Part 8 out of 8
it, went de Garcia somewhat slowly, for now he was weary, and I
followed him at my ease, getting my breath again.
Presently I saw that he had come to the edge of the crater, for he
leaned forward and looked over, and I thought that he was about to
destroy himself by plunging into it. But if such thoughts had been
in his mind, he forgot them when he had seen what sort of nest this
was to sleep in, for turning, he came back towards me, sword up,
and we met within a dozen paces of the edge. I say met, but in
truth we did not meet, for he stopped again, well out of reach of
my sword. I sat down upon a block of lava and looked at him; it
seemed to me that I could not feast my eyes enough upon his face.
And what a face it was; that of a more than murderer about to meet
his reward! Would that I could paint to show it, for no words can
tell the fearfulness of those red and sunken eyes, those grinning
teeth and quivering lips. I think that when the enemy of mankind
has cast his last die and won his last soul, he too will look thus
as he passes into doom.
'At length, de Garcia!' I said.
'Why do you not kill me and make an end?' he asked hoarsely.
'Where is the hurry, cousin? For hard on twenty years I have
sought you, shall we then part so soon? Let us talk a while.
Before we part to meet no more, perhaps of your courtesy you will
answer me a question, for I am curious. Why have you wrought these
evils on me and mine? Surely you must have some reason for what
seems to be an empty and foolish wickedness.'
I spoke to him thus calmly and coldly, feeling no passion, feeling
nothing. For in that strange hour I was no longer Thomas
Wingfield, I was no longer human, I was a force, an instrument; I
could think of my dead son without sorrow, he did not seem dead to
me, for I partook of the nature that he had put on in this change
of death. I could even think of de Garcia without hate, as though
he also were nothing but a tool in some other hand. Moreover, I
KNEW that he was mine, body and mind, and that he must answer and
truly, so surely as he must die when I chose to kill him. He tried
to shut his lips, but they opened of themselves and word by word
the truth was dragged from his black heart as though he stood
already before the judgment seat.
'I loved your mother, my cousin,' he said, speaking slowly and
painfully; 'from a child I loved her only in the world, as I love
her to this hour, but she hated me because I was wicked and feared
me because I was cruel. Then she saw your father and loved him,
and brought about his escape from the Holy Office, whither I had
delivered him to be tortured and burnt, and fled with him to
England. I was jealous and would have been revenged if I might,
but there was no way. I led an evil life, and when nearly twenty
years had gone by, chance took me to England on a trading journey.
By chance I learned that your father and mother lived near
Yarmouth, and I determined to see her, though at that time I had no
thought of killing her. Fortune favoured me, and we met in the
woodland, and I saw that she was still beautiful and knew that I
loved her more than ever before. I gave her choice to fly with me
or to die, and after a while she died. But as she shrank up the
wooded hillside before my sword, of a sudden she stood still and
'"Listen before you smite, Juan. I have a death vision. As I have
fled from you, so shall you fly before one of my blood in a place
of fire and rock and snow, and as you drive me to the gates of
heaven, so he shall drive you into the mouth of hell."'
'In such a place as this, cousin,' I said.
'In such a place as this,' he whispered, glancing round.
Again he strove to be silent, but again my will mastered him and he
'It was too late to spare her if I wished to escape myself, so I
killed her and fled. But terror entered my heart, terror which has
never left it to this hour, for always before my eyes was the
vision of him of your mother's blood, before whom I should fly as
she fled before me, who shall drive me into the mouth of hell.'
'That must be yonder, cousin,' I said, pointing with the sword
toward the pit of the crater.
'It is yonder; I have looked.'
'But only for the body, cousin, not for the spirit.'
'Only for the body, not for the spirit,' he repeated after me.
'Continue,' I said.
'Afterwards on that same day I met you, Thomas Wingfield. Already
your dead mother's prophecy had taken hold of me, and seeing one of
her blood I strove to kill him lest he should kill me.'
'As he will do presently, cousin.'
'As he will do presently,' he repeated like a talking bird.
'You know what happened and how I escaped. I fled to Spain and
strove to forget. But I could not. One night I saw a face in the
streets of Seville that reminded me of your face. I did not think
that it could be you, yet so strong was my fear that I determined
to fly to the far Indies. You met me on the night of my flight
when I was bidding farewell to a lady.'
'One Isabella de Siguenza, cousin. I bade farewell to her
afterwards and delivered her dying words to you. Now she waits to
welcome you again, she and her child.'
He shuddered and went on. 'In the ocean we met again. You rose
out of the sea. I did not dare to kill you at once, I thought that
you must die in the slave-hold and that none could bear witness
against me and hold me guilty of your blood. You did not die, even
the sea could not destroy you. But I thought that you were dead.
I came to Anahuac in the train of Cortes and again we met; that
time you nearly killed me. Afterwards I had my revenge and I
tortured you well; I meant to murder you on the morrow, though
first I would torture you, for terror can be very cruel, but you
escaped me. Long years passed, I wandered hither and thither, to
Spain, back to Mexico, and elsewhere, but wherever I went my fear,
the ghosts of the dead, and my dreams went with me, and I was never
fortunate. Only the other day I joined the company of Diaz as an
adventurer. Not till we reached the City of Pines did I learn that
you were the captain of the Otomie; it was said that you were long
dead. You know the rest.'
'Why did you murder my son, cousin?'
'Was he not of your mother's blood, of the blood that should bring
my doom upon me, and did I owe you no reward for all the terrors of
these many years? Moreover he is foolish who strives to slay the
father and spares the son. He is dead and I am glad that I killed
him, though he haunts me now with the others.'
'And shall haunt you eternally. Now let us make an end. You have
your sword, use it if you can. It will be easier to die fighting.'
'I cannot,' he groaned; 'my doom is upon me.'
'As you will,' and I came at him, sword up.
He ran from before me, moving backwards and keeping his eyes fixed
upon mine, as I have seen a rat do when a snake is about to swallow
it. Now we were upon the edge of the crater, and looking over I
saw an awful sight. For there, some thirty feet beneath us, the
red-hot lava glowing sullenly beneath a shifting pall of smoke,
rolled and spouted like a thing alive. Jets of steam flew upwards
from it with a screaming sound, lines of noxious vapours, many-
coloured, crept and twisted on its surface, and a hot and horrid
stench poisoned the heated air. Here indeed was such a gate as I
could wish for de Garcia to pass through to his own abode.
I looked, pointed with my sword, and laughed; he looked and
shrieked aloud, for now all his manhood had left him, so great was
his terror of what lay beyond the end. Yes, this proud and haughty
Spaniard screamed and wept and prayed for mercy; he who had done so
many villanies beyond forgiveness, prayed for mercy that he might
find time to repent. I stood and watched him, and so dreadful was
his aspect that horror struck me even through the calm of my frozen
'Come, it is time to finish,' I said, and again I lifted my sword,
only to let it fall, for suddenly his brain gave way and de Garcia
went mad before my eyes!
Of all that followed I will not write. With his madness courage
came back to him, and he began to fight, but not with ME.
He seemed to perceive me no more, but nevertheless he fought, and
desperately, thrusting at the empty air. It was terrible to see
him thus doing battle with his invisible foes, and to hear his
screams and curses, as inch by inch they drove him back to the edge
of the crater. Here he stood a while, like one who makes a last
stand against overpowering strength, thrusting and striking
furiously. Twice he nearly fell, as though beneath a mortal wound,
but recovering himself, fought on with Nothingness. Then, with a
sharp cry, suddenly he threw his arms wide, as a man does who is
pierced through the heart; his sword dropped from his hand, and he
fell backwards into the pit.
I turned away my eyes, for I wished to see no more; but often I
have wondered Who or What it was that dealt de Garcia his death
Thus then did I accomplish the vengeance that I had sworn to my
father I would wreak upon de Garcia, or rather, thus did I witness
its accomplishment, for in the end he died, terribly enough, not by
my hand but by those of his own fears. Since then I have sorrowed
for this, for, when the frozen and unnatural calm passed from my
mind, I hated him as bitterly as ever, and grieved that I let him
die otherwise than by my hand, and to this hour such is my mind
towards him. Doubtless, many may think it wicked, since we are
taught to forgive our enemies, but here I leave the forgiveness to
God, for how can I pardon one who betrayed my father to the
priests, who murdered my mother and my son, who chained me in the
slave-ship and for many hours tortured me with his own hand?
Rather, year by year, do I hate him more. I write of this at some
length, since the matter has been a trouble to me. I never could
say that I was in charity with all men living and dead, and because
of this, some years since, a worthy and learned rector of this
parish took upon himself to refuse me the rites of the church.
Then I went to the bishop and laid the story before him, and it
puzzled him somewhat.
But he was a man of large mind, and in the end he rebuked the
rector and commanded him to minister to me, for he thought with me
that the Almighty could not ask of an erring man, that he should
forgive one who had wrought such evils on him and his, even though
that enemy were dead and gone to judgment in another place.
But enough of this question of conscience.
When de Garcia was gone into the pit, I turned my steps homewards,
or rather towards the ruined city which I could see beneath me, for
I had no home left. Now I must descend the ice cap, and this I
found less easy than climbing it had been, for, my vengeance being
accomplished, I became as other men are, and a sad and weary one at
that, so sad indeed that I should not have sorrowed greatly if I
had made a false step upon the ice.
But I made none, and at length I came to the snow where the
travelling was easy. My oath was fulfilled and my vengeance was
accomplished, but as I went I reckoned up the cost. I had lost my
betrothed, the love of my youth; for twenty years I had lived a
savage chief among savages and made acquaintance with every
hardship, wedded to a woman who, although she loved me dearly, and
did not lack nobility of mind, as she had shown the other day, was
still at heart a savage or, at the least, a thrall of demon gods.
The tribe that I ruled was conquered, the beautiful city where I
dwelt was a ruin, I was homeless and a beggar, and my fortune would
be great if in the issue I escaped death or slavery. All this I
could have borne, for I had borne the like before, but the cruel
end of my last surviving son, the one true joy of my desolate life,
I could not bear. The love of those children had become the
passion of my middle age, and as I loved them so they had loved me.
I had trained them from babyhood till their hearts were English and
not Aztec, as were their speech and faith, and thus they were not
only my dear children, but companions of my own race, the only ones
I had. And now by accident, by sickness, and by the sword, they
were dead the three of them, and I was desolate.
Ah! we think much of the sorrows of our youth, and should a
sweetheart give us the go by we fill the world with moans and swear
that it holds no comfort for us. But when we bend our heads before
the shrouded shape of some lost child, then it is that for the
first time we learn how terrible grief can be. Time, they tell us,
will bring consolation, but it is false, for such sorrows time has
no salves--I say it who am old--as they are so they shall be.
There is no hope but faith, there is no comfort save in the truth
that love which might have withered on the earth grows fastest in
the tomb, to flower gloriously in heaven; that no love indeed can
be perfect till God sanctifies and completes it with His seal of
I threw myself down there upon the desolate snows of Xaca, that
none had trod before, and wept such tears as a man may weep but
once in his life days.
'O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for
thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!' I cried with the ancient king--I
whose grief was greater than his, for had I not lost three sons
within as many years? Then remembering that as this king had gone
to join his son long centuries ago, so I must one day go to join
mine, and taking such comfort from the thought as may be found in
it, I rose and crept back to the ruined City of Pines.
It was near sunset when I came thither, for the road was long and I
grew weak. By the palace I met the Captain Diaz and some of his
company, and they lifted their bonnets to me as I went by, for they
had respect for my sorrows. Only Diaz spoke, saying:
'Is the murderer dead?'
I nodded and went on. I went on to our chamber, for there I
thought that I should find Otomie.
She sat in it alone, cold and beautiful as though she had been
fashioned in marble.
'I have buried him with the bones of his brethren and his
forefathers,' she said, answering the question that my eyes asked.
'It seemed best that you should see him no more, lest your heart
'It is well,' I answered; 'but my heart is broken already.'
'Is the murderer dead?' she said presently in the very words of
'He is dead.'
I told her in few words.
'You should have slain him yourself; our son's blood is not
'I should have slain him, but in that hour I did not seek
vengeance, I watched it fall from heaven, and was content.
Perchance it is best so. The seeking of vengeance has brought all
my sorrows upon me; vengeance belongs to God and not to man, as I
have learned too late.'
'I do not think so,' said Otomie, and the look upon her face was
that look which I had seen when she smote the Tlascalan, when she
taunted Marina, and when she danced upon the pyramid, the leader of
the sacrifice. 'Had I been in your place, I would have killed him
by inches. When I had done with him, then the devils might begin,
not before. But it is of no account; everything is done with, all
are dead, and my heart with them. Now eat, for you are weary.'
So I ate, and afterwards I cast myself upon the bed and slept.
In the darkness I heard the voice of Otomie that said, 'Awake, I
would speak with you,' and there was that about her voice which
stirred me from my heavy sleep.
'Speak on,' I said. 'Where are you, Otomie?'
'Seated at your side. I cannot rest, so I am seated here. Listen.
Many, many years ago we met, when you were brought by Guatemoc from
Tobasco. Ah! well do I remember my first sight of you, the Teule,
in the court of my father Montezuma, at Chapoltepec. I loved you
then as I have loved you ever since. At least I have never gone
astray after strange gods,' and she laughed bitterly.
'Why do you talk of these things, Otomie?' I asked.
'Because it is my fancy to do so. Cannot you spare me one hour
from your sleep, who have spared you so many? You remember how you
scorned me--oh! I thought I should have died of shame when, after I
had caused myself to be given to you as wife, the wife of Tezcat,
you told me of the maid across the seas, that Lily maid whose token
is still set upon your finger. But I lived through it and I loved
you the better for your honesty, and then you know the rest. I won
you because I was brave and lay at your side upon the stone of
sacrifice, where you kissed me and told me that you loved me. But
you never loved me, not truly, all the while you were thinking of
the Lily maid. I knew it then, as I know it now, though I tried to
deceive myself. I was beautiful in those days and this is
something with a man. I was faithful and that is more, and once or
twice you thought that you loved me. Now I wish that those Teules
had come an hour later, and we had died together there upon the
stone, that is I wish it for my own sake, not for yours. Then we
escaped and the great struggle came. I told you then that I
understood it all. You had kissed me on the stone of sacrifice,
but in that moment you were as one dead; when you came back to
life, it was otherwise. But fortune took the game out of your
hands and you married me, and swore an oath to me, and this oath
you have kept faithfully. You married me but you did not know whom
you married; you thought me beautiful, and sweet, and true, and all
these things I was, but you did not understand that I was far apart
from you, that I was still a savage as my forefathers had been.
You thought that I had learned your ways, perchance even you
thought that I reverenced your God, as for your sake I have striven
to do, but all the while I have followed the ways of my own people
and I could not quite forget my own gods, or at the least they
would not suffer me, their servant, to escape them. For years and
years I put them from me, but at last they were avenged and my
heart mastered me, or rather they mastered me, for I knew nothing
of what I did some few nights since, when I celebrated the
sacrifice to Huitzel and you saw me at the ancient rites.
'All these years you had been true to me and I had borne you
children whom you loved; but you loved them for their own sake, not
for mine, indeed, at heart you hated the Indian blood that was
mixed in their veins with yours. Me also you loved in a certain
fashion and this half love of yours drove me well nigh mad; such as
it was, it died when you saw me distraught and celebrating the
rites of my forefathers on the teocalli yonder, and you knew me for
what I am, a savage. And now the children who linked us together
are dead--one by one they died in this way and in that, for the
curse which follows my blood descended upon them--and your love for
me is dead with them. I alone remain alive, a monument of past
days, and I die also.
'Nay, be silent; listen to me, for my time is short. When you bade
me call you "husband" no longer, then I knew that it was finished.
I obey you, I put you from me, you are no more my husband, and soon
I shall cease to be your wife; still, Teule, I pray you listen to
me. Now it seems to you in your sorrow, that your days are done
and that there is no happiness left for you. This is not so. You
are still but a man in the beginning of middle age, and you are yet
strong. You will escape from this ruined land, and when you shake
the dust of it off your feet its curse shall fall from you; you
will return to your own place, and there you will find one who has
awaited your coming for many years. There the savage woman whom
you mated with, the princess of a fallen house, will become but a
fantastic memory to you, and all these strange eventful years will
be as a midnight dream. Only your love for the dead children will
always remain, these you must always love by day and by night, and
the desire of them, that desire for the dead than which there is
nothing more terrible, shall follow you to your grave, and I am
glad that it should be so, for I was their mother and some thought
of me must go with them. This alone the Lily maid has left to me,
and there only I shall prevail against her, for, Teule, no child of
hers shall live to rob your heart of the memory of those I gave
'Oh! I have watched you by day and by night: I have seen the
longing in your eyes for a face which you have lost and for the
land of your youth. Be happy, you shall gain both, for the
struggle is ended and the Lily maid has been too strong for me. I
grow weak and I have little more to say. We part, and perhaps for
ever, for what is there between us save the souls of those dead
sons of ours? Since you desire me no more, that I may make our
severance perfect, now in the hour of my death I renounce your gods
and I seek my own, though I think that I love yours and hate those
of my people. Is there any communion between them? We part, and
perchance for ever, yet I pray of you to think of me kindly, for I
have loved you and I love you; I was the mother of your children,
whom being Christian, you will meet again. I love you now and for
always. I am glad to have lived because you kissed me on the stone
of sacrifice, and afterwards I bore you sons. They are yours and
not mine; it seems to me now that I only cared for them because
they were yours, and they loved you and not me. Take them--take
their spirits as you have taken everything. You swore that death
alone should sever us, and you have kept your oath in the letter
and in the thought. But now I go to the Houses of the Sun to seek
my own people, and to you, Teule, with whom I have lived many years
and seen much sorrow, but whom I will no longer call husband, since
you forbade me so to do, I say, make no mock of me to the Lily
maid. Speak of me to her as little as you may--be happy and--
Now as she spoke ever more faintly, and I listened bewildered, the
light of dawn grew slowly in the chamber. It gathered on the white
shape of Otomie seated in a chair hard by the bed, and I saw that
her arms hung down and that her head was resting on the back of the
chair. Now I sprang up and peered into her face. It was white and
cold, and I could feel no breath upon her lips. I seized her hand,
that also was cold. I spoke into her ear, I kissed her brow, but
she did not move nor answer. The light grew quickly, and now I saw
all. Otomie was dead, and by her own act.
This was the manner of her death. She had drunk of a poison of
which the Indians have the secret, a poison that works slowly and
without pain, leaving the mind unclouded to the end. It was while
her life was fading from her that she had spoken to me thus sadly
and bitterly. I sat upon the bed and gazed at her. I did not
weep, for my tears were done, and as I have said, whatever I might
feel nothing could break my calm any more. And as I gazed a great
tenderness and sorrow took hold of me, and I loved Otomie better
now that she was dead before me than ever I had done in her life
days, and this is saying much. I remembered her in the glory of
her youth as she was in the court of her royal father, I remembered
the look which she had given me when she stepped to my side upon
the stone of sacrifice, and that other look when she defied
Cuitlahua the emperor, who would have slain me. Once more I seemed
to hear her cry of bitter sorrow as she uncovered the body of the
dead babe our firstborn, and to see her sword in hand standing over
Many things came back to me in that sad hour of dawn while I
watched by the corpse of Otomie. There was truth in her words, I
had never forgotten my first love and often I desired to see her
face. But it was not true to say that I had no love for Otomie. I
loved her well and I was faithful in my oath to her, indeed, not
until she was dead did I know how dear she had grown to me. It is
true that there was a great gulf between us which widened with the
years, the gulf of blood and faith, for I knew well that she could
not altogether put away her old beliefs, and it is true that when I
saw her leading the death chant, a great horror took me and for a
while I loathed her. But these things I might have lived to
forgive, for they were part of her blood and nature, moreover, the
last and worst of them was not done by her own will, and when they
were set aside there remained much that I could honour and love in
the memory of this most royal and beautiful woman, who for so many
years was my faithful wife. So I thought in that hour and so I
think to this day. She said that we parted for ever, but I trust
and I believe that this is not so. Surely there is forgiveness for
us all, and a place where those who were near and dear to each
other on the earth may once more renew their fellowship.
At last I rose with a sigh to seek help, and as I rose I felt that
there was something set about my neck. It was the collar of great
emeralds which Guatemoc had given to me, and that I had given to
Otomie. She had set it there while I slept, and with it a lock of
her long hair. Both shall be buried with me.
I laid her in the ancient sepulchre amid the bones of her
forefathers and by the bodies of her children, and two days later I
rode to Mexico in the train of Bernal Diaz. At the mouth of the
pass I turned and looked back upon the ruins of the City of Pines,
where I had lived so many years and where all I loved were buried.
Long and earnestly I gazed, as in his hour of death a man looks
back upon his past life, till at length Diaz laid his hand upon my
'You are a lonely man now, comrade,' he said; 'what plans have you
for the future?'
'None,' I answered, 'except to die.'
'Never talk so,' he said; 'why, you are scarcely forty, and I who
am fifty and more do not speak of dying. Listen; you have friends
in your own country, England?'
'Folk live long in those quiet lands. Go seek them, I will find
you a passage to Spain.'
'I will think of it,' I answered.
In time we came to Mexico, a new and a strange city to me, for
Cortes had rebuilt it, and where the teocalli had stood, up which I
was led to sacrifice, a cathedral was building, whereof the
foundations were fitly laid with the hideous idols of the Aztecs.
The place was well enough, but it is not so beautiful as the
Tenoctitlan of Montezuma, nor ever will be. The people too were
changed; then they were warriors and free, now they are slaves.
In Mexico Diaz found me a lodging. None molested me there, for the
pardon that I had received was respected. Also I was a ruined man,
no longer to be feared, the part that I had played in the noche
triste and in the defence of the city was forgotten, and the tale
of my sorrows won me pity even from the Spaniards. I abode in
Mexico ten days, wandering sadly about the city and up to the hill
of Chapoltepec, where Montezuma's pleasure-house had been, and
where I had met Otomie. Nothing was left of its glories except
some of the ancient cedar trees. On the eighth day of my stay an
Indian stopped me in the street, saying that an old friend had
charged him to say that she wished to see me.
I followed the Indian, wondering who the friend might be, for I had
no friends, and he led me to a fine stone house in a new street.
Here I was seated in a darkened chamber and waited there a while,
till suddenly a sad and sweet voice that seemed familiar to me,
addressed me in the Aztec tongue, saying, 'Welcome, Teule.'
I looked and there before me, dressed in the Spanish fashion, stood
a lady, an Indian, still beautiful, but very feeble and much worn,
as though with sickness and sorrow.
'Do you not know Marina, Teule?' she said again, but before the
words had left her lips I knew her. 'Well, I will say this, that I
should scarcely have known YOU, Teule. Trouble and time have done
their work with both of us.'
I took her hand and kissed it.
'Where then is Cortes?' I asked.
Now a great trembling seized her.
'Cortes is in Spain, pleading his suit. He has wed a new wife
there, Teule. Many years ago he put me away, giving me in marriage
to Don Juan Xaramillo, who took me because of my possessions, for
Cortes dealt liberally with me, his discarded mistress.' And she
began to weep.
Then by degrees I learned the story, but I will not write it here,
for it is known to the world. When Marina had served his turn and
her wit was of no more service to him, the conqueror discarded her,
leaving her to wither of a broken heart. She told me all the tale
of her anguish when she learned the truth, and of how she had cried
to him that thenceforth he would never prosper. Nor indeed did he
For two hours or more we talked, and when I had heard her story I
told her mine, and she wept for me, since with all her faults
Marina's heart was ever gentle.
Then we parted never to meet again. Before I went she pressed a
gift of money on me, and I was not ashamed to take it who had none.
This then was the history of Marina, who betrayed her country for
her love's sake, and this the reward of her treason and her love.
But I shall always hold her memory sacred, for she was a good
friend to me, and twice she saved my life, nor would she desert me,
even when Otomie taunted her so cruelly.
THOMAS COMES BACK FROM THE DEAD
Now on the morrow of my visit to Marina, the Captain Diaz came to
see me and told me that a friend of his was in command of a carak
which was due to sail from the port of Vera Cruz for Cadiz within
ten days, and that this friend was willing to give me a passage if
I wished to leave Mexico. I thought for a while and said that I
would go, and that very night, having bid farewell to the Captain
Diaz, whom may God prosper, for he was a good man among many bad
ones, I set out from the city for the last time in the company of
some merchants. A week's journey took us safely down the mountains
to Vera Cruz, a hot unhealthy town with an indifferent anchorage,
much exposed to the fierce northerly winds. Here I presented my
letters of recommendation to the commander of the carak, who gave
me passage without question, I laying in a stock of food for the
Three nights later we set sail with a fair wind, and on the
following morning at daybreak all that was left in sight of the
land of Anahuac was the snowy crest of the volcan Orizaba.
Presently that vanished into the clouds, and thus did I bid
farewell to the far country where so many things had happened to
me, and which according to my reckoning I had first sighted on this
very day eighteen years before.
Of my journey to Spain I have nothing of note to tell. It was more
prosperous than such voyages often are, and within ten weeks of the
date of our lifting anchor at Vera Cruz, we let it drop in the
harbour of Cadiz. Here I sojourned but two days, for as it chanced
there was an English ship in the harbour trading to London, and in
her I took a passage, though I was obliged to sell the smallest of
the emeralds from the necklace to find the means to do so, the
money that Marina gave me being spent. This emerald sold for a
great sum, however, with part of which I purchased clothing
suitable to a person of rank, taking the rest of the gold with me.
I grieved to part with the stone indeed, though it was but a
pendant to the pendant of the collar, but necessity knows no law.
The pendant stone itself, a fine gem though flawed, I gave in after
years to her gracious majesty Queen Elizabeth.
On board the English ship they thought me a Spanish adventurer who
had made moneys in the Indies, and I did not undeceive them, since
I would be left to my own company for a while that I might prepare
my mind to return to ways of thought and life that it had long
forgotten. Therefore I sat apart like some proud don, saying
little but listening much, and learning all I could of what had
chanced in England since I left it some twenty years before.
At length our voyage came to an end, and on a certain twelfth of
June I found myself in the mighty city of London that I had never
yet visited, and kneeling down in the chamber of my inn, I thanked
God that after enduring so many dangers and hardships, it had
pleased Him to preserve me to set foot again on English soil.
Indeed to this hour I count it nothing short of marvellous that
this frail body of a man should survive all the sorrows and risks
of death by sickness, hunger, battle, murder, drowning, wild
beasts, and the cruelty of men, to which mine had been exposed for
In London I bought a good horse, through the kind offices of the
host of my inn, and on the morrow at daybreak I set out upon the
Ipswich road. That very morning my last adventure befell me, for
as I jogged along musing of the beauty of the English landscape and
drinking in the sweet air of June, a cowardly thief fired a pistol
at me from behind a hedge, purposing to plunder me if I fell. The
bullet passed through my hat, grazing the skull, but before I could
do anything the rascal fled, seeing that he had missed his mark,
and I went on my journey, thinking to myself that it would indeed
have been strange, if after passing such great dangers in safety, I
had died at last by the hand of a miserable foot-pad within five
miles of London town.
I rode hard all that day and the next, and my horse being stout and
swift, by half-past seven o'clock of the evening I pulled up upon
the little hill whence I had looked my last on Bungay, when I rode
thence for Yarmouth with my father. Below me lay the red roofs of
the town; there to the right were the oaks of Ditchingham and the
beautiful tower of St. Mary's Church, yonder the stream of Waveney
wandered, and before me stretched the meadow lands, purple and
golden with marsh weeds in bloom. All was as it had been, I could
see no change at all, the only change was in myself. I dismounted,
and going to a pool of water near the roadway I looked at the
reflection of my own face. I was changed indeed, scarcely should I
have known it for that of the lad who had ridden up this hill some
twenty years ago. Now, alas! the eyes were sunken and very
sorrowful, the features were sharp, and there was more grey than
black in the beard and hair. I should scarcely have known it
myself, would any others know it, I wondered? Would there be any
to know it indeed? In twenty years many die and others pass out of
sight; should I find a friend at all among the living? Since I
read the letters which Captain Bell of the 'Adventuress' had
brought me before I sailed for Hispaniola, I had heard no tidings
from my home, and what tidings awaited me now? Above all what of
Lily, was she dead or married or gone?
Mounting my horse I pushed on again at a canter, taking the road
past Waingford Mills through the fords and Pirnhow town, leaving
Bungay upon my left. In ten minutes I was at the gate of the
bridle path that runs from the Norwich road for half a mile or more
beneath the steep and wooded bank under the shelter of which stands
the Lodge at Ditchingham. By the gate a man loitered in the last
rays of the sun. I looked at him and knew him; it was Billy Minns,
that same fool who had loosed de Garcia when I left him bound that
I might run to meet my sweetheart. He was an old man now and his
white hair hung about his withered face, moreover he was unclean
and dressed in rags, but I could have fallen on his neck and
embraced him, so rejoiced was I to look once more on one whom I had
known in youth.
Seeing me come he hobbled on his stick to the gate to open it for
me, whining a prayer for alms.
'Does Mr. Wingfleld live here?' I said, pointing up the path, and
my breath came quick as I asked.
'Mr. Wingfield, sir, Mr. Wingfield, which of them?' he answered.
'The old gentleman he's been dead nigh upon twenty years. I helped
to dig his grave in the chancel of yonder church I did, we laid him
by his wife--her that was murdered. Then there's Mr. Geoffrey.'
'What of him?' I asked.
'He's dead, too, twelve year gone or more; he drank hisself to dead
he did. And Mr. Thomas, he's dead, drowned over seas they say,
many a winter back; they're all dead, all dead! Ah! he was a rare
one, Mr. Thomas was; I mind me well how when I let the furriner go--'
and he rambled off into the tale of how he had set de Garcia on
his horse after I had beaten him, nor could I bring him back from
Casting him a piece of money, I set spurs to my weary horse and
cantered up the bridle path, leaving the Mill House on my left, and
as I went, the beat of his hoofs seemed to echo the old man's
words, 'All dead, all dead!' Doubtless Lily was dead also, or if
she was not dead, when the tidings came that I had been drowned at
sea, she would have married. Being so fair and sweet she would
surely not have lacked for suitors, nor could it be believed that
she had worn her life away mourning over the lost love of her
Now the Lodge was before me; it had changed no whit except that the
ivy and creepers on its front had grown higher, to the roof indeed,
and I could see that people lived in the house, for it was well
kept, and smoke hung above the chimneys. The gate was locked, and
there were no serving men about, for night fell fast, and all had
ceased from their labour. Leaving the house on the right I passed
round it to the stables that are at the back near the hillside
garden, but here the gate was locked also, and I dismounted not
knowing what to do. Indeed I was so unmanned with fear and doubt
that for a while I seemed bewildered, and leaving the horse to crop
the grass where he stood, I wandered to the foot of the church path
and gazed up the hill as though I waited for the coming of one whom
I should meet.
'What if they were all dead, what if SHE were dead and gone?' I
buried my face in my hands and prayed to the Almighty who had
protected me through so many years, to spare me this last
bitterness. I was crushed with sorrow, and I felt that I could
bear no more. If Lily were lost to me also, then I thought that it
would be best that I should die, since there was nothing left for
which I cared to live.
Thus I prayed for some while, trembling like a leaf, and when I
looked up again, ere I turned to seek tidings from those that dwelt
in the house, whoever they might be, the twilight had fallen
completely, and lo! nightingales sang both far and near. I
listened to their song, and as I listened, some troubled memory
came back to me that at first I could not grasp. Then suddenly
there rose up in my mind a vision of the splendid chamber in
Montezuma's palace in Tenoctitlan, and of myself sleeping on a
golden bed, and dreaming on that bed. I knew it now, I was the god
Tezcat, and on the morrow I must be sacrificed, and I slept in
misery, and as I slept I dreamed. I dreamed that I stood where I
stood this night, that the scent of the English flowers was in my
nostrils as it was this night, and that the sweet song of the
nightingales rang in my ears as at this present hour. I dreamed
that as I mused and listened the moon came up over the green ash
and oaks, and lo! there she shone. I dreamed that I heard a sound
of singing on the hill--
But now I awoke from this vision of the past and of a long lost
dream, for as I stood the sweet voice of a woman began to sing
yonder on the brow of the slope; I was not mad, I heard it clearly,
and the sound grew ever nearer as the singer drew down the steep
hillside. It was so near now that I could catch the very words of
that sad song which to this day I remember.
Now I could see the woman's shape in the moonlight; it was tall and
stately and clad in a white robe. Presently she lifted her head to
watch the flitter of a bat and the moonlight lit upon her face. It
was the face of Lily Bozard, my lost love, beautiful as of yore,
though grown older and stamped with the seal of some great sorrow.
I saw, and so deeply was I stirred at the sight, that had it not
been for the low paling to which I clung, I must have fallen to the
earth, and a deep groan broke from my lips.
She heard the groan and ceased her song, then catching sight of the
figure of a man, she stopped and turned as though to fly. I stood
quite still, and wonder overcoming her fear, she drew nearer and
spoke in the sweet low voice that I remembered well, saying, 'Who
wanders here so late? Is it you, John?'
Now when I heard her speak thus a new fear took me. Doubtless she
was married and 'John' was her husband. I had found her but to
lose her more completely. Of a sudden it came into my mind that I
would not discover myself till I knew the truth. I advanced a
pace, but not so far as to pass from the shadow of the shrubs which
grow here, and taking my stand in such a fashion that the moonlight
did not strike upon my face, I bowed low in the courtly Spanish
fashion, and disguising my voice spoke as a Spaniard might in
broken English which I will spare to write down.
'Madam,' I said, 'have I the honour to speak to one who in bygone
years was named the Senora Lily Bozard?'
'That was my name,' she answered. 'What is your errand with me,
Now I trembled afresh, but spoke on boldly.
'Before I answer, Madam, forgive me if I ask another question. Is
this still your name?'
'It is still my name, I am no married woman,' she answered, and for
a moment the sky seemed to reel above me and the ground to heave
beneath my feet like the lava crust of Xaca. But as yet I did not
reveal myself, for I wished to learn if she still loved my memory.
'Senora,' I said, 'I am a Spaniard who served in the Indian wars of
Cortes, of which perhaps you have heard.'
She bowed her head and I went on. 'In those wars I met a man who
was named Teule, but who had another name in former days, so he
told me on his deathbed some two years ago.
'What name?' she asked in a low voice.
Now Lily moaned aloud, and in her turn caught at the pales to save
herself from falling.
'I deemed him dead these eighteen years,' she gasped; 'drowned in
the Indian seas where his vessel foundered.'
'I have heard say that he was shipwrecked in those seas, senora,
but he escaped death and fell among the Indians, who made a god of
him and gave him the daughter of their king in marriage,' and I
She shivered, then said in a hard voice, 'Continue, sir; I listen
'My friend Teule took the part of the Indians in the wars, as being
the husband of one of their princesses he must do in honour, and
fought bravely for them for many years. At length the town that he
defended was captured, his one remaining child was murdered, his
wife the princess slew herself for sorrow, and he himself was taken
into captivity, where he languished and died.'
'A sad tale, sir,' she said with a little laugh--a mournful laugh
that was half choked by tears.
'A very sad tale, senora, but one which is not finished. While he
lay dying, my friend told me that in his early life he had plighted
troth with a certain English maid, named--'
'I know the name--continue.'
'He told me that though he had been wedded, and loved his wife the
princess, who was a very royal woman, that many times had risked
her life for his, ay, even to lying at his side upon the stone of
sacrifice and of her own free will, yet the memory of this maiden
to whom he was once betrothed had companioned him through life and
was strong upon him now at its close. Therefore he prayed me for
our friendship's sake to seek her out when I returned to Europe,
should she still live, and to give her a message from him, and to
make a prayer to her on his behalf.'
'What message and what prayer?' Lily whispered.
'This: that he loved her at the end of his life as he had loved her
at its beginning; that he humbly prayed her forgiveness because he
had broken the troth which they two swore beneath the beech at
'Sir,' she cried, 'what do you know of that?'
'Only what my friend told me, senora.'
'Your friendship must have been close and your memory must be
good,' she murmured.
'Which he had done,' I went on, 'under strange circumstances, so
strange indeed that he dared to hope that his broken troth might be
renewed in some better world than this. His last prayer was that
she should say to me, his messenger, that she forgave him and still
loved him, as to his death he loved her.'
'And how can such forgiveness or such an avowal advantage a dead
man?' Lily asked, watching me keenly through the shadows. 'Have
the dead then eyes to see and ears to hear?'
'How can I know, senora? I do but execute my mission.'
'And how can I know that you are a true messenger. It chanced that
I had sure tidings of the drowning of Thomas Wingfield many years
ago, and this tale of Indians and princesses is wondrous strange,
more like those that happen in romances than in this plain world.
Have you no token of your good faith, sir?'
'I have such a token, senora, but the light is too faint for you to
'Then follow me to the house, there we will get light. Stay,' and
once more going to the stable gate, she called 'John.'
An old man answered her, and I knew the voice for that of one of my
father's serving men. To him she spoke in low tones, then led the
way by the garden path to the front door of the house, which she
opened with a key from her girdle, motioning to me to pass in
before her. I did so, and thinking little of such matters at the
moment, turned by habit into the doorway of the sitting-room which
I knew so well, lifting my feet to avoid stumbling on its step, and
passing into the room found my way through the gloom to the wide
fireplace where I took my stand. Lily watched me enter, then
following me, she lit a taper at the fire which smouldered on the
hearth, and placed it upon the table in the window in such fashion
that though I was now obliged to take off my hat, my face was still
'Now, sir, your token if it pleases you.'
Then I drew the posy ring from my finger and gave it to her, and
she sat down by the table and examined it in the light of the
candle, and as she sat thus, I saw how beautiful she was still, and
how little time had touched her, except for the sadness of her
face, though now she had seen eight-and-thirty winters. I saw also
that though she kept control of her features as she looked upon the
ring, her breast heaved quickly and her hand shook.
'The token is a true one,' she said at length. 'I know the ring,
though it is somewhat worn since last I saw it, it was my mother's;
and many years ago I gave it as a love gage to a youth to whom I
promised myself in marriage. Doubtless all your tale is true also,
sir, and I thank you for your courtesy in bringing it so far. It
is a sad tale, a very sad tale. And now, sir, as I may not ask you
to stay in this house where I live alone, and there is no inn near,
I propose to send serving men to conduct you to my brother's
dwelling that is something more than a mile away, if indeed,' she
added slowly, 'you do not already know the path! There you will
find entertainment, and there the sister of your dead companion,
Mary Bozard, will be glad to learn the story of his strange
adventures from your lips.'
I bowed my head and answered, 'First, senora, I would pray your
answer to my friend's dying prayer and message.'
'It is childish to send answers to the dead.'
'Still I pray for them as I was charged to do.'
'How reads the writing within this ring, sir?'
'Heart to heart,
Though far apart,'
I said glibly, and next instant I could have bitten out my tongue.
'Ah! you know that also, but doubtless you have carried the ring
for many months and learned the writing. Well, sir, though we were
far apart, and though perchance I cherished the memory of him who
wore this ring, and for his sake remained unwed, it seems that his
heart went a straying--to the breast indeed of some savage woman
whom he married, and who bore him children. That being so, my
answer to the prayer of your dead friend is that I forgive him
indeed, but I must needs take back the vows which I swore to him
for this life and for ever, since he has broken them, and as best I
may, strive to cast out the love I bore him since he rejected and
dishonoured it,' and standing up Lily made as though she tore at
her breast and threw something from her, and at the same time she
let fall the ring upon the floor.
I heard and my heart stood still. So this was the end of it.
Well, she had the right of me, though now I began to wish that I
had been less honest, for sometimes women can forgive a lie sooner
than such frankness. I said nothing, my tongue was tied, but a
great misery and weariness entered into me. Stooping down I found
the ring, and replacing it on my finger, I turned to seek the door
with a last glance at the woman who refused me. Halfway thither I
paused for one second, wondering if I should do well to declare
myself, then bethought me that if she would not abate her anger
toward me dead, her pity for me living would be small. Nay, I was
dead to her, and dead I would remain.
Now I was at the door and my foot was on its step, when suddenly a
voice, Lily's voice, sounded in my ears and it was sweet and kind.
'Thomas,' said the voice, 'Thomas, before you go, will you not take
count of the gold and goods and land that you placed in my
Now I turned amazed, and lo! Lily came towards me slowly and with
'Oh! foolish man,' she whispered low, 'did you think to deceive a
woman's heart thus clumsily? You who talked of the beech in the
Hall garden, you who found your way so well to this dark chamber,
and spoke the writing in the ring with the very voice of one who
has been dead so long. Listen: I forgive that friend of yours his
broken troth, for he was honest in the telling of his fault and it
is hard for man to live alone so many years, and in strange
countries come strange adventures; moreover, I will say it, I still
love him as it seems that he loves me, though in truth I grow
somewhat old for love, who have lingered long waiting to find it
beyond my grave.
Thus Lily spoke, sobbing as she spoke, then my arms closed round
her and she said no more. And yet as our lips met I thought of
Otomie, remembering her words, and remembering also that she had
died by her own hand on this very day a year ago.
Let us pray that the dead have no vision of the living!
And now there is little left for me to tell and my tale draws to
its end, for which I am thankful, for I am very old and writing is
a weariness to me, so great a weariness indeed that many a time
during the past winter I have been near to abandoning the task.
For a while Lily and I sat almost silent in this same room where I
write to-day, for our great joy and many another emotion that was
mixed with it, clogged our tongues. Then as though moved by one
impulse, we knelt down and offered our humble thanks to heaven that
had preserved us both to this strange meeting. Scarcely had we
risen from our knees when there was a stir without the house, and
presently a buxom dame entered, followed by a gallant gentleman, a
lad, and a maiden. These were my sister Mary, her husband Wilfred
Bozard, Lily's brother, and their two surviving children, Roger and
Joan. When she guessed that it was I come home again and no other,
Lily had sent them tidings by the servant man John, that one was
with her whom she believed they would be glad to see, and they had
hurried hither, not knowing whom they should find. Nor were they
much the wiser at first, for I was much changed and the light in
the room shone dim, but stood perplexed, wondering who this
stranger might be.
'Mary,' I said at length, 'Mary, do you not remember me, my
Then she cried aloud, and throwing herself into my arms, she wept
there a while, as would any of us were our beloved dead suddenly to
appear before our eyes, alive and well, and her husband clasped me
by the hand and swore heartily in his amazement, as is the fashion
of some men when they are moved. But the children stood staring
blankly till I called the girl to me, who now was much what her
mother had been when we parted, and kissing her, told her that I
was that uncle of whom perhaps she had heard as dead many years
Then my horse, that all this while had been forgotten, having been
caught and stabled, we went to supper and it was a strange meal to
me, and after meat I asked for tidings. Now I learned that the
fortune which my old master Fonseca had left to me came home in
safety, and that it had prospered exceedingly under Lily's care,
for she had spent but very little of it for her maintenance,
looking on it always as a trust rather than as her own. When my
death seemed certain my sister Mary had entered on her share of my
possessions, however, and with it had purchased some outlying lands
in Earsham and Hedenham, and the wood and manor of Tyndale Hall in
Ditchingham and Broome. These lands I made haste to say she might
keep as a gift from me, since it seemed that I had greater riches
than I could need without them, and this saying of mine pleased her
husband Wilfred Bozard not a little, seeing that it is hard for a
man to give up what he has held for many years.
Then I heard the rest of the story; of my father's sudden death, of
how the coming of the gold had saved Lily from being forced into
marriage with my brother Geoffrey, who afterwards had taken to evil
courses which ended in his decease at the age of thirty-one; of the
end of Squire Bozard, Lily's father and my old enemy, from an
apoplexy which took him in a sudden fit of anger. After this it
seemed, her brother being married to my sister Mary, Lily had moved
down to the Lodge, having paid off the charges that my brother
Geoffrey had heaped upon his heritage, and bought out my sister's
rights to it. And here at the Lodge she had lived ever since, a
sad and lonely woman, and yet not altogether an unhappy one, for
she gave much of her time to good works. Indeed she told me that
had it not been for the wide lands and moneys which she must manage
as my heiress, she would have betaken herself to a sisterhood,
there to wear her life away in peace, since I being lost to her,
and indeed dead, as she was assured,--for the news of the wreck of
the carak found its way to Ditchingham,--she no longer thought of
marriage, though more than one gentleman of condition had sought
her hand. This, with some minor matters, such as the birth and
death of children, and the story of the great storm and flood that
smote Bungay, and indeed the length of the vale of Waveney in those
days, was all the tale that they had to tell who had grown from
youth to middle age in quiet. For of the crowning and end of kings
and of matters politic, such as the downfall of the power of the
Pope of Rome and the sacking of the religious houses which was
still in progress, I make no mention here.
But now they called for mine, and I began it at the beginning, and
it was strange to see their faces as they listened. All night
long, till the thrushes sang down the nightingales, and the dawn
shone in the east, I sat at Lily's side telling them my story, and
then it was not finished. So we slept in the chambers that had
been made ready for us, and on the morrow I took it up again,
showing them the sword that had belonged to Bernal Diaz, the great
necklace of emeralds which Guatemoc had given to me, and certain
scars and wounds in witness of its truth. Never did I see folk so
much amazed, and when I came to speak of the last sacrifice of the
women of the Otomie, and of the horrid end of de Garcia who died
fighting with his own shadow, or rather with the shadows of his own
wickedness, they cried aloud with fear, as they wept when I told of
the deaths of Isabella de Siguenza and of Guatemoc, and of the loss
of my sons.
But I did not tell all the story to this company, for some of it
was for Lily's ear alone, and to her I spoke of my dealings with
Otomie as a man might speak with a man, for I felt that if I kept
anything back now there would never be complete faith between us.
Therefore I set out all my doubts and troublings, nor did I hide
that I had learned to love Otomie, and that her beauty and
sweetness had drawn me from the first moment when I saw her in the
court of Montezuma, or that which had passed between us on the
stone of sacrifice.
When I had done Lily thanked me for my honesty and said it seemed
that in such matters men differed from women, seeing that SHE had
never felt the need to be delivered from the temptation of strange
loves. Still we were as God and Nature had made us, and therefore
had little right to reproach each other, or even to set that down
as virtue which was but lack of leaning. Moreover, this Otomie,
her sin of heathenism notwithstanding, had been a great-hearted
woman and one who might well dazzle the wandering eyes of man,
daring more for her love's sake than ever she, Lily, could have
dared; and to end with, it was clear that at last I must choose
between wedding her and a speedy death, and having sworn so great
an oath to her I should have been perjured indeed if I had left her
when my dangers were gone by. Therefore she, Lily, was minded to
let all this matter rest, nor should she be jealous if I still
thought of this dead wife of mine with tenderness.
Thus she spoke most sweetly, looking at me the while with her clear
and earnest eyes, that I ever fancied must be such as adorn the
shining faces of angels. Ay, and those same eyes of hers were
filled with tears when I told her my bitter grief over the death of
my firstborn and of my other bereavements. For it was not till
some years afterwards, when she had abandoned further hope of
children, that Lily grew jealous of those dead sons of mine and of
my ever present love for them.
Now the tidings of my return and of my strange adventures among the
nations of the Indies were noised abroad far and wide, and people
came from miles round, ay, even from Norwich and Yarmouth, to see
me and I was pressed to tell my tale till I grew weary of it. Also
a service of thanksgiving for my safe deliverance from many dangers
by land and sea was held in the church of St. Mary's here in
Ditchingham, which service was no longer celebrated after the rites
of the Romish faith, for while I had sojourned afar, the saints
were fallen like the Aztec gods; the yoke of Rome had been broken
from off the neck of England, and though all do not think with me,
I for one rejoiced at it heartily who had seen enough of
priestcraft and its cruelties.
When that ceremony was over and all people had gone to their homes,
I came back again to the empty church from the Hall, where I abode
a while as the guest of my sister and her husband, till Lily and I
And there in the quiet light of the June evening I knelt in the
chancel upon the rushes that strewed the grave of my father and my
mother, and sent my spirit up towards them in the place of their
eternal rest, and to the God who guards them. A great calm came
upon me as I knelt thus, and I felt how mad had been that oath of
mine that as a lad I had sworn to be avenged upon de Garcia, and I
saw how as a tree from a seed, all my sorrows had grown from it.
But even then I could not do other than hate de Garcia, no, nor can
I to this hour, and after all it was natural that I should desire
vengeance on the murderer of my mother though the wreaking of it
had best been left in another Hand.
Without the little chancel door I met Lily, who was lingering there
knowing me to be within, and we spoke together.
'Lily,' I said, 'I would ask you something. After all that has
been, will you still take me for your husband, unworthy as I am?'
'I promised so to do many a year ago, Thomas,' she answered,
speaking very low, and blushing like the wild rose that bloomed
upon a grave beside her, 'and I have never changed my mind. Indeed
for many years I have looked upon you as my husband, though I
thought you dead.'
'Perhaps it is more than I deserve,' I said. 'but if it is to be,
say when it shall be, for youth has left us and we have little time
'When you will, Thomas,' she answered, placing her hand in mine.
Within a week from that evening we were wed.
And now my tale is done. God who gave me so sad and troublous a
youth and early manhood, has blessed me beyond measure in my middle
age and eld. All these events of which I have written at such
length were done with many a day ago: the hornbeam sapling that I
set beneath these windows in the year when we were married is now a
goodly tree of shade and still I live to look on it. Here in the
happy valley of the Waveney, save for my bitter memories and that
longing for the dead which no time can so much as dull, year after
year has rolled over my silvering hairs in perfect health and peace
and rest, and year by year have I rejoiced more deeply in the true
love of a wife such as few have known. For it would seem as though
the heart-ache and despair of youth had but sweetened that most
noble nature till it grew well nigh divine. But one sorrow came to
us, the death of our infant child--for it was fated that I should
die childless--and in that sorrow, as I have told, Lily shewed that
she was still a woman. For the rest no shadow lay between us.
Hand in hand we passed down the hill of life, till at length in the
fulness of her days my wife was taken from me. One Christmas night
she lay down to sleep at my side, in the morning she was dead. I
grieved indeed and bitterly, but the sorrow was not as the sorrows
of my youth had been, since age and use dull the edge of mortal
griefs and I knew and know that we are no long space apart. Very
soon I shall join Lily where she is, and I do not fear that
journey. For the dread of death has left me at length, as it
departs from all who live long enough and strive to repent them of
their sins, and I am well content to leave my safety at the Gates
and my heavenly comfort in the Almighty Hand that saved me from the
stone of sacrifice and has guided me through so many perils upon
this troubled earth.
And now to God my Father, Who holds me, Thomas Wingfield, and all I
have loved and love in His holy keeping, be thanks and glory and