Part 2 out of 4
I dared not look at Mr. Langenau's face, but I am sure I should not have
seen anything pleasant if I had. I don't know what he answered, for I
was so confused, I dropped a plate of berries which I was just taking
from Kilian's hand, and made quite an uncomfortable commotion. The
berries were very ripe, and they rolled in many directions on the
table-cloth, and fell on my white dress.
"Your pretty dress is ruined, I'm afraid," said Kilian, stooping down to
"I don't care about that, but I'm very sorry that I've stained the
table-cloth," and I looked at Mrs. Hollenbeck as if I thought that she
would scold me for it. But she quite reassured me. Indeed, I think she
was so pleased with me, that she would not have minded seeing me ruin
all the table-cloths that she had.
"But it will make you late for church, for you'll have to change your
dress," said Charlotte Benson, practically, glancing at the clock. I was
very thankful for the suggestion, for I thought it would save me from
the misery of trying to eat breakfast, but Kilian made such an outcry
that I found I could not go without more comments than I liked.
"You have no appetite either," said Mary Leighton. "I am ashamed to eat
as much as I want, for here is Mr. Langenau beside me, who has only
broken a roll in two and drank a cup of coffee."
"I am not perhaps quite used to your American way of breakfasting," he
"But you ate breakfasts when we first came," said the sweet girl gently.
"Was not the weather cooler then?" he answered, "and I have missed my
walk this morning."
"Let me give you some more coffee, at any rate," said Sophie, with
affectionate interest. Indeed, I think at that moment she absolutely
In a few minutes I escaped from the table; when I came down from my room
ready for church, I found that they were all just starting. (Richard, I
suppose, would have waited for me.) The church was in the village, and
not ten minutes' walk from the house. Kilian was carrying Mary
Leighton's prayer-book, and was evidently intending to walk with her.
Richard came up to me and said, "Sophie is waiting to know if you will
let her drive you, or if you will walk."
I had not yet been obliged to speak to Richard since I had heard what
people said about us, and I felt uncomfortable.
"Oh, let me drive if there is room," I said, without looking up. Sophie
sat in her little carriage waiting for me. Richard put me in beside her,
and then joined the others, while we drove away. Benny, in his white
Sunday clothes, sat at our feet.
"I think it is so much better for you to drive," said Mrs. Hollenbeck,
"for the day is warm, and I did not think you looked at all well
"No," I said faintly. And she was so kind, I longed to tell her
everything. It is frightful at seventeen to have no one to tell your
At the gate Benny was just grumbling about getting out to open it, when
Mr. Langenau appeared, and held it open for us. He was dressed in a
flannel suit which he wore for walking. After he closed the gate, he
came up beside the carriage, as Mrs. Hollenbeck very kindly invited him
to do, by driving slowly.
"Are you coming with us to church, Mr. Langenau?" asked Benny.
"To church? No, Benny. I am afraid they would not let me in."
"Why, yes, they would, if you had your good clothes on," said Benny.
Mr. Langenau laughed, a little bitterly, and said he doubted, even then.
"I am afraid I haven't got my good conscience on either, Benny."
"But the minister would never know," said Benny.
"That's very true; the ministers here don't know much about peoples'
consciences, I should think."
"Do ministers in any other places know any more?" asked Benny with
"Why, yes, Benny, in a good many countries where I've been, they do."
"You are a Catholic, Mr. Langenau?" asked Mrs. Hollenbeck.
"I once was; I have no longer any right to say it is my faith," he
"What is it to be a Catholic?" inquired Benny, gazing at his tutor's
face with wonder.
"To be a Catholic, is to be in a safe prison; to have been a Catholic,
is to be alone on a sea big and black with billows, Benny."
"I think I'd like the prison best," said Benny, who was very much afraid
of the water.
"Ah, but if you couldn't get back to it, my boy."
"Well, I think I'd try to get to land somewhere," Benny answered,
Mr. Langenau laughed, but rather gloomily, and we went on for a few
moments in silence. The road was bordered with trees, and there was a
beautiful shade. The horse was very glad to be permitted to go slow, not
being of an ambitious nature.
All this time I had been leaning back, holding my parasol very close
over my face. Mr. Langenau happened to be on the side by me: once when
the carriage had leaned suddenly, he had put his hand upon it, and had
touched, without intending it, my arm.
"I beg your pardon," he had said, and that was all he had said to me;
and I had felt very grateful that Benny had been so inclined to talk. I
trusted that nobody would speak to me, for my voice would never be
steady and even again, I was sure, when he was by to listen to it.
Now, however, he spoke to me: commonplace words, the same almost that
every one in the house had addressed to me that morning, but how
differently they sounded.
"I am sorry that you are not well to-day, Miss d'Estree."
Mrs. Hollenbeck at this moment began to find some fault with Benny's
gloves, and leaning down, talked very obligingly and earnestly with him,
while she fastened the gloves upon his hands.
Mr. Langenau took the occasion, as it was intended he should take it,
and said rather low, "You will not refuse to see me a few moments this
evening, that I may explain something to you?"
I think he was disappointed that I did not answer him, only turned away
my head. But I don't know in truth what other answer he had any right to
ask. He did not attempt to speak again, but as we turned into the
village, said, "Good-morning, I must leave you. Good-bye, Benny, since I
have neither clothes nor conscience fit for church."
Sophie laughed, and said, at least she hoped he would be home for
dinner. He did not promise, but raising his hat struck off into a little
path by the roadside, that led up into the woods.
"What a pity," said Mrs. Hollenbeck musingly, "that a man of such fine
intellect should have such vague religious faith."
Mr. Langenau was at home for dinner, but he did not see me at that meal,
for my head ached so, and I felt so weary that when I came up-stairs
after church, it seemed impossible to go down again. I should have been
very glad to make the same excuse serve for the remainder of the day,
but really the rest and a cup of tea had so restored me, that no excuse
remained at six o'clock.
All families have their little Sunday habits, I have found; the Sunday
rule in this house was, to have tea at half-past six, and to walk by the
river till after the sun had set; then to come home and have sacred
music in the parlor. After tea, accordingly, we took our shawls on our
arms (it still being very warm) and walked down toward the river.
I kept beside Mrs. Hollenbeck and Benny, where only I felt safe.
The criticism I had heard had given me such a shock, I did not feel that
I ever could be careful enough of what I said and did. And I vaguely
felt my mother's honor would be vindicated, if I showed myself always a
modest and prudent woman.
"It was so well that I heard them," I kept saying to myself, but I felt
so much older and so much graver. My silence and constraint were no
doubt differently interpreted. Richard did not come up to me, except to
tell me I had better put my shawl on, as I sat on the steps of the
boat-house, with Benny beside me. The others had walked further on and
were sitting, some of them on the rocks, and some on the boat that had
been drawn up, watching the sun go down.
"Tell me a story," said Benny, resting his arms on my lap, "a story
about when you were a little girl."
"Oh, Benny, that wouldn't make a pretty story."
"Oh, yes, it would: all about your mamma and the house you used to live
in, and the children you used to go to see."
"Dear Benny! I never lived in but one old, dismal house. I never went
to play with any children. I could not make a story out of that."
"But your mamma. O yes, I'm sure you could if you tried very hard."
"Ah, Benny! that's the worst of all. For my mamma has been with God and
the good angels in the sky, ever since I was a little baby, and I have
had a dreary time without her here alone."
"Then I think you might tell me about God and the good angels,"
whispered Benny, getting closer to me.
I wrapped my arms around him, and leaning my face down upon his yellow
curls, told him a story of God and the good angels in the sky.
Dear little Benny! I always loved him from that night. He cried over my
story: that I suppose wins everybody's heart: and we went together,
looking at the placid river and the pale blue firmament, very far into
the paradise of faith. My tears dropped upon his upturned face; and when
the stars came out, and we were told it was time to go back to the
house, we went back hand in hand, firm friends for all life from that
"There is Mr. Langenau," said Benny; "waiting for you, I should think."
Mr. Langenau was waiting for me at the piazza steps. He fixed his eyes
on mine as if waiting for my permission to speak again. But I fastened
my eyes upon the ground, and holding Benny tightly by the hand, went on
into the house.
It is impossible to love and to be wise.
Niente piu tosto se secca che lagrime.
"This is what we must do about it," said Kilian, as we sat around the
breakfast-table. "If you are still in a humor for the dance to-night, I
will order Tom and Jerry to be brought up at once, and Miss Pauline and
I will go out and deliver all the invitations."
"Of which there are about five," said Charlotte Benson. "You can spare
Tom and Jerry and send a small boy."
"But what if I had rather go myself?" he said, "and Miss Pauline needs
the air. Now there are--let me see," and he began to count up the
dancing inhabitants of the neighborhood.
"Will you write notes or shall we leave a verbal message at each door?"
"Oh leave a verbal message by all means," said Charlotte Benson, a
little sharply. "It won't be quite _en regle_, as Miss d'Estree doesn't
know the people, but so unconventional and fresh."
"I do know them," I retorted, much annoyed, "conventionally at least:
for they have all called upon me, though I didn't see them all. But I
shall be very glad if you will take my place."
"Oh, thank you; I wasn't moving an amendment for that end. We have made
our arrangements for the morning, irrespective of the delivery
"I shall have time to write the notes first, if Sophie would rather have
notes sent," said Henrietta, who wrote a good hand and was very fond of
writing people's notes for them.
"Oh, thank you, dear; yes, perhaps it would be best, and save Pauline
and Kilian trouble."
So Henrietta went grandly away to write her little notes: a very large
ship on a very small voyage.
"And how about your music, Sophie," said Kilian, who was anxious to have
all business matters settled relating to the evening.
"Well, I suppose you had better go for the music-teacher from the
village; he plays very well for dancing, and it is a mercy to me and to
poor Henrietta, who would have to be pinned to the piano for the
evening, if we didn't have him."
"As to that, I thought we had a music-teacher of our own: can't your
German be made of any practical account? Or is he only to be looked at
and revered for his great powers?"
"I didn't engage Mr. Langenau to play for us to dance," said Sophie.
"Nor to lounge about the parlor every evening either," muttered Kilian,
pushing away his cup of coffee.
"Now, Mr. Kilian, pray don't let our admiration of the tutor drive you
into any bitterness of feeling," cried Charlotte Benson, who had been
treasuring up a store of little slights from Kilian. "You know he can't
be blamed for it, poor man."
Kilian was so much annoyed that he did not trust himself to answer, but
rose from the table, and asked me if I would drive with him in half
During the drive, he exclaimed angrily that Charlotte Benson had a
tongue that would drive a man to suicide if he came in hearing of it
daily. "Why, if she were as beautiful as a goddess, I could never love
her. Depend upon it, she'll never get a husband, Miss Pauline."
"Some men like to be scolded, I have heard," I said.
"Well then, if you ever stumble upon one that does, just call me and
I'll run and fetch him Charlotte Benson."
The morning was lovely, and I had much pleasure in the drive, though I
had not gone with any idea of enjoying it. It was very exhilarating to
drive so fast as Kilian always drove; and Kilian himself always amused
me and made me feel at ease. We were very companionable; and though I
could not understand how young ladies could make a hero of him, and
fancy that they loved him, I could quite understand how they should find
him delightful and amusing.
We delivered our notes, at more than one place, into the hands of those
to whom they were addressed, and had many pleasant talks at the piazza
steps with young ladies whom I had not known before. Then we went to the
village and engaged the music-teacher, stopped at the "store" and left
some orders, and drove to the Post-Office to see if there were letters.
"Haven't we had a nice morning!" I exclaimed simply, as we drove up to
"Capital," said Kilian. "I'm afraid it's been the best part of the day.
I wish I had any assurance that the German would be half as pleasant. I
beg your pardon, I don't mean your surly Teuton, but the dance that we
propose to-night; I wish it had another name. Confound it! there he is
ahead of us. (I don't mean the dance this time, you see.) I wish he'd
turn back and open the gate for us. Holloa there!"
Kilian would not have dared call out, if the boys had not been with
their tutor. It was one o'clock, and they were coming from the
farm-house back to dinner. At the call they all turned; Mr. Langenau
stood still, and told Charles to go back and open the gate.
Kilian frowned; he didn't like to see his nephew ordered to do anything
by this unpleasant German. While we were waiting for the opening of the
gate, the tutor walked on toward the house with Benny. As we passed
them, Benny called out, "Stop, Uncle Kilian, stop, and take me in."
Benny never was denied anything, so we stopped and Mr. Langenau lifted
him up in front of us. He bowed without speaking, and Benny was the
orator of the occasion.
"You looked as if you were having such a nice time, I thought I'd like
"Well, we were," said Kilian, with a laugh, and then we drove on
At the tea-table Mr. Langenau said to Sophie as he rose to go away:
"Mrs. Hollenbeck, if there is any service I can render you this evening
at the piano, I shall be very glad if you will let me know."
Mrs. Hollenbeck thanked him with cordiality, but told him of the
provision that had been made.
"But you will dance, Mr. Langenau," cried Mary Leighton, "we need
dancing-men terribly, you know. Promise me you'll dance."
"Oh," said Charlotte Benson, "he has promised me." Mr. Langenau bowed
low; he got wonderfully through these awkward situations. As he left the
room Kilian said in a tone loud enough for us, but not for him, to hear,
"The Lowders have a nice young gardener; hadn't we better send to see if
he can't come this evening?"
"Kilian, that's going a little too far," said Richard in a displeased
manner; "as long as the boys' tutor conducts himself like a gentleman,
he deserves to be treated like a gentleman."
"Ah, Paterfamilias, thank you. Yes, I'll think of it," and Kilian
proposed that we should leave the table, as we all seemed to have
appeased our appetites and nothing but civil war could come of staying
It was understood we had not much time to dress: but when I came
down-stairs, none of the others had appeared. Richard met me in the
hall: he had been rather stern to me all day, but his manner quite
softened as he stood beside me under the hall-lamp. That was the result
of my lovely white mull, with its mint of Valenciennes.
"You haven't any flowers," he said. Heavens! who'd have thought he'd
ever have spoken in such a tone again, after the cup of tea I poured out
for the tutor. "Let's go and see if we can't find some in these vases
that are fit, for I suppose the garden's robbed."
"Yes," I said, following him, quite pleased. For I could not bear to
have him angry with me. I was really fond of him, dear, old Richard; and
I looked so happy that I have no doubt he thought more of it than he
ought. He pulled all the pretty vases in the parlor to pieces:
(Charlotte and Henrietta and his sister had arranged them with such
care!) and made me a bouquet of ferns, and tea-roses, and lovely, lovely
heliotrope. I begged him to stop, but he went on till the flowers were
all arranged and tied together, and no one came down-stairs till the
spoilage was complete.
All this time Mr. Langenau was in the library--restless, pretending to
read a book. I saw him as we passed the door, but did not look again.
Presently we heard the sound of wheels.
"There," said Richard, feeling the weight of hospitality upon him,
"Sophie isn't down. How like her!"
But at the last moment, to save appearances, Sophie came down the
stairs and went into the parlor: indolent, favored Sophie, who always
came out right when things looked most against it.
In a little while the empty rooms were peopled. Dress improved the young
ladies of the house very much, and the young ladies who came were some
of them quite pretty: The gentlemen seemed to me very tiresome and not
at all good-looking. Richard was quite a king among them, with his
square shoulders, and his tawny moustache, and his blue eyes.
There were not quite gentlemen enough, and Mrs. Hollenbeck fluttered
into the library to hunt up Mr. Langenau, and he presently came out with
her. He was dressed with more care than usual, and suitably for evening:
he had the _vive_ attentive manner that is such a contrast to most young
men in this country: everybody looked at him and wondered who he was.
The music-teacher was playing vigorously, and so, before the German was
arranged, several impetuous souls flew away in waltzes up and down the
room. The parlor was a very large room. It had originally been two
rooms, but had been thrown into one, as some pillars and a slight arch
testified. The ceiling was rather low, but the many windows which opened
on the piazza, and the unusual size of the room, made it very pretty
for a dance. Mary Leighton and the tutor were dancing; somebody was
talking to me, but I only saw that.
"How well he dances," I heard some one exclaim.
I'm afraid it must have been Richard whom I forgot to answer just
before: for I saw him twist his yellow moustache into his mouth and bite
it; a bad sign with him.
Kilian was to lead with Mary Leighton, and he came up to where we stood,
and said to Richard, "I suppose you have Miss Pauline for your partner?"
Now I had been very unhappy for some time, dreading the moment, but
there was nothing for it but to tell the truth. So I said, "I hope you
are not counting upon me for dancing? You know I cannot dance!"
"Not dance!" cried Kilian, in amazement; "why, I never dreamed of that."
"You don't like it, Pauline?" said Richard, looking at me.
"Like it!" I said, impatiently. "Why, I don't know how; who did I ever
have to dance with in Varick-street? Ann Coddle or old Peter? And Uncle
Leonard never thought of such a thing as sending me to school."
"Why didn't you tell me before, and we wouldn't have bothered about
this stupid dance," said Kilian; but I think he didn't mean it, for he
enjoyed dancing very much.
Richard had to go away, for though he hated it, he was needed, as they
had not gentlemen enough.
The one or two persons who had been introduced to me, on going to join
the dance, also expressed regret. Even Mrs. Hollenbeck came up, and said
how sorry she was: she had supposed I danced.
But they all went away, and I was left by one of the furthest windows
with a tiresome old man, who didn't dance either, because his legs
weren't strong enough, and who talked and talked till I asked him not
to; which he didn't seem to like. But to have to talk, with the noise of
the music, and the stir, of the dancing, and the whirl that is always
going on in such a room, is penance. I told him it made my head ache,
and besides I couldn't hear, and so at last he went away, and I was
Sometimes in pauses of the dance Richard came up to me, and sometimes
Kilian; but it had the effect of making me more uncomfortable, for it
made everybody turn and look at me. Bye and bye I stole away and went on
the piazza, and looked in where no one could see me. I could not go away
entirely, for I was fascinated by the dance. I longed so to be dancing,
and had such bitter feelings because I never had been taught. After I
left the room, I could see Richard was uncomfortable; he looked often at
the door, and was not very attentive to his partner. No one else seemed
to miss me. Mr. Langenau talked constantly to Miss Lowder, with whom he
had been dancing, and never looked once toward where I had been sitting.
A long time after, when they had been dancing--hours it seemed to
me--Miss Lowder seemed to feel faint or tired, and Mr. Langenau came out
with her, and took her up-stairs to the dressing-room.
Ashamed to be seen looking in at the window, I ran into the library and
sat down. There was a student's lamp upon the table, but the room had no
other light. I sat leaning back in a large chair by the table, with my
bouquet in my lap, buttoning and unbuttoning absently my long white
gloves. In a moment I heard Mr. Langenau come down-stairs alone: he had
left Miss Lowder in the dressing-room to rest there: he came directly
toward the library.
He came half-way in the door, then paused. "May I speak to you?" he said
slowly, fixing his eyes on mine. "I seem to be the only one who is
forbidden, of those who have offended you and of those who have not."
"No one has said what you have," I said very faintly.
In an instant he was standing beside me, with one hand resting on the
"Will you listen to me," he said, bending a little toward me and
speaking in a quick, low voice, "I did say what you have a right to
resent; but I said it in a moment when I was not master of my words. I
had just heard something that made me doubt my senses: and my only
thought was how to save myself, and not to show how I was staggered by
it. I am a proud man, and it is hard to tell you this--but I cannot bear
this coldness from you--and _I ask you to forgive me_"
His eyes, his voice, had all their unconquerable influence upon me. I
bent over Richard's poor flowers, and pulled them to pieces while I
tried to speak. There was a silence, during which he must have heard the
loud beating of my heart, I think: at last he spoke again in a lower
voice, "Will you not be kind, and say that we are friends once more?"
I said something that was inaudible to him, and he stooped a little
nearer me to catch it. I made a great effort and commanded my voice and
said, very low? but with an attempt to speak lightly, "You have not made
it any better, but I will forget it."
He caught my hand for one instant, then let it go as suddenly. And
neither of us could speak.
There is no position more false and trying than a woman's, when she is
told in this way that a man loves her, and yet has not been told it;
when she must seem not to see what she would be an idiot not to see;
when he can say what he pleases and she must seem to hear only so much.
I did no better and no worse than most women of my years would have
done. At last the silence (which did not seem a silence to me, it was so
full of new and conflicting thoughts,) was broken by the recommencement
of the music in the other room. He had taken a book in his hands and was
turning over its pages restlessly.
"Why have you not danced?" he said at last, in a voice that still showed
"I have not danced because I can't, because I never have been taught."
"You? not taught? it seems incredible. But let me teach you. Will you?
Teach you! you would dance by intention. And would love it--madly--as I
did years ago. Come with me, will you?"
"Oh, no," I said, half frightened, shrinking back, "I am not going to
"Perhaps that is as well," he said in a low tone, meeting my eye for an
instant, and telling me by that sudden brilliant gleam from his, that
then he would be spared the pain of ever seeing me dancing with another.
"But let me teach you something," he said after a moment. "Let me teach
you German--will you?" He sank down in a chair by the table, and leaning
forward, repeated his question eagerly.
"Oh, yes, I should like it so much--if--."
"If--if what? If it could be arranged without frightening and
embarrassing you, you mean?"
"I wonder if you are not more afraid of being frightened and embarrassed
than of any other earthly trial. There are worse things that come to us,
Miss d'Estree. But I will arrange about the German, and you need have no
terror. How will I arrange? No matter--when Mrs. Hollenbeck asks you to
join a class in German, you will join it, will you not?"
"Anything? take care. I may fill up a check for thousands, if you give a
"I didn't give a blank; anything about German's what I meant."
"Ah, that's safer, but not half so generous. And yet you're one who
might be generous, I think."
"But tell me about the German class."
"I've nothing to tell you about it," he answered, "only that you've
promised to learn."
"But where are we to say our lessons, and what books are we to Study?"
"Would you like to say a lesson now and get one step in advance of all
"O yes! I shall need at least as much grace as that."
"Then say this after me: 'ICH WILL ALLES LERNEN, WAS SIE MICH
LEHREN.' Begin. 'ICH WILL ALLES LERNEN'--"
"'ICH WILL ALLES LERNEN'--but what does it mean?"
"Oh, that is not important. Learn it first. Can you not trust me? 'ICH
WILL ALLES LERNEN, WAS SIE MICH LEHREN.'"
"'ICH WILL ALLES LERNEN'--ah, you look as if my pronunciation were
"I was not thinking of that; you pronounce very well. 'ICH WILL ALLES
"ICH WILL ALLES LERNEN, WAS SIE MICH LEHREN:--there _now_, tell me
what it means."
"Not until you learn it; _encore une fois_."
I said it after him again and again, but when I attempted it alone, I
made invariably some error.
"Let me write it for you," he said, and pulling a book from his pocket,
tore out a leaf and wrote the sentence on it. "There--keep the paper and
study it, and say it to me in the morning."
I have the paper still; long years have passed: it is only a crumpled
little yellow fragment; but the world would be poorer and emptier to me
if it were destroyed.
I had quite mastered the sentence, saying it after him word for word,
and held the slip of paper in my hand, when I heard steps in the hall. I
knew Richard's step very well, and gave a little start. Mr. Langenau
frowned, and his manner changed, as I half rose from my seat, and as
quickly sank back in it again.
"Is it that you lack courage?" he said, looking at me keenly.
"I don't know what I lack," I cried, bending down my head to hide my
flushed face; "but I hate to be scolded and have scenes."
"But who has a right to scold you and to make a scene?"
"Nobody: only everybody does it all the same."
"Everybody, I suppose, means Mr. Richard Vandermarck, who is frowning at
you this moment from the hall."
"And it means you--who are frowning at me this moment from your seat."
All this time Richard had been standing in the hall; but now he walked
slowly away. I felt sure he had given me up. The people began to come
out of the parlor, and I felt ready to cry with vexation, when I thought
that they would again be talking about me. It was true, I am afraid,
that I lacked courage.
"You want me to go away?" he said, fixing his eyes intently on me.
"O yes, if you only would," I said naively.
He looked so white and angry when he rose, that I sprang up and put out
my hand to stop him, and said hurriedly, "I only meant--that is--I
should think you would understand without my telling you. A woman cannot
bear to have people talk about her, and know who she likes and who she
doesn't. It kills me to have people talk about me. I'm not used to
society--I don't know what is right--but I don't think--I am afraid--I
ought not to have stayed in here and talked to you away from all the
others. It's that that makes me so uncomfortable. That, and Richard too.
For I know he doesn't like to have me pleased with any one. Do not go
away angry with me. I don't see why you do not understand."
My incoherent little speech had brought him to his senses.
"I am not going away angry," he said in a low voice, "I will promise not
to speak to you again to-night. Only remember that I have feelings as
well as Mr. Richard Vandermarck."
In a moment more I was alone. Richard did not come near me, nor seem to
notice me, as he passed through the hall. Presently Mr. Eugene Whitney
came in, and I was very glad to see him.
"Won't you take me to walk on the piazza?" I asked, for everybody else
was walking there. He was only too happy; and so the evening ended
EVERY DAY FROM SIX TO SEVEN.
She wanted years to understand
The grief that he did feel.
Love is not love
That alters where it alteration finds.
This was how the German class was formed.
The next day, as we were leaving the dinner-table, Mr. Langenau paused a
few moments by Sophie, in the hall, and talked with her about the boys.
"Charley gets on very well with his German," he observed, "but Benny
doesn't make much progress. He is too young to study much, and acquires
chiefly by the ear. If you only had a German maid, or if you could speak
with him yourself, he would make much better progress."
"Yes, I wish I had more knowledge of the language," she replied; "I read
it very easily, but cannot speak with any fluency."
"Why will you never speak it with me?" he said. "And if you will permit
me, I shall be very glad to read with you an hour a day. I have much
leisure, and it would be no task to me."
"I should like it very much, and you are very kind. But it is so hard
to find an hour unoccupied, particularly with so many people in the
house, whom I ought to entertain."
"That is very true, unless you can make it a source of entertainment to
them. Miss Benson--is she not a German scholar? She might like to
Then, I think, the clever Sophie's mind was illuminated, and the tutor's
little scheme was revealed to her clear eye; she embraced it with
effusion. "An admirable idea," she said, "and the others, too, perhaps,
would join us if you would not mind. It would be one hour a day at least
secure from _ennui:_ I shall have great cause to thank you, if we can
arrange it. For these girls get so tired of doing nothing; my mind is
always on the strain to think of an amusement. Charlotte! Come here, I
want to ask you something."
Charlotte Benson came, and with her came Henrietta. I was sitting on the
sofa between the parlor-doors, and could not help hearing the whole
conversation, as they were standing immediately before me.
"Mr. Langenau proposes to us to read an hour a day with him in German.
What do you think about it?"
"Charming," said Charlotte with enthusiasm. "I cannot think of anything
that would give me greater pleasure. Henrietta and I have read in German
together for two winters, and it will be enchanting to continue it with
such a master as Mr. Langenau."
Henrietta murmured her satisfaction, and then Charlotte rushed into
plans for the course, leaving me in despair, supposing I had been
forgotten. What place I was to find in such advanced society I could not
Mr. Langenau never turned his head in my direction, and talked with Miss
Benson with so much earnestness about the books into which they were to
plunge, that I could not convince myself that all this was undertaken
solely that he might teach me German. In a little while they seemed to
have settled it all to their satisfaction, and he had turned to go away.
My heart was in my throat. Mrs. Hollenbeck had not forgotten me. She
said something low to Mr. Langenau.
"Ah, true!" he said. "But does she know anything of German?" Then
turning to me he said, with one of his dazzling sudden glances, "Miss
d'Estree, we are talking of making up a German class; do you understand
"No," I said, meeting his eye for a moment, "I have only taken one
lesson in my life," and then blushed scarlet at my own audacity.
"Ah," said he, as if quite sorry for the disappointment, "I wish you
were advanced enough to join us."
Then Charlotte Benson, quite ignoring the interruption, began to ask him
about a book that she wanted very much to find. Mr. Langenau had it in
his room--a most happy accident, and there was a great deal said about
it. I again was left in doubt of my fate. Again Sophie interposed. "We
have forgotten Mary Leighton," she said, gently.
"Does Miss Leighton know anything of German?"
"Not a thing," said Henrietta.
"What does she know anything of, but flirting?" said Charlotte with
asperity, glancing out into the grounds where Kilian was murmuring
softest folly to her under her pongee parasol.
"Perhaps she'd like to learn," suggested Sophie. "She and Pauline might
begin together; that is, if Mr. Langenau would not think it too much
trouble to give them an occasional suggestion. And you, Charlotte, I am
sure, could help them a great deal."
Charlotte made no disguise of her disinclination to undertake to help
Mr. Langenau expressed his willingness so unenthusiastically, that I
think Mrs. Hollenbeck was staggered. I saw her glance anxiously at him,
as if to know what really he might mean. She concluded to interpret
according to the context, however, and went on.
"But it will be so much better for all to undertake it, if one does.
Suppose they try and see how it will work, either before or after
"_De tout mon coeur_," said Mr. Langenau, as if, however, his _coeur_
had very little interest in the matter.
"Well, about the hour?" said Charlotte, the woman of business; "we
haven't settled that after all our talking."
There was a great deal more, oh, a great deal more, and then it was
settled that five in the afternoon should be considered the German
hour--subject to alteration as circumstances should arise.
Mrs. Hollenbeck very discreetly ordered that a beginning should not be
made till the next day but one. "The gentlemen will all be here
to-morrow, and there may be something else going on." I knew very well
she was afraid of Richard, and thought he would not approve her zeal for
The first lesson was very dull work for me. It was agreed that Mary
Leighton and I should take our lesson after the others, sitting beside
them, however, for the benefit of such crumbs of information as might
fall to us.
Mr. Langenau took no special notice of me then, and very little that
was flattering when Mary Leighton and I began our lesson proper. Mrs.
Hollenbeck, Charlotte, and Henrietta took up their books and left, when
the infant class was called. I do not think Mr. Langenau took great
pains to make the study of the German tongue of interest to Miss
Leighton. She was unspeakably bored, and never even learned the
alphabet. She was very much unused to mental application, undoubtedly,
and was annoyed at appearing dull. There was but one door open to her;
to vote German a bore, and give up the class. She made her exit by that
door on the occasion of the second lesson, and Mr. Langenau and I were
left to pursue our studies undisturbed. The rendezvous was the piazza in
fine weather, and the library when it was damp or cloudy. The fidelity
with which the senior Germans gathered up their books and left, when
their hour was over, was mainly due to the kind thoughtfulness of Mrs.
Hollenbeck, who was always prompt, and always found some excuse for
carrying away Charlotte and Henrietta with her when she went.
It can be imagined what those hours were to me, those soft, golden
afternoons. Sometimes we took our books and went out under the trees to
some shaded seats, and sat there till the maid came out to call us in to
tea. Happy, happy hours in dreamland! But what peril to me, and perhaps
to him. It is vain to go over it all: it is enough that of all the happy
days, that hour from six o'clock till tea-time was the happiest: and
that with strange smoothness, day after day passed on without bringing
interruption to it. At six the others went to ride or walk; I was never
called, and did not even wonder at it.
All this time Richard had been going every day to town and coming back
by the evening train. It was pretty tiresome work, and he looked rather
pale and worn; but I believe he could not stay away. I sometimes felt a
little sorry when I saw how much he was out of spirits, but I was in
such a happy realm myself, it did not depress me long: in truth, I
forgot it when he was not actually before me, and sometimes even then.
"I do not think you are listening to what I say," he said to me one
night as he sat by me in the parlor. I blushed desperately, and tried to
listen better. Ah! how often it happened after that. I blush again to
think how much I pained him, and how silently he bore it all.
The last days of July were very busy ones in the Wall-street office, and
Richard did not give himself a holiday, till one Saturday, much to be
remembered, the very last day of the month. I recall with penitence,
the impatient feeling that I had when Richard told me he was going to
take the day at home. I felt intuitively that it would spoil it all for
me. After breakfast, we all played croquet, and then I shut myself into
my room with my German books, and selfishly saw no one till dinner. At
dinner I was excited and half frightened, as I always was when Mr.
Langenau and Richard were both present, and both watching me; it was
impossible to please either.
Something was said about the afternoon, and Richard (who all this time
knew nothing of the German class) said to me, evidently afraid of some
other engagement being entered on, "I hope you will drive with me,
Pauline, at five. I ordered the horses when I was down at the stables; I
think the afternoon is going to be fine." It was rather a public way of
asking one out of so many to go and take a drive; but in truth, Richard
was too honest and straightforward to care who knew what he was in
pursuit of, and too sore at heart and too indifferent an actor to
conceal it if he had desired. But the invitation struck me with such
consternation. At five o'clock! The flower and consummation of the day!
The hour that I had been looking forward to, since seven the day before.
I could not lose it. I would not go to drive. I hated Richard. I hated
going to drive. I grew very brave, and was on the point of saying that
I could not go, when I caught Sophie's eye. She made me a quick sign,
which I dared not disobey. I blushed crimson, and did not lift my eyes
again, but said in a low voice that I would go. Then my heart seemed to
turn to lead, and all the glory and pleasure of the day was gone. It
seemed to me of such vast importance, of such endless duration, this
penance that I was to undergo. O lovers! Foolish, foolish men and women!
I was like a child balked of its holiday; I wanted to cry--I longed to
get away by myself. I did not dare to look at any one.
Mr. Langenau excused himself, and left the table before the others went
away. As we were leaving the table, Sophie, passing close by me, said
quite low, "I would not say anything about the German class, Pauline.
And it was a great deal better that you should go; you know Richard has
not many holidays."
"Yes, but you don't give up all your pleasures for him," I thought, but
did not say.
I went quickly to my room, and saw no one till I came down-stairs at
five o'clock. I had on a veil, for my face was rather flushed, and my
eyes somewhat the worse for crying. Richard was waiting for me at the
foot of the stairs, and accompanied me silently to the wagon, which
stood at the door. As we passed the parlor I could see, on the east
piazza, Mr. Langenau and Charlotte already at their books. Both were so
engrossed that they did not look up as we went through the hall. For
that, Richard, poor fellow! had to suffer. I was too unreasonable to
comprehend that Mr. Langenau's absorbed manner was a covering for his
pique. It was enough torture to have to lose my lesson, without seeing
him engrossed with some one else, whose fate was happier than mine.
Perhaps, after all, he was fascinated by Charlotte Benson. She was
bright, clever, and understood him so well. She admired him so much. She
was, I was sure, half in love with him. (The day before I had concluded
she liked Richard very much.) That was a very disagreeable drive. I
complained of the heat. The sun hurt my eyes.
"We can go back, if you desire it," said Richard, with a shade of
sternness in his voice, stopping the horses suddenly, after two miles of
what would have been ill-temper if we had been married, but was now
perhaps only petulance.
"I don't desire it," I said, quite frightened, "but I do wish we could
go a little faster till we get into the shade."
After that, there was naturally very little pleasure in conversation. I
felt angry with Richard and ashamed of myself. For him, I am afraid his
feelings were very bitter, and his silence the cover of a sore heart. We
had started to take a certain drive; we both wished it over, I suppose,
but both lacked courage to shorten it, or go home before we were
expected. There was a brilliant sunset, but I am sure we did not see it:
then the clouds gathered and the twilight came on, and we were
"Pauline," said Richard, hoarsely, not looking at me, and insensibly
slackening the hold he had upon the reins; "will you let me say
something to you? I want to give you some advice, if you will listen
"I don't want anybody to advise me," I said in alarm, "and I don't know
what right you have to expect me to listen to you, Richard, unless it is
that I am your guest; and I shouldn't think that was any reason why I
should be made to listen to what isn't pleasant to me."
The horses started forward, from the sudden emphasis of Richard's pull
upon the reins; and that was all the answer that I had to my most
unjustifiable words. Not a syllable was spoken after that; and in a few
moments we were at the house. Richard silently handed me out; if I had
been thinking about him I should have been frightened at the expression
of his face, but I was not: I was only thinking--that we were at home,
and that I was going to have the happiness of meeting Mr. Langenau.
A nature half transformed, with qualities
That oft betrayed each other, elements
Not blent, but struggling, breeding strange effects
Passing the reckoning of his friends or foes.
High minds of native pride and force
Most deeply feel thy pangs, remorse!
Fear for their scourge, mean villains have,
Thou art the torturer of the brave.
This was what Sophie had done: she had invoked forces that she could not
control, and she felt, as people are apt to feel when they watch their
monster growing into strength, a little frightened and a little sorry.
No doubt it had seemed to her a very small thing, to favor the folly of
a girl of seventeen, fascinated by the voice and manner of a nameless
stranger; it was a folly most manifest, but she had nothing to do with
it, and was not responsible; a very small thing to allow, and to
encourage what, doubtless, she flattered herself, her discouragement
could not have subdued. It was very natural that she should not wish
Richard to many any one; she was not more selfish than most sisters are.
Most sisters do not like to give their brothers up. She would have to
give up her home (one of her homes, that is,) as well. She did not think
Richard's choice a wise one: she was not subject to the fascination of
outline and coloring that had subjugated him, and she felt sincerely
that she was the best judge. If Richard must marry (though in thinking
of her own married life, she could not help wondering why he must), let
him marry a woman who had fortune, or position, or talent. Of course
there was a chance that this one might have money, but that would be
according to the caprice of a selfish old man, who had never been known
to show any affection for her.
But money was not what Richard wanted: his sister knew much better what
Richard wanted, than he knew himself. He wanted a clever woman, a woman
who would keep him before the world and rouse him into a little ambition
about what people thought of him. Sophie was disappointed and a little
frightened when she found that Richard did not give up the outline and
coloring pleasantly. She had thought he would be disillusionized, when
he found he was thrown over for a German tutor, who could sing. She had
not counted upon seeing him look ill and worn, and finding him stern and
silent to her; to her, of whom he had always been so fond. She found he
was taking the matter very seriously, and she almost wished that she had
not meddled with the matter.
And this German tutor--who could sing--well, it was strange, but he was
the worst feature of her Frankenstein, and the one at which she felt
most sorry and most frightened. Richard was very bad, to be sure, but he
would no doubt get over it: and if it all came out well, she would be
the gainer. As to "this girl for whom his heart was sick," she had no
manner of patience with her or pity for her.
"She must suffer: so do all;" she would undoubtedly have a hard future,
no matter to which of these men who were so absurd about her, Fate
finally accorded her: hard, if she married Richard without loving him
(nobody knew better than Sophie how hard that sort of marriage was);
hard, if she married the German, to suffer a lifetime of poverty and
ill-temper and jealous fury. But about all that, Sophie did not care a
straw. She knew how much women could live through, and it seemed to be
their business to be wretched.
But this man! And she could not gain anything by what he suffered, with
his dangerous nature, his ungovernable jealousy, his possibly involved
and unknown antecedents; what was to become of him, in case he could not
have this girl of whom six weeks ago he had not heard? A pretty
candidate to present to "mon oncle" of the Wall-street office, for the
hand of the young lady trusted to their hospitality--a very pretty
candidate--a German tutor--who could sing. If he took her, it was to be
feared he would have to take her without more dowry than some very heavy
imprecations. But could he take her, even thus? Sophie had some very
strange misgivings. This man was desperately unhappy: was suffering
frightfully: it made her heart ache to see the haggard lines deepening
on his face, to see his colorless lips and restless eyes. She was sorry
for him, as a woman is apt to be sorry for a fascinating man. And then
she was frightened, for he was "no carpet knight so trim," to whom
cognac, and cigars, and time would be a balm: this man was essentially
dramatic, a dangerous character, an article with which she was
unfamiliar. He was frantic about this silly girl: that was plain to see.
Why then was he so wretched, seeing she was as irrationally in love
"If it only comes out right," she sighed distrustfully many times a day.
She resolved never to interfere with anything again, but it came rather
late, seeing she probably had done the greatest mischief that she ever
would be permitted to have a hand in while she lived. She made up her
mind not to think anything about it, but, unfortunately for that plan,
she could not get out of sight of her work. If she had been a man, she
would probably have gone to the Adirondacks. But being a woman she had
to stay at home, and sit down among the tangled skeins which she had not
skill to straighten.
"If it only comes out right," she sighed again, the evening of that most
uncomfortable drive, "If it only comes out right." But it did not look
much like it.
I had gone directly in to tea, and so had Richard. Richard's face
silenced and depressed everybody at the table; and Mr. Langenau did
"There is going to be a terrible shower," said some one, and before the
sentence was ended, there was a vivid flash of lightning that made the
"How rapidly it has come up," said Sophie. "Was the sky black when you
came in, Richard?"
"I do not know," said Richard, and nobody doubted that he told the
"It had begun to darken before we came up from the river." said
Charlotte Benson. "The clouds were rising rapidly as we came in. It
will be a fearful tempest."
"Are the windows all shut?" said Sophie to the servant.
"I should think so," exclaimed Kilian. "The heat is horrid."
"Yes, it is suffocating," said Richard, getting up.
As he went out of the dining-room, some one, I think Henrietta, said,
"Well, I hope Mr. Langenau will get in safely; he was out on the river
when we were on the hill."
The storm was so sudden and so furious that everybody was concerned at
hearing this; even Kilian made some exclamation of alarm.
"Does he know anything about a boat?" he asked of Richard, who had
paused in the doorway, hearing what was said.
"I have no idea," said Richard, shortly, but he did not go away.
"It isn't the sail-boat that he has, of course," said Kilian,
thoughtfully. "He always goes out to row, I believe."
"Why, no," said Charlotte Benson, "he's in the sail-boat; don't you
remember saying, Henrietta, how bright the gleam of the sunset was on
the sail, and all the water was so dark?"
Kilian came to his feet very suddenly at these words.
"That's a bad business," he said quickly to his brother. "I've no idea
he can manage her in such a squall."
Sophie gave a little scream, and Charlotte and Henrietta both grew very
pale, as a frightful shock of thunder followed. The wind was furious,
and the unfastened shutters in various parts of the house sounded like
so many reports of pistols, and in an instant the whole force of the
rain fell suddenly and at once upon the windows. Somewhere some glass
was shattered, and all these sounds added to the sense of danger, and
the darkness was so great and so sudden, that it was difficult to
realize that half an hour before, the sunset could have whitened the
sails of a boat upon the river.
"I'm afraid it's too late to do much now," said Kilian, stopping in
front of his brother in the doorway.
"What's the use of talking in that way," returned Richard in a hoarse,
low voice. "If you hav'nt more sense than to talk so before women, you
can stay at home with them," he continued, striding across the hall, and
picking up a lantern that stood in a corner near the door. Charlotte
Benson caught up one of the candles from the table, and ran to him and
lit the lamp within the lantern. Sophie threw a cloak over Kilian's
shoulders, and Henrietta flew to carry a message to the kitchen. Richard
pulled a bell that was a signal to the stable (the stable was very near
the house), and in almost a moment's time two men, beside Kilian, were
following him out into the tempest. We saw their lanterns flicker for an
instant, and then they were swallowed up in the darkness. The fury of
the storm increased every moment. The flashes of lightning were but a
few seconds apart, and the roll of thunder was incessant. Every few
moments, above this continued roar, would come an appalling crash which
sounded just above our heads. The children were screaming with fear, the
servants had come into the hall and seemed in a helpless sort of panic.
Sophie was very pale and Mary Leighton clung hysterically to her.
Charlotte Benson was the only one who seemed to be self-possessed enough
to have done anything, if there had been anything to do. But there was
not. All we could do was to try to behave ourselves with fortitude in
view of the personal danger, and with composure in view of that of
others. Presently there came a lull in the tempest, and we began to
breathe freer; some one went to the door and opened it. A gust of cold
wind swept through the hall and put out the lamp, at which the children
and Mary Leighton renewed their cries of fright.
The respite in the tempest was but temporary; before the lamp was relit
and order restored, the storm had burst again upon us. This was, if
anything, fiercer, but shorter lived. After fifteen or twenty minutes'
rage, it subsided almost utterly, and we could hear it taking itself off
across the heavens. I suppose the whole storm, from its beginning to its
end, had not occupied more than three quarters of an hour, but it had
seemed much longer.
We were very glad to open the door and let the cool, damp air into the
hall. The children were taken up-stairs, consoled with the promise that
word should be sent to them when their uncles should return. The
servants went feebly off to their domain; one was sent to sweep the
piazza, for the rain had beaten in such torrents upon it that it was
impossible to walk there, till it should be brushed away. Wrapped in
their shawls, Henrietta and Charlotte Benson walked up and down the
space that the servant swept, and watched and listened for a long
half-hour. I took a cloak from the rack and, leaning against the
door-post, stood and listened silently.
From the direction of the river there was nothing to be heard. There was
still distant thunder, but that was the only sound, that and the
dripping of the rain off the leaves of the drenched trees. The wind was
almost silent, and in the spaces of the broken clouds there were
occasional faint stars. A fine, young tree, uprooted by the tempest, lay
across the carriage-way before the house, its topmost branches resting
on the steps of the piazza: the grass was strewed with leaves like
autumn, and the paths were simply pools of water. Sophie, more than
once, came to the door, and begged us to come in, for fear of the
dampness and the cold, but no one heeded her suggestion. Even she
herself came out very often, and looked and listened anxiously. Finally
my ear caught a sound: I ran down the steps, and bent forward eagerly.
There was some one coming along the garden-path that led up from the
river. I could hear the water plashing as he walked, and he was coming
rapidly. In a moment the others heard it too, and starting to the steps,
stood still, and waited breathlessly. He had no lantern, for we could
have seen that; he was almost at the steps before I could recognize him.
It was Richard. I gave a smothered cry, and springing forward, held out
my hands to stop him.
"Tell me what has happened." He put aside my hands, and went past me
without a second look.
"There has nothing happened, but what he can tell you when he comes,"
he said, as he strode past me up the steps, and on into the house. Then
he was alive to tell me: the reaction was a little too strong for me,
and I sat down on the steps to try and recover myself, for I was ill
In a few moments more, more steps sounded in the distance, this time
slowly, several persons coming together. I started and ran up the steps,
I don't exactly know why, and stood behind the others, who were crowding
down, servants and all, to hear what was the news. Kilian came first,
very drenched, and spattered, and subdued looking, then Mr. Langenau,
leaning upon one of the men, very pale, but making an attempt to smile
and speak reassuringly to Sophie, who met him with looks of great alarm.
It evidently gave him dreadful pain to move, and when he reached the
house he was quite faint. Charlotte Benson placed a chair, into which
they supported him.
"Run, Pauline, and get some brandy," said Sophie, putting a bunch of
keys into my hand without looking at me.
When I came back with the glass of brandy, he was conscious again, and
looked at me and took the glass from my hand. The other man had been
sent for the doctor from the village, who was expected every moment,
and Mr. Langenau, who was now revived by stimulants, was quite
reassuring, and attempted to laugh at us for being so much frightened.
Then the young ladies' curiosity got the better of their terror, and
they clamored for the history of the past two hours. This history was
given them principally by Kilian. I cannot repeat it satisfactorily, for
the reason that I don't know anything about jibs, and bowsprits, and
masts, and centre-boards, and I did not understand it at the time; but I
received enough out of the mass of evidence presented in that language,
to be sure that there had been considerable danger, and that everybody
had behaved well. In fact, Kilian's changed manner toward the tutor of
itself was quite enough to show that he had behaved unexpectedly well.
The unvarnished and unbowspritted and unjib-boomed tale was pretty much
as follows: Mr. Langenau had found himself in the middle of the river,
when the storm came on. I am afraid he could not have been thinking very
much about the clouds, not to have noticed that a storm was rising;
though every one agreed that they had never known anything like the
rapidity of its coming up. Before he knew what he was about, a squall
struck him, and he had great difficulty to right the boat. (Then
followed a good deal about luffing and tacking and keeping her taut to
windward; that is, I think that was where he wanted to keep her.) But
whatever it was, he didn't succeed in doing it, and Kilian vouchsafed to
say nobody could have done it. Then something split: I really cannot say
whether it was the mast, or the bowsprit, or the centre-board, but
whatever it was, it hurt Mr. Langenau so much that for a moment he was
stunned. And then Kilian cannot see why he wasn't drowned. When he came
to himself he was still holding the rudder in his hand.
The other arm was useless from the falling of--this thing that
split--upon it. And so the boat was floundering about in the gale till
it got righted, and it was Mr. Langenau's presence of mind that saved
him and the boat, for he never let go the rudder, and controlled her as
far as he could, though he did not know where he was going, the
blackness was so great, and the flashes did not show him the shore; and
he was like one placed in the midst of a frightful sea wakened out of a
dream, owing to the blow and the unconsciousness which followed.
Then Richard came upon the stage as hero; he and one of the men had gone
out in the only boat at hand, a very small one, toward the speck, which,
by the flashes of lightning, he saw out upon the river. It was almost
impossible to overhaul her, and it could not have been done at the rate
she was going, of course; but then occurred that accident which rendered
Mr. Langenau unconscious, and which brought things to a standstill for a
moment. Kalian said we did not know anything about the storm up here at
the house; that more than one tree had been struck within a few feet of
him on the shore. The river was surging; the wind was furious; no one
could imagine what it was who had not witnessed it, and he, for his
part, never expected to see Richard come back to land. But Richard did
come back, and brought back the disabled sail-boat and the injured man.
That was the end of the story; which thrilled us all very much, as we
knew the heroes, and had one of them before us, ghastly pale but
It seemed as if the doctor never would come! We were women, and we
naturally looked to the coming of the doctor as the end of all the
trouble. It was impossible to make the poor fellow comfortable. He could
not lie down, he could not move without excruciating pain, and very
frequently he grew quite faint. Charlotte Benson and Sophie administered
stimulants; endeavored to ease his position with pillows and footstools;
and did all the nameless soothing acts that efficient and good nurses
alone understand; while I, paralyzed and mute, stood aside, scarcely
able to bear the sight of his sufferings. I am sorry to say, I don't
think he cared at all to have me by him. He was in such pain that he
cared only for the attendance of those who could alleviate it in a
measure; and the strong firm hand and the skilled touch were more to him
than the presence of one who had nothing but excited and unavailing
sympathy to offer. It was rather a stern fact walking into my
By and bye Kilian went away to take off his wet clothes, and he did not
come back again, but sent down a message to his sister that he was very
tired and should go to bed, but if he were wanted for anything he could
be called. This was not heroic of Kilian, but, after the manner of men,
he was apt to keep away from the sight of disagreeable things.
After all, he could not do much good, but it was something to feel there
was a man to call upon, besides Patrick, who was stupid; and I saw
Charlotte Benson's lip curl when Kilian's message was brought down.
Richard was in his room: we all thought he had done enough for one
night, and had a right to rest.
At last, after the most weary waiting, wheels were heard, and the doctor
drove up to the door. The servants had begun to look very sleepy. Mary
Leighton had slipped away to her room, and Sophie had told Henrietta
and me to go, for we were really of no earthly use. We did not take her
advice as a compliment, and did not go. Henrietta opened the door for
the doctor, which was doing something though not much, as two of the
maids stood prepared to do it if she did not.
The doctor was a reassuring, quiet man, and became a pillar of strength
at once. After talking a few moments with Mr. Langenau, and pulling and
twisting him rather ruthlessly, he walked a little away with Sophie, and
told her he wanted him got at once to his room, and he should need the
assistance of one of the gentlemen. Would not Patrick do? Besides
Patrick. Mr. Langenau's shoulder was dislocated, badly, and it must be
set at once. It was a painful operation and he needed help. I was within
hearing of this, and I was in great alarm. Sophie looked so too, and I
don't think she liked disagreeable things any better than her brother,
but she was a woman, and could not shirk them as he could.
"Pauline," she said, finding me at her side as she turned, "run up and
tell Richard that he must come down, quick. Tell him how it is, and that
he must make haste."
I ran up the stairs breathlessly, but feeling all the time that it was
rather hard that I must be sent to Richard with this message. Sophie did
not want to ask him to come down herself, and she thought me the most
likely ambassador to bring him, but it was not a congenial embassy.
Perhaps, however, she only asked me because I happened to be nearest
her, and she was rather upset by what the doctor said.
I knocked at Richard's door.
"Oh, they want you to come down-stairs a minute. There's something to be
done," panting and rather incoherent.
"What is to be done?"
"The Doctor's here, and he says he must have help."
"Gone to bed."
Some suppressed ejaculation, and he pushed back his chair, and rose, and
came across the room: at least it sounded so, and I ran down the stairs
again. He followed me in a moment. The Doctor came forward and talked to
him a little while, and then Richard called Patrick, and told Sophie to
see that Mr. Langenau's room was ready.
"How can he get up two pairs of stairs," said Charlotte Benson, "when
he cannot move an inch without such suffering?"
"That's very true," the Doctor said. "I doubt if he could bear it. You
have no room below?"
"Put a bed in the library," said Charlotte Benson, and in ten minutes it
was done; the servants no longer sleepy when they had any definite order
"In the meantime," said Richard to his sister, "send those two to bed,"
pointing out Henrietta and me.
"I've told them to go, but they won't," said Sophie, somewhat sharply.
Henrietta walked off, rather injured, but I would not go.
Mr. Langenau had another faint attack, and I was quite certain he would
die. Charlotte was making him breathe _sal volatile_ and Sophie ran to
rub his hands. The Doctor was busy at the light about something.
"The room is all ready," said the servant.
"Very well; now Mr. Richard, if you please," the Doctor said.
"Pauline," said Richard, coming to me as I stood at the foot of the
balusters, "You can't do any good. You'd better go up-stairs."
"Oh, Richard," I cried, "I think you're very cruel; I think you might
let me stay."
I suppose my wretchedness, and youthfulness, and folly softened him
again, and he said, very gently, "I don't mean to be unkind, but it is
best for you to go. You need not be so frightened: there isn't
I moved slowly to obey him, but turned back and caught his hand and
whispered, "You won't let them hurt him, Richard?" and then ran up the
stairs. No doubt Richard thought I went to my own room; but I spent the
next hour on the landing-place, looking down into the hall.
It was rather a serious matter, getting Mr. Langenau even into the
library, and it was well they had not attempted his own room. Patrick
was called, and with his assistance and Richard's, he began to move
across the hall. But half-way to the library-door, he fainted dead away,
and Richard carried him and laid him on the bed, Patrick being worse
than useless, having lost his head, and the Doctor being a small man,
and only strong in science.
Pretty soon the library-door closed, and Sophie and Charlotte were
excluded. They walked about the hall, talking in low tones, and looking
anxious. Later, there came groaning from within the closed door, and
Charlotte Benson wrung her hands and listened. The groans continued for
a long while: the misery of hearing them! After a while they ceased:
then Richard opened the door, hastily, it seemed, and called "Sophie."
Sophie ran forward, and the door closed again. There was a long silence,
time enough for those who were outside to imagine all manner of horrid
possibilities. Then the Doctor and Richard came out.
"How is he, Doctor?" said Charlotte Benson, bravely, going to meet them,
while I hung trembling over the landing-place.
"Oh better, better, very comfortable," said the Doctor, in his calm
I could not help thinking those groans had not denoted a very high state
of comfort; but maybe the Doctor knew best how people with dislocated
shoulders and broken ribs are apt to express their sentiments of
I listened with more than interest to their plans for the night: the
Doctor was going away at once; two of the servants and Patrick were to
relieve each other in sitting by him, while Richard was to throw himself
on the sofa in the hall, to be at hand if anything were needed.
"Which means, that you are to be awake all night," said Charlotte
Benson. "You have more need of rest than we. Let Sophie and me take
Richard looked gratefully and kindly at her, but refused. The Doctor
assured them again that there was no reason for anxiety; that Richard
would probably be undisturbed all night; that he himself would come
early in the morning. Then Richard came toward the stairs, and I escaped
to my own room.
The fiend whose lantern lights the mead,
Were better mate than I!
Fools, when they cannot see their way,
At once grow desperate,
Have no resource--have nothing to propose--
But fix a dull eye of dismay
Upon the final close.
Success to the stout heart, say I,
That sees its fate, and can defy!
Two weeks later, and things had not stood still; they rarely do, when
there is so much at hand, and ripe for mischief; seventeen does not take
up the practice of wisdom voluntarily. I do not think I was very
different from other girls of seventeen, and I cannot blame myself very
much that I spent all these days in a dream of bliss and folly; how
could it have been otherwise, situated exactly as we were? This is the
way our days were passed. Mr. Langenau was better, but still not able to
leave his room. He was the hero, as a matter of course, and little
besides his sufferings, his condition, and his prospects, was talked of
at the table; which had the effect of making Kilian stay away two nights
out of three, and of alienating Richard altogether. Richard went to town
on Monday morning after the accident occurred, and it was now Friday of
the following week, and he had not come back.
It was a little dull for Mary Leighton and for Henrietta, perhaps;
possibly for Charlotte Benson, but she did not seem to mind it much; and
I had never found R---- so enchanting as that fortnight. Charlotte
Benson liked to be Florence Nightingale in little, it was very plain;
and naturally nothing made me so happy as to be permitted to minister to
the wants of the (it must be confessed) frequently unreasonable
sufferer. For the first few days, while he was confined to his bed, of
course Charlotte and I were obliged to content ourselves with the
sending of messages, the arranging of bouquets, the concocting of soups
and jellies, and all the other coddling processes at our command. But
when Mr. Langenau was able to sit up, Sophie (at the instance of
Charlotte Benson, for she seemed to have renounced diplomacy herself,)
arranged that the bed should be taken away during the daytime, and
brought back again at night, and that Mr. Langenau should lie on the
sofa through the day. This made it possible for us to be in the room,
even without Sophie, though we began to think her presence necessary.
That scruple was soon done away with, for it laid too great a tax on
her, and restricted our attentions very much. The result was, we passed
nearly the whole day beside him; Mary Leighton and Henrietta very often
of the party, and Sophie occasionally looking in upon us. Sometimes when
Charlotte Benson, as ranking officer, decreed that the patient needed
rest, we took our books and work and went to the piazza, outside the
window of his room.
He would have been very tired of us, if he had not been very much in
love with one of us. As it was, it must have been a kind of fool's
paradise in which he lived, five pretty women fluttering about him,
offering the prettiest homage, and one of them the woman for whom,
wisely or foolishly, rightly or wrongly, he had conceived so violent
As soon as he was out of pain and began to recover the tone of his
nerves at all, I saw that he wanted me beside him more than ever, and
that Charlotte Benson, with all her skill and cleverness, was as nothing
to him in comparison. No doubt he dissembled this with care; and was
very graceful and very grateful and infinitely interesting. His moods
were very varying, however; sometimes he seemed struggling with the most
unconquerable depression, then we were all so sorry for him; sometimes
he was excited and brilliant; then we were all thrilled with admiration.
And not unfrequently he was irritable and quite morose and sullen. And
then we pitied, and admired, and feared him _a la fois_. I am sure no
man more fitted to command the love and admiration of women ever lived.
Charlotte Benson with great self-devotion had insisted upon teaching the
children for two hours every day, so that Mr. Langenau might not be
annoyed at the thought that they were losing time, and that Sophie might
not be inconvenienced. It was the least that she could do, she reasoned,
after the many lessons that Mr. Langenau had given us, with so much
kindness, and without accepting a return. Henrietta volunteered for the
service, also, and from eleven to one every day the boys were caught and
caged, and made to drink at the fountain of learning; or rather to
approach that fountain, of which forty Charlottes and Henriettas could
not have made them drink.
At that time Charlotte always decreed that Mr. Langenau should lie on
the sofa and go to sleep. The windows were darkened, and the room was
cleared of visitors. On this Friday morning, nearly two weeks after the
accident, as I was following Sophie from the room (Charlotte having gone
with Henrietta to capture the children), Mr. Langenau called after me
rather imperiously, "Miss d'Estree--Miss Pauline--"
It had been a stormy session, and I turned back with misgivings. Sophie
shrugged her shoulders and went away toward the dining-room.
"What are you going away for, may I ask?" he said, as I appeared before
"Why, you know you ought to lie down and to rest," I tried to say with
discretion, but it was all one what I said: it would have irritated him
just the same.
"I am rather tired of this surveillance," he exclaimed. "It is almost
time I should be permitted to express a wish about the disposition of
myself. As I do not happen to want to go to sleep, I beg I may be
allowed the pleasure of your society for a little while."
"I don't think it would give you much pleasure, and you know you don't
feel as well to-day."
"Again, may I be permitted to judge how I feel myself?"
"Oh, yes, of course, but--"
"But what, Miss d'Estree?--No doubt you want to go yourself--I am sorry
I thought of detaining you (with a gesture of dismissal). I beg you to
excuse me, A sick man is apt to be unreasonable."
"Oh, as to that, you know entirely well I do not want to go. You are
unreasonable, indeed, when you talk as you do now. I only went away for
"_Qui s'excuse, s'accuse_."
"But I am not excusing myself; and if you put it so I will go away at
"_Si vous voulez_--"
"But I don't '_voulez_'--Oh, how disagreeable you can be."
"You will stay?"
"Pauline!" called Sophie from across the hall.
"There!" I exclaimed, interpreting it as the voice of conscience. I left
my work-basket and book upon the table, and went out of the room.
"You called me?" I said, following her into the parlor, where, shutting
the door, she motioned me to a seat beside her. She had a slip of paper
and an envelope in her hand, and seemed a little ill at ease.
"I've just had a telegram from Richard," she said. "He's coming home
to-night by the eleven o'clock train. It's so odd altogether. I don't
know why he's coming. But you may as well read his message yourself,"
she said with a forced manner, handing me the paper. It was as follows:
Send carriage for me to eleven-thirty train to-night. Remember my
injunctions, our last conversation, and your promises."
"Well?" I said, looking up, bewildered and not violently interested, for
I was secretly listening to the quick shutting of the library-door.
"Why, you see," she returned, with a forced air of confidence that made
me involuntarily shrink from her; I think she even laid her hand upon my
sleeve, or made some gesture of familiarity which was unusual--
"You see, that last conversation was--about you. Richard is annoyed
at--at your intimacy with Mr. Langenau. You know just as well as I do
how he feels, for no doubt he's spoken to you himself."
"He never has," I said, quite shortly.
"No?" and she looked rather chagrined. "Well--but at all events you know
how he feels. Girls ar'nt slow generally to find out about those things.
And he is really very unhappy about it, very. I wish, Pauline, you'd
give it up, child. It's gone quite far enough; now don't you think so
yourself? Mr. Langenau isn't the sort of man to be serious about, you
know. It's all very well, just for a summer's amusement. But, you know,
you mustn't go too far. I'm sure, dear, you're not angry with me: now
you understand just what I mean, don't you?"
No: not angry, certainly not angry. She went on, still with the
impertinent touch upon my arm: "Richard made me promise that I would
look after you, and not permit things to go too far. And you
see--well--I'll tell you in confidence what I think his coming to-night
means, and his message and all. I think--that is, I am afraid--he's
found out something against Mr. Langenau since he's been away. I know he
never has felt confidence in him. But I've always thought, perhaps that
was because he was--well--a little jealous and suspicious. You know men
are so apt to be suspicious; and I was sure, when he went away that last
Monday morning, that he would not leave a stone unturned in finding out
everything about him. It is that that's kept him, I am sure. Don't let
that make you feel hardly toward Richard," she went on, noticing perhaps
my look; "you know it's only natural, and besides, it's right. How would
he answer to your uncle?"
"It is I who should answer to my uncle," I returned, under my breath.
"Yes, but you are in our house, in our care. You know, my dear child,
you are very young and very inexperienced; you don't know how very
careful people have to be."
"Why don't you talk that way to Charlotte and Henrietta and Mary
Leighton? Have I done anything so very different from them?" I answered,
with a blaze of spirit.
"No, dear," she said, with a little laugh, "only there are one or two
men very much in love with you, and that makes everything so different."
I blushed scarlet, and was silenced instantly, as she intended.
"Now, maybe I am mistaken about his having discovered something," she
went on, "but I can't make anything else out of Richard's message. He is
not one to send off such a despatch without a reason. Evidently he is
very uneasy; and I thought it was best to be perfectly frank with you,
dear, and I know you'll do me the justice to say I have been, if Richard
ever says anything to you about it. You mustn't blame me, you know, for
the way he feels. I wish the whole thing was at an end," she said, with
the first touch of sincerity. "And now promise me one thing," with
another caressing movement of the hand, "Promise me, you won't go into
the library again till Richard comes, and we hear what he has to say.
Just for my sake, you know, my dear, for you see he would blame me if I
did not keep a strict surveillance. You won't mind doing that, I'm
sure, for me?"
"I shall not promise anything," I returned, getting up, "but I am not
likely to go near the library after what you've said."
"That's a good child," she said, evidently much relieved, and thinking
that the affair was very near its end. I opened the door, and she added:
"Now go up-stairs, and rest yourself, for you look as if you had a
headache, and don't think of anything that's disagreeable." That was a
good prescription, but I did not take it.
Of course, I did not go near the library; that was understood. After
dinner, the servant brought in Mr. Langenau's tray untouched, and
Charlotte Benson started up, and ran in to see what was the matter.
Sophie went too, looking a little troubled. I think they were both
snubbed: for ten minutes after, when I met Charlotte in the hall, she
had an unusual flush upon her cheek, and Sophie I found standing at one
of the parlor-windows, biting her lip, and tapping impatiently upon the
carpet. Evidently the affair was not as near its placid end as she had
hoped. She started a little when she saw me, and tried to look
"How sultry it is this afternoon!" she said. "Are you going up to your
room to take a rest? stop in my room on your way, I want to show you
those embroideries that I was telling Charlotte Benson of last night."
"I did not hear you, and I do not know anything about them," I said,
feeling not at all affectionate.
"No? Oh, I forgot: it was while you and Henrietta were sitting in the
library, and Charlotte and I were walking up and down the piazza while
it rained. Why, they are some heavenly sets that I got this spring from
Paris--Marshall picked them up one day at the _Bon Marche_--and verily
they are _bon marche_. I never saw anything so cheap, and I was telling
Charlotte that some of you might just as well have part of them, for I
never could use the half. Come up and look them over."
Now I loved "heavenly sets" as well as most women, but dress was not the
bait for me at that moment. So I said my head ached and I could not look
at them then, if she'd excuse me; and I went silently away to my room,
not caring at all if she were pleased or not. I disliked and distrusted
her more and more every moment, and she seemed to me so mean: for I knew
all her worry came from the apprehension of what she might have to fear
from Richard, not the thought of the suffering that he or that any one
It was a long afternoon, but it reached its end, after the manner of
all afternoons on record, even those of Marianna. When I came
down-stairs they were all at tea and Kilian had arrived. A more
enlivening atmosphere prevailed, and the invalid was not discussed. A
drive was being canvassed. There was an early moon, and Kilian proposed
driving Tom and Jerry before the open wagon, which would carry four,
through the valley-road, to be back by half-past nine or ten o'clock.
"But what am I to do," cried Kilian, "when there are five angels, and I
have only room for three?"
"Why, two will have to stay at home, according to my arithmetic," said
Charlotte, good-naturedly, "and I've no doubt I shall be remainder."
"If you stay, I shall stay with you," said Henrietta, dropping the
metaphor, for metaphors, even the mildest, were beyond her reach
Everybody wanted to stay, and everybody tried to be quite firm; but as
no one's firmness but mine was based on inclination, the result was that
Sophie and I were "remainder," and Mary Leighton, Charlotte, and
Henrietta drove away with Kilian quite jauntily, at half-past seven
o'clock. But before she went, Charlotte, who was really good-natured
with all her sharpness and self-will, went into the library to speak to
Mr. Langenau, and to show she did not resent the noonday slight,
whatever that had been. But presently she came back looking rather
anxious, and said to Sophie, ignoring me (whom she always did ignore if
"Do go and see what you can do for Mr. Langenau. He is really very far
from well. His tea stands there, and he hasn't taken anything to eat. He
looks feverish and excited, and I truly think he ought to see the
Doctor. You know he promised the Doctor to stay in his room, and keep
still all the rest of the week. But I am sure he means to come out
to-morrow, and he even talks of going down to town. It will kill him if
he does; I'm sure he's doing badly, and I wish you'd go and see to him."
"Does he know Richard is coming up to-night?" asked Sophie, _sotto
voce_, but with affected carelessness.
"I do not know; oh yes, he does, I mentioned it to him at dinner-time, I
"Well, I'll see if I can do anything for him; now go, they're waiting
for you. Have a pleasant time."
After they were gone, Sophie went into the library, but she did not stay
very long. She came and sat beside me on the river-balcony, and talked a
little, desultorily and absent-mindedly.
Presently there was a call for "mamma," a hubbub and a hurry--soon
explained. Charley, who had been running wild for the last two weeks,
without tutor or uncle to control him, had just fallen from the mow, and
hurt himself somewhat, and frightened himself much more. The whole house
was in a ferment. He was taken to mamma's room, for he was a great baby
when anything was the matter with him, and would not let mamma move an
inch away from him. After assisting to the best of my ability in making
him comfortable, and seeing myself only in the way, I went down-stairs
again, and took my seat upon the balcony that overlooked the river.
The young moon was shining faintly, and the air was soft and balmy. The
house was very still; the servants, I think, were all in a distant part
of the house, or out enjoying the moonlight and the idleness of evening.
Sophie was nailed to Charley's bed up-stairs, trying to soothe him;
Benny was sinking to sleep in his little crib. It seemed like an
enchanted palace, and when I heard a step crossing the parlor, it made
me start with a vague feeling of alarm. The parlor-window by me, which
opened to the floor, was not closed, and in another moment some one came
out and stood beside me. It was Mr. Langenau. I started up and
exclaimed, "Mr. Langenau, how imprudent! Oh, go back at once."
He seemed weak, and his hand shook as he leaned against the casement,
but his eyes were glittering with a feverish excitement. He did not
answer. I went on: "The Doctor forbade your coming out for several days
yet--and the exertion and the night-air--oh, I beg you to go back."
"Alone?" he said in a low voice.
"No, oh no, I will go with you. Anything, only do not stay here a moment
longer; come." And taking his hand (and how burning hot it was!) and
drawing it through my arm, I started toward the hall. He had to lean on
me, for the unusual exertion seemed to have annihilated all his
strength. When we reached the library, I led him to a chair--a large and
low and easy one, and he sank down in it.
"You are not going away?" he asked, as he gasped for breath, "For there
is something that must be said to-night."
"No, I will not go," I answered, frightened to see him so, and agitated
by a thousand feelings. "I will light the lamp, and read to you. Let me
move your chair back from the window."
"No, you must not light the lamp; I like the moonlight better. Bring
your chair and sit here by me--here." He leaned and half-pulled toward
him the companion to the chair on which he sat, a low, soft, easy one.
I sat down in it, sitting so I nearly faced him. The moon was shining
in at the one wide window: I can remember exactly the pattern that the
vine-leaves made as the moonlight fell through them on the carpet at our
feet. I had a bunch of verbena-leaves fastened in my dress, and I never
smell verbena-leaves at any time or place without seeing before me that
moon-traced pattern and that wide-open window.
"Pauline," he said, in that low, thrilling voice, leaning a little
toward me, "I have a great deal to say to you to-night. I have a great
wrong to ask pardon for--a great sorrow to tell you of. I shall never
call you Pauline again as I call you to-night. I shall never look into
your eyes again, I shall never touch your hand. For we must part,
Pauline; and this hour, which heaven has given me, is the last that we
shall spend together on the earth."
I truly thought that his fever had produced delirium, and, trying to
conceal my alarm, I said, with an attempt to quiet him, "Oh, do not say
such things; we shall see each other a great, great many times, I hope,
and have many more hours together."
"No, Pauline, you do not know so well as I of what I speak. This is no
delirium; would to heaven, it were, and I might wake up from it. No, the
parting must be said to-night, and I must be the one to speak it. We
may spend days, perhaps, under the same roof--we may even sit at the
same table once again; but, I repeat, from this day I may never look
into your eyes again, I may never touch your hand. Pauline, can you
forgive me? I know that you can love. Merciful Heaven! who so well as I,
who have held your stainless heart in my stained hand these many dreamy
weeks; and Justice has not struck me dead. Yes, Pauline, I know you've
loved me; but remember this one thing, in all your bitter thoughts of me
hereafter: remember this, you have not loved me as I have loved you. You
have not given up earth and heaven both for me as I have done for you.
For you? No, not for you, but for the shadow of you, for the thought of
you, for these short weeks of you. And then, an eternity of absence, and
of remorse, and of oblivion--ah, if it might be oblivion for you! If I
could blot out of your life this short, blighting summer; if I could put
you back to where you were that fresh, sweet morning that I walked with
you beside the river! I loved you from that day, Pauline, and I drugged
my conscience, and refused to heed that I was doing you a wrong in
teaching you to love me. Pauline, I have to tell you a sad story: you
will have to go back with me very far; you will have to hear of sins of
which you never dreamed in your dear innocence. I would spare you if I
could, but you must know, for you must forgive me. And when you have
heard, you may cease to love, but I think you will forgive. Listen."
Why should I repeat that terrible disclosure? why harrow my soul with
going back over that dark path? Let me try to forget that such sins,
such wrongs, such revenges, ever stained a human life. I was so young,
so innocent, so ignorant. It was a strange misfortune that I should have
had to know that which aged and changed me so. But he was right in
saying that I had to know it. My life was bound involuntarily to his by
my love, and what concerned him was my fate. Alas! He was in no other
way bound to me than by my love: nor ever could be.
I don't know whether I was prepared for it or not: I knew that something
terrible and final was to come, and I felt the awe that attends the
thoughts that words are final and time limited. But when I heard the
fatal truth--that another woman lived to whom he was irrevocably
bound--I heard it as in a dream, and did not move or speak. I think I
felt for a moment as if I were dead, as if I had passed out of the ranks
of the living into the abodes of the silent, and benumbed, and
pulseless. There was such a horrible awe, and chill, and check through
all my young and rapid blood. It was like death by freezing. It is not
so pleasant as they say, believe me. But no pain: that came afterward,
when I came to life, when I felt the touch of his hand on mine, and
ceased to hear his cruel words.
I had shrunk back from him in my chair, and sat, I suppose, like a
person in a trance, with my hands in my lap, and my eyes fixed on him
with bewilderment. But when he ceased to speak--and, leaning forward on
one knee, clasped my hands in his, and drew me toward him, then indeed I
knew I was not dead. Oh, the agony of those few moments--I tried to
rise, to go away from him. But he held me with such strength--all his
weakness was gone now. He folded his arms around my waist and held me as
in a vise. Then suddenly leaning his head down upon my arms, he kissed
my hands, my arms, my dress, with a moan of bitter anguish.
"Not mine," he murmured. "Never mine but in my dreams. O wretched
dreams, that drive me mad. Pauline, they will tell us that we must not
dream--we must not weep, we must be stocks and stones. We must wear this
weight of living death till that good Lord that makes such laws shall
send us death in mercy. Twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years of suffering:
that might almost satisfy Him, one would think. Pauline! you and I are
to say good-bye to-night. Good-bye! People talk of it as a cruel word.
Think of it: if it were but for a year, a year with hope at the end of
it to keep our hearts alive, it would be terrible, and we should need be
brave. The tears that lovers shed over a year apart; the days that have
got to come and go, how weary. The nights--the nights that sleep flies
off from, and that memory reigns over. Count them--over three hundred
come in every year. One, you think while it is passing, is enough to
kill you: one such night of restless torture, and how many shall we
multiply our three hundred by? We are young, Pauline. You are a child, a
very child. I am in the very flush and strength of manhood. There is
half a century of suffering in me yet: this frame, this brain, will
stand the wear of the hard years to come but too, too well. There is no
hope of death. There is no hope in life. That star has set. Good God!
And that makes hell--why should I wait for it--it cannot be worse there
than here. Don't listen to me--it will not be as hard for you--you are
so young--you have no sins to torture you--only a little love to conquer
and forget. You will marry a man who lives for you, and who is patient
and will wait till this is over. Ah, no: by Heaven! I can't quite stand
it yet. Pauline, you never loved him, did you--never blushed for
him--never listened for his coming with your lips apart and your heart
fluttering, as I have seen you listen when you thought that I was
coming? No, I know you never loved him: I know you have loved me
alone--me--who ought to have forbidden you. Forgive--forgive--forgive
A passion of tears had come to my relief, and I shook from head to foot
with sobs. I cannot feel ashamed when I remember that he held me for one
moment in his arms. He had been to me till that shock, strength, truth,
justice: _the man I loved_. How could I in one instant know him by his
sin alone, and undo all my trust? I knew only this, that it was for the
last time, and that my heart was broken.
I forgave him--that was an idle form; in my great love I never felt that
there was anything to be forgiven, except the wrong that fate had done
me, in making my love so hopeless. He told me to forget him; that seemed
to me as idle; but all his words were precious, and all my soul was in
his hand. When, at that moment, the sound of wheels upon the gravel
came, and the sound of laughter and of voices, I sprang up; he caught me
in his arms and held me closely. Another moment, the parting was over,
and I was kneeling by my bed up-stairs, weeping, sobbing, hopeless.
THE WORLD GOES ON THE SAME.
Into my chamber brightly
Came the early sun's good-morrow;
On my restless bed, unsightly,
I sat up in my sorrow.
It is an amazing thing, the strength and power of pride. Pride, and the
law of self-respect and self-preservation in our being, is the force
that holds us in our course. When we reflect upon it, how few of all the
myriads fly out from it and are lost. That I ate my meals; that I
dressed myself with care; that I took walks and drives: that I did not
avoid my companions, and listened patiently to what they chose to say:
these were the evidences of that centripetal law within that was keeping
me from destruction. It would be difficult to imagine a person more
unhappy. Undisciplined and unfortified by the knowledge that
disappointment is an integral part of all lives, there had suddenly come
upon me a disappointment the most total. It covered everything; there
was not a flicker of hope or palliation. And I had no idea where to go
to make myself another hope, or in what course lay palliation. As we
have prepared ourselves or have been prepared, so is the issue of our
temptations. My great temptation came upon me, foolish, ignorant,
unprepared: the wonder would have been if I had resisted it to my
The days went on as usual at R----, and I must hold my place among the
careless daughters and not let them see my trouble. Careless daughters,
indeed they were, and I shuddered at the thought of their cold eyes: no
doubt their eyes, bright as well as cold, saw that something was amiss
with me; with all my bravery, I could not keep the signs of wretchedness
out of my pale face. But they never knew the story, and they could only
guess at what made me wretched. It is amazing (again) what power there
is in silence, and how much you can keep in your hands if you do not
open them. People may surmise--may invent, but they cannot know your
secret unless you tell it to them, and their imaginings take so many
forms, the multitude of things that they create blot out all definite
design. Thus every one at R---- had a different theory about my loss of
spirits and the relapse of Mr. Langenau, but no one ever knew what
passed that night.
Richard came. He was closeted with Sophie until after midnight, but I
do not think he told her anything that she desired to know. I think he
only tried to find out from her what had passed (and she did not know
that I had been in the library since she spoke to me). If Mr. Langenau
had been well, I have no doubt that it was his design to have dismissed
him on the following day, no matter at what hazard. How much he knew I
cannot tell, but enough to have warranted him in doing that, perhaps. He
probably would have put it in Mr. Langenau's power to have gone without
any coloring put upon his going that would have affected his standing in
the household. This was his design, no doubt; otherwise he would have
told his sister all. His delicate consideration for me made him guard as
sacred the fact that I had wasted my hope and love so cruelly.
He was not going away again, I soon found; _qui va a la chasse perd sa
place_. He had lost his place, but he would stay and guard me all the
same; and the chase for gold seemed given up for good and all.
Kilian was in constant surprise, and made out many catechisms, but he
got little satisfaction.
Richard was going to have a few weeks' "rest," unless something should
occur to call him back to town.
He sought no interview with me, was kind and silent, but his eye was
never off me. I think he watched his opportunity for saying what he had
to say to Mr. Langenau, but such an opportunity seemed destined not
Mr. Langenau was ill the day after Richard came home--quite ill enough
to cause alarm. He had a high fever, and the Doctor even seemed uneasy,
and prescribed the profoundest quiet. After a day or two, however, he
improved, and all danger seemed averted.
As soon as he was strong enough, he was to be removed to his own room
above, for the sake of quiet, and to release the household from its
All these particulars I heard at table, or from morning groups on the
piazza: with stony cheeks, and eyes that looked unflinchingly into all
curious faces: so works the law of self-defence.
All but Richard, I am sure, were staggered, but he read with his heart.
I never blushed now, I never faltered, I never said a word I did not
mean to say. It was a struggle for life: though I did not value the
life, and should have found it hard to say why I did not give up and
let them see that I was killed.
But I kept wondering how I should sustain myself if I should be called
upon to meet him once again.