-air,' she said, and she took from her arm a light
evening cloak, and threw it round Miss Foster.
'Oh, I am not cold!--It wasn't that!'
'What was it?' said Mrs. Burgoyne pleasantly. 'That you feel Italy too much
for you? Ah! you must got used to that.'
Lucy Foster drew a long breath--a breath of emotion. She was grateful for
being understood. But she could not express herself.
Mrs. Burgoyne looked at her curiously.
'Did you read a good deal about it before you came?'
'Well, I read some--we have a good town library--and Uncle Ben gave me
two or three books--but of course it wasn't like Boston. Ours is a little
'And you were pleased to come?'
The girl hesitated.
'Yes'--she said simply. 'I wanted to come.--But I didn't want to leave my
uncle. He is getting quite an old man.'
'And you have lived with him a long time?'
'Since I was a little thing. Mother and I came to live with him after
Father died. Then Mother died, five years ago.'
'And you have been alone--and very good friends?'
Mrs. Burgoyne smiled kindly. She had a manner of questioning that seemed to
Miss Foster the height of courtesy. But the girl did not find it easy to
'I have no one else--' she said at last, and then stopped abruptly.
'She is home-sick'--said Mrs. Burgoyne inwardly--'I wonder whether the
Lewinsons treated her nicely at Florence?'
Indeed as Lucy Foster leant over the balcony, the olive-gardens and
vineyards faded before her. She saw in their stead, the snow-covered farms
and fields of a New England valley--the elms in along village street,
bare and wintry--a rambling wooden house--a glowing fire, in a simple
parlour--an old man sitting beside it.--
It _is_ chilly'--said Mrs. Burgoyne--'Let us go in. But we will keep the
window open. Don't take that off.'
She laid a restraining hand on the girl's arm. Miss Foster sat down
absently not far from the window. The mingled lights of lamp and moon fell
upon her, upon the noble rounding of the face, which was grave, a little
austere even, but still sensitive and delicate. Her black hair, thanks to
Mrs. Burgoyne's devices, rippled against the brow and cheek, almost hiding
the small ear. The graceful cloak, with its touches of sable on a main
fabric of soft white, hid the ugly dress; its ample folds heightened the
natural dignity of the young form and long limbs, lent them a stately and
muse-like charm. Mrs. Burgoyne and Miss Manisty looked at each other, then
at Miss Foster. Both of them had the same curious feeling, as though a veil
were being drawn away from something they were just beginning to see.
'You must be very tired, my dear'--said Miss Manisty at last, when she
and Mrs. Burgoyne had chatted a good deal, and the new-comer still sat
silent--'I wonder what you are thinking about so intently?'
Miss Foster woke up at once.
'Oh, I'm not a bit tired--not a bit! I was thinking--I was thinking of that
photograph in the next room--and a line of poetry.'
She spoke with the _naivete_ of one who had not known how to avoid the
confession. 'What line?' said Mrs. Burgoyne.
'It's Milton. I learnt it at school. You will know it, of course,' she
said timidly. 'It's the line about "the triple tyrant" and "the Babylonian
Mrs. Burgoyne laughed.
'Their martyred blood and ashes sow
O'er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
The triple tyrant--
Was that what you were thinking of?'
Miss Foster had coloured deeply.
'It was the cap--the tiara, isn't it?--that reminded me,' she said faintly;
and then she looked away, as though not wishing to continue the subject.
'She wonders whether I am a Catholic,' thought Mrs. Burgoyne, amused, 'and
whether she has hurt my feelings.'--Aloud, she said--'Are you very, very
Puritan still in your part of America? Excuse me, but I am dreadfully
ignorant about America.'
'We are Methodists in our little town mostly'--said Miss Foster. 'There
is a Presbyterian church--and the best families go there. But my father's
people were always Methodists. My mother was a Universalist.'
Mrs. Burgoyne frowned with perplexity. 'I'm afraid I don't know what that
is?' she said.
'They think everybody will be saved,' said Miss Foster in her shy deep
voice. 'They don't despair of anybody.'
And suddenly Mrs. Burgoyne saw a very soft and tender expression pass
across the girl's grave features, like the rising of an inward light.
'A mystic--and a beauty both?' she thought to herself, a little scornfully
this time. In all her politeness to the new-comer so far, she had been like
a person stealthily searching for something foreseen and desired. If she
had found it, it would have been quite easy to go on being kind to Miss
Foster. But she had not found it.
At that moment the door between the library and the salon was thrown open,
and Manisty appeared, cigarette in hand.
'Aunt Pattie--Eleanor--how many tickets do you want for this function next
'Four tribune tickets--we three'--Miss Manisty pointed to the other two
ladies--'and yourself. If we can't get so many, leave me at home.'
'Of course we shall have tribune tickets--as many as we want,' said Manisty
a little impatiently.--'Have you explained to Miss Foster?'
'No, but I will. Miss Foster, next Sunday fortnight the Pope celebrates
his 'Capella Papale'--the eighteenth anniversary of his coronation--in St.
Peter's. Rome is very full, and there will be a great demonstration--fifty
thousand people or more. Would you like to come?'
Miss Foster looked up, hesitating. Manisty, who had turned to go back
to his room, paused, struck by the momentary silence. He listened with
curiosity for the girl's reply.
'One just goes to see it like a spectacle?' she said at last, slowly. 'One
needn't do anything oneself?'
Miss Manisty stared--and then laughed. 'Nobody will see what you do in such
a crowd--I should think,' she said. 'But you know one can't be rude--to an
old old man. If others kneel, I suppose we must kneel. Does it do anyone
harm to be blessed by an old man?'
'Oh no!--no!' cried Miss Foster, flushing deeply. Then, after a moment, she
added decidedly--'Please--I should like to go very much.'
Manisty grinned unseen, and closed the door behind him.
Then Miss Foster, after an instant's restlessness, moved nearer to her
'I am afraid--you thought I was rude just now? It's so lovely of you to
plan things for me. But--I can't ever be sure whether it's right to go into
other people's churches and look at their services--like a show. I should
just hate it myself--and I felt it once or twice at Florence. And so--you
understand--don't you?'--she said imploringly.
Miss Manisty's small eyes examined her with anxiety. 'What an extraordinary
girl!' she thought. 'Is she going to be a great bore?'
At the same time the girl's look--so open, sweet and modest--disarmed and
attracted her. She shrugged her shoulders with a smile.
'Well, my dear--I don't know. All I can say is, the Catholics don't mind!
They walk in and out of their own churches all the time mass is going
on--the children run about--the sacristans take you round. You certainly
needn't feel it on their account.'
'But then, too, if I am not a Catholic--how far ought one to be taking
'In what one disapproves?' said Mrs. Burgoyne, smiling. 'You would make the
world a little difficult, wouldn't you, if you were to arrange it on that
She spoke in a dry, rather sharp voice, unlike that in which she had
hitherto addressed the new-comer. Lucy Foster looked at her with a
'It's best if we're all straightforward, isn't it?'--she said in a low
voice, and then, drawing towards her an illustrated magazine that lay on
the table near her she hurriedly buried herself in its pages.
* * * * *
Silence had fallen on the three ladies. Eleanor Burgoyne sat lost in
reverie, her fair head thrown back against her low chair.
She was thinking of her conversation with Edward Manisty on the
balcony--and of his book. That book indeed had for her a deep personal
significance. To think of it at all, was to be carried to the past, to feel
for the hundredth time the thrill of change and new birth.
When she joined them in Rome, in mid-winter, she had found Manisty
struggling with the first drafts of it,--full of yeasty ideas, full also of
doubts, confusions and discouragements. He had not been at all glad to see
his half-forgotten cousin--quite the contrary. As she had reminded him, she
had suffered much the same things at his hands that Miss Foster was likely
to suffer now. It made her laugh to think of his languid reception of her,
the moods, the silences, the weeks of just civil acquaintanceship; and then
gradually, the snatches of talk--and those great black brows of his lifted
in a surprise which a tardy politeness would try to mask:--and at last,
the good, long, brain-filling, heart-filling talks, the break-down of
reserves--the man's whole mind, its remorses, ambitions, misgivings, poured
at her feet--ending in the growth of that sweet daily habit of common
work--side by side, head close to head--hand close to hand.--
Eleanor Burgoyne lay still and motionless in the soft dusk of the old room,
her white lids shut--Lucy Foster thought her asleep.--
He had said to her once, quoting some Frenchman, that she was 'good to
consult about ideas.' Ah well!--at a great price had she won that praise.
And with an unconscious stiffening of the frail hands lying on the arms
of the chair, she thought of those bygone hours in which she had asked
herself--'what remains?' Religious faith?--No!--Life was too horrible!
Could such things have happened to her in a world ruled by a God?--that was
her question, day and night for years. But books, facts, ideas--all the
riddle of this various nature--_that_ one might still amuse oneself with a
little, till one's own light went out in the same darkness that had already
So that 'cleverness,' of which father and husband had taken so little
account, which had been of so little profit to her so far in her course
through circumstance, had come to her aid. The names and lists of the
books that had passed through her hands, during those silent years of her
widowhood, lived beside her stern old father, would astonish even Manisty
were she to try and give some account of them. And first she had read
merely to fill the hours, to dull memory. But gradually there had sprung up
in her that inner sweetness, that gentle restoring flame that comes from
the life of ideas, the life of knowledge, even as a poor untrained woman
may approach it. She had shared it with no one, revealed it to no one. Her
nature dreaded rebuffs; and her father had no words sharp enough for any
feminine ambition beyond the household and the nursery.
So she had kept it all to herself, till Miss Manisty, shocked as many other
people had begun to be by her fragile looks, had bearded the General, and
carried her off to Rome for the winter. And there she had been forced, as
it were, into this daily contact with Edward Manisty, at what might well
turn out to be the most critical moment of his life; when he was divided
between fierce regrets for the immediate past, and fierce resolves to
recover and assert himself in other ways; when he was taking up again his
earlier function of man of letters in order to vindicate himself as a
politician and a man of action. Strange and challenging personality!--did
she yet know it fully?
Ah! that winter--what a healing in it all!--what a great human experience!
Yet now, as always, when her thoughts turned to the past, she did not allow
them to dwell upon it long. That past lay for her in a golden haze. To
explore it too deeply, or too long,--that she shrank from. All that she
prayed was to press no questions, force no issues. But at least she had
found in it a new reason for living; she meant to live; whereas last year
she had wished to die, and all the world--dear, kind Aunt Pattie first and
foremost--had thought her on the road for death.
But the book?--she bent her brows over it, wrestling with various doubts
and difficulties. Though it was supposed to represent the thoughts and
fancies of an Englishman wandering through modern Italy, it was really
Manisty's Apologia--Manisty's defence of certain acts which had made him
for a time the scandal and offence of the English political party to which
ancestrally he belonged, in whose interests he had entered Parliament and
taken office. He had broken with his party on the ground that it had become
a party of revolution, especially in matters connected with Religion and
Education; and having come abroad to escape for a time from the personal
frictions and agitations which his conduct had brought upon him, he had
thrown himself into a passionate and most hostile study of Italy--Italy,
the new country, made by revolution, fashioned, so far as laws and
government can do it, by the lay modern spirit--as an object-lesson to
England and the world. The book was in reality a party pamphlet, written by
a man whose history and antecedents, independently of his literary ability,
made his work certain of readers and of vogue.
That, however, was not what Mrs. Burgoyne was thinking of.--She was
anxiously debating with herself certain points of detail, points of form.
These fragments of poetical prose which Manisty had interspersed amid a
serious political argument--were they really an adornment of the book, or
a blur upon it? He had a natural tendency towards colour and exuberance
in writing; he loved to be leisurely, and a little sonorous; there was
something old-fashioned and Byronic in his style and taste. His sentences,
perhaps, were short; but his manner was not brief. The elliptical fashion
of the day was not his. He liked to wander through his subject, dreaming,
poetising, discussing at his will. It was like a return to _vetturino_
after the summary haste of the railway. And so far the public had welcomed
this manner of his. His earlier book (the 'Letters from Palestine'), with
its warm, over-laden pages, had found many readers and much fame.
But here--in a strenuous political study, furnished with all the facts
and figures that the student and the debater require--representing,
too, another side of the man, just as vigorous and as real, were these
intrusions of poetry wise or desirable? Were they in place? Was the note of
them quite right? Was it not a little turbid--uncertain?
That prose poem of 'The Priest of Nemi,' for example?
Ah! Nemi!--the mere thought of it sent a thrill of pleasure through her.
That blue lake in its green cup on the edge of the Campagna, with its ruins
and its legends--what golden hours had she and Manisty spent there! It
had caught their fancy from the beginning--the site of the great temple,
the wild strawberry fields, the great cliffs of Nemi and Genzano, the
bright-faced dark-eyed peasants with their classical names--Aristodemo,
And that strange legend of the murdered priest--
'The priest who slew the slayer,
And shall himself be slain'--
--what modern could not find something in that--some stimulus to
fancy--some hint for dreaming?
Yes--it had been very natural--very tempting. But!--
... So she pondered,--a number of acute, critical instincts coming into
play. And presently her thoughts spread and became a vague reverie,
covering a multitude of ideas and images that she and Manisty now had
in common. How strange that she and he should be engaged in this work
together!--this impassioned defence of tradition, of Catholicism and the
Papacy, as the imperishable, indestructible things--'chastened and not
killed--dying, and behold they live'--let the puny sons of modern Italy
rage and struggle as they may. He--one of the most thorough sceptics of
his day, as she had good reason to know--she, a woman who had at one time
ceased to believe because of an intolerable anguish, and was now only
creeping slowly back to faith, to hope, because--because--
Ah!--with a little shiver, she recalled her thought, as a falconer
might his bird, before it struck. Oh! this old, old Europe, with its
complexities, its manifold currents and impulses, every human being
an embodied contradiction--no simplicity, no wholeness anywhere--none
She opened her eyes languidly, and they rested on Lucy Foster's head and
profile bent over her book. Mrs. Burgoyne's mind filled with a sudden
amused pity for the girl's rawness and ignorance. She seemed the fitting
type of a young crude race with all its lessons to learn; that saw nothing
absurd in its Methodists and Universalists and the rest--confident, as a
child is, in its cries and whims and prejudices. The American girl, fresh
from her wilds, and doubtful whether she would go to see the Pope in St.
Peter's, lest she should have to bow the knee to Antichrist--the image
delighted the mind of the elder woman. She played with it, finding fresh
mock at every turn.
* * * * *
'Eleanor!--now I have rewritten it. Tell me how it runs.'
Lucy Poster looked up. She saw that Mr. Manisty, carrying a sheaf of papers
in his hand, had thrown himself into a chair behind Mrs. Burgoyne. His look
was strenuous and absorbed, his tumbling black hair had fallen forward as
though in a stress of composition; he spoke in a low, imperative voice,
like one accustomed to command the time and the attention of those about
'Read!' said Mrs. Burgoyne, turning her slender neck that she might look
at him and hear. He began to read at once in a deep, tremulous voice, and
as though he were quite unconscious of any other presence in the room than
hers. Miss Foster, who was sitting at a little distance, supposed she ought
not to listen. She was about to close her book and rise, when Miss Manisty
touched her on the arm.
'It disturbs him if we move about!' said the little spinster in a smiling
whisper, her finger on her lip. And suddenly the girl was conscious of a
lightning flash from lifted eyes--a look threatening and peremptory. She
settled herself into her chair again as quietly as possible, and sat with
head bent, a smile she could not repress playing round her lips. It was all
she could do indeed not to laugh, so startling and passionate had been the
monition conveyed in Mr. Manisty's signal. That the great man should take
little notice of his aunt's guest was natural enough. But to be frowned
upon the first evening, as though she were a troublesome child!--she did
not resent it at all, but it tickled her sense of humour. She thought
happily of her next letter to Uncle Ben; how she would describe these
rather strange people.
And at first she hardly listened to what was being read. The voice
displeased her. It was too emphatic--she disliked its tremolo, its deep
bass vibrations. Surely one should read more simply!
Then the first impression passed away altogether. She looked up--her eyes
fastened themselves on the reader--her lips parted--the smile changed.
* * * * *
What the full over-rich voice was calling up before her was a little
morning scene, as Virgil might have described it, passing in the hut of a
Latian peasant farmer, under Tiberius.
It opened with the waking at dawn of the herdsman Caeculus and his little
son, in their round thatched cottage on the ridge of Aricia, beneath the
Alban Mount. It showed the countryman stepping out of his bed into the
darkness, groping for the embers on the hearth, re-lighting his lamp, and
calling first to his boy asleep on his bed of leaves, then to their African
servant, the negro slave-girl with her wide mouth, her tight woolly hair.
One by one the rustic facts emerged, so old, so ever new:--Caeculus grinding
his corn, and singing at his work--the baking of the flat wheaten cakes on
the hot embers--the gathering of herbs from the garden--the kneading them
with a little cheese and oil to make a relish for the day--the harnessing
of the white steers under the thonged yoke--the man going forth to his
ploughing, under the mounting dawn, clad in his goatskin tunic and his
leathern hat,--the boy loosening the goats from their pen beside the hut,
and sleepily driving them past the furrows where his father was at work, to
the misty woods beyond.
With every touch, the earlier world revived, grew plainer in the sun, till
the listener found herself walking with Manisty through paths that cut the
Alban Hills in the days of Rome's first imperial glory, listening to his
tale of the little goatherd, and of Nemi.
* * * * *
'So the boy--Quintus--left the ploughed lands, and climbed a hill above the
sleeping town. And when he reached the summit, he paused and turned him to
'The Latian plain spreads beneath him in the climbing sun; at its edge is
the sea in a light of pearl; the white fishing-boats sparkle along the
shore. Close at his feet runs a straight road high upon the hill. He can
see the country folk on their laden mules and donkeys journeying along
it, journeying northwards to the city in the plain that the spurs of the
mountain hide from him. His fancy goes with them, along the Appian Way,
trotting with the mules. When will his father take him again to Rome to
see the shops, and the Forum, and the new white temples, and Caesar's great
palace on the hill?
'Then carelessly his eyes pass southward, and there beneath him in its
hollow is the lake--the round blue lake that Diana loves, where are her
temple and her shadowy grove. The morning mists lie wreathed above it; the
just-leafing trees stand close in the great cup; only a few patches of roof
and column reveal the shrine.
'On he moves. His wheaten cake is done. He takes his pipe from his girdle,
touches it, and sings.
'His bare feet as he moves tread down the wet flowers. Bound him throng the
goats; suddenly he throws down his pipe; he runs to a goat heavy with milk;
he presses the teats with his quick hands; the milk flows foaming into the
wooden cup he has placed below; he drinks, his brown curls sweeping the
cup; then he picks up his pipe and walks on proudly before his goats, his
lithe body swaying from side to side as he moves, dancing to the music that
he makes. The notes float up into the morning air; the echo of them runs
round the shadowy hollow of the lake.
'Down trips the boy, parting the dewy branches with his brown shoulders.
Around him the mountain side is golden with the broom; at his feet the
white cistus covers the rock. The shrubs of the scattered wood send out
their scents; and the goats browse upon their shoots.
'But the path sinks gently downward--winding along the basin of the lake.
And now the boy emerges from the wood; he stands upon a knoll to rest.
'Ah! sudden and fierce comes the sun!--and there below him in the rich
hollow it strikes the temple--Diana's temple and her grove. Out flame the
white columns, the bronze roof, the white enclosing walls. Piercingly white
the holy and famous place shines among the olives and the fallows; the sun
burns upon the marble; Phoebus salutes his great sister. And in the waters
of the lake reappear the white columns; the blue waves dance around the
shimmering lines; the mists part above them; they rise from the lake,
lingering awhile upon the woods.
'The boy lays his hands to his eyes and looks eagerly towards the temple.
Nothing. No living creature stirs.
'Often has he been warned by his father not to venture alone within the
grove of the goddess. Twice, indeed, on the great June festivals has he
witnessed the solemn sacrifices, and the crowds of worshippers, and the
torches mirrored in the lake. But without his father, fear has hitherto
stayed his steps far from the temple.
'To-day, however, as the sun mounts, and the fresh breeze breaks from the
sea, his youth and the wildness of it dance within his blood. He and his
goats pass into an olive garden. The red-brown earth has been freshly
turned amid the twisted trunks; the goats scatter, searching for the
patches of daisied grass still left by the plough. Guiltily the boy looks
round him--peers through the olives and their silvery foam of leaves, as
they fall past him down the steep. Then like one of his own kids he lowers
his head and runs; he leaves his flock under the olives; he slips into a
dense ilex-wood, still chill with the morning; he presses towards its edge;
panting he climbs a huge and ancient tree that flings its boughs forward
above the temple wall; he creeps along a branch among the thick small
leaves,--he lifts his head.
'The temple is before him, and the sacred grove. He sees the great
terrace, stretching to the lake; he hears the little waves plashing on its
'Close beneath him, towards the rising and the midday sun there stretches
a great niched wall girdling the temple on two sides, each niche a shrine,
and in each shrine a cold white form that waits the sun--Apollo the
Far-Darter, and the spear-bearing Pallas, and among them that golden Caesar,
of whom the country talks, who has given great gifts to the temple--he and
his grandson, the young Gaius.
'The boy strains his eye to see, and as the light strikes into the niche,
flames on the gleaming breastplate, and the uplifted hand, he trembles on
his branch for fear. Hurriedly he turns his look on the dwellings of the
priestesses, where all still sleeps; on the rows of shining pillars that
stand round about the temple; on the close-set trees of the grove that
stands between it and the lake.
'Hark!--a clanging of metal--of great doors upon their hinges. From the
inner temple--from the shrine of the goddess, there comes a man. His head
is bound with the priest's fillet; sharply the sun touches his white
pointed cap; in his hand he carries a sword.
'Between the temple and the grove there is a space of dazzling light. The
man passes into it, turns himself to the east, and raises his hand to
his mouth; drawing his robe over his head, he sinks upon the ground, and
prostrate there, adores the coming god.
'His prayer lasts but an instant. Rising in haste, he stands looking around
him, his sword gathered in his hand. He is a man still young; his stature
is more than the ordinary height of men; his limbs are strong and supple.
His rich dress, moreover, shows him to be both priest and king. But again
the boy among his leaves draws his trembling body close, hiding, like
a lizard, when some passing step has startled it from the sun. For on
this haggard face the gods have written strange and terrible things; the
priest's eyes deep sunk under his shaggy hair dart from side to side in a
horrible unrest; he seems a creature separate from his kind--possessed of
evil--dedicate to fear.
'In the midst of the temple grove stands one vast ilex,--the tree of trees,
sacred to Trivia. The other trees fall back from it in homage; and round it
paces the priest, alone in the morning light.
'But his is no holy meditation. His head is thrown back; his ear listens
for every sound; the bared sword glitters as he moves ...
'There is a rustle among the further trees. Quickly the boy stretches his
brown neck; for at the sound the priest crouches on himself; he throws the
robe from his right arm; and so waits, ready to strike. The light falls on
his pale features, the torment of his brow, the anguish of his drawn lips.
Beside the lapping lake, and under the golden morning, he stands as Terror
in the midst of Peace.
'Silence again:--only the questing birds call from the olive-woods.
Panting, the priest moves onward, racked with sick tremors, prescient of
'But hark! a cry!--and yet another answering--a dark form bursting from the
grove--a fierce locked struggle under the sacred tree. The boy crawls to
the furthest end of the branch, his eyes starting from his head.
'From the temple enclosure, from the further trees, from the hill around,
a crowd comes running; men and white-robed priestesses, women, children
even--gathering in haste. But they pause afar off. Not a living soul
approaches the place of combat; not a hand gives aid. The boy can see the
faces of the virgins who serve the temple. They are pale, but very still.
Not a sound of pity escapes their white lips; their ambiguous eyes watch
calmly for the issue of the strife.
'And on the further side, at the edge of the grove stand country folk, men
in goatskin tunics and leathern hats like the boy's father. And the little
goatherd, not knowing what he does, calls to them for help in his shrill
voice. But no one heeds; and the priest himself calls no one, entreats no
'Ah! The priest wavers--he falls--his white robes are in the dust. The
bright steel rises--descends:--the last groan speeds to heaven.
* * * * *
'The victor raised himself from the dead, all stained with the blood and
soil of the battle. Quintus gazed upon him astonished. For here was no
rude soldier, nor swollen boxer, but a youth merely--a youth, slender and
beautiful, fair-haired, and of a fair complexion. His loins were girt with
a slave's tunic. Pallid were his young features; his limbs wasted with
hunger and toil; his eyes blood-streaked as those of the deer when the dogs
close upon its tender life.
'And looking down upon the huddled priest, fallen in his blood upon the
dust, he peered long into the dead face, as though he beheld it for the
first time. Shudders ran through him; Quintus listened to hear him weep or
moan. But at the last, he lifted his head, fiercely straightening his limbs
like one who reminds himself of black fate, and things not to be undone.
And turning to the multitude, he made a sign. With shouting and wild cries
they came upon him; they snatched the purple-striped robe from the murdered
priest, and with it they clothed his murderer. They put on him the priest's
fillet, and the priest's cap; they hung garlands upon his neck; and with
rejoicing and obeisance they led him to the sacred temple....
'And for many hours more the boy remained hidden in the tree, held there
by the spell of his terror. He saw the temple ministers take up the body
of the dead, and carelessly drag it from the grove. All day long was there
crowd and festival within the sacred precinct. But when the shadows began
to fall from the ridge of Aricia across the lake; when the new-made priest
had offered on Trivia's altar a white steer, nourished on the Alban grass;
when he had fed the fire of Vesta; and poured offerings to Virbius the
immortal, whom in ancient days great Diana had snatched from the gods'
wrath, and hidden here, safe within the Arician wood,--when these were
done, the crowd departed and the Grove-King came forth alone from the
'The boy watched what he would do. In his hand he carried the sword, which
at the sunrise he had taken from the dead. And he came to the sacred tree
that was in the middle of the grove, and he too began to pace about it,
glancing from side to side, as that other had done before him. And once
when he was near the place where the caked blood still lay upon the ground,
the sword fell clashing from his hand, and he flung his two arms to heaven
with a hoarse and piercing cry--the cry of him who accuses and arraigns the
'And the boy, shivering, slipped from the tree, with that cry in his ear,
and hastily sought for his goats. And when he had found them he drove them
home, not staying even to quench his thirst from their swollen udders. And
in the shepherd's hut he found his father Caeculus; and sinking down beside
him with tears and sobs he told his tale.
'And Caeculus pondered long. And without chiding, he laid his hand upon the
boy's head and bade him be comforted. "For," said he, as though he spake
with himself--"such is the will of the goddess. And from the furthest
times it has happened thus, before the Roman fathers journeyed from the
Alban Mount and made them dwellings on the seven hills--before Romulus
gave laws,--or any white-robed priest had climbed the Capitol. From blood
springs up the sacred office; and to blood it goes! No natural death must
waste the priest of Trivia's tree. The earth is hungry for the blood in its
strength--nor shall it be withheld! Thus only do the trees bear, and the
fields bring forth."
'Astonished, the boy looked at his father, and saw upon his face, as he
turned it upon the ploughed lands and the vineyards, a secret and a savage
joy. And the little goatherd's mind was filled with terror--nor would his
father tell him further what the mystery meant. But when he went to his bed
of dried leaves at night, and the moon rose upon the lake, and the great
woods murmured in the hollow far beneath him, he tossed restlessly from
side to side, thinking of the new priest who kept watch there--of his young
limbs and miserable eyes--of that voice which he had flung to heaven. And
the child tried to believe that he might yet escape.--But already in his
dreams he saw the grove part once more and the slayer leap forth. He saw
the watching crowd--and their fierce, steady eyes, waiting thirstily for
the spilt blood. And it was as though a mighty hand crushed the boy's
heart, and for the first time he shrank from the gods, and from his
father,--so that the joy of his youth was darkened within him.'
* * * * *
As he read the last word, Manisty flung the sheets down upon the table
beside him, and rising, he began to pace the room with his hands upon his
sides, frowning and downcast. When he came to Mrs. Burgoyne's chair he
paused beside her--
'I don't see what it has to do with the book. It is time lost'--he said to
her abruptly, almost angrily.
'I think not,' she said, smiling at him. But her tone wavered a little, and
his look grew still more irritable.
'I shall destroy it!'--he said, with energy--'nothing more intolerable than
ornament out of place!'
'Oh don't!--don't alter it at all!' said a quick imploring voice.
Manisty turned in astonishment.
Lucy Foster was looking at him steadily. A glow of pleasure was on her
cheek, her beautiful eyes were warm and eager. Manisty for the first time
observed her, took note also of the loosened hair and Eleanor's cloak.
'You liked it?' he said with some embarrassment. He had entirely forgotten
that she was in the room.
She drew a long breath.
'Yes!'--she said softly, looking down.
He thought that she was too shy to express herself. In reality her feeling
was divided between her old enthusiasm and her new disillusion. She would
have liked to tell him that his reading had reminded her of the book she
loved. But the man, standing beside her, chilled her. She wished she had
not spoken. It began to seem to her a piece of forwardness.
'Well, you're very kind'--he said, rather formally--'But I'm afraid it
won't do. That lady there won't pass it.'
'What have I said?'--cried Mrs. Burgoyne, protesting.
Manisty laughed. 'Nothing. But you'll agree with me.' Then he gathered up
his papers under his arm in a ruthless confusion, and walked away into his
study, leaving discomfort behind him.
Mrs. Burgoyne sat silent, a little tired and pale. She too would have
liked to praise and to give pleasure. It was not wonderful indeed that the
child's fancy had been touched. That thrilling, passionate voice--her own
difficulty always was to resist it--to try and see straight in spite of it.
* * * * *
Later that evening, when Miss Foster had withdrawn, Manisty and Mrs.
Burgoyne were lingering and talking on a stone balcony that ran along the
eastern front of the villa. The Campagna and the sea were behind them.
Here, beyond a stretch of formal garden, rose a curved front of wall with
statues and plashing water showing dimly in the moonlight; and beyond the
wall there was a space of blue and silver lake; and girdling the lake the
forest-covered Monte Cavo rose towering into the moonlit sky, just showing
on its topmost peak that white speck which once was the temple of the
Latian Jupiter, and is now, alas! only the monument of an Englishman's
crime against history, art, and Rome. The air was soft, and perfumed with
scent from the roses in the side-alleys below. A monotonous bird-note came
from the ilex darkness, like the note of a thin passing bell. It was the
cry of a small owl, which, in its plaintiveness and changelessness, had
often seemed to Manisty and Eleanor the very voice of the Roman night.
Suddenly Mrs. Burgoyne said--'I have a different version of your Nemi story
running in my head!--more tragic than yours. My priest is no murderer. He
found his predecessor dead under the tree; the place was empty; he took it.
He won't escape his own doom, of course, but he has not deserved it. There
is no blood on his hand--his heart is pure. There!--I imagine it so.'
There was a curious tremor in her voice, which Manisty, lost in his own
thoughts, did not detect. He smiled.
'Well!--you'll compete with Renan. He made a satire out of it. His priest
is a moral gentleman who won't kill anybody. But the populace soon settle
that. They knock him on the head, as a disturber of religion.'
'I had forgotten--' said Mrs. Burgoyne absently.
'But you didn't like it, Eleanor--my little piece!' said Manisty, after a
pause. 'So don't pretend!'
She roused herself at once, and began to talk with her usual eagerness and
sympathy. It was a repetition of the scene before dinner. Only this time
her effect was not so great. Manisty's depression did not yield.
Presently, however, he looked down upon her. In the kind, concealing
moonlight she was all grace and charm. The man's easy tenderness awoke.
'Eleanor--this air is too keen for that thin dress.'
And stooping over her he took her cloak from her arm, and wrapped it about
'You lent it to Miss Foster'--he said, surveying her. 'It became her--but
it knows its mistress!'
The colour mounted an instant in her cheek. Then she moved further away
'Have you discovered yet'--she said--'that that girl is extraordinarily
'Oh yes'--he said carelessly--'with a handsomeness that doesn't matter.'
'Wait till Aunt Pattie and I have dressed her and put her to rights.'
'Well, you can do most things no doubt--both with bad books, and raw
girls,'--he said, with a shrug and a sigh.
They bade each other good-night, and Mrs. Burgoyne disappeared through the
glass door behind them.
* * * * *
The moon was sailing gloriously above the stone-pines of the garden. Mrs.
Burgoyne, half-undressed, sat dreaming in a corner room, with a high
painted ceiling, and both its windows open to the night.
She had entered her room in a glow of something which had been half
torment, half happiness. Now, after an hour's dreaming, she suddenly bent
forward and, parting the cloud of fair hair that fell about her, she
looked in the glass before her, at the worn, delicate face haloed within
it--thinking all the time with a vague misery of Lucy Foster's untouched
Then her eyes fell upon two photographs that stood upon her table. One
represented a man in yeomanry uniform; the other a tottering child of two.
'Oh! my boy--my darling!'--she cried in a stifled agony, and snatching up
the picture, she bowed her head upon it, kissing it. The touch of it calmed
her. But she could not part from it. She put it in her breast, and when she
slept, it was still there.
'Eleanor--where are you off to?'
'Just to my house of Simmon,' said that lady, smiling. She was standing on
the eastern balcony, buttoning a dainty grey glove, while Manisty a few
paces from her was lounging in a deck-chair, with the English newspapers.
'What?--to mass? I protest. Look at the lake--look at the sky--look at that
patch of broom on the lake side. Come and walk there before _dejeuner_--and
make a round home by Aricia.'
Mrs. Burgoyne shook her head.
'No--I like my little idolatries,' she said, with decision. It was Sunday
morning. The bells in Marinata were ringing merrily. Women and girls with
black lace scarves upon their heads, handsome young men in short coats and
soft peaked hats, were passing along the road between the villa and the
lake, on their way to mass. It was a warm April day. The clouds of yellow
banksia, hanging over the statued wall that girdled the fountain-basin,
were breaking into bloom; and the nightingales were singing with a
prodigality that was hardly worthy of their rank and dignity. Nature in
truth is too lavish of nightingales on the Alban Hills in spring! She
forgets, as it were, her own sweet arts, and all that rareness adds to
beauty. One may hear a nightingale and not mark him; which is a _lese
Mrs. Burgoyne's toilette matched the morning. The grey dress, so fresh and
elegant, the broad black hat above the fair hair, the violets dewy from the
garden that were fastened at her slender waist, and again at her throat
beneath the pallor of the face,--these things were of a perfection quite
evident to the critical sense of Edward Manisty. It was the perfection
that was characteristic. So too was the faded fairness of hair and skin,
the frail distinguished look. So, above all, was the contrast between the
minute care for personal adornment implied in the finish of the dress, and
the melancholy shrinking of the dark-rimmed eyes.
He watched her, through the smoke wreaths of his cigarette,--pleasantly and
lazily conscious both of her charm and her inconsistencies.
'Are you going to take Miss Foster?' he asked her.
Mrs. Burgoyne laughed.
'I made the suggestion. She looked at me with amazement, coloured crimson,
and went away. I have lost all my chances with her.'
'Then she must be an ungrateful minx'--said Manisty, lowering his voice and
looking round him towards the villa, 'considering the pains you take.'
'_Some_ of us must take pains,' said Mrs. Burgoyne, significantly.
'Some of us do'--he said, laughing. 'The others profit.--One goes on
praying for the primitive,--but when it comes--No!--it is not permitted to
be as typical as Miss Foster.'
'Typical of what?'
'The dissidence of Dissent, apparently--and the Protestantism of the
Protestant religion. Confess:--it was an odd caprice on the part of high
Jove to send her here?'
'I am sure she has a noble character--and an excellent intelligence!'
Manisty shrugged his shoulders.
'--Her grandfather'--continued the lady--'was a divinity professor and
wrote a book on the Inquisition!'--
Manisty repeated his gesture.
'--And as I told you last night, she is almost as handsome as your Greek
head--and very like her.'
'My dear lady--you have the wildest notions!'
Mrs. Burgoyne picked up her parasol.
'Quite true.--Your aunt tells me she was so disappointed, poor child, that
there was no church of her own sort for her to go to this morning.'
'What!'--cried Manisty--'Did she expect a conventicle in the Pope's own
For Marinata owned a Papal villa and had once been a favourite summer
residence of the Popes.
'No--but she thought she might have gone into Rome, and she missed the
trains. I found her wandering about the salon looking quite starved and
'Those are hungers that pass!--My heart is hard.--There--your bell is
stopping. Eleanor!--I wonder why you go to these functions?'
He turned to look at her, his fine eye sharp and a little mocking.
'Because I like it.'
'You like the thought of it. But when you get there, the reality won't
please you at all. There will be the dirty floor, and the bad music,--and
the little priest intoning through his nose--and the scuffling boys,--and
the abominable pictures--and the tawdry altars. Much better stay at
home--and help me praise the Holy Roman Church from a safe distance!'
'What a hypocrite people would think you, if they could hear you talk like
that!' she said, flushing.
'Then they would think it unjustly.--I don't mean to be my own dupe, that's
'The dupes are the happiest,' she said in a low voice. 'There is something
between them, and--Ah! well, never mind!'--
She stood still a moment, looking across the lake, her hands resting
lightly on the stone balustrade of the terrace. Manisty watched her in
silence, occasionally puffing at his cigarette.
'Well, I shall be back very soon,' she said, gathering up her prayer-book
and her parasol. 'Will it then be our duty to take Miss Foster for a walk?'
'Why not leave her to my aunt?'
She passed him with a little nod of farewell. Presently, through the
openings of the balustrade, Manisty could watch her climbing the village
street with her dress held high above her daintily shod feet, a crowd of
children asking for a halfpenny following at her heels. Presently he saw
her stop irresolutely, open a little velvet bag that hung from her waist
and throw a shower of _soldi_ among the children. They swooped upon it,
fighting and shrieking.
Mrs. Burgoyne looked at them half smiling, half repentant, shook her head
and walked on.
'Eleanor--you coward!' said Manisty, throwing himself back in his chair
with a silent laugh.
Under his protection, or his aunt's, as he knew well, Mrs. Burgoyne could
walk past those little pests of children, even the poor armless and legless
horrors on the way to Albano, and give a firm adhesion to Miss Manisty's
Scotch doctrines on the subject of begging. But by herself, she could not
refuse--she could not bear to be scowled on--even for a moment. She must
yield--must give herself the luxury of being liked. It was all of a piece
with her weakness towards servants and porters and cabmen--her absurdities
in the way of tips and gifts--the kindnesses she had been showing during
the last three days to the American girl. Too kind! Insipidity lay that
Manisty returned to his newspapers. When he had finished them he got up and
began to pace the stone terrace, his great head bent forward as usual, as
though the weight of it were too much for the shoulders. The newspapers had
made him restless again, had dissipated the good humour of the morning,
born perhaps of the mere April warmth and _bien etre_.
'Idling in a villa--with two women'--he said to himself, bitterly--'while
all these things are happening.'
For the papers were full of news--of battles lost and won, on questions
with which he had been at one time intimately concerned. Once or twice in
the course of these many columns he had found his own name, his own opinion
quoted, but only as belonging to a man who had left the field--a man of the
As he stood there with his hands upon his sides, looking out over the Alban
Lake, and its broom-clad sides, a great hunger for London swept suddenly
upon him, for the hot scent of its streets, for its English crowd, for
the look of its shops and clubs and parks. He had a vision of the club
writing-room--of well-known men coming in and going out--discussing the
news of the morning, the gossip of the House--he saw himself accosted
as one of the inner circle,--he was sensible again of those short-lived
pleasures of power and office. Not that he had cared half as much for these
pleasures, when he had them, as other men. To affirm with him meant to be
already half way on the road to doubt; contradiction was his character.
Nevertheless, now that he was out of it, alone and forgotten--now that the
game was well beyond his reach--it had a way of appearing to him at moments
Nothing before him now, in these long days at the villa, but the hours of
work with Eleanor, the walks With Eleanor, the meals with his aunt and
Eleanor--and now, for a stimulating change, Miss Foster! The male in him
was restless. He had been eager to come to the villa, and the quiet of the
hills, so as to push this long delaying book to its final end. And, behold,
day by day, in the absence of the talk and distractions of Rome, a thousand
discontents and misgivings were creeping upon him. In Rome he was still
a power. In spite of his strange detached position, it was known that he
was the defender of the Roman system, the panegyrist of Leo XIII., the
apologist of the Papal position in Italy. And this had been more than
enough to open to him all but the very inmost heart of Catholic life. Their
apartments in Rome, to the scandal of Miss Manisty's Scotch instincts, had
been haunted by ecclesiastics of every rank and kind. Cardinals, Italian
and foreign, had taken their afternoon tea from Mrs. Burgoyne's hands; the
black and white of the Dominicans, the brown of the Franciscans, the black
of the Jesuits,--the staircase in the Via Sistina had been well acquainted
with them all. Information not usually available had been placed lavishly
at Manisty's disposal; he had felt the stir and thrill of the great
Catholic organisation as all its nerve-threads gather to its brain and
centre in the Vatican. Nay, on two occasions, he had conversed freely with
Leo XIII. himself.
All this he had put aside, impatiently, that he might hurry on his book,
and accomplish his _coup_. And in the tranquillity of the hills, was he
beginning to lose faith in the book, and the compensation it was to bring
him? Unless this book, with its scathing analysis of the dangers and
difficulties of the secularist State, were not only a book, but _an event_,
of what use would it be to him? He was capable both of extravagant conceit,
and of the most boundless temporary disgust with his own doings and ideas.
Such a disgust seemed to be mounting now through all his veins, taking
all the savour out of life and work. No doubt it would be the same to
the end,--the politician in him just strong enough to ruin the man of
letters--the man of letters always ready to distract and paralyse the
politician. And as for the book, there also he had been the victim of
a double mind. He had endeavoured to make it popular, as Chateaubriand
made the great argument of the _Genie du Christianisme_ popular, by the
introduction of an element of poetry and romance. For the moment he was
totally out of love with the result. What was the plain man to make of it?
And nowadays the plain man settles everything.
Well!--if the book came to grief, it was not only he that would
suffer.--Poor Eleanor!--poor, kind, devoted Eleanor!
Yet as the thought of her passed through his meditations, a certain
annoyance mingled with it. What if she had been helping to keep him, all
this time, in a fool's paradise--hiding the truth from him by this soft
enveloping sympathy of hers?
His mind started these questions freely. Yet only to brush them away with a
sense of shame. Beneath his outer controlling egotism there were large and
generous elements in his mixed nature. And nothing could stand finally
against the memory of that sweet all-sacrificing devotion which had been
lavished upon himself and his work all the winter!
What right had he to accept it? What did it mean? Where was it leading?
He guessed pretty shrewdly what had been the speculations of the friends
and acquaintances who had seen them together in Rome. Eleanor Burgoyne
was but just thirty, very attractive, and his distant kinswoman. As for
himself, he knew very well that according to the general opinion of the
world, beginning with his aunt, it was his duty to marry and marry soon.
He was in the prime of life; he had a property that cried out for an heir;
and a rambling Georgian house that would be the better for a mistress. He
was tolerably sure that Aunt Pattie had already had glimpses of Eleanor
Burgoyne in that position.
Well--if so, Aunt Pattie was less shrewd than usual. Marriage! The notion
of its fetters and burdens was no less odious to him now than it had been
at twenty. What did he want with a wife--still more, with a son? The
thought of his own life continued in another's filled him with a shock of
repulsion. Where was the sense of infusing into another being the black
drop of discontent that poisoned his own? A daughter perhaps--with the eyes
of his mad sister Alice? Or a son--with the contradictions and weaknesses,
without the gifts, of his father? Men have different ways of challenging
the future. But that particular way called paternity had never in his most
optimistic moments appealed to Manisty.
And of course Eleanor understood him! He had not been ungrateful. No!--he
knew well enough that he had the power to make a woman's hours pass
pleasantly. Eleanor's winter had been a happy one; her health and spirits
had alike revived. Friendship, as they had known it, was a very rare and
exquisite thing. No doubt when the book was done with, their relations must
change somewhat. He confessed that he might have been imprudent; that he
might have been appropriating the energies and sympathies of a delightful
woman, as a man is hardly justified in doing, unless--. But, after all, a
few weeks more would see the end of it; and friends, dear, close friends,
they must always be.
For now there was plenty of room and leisure in his life for these subtler
bonds. The day of great passions was gone by. There were one or two
incidents in his earlier manhood on which he could look back with the
half-triumphant consciousness that no man had dived deeper to the heart of
feeling, had drunk more wildly, more inventively, of passion than he, in
more than one country of Europe, in the East as in the West. These events
had occurred in those wander-years between twenty and thirty, which he had
spent in travelling, hunting and writing, in the pursuit, alternately eager
and fastidious, of as wide an experience as possible. But all that was
over. These things concerned another man, in another world. Politics and
ambition had possessed him since, and women now appealed to other instincts
in him--instincts rather of the diplomatist and intriguer than of the
lover. Of late years they had been his friends and instruments. And by
no unworthy arts. They were delightful to him; and his power with them
was based on natural sympathies and divinations that were perhaps his
birthright. His father had had the same gift. Why deny that both his father
and he had owed much to women? What was there to be ashamed of? His father
had been one of the ablest and most respected men of his day and so far as
English society was concerned, the son had no scandal, nor the shadow of
one, upon his conscience.
How far did Eleanor divine him? He raised his shoulder with a smile.
Probably she knew him better than he knew himself. Besides, she was no
mere girl, brimful of illusions and dreaming of love-affairs. What a
history!--Good heavens! Why had he not known and seen something of her in
the days when she was still under the tyranny of that intolerable husband?
He might have eased the weight a little--protected her--as a kinsman may.
Ah well--better not! They were both younger then.--
As for the present,--let him only extricate himself from this coil in which
he stood, find his way back to activity and his rightful place, and many
things might look differently. Perhaps--who could say?--in the future, when
youth was still further forgotten by both of them, he and Eleanor might
after all take each other by the hand--sit down on either side of the same
hearth--their present friendship pass into one of another kind? It was
quite possible, only--
The sudden crash of a glass door made him look round. It was Miss Foster
who was hastening along the enclosed passage leading to the outer stair.
She had miscalculated the strength of the wind on the north side of the