Part 5 out of 6
They would make splendid ornaments--so distingue with such a story
attached to them."
I could only again tell myself that my first impression had been
right, and that he must be underwitted to be so absolutely impervious
to gratitude. How Harold must have bolstered him up to make him so
tolerable as he had been.
He need not have feared. Alice's improvement was but a last flash of
the expiring flame. She grew worse the very day after Harold wrote
to me, and did not live three weeks after he brought her into the
town, though surrounded by such cares as she had never known before.
She died, they said, more from being worn out than from the disease.
She had done nothing her whole lifetime but toil for others; and if
unselfishness and silent slavery can be religion in a woman, poor
Alice had it. But!
Harold once asked her the saddest question that perhaps a son could
ask: "Mother, why did you never teach me to say my prayers?"
She stared at him with her great, sunken, uncomplaining eyes, and
said, "I hadn't time;" and as he gave some involuntary groan, she
said, "You see we never got religion, not Dorothy and me, while we
were girls; and when our troubles came, I'm sure we'd no time for
such things as that. When your father lay a-dying, he did say,
'Alice, take care the boy gets to know his God better than we have
done;' but you were a great big boy by that time, and I thought I
would take care you was taught by marrying a parson and a
schoolmaster; but there, I ought to have remembered there was none so
hard on us as the parsons!"
Nor would she see a clergyman. She had had enough of that sort, she
said, with the only petulance she ever showed to Harold when he
pressed it. She did not object to his reading to her some of those
passages in the Bible and Prayer-Book which had become most dear to
him, but she seemed rather to view it as one of the wonderful
performances of her boy--a part of his having become "as good an
English gentleman as ever his poor father was, and able to hold up
his head with any of them." She was too ill to be argued with; she
said "she trusted in God," whatever she meant by that; and so she
died, holding Harold's hand as long as her fingers could clasp, and
gazing at him as long as her eyes could see.
He wrote to me all out of his overflowing heart, as he could never
have spoken by word of mouth, on his voyage between New Zealand and
Australia; and on his arrival there, finding our letters just before
the mail went out, he added the characteristic line to the one he had
written to Eustace, "All right, old chap, I wish you joy;" and to me
he wrote, that since I asked what he wished, he thought I had better
take a house by the year in, or near, Mycening, and see how things
would turn out. He hoped I should keep Dora. We need not write
again, for he should leave Sydney before our letters could arrive.
I found a little house called Mount Eaton, on the Neme Heath side of
Mycening, with a green field between it and the town, and the heath
stretching out beyond, where Harold might rush out and shake his mane
instead of feeling cribbed and confined. It wanted a great deal of
painting and papering, which I set in hand at once, but of course it
was a more lingering business than I expected. All the furniture and
books that had belonged to my own mother had been left to me, and it
had been settled by the valuation, when I knew little about it, what
these were; and all that remained was to face Eustace's disgust at
finding how many of "the best things" it comprised. Hippolyta showed
to advantage there. I believe she was rather glad to get rid of
them, and to have the opportunity of getting newer and more
fashionable ones; but, at any rate, she did it with a good grace, and
made me welcome not only to my own property, but to remain at
Arghouse till my new abode should be habitable, which I hoped would
be a day or two after the wedding.
The great grievance was, however, that I had put myself and Dora into
mourning, feeling it very sad that this last of the four exiles
should be the only one of whose death I even knew. Eustace thought
the whole connection ought to be forgotten, and that, whatever I
might choose to do, it was intolerable that his sister, the present
Miss Alison of Arghouse, should put on mourning for the wife of a
disgraced fellow, a runaway parson turned sharper!
I am afraid I was not as patient or tolerant as I ought to have been,
and it ended in the time of reprieve being put an end to, and Dora
being carried off by the Horsmans to her new schoolroom in London,
her resistance, and the home-truths she told her brother, only making
him the more inexorable. Poor little girl! I do not like to think
of the day I put her into Hippolyta's hands.
CHAPTER XIII. THE BLOODHOUND.
It was a broiling evening in early June, very beautiful, but so hot
that I dreaded the fatigue and all the adjuncts of the morrow's
wedding, when I was to be a bridesmaid, and should see my poor little
Dora again. I was alone, for Eustace was sleeping at Therford
Vicarage, but I had not time for sentiment over the old home and old
gardens. I was turning out the old Indian cabinets, which were none
of mine, though they had always been called so, and putting into
cotton wool and paper all my treasures there, ready for transport,
when a shadow fell on me from the open window. I looked up, and
there stood Harold!
Oh, how unlike it was from the way in which we had met three years
before as bewildered strangers! I do not think that sister could
ever have met brother with more entire feeling that home, and trust,
and staff, and stay were come back to her, than when I found Harold's
arm round me, his head bending down to me. I was off my own mind!
When our greeting was over, Harold turned and said, "Here he is."
I saw a fine-looking old man, with a certain majesty of air that one
could not define. He was pale, wrinkled, and had deep furrows of
suffering on cheek and brow, but his dark eyes, under a shaggy white
penthouse, were full of keen fire and even ardour. His bald forehead
was very fine, and his mouth--fully visible, for he was closely
shaven--had an ineffable, melancholy sweetness about it, so that the
wonderful power of leading all with whom he came in contact was no
longer a mystery to me; for, fierce patriot and desperate republican
as he might have been, nothing could destroy the inborn noble, and
instinctively I bent to him with respect as I took his hand in
After the hasty inquiries, "Where's Dora?" "Where's Eustace?"
"Where's Dermot Tracy?" had been answered, and I had learnt that this
last had gone on to London, where his family were, Harold hurried out
to see about sending for the luggage, and Prometesky, turning to me,
almost took my breath away by saying, "Madam, I revere you. You have
done for the youth so dear to me what I could never have done, and
have transformed him from a noble savage to that far higher being--
the Christian hero."
I did not take this magnificent compliment as if I had been of the
courtly continental blood of him who made it: it made me hot and
sheepish, yet even now I still feel warm at the heart when I remember
it; for I know he really meant it, little as I deserved it, for the
truth was what I faltered out: "It was all in him."
"It was all in him. That is true; but it needed to be evoked, so as
not to be any longer stifled and perverted by the vehemence of his
physical nature. When he left me, after the great catastrophe which
changed him from the mere exaggerated child, gratifying every passion
with violence, I knew it depended on what hands he would fall into,
whether the spiritual or the animal would have the mastery. Madam,
it was into your hands that he fell, and I thank God for it, even
more than for the deliverance that my dear pupil has gained for me."
He had tears in his eyes as he took my hand and kissed it, and very
much overpowered I was. I had somewhat dreaded finding him a free-
thinker, but there was something in both speeches that consoled me,
and he afterwards said to me: "Madam, in our youth intellectual
Catholics are apt to reject what our reason will not accept. We love
not authority. In age we gain sympathy with authority, and
experience has taught us that there can be a Wisdom surpassing our
own. We have proved for ourselves that love cannot live without
And Harold told me on the evening of their return, with much concern,
that the old man had made up his mind that, so soon as his health
should be sufficiently restored, he would make retreat among the
monks of La Trappe experimentally, and should probably take the vows.
"I don't see that his pardon has done much good," he said, and did
not greatly accept my representation of the marvellous difference it
must make to a Roman Catholic to be no longer isolated from the
offices of religion. He had made up his mind to come into Sydney to
die, but he was too poor to have lived anywhere but under the Boola
It was a very quietly glad evening, as we three sat round the open
window, and asked and answered questions. Harold said he would come
to the wedding with me the next day; he must see old Eu married; and,
besides, he wanted to give up to him the three nuggets, which had
been rather a serious charge. Harold, Prometesky, and Dermot had
each carried one, in case of any disaster, that there might be three
chances; but now they were all three laid in my lap--wonderful
things, one a little larger than the others, but all curiously apple-
like in form, such gifts as a bride has seldom had.
There was the account of the sale of Boola Boola to be rendered up
too; and the place had risen so much in value that it had brought in
far more than Harold had expected when leaving England, so that he
and Eustace were much richer men than he had reckoned on being.
Mrs. Sam Alison had arrived safely, but rather surprised not to find
people walking on their heads, as she had been told everything was
upside down. Her son had so far recovered that he could undertake
such employment in writing as it was possible to procure. The mother
and son were very happy together, but Harold winced as if a sore were
touched when he spoke of their meeting.
I was anxious that he should hear of nothing to vex him that night,
for there was more than enough to annoy him another day, and I talked
on eagerly about the arrangements for the wedding. Hippolyta had
insisted on making it a mingled archery and hunt-wedding. She was to
wear the famous belt. The bridegroom, her brothers, and most of the
gentlemen were to be in their pink; we bridesmaids had scarlet
ribbons, and the favours had miniature fox brushes fastened with
arrows in the centre; even our lockets, with their elaborate cypher
of E's, A's, and H's, depended from the head of a fox.
Prometesky looked amazed, as well he might. "Your ladies are
changed," he said. "It would formerly scarcely have been thought
feminine to show such ardour for the chase."
"Perhaps it is not now," I said.
"Or is it in honour of the lady's name? Hippolyta should have a
Midsummer wedding, and 'love the musick of her hounds,'" continued
the old gentleman, whom I found to have Shakespeare almost by heart,
as one of the chief companions of his solitude.
As soon as Harold heard his boxes arriving, he went to work to
disinter the wedding present he had provided--a pretty bracelet of
New Zealand green jade set in gold. There was a little parcel for
me, too, which he gave me, leading me aside. It was also a locket,
and bore a cypher, but how unlike the other! It was a simple A; and
within was a lock of silver hair. There was no need to tell me whose
it was. "She said she wished she had anything to send you," were
Harold's words, "and I cut off this bit of her hair;" and when I
wondered over her having taken thought of me, he said, "She blessed
you for your kindness to me. If I could only have brought her to
I secured then, as the completion of his gift, one of his thick curls
of yellow-brown hair. He showed me the chain he had brought for
Dora, and gave me one glance at a clear, pure, crystal cross, from
spar found in New Zealand, near the gold-fields. Would he ever be
able to give it? I answered the question in his eyes by telling him
a certain Etruscan flower-pot had stood in a certain window at Arked
House all the winter, and was gone to London now.
Our home breakfast had to be very early, to give time for the drive
to Therford, but Harold had been already into Mycening, had exchanged
countless hearty greetings, roused up an unfortunate hair-cutter, to
trim his locks, bought a hat, and with considerable difficulty found
a pair of gloves that he could put on--not kid, but thick riding-
gloves; white, at least--and so he hoped that they would pass in the
crowd, and Eustace would not feel himself disgraced. He had not put
on the red coat, but had tried to make himself look as satisfactory
to Eustace as possible in black, and (from a rather comical sense of
duty) he made me look him over to see if he were worthy of the
occasion. He certainly was in splendid looks, his rich, profuse
beard and hair were well arranged, and his fine bronzed face had not
lost its grave expression when at rest, but had acquired a certain
loftiness of countenance, which gave him more than ever the air, I
was going to say, of a demigod; but he had now an expression no
heathen Greek could give; it was more like that of the heads by
Michael Angelo, where Christian yearning is added to classic might
Prometesky preferred staying at home. He seemed suffering and weary,
and said that perhaps he should wander about and renew his
acquaintance with the country; and so Harold and I set off together
on the drive, which, as I well knew, would be the most agreeable part
of the day.
Very lovely it was as we passed in the morning freshness of the
glowing summer day through lanes wreathed with dog-roses and white
with May, looking over grass-fields with silvery ripples in the
breeze into woods all golden and olive-green above with young
foliage, and pink below with campion flowers, while the moorland
beyond was in its glory of gorse near at hand, and purple hills
closing the distance. I remember the drive especially, because
Harold looked at the wealth of gay colouring so lovingly, comparing
it with the frequently parched uniformity of the Bush, regretting
somewhat the limited range, but owning there were better things than
When we reached Therford he would not go to the house with me, nor
seek to see Eustace before the wedding, saying he should wait in the
churchyard and join us afterwards. So in I went into the scene of
waiting, interspersed with bustle, that always precedes a wedding,
and was handed into the bed-room where the bridesmaids were secluded
till the bride was ready, all save Pippa and the most favoured
cousin, who were arraying her. There were a dozen, and all were
Horsmans except Dora and me. The child made one great leap at me,
and squeezed me, to such detriment of our flimsy draperies that she
was instantly called to order. Her lip pouted, and her brow lowered;
but I whispered two words in her ear, and with a glance in her eye,
and an intent look on her face, she stood, a being strangely changed
from the listless, sullen, defiant creature she had been a minute
Therford was one of those old places where the church is as near as
possible to the manor house, standing on a little elevation above it,
and with a long avenue of Lombardy poplars leading from the south
porch, the family entrance, to the front door of the house, so this
was that pretty thing, a walking, instead of a carriage, wedding. As
one of the procession, I could not see, but the red and white must
have made it very pretty, and the Northchester paper was quite
poetical in its raptures.
All this was, however, forgotten in the terrible adventure that
immediately followed. The general entrance was by the west door,
and close to this I perceived Harold following his usual practice
of getting into the rear and looking over people's heads. When the
service was over, and we waited for the signing of the registers,
most of the spectators, and he among them, went out by this western
door, and waited in the churchyard to see the procession come out.
Forth it came, headed by the bride and bridegroom, both looking their
very handsomest, and we bridesmaids in six couples behind, when, just
as we were clear of the porch, and school-children were strewing
flowers before the pair, there was a strange shuddering cry, and the
great bloodhound, Kirby, with broken chain and foaming jaws--all the
dreadful tokens of madness about him--came rushing up the avenue with
the speed of the wind, making full for his mistress, the bride.
There was not a moment for her to do more than give a sort of
shrieking, despairing command, "Down, Kirby!" when, just as the beast
was springing on her, his throat was seized by the powerful hands
that alone could have grappled with him, and the terrible head,
foaming, and making horrid choking growls, was swung round from her,
and the dog lifted by the back of the neck in the air, struggling and
Everyone had given back; Hippolyta had thrown herself on Eustace, who
drew her back, crowding on us, into the porch; Harold, still holding
the dog at arm's length, made his voice heard in steady tones, "Will
some one give me my other glove?"
One hand, that which grasped the dog, was gloved, but the free hand
was bare, and it was Dora who first understood, saw the glove at his
feet, sprang to his side, and held it up to him, while he worked his
hand into it, and she pulled it on for him. Then he transferred his
grasp from one hand to the other, and in that moment the powerful
bloodhound made a desperate struggle, and managed to get one paw on
the ground, and writhe itself round so as to fly at his face and make
its teeth actually meet in his beard, a great mouthful of which it
tore out, and we saw it champing the hairs, as he again swung it up,
so that it could only make frantic contortions with its body and
legs, while he held it at arm's length with the iron strength of his
This had taken hardly three seconds, and in that time Jack Horsman
and a keeper or two had been able to come up, but no one unarmed
could give efficient aid, and Harold said, "I'll take him to the
Mr. Horsman led the way, and as the keepers followed with several of
the gentlemen, I was forced to let Harold vanish, carrying at arm's
length that immense dog, still making horrible rabid struggles.
I don't clearly remember how we got back to the house. Somebody had
fainted, I believe, and there was much confusion; but I know nothing
but that there was the report of a pistol, and, almost immediately
after, I saw Harold coming up to the hall door with Dora lying back
in his arms. Then my eyes and ears grew clear, and I flew forward to
ask the dreadful question. "No," he said, "she is only a little
upset." Unperceived, that child had followed him down, holding the
broken chain in which he might have tripped, and had stood by even
while he set the poor beast on his feet, and held it for the merciful
death shot. It seemed that her purpose had been to suck the wound if
he had been bitten, and when once she heard Mr. Horsman exclaim, "All
safe, thank God!" she clung to Harold with an inarticulate gasp, in
one of those hysterical agonies by which her womanhood from time to
time asserted itself. She could not breathe or speak, and he only
begged for a place to lay her down. Old Marianne Horsman, the quiet
one of the family, took us to her own den, and, with me, insisted on
looking well at Harold's hands and face. What might not that horrid
leap have done? But we convinced ourselves that those fangs had only
caught his beard, where there was a visible gap, but no sign of a
wound; and those riding-gloves had entirely guarded his hands. How
blessed the Providence, for ordinarily he never touched gloves, and
common white kid ones would have availed little. There was scarce
time to speak of it, for the child required all our care, and was
only just becoming calmer, as Harold held her, when the bride and
bridegroom came in, she, red and eager, he, white and shaken, to
summon us to the breakfast. "Don't go!" was her moan, half asleep.
Harold bade me go, and as the bride declared they could not sit down
without him, he answered, "Not yet, thank you, I couldn't." And I
remembered that his prompt deed of daring had been in defiance of a
strong nervous antipathy. There was a spasmodic effort in the smile
he attempted, a twitching in the muscles of his throat; he was as
pale as his browned cheeks could become, and his hand was still so
unsteady that he was forced to resign to me the spoonful of cordial
to put into Dora's mouth.
And at that moment Eustace turned and said, "Have you brought the
Without speaking Harold put his hand into his pocket, and laid them
in Eustace's hand.
"These? you said they were golden apples; I thought they would be
"They are wonderful," said Hippolyta; "no one ever had such a
"Not that--a debt," said Harold, hoarsely; but Pippa Horsman came and
summoned them, and I was obliged to follow, answering old Marianne's
entreaties to say what would be good for him by begging for strong
coffee, which she promised and ordered, but in the skurry of the
household, it never came.
The banquet, held in a tent, was meant to be a brilliantly merry one.
The cake had a hunt in sugar all round it, and the appropriate motto,
"Hip, hip, hurrah!" and people tried to be hilarious; but with that
awful shock thrilling on everybody's nerves we only succeeded in
being noisy, though, as we were assured, there was no cause for alarm
or grief. The dog had been tied up on suspicion, and had bitten
nothing but one cat, which it had killed. Yet surely grave
thankfulness would have been better for us all, as well as more
comfortable than loud witticisms and excited laughter. I looked at
the two or three clerical members of the clan and wondered at them.
When the moment for healths came, the bride called to her brother,
the head of the house, by his pleasing name of Baby, and sent him to
fetch Harold, whom he brought back with him. Dora was sound asleep,
they said, and room was made for Harold in the bridal neighbourhood
in time to hear the baronet, who had married a Horsman of the last
generation, propose the health of the bride with all the conventional
phrases, and of the bridegroom, as a gentleman who, from his first
arrival, had made it his study to maintain the old character of the
family, and to distinguish himself by intelligent care for the
welfare of his tenants, &c., &c.
Hippolyta must have longed to make the speech in return. We could
see her prompting her husband, and, by means of imitations of Lord
Erymanth, he got through pretty well with his gracious acceptance of
all the praises.
Baby Jack proposed the health of the bridesmaids, adding, more
especially, that of the absent one, as a little heroine; and, after
the response, came a ponderous speech by another kinsman, full of
compliments to Harold's courage in a fulsome style that made me flush
with the vexation it must give him, and the annoyance it would be to
reply. I had been watching him. As a pile of lumps of ice
fortunately stood near him, he had, at every interval, been
transferring one to his glass, filling it up with water, guarding it
from the circling decanters, and taking such a draught at every toast
that I knew his mouth was parched, and I dreaded that sheer worry
would make him utter one of his "young barbarian" bluntnesses; but
what he did was to stand up and say simply, "It is very kind of
Colonel Horsman to speak in this way of my share in the great mercy
and deliverance we have received to-day. It is a matter of the
greatest thankfulness. Let me in return thank the friends here
assembled for their welcome, and, above all, for their appreciation
of my cousin, whose position now fulfils my great wish. Three years
ago we were friendless strangers. Now he has made himself one with
you, and I thank you heartily for it."
I felt rather than heard Nessy Horsman muttering, "pretty well for
the large young man;" and it seemed to occur to no one that friends,
position, and all had been gained for Eustace by Harold himself.
He was requesting permission to take Dora back with us, and it was
granted with some demur, because she must be with Mrs. Randal Horsman
on her return to town on the Monday; a day's lessons could not be
sacrificed, for she was very backward, and had no application; but
Harold undertook that she should meet the lady at the station, and
gained his point.
Clan Horsman knew too well what he had done to deny him anything he
asked. A man who had not only taken a mad dog by the throat, but had
brought home two hundred and twenty pounds worth of gold to lay on
the table, deserved something at their hands, though ice was all he
actually received; but Eustace, when he came to us while the bride
was changing her dress, was in a fretful, fault-finding mood, partly
it may be from the desire to assert himself, as usual, above his
He was dissatisfied with the price paid for Boola-Boola. Someone had
told him it would realise four times as much, and when Harold would
have explained that this was unreasonable, he was cut short with the
declaration that the offer ought not to have been accepted without
reference to the other party concerned.
Next he informed Harold, in an off-hand way, that some of the new
improvements at Arghouse would not work, and that he had a new agent--
-a _responsible_ agent--who was not to be interfered with.
There was a certain growl in Harold's "very well," but the climax was
Eustace's indignation when he heard of Prometesky's arrival. He had
worked himself, by way of doing the country squire completely, into a
disgust of the old exile, far out-Heroding what he had heard from
Lord Erymanth, and that "the old incendiary" should be in his house
was a great offence.
"He shall not sleep there another night, neither will I," said
Harold, in a calm voice, but with such a gleam in his eyes as I had
seen when he fell on Bullock.
It had at least the effect of reducing Eustace to his old habit of
subordination, and he fell into an agony of "No, I did not mean that,
and--" stammering out something in excuse about not liking the
servants and all to think he was harbouring a returned convict.
I had taken care of that. I knew how "that that there Fotsky" was
the ogre of the riots, and I had guarded against his identification
by speaking of our guest as the foreign gentleman who had come home
with Mr. Harold, and causing him to be called Count Stanislas; and,
on hearing this, Eustace became so urgent in his entreaties, that
Harold, though much hurt, relented so far as to promise at any rate
to remain till Monday, so that Dora should not detect the offence.
We saw the happy pair off, among the old shoes, to spend some months
abroad, while the old house was revivified for them, and then we had
our own drive home, which was chiefly occupied with Dora, who,
sitting on Harold's knee, seemed to expect her full rescue from all
grievances, and was terribly disappointed to find that he had no
power to remove her from her durance in the London school-room, where
she was plainly the dunce and the black sheep, a misery to herself
and all concerned, hating everyone and disliked by all. To the
little maiden of the Bush, only half tamed as yet, the London school-
room and walks in the park were penance in themselves, and the
company of three steady prim girls, in the idealess state produced by
confinement to a school-room, and nothing but childish books, was as
distasteful to her as she was shocking to them, and her life was one
warfare with them and with their Fraulein. The only person she
seemed able to endure was Nessy Horsman, who was allowed to haunt his
cousin Randal's house, and who delighted in shocking the decorous
monotony of the trio of sisters, finding the vehement little
Australian far more entertaining, while, whether he teased or
stimulated her, she found him the least uncongenial being she met in
Paddington. But what struck me most was the manner in which Harold
spoke to her, not merely spoiling her, and giving her her own way, as
if he were only a bigger child, but saying "It will all get better,
Dora, if you only try to do your best."
"I haven't got any best to do."
"But I don't want it to be better. I want to be with you and Lucy."
Then came some reasoning about impossibilities, too low for me to
hear in the noise of the wheels, but ending with "It is only another
thing to conquer. You can conquer anything if you only try, and pray
to God to help you."
"I haven't said my prayers since I went away. They ordered me, and
said I was wicked; but you don't, Harold, do you?" she cried
triumphantly, little expecting the groan she met in answer, "Yes,
indeed I do, Dora. I only wish I had done so sooner."
"I thought it was no use," she said, crying at his tone. "It was so
unkind to take me away from Lucy," and whereas she hardly ever shed
tears and was now far from restored after the fright, when she once
began we could hardly stop her weeping, and were thankful when she
was soothed into another sleep, which we durst not peril by a word.
It deepened and lasted so that Harold carried her upstairs still
asleep, and laid her on her own little bed. Then he came out with me
into my dear old sitting-room, where, without another word, he knelt
in the old place and said, "_That_ psalm, please Lucy."
"I think we ought to give thanks in church," I said, presently.
"Whatever is right," he said fervently.
"It was the greatest escape you ever had," I said.
"Yes," he said, shuddering; "at least it seemed so. I really thought
the dog had bitten me when he flew in my face. It felt just like it,
and I was very near giving up. I don't mean letting him go, but not
heeding whether he touched me or not. It kept on haunting me till I
was alone with Dora, and could examine at the looking-glass."
Of course I was not content till I had likewise again convinced
myself by searching into the beard, and then I added, "Ah! this is
worse than the lion, though then you were really hurt."
"Yes, but there one knew the worst. Besides," he said, again
overcoming a shudder, "I know my feeling about dogs is a weakness
owing to my sin. 'Deliver me from the power of the dog,' to me
expresses all the power of evil."
Then he sat down and took a pen to write to Mr. Crosse. "Harold
Alison wishes to give thanks to Almighty God for a great mercy."
And after that he never alluded to the advenure again. I told the
story to Prometesky in his absence, and we never mentioned it more.
Indeed the next thing Harold said, as he addressed his envelope, was,
"It is a pity to lose this room."
"There is one that I can fit up like it," I said. "All the things
here are mine." And then I was glad to divert his attention by
proposing to go and inspect Mount Eaton, as soon as he had had some
much-needed food, since Prometesky was out, and we at once plunged
into the "flitting" affairs, glad in them to stifle some of the pain
that Eustace had given, but on which we neither of us would dwell.
Was Harold changed, or had he only gone on growing in the course he
had begun? He was as simple and unconsciously powerful as ever, but
there was something there was not before, reminding me of the dawning
of Undine's soul.
He was called off in the middle of our consultation as to the house,
which was our common property, by a message that Mr. Crabbe would be
glad of a few minutes with him.
"Was there any fresh annoyance about the Hydriots?" I asked, when he
"Oh, no! The rascal is come over to my side. What do you think he
wanted to say? That he had been to look at my grandfather's will,
and he thinks you could drive a coach and horses through it; and he
proposes to me to upset it, and come in as heir-at-law! The
"After all," I said, after a pause, "it would be very good for poor
Arghouse if you thought it right."
"_I_ should not be very good for Arghouse if I did such a thing as
that," returned Harold. "No, poor old Eu, I'm not going to disturb
him because he has got out of my hands, and I think she will take
care of the people. I daresay I bullied him more than was bearable."
Would Harold have so forgiven even Eustace's ingratitude three years
CHAPTER XIV. SUNSET GOLD AND PURPLE.
We had a happy time after that; our Sunday was a very glad and
peaceful one, with our thanksgiving in the morning, and Dora's
pleasure in the dear old children's service in the afternoon. Poor
child, she liked everything that she had only submitted to when she
was with us, and Harold took her away on the Monday in a more
resigned frame of mind, with a kind of promise that she would be good
if the Horsmans would let her.
Then came the removal, and I must say there was some compensation for
the pain of leaving my old home in that sense of snugness and liberty
in our new plenishing, rather like the playing at doll's houses. We
had stable room for Harold's horse and my pony--the kangaroo, alas!
had pined and died the winter that Harold was away; the garden was
practicable, and the rooms were capable of being made home-like and
The Tracys were out of reach for the present. Dermot was gone to
Ireland, and Lady Diana and her daughter were making a long round of
visits among friends, so that there was nothing for it but waiting,
and as it was hopeful waiting, enlivened by Viola's letters to me,
Harold endured it very happily, having indeed much to think about.
There was Prometesky's health. It was ascertained that he must
undergo an operation, and when we found that all the requisite skill
could be had near at hand, I overruled the scruples about alarming or
distressing me. I knew that it would be better for him to be watched
by George Yolland, and for Harold to be at home, and I had come to
love the old man very heartily.
One day of expectation, in which he was the most calm and resolute of
us, one anxious day when they sent me to Miss Woolmer, until Harold
came, thankful and hopeful to fetch me, a few more of nursing
accepted with touching gratitude, and he was soon downstairs again, a
hale old man, though nearly seventy, but more than ever bent on his
retreat to La Trappe. It distressed us much. He seemed so much to
enjoy intelligent talk with Miss Woolmer and the Yollands; he so
delighted in books, and took such fresh interest in all, whether
mechanical or moral, that was doing at the Hydriots--of which, by-
the-by, as first inventor, the company had contrived, at Harold's
suggestion, to make him a shareholder to an extent that would cover
all his modest needs, I could not think how he would bear the change.
"My dear young lady," he said to me, when I tried to persuade him out
of writing the first letter, "you forget how much I have of sin upon
me. Can years of negation of faith, or the ruin of four young lives,
and I know not of how many more, be repented of at ease in your
pleasant town, amid the amiable cares you young people are good
enough to lavish on the old man?"
I made some foolish answer about his having meant all for good and
noble purposes, but he shook his head.
"Error, my dear madam, error excusable, perhaps, in one whose country
has been destroyed. I see, now that I have returned, after years
alone with my God, that the work I tried to precipitate was one of
patience. The fire from heaven must first illuminate the soul, then
the spirit, and then the bonds will be loosed of themselves;
otherwise we do but pluck them asunder to set maniacs free to rush
into the gulf. And as to my influence on my two pupils, your
brothers, I see now that what began in filial rebellion and
disobedience could never end well. I bless God that I have been
permitted to see, in the next generation, the true hero and reformer
I ought to have made of my Ambrose. Ah! Ambrose, Ambrose! noble
young spirit, would that any tears and penance of mine would expiate
the shipwreck to which I led thee!" and he burst into tears.
He had, of course, seen the Roman Catholic priest several times
before encountering the danger of the operation, and was a thoroughly
devout penitent, but of his old Liberalism he retained the intense
benevolence that made the improvements at the potteries a great
delight to him, likewise the historical breadth of understanding that
prevented his thinking us all un-Catholic and unsafe.
It was a great blessing that Harold was not held back but rather
aided and stimulated by the example of the man to whom he most looked
up; but with his characteristic silence, it was long before I found
that, having felt, beside his mother's death-bed, how far his
spiritual wants had outgrown me, he had carried them to Ben Yolland,
though the old morning habit remained unbroken, and he always came to
the little room I had made like my old one.
Ben Yolland had become more entirely chaplain to the Hydriots. Those
two brothers lived together in a curious way at what we all still
called the "Dragon's Head," each with his own sitting-room and one in
common, one fitted as a clergyman's study, the other more like a
surgery; for though George had given up his public practice since he
had been manager of the works, he still attended all the workpeople
and their families, only making them pay for their medicines "when it
was good for them."
Thus the care of the soul and bodies of the Hydriots was divided
between the two, and they seemed to work in concert, although George
showed no symptom of change of opinions, never saying anything openly
to discredit his brother's principles, nay, viewing them as wholesome
restraints for those who were not too scientific to accept them, and
even going to church when he had nothing else to do, but by
preference looking up his patients on a Sunday. He viewed
everything, from religion to vice, as the outcome of certain states
of brain, nerves, and health; and so far from being influenced by the
example of Prometesky, regarded him as a proof of his own theory, and
talked of the Slavonic temperament returning to its normal forms as
the vigour of life departed.
Nevertheless, he did not seem to do harm to the workpeople.
Drunkenness was at least somewhat restrained, though far from
conquered, and the general spirit of the people was wonderful,
compared with those of other factories. Plans were under discussion
for a mission chapel, and the people themselves were thoroughly
anxious for it.
Lord Erymanth returning, kindly came to call on me in my new house,
and as I was out of the drawing-room at the time, he had ten minutes'
conversation with the gentleman whom he found reading at the window,
and was so much pleased with him that when making the tour of our
small domain, he said, "You did not introduce me, Lucy. Is that an
Australian acquaintance of Harold Alison's? I did not expect such
"An Australian acquaintance, yes," said I, "and also a Polish count."
"Prometesky," said I, to whom the name had begun to sound historical.
"I did not know you did not recognise him."
I was afraid my old friend would be angry with me, but he stood still
and said, "I never saw him except at his trial. I can understand now
the fascination he was said to have possessed. I could not
conscientiously assist your nephew in his recall, but I highly honour
the generous perseverance with which he has effected it; and I am
happy to acknowledge that the subject is worthy of his enthusiasm.
Animosity may be laid aside now, and you may tell Mr. Harold Alison
that I heartily congratulate him."
"And he--Count Stanislas we call him--sees now that he was mistaken,"
"Does he? That is the best of the higher stamp of men, my dear.
They know when they are wrong, and own it. In fact, that's the
greatest difference between men. The feeble and self-opinionated
never acknowledge an error, but the truly sincere can confess and
retrieve their hallucinations and prejudices. Well, I am glad to
have seen Prometesky, and to be disabused of aome ideas respecting
Count Stanislas, on the other hand, received me with, "So that is
Erymanth! The tyrant, against whom we raged, proves a charitable,
benevolent, prosy old gentleman. How many illusions a few decades
dispel, and how much hatred one wastes!"
Lord Erymanth had told me that his sister would soon be at home, and
in September I was surprised by a call from Dermot. "Yes, I'm at
Arked," he said, "Killy Marey is full of Dublin workmen. My uncle
has undertaken to make it habitable for me, like an old brick, and,
in the meantime, there's not a room fit to smoke or sleep in, so I'm
come home like a dutiful son."
"Then your mother is come?"
"Oh yes; she is come for six weeks, and then she and the St. Glears
are to join company and winter at Rome."
"Prevention, you see," said Dermot, with a twinkle in his eye, as if
he were not very uneasy. "The question is whether it is in time.
She will have Piggy's attentions at Christmas. He is to come out for
Then he further told me that his mother had brought home with her a
Mrs. Sandford with a daughter, heiress to L60,000, and to a newly-
bought estate in Surrey, and newly-built house "of the most desirable
description," he added, shrugging his shoulders.
"And what sort of a young lady is she?"
"Oh, very desirable, too, I suppose."
"But what is she like?"
"Like? Oh, like other people," and he whistled a little, seeming
relieved when "Count Stanislas" came in, and soon after going to hunt
up Harry at the Hydriot works.
It made me uncomfortable; it was so evidently another attempt on his
mother's part to secure a rich home for him in England, and his tone
did not at all reassure me that, with his easy temper, he would not
drift into the arrangement without his heart in it. "Why should I be
so vexed about it? It might be very good for him," said I to myself.
No, his heart was not in it, for he came back with Harold, and
lingered over our fire beyond all reasonable time, talking amusing
random stuff, till he had left himself only ten minutes to ride home
in to dinner.
The next day Harold and I rode over to Arked together. Dermot was
the first person we saw, disporting himself with a pug-dog at the
door. "The fates have sped you well," said he, as he helped me down
from my pony. "My mother has taken Mrs. Sandford in state to call on
Mrs. Vernon, having arranged that Viola and I should conduct the
sixty-thousand pounder to admire the tints in the beech woods. The
young ladies are putting on their hats. Will it be too far for you,
Lucy, to go with us?"
Wherewith he fraternally shouted for "Vi," who appeared all in a rosy
glow, and took me upstairs to equip me for walking, extracting from
me in the meantime the main features of the story of the bloodhound,
and trembling while she gave exulting little nods.
Then she called for Nina (were they so intimate already?) and found
that young lady in a point device walking dress, nursing the pug and
talking to Dermot, and so we set forth for the beech-woods, very soon
breaking our five into three and two. Certainly Lady Diana ought to
have viewed Dermot's attentions to the sixty-thousand pounder as
exemplary, for he engrossed her and me so entirely with the
description of Harold's victory over a buck-jumper at Boola Boola,
that it was full a quarter of an hour before she looked round to
exclaim, "What is become of Viola?" And then we would not let her
wait, and in truth we never came again upon Viola and Harold till we
overtook them at the foot of the last hill, and they never could
satisfy Miss Sandford where they had been, nor what they had seen,
nor how they had missed us; and Dermot invented for the nonce a
legend about a fairy in the hill, who made people gyrate round it in
utter oblivion of all things; thus successfully diverting the
attention of Miss Sandford, who took it all seriously. Yes, she
certainly was a stupid girl.
Every moment that lengthened the veritable enchantment of that autumn
afternoon was precious beyond what we knew, and we kept Miss Sandford
prowling about the garden on all sorts of pretexts, till the poor
girl was tired out, as well she might be, for we had kept her on her
feet for three hours and a half, and she made her escape at last to
I always think of Harold and Viola, as I saw them at that moment, on
the top of the western slope of the lawn, so that there was a great
ruddy gold sky behind them, against which their silhouettes stood out
in a sort of rich dark purple shade.
"Oh, they are looking at such a sunset!" cried Miss Sandford,
climbing up the hill.
"Query!" murmured Dermot, for the faces were in profile, not turning
towards the sun in the sky, but to the sunbeams in one another's
eyes--sunbeams that were still there when we joined them, and, in my
recollection, seem to blend with the glorious haze of light that was
pouring down in a flood over the purple moorland horizon, and the
wood, field, and lake below. I was forced to say something about
going home, and Viola took me up to her room, where we had one of
those embraces that can never be forgotten. The chief thing that the
dear girl said to me was, "Oh, Lucy. How he has suffered! How shall
I ever make it up to him?"
Poor dear Viola, little did she think that she was to cause the very
sharpest of his sufferings.
Nay, as little did he, when we rode home together with the still
brilliant sky before us. I never see a lane ending in golden light,
melting into blue, and dark pine trees framing as it were the
brightness, with every little branch defined against it, without
thinking of that silence of intense, almost awe-struck joy in which
Harold went home by my side, only at long intervals uttering some
brief phrase, such as "This is blessedness," or "Thank God, who gives
women such hearts."
He had told her all, and it had but added a reverent, enthusiastic
pity and fervour to that admiring love which had been growing up so
long, and to which he had set the spark.
His old friend was admitted to share their joy, and was as happy as
we were, perhaps doubly so, since he had beheld with despair Harold's
early infatuation and its results, which had made him fear, during
those three wretched years, that all the lad's great and noble gifts
would be lost in the coarse excesses of his wild life, with barbarous
prosperity without, and a miserable, hardening home. That he should
have been delivered from it, still capable of refinement, still young
and fresh enough for a new beginning, had been a cause of great joy,
and now that all should be repaired by a true and worthy love, had
seemed beyond hope. We built our castles over the fire that evening,
Harold had already marked out with his eye the tract of Neme Heath
which he would reclaim; and the little he had already set me on doing
among the women and children at the potteries, had filled us with
schemes as to what Viola was to carry out.
Some misgivings there were even then. Lady Diana was not to be
expected to like Harold's L1,200 a year as well as Piggy's heirship
to the Erymanth coronet, or any of the other chances that might
befall an attractive girl of twenty.
For coldness and difficulties we were prepared, but not for the
unqualified refusal with which she met Harold the next morning,
grounding all on the vague term, "circumstances," preventing his even
seeing Viola, and cutting short the interview in the manner of a
grande dame whose family had received an insult.
Dermot, however, not only raging, but raving, on his side, assured
him of the staunchness of his sister, and her resolve to hold by him
through everything; and further, in sundry arguments with his mother,
got to the bottom of the "circumstances." She had put away from
herself the objection to the convict birth and breeding, by being
willing to accept Eustace, to whom exactly the same objections
applied; and when she called Eustace a man of more education and
manners, her son laughed in her face at the comparison of "that
idiot" with a man like Harold.
Then came the "past life," a much more tangible objection, but Dermot
was ready there, declaring that whatever Harold had done, considering
his surroundings, was much less heinous than his own transgressions,
after such a bringing up as his, and would his mother say that nobody
ought to marry him? Besides, to whom had she given Di? They were
not arguments that Lady Diana accepted, but she weakened her own
cause by trying to reinforce it with all the Stympson farrago, the
exaggeration of which Dermot, after his own meeting with Henry
Alison, and with Prometesky to corroborate him, was fully prepared to
explode, to the satisfaction even of Lord Eryinanth.
Harold himself was deeply sensible of the stain and burthen of his
actual guilt, more so, indeed, than he had ever been before, both
from the religious influences to which he had submitted himself, and
from the sense of that sweet innocence of his Viola's; but his
feeling had come to be that if his Heavenly Father loved and forgave
him, so, in a lesser way, Viola forgave him because she loved him.
He did not wonder at nor complain of Lady Diana's not thinking him
worthy of her good and lovely child. He would be thankful to submit
to any probation, five, seven, ten years without any engagement, if
he might hope at last. Even Lord Erymanth, when he saw how his
darling's soul was set on it, thought that thus much might be
But Lady Diana had still another entrenchment which she had
concealed, as it were, to the last, not wishing to shock and pain us
all, she said. Though she said she had reason to complain of not
having been told from the first that Harold had once been insane,
nothing could induce her to sanction her daughter's marriage with a
man whose mind had been disordered; nay, who had done mortal injury
in his frenzy. It was a monstrous idea!
Dermot's reply to this was, that nobody, then, ought to marry who had
had a delirious fever; and he brought Prometesky over to Arked to
testify to her how far the attack had been from anything approaching
to constitutional insanity. The terrible fall, of which Harold's
head still bore the mark, the shock, the burning sun, were a
combination of causes that only made it wonderful that he should have
recovered the ensuing brain fever, and the blow to his rival had been
fatal by the mere accident of his strength. A more ordinary man
would have done no serious harm by such a stroke, given when not
accountable. Lady Diana answered stiffly that this might be quite
true, but that there had been another cause for the temporary
derangement which had not been mentioned, and that it was notorious
that Mr. Alison, in consequence, had been forced to avoid all
liquors, and she appealed to Dermot as to the effects of a very small
quantity on his friend's brain.
Poor Dermot! it was bitter enough for him to have that orgie at
Foling brought forward against his friend. Nor could any
representation appease Lady Diana.
I thought her very cruel and unreasonable then, and I am afraid I
believe that if Harold had had ten, or even five thousand a year,
these objections would never have been heard of; but after years and
experience have cooled my mind, it seems to me that on several
grounds she was justified in her reluctance, and that, as Viola was
so young, and Harold's repentance had been comparatively recent, she
might fairly have insisted on waiting long enough to see whether he
were indeed to be depended upon, or if Viola's affection were strong
enough to endure such risk as there might be.
For Dermot, resolute to defend his friend, and declaring that his
sister's heart should not be broken, was the prime mover in Harold
going up to consult the most eminent men of the day on mental
disease, Prometesky going with him as having been his only attendant
during his illness, to give an account of the symptoms, and Dermot,
who so comported himself in his excitement as to seem far more like
the lover whose hopes might have depended on the verdict on his
doubtful sanity, than did the grave, quiet, self-contained man, who
answered all questions so steadily.
The sentence was so far satisfactory that the doctor confirmed
Prometesky's original view, that concussion of the brain, aggravated
by circumstances, had produced the attack, and that there was no
reasonable ground for apprehension of its recurrence, certainly not
of its being hereditary. But he evidently did not like the
confession of the strange horror of dogs, which Harold thought it
right to mention as having been brought on by the circumstances of
his accident, and he would not venture to say that any "exciting
cause" might not more easily affect the brain than if nothing had
ever been amiss. Yet when Dermot tarried, explaining that he was the
brother of a young lady deeply concerned, the doctor assured him that
whereas no living man could be insured from insanity, he should
consider the gentleman he had just seen to be as secure as any one
else, since there was no fear of any hereditary taint, and his having
so entirely outgrown and cast off all traces of the malady was a sign
of his splendid health and vigour of constitution.
But Lady Diana was still not satisfied. She still absolutely refused
all consent, and was no more moved at the end of three weeks than
before. Dear Harold said he did not wonder, and that if he had seen
himself in this true light, he would have loved Viola at a distance
without disquieting her peace, but since he had spoken and knew she
loved him, he could not but persevere for her sake. We could see he
said it with a steady countenance, but a burning heart. Neither he
nor I was allowed to see Viola, but there was Dermot as constant
reporter, and, to my surprise, Viola was not the submissive daughter
I had expected. Lady Diana had never had any real ascendancy over
her children's wills or principles. Even Viola's obedience had been
that of duty, not of the heart, and she had from the first declared
that mamma might forbid her to marry Harold, or to correspond with
him, and she should consider herself bound to obey; but that she had
given him her promise, and that she could not and would not take it
back again. She would wait on for ever, if otherwise it could not
be, but he had her troth plight, and she _would_ be faithful to it.
She would not give up her crystal cross, and she sent Harold her love
every day by her brother, often in her mother's very hearing, saying
she was too proud of him to be ashamed. She had resolved on her own
line of passive obedience, but of never renouncing her engagement,
and her brother upheld her in it; while her uncle let himself be
coaxed out of his displeasure, and committed himself to that
compromise plan of waiting which his sister viewed as fatal, since
Viola would only lose all her bloom, and perhaps her health.
Nothing, she said, was so much to be deplored for a girl as a long
engagement. The accepting a reformed rake had been always against
her principles, and she did not need even the dreadful possibility of
derangement, or the frightful story of his first marriage, to make
her inexorable. Viola, we were told, had made up her mind that it
was a case for perseverance, and all this time kept up dauntlessly,
not failing in spirits nor activity, but telling her brother she had
always known she should have to go through something, but Harold's
love was worth it, and she meant to be brave; how should she not be
when she knew Harold cared for her; and as to what seemed to be
objections in the eyes of others, did they not make her long the more
to compensate him?
"She has to make all her love to me, poor little woman, and very
pretty love it is," said Dermot.
Whether Harold made as much love in return to their ready medium I
cannot tell, for their conferences were almost always out of doors or
at the office, and Harold was more reserved than ever. He was not
carrying matters with the same high hand as his little love, for, as
he always said, he knew he had brought it all on himself.
He never complained of Lady Diana, but rather defended her to her son
for not thinking him fit for her daughter, only adhering to his
original standpoint, that where there was so much love, surely some
hope might be granted, since he would thankfully submit to any
We all expected that this would be the upshot of our suspense, and
that patience and constancy would prevail; and by the help of immense
walks and rides, and a good deal of interest in some new buildings at
the potteries, and schemes for the workmen, Harold kept himself very
equable and fairly cheerful, though his eyes were weary and anxious,
and when he was sitting still, musing, there was something in his
pose which reminded me more than ever of Michel Angelo's figures,
above all, the grand one on the Medicean monument. He consorted much
more now with Mr. Yolland, the curate, and was making arrangements by
which the school chapel might expand into a Mission Church, but still
I did not know that he was finding the best aid through this time in
the devotions and heart-searchings to which the young clergyman had
led him, and which were the real cause of the calm and dignified
humility with which he waited.
At last Lady Diana, finding herself powerless with her daughter, sent
a letter to Harold, beginning: "I appeal to your generosity." A very
cruel letter in some ways it was, representing that he had acquiesced
in her judgment, that there were certain unfortunate passages in his
past life which made it her painful duty to prevent her child from
following the dictates of an inexperienced heart. Then she put it to
him whether it were not a most unfortunate position for a young girl
to be involved in an engagement which could never be fulfilled, and
which was contrary to the commands of her only remaining parent, and
she showed how family peace, confidence, and maternal and filial
affection must suffer if the daughter should hold fast persistently
to the promise by which she held herself bound. In fact, it was an
urgent entreaty, for Viola's own sake, that he would release her from
her promise. Dermot was shooting at Erymanth, and neither he nor I
knew of this letter till Harold had acted. He rode at once to Arked,
saw Lady Diana, and declared himself convinced that the engagement,
having no chance of sanction, ought to be given up. Rather than keep
Viola in the wearing state of resistance and disobedience her mother
described, he would resign all hopes of her.
Lady Diana went to her daughter with the tidings, that Mr. Alison saw
the hopelessness of his suit, and released her from her promise.
"You have made him do so, mamma," cried Viola. "If he releases me I
do not release myself."
Finally, Lady Diana, astonished to find Harold so reasonable and
amenable, perceived that the only means of dealing with her daughter
was to let them meet again. Of course no one fully knows what passed
then. Harold told me, the only time he spoke of it, that "he had
just taken out his own heart and crushed it!" but Viola dwelt on each
phrase, and, long after, used to go over all with me. He had fully
made up his mind that to let Viola hold to her troth would neither be
right nor good for her, and he used his power of will and influence
to make her resign it. There was no concealment nor denial of their
mutual love. It was Viola's comfort to remember that. "But," said
Harold, "your mother has only too good reasons for withholding you
from me, and there is nothing for it but to submit, and give one
"But we do not leave off loving one another," said poor Viola.
"We cannot do what we cannot."
"And when we are old--"
"That would be a mental reservation," said Harold. "There must be no
mutual understanding of coming together again. I promised your
mother. Because I am a guilty man, I am not to break up your life."
He made her at last resign her will into his, she only feeling that
his judgment could not be other than decisive, and that she could not
resist him, even for his own sake. He took her for a moment into his
arms, and exchanged one long burning kiss, then, while she was almost
faint and quite passive with emotion, he laid her on the sofa, and
called her mother. "Lady Diana," he said, "we give up all claim to
one another's promise, in obedience to you. Do we not, Viola?"
"Yes," she faintly said.
He gave her brow one more kiss, and was gone.
He took his horse home, and sent in a pencil note to me: "All over;
don't wait, for me.--H. A."
I was dreadfully afraid he would go off to Australia, or do something
desperate, but Count Stanislas reassured me that this would be unlike
Harold's present self, since his strength had come to be used, not in
passion, but in patience. We dined as best we could without him,
waited all the evening, and sat up till eleven, when we heard him at
the door. I went out and took down the chain to let him in. It was
a wet misty night, and he was soaked through. I begged him to come
in and warm himself, and have something hot, but he shook his head,
as if he could not speak, took his candle, and went upstairs.
I made the tea, for which I had kept the kettle boiling all this
time, and Prometesky took his great cup in to him, presently
returning to say, "He is calm. He has done wisely, he has exhausted
himself so that he will sleep. He says he will see me at once to my
retreat in Normandy. I think it will be best for him."
Count Stanislas was, in fact, on the eve of departure, and in a
couple of days more Harold went away with him, having only broached
the matter to me to make me understand that the break had been his,
not Viola's; and that I must say no more about it.
Dermot had come over and raged against his mother, and even against
Harold, declaring that if the two had "stood out" they would have
prevailed, but that he did not wonder Harold was tired of it.
Harold's look made him repent of that bit of passion, but he was
contemptuous of the "for her sake," which was all Harold uttered as
further defence. "What! tell him it was for her sake when she was
creeping about the house like a ghost, looking as if she had just
come out of a great illness?"
Dermot meant to escort his mother and sister to Florence, chiefly in
order to be a comfort to the latter, but he meant to return to
Ireland as soon as they had joined the St. Glears. "Taking you by
the way," he said, "before going to my private La Trappe."
Prometesky took leave of me, not quite as if we were never to meet
again, for his experimental retreat was to be over at Christmas, and
he would then be able to receive letters. He promised me that, if I
then wrote to him that, Harold stood in need of him for a time, he
would return to us instead of commencing the novitiate which would
lead to his becoming dead to the outer world.
Harold was gone only ten days, and came back late on a Friday
evening. He tried to tell me about what he had done and seen, but
broke off and said, "Well, I am very stupid; I went to all the places
they told me to see at Rouen and everywhere else, but I can't
recollect anything about them."
So I let him gaze into the fire in peace, and all Saturday he was at
the potteries or at the office, very busy about all his plans and
also taking in hand the charge for George Yolland, for both brothers
were going on Monday to take a fortnight's holiday among their
relations. He only came in to dinner, and after it told me very
kindly that he must leave me alone again, for he wanted to see Ben
Yolland. A good person for him to wish to see, "but was all this
restlessness?" thought this foolish Lucy.
When he came in, only just at bed-time, there was something more of
rest, and less of weary sadness about his eyes than I had seen since
the troubles began, and as we wished one another good night he said,
"Lucy, God forgives while He punishes. He is better to us than man.
Yolland says I may be with you at church early to-morrow."
Then my cheeks flushed hot with joy, and I said how thankful I was
that all this had not distracted his thoughts from the subject.
"When I wanted help more than ever?" he said.
So in some ways that was to me at least a gladsome Sunday, though not
half so much at the time as it has become in remembrance, and I could
not guess how much of conscious peace or joy Harold felt, as, for the
first and only time, he and I knelt together on the chancel step.
He said nothing, but he had quite recovered his usual countenance and
manner, only looking more kind and majestic than ever, as I, his fond
aunt, thought, when we went among the children after the school
service, to give them the little dainties they had missed in his
absence; and he smiled when they came round him with their odd little
bits of chatter.
We sat over the fire in the evening, and talked a little of surface
things, but that died away, and after a quarter of an hour or so, he
looked up at me and said, "And what next?"
"What are we to do, do you mean?" I said, for I had been thinking how
all his schemes of life had given way. We spoke of it together.
"Old Eu did not want him," as he said, and though there was much for
him to do at the Hydriot works and the Mission Chapel, the Reading
Room, the Association for Savings, and all the rest which needed his
eye, yet for Viola's peace he thought he ought not to stay, and the
same cause hindered the schemes he had once shared with Dermot; he
had cut himself loose from Australia, and there seemed nothing before
him. "There were the City Missions," he said, wearily, for he did
not love the City, and yet he felt more than ever the force of his
dying father's commission to carry out his longings for the true good
of the people.
I said we could make a London home and see Dora sometimes, trying to
make him understand that he might reckon on me as his sister friend,
but the answer was, "I don't count on that."
"You don't want to cast me off?"
"No, indeed, but there is another to be thought of."
Then he told me how, over my letters to him in New South Wales, there
had come out Dermot's account of the early liking that everyone
nipped, till my good-girlish submission wounded and affronted him,
and he forgot or disliked me for years; how old feelings had revived,
when we came in contact once more; but how he was withheld from their
manifestation, by the miserable state of his affairs, as well as by
my own coldness and indifference.
I made some sound which made Harold say, "You told me to keep him
"I knew I ought," I remember saying faintly.
"Oh--h--!" a prolonged sound, that began a little triumphantly, but
ended in a sigh, and then he earnestly said, "You do not think you
ought to discourage him now? Your mother did not forbid it for
"Oh no, no; it never came to that."
"And you know what he is now?"
"I know he is changed," was all I could say.
"And you will help him forward a little when he comes back. You and
he will be happy."
There might be a great surging wave of joy in my heart, but it would
not let me say anything but, "And leave you alone, Harold?"
"I must learn to be alone," he said. "I can stay here this winter,
and see to the things in hand, and then I suppose something will turn
"As a call?" I said.
"Yes," he answered. "I told God to-day that I had nothing to do but
His service, and I suppose He will find it for me."
There was something in the steadfast, yet wistful look of his eyes,
that made me take down the legend of St. Christopher and read it
aloud. Reading generally sent him into a doze, but even that would
be a respite to the heartache he so patiently bore, and I took the
chance, but he sat with his chin on his hand and his eyes fixed
attentively on mine all the time, then held out his hand for the
book, and pondered, as was his thorough way in such matters. At last
he said, "Well, I'll wait by the stream. Some day He will send me
some one to carry over."
We little thought what stream was very near!
CHAPTER XV. THE FATAL TOKEN.
Tuesday morning brought a strange little untidy packet, tied with
blue ribbon, understamped, and directed to Harold Alison, Esquire, in
the worst form of poor Dora's always bad handwriting. Within was a
single knitted muffatee, and a long lock of the stiffly curling
yellow hair peculiar to Dora's head. In blotted, sloping roundhand
"My Dear Harry,--
"Good-bye, I do fele so very ill, I can't do any more. Don't forget
I allwaies was your wiffe.
"I am your affex., D. A."
We looked at each other in wonder and dismay, sure that the child
must be very ill, and indignant that we had not been told. Harold
talked of going up to town to find out; I was rather for going, or
sending, to Therford for tidings, and all the time, alas! alas! he
was smoothing and caressing the yellow tress between his fingers,
pitying the child and fancying she was being moped to death in the
We determined on riding to Therford, and Harold had hastened to the
office to despatch some business first, when Mr. Horsman himself came
in--on his way to the Petty Sessions--to explain matters.
Mrs. Randall Horsman had arrived with her children at Therford the
day before, flying from the infection of smallpox, for which the
doctor had declared Dora to be sickening. The whole family had been
spending the autumn months at the seaside. Nessy Horsman had been
with them and had taken Dora about with him much more than had been
approved. In one of these expeditions he had taken her into the shop
of a village ratcatcher, where, it had since been ascertained, two
children were ill of smallpox. She had been ailing ever since the
party had returned to London; the doctor had been called in on
Monday, and had not only pronounced the dreadful name of the disease,
but, seeking in vain for the marks of vaccination on her arms, he
greatly apprehended that she would have it in full and unmitigated
Mrs. Randall Horsman had herself and her children vaccinated without
loss of time and fled to the country. Her husband would spend all
day in his chambers, and only sleep at home on the ground-floor with
every precaution, and Dora had been left in the charge of a young
under-house-maid, whose marked face proved her safety, until the
doctor could send in a regular nurse. It was this wretched little
stupid maid who was ignorant enough to assist the poor child in
sending off her unhappy packet, all unknowing of the seeds of
destruction it conveyed.
I had had a slight attack of undoubted smallpox when a young child,
and I immediately resolved on going to nurse my poor Dora, secure
that she would now be left to me, and unable to bear the thought of
her being among strangers. I went at once to the office to tell
Harry, and Baby Jack walked with me as far as our roads lay together,
asking me on the way if it were true that Harold Alison was engaged
to Miss Tracy, and on my denial, saying that Mrs. Randall had come
down full of the report; that Nessy had heard of it, and, on Sunday
afternoon, had teased Dora about it to such a degree that she had
leaped up from the sofa and actually boxed his ears, after which she
had gone into such a paroxysm of tears and sobs that she had been
sent to bed, and in the morning the family mind began to perceive she
was really ill. The poor child's passionate jealousy had no doubt
prompted her letter, as well as her desire to take leave of the
object of her love; and knowing her strange character as I did, I was
sure the idea was adding tenfold to the misery of the dreadful
illness that was coming on her.
I had to pursue Harold to the potteries, where one of the workmen
directed me to him, as he was helping to put in order some machine
for hoisting that was out of gear. "Bless you, ma'am," said the man,
"he is as strong as any four of we."
When I found him, his consternation was great, and he quite agreed
with me that I had better go up that very afternoon and take charge
of Dora, since Baby Jack answered for it that Randall Horsman would
be most grateful and thankful.
Harold found out the hours for the trains, and did everything to
expedite me. He made it certain that poor little Dora had not been
vaccinated. When she was born, no doctor lived within sixty miles of
Boola Boola, and nobody had ever thought of such a thing.
"And you, Harry?" I asked, with a sudden thrill of alarm.
"Do you expect me to remember?" he asked with a smile.
I begged him to look for the moons upon his arm, and at any rate to
undergo the operation again, since, even if it had been done in his
infancy, the effect might have worn out, and it was only too probable
that in the case of a child born on board a sailing vessel, without a
doctor, it had been forgotten. He gave in to my solicitude so far as
to say that he would see about it, but reminded me that it was not he
who was going into the infection. Yes, I said, but there was that
lock of hair and the worsted cuff. Such things did carry contagion,
and he ought to burn them at once.
"Poor Dora!" he said, rather indignantly.
Oh that I had seen them burnt! Oh that I had taken him to Dr.
Kingston's for vaccination before I went away, instead of contenting
myself with the unmeaning, half-incredulous promise to "see about
it!" by which, of course, he meant to mention it when George Yolland
came home. Yet it might have made no difference, for he had been
fondling and smoothing that fatal curl all the time we were talking
over the letter.
He came to the station with me, gave me the kindest messages for
Dora, arranged for my telegraphing reports of her every day--took
care of me as men will do when they seem to think their womankind
incapable without them, making all the more of me because I did not
venture to take Colman, whom I sent to visit her home. He insisted
on Mr. Ben Yolland, who had been detained a day behind his brother,
going in a first-class carriage with me. I leant out at the window
for the parting kiss, and the last sight I had of my dear Harold, as
the train steamed out of the station, was bearing on his shoulder a
fat child--a potter's--who had just arrived by the train, and had
been screaming to his mother to carry him, regardless of the younger
baby and baskets in her arms. It might well make my last sight of
him remind me of St. Christopher.
That journey with the curate was comfortable in itself, and a great
comfort to me afterwards. We could not but rejoice together over
that Sunday, and Ben Yolland showed himself deeply struck with the
simplicity and depth that had been revealed to him, the reality of
whatever Harold said, and his manner of taking his dire
disappointment as the just and natural outcome of his former life.
Many men would have been soured and driven back to evil by such a
rejection. Harold had made it the occasion of his most difficult
victory and sharpest struggle; yet all the time he was unconscious
how great a victory it was. And so thorough was the penitence, so
great the need of refreshment after the keen struggle for self-
mastery, and so needful the pledge of pardon, that though he had
never been confirmed, there was no doubt as to making him welcome at
once to the Heavenly Feast. Well that it was so!
The "What next" concerned Mr. Yolland as much as it did me. He could
not bear to think of relinquishing one who--all unknown to himself--
did more to guide and win the hearts of those Hydriots than teaching
or sermons could ever do, and yet no one could advise Harold to
remain after this winter. In the reprieve, however, we both
rejoiced, and Ben then added, "For my brother's sake, especially."
"Do you think the example tells on him?" I ventured on asking.
"I can hardly say it does," was the answer. "George used to point to
Harold Alison as a specimen of a vigorous physical development so
perfectly balanced as to be in a manner self-adjusting, without need
of what he called imaginative influences. I always thought he was a
little staggered that evening that he had to summon you, Miss Alison,
to his help; but he had some theory of sentiment to account for it,
and managed, as people do, to put it aside. Lately, however, he has
been looking on, he says, with curiosity--I believe with something
more. You see he reveres Alison for what he is, not for what he
"Of course not; your brother must know far more than Harold."
"But the strength of character and will impresses him. The bending
of such a nature to faith, the acceptance of things spiritual, by one
_real_, unimaginative and unsophisticated, and, above all, the _self_
conquest, just where a great Greek hero would have failed, have
certainly told on George, so that I see more hope than I have ever
So careful of me was Mr. Yolland, that he only parted with me at
Randall Horsman's door, where I was gladly welcomed by the master of
the house, and found my poor little niece a grievous spectacle, and
so miserable with the horrible illness, that she only showed her
pleasure in my coming by fretting whenever anyone else touched her.
She had it badly in the natural form, but never was in immediate
danger, and began in due time to recover. I had ceased my daily
telegrams, and had not been alarmed by some days' intermission of
Harold's letters, for I knew that Dermot was at Arked alone, and that
by this time the Yollands would be returned and my nephew would have
less time to spend on me.
One dismal wintry afternoon, however, when I was sitting in the dark,
telling Dora stories, a card was brought up to me by the little
housemaid. The gentleman begged to see me. "Mr. Tracy" was on the
card, and the very sight startled me with the certainty that
something was amiss.
I left the girl in charge and hurried down to the room, where Dermot
was leaning over the mantel-shelf, with his head against his arms, in
a sorrowful attitude, as if he could not bear to turn round and face
me, I flew up to him, crying out that I knew he was come to fetch me
to Harold; Dora was so much better that I could leave her.
He turned up to me a white haggard face, and eyes with dismay, pity,
and grief in them, such as even now it wrings my heart to recall, and
hoarsely said in a sunken voice, "No, Lucy, I am not come to fetch
you!" and he took my hand and grasped it convulsively.
"But he has caught it?" Dermot bent his head. "I must go to him,
even if he bids me not. I know he wants me."
"No!" again said Dermot, as if his tongue refused to move. "Oh,
Lucy, Lucy, I cannot tell you!"
And he burst into a flood of tears, shaking, choking, even rending
I stood, feeling as if turned to stone, and presently the words came
out in a sob, "Oh, Lucy, he is dead!" and, sinking on the nearest
seat, his tempest of grief was for the moment more frightful than the
tidings, which I could not take in, so impossible did the sudden
quenching of that glorious vitality seem. I began in some foolish
way to try to console him, as if it were a mere fancy. I brought him
a glass of water from the sideboard, and implored him to compose
himself, and tell me what made him say such terrible things, but he
wrung my hand and leant his head against me, as he groaned, "I tell
you, it is true. We buried him this morning. The noblest, dearest
friend that ever--"
"And you never told me! You never fetched me; I might have saved
him," was my cry; then, "Oh! why did you not?"
Then he told me that there had been no time, and how useless my
presence would have been. We sat on the sofa, and he gasped out
something of the sad story, though not by any means all that I
afterwards learnt from himself and from the Yollands, but enough to
make me feel the reality of the terrible loss. And I will tell the
Left to himself, the dear fellow had no doubt forgotten all about
vaccination, or any peril to himself, for he never mentioned it to
Dermot, who only thought him anxious about Dora. On the Saturday
they were to have had a day's shooting, and then to have dined at
Erymanth, but Harold sent over in the morning to say he had a
headache and could not come, so Dermot went alone. When the Yollands
came home at nine at night a message was given that Mr. Alison would
like to see Mr. George as soon as he came in; but as the train had
been an hour late, and the message had not been delivered immediately
on their coming in, George thought it could not concern that night,
so he waited till morning; but he was awaked in the winter twilight
by Harold at his door, saying, "Doctor, I'm not quite right. I wish
you would come up presently and see after me."
He was gone again, while he was being called to wait; and, dressing
as fast as possible, George Yolland went out after him into the dark,
cold, frosty, foggy morning, and overtook him, leaning on the gate of
a field, shivering, panting, and so dizzy, that it was with
difficulty he was helped to the house. He made known that he had
felt very unwell all the day before, and had had a miserable night,
in which all the warnings about infection had returned on him. The
desire to keep clear of all whom he might endanger, as well as a
fevered--perhaps already half-delirious--longing for cool air, had
sent him forth himself to summon George Yolland. And already strong
shivering fits and increased distress showed what fatal mischief that
cold walk had done. All he cared now to say was that he trusted to
his doctor to keep everybody out of the house; that I was not to be
called away from Dora, and that it was all his own fault.
One person could not be kept away, and that was Dermot Tracy. He
came over to spend the Sunday with his friend, and finding the door
closed, and Richardson giving warning of smallpox, only made him the
more eagerly run upstairs. George could by that time ill dispense
with a strong man's help, and after vaccinating him, admitted him to
the room, where the checking of the eruption had already produced
terrible fever and violent raving.
It was a very remarkable delirium, as the three faithful watchers
described it. The mind and senses seemed astray, only not the will.
It was as if all the vices of his past life came in turn to assail
him, and he was writhing and struggling under their attacks, yet not
surrendering himself. When--the Sunday duties over--Ben Yolland came
in, he found him apparently acting over some of the wild scenes of
his early youth, with shreds of the dreadful mirth, and evil words of
profane revelry; and yet, as if they struck his ears, he would catch
himself up and strike his fist on his mouth, and when Ben entered, he
stretched out his arms and said, "Don't let me." Prayer soothed him
for a short interval, but just as they hoped that sleep might come,
the fierce struggle with oppression brought back the old habits of
violent language, and then the distressed endeavour to check himself,
and the clutch at the clergyman's aid. Ben Yolland saw, standing in
the room, a great rough wooden cross which Harold had made for some
decorating plan of mine. He held it over him, put it into his hand,
and bade him repeat after him, "Christ has conquered. By Thy Cross
and Passion; by Thy precious Death and Burial, good Lord deliver us."
So it went on hour after hour, evening closing into night, the long,
long night brightening at last into day, and still the fever raged,
and the fits of delirious agony came on, as though every fiend that
had ever tempted him were assailing him now. Yet still he had the
power to grasp the Cross when it was held to him, and speak the
words, "Christ has conquered," and his ears were open to the prayer,
"By Thy Cross and Passion, by Thine Agony and Bloody Sweat, good Lord
deliver us!"--the prayer that Ben prayed like Moses at Rephidim.
Time came and went, the Northchester physician came and said he might
be saved, if the eruption could only be brought out, but he feared
that it had been thrown inwards, so that nothing would avail; but of
all this Harold knew nothing, he was only in that seething brain,
whose former injury now added to the danger, living over again all
his former life, as those who knew it could trace in the choked and
broken words. Yet, as the doctors averred, that the conscience and
the will should not be mastered by the delirium was most unusual, and
proved the extraordinary force of his character and resolution, even
though the conflict was evidently a great addition to his sufferings.
Worst of all was the deadly strife, when with darkness came the old
horror of being pursued by hell hounds, driven on by Meg and the
rival he had killed--nay, once it was even by his little children.
Then he turned even from the Cross in agony. "I cannot! See there!
They will not let me!" and he would have thrown himself from his bed,
taking the hands that held him for the dogs' fangs. And yet even
then a command rather than a prayer from the priest reached his ears.
He wrestled, with choking, stifling breath, as though with a weight
on his chest, grappling with his hands as if the dog were at his
throat; but at last he uttered those words once more, "Christ has
conquered;" then with a gasp, as from a freed breast, for his
strength was going fast, fell back in a kind of swoon. Yes, he was
delivered from the power of the dog, for after that, when he woke, it
was in a different mood. He knew Ben, but he thought he had little
Ambrose sitting on his pillow; held his arm as if his baby were in
it, and talked to them smiling and tenderly, as if glad they had come
to him, and he were enjoying their caresses, their brightness, and
beauty. Nor did the peace pass away. He was so quiet that all hoped
except George Yolland, who knew the mischief had become irreparable;
and though he never was actually sensible, the borderland was haunted
no more with images of evil or of terror, but with the fair visions
fit for "him that overcometh." Once they thought he fancied he was
showing his children to Viola or to me. Once, when Dermot's face
came before him, he recurred to some of the words used in the
struggle about Viola.
"I don't deserve her. Good things are not for me. All will be made
They thought then that he was himself, and knew he was dying, but the
next moment some words, evidently addressed to his child, showed them
he was not in our world; and after that all the murmurs were about
what had last taken up his mind--the Bread of Heaven, the Fruit of
"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Fruit of the Tree
of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." That was
what Mr. Yolland ventured now to say over him, and it woke the last
respondent glance of his eyes. He had tasted of that Feast of Life
on the Sunday he was alone, and Ben Yolland would even then have
given it to him, but before it could be arranged, he could no longer
swallow, and the affection of the brain was fast blocking up the
senses, so that blindness and deafness came on, and passed into that
insensibility in which the last struggles of life are, as they tell
us, rather agonising to the beholder than to the sufferer. It was at
sundown at last that the mightiest and gentlest spirit I ever knew
was set free.
Those three durst not wait to mourn. Their first duty was to hasten
the burial, so as to prevent the spread of contagion, and they went
at once their different ways to make the preparations. No form of
conventional respect could be used, but it was the three who so
deeply loved him who laid him in the rough-made coffin, hastily put
together the same evening, with the cross that had served him in his
conflict on his breast, and three camellia buds from Viola's tree.
Dermot had thought of her and ridden over to fetch them. There had
been no disfigurement. If there had been he might have lived, but
still it was a comfort to know that the dear face was last seen in
more than its own calm majesty, as of one who lay asleep after a
mighty conquest. Over the coffin they placed the lion's skin. It
had been left in the room during his illness, and must have been
condemned, and it made his fit pall when they took it to be buried
with him. It was before daybreak that, with good old Richardson's
help, they carried him down to a large cart belonging to the
potteries, drawn by the two big horses he used to pet, and driven by
George Yolland himself. They took him to our own family burial-place
in Arghouse churchyard, where the grave had been dug at night. They
meant no one to be there, but behold! there was a multitude of heads
gathered round, two or three hundred at least, and when the faithful
four seemed to need aid in carrying that great weight the few steps
from the gate, there was a rush forward, in spite of the peril, and
disappointment when no help was accepted.
Ben Yolland read the service over the grave, and therewith there was
the low voice of many, many weepers, as they closed it in, and left
him there among his forefathers, under his lion's skin; and even at
that moment a great, golden, glorious sun broke out above the
horizon, and bathed them all over with light, while going forth as a
giant to run his course, conquering the night mists.
Then they turned back to the town, and Dermot came by the next train
to town to tell me. But of all this I at first gathered but little,
for his words were broken and his voice faint and choked, not only
with grief, but with utter exhaustion; and I was so slow to realise
all, that I hardly knew more than the absolute fact, before a message
came hurriedly down that Dora was worse, and I must come instantly.
Dermot, who had talked himself into a kind of dull composure, stood
up and said he would come again on the morrow, when he was a little
rested, for, indeed, he had not lain down since Saturday, and was
quite worn out.
I went up, with heart quailing at the thought of letting that
passionately loving creature guess what had befallen her, and yet how
could I command myself with her? But that perplexity was spared me.
The tidings had, through the Horsman family, reached the house, and,
in my absence, that same foolish housemaid had actually told Dora of
them point-blank. She said nothing, but presently the girl found her
with her teeth locked and eyes fixed in what looked like a
convulsion, but was in reality such suppressed hysteria as she had
She soon came out of that attack, but was exceedingly ill all that
night and the next day, her recovery being altogether thrown back by
feverishness and loss of appetite; but, strange child that she was,
she never named Harold, nor let me speak of him. I think she
instinctively shrank from her own emotion, and had a kind of dread
and jealous horror of seeing anyone else grieve for him.
Dermot did not come the next day, but a note was brought me, left,
the servant said, by the gentleman in a cab. It told me that he felt
so ill that he thought it wisest to go at once to the smallpox
hospital, and find out whether it were the disease, or only
vaccination and fatigue. It was a brave unselfish resolve, full of
the spirit he had imbibed, and it was wise, for the illness was upon
him already, the more severe from his exhausted state and the shock
he had undergone. Mr. Randall Horsman, who was very kind, managed
that I should hear of him, and I knew he was going on fairly well,
and not in any special danger.
But oh! that time seems to me the most wretched that ever I passed,
up in those great London attic nurseries, where Dora and I were
prisoners--all winter fogginess, with the gas from below sending up
its light on the ceiling, and Dora never letting me sit still to
grieve. She could not bear the association or memory, I believe, and
with the imperious power of recovery used to keep me reading Mayne
Reid's storybooks to her incessantly, or else playing at backgammon.
I hate the sound of dice to this hour, and when I heard that unhappy
French criminals, the night before their execution, are apt to send
for Fenimore Cooper's novels, it seemed to reveal Dora's state of
After two or three days, George Yolland came up to see me. He had
been to see Dermot, and gave me comfort as to his condition and the
care taken of him; but the chief cause of the visit was that they
wanted my authority for the needful destruction of whatever had been
in that room, and could not be passed through fire. Mr. Yolland had
brought me my Harold's big, well-worn pocket-book, which he said must
undergo the same doom, for though I was contagion proof, yet harm
might be laid up for others, and only what was absolutely necessary
must be saved.
First of all, indeed, lay in their crumpled paper poor Dora's fatal
gifts, treasured, no doubt, as probably her last; and there, in a
deep leathern pocket, was another little parcel with Viola's crystal
cross, which her mother had made her return. She might have that
now, it would bear disinfecting; but the Irish heath-bells that told
of autumn days at Killey Marey must go, and that brief note to me
that had been treasured up--yes, and the quaint old housewife, with
D. L. (his aunt's maiden initials), whence his needles and thread
used to come for his mending work. An old, worn pencil-case kept for
his mother's sake--for Alice was on the seal--was the only thing I
could rescue; but next there came an envelope with "My will" scrawled
on it. Mr. Yolland thought I ought to open it, to see who had
authority to act, and it proved that we alone had, for he was made
executor, with L1,000. A favourite rifle was bequeathed to Eustace,
an annuity of L50 to Smith, and all the rest of the property was to
be shared between Dora and me. It was in the fewest words, not at
all in form, but all right, and fully witnessed. It was in the dear
handwriting, and was dated on the sad lonely Saturday when he felt
himself sickening. The other things were accounts and all my
letters, most of which could follow the fate of all that he had
touched in those last days. However, the visit was a comfort to me.
George Yolland answered my questions, and told me much more than poor
Dermot could do in his stupefaction from grief, fatigue, and illness,
even if I then could have understood.
He told me of the grief shown by all Mycening and Arghouse, and of
the sobbing and weeping of mothers and children, who went in a broken
pilgrimage on Sunday afternoon to the grave at Arghouse, of the
throngs at the church and the hush, like a sob held back, when the
text was given out: "Thanks be to Him who giveth us the victory
through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Yet on the Saturday evening there was something more noted still.
The men stood about when they had come up for their wages to the
office, where, but a week before, Harold had paid them, with a sore
struggle to see and to count aright, as some even then had observed;
and at last their spokesman had explained their great desire to do
something themselves in memory of "the best friend they ever had," as
they truly called him. Some of them had seen memorial-windows, and
they wanted Mr. Yolland to take from each a small weekly subscription
throughout the winter, to adorn the new chapel with windows. "With
the history of Samson a killin' of the lion," called out a gruff
voice. It was the voice of the father of the boy whom Harold had
rescued on Neme Heath.
"So," said George Yolland, as he told me, "the poor fellows' hearty
way was almost more than one could bear, but I knew Alison would have
me try to turn it to some sort of good to themselves; so I stood up
and said I'd take it on one condition only. They knew very well what
vexed Mr. Alison most in themselves, and the example he had set--how
he had striven to make them give up making beasts of themselves.
Wouldn't they think with me it was insulting him to let a drunkard
have a hand in doing a thing to his memory? So I would manage their
collection on condition they agreed that whoever took more than his
decent pint a day--or whatever else sober men among them chose to fix
it at--should have his money returned on the spot. Poor fellows,
they cheered and said I was in the right, but whether they will keep
to it is another thing."
They did keep to it. All that winter, while the chapel was building,
there were only five cases in which the money had to be returned, and
two of those took the pledge, pleaded hard, and were restored.
Indeed, I believe it was only the habitually sober who ventured on
the tolerated pint. Of course there were some who never came into
the thing at all, and continued in their usual course; but these were
the dregs, sure to be found everywhere, and the main body of the
Hydriot potters kept their word so staunchly, that the demon of
intoxication among them was slain by those Samson windows, as Harold
had never slain it during his life.
Beautiful bright windows they are, glowing with Samson in his typical
might, slaying his lion, out of the strong finding sweetness,
drinking water after the fight, bearing away the gates, and slaying
his foes in his death. But Samson is not there alone. As the more
thoughtful remarked, Samson was scarce a worthy likeness for one who
had had grace to triumph. No, Samson, whose life always seems like a
great type in shattered fragments, must be set in juxtaposition with
the great Antitype. His conflict with Satan, His Last Supper, His
pointing out the Water of Life, His Death and His victory over death,
shine forth, giving their own lesson of Who hath won the victory.
We ventured to add two little windows with St. George and St.
Christopher, to show how Christ's soldiers may follow in the
conquest, treading down the dragon, and bending to the yoke of the
Little Child who leads them out of many waters.
That winter of temperance proved the fulcrum that had been wanting to
the lever of improvement. Schools of art, concerts, lectures, choir
preparation, recreation, occupation, and interests of all sorts were
vigorously devised by the two Yollands; and, moreover, the "New
Dragon's Head" and the "Genuine Dragon's Head," with sundry of their
congeners, died a natural death by inanition; so that when the winter
was over, habits had been formed, and a standard of respectability
set up, which has never entirely fallen, and a spirit which has
withstood the temptation of strikes. Of course, the world has much
to do with the tone of many. What amount of true and real religion
there may be, can only be tested by trial, and there are many who do
not show any signs of being influenced by anything more than public
opinion, some who fall below that; but, as everyone knows, the
Hydriot works have come to be not only noted for the beauty and
excellence of their execution, and the orderliness, intelligence, and
sobriety of their artisans, but for their large congregations, ample
offertories, and numerous communicants.
Of course all this would never have kept up but for the Yollands.
The Hydriots are wife, children, everything to him who is now called
Vicar of St. Christopher's, Mycening. He has refused better
preferment, for he has grown noted now, since the work that Harold
had begun is still the task he feels his charge.
And whatever is good is led by the manager of the works, whose
influence over the workmen's minds has never failed. Even when he
talked to me on that day, I thought there was a change in his tone.
He had never sneered (at least in my hearing) nor questioned other
men's faith, but when he told me of Harold his manner had something
of awe, as well as of sorrow and admiration, and I could not but
think that a sense had dawned out that the spiritual was a reality,
and an absolute power over the material.
The great simple nature that had gradually and truly undergone that
influence had been watched and studied by him, and had had its
effect. The supernatural had made itself felt, and thenceforth he
made it his study, in a quiet, unobtrusive manner, scarcely known
even to his brother, but gradually resulting in heart-whole
acceptance of faith, and therewith in full devotion of heart and
Did Harold rejoice in that victory, which to him would have been one
of the dearest of all?
CHAPTER XVI. CONCLUSION.
I must finish my story, though it seems hardly worth telling, since
my nephew, my tower of strength and trust, had suddenly sunk away
from me in the prime of his manhood.
The light seemed gone out of the whole world, and my heart felt dull
and dead, as if I could never heed or care for anything again. Even
Dermot's illness did not seem capable of stirring me to active
anxiety in this crushed, stupid state, with no one to speak to of
what lay heavy on my heart, no one even to write to; for who would
venture to read my letters? nay, I had not energy even to write to
poor Miss Woolmer. We got into a way of going on day after day with
Dora's little meals, the backgammon, and the Mayne Reid, till
sometimes it felt as if it had always been thus with us from all
time, and always would be; and at others it would seem as if it were
a dream, and that if I could but wake, I should be making tea for
Harold in our cheerful little drawing-room at Mount Eaton. At last I
had almost a morbid dread of breaking up this monotonous life, and
having to think what to do or where to go. The Randall Horsmans must
long for our departure, and my own house was in a state of
purification, and uninhabitable.
The doctor said that Dora must be moved as soon as it could be
managed, for in that London attic she could have no impulse towards
recovery; and while it still seemed a fearful risk, he sent us off to
St. Clement's, a little village on the south coast, where he knew of
rooms in a great old manor-house which had sunk to farmer's use, and
had a master and mistress proof against infection.
When I brought my tired, worn-out, fretting charge in through the
great draughty porch, and was led up the old shallow oak stairs to a
big panelled room, clean and scantily furnished, where the rats ran
about behind the wainscot, and a rain-laden branch of monthly rose
went tap, tap against the window, and a dog howled all night long,
I thought we had come to a miserable place at the end of the earth.
I thought so still the next morning, when the mist lay in white rolls
and curls round the house; and the sea, when we had a peep of it, was
as lead-coloured as the sky, while the kind pity of the good wife for
Dora's weak limbs and disfigured face irritated me so that I could
hardly be civil.
Dora mended from that day, devoted herself to the hideous little
lambs that were brought in to be nursed by the fire; ate and drank
like a little cormorant, and soon began to rush about after Mr. and
Mrs. Long, whether in house or farm-yard, like a thing in its native
element, while they were enchanted with her colonial farm experience,
and could not make enough of "Little Missy."
I had a respite from Mayne Reid, and could wander as far as I pleased
alone on the shingle, or sit and think as I had so often longed to
do; but the thoughts only resulted in a sense of dreariness and of
almost indifference as to my fate, since the one person in all the
world who had needed me was gone, and I had heard nothing whatever of
Dermot Tracy. He might be gone out to his mother and sister, or back
to Ireland. Our paths would never come together again, for he
thought I did not care for him. Nay, was I even sure of his
recovery? His constitution had been much tried! He was in a strange
place, among mere professional nurses! Who could tell how it had
been with him?
Everything went from me that had loved me. Even Dora was to leave me
as soon as people ceased to be afraid of her.
Letters had found out the married pair on their return from the
cataracts of the Nile. Eustace had immediately been vaccinated
fourteen times, but he was shocked and appalled, and the spirit of
his letter was--
O while my brother with me stayed,
Would I had loved him more,
and I forgave him much.
Hippolyta likewise wrote with feeling, but it rather stung me to be
thanked for my care of "her poor little sister," as if Dora were not
my child before she was hers. As soon as it was considered safe,
Dora was to be returned to Horsman keeping, and as the Randall party
declined to receive her again, Philippa would convey her to a school
And Dora declared she was glad! There was none of the angry
resistance with which she had left me in the spring; when I had done
nothing for her compared with what I had gone through for her now;
but I believe I was dull company, and showed myself displeased at her
hardness and wild outbreaks of spirits, and that the poor child
longed to escape from all that reminded her of the unbearable sorrow
at the bottom of her heart. But it was a grievance to a grievance-
making temper, such as I feel mine was.
The most wholesome thing I received was a letter from Prometesky, to
whom I had written the tidings that Harold would never need his
comfort more. The old man was where the personal loss was not felt,
and he knew more deeply than anyone the pain which that strong
fervent heart suffered in its self-conquests, so that he did not
grieve for Harold himself; but he gave me that sympathy of entire
appreciation of my loss which is far better than compassion. For
himself, he said his last link with the world was gone, he found the
peace, and the expression of penitence, his soul required, in the
course he was about to embrace, and I might look on this as a voice
from the grave. I should never hear of him more, but I should know
that, as long as life was left him, it would be spent in prayers for
those whose souls he had wrecked in his overboiling youth. He ended
with thanks to all of us, who he said had sent him to his retreat
with more kindly and charitable recollections than he should
otherwise have carried thither. I never did hear of him again;
Dermot went to the convent some years later, and tried to ascertain
if he lived, but the monks do not know each others' names, and it