This etext was produced by Pat Castevans
By George Meredith
XL. SHE TASTES DESPAIR
XLI. SHE IS FOUND
XLII. DEFECTION OF MR. PERICLES FROM THE BROOKFIELD CIRCLE
XLIII. IN WHICH WE SEE WILFRID KINDLING
XLIV. ON THE HIPPOGRIFF IN AIR: IN WHICH THE PHILOSOPHER
HAS A SHORT SPELL.
XLV. ON THE HIPPOGRIFF ON EARTH.
XLVI. RAPE OF THE BLACK-BRIONY WREATH
XLVII. THE CALL TO ACTION
XLVIII. CONTAINS A FURTHER VIEW OF SENTIMENT
XLIX. BETWEEN EMILIA AND GEORGIANA
Emilia stretched out her hand and said, "Good-bye." Seeing that the
hardened girl, with her dead eyelids, did not appear to feel herself at
his mercy, and also that Sir Purcell's forehead looked threatening, Mr.
Pericles stopped his sardonic noise. He went straight to the door, which
he opened with alacrity, and mimicking very wretchedly her words of
adieu, stood prepared to bow her out. She astonished him by passing
without another word. Before he could point a phrase bitter enough for
expression, Sir Purcell had likewise passed, and in going had given him a
quietly admonishing look.
"Zose Poles are beggars!" Mr. Pericles roared after them over the stairs,
and slammed his door for emphasis. Almost immediately there was a knock
at it. Mr. Pericles stood bent and cat-like as Sir Purcell reappeared.
The latter, avoiding all preliminaries, demanded of the Greek that he
should promise not to use the names of his friends publicly in such a
"I require a promise for the future. An apology will be needless from
"I shall not give it," said Mr. Pericles, with a sharp lift of his upper
"But you will give me the promise I have returned for."
In answer Mr. Pericles announced that he had spoken what was simply true:
that the prosperity of the Poles was fictitious: that he, or any
unfavourable chance, could ruin them: and that their friends might do
better to protect their interests than by menacing one who had them in
Sir Purcell merely reiterated his demand for the promise, which was
ultimately snarled to him; whereupon he retired, joy on his features.
For, Cornelia poor, she might be claimed by him fearlessly: that is to
say, without the fear of people whispering that the penniless baronet had
sued for gold, and without the fear of her father rejecting his suit. At
least he might, with this knowledge that he had gained, appoint to meet
her now! All the morning Sir Purcell had been combative, owing to that
subordinate or secondary post he occupied in a situation of some
excitement;--which combativeness is one method whereby men thus placed,
imagining that they are acting devotedly for their friends, contrive
still to assert themselves. He descended to the foot of the stairs,
where he had told Emilia to wait for him, full of kind feelings and ready
cheerful counsels; as thus: "Nothing that we possess belongs to us;--All
will come round rightly in the end; Be patient, look about for amusement,
and improve your mind." And more of this copper coinage of wisdom in the
way of proverbs. But Emilia was nowhere visible to receive the
administration of comfort. Outside the house the fog appeared to have
swallowed her. With some chagrin on her behalf (partly a sense of duty
unfulfilled) Sir Purcell made his way to the residence of the Marinis, to
report of her there, if she should not have arrived. The punishment he
inflicted on himself in keeping his hand an hour from that letter to be
written to Cornelia, was almost pleasing; and he was rewarded by it, for
the projected sentences grew mellow and rich, condensed and throbbed
eloquently. What wonder, that with such a mental occupation, he should
pass Emilia and not notice her? She let him go.
But when he was out of sight, all seemed gone. The dismally-lighted city
wore a look of Judgement terrible to see. Her brain was slave to her
senses: she fancied she had dropped into an underground kingdom, among a
mysterious people. The anguish through which action had just hurried
her, now fell with a conscious weight upon her heart. She stood a
moment, seeing her desolation stretch outwardly into endless labyrinths;
and then it narrowed and took hold of her as a force within: changing
thus, almost with each breathing of her body.
The fog had thickened. Up and down the groping city went muffled men,
few women. Emilia looked for one of her sex who might have a tender
face. Desire to be kissed and loved by a creature strange to her, and to
lay her head upon a woman's bosom, moved her to gaze around with a
longing once or twice; but no eyes met hers, and the fancy recurred
vividly that she was not in the world she had known. Otherwise, what had
robbed her of her voice? She played with her fancy for comfort, long
after any real vitality in it had oozed out. Her having strength to play
at fancies showed that a spark of hope was alive. In truth, firm of
flesh as she was, to believe that all worth had departed from her was
impossible, and when she reposed simply on her sensations, very little
trouble beset her: only when she looked abroad did the aspect of numerous
indifferent faces, and the harsh flowing of the world its own way, tell
her she had lost her power. Could it be lost? The prospect of her
desolation grew so wide to her that she shut her eyes, abandoning herself
to feeling; and this by degrees moved her to turn back and throw herself
at the feet of Mr. Pericles. For, if he said, "Wait, my child, and all
will come round well," she was prepared blindly to think so. The
projection of the words in her mind made her ready to weep: but as she
neared the house of his office the wish to hear him speak that, became
passionate; she counted all that depended on it, and discovered the size
of the fabric she had built on so thin a plank. After a while, her steps
were mechanically swift. Before she reached the chambers of Mr. Pericles
she had walked, she knew not why, once round the little quiet enclosed
city-garden, and a cold memory of those men who had looked at her face
gave her some wonder, to be quickly kindled into fuller comprehension.
Beholding Emilia once more, Mr. Pericles enjoyed a revival of his taste
for vengeance; but, unhappily for her, he found it languid, and when he
had rubbed his hands, stared, and by sundry sharp utterances brought her
to his feet, his satisfaction was less poignant than he had expected. As
a consequence, instead of speaking outrageously, according to his habit,
in wrath, he was now frigidly considerate, informing Emilia that it would
be good for her if she were dead, seeing that she was of no use whatever;
but, as she was alive, she had better go to her father and mother, and
learn knitting, or some such industrial employment. "Unless zat man for
whom you play fool!--" Mr. Pericles shrugged the rest of his meaning.
"But my voice may not be gone," urged Emilia. "I may sing to you to-
morrow--this evening. It must be the fog. Why do you think it lost? It
"Cracked!" cried Mr. Pericles.
"It is not! No; do not think it. I may stay here. Don't tell me to go
yet. The streets make me wish to die. And I feel I may, perhaps, sing
presently. Wait. Will you wait?"
A hideous imitation of her lamentable tones burst from Mr. Pericles.
"Cracked!" he cried again.
Emilia lifted her eyes, and looked at him steadily. She saw the idea
grow in the eyes fronting her that she had a pleasant face, and she at
once staked this little bit of newly-conceived worth on an immediate
chance. Remember; that she was as near despair as a creature constituted
so healthily could go. Speaking no longer in a girlish style, but with
the grave pleading manner of a woman, she begged Mr. Pericles to take her
to Italy, and have faith in the recovery of her voice. He, however, far
from being softened, as he grew aware of her sweetness of feature, waxed
violent and insulting.
"Take me," she said. "My voice will reward you. I feel that you can
"For zat man! to go to him again!" Mr. Pericles sneered.
"I never shall do that." There sprang a glitter as of steel in Emilia's
eyes. "I will make myself yours for life, if you like. Take my hand,
and let me swear. I do not break my word. I will swear, that if I
recover my voice to become what you expected,--I will marry you whenever
you ask me, and then--"
More she was saying, but Mr. Pericles, sputtering a laugh of "Sanks!"
presented a postured supplication for silence.
"I am not a man who marries."
He plainly stated the relations that the woman whom he had distinguished
by the honours of selection must hold toward him.
Emilia's cheeks did not redden; but, without any notion of shame at the
words she listened to, she felt herself falling lower and lower the more
her spirit clung to Mr. Pericles: yet he alone was her visible
personification of hope, and she could not turn from him. If he cast her
off, it seemed to her that her voice was condemned. She stood there
still, and the cold-eyed Greek formed his opinion.
He was evidently undecided as regards his own course of proceeding, for
his chin was pressed by thumb and forefinger hard into his throat, while
his eyebrows were wrinkled up to their highest elevation. From this
attitude, expressive of the accurate balancing of the claims of an
internal debate, he emerged into the posture of a cock crowing, and
Emilia heard again his bitter mimicry of her miserable broken tones,
followed by Ha! dam! Basta! basta!"
"Sit here," cried Mr. Pericles. He had thrown himself into a chair, and
pointed to his knee.
Emilia remained where she was standing.
He caught at her hand, but she plucked that from him. Mr. Pericles rose,
sounding a cynical "Hein!"
"Don't touch me," said Emilia.
Nothing exasperates certain natures so much as the effort of the visibly
weak to intimidate them.
"I shall not touch you?" Mr. Pericles sneered. "Zen, why are you here?"
"I came to my friend," was Emilia's reply.
"Your friend! He is not ze friend of a couac-couac. Once, if you
please: but now" (Mr. Pericles shrugged), "now you are like ze rest of
women. You are game. Come to me."
He caught once more at her hand, which she lifted; then at her elbow.
"Will you touch me when I tell you not to?"
There was the soft line of an involuntary frown over her white face, and
as he held her arm from the doubled elbow, with her clenched hand aloft,
she appeared ready to strike a tragic blow.
Anger and every other sentiment vanished from Mr. Pericles in the
rapturous contemplation of her admirable artistic pose.
"Mon Dieu! and wiz a voice!" he exclaimed, dashing his fist in a delirium
of forgetfulness against the one plastered lock of hair on his shining
head. "Little fool! little dam fool!--zat might have been"--(Mr.
Pericles figured in air with his fingers to signify the exaltation she
was to have attained)--"Mon Dieu! and look at you! Did I not warn you?
non a vero? Did I not say 'Ruin, ruin, if you go so? For a man!--a
voice! You will not come to me? Zen, hear! you shall go to old
Belloni. I do not want you, my pretty dear. Woman is a trouble, a drug.
You shall go to old Belloni; and, crack! if ze voice will come back to a
whip,--bravo, old Belloni!"
Mr. Pericles turned to reach down his hat from a peg. At the same
instant Emilia quitted the room.
Dusk was deepening the yellow atmosphere, and the crowd was now steadily
flowing in one direction. The bereaved creature went with the stream,
glad to be surrounded and unseen, till it struck her, at last, that she
was moving homeward. She stopped with a pang of grief, turned, and met
all those people to whom the fireside was a beacon. For some time she
bore against the pressure, but her loneliness overwhelmed her. None
seemed to go her way. For a refuge, she turned into one of the city side
streets, where she was quite alone. Unhappily, the street was of no
length, and she soon came to the end of it. There was the choice of
retracing her steps, or entering a strange street; and while she
hesitated a troop of sheep went by, that made a piteous noise. She
followed them, thinking curiously of the something broken that appeared
to be in their throats. By-and-by, the thought flashed in her that they
were going to be slaughtered. She held her step, looking at them, but
without any tender movement of the heart. They came to a butcher's yard,
and went in.
When she had passed along a certain distance, a shiver seized her, and
her instinct pushed her toward the lighted shops, where there were
pictures. In one she saw the portrait of that Queen of Song whom she had
heard at Besworth. Two young men, glancing as they walked by arm in arm,
pronounced the name of the great enchantress, and hummed one of her
triumphant airs. The features expressed health, humour, power, every
fine animal faculty. Genius was on the forehead and the plastic mouth;
the forehead being well projected, fair, and very shapely, showing clear
balance, as well as capacity to grasp flame, and fling it. The line
reaching to a dimple from the upper lip was saved from scornfulness by
the lovely gleam, half-challenging, half-consoling, regal, roguish--what
you would--that sat between her dark eyelashes, like white sunlight on
the fringed smooth roll of water by a weir. Such a dimple, and such a
gleam of eyes, would have been keys to the face of a weakling, and it was
the more fascinating from the disregard of any minor charm notable upon
this grand visage, which could not suffer a betrayal. You saw, and there
was no effort to conceal, that the spirit animating it was intensely
human; but it was human of the highest chords of humanity, indifferent to
finesse and despising subtleties; gifted to speak, to inspire, and to
command all great emotions. In fact, it was the masque of a dramatic
artist in repose. Tempered by beauty, the robust frame showed that she
possessed a royal nature, and could, as a foremost qualification for Art,
feel harmoniously. She might have many of the littlenesses of which
women are accused; for Art she promised unspotted excellence; and,
adorable as she was by attraction of her sex, she was artist over all.
Emilia found herself on one of the bridges, thinking of this aspect.
Beneath her was the stealing river, with its red intervals, and the fog
had got a wider circle. She could not disengage that face from her mind.
It seemed to say to her, boldly, "I live because success is mine;" and to
hint, as with a paler voice, "Death the fruit of failure." Could she,
Emilia, ever be looked on again by her friends? The dread of it gave her
shudders. Then, death was certainly easy! But death took no form in her
imagination, as it does to one seeking it. She desired to forget and to
hide her intolerable losses; to have the impostor she felt herself to be
buried. As she walked along she held out her hands, murmuring,
"Helpless! useless!" It came upon her as a surprise that one like
herself should be allowed to live. "I don't want to," she said; and the
neat moment, "I wonder what a drowned woman is like?" She hurried back
to the streets and the shops. The shops failed now to give her
distraction, for a stiff and dripping image floated across all the
windows, and she was glad to see the shutters being closed; though, when
the streets were dark, some friendliness seemed to have gone. When the
streets were quits dark, save for the row of lamps, she walked fast,
fearing she knew not what.
A little Italian boy sat doubled over his organ on a doorstep, while a
yet smaller girl at his elbow plied him with questions in English.
Emilia stopped before them, and the girl complained to her that the
perverse little foreigner would not answer. Two or three words in his
native tongue soon brought his face to view. Emilia sat down between
them, and listened to the prattle of two languages. The girl said that
she never had supper, which was also the case with the boy; so Emilia
felt for her purse, and sent the girl with sixpence in search of a shop
that sold cafes. The girl came back with her apron full. As they were
all about to eat, a policeman commanded them to quit the spot, informing
them that he knew both them and their dodges. Emilia stood up, and was
taking her little people away, when the policeman, having suddenly
changed his accurate opinion of her, said, "You're giving 'em some
supper, miss? Oh, they must sit down to their suppers, you know!" and
walked away, not to be a witness of this infraction of the law. So, they
sat down and ate, and the boy and girl tried to say intelligible things
to one another, and laughed. Emilia could not help joining in their
laughter. The girl was very anxious to know whether the boy was ever
beaten, and hearing that he was, she appeared better satisfied, remarking
that she was also, but curious still as to the different forms of
chastisement they received. This being partially explained, she wished
to know whether he would be beaten that night, Emilia interpreting. A
grin, and a rapid whistle and 'cluck,' significant of the application of
whips, told the state of his expectations; at which the girl clapped her
hands, adding, lamentably, "So shall I, 'cause I am always." Emilia
gathered them under each shoulder, when, to her delight and half
perplexity, they closed their eyes, leaning against her.
The policeman passed, and for an hour endured this spectacle. At last he
felt compelled to explain to Emilia what were the sentiments of
gentlefolks with regard to their doorsteps, apart from the law of the
matter. He put it to her human nature whether she would like her
doorsteps to be blocked, so that no one could enter, and anyone emerging
stood a chance of being precipitated, nose foremost, upon the pavement.
Then, again, as gentle-folks had good experience of, the young ones in
London were twice as cunning as the old. Emilia pleaded for her sleeping
pair, that they might not be disturbed. Her voice gave the keeper of the
peace notions of her being one of the eccentric young ladies who are
occasionally 'missing,' and have advertizing friends. He uttered a stern
ahem! preliminary to assent; but the noise wakened the children, who
stared, and readily obeyed his gesture, which said, "Be off!" while his
words were those of remonstrance. Emilia accompanied them a little way.
Both promised eagerly that they would be at the same place the night
following and departed--the boy with laughing nods and waving of hands,
which the girl imitated. Emilia's feeling of security went with them.
She at once feigned a destination in the distance, and set forward to
reach it, but the continued exposure of this delusion made it difficult
to renew. She fell to counting the hours that were to elapse before she
would meet those children, saying to herself, that whatever she did she
must keep her engagement to be at the appointed steps. This restriction
set her darkly fancying that she wished for her end.
Remembering those men who had looked at her admiringly, "Am I worth
looking at?" she said; and it gave her some pleasure to think that she
had it still in her power to destroy a thing of value. She was savagely
ashamed of going to death empty-handed. By-and-by, great fatigue
stiffened her limbs, and she sat down from pure want of rest. The luxury
of rest and soothing languor kept hard thoughts away. She felt as if
floating, for a space. The fear of the streets left her. But when
necessity for rest had gone, she clung to the luxury still, and sitting
bent forward, with her hands about her knees, she began to brood over
tumbled images of a wrong done to her. She had two distinct visions of
herself, constantly alternating and acting like the temptation of two
devils. One represented her despicable in feature, and bade her die; the
other showed a fair face, feeling which to be her own, Emilia had fits of
intolerable rage. This vision prevailed; and this wicked side of her
humanity saved her. Active despair is a passion that must be superseded
by a passion. Passive despair comes later; it has nothing to do with
mental action, and is mainly a corruption or degradation of our blood.
The rage in Emilia was blind at first, but it rose like a hawk, and
singled its enemy. She fixed her mind to conceive the foolishness of
putting out a face that her rival might envy, and of destroying anything
that had value. The flattery of beauty came on her like a warm garment.
When she opened her eyes, seeing what she was and where, she almost
smiled at the silly picture that had given her comfort. Those men had
looked on her admiringly, it was true, but would Wilfrid have ceased to
love her if she had been beautiful? An extraordinary intuition of
Wilfrid's sentiment tormented her now. She saw herself in the light that
he would have seen her by, till she stood with the sensations of an
exposed criminal in the dark length of the street, and hurried down it,
back, as well as she could find her way, to the friendly policeman.
Her question on reaching him, "Are you married?" was prodigiously
astonishing, and he administered the rebuff of an affirmative with
severity. "Then," said Emilia, "when you go home, let me go with you to
your wife. Perhaps she will consent to take care of me for this night."
The policeman coughed mildly and replied, "It's plain you know nothing
of women--begging your pardon, miss,--for I can see you're a lady."
Emilia repeated her petition, and the policeman explained the nature of
women. Not to be baffled, Emilia said, "I think your wife must be a good
woman." Hereat the policeman laughed, arming "that the best of them knew
what bad suspicions was." Ultimately, he consented to take her to his
wife, when he was relieved, after the term of so many minutes. Emilia
stood at a distance, speculating on the possible choice he would make of
a tune to accompany his monotonous walk to and fro, and on the certainty
of his wearing any tune to nothing.
She was in a bed, sleeping heavily, a little before dawn.
The day that followed was her day of misery. The blow that had stunned
her had become as a loud intrusive pulse in her head. By this new
daylight she fathomed the depth, and reckoned the value, of her loss.
And her senses had no pleasure in the light, though there was sunshine.
The woman who was her hostess was kind, but full of her first surprise at
the strange visit, and too openly ready for any information the young
lady might be willing to give with regard to her condition, prospects,
and wishes. Emilia gave none. She took the woman's hand, asking
permission to remain under her protection. The woman by-and-by named a
sum of money as a sum for weekly payment, and Emilia transferred all to
her that she had. The policeman and his wife thought her, though
reasonable, a trifle insane. She sat at a window for hours watching a
'last man' of the fly species walking up and plunging down a pane of
glass. On this transparent solitary field for the most objectless
enterprise ever undertaken, he buzzed angrily at times, as if he had
another meaning in him, which was being wilfully misinterpreted. Then he
mounted again at his leisure, to pitch backward as before. Emilia found
herself thinking with great seriousness that it was not wonderful for
boys to be always teasing and killing flies, whose thin necks and bobbing
heads themselves suggested the idea of decapitation. She said to her
hostess: "I don't like flies. They seem never to sing but when they are
bothered." The woman replied: "Ah, indeed?" very smoothly, and thought:
"If you was to bust out now, which of us two would be strongest?" Emilia
grew distantly aware that the policeman and his wife talked of her and
watched her with combined observation.
When it was night she went to keep her appointment. The girl was there,
but the boy came late. He said he had earned only a few pence that day,
and would be beaten. He spoke in a whimpering tone which caused the girl
to desire a translation of his words. Emilia told her how things were
with him, and the girl expressed a wish that she had an organ, as in that
case she would be sure to earn more than sixpence a day; such being the
amount that procured her nightly a comfortable reception in the arms of
her parents. "Do you like music?" said Emilia. The girl replied that
she liked organs; but, as if to avoid committing an injustice, cited
parrots as foremost in her affections. Holding them both to her breast,
Emilia thought that she would rescue them from this beating by giving
them the money they had to offer for kindness: but the restlessness of
the children suddenly made her a third party to the thought of cakes.
She had no money. Her heart bled for the poor little hungry,
apprehensive creatures. For a moment she half fancied she had her voice,
and looked up at the windows of the pitiless houses with a bold look; but
there was a speedy mockery of her thought "You shall listen: you shall
open!" She coughed hoarsely, and then fell into fits of crying. Her
friend the policeman came by and took her arm with a force that he meant
to be persuasive; so lifting her and handing her some steps beyond the
limit of his beat, with stern directions for her to proceed home
immediately. She obeyed. Next day she asked her hostess to lend her
half-a-crown. The woman snapped shortly in answer: "No; the less you
have the better." Emilia was obliged to abandon her little people.
She was to this extent the creature of mania: that she could not conceive
of a way being open by which she might return to her father and mother,
or any of her friends. It was to her not a matter for her will to decide
upon, but simply a black door shut that nothing could displace. When the
week, for which term of shelter she had paid, was ended, her hostess
spoke upon this point, saying, more to convince Emilia of the necessity
for seeking her friends than from any unkindness: "Me and my husband
can't go on keepin' you, you know, my dear, however well's our meaning."
Emilia drew the woman toward her with both her lands, softly shaking her
head. She left the house about noon.
It was now her belief that she had probably no more than another day to
live, for she was destitute of money. The thought relieved her from that
dreadful fear of the street, and she walked at her own pace, even after
dark. The rumble and the rattle of wheels; the cries and grinding
noises; the hum of motion and talk; all under the lingering smoky red of
a London Winter sunset, were not discord to her animated blood. Her
unhunted spirit made a music of them. It was not like the music of other
days, nor was the exultation it created at all like happiness: but she at
least forgot herself. Voices came in her ear, and hung unheard until
long after the speaker had passed. Hunger did not assail her. She was
not beset by an animal weakness; and having in her mind no image of
death, and with her ties to life cut away;--thus devoid of apprehension
or regret, she was what her quick blood made her, for the time. She
recognized that, for one near extinction, it was useless to love or to
hate: so Wilfrid and Lady Charlotte were spared. Emilia thought of them
both with a sort of equanimity; not that any clear thought filled her
brain through that delirious night. The intoxicating music raged there
at one level depression, never rising any scale, never undulating ever so
little, scarcely changing its barbarous monotony of notes. She had no
power over it. Her critical judgement would at another moment have
shrieked at it. She was moved by it as by a mechanical force.
The South-west wind blew, and the hours of the night were not evil to
outcasts. Emilia saw many lying about, getting rest where they might.
She hurried her eye pityingly over little children, but the devil that
had seized her sprang contempt for the others--older beggars, who
appeared to succumb to their fate when they should have lifted their
heads up bravely. On she passed from square to market, market to park;
and presently her mind shot an arrow of desire for morning, which was
nothing less than hunger beginning to stir. "When will the shops open?"
She tried to cheat herself by replying that she did not care when, but
pangs of torment became too rapid for the counterfeit. Her imagination
raised the roof from those great rich houses, and laid bare a brilliancy
of dish-covers; and if any sharp gust of air touched the nerve in her
nostril, it seemed instantaneously charged with the smell of old dinners.
"No," cried Emilia, "I dislike anything but plain food." She quickly
gave way, and admitted a craving for dainty morsels. "One lump of
sugar!" she subsequently sighed. But neither sugar nor meat approached
Her seat was under trees, between a man and a woman who slanted from her
with hidden chins. The chilly dry leaves began to waken, and the sky
showed its grey. Hunger had become as a leaden ball in Emilia's chest.
She could have eaten eagerly still, but she had no ravenous images of
food. Nevertheless, she determined to beg for bread at a baker's shop.
Coming into the empty streets again, the dread of exposing her solitary
wretchedness and the stains of night upon her, kept her back. When she
did venture near the baker's shop, her sensation of weariness, want of
washing, and general misery, made her feel a contrast to all other women
she saw, that robbed her of the necessary effrontery. She preferred to
hide her head.
The morning hours went in this conflict. She was between-whiles hungry
and desperate, or stricken with shame. Fatigue, bringing the imperious
necessity for rest, intervened as a relief. Emilia moaned at the weary
length of the light, but when dusk fell and she beheld flame in the
lamps, it seemed to be too sudden and she was alarmed. Passive despair
had set in. She felt sick, though not weak, and the thought of asking
help had gone.
A street urchin, of the true London species, in whom excess of woollen
comforter made up for any marked scantiness in the rest of his attire,
came trotting the pavement, pouring one of the favourite tunes of his
native metropolis through the tube of a penny-whistle, from which it did
not issue so disguised but that attentive ears might pronounce it the
royal march of the Cannibal Islands. A placarded post beside a lamp met
this musician's eye; and, still piping, he bent his knees and read the
notification. Emilia thought of the Hillford and Ipley clubmen, the big
drum, the speeches, the cheers, and all the wild strength that lay in her
that happy morning. She watched the boy piping as if he were reading
from a score, and her sense of humour was touched. "You foolish boy!"
she said to herself softly. But when, having evidently come to the last
printed line, the boy rose and pocketed his penny-whistle, Emilia was
nearly laughing. "That's because he cannot turn over the leaf," she
said, and stood by the post till long after the boy had disappeared. The
slight emotion of fun had restored to her some of her lost human
sensations, and she looked about for a place where to indulge them
undisturbed. One of the bridges was in sight She yearned for the
solitude of the wharf beside it, and hurried to the steps. To descend
she had to pass a street-organ and a small figure bent over it. "Sei
buon' Italiano?" she said. The answer was a surly "Si." Emilia cried
convulsively "Addio!" Her brain had become on a sudden vacant of a
thought, and all she knew was that she descended.
"Sei buon' Italiana?"
Across what chasm did the words come to her?
It seemed but a minutes and again many hours back, that she had asked
that question of a little fellow, who, if he had looked up and nodded
would have given her great joy, but who kept his face dark from her and
with a sullen "Si" extinguished her last feeling of a desire for
companionship with life.
"Si," she replied, quite as sullenly, and without looking up.
But when her hand was taken and other words were uttered, she that had
crouched there so long between death and life immovable, loving neither,
rose possessed of a passion for the darkness and the void, and struggling
bitterly with the detaining hand, crying for instant death. No strength
was in her to support the fury.
"Merthyr Powys is with you," said her friend, "and will never leave you."
"Will never take me up there?" Emilia pointed to the noisy level above
"Listen, and I will tell you how I have found you," replied Merthyr.
"Don't force me to go up."
She spoke from the end of her breath. Merthyr feared that it was more
than misery, even madness, afflicting her. He sat on the wharf-bench
silent till she was reassured. But at his first words, the eager
question came: "You will not force me to go up there?"
"No; we can stay and talk here," said Merthyr. "And this is how I have
found you. Do you suppose you have been hidden from us all this time?
Perhaps you fancy you do not belong to your friends? Well, I spoke to
all of your 'children,' as you used to call them. Do you remember? The
day before yesterday two had seen you. You said to one, 'From Savoy or
Piedmont?' He said, 'From Savoy;' and you shook your head: 'Not looking
on Italy!' you said. This night I roused one of them, and he stretched
his finger down the steps, saying that you had gone down there. 'Sei
buon' Italiano?" you said. "And that is how I have found you. Sei buon'
Emilia let her hand rest in Merthyr's, wondering to think that there
should be no absolute darkness for a creature to escape into while
living. A trembling came on her. "Let me look over at the water," she
said; and Merthyr, who trusted her even in that extremity, allowed her to
lean forward, and felt her grasp grow moist in his, till she turned back
with shudders, giving him both her hands. "A drowned woman looks so
dreadful!" Her speech was faint as she begged to be taken away from that
place. Merthyr put his hand to her arm-pit, sustaining her steps. As
they neared the level where men were, she looked behind her and realized
the black terrors she had just been blindly handling. Fright sped her
limbs for a second or two, and then her whole weight hung upon Merthyr.
He held her in both arms, thinking that she had swooned, but she
murmured: "Have you heard that my voice has gone?"
"If you have suffered, I do not wonder," he said.
"I am useless. My voice is dead."
"Useless to your friends? Tush, my little Emilia! Sandra mia! Don't
you know that while you love your friends that's all they want of you?"
"Oh!" she moaned; "the gas-lamp hurts me. What a noise there is!"
"We shall soon get away from the noise."
"No; I like it; but not the light. Oh, my feet!--why are you walking
still? What friends?"
"For instance, myself."
"You knew of my wandering about London! It makes me believe in heaven.
I can't bear to think of being unseen."
"This morning," said Merthyr, "I saw the policeman in whose house you
have been staying."
Emilia bowed her head to the mystery by which this friend was endowed to
be cognizant of her actions. "I feel that I have not seen the streets
for years. If it were not for you I should fall down.--Oh! do you
understand that my voice has quite gone?"
Merthyr perceived her anxiety to be that she might not betaken on
doubtful terms. "Your hand hasn't," he said, pressing it, and so
gratified her with a concrete image of something that she could still
bestow upon a friend. To this she clung while the noisy wheels bore her
through London, till her weak body failed to keep courage in her breast,
and she wept and came closer to Merthyr. He who supposed that her recent
despair and present tears were for the loss of her lover, gave happily
more comfort than he took. "When old gentlemen choose to interest
themselves about very young ladies," he called upon his humorous
philosophy to observe internally, as men do to forestall the possible
cynic external;--and the rest of the sentence was acted under his eyes by
the figures of three persons. But, there she was, lying within his arm,
rescued, the creature whom he had found filling his heart, when lost, and
whom he thought one of the most hopeful of the women of earth! He
thanked God for bare facts. She lay against him with her eyelids softly
joined, and as he felt the breathing of her body, he marvelled to think
how matter-of-fact they had both been on the brink of a tragedy, and how
naturally she had, as it were, argued herself up to the gates of death.
For want of what? "My sister may supply it," thought Merthyr.
"Oh! that river is like a great black snake with a sick eye, and will
come round me!" said Emilia, talking as from sleep; then started, with
fright in her face: "Oh! my hunger again!"
"Hunger!" said he, horrified.
"It comes worse than ever," she moaned. "I was half dead just now, and
didn't feel it. There's--there's no pain in death. But this--it's like
fire and frost! I feel being eaten up. Give me something."
Merthyr set his teeth and enveloped her in a tight hug that relieved her
from the sharper pangs; and so held her, the tears bursting through his
shut eyelids, till at the first hotel they reached he managed to get food
for her. She gave a little gasping cry when he put bread through the
window of the cab. Bit by bit he handed her the morsels. It was
impossible to procure broth. When they drove on, she did not complain of
suffering, but her chest rose and fell many times heavily. She threw him
out in the reading of her character, after a space, by excusing herself
for having eaten with such eagerness; and it was long before he learnt
what Wilfrid's tyrannous sentiment had done to this simple nature. He
understood better the fear she expressed of meeting Georgiana.
Nevertheless, she exhibited none on entering the house, and returned
Georgiana's embrace with what strength was left to her.
Up the centre aisle of Hillford Church, the Tinleys (late as usual) were
seen trooping for morning service in midwinter. There was a man in the
rear known to be a man by the sound of his boots and measure of his
stride, for the ladies of Brookfield, having rejected the absurd
pretensions of Albert Tinley, could not permit curiosity to encounter the
risk of meeting his gaze by turning their heads. So, with charitable
condescension they returned the slight church nod of prim Miss Tinley
passing, of the detestable Laura Tinley, of affected Rose Tinley (whose
complexion was that of a dust-bin), and of Madeline Tinley (too young for
a character beyond what the name bestowed), and then they arranged their
prayer-books, and apparently speculated as to the possible text that
morning to be given forth from the pulpit. But it seemed to them all
that an exceedingly bulky object had passed as guardian of the light-
footed damsels preceding him. Though none of the ladies had looked up as
he passed, they were conscious of a stature and a circumference which
they had deemed to be entirely beyond the reach of the Tinleys, and a
scornful notion of the Tinleys having hired a guardsman, made Arabella
smile at the stretch of her contempt, that could help her to conceive the
ironic possibility. Relieved on the suspicion that Albert was in
attendance of his sisters, they let their eyes fall calmly on the Tinley
pew. Could two men upon this earthly sphere possess such a bearskin?
There towered the shoulders of Mr. Pericles; his head looking diminished
by the hugeous collar. Arabella felt a seizure of her hand from Adela's
side. She placed her book open before her, and stared at the pulpit.
From neither of the three of Brookfield could Laura's observation extract
a sign of the utter astonishment she knew they must be experiencing; and
had it not been for the ingenuous broad whisper of Mrs. Chump, which
sounded toward the verge even of her conception of possibilities, the
Tinleys would not have been gratified by the first public display of the
prize they had wrested from the Poles.
"Mr. Paricles--oh!" went Mrs. Chump, and a great many pews were set in
Forthwith she bent over Cornelia's lap, and Cornelia, surveying her
placidly, had to murmur, "By-and-by; by-and-by."
"But, did ye see 'm, my dear? and a forr'ner in a Protestant Church!
And such a forr'ner as he is, to be sure! And, ye know, ye said he'd
naver come with you, and it's them creatures ye don't like. Corrnelia!"
"The service commences," remarked that lady, standing up.
Many eyes were on Mr. Pericles, who occasionally inspected the cornices
and corbels and stained glass to right and left, or detected a young lady
staring at him, or anticipated her going to stare, and put her to
confusion by a sharp turn of his head, and then a sniff and smoothing
down of his moustache. But he did not once look at the Brookfield pew.
By hazard his eye ranged over it, and after the first performance of this
trick he would have found the ladies a match for him, even if he had
sought to challenge their eyes. They were constrained to admit that
Laura Tinley managed him cleverly. She made him hold a book and appear
respectably devout. She got him down in good time when seats were taken,
and up again, without much transparent persuasion. The first notes of
the organ were seen to agitate the bearskin. Laura had difficulty to
induce the man to rise for the hymn, and when he had listened to the
intoning of a verse, Mr. Pericles suddenly bent, as if he had snapped in
two: nor could Laura persuade him to rejoin the present posture of the
congregation. Then only did Laura, to cover her failure, turn the
subdued light of a merry smile upon the Brookfield pew.
The smile was noticed by Apprehension sitting in the corner of one eye,
and it was likewise known that Laura's chagrin at finding that she was
not being watched affected her visibly. At the termination of the
sermon, the ladies bowed their heads a short space, and placing Mrs.
Chump in front drove her out, so that her exclamations of wonderment, and
affectedly ostentatious gaspings of sympathy for Brookfield, were heard
by few. On they hurried, straight and fast to Brookfield. Mr. Pole was
talking to Tracy Runningbrook at the gate. The ladies cut short his
needless apology to the young man for not being found in church that day,
by asking questions of Tracy. The first related to their brother's
whereabouts; the second to Emilia's condition. Tracy had no time to
reply. Mrs. Chump had identified herself with Brookfield so warmly that
the defection of Mr. Pericles was a fine legitimate excitement to her.
"I hate 'm!" she cried. "I pos'tively hate the man! And he to go to
church! A pretty figure for an angel--he, now! But, my dears, we cann't
let annybody else have 'm. Shorrt of his bein' drowned or killed, we
must intrigue to keep the wretch to ourselves."
"Oh, dear!" said Adela impatiently.
"Well, and I didn't say to myself, ye little jealous thing!" retorted
"Indeed, ma'am, you are welcome to him."
"And indeed, miss, I don't want 'm. And, perhaps, ye were flirtin' all
the fun out of him on board the yacht, and got tired of 'm; and that's
Adela said: "Thank you," with exasperating sedateness, which provoked an
intemperate outburst from Mrs. Chump. "Sunday! Sunday!" cried Mr. Pole.
"Ain't I the first to remember ut, Pole? And didn't I get up airly so as
to go to church and have my conscience qui't, and 'stead of that I come
out full of evil passions, all for the sake o' these ungrateful garls
that's always where ye cann't find 'em. Why, if they was to be married
at the altar, they'd stare and be 'ffendud if ye asked them if they was
thinking of their husbands, they would! 'Oh, dear, no! and ye're
mistaken, and we're thinkin' o' the coal-scuttle in the back parlour,'--
or somethin' about souls, if not coals. There's their answer. What did
ye do with Mr. Paricles on board the yacht? Aha!"
"What's this about Pericles?" said Mr. Pole.
"Oh, nothing, Papa," returned Adela.
"Nothing, do ye call ut!" said Mrs. Chump. "And, mayhap, good cause too.
Didn't ye tease 'm, now, on board the yacht? Now, did he go on board the
yacht at all?"
"I should think you ought to know that as well as Adela," said Mr. Pole.
Adela interposed, hurriedly: "All this, my dear Papa, is because Mr.
Pericles has thought proper to visit the Tinleys' pew. Who would
complain how or where he does it, so long as the duty is fulfilled?"
Mr. Pole stared, muttering: "The Tinleys!"
"She's botherin' of ye, Pole, the puss!" said Mrs. Chump, certain that
she had hit a weak point in that mention of the yacht. "Ask her what
sorrt of behaviour--"
"And he didn't speak to any of you?" said Mr. Pole.
"He looked the other way?"
"He did us that honour."
"Ask her, Pole, how she behaved to 'm on board the yacht," cried Mrs.
Chump. "Oh! there was flirtin', fiirtin'! And go and see what the noble
poet says of tying up in sacks and plumpin' of poor bodies of women into
forty fathoms by them Turks and Greeks, all because of jeal'sy. So, they
make a woman in earnest there, the wretches, 'cause she cann't have onny
of her jokes. Didn't ye tease Mr. Paricles on board the yacht, Ad'la?
Now, was he there?"
"Martha! you're a fool!" said Mr. Pole, looking the victim of one of his
fits of agitation. "Who knows whether he was there better than you?
You'll be forgetting soon that we've ever dined together. I hate to see
a woman so absurd! There--never mind! Go in: take off bonnet something
--anything! only I can't bear folly! Eh, Mr. Runningbrook?"
"'Deed, Pole, and ye're mad." Mrs. Chump crossed her hands to reply with
full repose. "I'd like to know how I'm to know what I never said."
The scene was growing critical. Adela consulted the eyes of her sisters,
which plainly said that this was her peculiar scrape. Adela ended it by
going up to Mrs. Chump, taking her by the shoulders, and putting a kiss
upon her forehead. "Now you will see better," she said. "Don't you know
Mr. Pericles was not with us? As surely as he was with the Tinleys this
"And a nice morning it is!" ejaculated Mr. Pole, trotting off hurriedly.
"Does Pole think--" Mrs. Chump murmured, with reference to her voyaging
on the yacht. The kiss had bewildered her sequent sensations.
"He does think, and will think, and must think," Adela prattled some
persuasive infantine nonsense: her soul all the while in revolt against
her sisters, who left her the work to do, and took the position of
spectators and critics, condemning an effort they had not courage to
"By the way, I have to congratulate a friend of mine," said Tracy,
selecting Adela for an ironical bow.
"Then it is Captain Gambier," cried Mrs. Chump, as if a whole revelation
had burst on her. Adela blushed. "Oh! and what was that I heard?"
continued the aggravating woman.
Adela flashed her eyes round on her sisters. Even then they left her
without aid, their feeling being that she had debased the house by her
familiarity with this woman before Tracy.
"Stay! didn't ye both--" Mrs. Chump was saying.
"Yes?"--Adela passed by her--"only in your ears alone, you know! "At
which hint Mrs. Chump gleefully turned and followed her. A rumour was
prevalent of some misadventure to Adela and the captain on board the
yacht. Arabella saw her depart, thinking, "How singular is her
propensity to imitate me!" for the affirmative uttered in the tone of
interrogation was quite Arabella's own; as also occasionally the
negative,--the negative, however, suiting the musical indifference of the
sound, and its implied calm breast.
"As for Pericles," said Tracy, "you need not wonder that the fellow prays
in other pews than yours. By heaven! he may pray and pray: I'd send him
to Hades with an epigram in his heart!"
From Tracy the ladies learnt that Wilfrid had inflicted public
chastisement upon Mr. Pericles for saying a false thing of Emilia. He
danced the prettiest pas seal that was ever footed by debutant on the hot
iron plates of Purgatory. They dared not ask what it was that Mr.
Pericles had said, but Tracy was so vehement on the subject of his having
met his deserts, that they partly guessed it to bear some relation to
their sex's defencelessness, and they approved their brother's work.
Sir Twickenham and Captain Gambier dined at Brookfield that day. However
astonishing it might be to one who knew his character and triumphs, the
captain was a butterfly netted, and was on the highroad to an exhibition
of himself pinned, with his wings outspread. During the service of the
table Tracy relieved Adela from Mrs. Chump's inadvertencies and little
bits of feminine malice, but he could not help the captain, who blundered
like a schoolboy in her rough hands. It was noted that Sir Twickenham
reserved the tolerating smile he once had for her. Mr. Pole's nervous
fretfulness had increased. He complained in occasional underbreaths,
correcting himself immediately with a "No, no!" and blinking briskly.
But after dinner came the time when the painfullest scene was daily
enacted. Mrs. Chump drank Port freely. To drink it fondly, it was
necessary that she should have another rosy wineglass to nod to, and Mr.
Pole, whose taste for wine had been weakened, took this post as his duty.
The watchful, pinched features of the poor pale little man bloomed
unnaturally, and his unintelligible eyes sparkled as he emptied his
glass. His daughters knew that he drank, not for his pleasure, but for
their benefit; that he might sustain Martha Chump in the delusion that he
was a fitting bridegroom, and with her money save them from ruin. Each
evening, with remorse that blotted all perception of the tragic
comicality of the show, they saw him, in his false strength and his
anxiety concerning his pulse's play, act this part. The recurring words,
"Now, Martha, here's the Port," sent a cold wave through their blood.
They knew what the doctor remarked on the effect of that Port. "Ill!"
Mrs. Chump would cry, when she saw him wink after sipping; "you, Pole!
what do they say of ye, ye deer!" and she returned the wink, the ladies
looking on. Not to drink a proper quantum of Port, when Port was on the
table, was, in Mrs. Chump's eyes, mean for a man. Even Chump, she would
say, was master of his bottle, and thought nothing of it. "Who does?"
cried her present suitor, and the Port ebbed, and his cheeks grew
This frightful rivalry with the ghost of Alderman Chump continued night
after night. The rapturous Martha was incapable of observing that if she
drank with a ghost in memory, in reality she drank with nothing better
than an animated puppet. The nights ended with Mr. Pole either sleeping
in his arm-chair (upon which occasions one daughter watched him and told
dreadful tales of his waking), or staggering to bed, debating on the
stairs between tea and brandy, complaining of a loss of sensation at his
knee-cap, or elbow, or else rubbing his head and laughing hysterically.
His bride was not at such moments observant. No wonder Wilfrid kept out
of the way, if he had not better occupation elsewhere. The ladies, in
their utter anguish, after inveighing against the baneful Port, had
begged their father to delay no more to marry the woman. "Why?" said Mr.
Pole, sharply; "what do you want me to marry her for?" They were obliged
to keep up the delusion, and said, "Because she seems suited to you as a
companion." That satisfied him. "Oh! we won't be in a hurry," he said,
and named a day within a month; and not liking their unready faces,
laughed, and dismissed the idea aloud, as if he had not earnestly been
The ladies of Brookfield held no more their happy, energetic midnight
consultations. They had begun to crave for sleep and a snatch of
forgetfulness, the scourge being daily on their flesh: and they had now
no plans to discuss; they had no distant horizon of low vague lights that
used ever to be beyond their morrow. They kissed at the bedroom door of
one, and separated. Silence was their only protection to the Nice
Feelings, now that Fine Shades had become impossible. Adela had almost
made herself distinct from her sisters since the yachting expedition.
She had grown severely careful of the keys of her writing-desk, and would
sometimes slip the bolt of her bedroom door, and answer "Eh?" dubiously
in tone, when her sisters had knocked twice, and had said "Open" once.
The house of Brookfield showed those divisional rents which an admonitory
quaking of the earth will create. Neither sister was satisfied with the
other. Cornelia's treatment of Sir Twickenham was almost openly
condemned, but at the same time it seemed to Arabella that the baronet
was receiving more than the necessary amount of consolation from the
bride of Captain Gambier, and that yacht habits and moralities had been
recently imported to Brookfield. Adela, for her part, looked sadly on
Arabella, and longed to tell her, as she told Cornelia, that if she
continued to play Freshfield Sumner purposely against Edward Buxley, she
might lose both. Cornelia quietly measured accusations and judged
impartially; her mind being too full to bring any personal observations
to bear. She said, perhaps, less than she would have said, had she not
known that hourly her own Nice Feelings had to put up a petition for Fine
Shades: had she not known, indeed, that her conduct would soon demand
from her sisters an absolutely merciful interpretation. For she was now
simply attracting Sir Twickenham to Brookfield as a necessary medicine to
her Papa. Since Mrs. Chump's return, however, Mr. Pole had spoken
cheerfully of himself, and, by innuendo emphasized, had imparted that his
mercantile prospects were brighter. In fact, Cornelia half thought that
he must have been pretending bankruptcy to gain his end in getting the
consent of his daughters to receive the woman. She, and Adela likewise,
began to suspect that the parental transparency was a little mysterious,
and that there is, after all, more than we see in something that we see
through. They were now in danger of supposing that because the old man
had possibly deceived them to some extent, he had deceived them
altogether. But was not the after-dinner scene too horribly true? Were
not his hands moist and cold while the forehead was crimson? And could a
human creature feel at his own pulse, and look into vacancy with that
intense apprehensive look, and be but an actor? They could not think so.
But his conditions being dependent upon them, the ladies felt in their
hearts a spring of absolute rebellion when the call for fresh sacrifices
came. Though they did not grasp the image, they had a feeling that he
was nourished bit by bit by everything they held dear; and though they
loved him, and were generous, they had begun to ask, "What next?"
The ladies were at a dead-lock, and that the heart is the father of our
histories, I am led to think when I look abroad on families stagnant
because of so weak a motion of the heart. There are those who have none
at all; the mass of us are moved from the propulsion of the toes of the
Fates. But the ladies of Brookfield had hearts lively enough to get them
into scrapes. The getting out of them, or getting on at all, was left to
Providence. They were at a dead-lock, for Arabella, flattered as she was
by Freshfield Sumner's wooing, could not openly throw Edward over, whom
indeed she thought that she liked the better of the two, though his
letters had not so wide an intellectual range. Her father was irritably
anxious that she should close with Edward. Adela could not move: at
least, not openly. Cornelia might have taken an initiative; but
tenderness for her father's health had hitherto restrained her, and she
temporized with Sir Twickenham on the noblest of principles. She was, by
the devotion of her conduct, enabled to excuse herself so far that she
could even fish up an excuse in the shape of the effort she had made to
find him entertaining: as if the said effort should really be re-payment
enough to him for his assiduous and most futile suit. One deep grief sat
on Cornelia's mind. She had heard from Lady Gosstre that there was
something like madness in the Barrett family. She had consented to meet
Sir Purcell clandestinely (after debate on his claim to such a sacrifice
on her part), and if, on those occasions, her lover's tone was raised, it
gave her a tremour. And he had of late appeared to lose his noble calm;
he had spoken (it might almost be interpreted) as if he doubted her.
Once, when she had mentioned her care for her father, he had cried out
upon the name of father with violence, looking unlike himself.
His condemnation of the world, too, was not so Christian as it had been;
it betrayed what the vulgar would call spite, and was not all compassed
in his peculiar smooth shrug--expressive of a sort of border-land between
contempt and charity: which had made him wear in her sight all the
superiority which the former implies, with a considerable share of the
benign complacency of the latter. This had gone. He had been sarcastic
even to her; saying once, and harshly: "Have you a will?" Personally she
liked the poor organist better than the poor baronet, though he had less
merit. It was unpleasant in her present mood to be told "that we have
come into this life to fashion for ourselves souls;" and that "whosoever
cannot decide is a soulless wretch fit but to pass into vapour." He
appeared to have ceased to make his generous allowances for difficult
situations. A senseless notion struck Cornelia, that with the baronetcy
he had perhaps inherited some of the madness of his father.
The two were in a dramatic tangle of the Nice Feelings worth a glance as
we pass on. She wished to say to him, "You are unjust to my
perplexities;" and he to her, "You fail in your dilemma through
cowardice." Instead of uttering which, they chid themselves severally
for entertaining such coarse ideas of their idol. Doubtless they were
silent from consideration for one another: but I must add, out of extreme
tenderness for themselves likewise. There are people who can keep the
facts that front them absent from their contemplation by not framing them
in speech; and much benevolence of the passive order may be traced to a
disinclination to inflict pain upon oneself. "My duty to my father,"
being cited by Cornelia, Sir Purcell had to contend with it.
"True love excludes no natural duty," she said.
And he: "Love discerns unerringly what is and what is not duty."
"In the case of a father, can there be any doubt?" she asked, the answer
shining in her confident aspect.
"There are many things that fathers may demand of us!" he interjected
She had a fatal glimpse here of the false light in which his resentment
coloured the relations between fathers and children; and, deeming him
incapable of conducting this argument, she felt quite safe in her
opposition, up to a point where feeling stopped her.
"Devotedness to a father I must conceive to be a child's first duty," she
Sir Purcell nodded: "Yes; a child's!"
"Does not history give the higher praise to children who sacrifice
themselves for their parents?" asked Cornelia.
And he replied: "So, you seek to be fortified in such matters by
Courteous sneers silenced her. Feeling told her she was in the wrong;
but the beauty of her sentiment was not to be contested, and therefore
she thought that she might distrust feeling: and she went against it
somewhat; at first very tentatively, for it caused pain. She marked a
line where the light of duty should not encroach on the light of our
human desires. "But love for a parent is not merely duty," thought
Cornelia. "It is also love;--and is it not the least selfish love?"
Step by step Sir Purcell watched the clouding of her mind with false
conceits, and knew it to be owing to the heart's want of vigour. Again
and again he was tempted to lay an irreverent hand on the veil his lady
walked in, and make her bare to herself. Partly in simple bitterness, he
refrained: but the chief reason was that he had no comfort in giving a
shock to his own state of deception. He would have had to open a dark
closet; to disentangle and bring to light what lay in an
undistinguishable heap; to disfigure her to herself, and share in her
changed eyesight; possibly to be, or seem, coarse: so he kept the door of
it locked, admitting sadly in his meditation that there was such a place,
and saying all the while: "If I were not poor!" He saw her running into
the shelter of egregious sophisms, till it became an effort to him to
preserve his reverence for her and the sex she represented. Finally he
imagined that he perceived an idea coming to growth in her, no other than
this: "That in duty to her father she might sacrifice herself, though
still loving him to whom she had given her heart; thus ennobling her love
for father and for lover." With a wicked ingenuity he tracked her
forming notions, encouraged them on, and provoked her enthusiasm by
putting an ironical question: "Whether the character of the soul was
subdued and shaped by the endurance and the destiny of the perishable?"
"Oh! no, no!" she exclaimed. "It cannot be, or what comfort should we
Few men knew better that when lovers' sentiments stray away from feeling,
they are to be suspected of a disloyalty. Yet he admired the tone she
took. He had got an 'ideal' of her which it was pleasanter to magnify
than to distort. An 'ideal' is so arbitrary, that if you only doubt of
its being perfection, it will vanish and never come again. Sir Purcell
refused to doubt. He blamed himself for having thought it possible to
doubt, and this, when all the time he knew.
Through endless labyrinths of delusion these two unhappy creatures might
be traced, were it profitable. Down what a vale of little intricate
follies should we be going, lighted by one ghastly conclusion! At times,
struggling from the midst of her sophisms, Cornelia prayed her lover
would claim her openly, and so nerve her to a pitch of energy that would
clinch the ruinous debate. Forgetting that she was an 'ideal'--the
accredited mistress of pure wisdom and of the power of deciding rightly--
she prayed to be dealt with as a thoughtless person, and one of the herd
of women. She felt that Sir Purcell threw too much on her. He expected
her to go calmly to her father, and to Sir Twickenham, and tell them
individually that her heart was engaged; then with a stately figure to
turn, quit the house, and lay her hand in his. He made no allowance for
the weakness of her sex, for the difficulties surrounding her, for the
consideration due to Sir Twickenham's pride, and to her father's ill-
health. She half-protested to herself that he expected from her the
mechanical correctness of a machine, and overlooked the fact that she was
human. It was a grave comment on her ambition to be an 'ideal.'
So let us leave them, till we come upon the ashy fruit of which this
blooming sentimentalism is the seed.
It was past midnight when Mrs. Chump rushed to Arabella's room, and her
knock was heard vociferous at the door. The ladies, who were at work
upon diaries and letters, allowed her to thump and wonder whether she had
come to the wrong door, for a certain period; after which, Arabella
placidly unbolted her chamber, and Adela presented herself in the passage
to know the meaning of the noise.
"Oh! ye poor darlin's, I've heard ut all, I have."
This commencement took the colour from their cheeks. Arabella invited
her inside, and sent Adela for Cornelia.
"Oh, and ye poor deers!" cried Mrs. Chump to Arabella, who remarked:
"Pray wait till my sisters come;" causing the woman to stare and observe:
"If ye're not as cold as the bottom of a pot that naver felt fire." She
repeated this to Cornelia and Adela as an accusation, and then burst on
"My heart's just breakin' for ye, and ye shall naver want bread, eh! and
roast beef, and my last bottle of Port ye'll share, though ye've no ideea
what a lot o' thoughts o' poor Chump's under that cork, and it'll be a
waste on you. Oh! and that monster of a Mr. Paricles that's got ye in
his power and's goin' to be the rroon of ye--shame to 'm! Your father's
told me; and, oh! my darlin' garls, don't think ut my fault. For, Pole--
Mrs. Chump was choked by her grief. The ladies, unbending to some
curiosity, eliminated from her gasps and sobs that Mr. Pole had, in the
solitude of his library below, accused her of causing the defection of
Mr. Pericles, and traced his possible ruin to it, confessing, that in the
way of business, he was at Mr. Pericles' mercy.
"And in such a passion with me!" Mrs. Chump wrung her hands. "What could
I do to Mr. Paricles? He isn't one o' the men that I can kiss; and Pole
shouldn't wish me. And Pole settin' down his rroon to me! What'll I do?
My dears! I do feel for ye, for I feel I'd feel myself such a beast,
without money, d'ye see? It's the most horrible thing in the world.
It's like no candle in the darrk. And I, ye know, I know I'd naver
forgive annybody that took my money; and what'll Pole think of me? For
oh! ye may call riches temptation, but poverty's punishment; and I heard
a young curate say that from the pulpit, and he was lean enough to know,
Both Cornelia and Arabella breathed more freely when they had heard Mrs.
Chump's tale to an end. They knew perfectly well that she was blameless
for the defection of Mr. Pericles, and understood from her exclamatory
narrative that their father had reason to feel some grave alarm at the
Greek's absence from their house, and had possibly reasons of his own for
accusing Mrs. Chump, as he had done. The ladies administered consolation
to her, telling her that for their part they would never blame her; even
consenting to be kissed by her, hugged by her, playfully patted,
complimented, and again wept over. They little knew what a fervour of
secret devotion they created in Mrs. Chump's bosom by this astounding
magnanimity displayed to her, who laboured under the charge of being the
source of their ruin; nor could they guess that the little hypocrisy they
were practising would lead to any singular and pregnant resolution in the
mind of the woman, fraught with explosion to their house, and that quick
movement which they awaited.
Mrs. Chump, during the patient strain of a tender hug of Arabella, had
mutely resolved in a great heat of gratitude that she would go to Mr.
Pericles, and, since he was necessary to the well-being of Brookfield,
bring him back, if she had to bring him back in her arms.
[Georgiana Ford to Wilfrid:]
"I have omitted replying to your first letter, not because of the nature
of its contents: nor do I write now in answer to your second because of
the permission you give me to lay it before my brother. I cannot think
that concealment is good, save for very base persons; and since you take
the initiative in writing very openly, I will do so likewise.
"It is true that Emilia is with me. Her voice is lost, and she has
fallen as low in spirit as one can fall and still give us hope of her
recovery. But that hope I have, and I am confident that you will not
destroy it. In the summer she goes with us to Italy. We have consulted
one doctor, who did not prescribe medicine for her. In the morning she
reads with my brother. She seems to forget whatever she reads: the
occupation is everything necessary just now. Our sharp Monmouth air
provokes her to walk briskly when she is out, and the exercise has once
or twice given colour to her cheeks. Yesterday being a day of clear
frost, we drove to a point from which we could mount the Buckstone, and
here, my brother says, the view appeared to give her something of her
lost animation. It was a look that I had never seen, and it soon went:
but in the evening she asked me whether I prayed before sleeping, and
when she retired to her bedroom, I remained there with her for a time.
"You will pardon me for refusing to let her know that you have written to
your relative in the Austrian service to obtain a commission for you.
But, on the other hand, I have thought it right to tell her incidentally
that you will be married in the Summer of this year. I can only say that
she listened quite calmly.
"I beg that you will not blame yourself so vehemently. By what you do,
her friends may learn to know that you regret the strange effect produced
by certain careless words, or conduct: but I cannot find that self-
accusation is ever good at all. In answer to your question, I may add
that she has repeated nothing of what she said when we were together in
"Our chief desire (for, as we love her, we may be directed by our
instinct), in the attempt to restore her, is to make her understand that
she is anything but worthless. She has recently followed my brother's
lead, and spoken of herself, but with a touch of scorn. This morning,
while the clear frosty sky continues, we were to have started for an old
castle lying toward Wales; and I think the idea of a castle must have
struck her imagination, and forced some internal contrast on her mind. I
am repeating my brother's suggestion--she seemed more than usually
impressed with an idea that she was of no value to anybody. She asked
why she should go anywhere, and dropped into a chair, begging to be
allowed to stay in a darkened room. My brother has some strange
intuition of her state of mind. She has lost any power she may have had
of grasping abstract ideas. In what I conceived to be play, he told her
that many would buy her even now. She appeared to be speculating on
this, and then wished to know how much those persons would consider her
to be worth, and who they were. Nor did it raise a smile on her face to
hear my brother mention Jews, and name an absolute sum of money; but, on
the contrary, after evidently thinking over it, she rose up, and said
that she was ready to go. I write fully to you, telling you these
things, that you may see she is at any rate eager not to despair, and is
learning, much as a child might learn it, that it need not be.
"Believe me, that I will in every way help to dispossess your mind of the
remorse now weighing upon you, as far as it shall be within my power to
"Mr. Runningbrook has been invited by my brother to come and be her
companion. They have a strong affection for one another. He is a true
poet, full of reverence for a true woman."
[Wilfrid to Georgiana Ford:]
"I cannot thank you enough. When I think of her I am unmanned; and if I
let my thoughts fall back upon myself, I am such as you saw me that night
in Devon--helpless, and no very presentable figure. But you do not
picture her to me. I cannot imagine whether her face has changed; and,
pardon me, were I writing to you alone, I could have faith that the
delicate insight and angelic nature of a woman would not condemn my
desire to realize before my eyes the state she has fallen to. I see her
now under a black shroud. Have her features changed? I cannot remember
one--only at an interval her eyes. Does she look into the faces of
people as she used? Or does she stare carelessly away? Softly between
the eyes, is what I meant. I mean--but my reason for this particularity
is very simple. I would state it to you, and to no other. I cannot have
peace till she is restored; and my prayer is, that I may not haunt her to
defeat your labour. Does her face appear to show that I am quite absent
from her thoughts? Oh! you will understand me. You have seen me stand
and betray no suffering when a shot at my forehead would have been mercy.
To you I will dare to open my heart. I wish to be certain that I have
not injured her--that is all. Perhaps I am more guilty than you think:
more even than I can call to mind. If I may fudge by the punishment, my
guilt is immeasurable. Tell me--if you will but tell me that the
sacrifice of my life to her will restore her, it is hers. Write, and say
this, and I will come: Do not delay or spare me. Her dumb voice is like
a ghost in my ears. It cries to me that I have killed it. Be actuated
by no charitable considerations in refraining to write. Could a
miniature of her be sent? You will think the request strange; but I want
to be sure she is not haggard--not the hospital face I fancy now, which
accuses me of murder. Does she preserve the glorious freshness she used
to wear? She had a look--or did you see her before the change? I only
want to know that she is well."
[Tracy Runningbrook to Wilfrid:]
"You had my promise that I would write and give your conscience a
nightcap. I have a splendid one for you. Put it on without any
hesitation. I find her quite comfortable. Powys reads Italian with her
in the morning. His sister (who might be a woman if she liked, but has
an insane preference for celestial neutrality) does the moral
inculcation. The effect is comical. I should like you to see Cold Steel
leading Tame Fire about, and imagining the taming to be her work! You
deserve well of your generation. You just did enough to set this darling
girl alight. Knights and squires numberless will thank you. The idea of
your reproaching yourself is monstrous. Why, there's no one thanks you
more than she does. You stole her voice, which some may think a pity,
but I don't, seeing that I would rather have her in a salon than before
the footlights. Imagine my glory in her!--she has become half cat! She
moves softly, as if she loved everything she touched; making you throb to
feel the little ball of her foot. Her eyes look steadily, like green
jewels before the veil of an Egyptian temple. Positively, her eyes have
grown green--or greenish! They were darkish hazel formerly, and talked
more of milkmaids and chattering pastorals than a discerning master would
have wished. Take credit for the change; and at least I don't blame you
for the tender hollows under the eyes, sloping outward, just hinted...
Love's mark on her, so that men's hearts may faint to know that love is
known to her, and burn to read her history. When she is about to speak,
the upper lids droop a very little; or else the under lids quiver upward-
-I know not which. Take further credit for her manner. She has now a
manner of her own. Some of her naturalness has gone, but she has skipped
clean over the 'young lady' stage; from raw girl she has really got as
much of the great manner as a woman can have who is not an ostensibly
retired dowager, or a matron on a pedestal shuffling the naked virtues
and the decorous vices together. She looks at you with an immense,
marvellous gravity, before she replies to you--enveloping you in a velvet
light. This, is fact, not fine stuff, my dear fellow. The light of her
eyes does absolutely cling about you. Adieu! You are a great master,
and know exactly when to make your bow and retire. A little more, and
you would have spoilt her. Now she is perfect."
[Wilfrid to Tracy Runningbrook:]
"I have just come across a review of your last book, and send it,
thinking you may wish to see it. I have put a query to one of the
passages, which I think misquoted: and there will be no necessity to call
your attention to the critic's English. You can afford to laugh at it,
but I confess it puts your friends in a rage. Here are a set of fellows
who arm themselves with whips and stand in the public thoroughfare to
make any man of real genius run the gauntlet down their ranks till he
comes out flayed at the other extremity! What constitutes their right to
be there?--By the way, I met Sir Purcell Barrett (the fellow who was at
Hillford), and he would like to write an article on you that should act
as a sort of rejoinder. Yon won't mind, of course--it's bread to him,
poor devil! I doubt whether I shall see you when you comeback, so write
a jolly lot of letters. Colonel Pierson, of the Austrian army, my uncle
(did you meet him at Brookfield?), advises me to sell out immediately.
He is getting me an Imperial commission--cavalry. I shall give up the
English service. And if they want my medal, they can have it, and I'll
begin again. I'm sick of everything except a cigar and a good volume of
poems. Here's to light one, and now for the other!
"'Large eyes lit up by some imperial sin,'" etc.
(Ten lines from Tracy's book are here copied neatly.)
[Tracy Runningbrook to Wilfrid:]
"Why the deuce do you write me such infernal trash about the opinions of
a villanous dog who can't even en a decent sentence? I've been damning
you for a white-livered Austrian up and down the house. Let the fellow
bark till he froths at the mouth, and scatters the virus of the beast
among his filthy friends. I am mad-dog proof. The lines you quote were
written in an awful hurry, coming up in the train from Richford one
morning. You have hit upon my worst with commendable sagacity. If it
will put money in Barren's pocket, let him write. I should prefer to
have nothing said. The chances are all in favour of his writing like a
fool. If you're going to be an Austrian, we may have a chance of
shooting one another some day, so here's my hand before you go and sell
your soul; and anything I can do in the meantime--command me."
[Georgiana Ford to Wilfrid:]
"I do not dare to charge you with a breach of your pledged word. Let me
tell you simply that Emilia has become aware of your project to enter the
Austrian service, and it has had the effect on her which I foresaw. She
could bear to hear of your marriage, but this is too much for her, and it
breaks my heart to see her. It is too cruel. She does not betray any
emotion, but I can see that every principle she had gained is gone, and
that her bosom holds the shadows of a real despair. I foresaw it, and
sought to guard her against it. That you, whom she had once called (to
me) her lover, should enlist himself as an enemy, of her country!--it
comes to her as a fact striking her brain dumb while she questions it,
and the poor body has nothing to do but to ache. Surely you could have
no object in doing this? I will not suspect it. Mr. Runningbrook is
acquainted with your plans, I believe; but he has no remembrance of
having mentioned this one to Emilia. He distinctly assures me that he
has not done so, and I trust him to speak truth. How can it have
happened? But here is the evil done. I see no remedy. I am not skilled
in sketching the portraits you desire of her, and yet, if you have ever
wished her to know this miserable thing, it would be as well that you
should see the different face that has come among us within twenty hours."
[Wilfrid to Georgiana Ford:]
"I will confine my reply to a simple denial of having caused this fatal
intelligence to reach her ears; for the truth of which, I pledge my
honour as a gentleman. A second's thought would have told me--indeed I
at once acquiesced in your view--that she should not know it. How it has
happened it is vain to attempt to guess. Can you suppose that I desired
her to hate me? Yet this is what the knowledge of the step I am taking
will make her do! If I could see--if I might see her for five minutes, I
should be able to explain everything, and, I sincerely think (painful as
it would be to me), give her something like peace. It is too late even
to wish to justify myself; but her I can persuade that she--
Do you not see that her mind is still unconvinced of my--I will call it
baseness! Is this the self-accusing you despise? A little of it must be
heard. If I may see her I will not fail to make her understand my
position. She shall see that it is I who am worthless--not she! You
know the circumstances under which I last beheld her--when I saw pang
upon pang smiting her breast from my silence! But now I may speak. Do
not be prepossessed against my proposal! It shall be only for five
minutes--no more. Not that it is my desire to come. In truth, it could
not be. I have felt that I alone can cure her--I who did the harm. Mark
me: she will fret secretly--, but dear and kindest lady, do not smile too
critically at the tone I adopt. I cannot tell how I am writing or what
saying. Believe me that I am deeply and constantly sensible of your
generosity. In case you hesitate, I beg you to consult Mr. Powys."
[Georgiana Ford to Wilfrid:]
"I had no occasion to consult my brother to be certain that an interview
between yourself and Emilia should not take place. There can be no
object, even if the five minutes of the meeting gave her happiness, why
the wound of the long parting should be again opened. She is wretched
enough now, though her tenderness for us conceals it as far as possible.
When some heavenly light shall have penetrated her, she will have a
chance of peace. The evil is not of a nature to be driven out by your
hands. If you are not going into the Austrian service, she shall know as
much immediately. Otherwise, be as dead to her as you may, and your
noblest feelings cannot be shown under any form but that."
[Wilfrid to Tracy Runningbrook:]
"Some fellows whom I know want you to write a prologue to a play they are
going to get up. It's about Shakespeare--at least, the proceeds go to
something of that sort. Do, like a good fellow, toss us off twenty
lines. Why don't you write? By the way, I hope there's no truth in a
report that has somehow reached me, that they have the news down in
Monmouth of my deserting to the black-yellow squadrons? Of course, such
a thing as that should have been kept from them. I hear, too, that your-
-I suppose I must call her now your--pupil is falling into bad health.
Think me as cold and 'British' as you like; but the thought of this does
really affect me painfully. Upon my honour, it does! 'And now he
yawns!' you're saying. You're wrong. We Army men feel just as you poets
do, and for a longer time, I think, though perhaps not so acutely. I
send you the 'Venus' cameo which you admired. Pray accept it from an old
friend. I mayn't see you again."
[Tracy Runningbrook to Wilfrid:]
"Here they are. It will require a man who knows something about metre to
speak them. Had Shakespeare's grandmother three Christian names? and did
she anticipate feminine posterity in her rank of life by saying
habitually, 'Drat it?' There is as yet no Society to pursue this
investigation, but it should be started. Enormous thanks for the Venus.
I wore it this morning at breakfast. Just as we were rising, I leaned
forward to her, and she jumped up with her eyes under my chin. 'Isn't
she a beauty?' I said. 'It was his,' she answered, changing eyes of
eagle for eyes of dove, and then put out the lights. I had half a mind
to offer it, on the spot. May I? That is to say, if the impulse seizes
me I take nobody's advice, and fair Venus certainly is not under my chin
at this moment. As to ill health, great mother Nature has given a house
of iron to this soul of fire. The windows may blaze, or the windows may
be extinguished, but the house stands firm. When you are lightning or
earthquake, you may have something to reproach yourself for; as it is, be
under no alarm. Do not put words in my mouth that I have not uttered.
'And now he yawns,' is what I shall say of you only when I am sure you
have just heard a good thing. You really are the best fellow of your set
that I have come across, and the only one pretending to brains. Your
modesty in estimating your value as a leader of Pandours will be pleasing
to them who like that modesty. Good-bye. This little Emilia is a marvel
of flying moods. Yesterday she went about as if she said, 'I've promised
Apollo not to speak till to-morrow.' To-day, she's in a feverish gabble
--or began the day with a burst of it; and now she's soft and sensible.
If you fancy a girl at her age being able to see, that it's a woman's
duty to herself and the world to be artistic--to perfect the thing of
beauty she is meant to be by nature!--and, seeing, too, that Love is an
instrument like any other thing, and that we must play on it with
considerate gentleness, and that tearing at it or dashing it to earth,
making it howl and quiver, is madness, and not love!--I assure you she
begins to see it! She does see it. She is going to wear a wreath of
black briony (preserved and set by Miss Ford, a person cunning in these
matters). She's going to the ball at Penarvon Castle, and will look--
supply your favourite slang word. A little more experience, and she will
have malice. She wants nothing but that to make her consummate. Malice
is the barb of beauty. She's just at present a trifle blunt. She will
knock over, but not transfix. I am anxious to watch the effect she
produces at Penarvon. Poor little woman! I paid a compliment to her
eyes. 'I've got nothing else,' said she. Dine as well as you can while
you are in England. German cookery is an education for the sentiment of
hogs. The play of sour and sweet, and crowning of the whole with fat,
shows a people determined to go down in civilization, and try the
business backwards. Adieu, curst Croat! On the Wallachian border mayst
thou gather philosophy from meditation."
Dexterously as Wilfrid has turned Tracy to his uses by means of the
foregoing correspondence, in doing so he had exposed himself to the
retributive poison administered by that cunning youth. And now the
Hippogriff seized him, and mounted with him into mid-air; not as when the
idle boy Ganymede was caught up to act as cup-bearer in celestial Courts,
but to plunge about on yielding vapours, with nothing near him save the
voice of his desire.
The Philosopher here peremptorily demands the pulpit. We are subject, he
says, to fantastic moods, and shall dry ready-minted phrases picture them
forth? As, for example, can the words 'delirium,' or 'frenzy,' convey
an image of Wilfrid's state, when his heart began to covet Emilia again,
and his sentiment not only interposed no obstacle, but trumpeted her
charms and fawned for her, and he thought her lost, remembered that she
had been his own, and was ready to do any madness to obtain her?
'Madness' is the word that hits the mark, but it does not fully embrace
the meaning. To be in this state, says the Philosopher, is to be 'On The
Hippogriff;' and to this, as he explains, the persons who travel to Love
by the road of sentiment will come, if they have any stuff in them, and
if the one who kindles them is mighty. He distinguishes being on the
Hippogriff from being possessed by passion. Passion, he says, is noble
strength on fire, and points to Emilia as a representation of passion.
She asks for what she thinks she may have; she claims what she imagines
to be her own. She has no shame, and thus, believing in, she never
violates, nature, and offends no law, wild as she may seem. Passion does
not turn on her and rend her when it is thwarted. She was never carried
out of the limit of her own intelligent force, seeing that it directed
her always, with the simple mandate to seek that which belonged to her.
She was perfectly sane, and constantly just to herself, until the failure
of her voice, telling her that she was a beggar in the world, came as a
second blow, and partly scared her reason. Constantly just to herself,
mind! This is the quality of true passion. Those who make a noise, and
are not thus distinguishable, are on Hippogriff.
--By which it is clear to me that my fantastic Philosopher means to
indicate the lover mounted in this wise, as a creature bestriding an
extraneous power. "The sentimentalist," he says, "goes on accumulating
images and hiving sensations, till such time as (if the stuff be in him)
they assume a form of vitality, and hurry him headlong. This is not
passion, though it amazes men, and does the madder thing."
In fine, it is Hippogriff. And right loath am I to continue my
partnership with a fellow who will not see things on the surface, and is,
as a necessary consequence, blind to the fact that the public detest him.
I mean, this garrulous, super-subtle, so-called Philosopher, who first
set me upon the building of 'The Three Volumes,' it is true, but whose
stipulation that he should occupy so large a portion of them has made
them rock top-heavy, to the forfeit of their stability. He maintains
that a story should not always flow, or, at least, not to a given
measure. When we are knapsack on back, he says, we come to eminences
where a survey of our journey past and in advance is desireable, as is a
distinct pause in any business, here and there. He points proudly to the
fact that our people in this comedy move themselves,--are moved from
their own impulsion,--and that no arbitrary hand has posted them to bring
about any event and heap the catastrophe. In vain I tell him that he is
meantime making tatters of the puppets' golden robe illusion: that he is
sucking the blood of their warm humanity out of them. He promises that
when Emilia is in Italy he will retire altogether; for there is a field
of action, of battles and conspiracies, nerve and muscle, where life
fights for plain issues, and he can but sum results. Let us, he
entreats, be true to time and place. In our fat England, the gardener
Time is playing all sorts of delicate freaks in the lines and traceries
of the flower of life, and shall we not note them? If we are to
understand our species, and mark the progress of civilization at all, we
must. Thus the Philosopher. Our partner is our master, and I submit,
hopefully looking for release with my Emilia, in the day when Italy
reddens the sky with the banners of a land revived.
I hear Wilfrid singing out that he is aloft, burning to rush ahead, while
his beast capers in one spot, abominably ludicrous. This trick of
Hippogriff is peculiar, viz., that when he loses all faith in himself, he
sinks--in other words, goes to excesses of absurd humility to regain it.
Passion has likewise its panting intervals, but does nothing so
preposterous. The wreath of black briony, spoken of by Tracy as the
crown of Emilia's forehead, had begun to glow with a furnace-colour in
Wilfrid's fancy. It worked a Satanic distraction in him. The girl sat
before him swathed in a darkness, with the edges of the briony leaves
shining deadly--radiant above--young Hecate! The next instant he was
bleeding with pity for her, aching with remorse, and again stung to
intense jealousy of all who might behold her (amid a reserve of angry
sensations at her present happiness).
Why had she not made allowance for his miserable situation that night in
Devon? Why did she not comprehend his difficulties in relation to his
father's affairs? Why did she not know that he could not fail to love
her for ever?
Interrogations such as these were so many switches of the whip in the
flanks of Hippogriff.
Another peculiarity of the animal gifted with wings is, that around the
height he soars to he can see no barriers nor any of the fences raised by
men. And here again he differs from Passion, which may tug against
common sense but is never, in a great nature, divorced from it: In air on
Hippogriff, desires wax boundless, obstacles are hidden. It seemed
nothing to Wilfrid (after several tremendous descents of humility) that
he should hurry for Monmouth away, to gaze on Emilia under her fair,
infernal, bewitching wreath; nothing that he should put an arm round her;
nothing that he should forthwith carry her off, though he died for it.
Forming no design beyond that of setting his eyes on her, he turned the
head of Hippogriff due Westward.
Penarvon castle lay over the borders of Monmouthshire. Thither, on a
night of frosty moonlight, troops of carriages were hurrying with the
usual freightage for a country ball:--the squire who will not make
himself happy by seeing that his duty to the softer side of his family
must be performed during the comfortable hours when bachelors snooze in
arm-chairs, and his nobler dame who, not caring for Port or tobacco,
cheerfully accepts the order of things as bequeathed to her: the
everlastingly half-satisfied young man, who looks forward to the hour
when his cigar-light will shine; and the damsel thrice demure as a cover
for her eagerness. Within a certain distance of one of the carriages, a
man rode on horseback. The court of the castle was reached, and he
turned aside, lingering to see whether he could get a view of the lighted
steps. To effect his object, he dismounted and led his horse through the
gates, turning from gravel to sward, to keep in the dusk. A very agile
middle-aged gentleman was the first to appear under the portico-lamps,
and he gave his hand to a girl of fifteen, and then to a most portly lady
in a scarlet mantle. The carriage-door slammed and drove off, while a
groan issued from the silent spectator. "Good heavens! have I followed
these horrible people for five-and-twenty miles!" Carriage after
carriage rattled up to the steps, was disburdened of still more 'horrible
people' to him, and went the way of the others. "I shan't see her, after
all," he cried hoarsely, and mounting, said to the beast that bore him,
"Now go sharp."
Whether you recognize the rider of Hippogriff or not, this is he; and the
poor livery-stable screw stretched madly till wind failed, when he was
allowed to choose his pace. Wilfrid had come from London to have sight
of Emilia in the black-briony wreath: to see her, himself unseen, and go.
But he had not seen her; so he had the full excuse to continue the
adventure. He rode into a Welsh town, and engaged a fresh horse for the
"She won't sing, at all events," thought Wilfrid, to comfort himself,
before the memory that she could not, in any case, touched springs of
weakness and pitying tenderness. From an eminence to which he walked
outside the town, Penarvon was plainly visible with all its lighted
"But I will pluck her from you!" he muttered, in a spasm of jealousy; the
image of himself as an outcast against the world that held her, striking
him with great force at that moment.
"I must give up the Austrian commission, if she takes me."
And be what? For he had sold out of the English service, and was to
receive the money in a couple of days. How long would the money support
him? It would not pay half his debts! What, then, did this pursuit of
Emilia mean? To blink this question, he had to give the spur to
Hippogriff. It meant (upon Hippogriff at a brisk gallop), that he
intended to live for her, die for her, if need be, and carve out of the
world all that she would require. Everything appears possible, on
Hippogriff, when he is going; but it is a bad business to put the spur on
so willing a beast. When he does not go of his own will;--when he sees
that there are obstructions, it is best to jump off his back. And we
should abandon him then, save that having once tasted what he can do for
us, we become enamoured of the habit of going keenly, and defying
obstacles. Thus do we begin to corrupt the uses of the gallant beast
(for he is a gallant beast, though not of the first order); we spoil his
instincts and train him to hurry us to perdition.
"If my sisters could see me now!" thought Wilfrid, half-smitten with a
distant notion of a singularity in his position there, the mark for a
frosty breeze, while his eyes kept undeviating watch over Penarvon.
After a time he went back to the inn, and got among coachmen and footmen,
all battling lustily against the frost with weapons scientifically
selected at the bar. They thronged the passages, and lunged hearty
punches at one another, drank and talked, and only noticed that a
gentleman was in their midst when he moved to get a light. One
complained that he had to drive into Monmouth that night, by a road that
sent him five miles out of his way, owing to a block--a great stone that
had fallen from the hill. "You can't ask 'em to get out and walk ten
steps," he said; "or there! I'd lead the horses and just tip up the off
wheels, and round the place in a twinkle, pop 'm in again, and nobody
hurt; but you can't ask ladies to risk catchin' colds for the sake of the
Several coachmen spoke upon this, and the shame and marvel it was that
the stone had not been moved; and between them the name of Mr. Powys was
mentioned, with the remark that he would spare his beasts if he could.
"What's that block you're speaking of, just out of Monmouth?" enquired
Wilfrid; and it being described to him, together with the exact bearings
of the road and situation of the mass of stone, he at once repeated a
part of what he had heard in the form of the emphatic interrogation,
"What! there?" and flatly told the coachman that the stone had been
"It wasn't moved this morning, then, sir," said the latter.
"No; but a great deal can be done in a couple of hours," said Wilfrid.
"Did you see 'em at work, sir?"
"No; but I came that way, and the road was clear."
"The deuce it was!" ejaculated the coachman, willingly convinced.
"And that's the way I shall return," added Wilfrid.
He tossed some money on the bar to aid in warming the assemblage, and
received numerous salutes as he passed out. His heart was beating fast.
"I shall see her, in the teeth of my curst luck," he thought, picturing
to himself the blessed spot where the mass of stone would lie; and to
that point he galloped, concentrating all the light in his mind on this
maddest of chances, till it looked sound, and finally certain.
"It's certain, if that's not a hired coachman," he calculated. "If he
is, he won't risk his fee. If he isn't, he'll feel on the safe side
anyhow. At any rate, it's my only chance." And away he flew between
glimmering slopes of frost to where a white curtain of mist hung across
the wooded hills of the Wye.
Emilia was in skilful hands, and against anything less powerful than a
lover mounted upon Hippogriff, might have been shielded. What is poison
to most girls, Merthyr prescribed for her as medicine. He nourished her
fainting spirit upon vanity. In silent astonishment Georgiana heard him
address speeches to her such as dowagers who have seen their day can
alone of womankind complacently swallow. He encouraged Tracy
Runningbrook to praise the face of which she had hitherto thought shyly.
Jewels were placed at her disposal, and dresses laid out cunningly suited
to her complexion. She had a maid to wait on her, who gabbled at the
momentous hours of robing and unrobing: "Oh, miss! of all the dark young
ladies I ever see!"--Emilia was the most bewitching. By-and-by, Emilia
was led to think of herself; but with a struggle and under protest. How
could it be possible that she was so very nice to the eye, and Wilfrid
had abandoned her? The healthy spin of young new blood turned the wheels
of her brain, and then she thought: "Perhaps I am really growing
handsome?" The maid said artfully of her hair: "If gentlemen could only
see it down, miss! It's the longest, and thickest, and blackest, I ever
touched!" And so saying, slid her fingers softly through it after the
comb, and thrilled the owner of that hair till soft thoughts made her
bosom heave, and then self-love began to be sensibly awakened, followed
by self-pity, and some further form of what we understand as
consciousness. If partially a degradation of her nature, this saved her
mind from true despair when it began to stir after the vital shock that
had brought her to earth. "To what purpose should I be fair?" was a
question that did not yet come to her; but it was sweet to see Merthyr's
eyes gather pleasure from the light of her own. Sweet, though nothing
more than coldly sweet. She compared herself to her father's old broken
violin, that might be mended to please the sight; but would never give
the tones again. Sometimes, if hope tormented her, she would strangle it
by trying her voice: and such a little piece of self-inflicted anguish
speedily undid all Merthyr's work. He was patient as one who tends a
flower in the Spring. Georgiana marvelled that the most sensitive and
proud of men should be striving to uproot an image from the heart of a
simple girl, that he might place his own there. His methods almost led
her to think that his estimate of human nature was falling low.
Nevertheless, she was constrained to admit that there was no diminution
of his love for her, and it chastened her to think so. "Would it be the
same with me, if I--?" she half framed the sentence, blushing
remorsefully while she denied that anything could change her great love
for her brother. She had caught a glimpse of Wilfrid's suppleness and
selfishness. Contrasting him with Merthyr, she was singularly smitten
with shame, she knew not why.
The anticipation of the ball at Penarvon Castle had kindled very little
curiosity in Emilia's bosom. She seemed to herself a machine; "one of
the rest;" and looked more to see that she was still coveted by Merthyr's
eyes than at the glitter of the humming saloons. A touch of her old
gladness made her smile when Captain Gambier unexpectedly appeared and
walked across the dancers to sit beside her. She asked him why he had
come from London: to which he replied, with a most expressive gaze under
her eyelids, that he had come for one object. "To see me?" thought
Emilia, wondering, and reddening as she ceased to wonder. She had
thought as a child, and the neat instant felt as a woman. He finished
Merthyr's work for him. Emilia now thought: "Then I must be worth
something." And with "I am," she ended her meditation, glowing. He
might have said that she had all beauty ever showered upon woman: she
would have been led to believe him at that moment of her revival.
Now, Lady Charlotte had written to Georgiana, telling her that Captain
Gambier was soon to be expected in her neighbourhood, and adding that it
would be as well if she looked closely after her charge. When Georgiana
saw him go over to Emilia she did not remember this warning: but when she
perceived the sudden brilliancy and softness in Emilia's face after the
first words had fallen on her ears, she grew alarmed, knowing his
reputation, and executed some diversions, which separated them. The
captain made no effort to perplex her tactics, merely saying that he
should call in a day or two. Merthyr took to himself all the credit of
the visible bloom that had come upon Emilia, and pacing with her between
the dances, said: "Now you will come to Italy, I think."
She paused before answering, "Now?" and feverishly continued: "Yes; at
once. I will go. I have almost felt my voice again to-night."
"That's well. I shall write to Marini to-morrow. You will soon find
your voice if you will not fret for it. Touch Italy!"
"Yes; but you must be near me," said Emilia.
Georgiana heard this, and could not conceive other than that Emilia was
growing to be one of those cormorant creatures who feed alike on the
homage of noble and ignoble. She was critical, too, of that very assured
pose of Emilia's head and firm planting of her feet as the girl paraded
the room after the dances in which she could not join. Previous to this
evening, Georgiana had seen nothing of the sort in her; but, on the
contrary, a doubtful droop of the shoulders and an unwilling gaze, as of
a soul submerged in internal hesitations. "I earnestly trust that this
is a romantic folly of Merthyr's, and no more," thought Georgiana, who
would have had that view concerning his love for Italy likewise, if
recollection of her own share of adventure there had not softly
Tracy, Georgiana, Merthyr, and Emilia were in the carriage, well muffled
up, with one window open to the white mist. Emilia was eager to thank
her friend, if only for the physical relief from weariness and
sluggishness which she was experiencing. She knew certainly that the dim
light of a recovering confidence in herself was owing, all, to him, and
burned to thank him. Once on the way their hands touched, and he felt a
shy pressure from her fingers as they parted. Presently the carriage
stopped abruptly, and listening they heard the coachman indulge his
companion outside with the remark that they were a couple of fools, and
were now regularly 'dished.'
"I don't see why that observation can't go on wheels," said Tracy.
Merthyr put out his head, and saw the obstruction of the mass of stone
across the road. He alighted, and together with the footman, examined
the place to see what the chance was of their getting the carriage past.
After a space of waiting, Georgiana clutched the wraps about her throat
and head, and impetuously followed her brother, as her habit had always
been. Emilia sat upright, saying, "I must go too." Tracy moaned a
petition to her to rest and be comfortable while the Gods were
propitious. He checked her with his arm, and tried to pacify her by
giving a description of the scene. The coachman remained on his seat.
Merthyr, Georgiana, and the footman were on the other side of the rock,
measuring the place to see whether, by a partial ascent of the sloping
rubble down which it had bowled, the carriage might be got along.
"Go; they have gone round; see whether we can give any help," said Emilia
to Tracy, who cried: "My goodness! what help can we give? This is an
express situation where the Fates always appear in person and move us on.
We're sure to be moved, if we show proper faith in them. This is my
attitude of invocation." He curled his legs up on the seat, resting his
head on an arm; but seeing Emilia preparing for a jump he started up, and
immediately preceded her. Emilia looked out after him. She perceived a
figure coming stealthily from the bank. It stopped, and again advanced,
and now ran swiftly down. She drew back her head as it approached the
open door of the carriage; but the next moment trembled forward, and was
caught with a cat-like clutch upon Wilfrid's breast.
"Emilia! my own for ever! I swore to die this night it I did not see
"You love me, Wilfrid? love me?"
"Come with me now!"
"Away! with me! your lover!"
"Then you love me!
"I love you! Come!"
"Now? I cannot move."
"I am out in the night without you."
"Oh, my lover! Oh, Wilfrid!"
"Come to me!"
"My feet are dead!"
"It's too late!"
A sturdy hulloa! sounding from the coachman made Merthyr's ears alive.
When he returned he found Emilia huddled up on the seat, alone, her face
in her hands, and the touch of her hands like fire. He had to entreat
her to descend, and in helping her to alight bore her whole weight, and
supported her in a sad wonder, while the horses were led across the
rubble, and the carriage was with difficulty, and some confusions, guided
to clear its wheels of the obstructing mass. Emilia persisted in saying
that nothing ailed her; and to the coachman, who could have told him
something, and was willing to have done so (notwithstanding a gold fee
for silence that stuck in his palm), Merthyr put no question.
As they were taking their seats in the carriage again, Georgiana said,
"Where is your wreath, Sandra?"
The black-briony wreath was no longer on her head.
"Then, it wasn't a dream!" gasped Emilia, feeling at her temples.
Georgiana at once fell into a scrutinizing coldness, and when Merthyr,
who fancied the wreath might have fallen as he was lifting Emilia from
the carriage, proposed to go and search the place for it, his sister laid
her fingers on his arm, remarking, "You will not find it, dear;" and
Emilia cried "Oh! no, no! it is not there;" and, with her hands pressed
hard against her bosom, sat fixed and silent.
Out of this mood she issued with looks of such tenderness that one who
watched her, speculating on her character as Merthyr did, could see that
in some mysterious way she had been, during the few minutes that
separated them, illumined upon the matter nearest her heart. Was it her
own strength, inspired by some sublime force, that had sprung up suddenly
to eject a worthless love? So he hoped in despite of whispering reason,
till Georgiana spoke to him.
When the force of Wilfrid's embrace had died out from her body, Emilia
conceived wilfully that she had seen an apparition, so strange, sudden,
and wild had been his coming and going: but her whole body was a song to
her. "He is not false: he is true." So dimly, however, was the 'he' now
fashioned in her brain, and so like a thing of the air had he descended
on her, that she almost conceived the abstract idea, 'Love is true,' and
possibly, though her senses did not touch on it to shape it, she had the
reflection in her: "After all, power is mine to bring him to my side."
Almost it seemed to her that she had brought him from the grave. She sat
hugging herself in the carriage, hating to hear words, and seeing a ball
of fire away in the white mist. Georgiana looked at her no more; and
when Tracy remarked that he had fancied having seen a fellow running up
the bank, she said quietly, "Did you?"
"Robert must have seen him, too," added Merthyr, and so the interloper
On reaching home, no sooner were they in the hall than Emilia called for
her bedroom candle in a thin, querulous voice that made Tracy shout with
laughter and love of her quaintness.
Emilia gave him her hand, and held up her mouth to kiss Georgiana, but no
cheek was bent forward for the salute. The girl passed from among them,
and then Merthyr said to his sister: "What is the matter?"
"Surely, Merthyr, you should not be at a loss," she answered, in a
somewhat unusual tone, that was half irony.
Merthyr studied her face. Alone with her, he said: "I could almost
suppose that she has seen this man."
Georgiana smiled sadly. "I have not seen him, dear; and she has not told
"You think it was so?"
"I can imagine it just possible."
"What! while we were out and had left her! He must be mad!"
"Not necessarily mad, unless to be without principle is to be mad."
"Mad, or graduating for a Spanish comedie d'intrigue," said Merthyr.
"What on earth can he mean by it? If he must see her, let him come here.
But to dog a carriage at midnight, and to prefer to act startling
surprises!--one can't help thinking that he delights in being a stage-
Georgiana's: "If he looks on her as a stage-heroine?" was unheeded, and
he pursued: "She must leave England at once," and stated certain
arrangements that were immediately to be made.
"You will not give up this task you have imposed on yourself?" she said.
"To do what?"
She could have answered: "To make this unsatisfactory creature love you;"
but her words were, "To civilize this little savage."
Merthyr was bright in a moment: "I don't give up till I see failure."
"Is it not possible, dear, to be dangerously blind?" urged Georgiana.
"Keep to the particular case," he returned; "and don't tempt me into your
woman's snare of a generalization. It's possible, of course, to be one-
ideaed and obstinate. But I have not yet seen your savage guilty of a
deceit. Her heart has been stirred, and her heart, as you may judge, has
force enough to be constant, though none can deny that it has been
"For which you like her better?" said Georgiana, herself brightening.
"For which I like her better," he replied, and smiled, perfectly armed.
"Oh! is it because I am a woman that I do not understand this sort of
friendship?" cried Georgiana. "And from you, Merthyr, to a girl such as
she is! Me she satisfies less and less. You speak of force of heart, as
if it were manifested in an abandonment of personal will."
"No, my darling, but in the strong conception of a passion."
"Yes; if she had discriminated, and fixed upon a worthy object!"
"That," rejoined Merthyr, "is akin to the doctrine of justification by
"You seek to foil me with sophisms," said Georgiana, warming. "A woman--
even a girl--should remember what is due to herself. You are attracted
by a passionate nature--I mean, men are."
"The general instance," assented Merthyr.
"Then, do you never reflect," pursued Georgiana, "on the composition and
the elements of that sort of nature? I have tried to think the best of
it. It seems to me still no, not contemptible at all--but selfishness is
the groundwork of it; a brilliant selfishness, I admit. I see that it
shows its best feature, but is it the nobler for that? I think, and I
must think, that excellence is a point to be reached only by
unselfishness, and that usefulness is the test of excellence."
"Before there has been any trial of her?" asked Merthyr. "Have you not
been a little too eager to put the test to her?"
Georgiana reluctantly consented to have her argument attached to a single
person. "She is not a child, Merthyr."
"Ay; but she should bethought one."
"I confess I am utterly at sea," Georgiana sighed. "Will you at least
allow that sordid selfishness does less mischief than this 'passion' you
admire so much?"
"I will allow that she may do herself more mischief than if she had the
opposite vice of avarice--anything you will, of that complexion."
"And why should she be regarded as a child?" asked Georgiana piteously.
"Because, if she has outnumbered the years of a child, she is no further
advanced than a child, owing to what she has to get rid of. She is
overburdened with sensations that set her head on fire. Her solid, firm,
and gentle heart keeps her balanced, so long as there is no one playing
on it. That a fool should be doing so, is scarcely her fault."
Georgiana murmured to herself, "He is not a fool." She said, "I do see a
certain truth in what you say, dear Merthyr. But I have been
disappointed in her. I have taken her among my poor. She listens to
their tales, without sympathy. I took her into a sick-room. She stood
by a dying bed like a statue. Her remark when we came into the air was,
'Death seems easy, if it were not so stifling!' Herself always! herself
the centre of what she sees and feels! And again, she has no active
desire to do good to any mortal thing. A passive wish that everybody
should be happy, I know she has. Few have not. She would give money if
she had it. But this is among the mysteries of Providence to me, that
one no indifferent to others should be gifted with so inexplicable a
power of attraction."
Merthyr put this case to her: "Suppose you saw any of the poor souls you
wait on lying sick with fever, would it be just to describe the character
of one so situated as fretful, ungrateful, of rambling tongue, poor in
health, and generally of loose condition of mind?"
"There, again, is that foreign doctrine which exults in the meanest
triumphs by getting the thesis granted that we are animal--only animals!"
Georgiana burst out. You argue that at this season and at that season
she is helpless. If she is a human creature, must she not have a mind to
cover those conditions?"
"And a mind," Merthyr took her up, "specially experienced, armed, and
alert to be a safeguard to her at the most critical period of her life!
Oh, yes! Whether she 'must' have it is one thing; but no one can content
the value of such a jewel to any young person."
Georgiana stood silenced; and knew later that she had been silenced by a
fallacy. For, is youth the most critical period of life? Neither
brother nor sister, however, were talking absolutely for the argument.
Beneath this dialogue, the current in her mind pressed to elicit some
avowal of his personal feeling for the girl, toward whom Georgiana's
disposition was kindlier than her words might lead one to think. He, on
the other hand, talked with the distinct object of disguising his
feelings under a tone of moderate friendship for Emilia, that was capable
of excusing her. A sensitive man of thirty odd years does not loudly
proclaim his appreciation of a girl under twenty: moreover, Merthyr
wished to spare his sister.
He thought of questioning Robert, the coachman, whether anyone had
visited the carriage during his five minutes' absence from it: but
Merthyr's peculiar Welsh delicacy kept him from doing that, hard as it
was to remain in doubt and endure the little poisoned shafts of a
In the morning there was a letter from Marini on the breakfast-table.
Merthyr glanced down the contents. His countenance flashed with a
marvellous light. "Where is she?" he said, looking keenly for Emilia.
Emilia came in from the garden.
"Now, my Sandra!" cried Merthyr, waving the letter to her; "can you pack
up, to start in an hour? There's work coming on for us, and I shall be a
boy again, and not the drumstick I am in this country. I have a letter
from Marini. All Lombardy is prepared to rise, and this time the
business will be done. Marini is off for Genoa. Under the orange-trees,
my Sandra! and looking on the bay, singing of Italy free!"
Emilia fell back a step, eyeing him with a grave expression of wonder, as
if she beheld another being from the one she had hitherto known. The
calm Englishman had given place to a volcanic spirit.
"Isn't that the sketch we made?" he resumed. "The plot's perfect. I
detest conspiracies, but we must use what weapons we can, and be Old
Mole, if they trample us in the earth. Once up, we have Turin to back
us. This I know. We shall have nothing but the Tedeschi to manage: and
if they beat us in cavalry, it's certain that they can't rely on their
light horse. The Magyars would break in a charge. We know that they
will. As for the rest:--
Come sarebbe Boemi a Croati,'
we area match for them! Artillery we shall get. The Piedmontese are mad
for the signal. Come; sit and eat. The air seems dead down in this
quiet country; we're out of the stream. I must rush up to London to
breathe and then we won't lose a moment. We shall be in Italy in four
days. Four days, my Sandra! And Italy going to be free; Georgey, I'm
fasting. And you will see all your old friends. All? Good God! No!--
not all! Their blood shall nerve us. The Austrian thinks he wastes us
by slaughter. With every dead man he doubles the life of the living! Am
I talking like a foreigner, Sandra mia? My child, you don't eat! And I,
who dreamed last night that I looked out over Novara from the height of
the Col di Colma, and saw the plain under a red shadow from a huge
Merthyr laughed, swinging round his arm. Emilia continued staring at him
as at a man transformed, while Georgiana asked: "May Marini's letter be
seen?" Her visage had become firm and set in proportion as her brother's
"Eat, my Sandra! eat!" called Merthyr, who was himself eating with a
Georgiana laid down the letter folded under Merthyr's fingers, keeping
her hand on it till he grew alive to her meaning, that it should be put
"Marini is vague about artillery," she murmured.
"Vague!" echoed Merthyr. "Say prudent. If he said we could lay hands on
fifty pieces, then distrust him!"
"God grant that this be not another pit for further fruitless bloodshed!"
was the interjection standing in Georgiana's eyes, and then she dropped
them pensively, while Merthyr recounted the patient schemes that had led
to this hour, the unuttered anxieties and the bursting hopes.
Still Emilia kept her distressfully unenthusiastic looks turned from one
to the other, though her Italy was the theme. She did not eat, but had
dropped one hand flat on her plate, looking almost idiotic. She heard of
Italy as of a distant place, known to her in ancient years. Merthyr's
transformation, too, helped some form of illusion in her brain that she
was cut off from any kindred feeling with other people.
As soon as he had finished, Merthyr jumped up; and coming round to
Emilia, touched her shoulder affectionately, saying: "Now! There won't
be much packing to do. We shall be in London to-night in time for your
mother to pass the evening with you."
Emilia rose straightway, and her eyes fell vacantly on Georgiana for
help, as far as they could express anything.
Georgiana gave no response, save a look well nigh as vacant in the
"But you haven't eaten at all!" said Merthyr.
Emilia shook her head. "No."
"Eat, my Sandra! to please me! You will need all your strength if you
would be a match for Georgey anywhere where there's action."
"Yes!" Emilia traversed his words with a sudden outcry. "Yes, I will go
to London. I am ready to go to London now."
It was clear that a new light had fallen on her intelligence.
Merthyr was satisfied to see her sit down to the table, and he at once
went out to issue directions for the first step in the new and momentous
Emilia put the bread to her mouth, and crumbled it on a dry lip: but it
was evident to Georgiana, hostile witness as she was, that Emilia's mind
was gradually warming to what Merthyr had said, and that a picture was
passing before the girl. She perceived also a thing that no misery of
her own had yet drawn from Emilia. It was a tear that fell heavily on
the back of her hand. Soon the tears came in quick succession, while the
girl tried to eat, and bit at salted morsels. It was a strange sight for
Georgiana, this statuesque weeping, that got human bit by bit, till the
bosom heaved long sobs: and yet no turn of the head for sympathy; nothing
but passionless shedding of big tear-drops!
She went to the girl, and put her hand upon her; kissed her, and then
said: "We have no time to lose. My brother never delays when he has come
to a resolve."
Emilia tried to articulate: "I am ready."
"But you have not eaten!"
Emilia made a mechanical effort to eat.
"Remember," said Georgiana, "we have a long distance to go. You will
want your strength. You would not be a burden to him? Eat, while I get
your things ready." And Georgiana left her, secretly elated to feel that
in this expedition it was she, and she alone, who was Merthyr's mate.
What storm it was, and what conflict, agitated the girl and stupefied
her, she cared not to guess, now that she had the suitable designation,
'savage,' confirmed in all her acts, to apply to her.
When Tracy Runningbrook came down at his ordinary hour of noon to
breakfast, he found a twisted note from Georgiana, telling him that
important matters had summoned Merthyr to London, and that they were all
to be seen at Lady Gosstre's town-house.
"I believe, by Jove! Powys manoeuvres to get her away from me," he
shouted, and sat down to his breakfast and his book with a comforted
mind. It was not Georgiana to whom he alluded; but the appearance of
Captain Gambier, and the pronounced discomposure visible in the handsome
face of the captain on his hearing of the departure, led Tracy to think
that Georgiana's was properly deplored by another, though that other was
said to be engaged. 'On revient toujours,' he hummed.
Three days passed as a running dream to Emilia. During that period she
might have been hurried off to Italy without uttering a remonstrance.
Merthyr's spirited talk of the country she called her own; of its heroic
youth banded to rise, and sworn to liberate it or die; of good historic
names borne by men, his comrades, in old campaigning adventures; and
stories and incidents of those past days--all given with his changed
face, and changed ringing voice, almost moved her to plunge forgetfully
into this new tumultuous stream while the picture of the beloved land,
lying shrouded beneath the perilous star it was about to follow grew in
"Shall I go with the Army?" she asked Georgiana.
"No, my child; you will simply go to school," was the cold reply.
"To school!" Emilia throbbed, "while they are fighting!"
"To the Academy. My brother's first thought is to further your progress
in Art. When your artistic education is complete, you will choose your
"He knows, he knows that I have no voice!" Emilia struck her lap with
twisted fingers. "My voice is thick in my throat. If I am not to march
with him, I can't go; I will not go. I want to see the fight. You have.
Why should I keep away? Could I run up notes, even if I had any voice,
while he is in the cannon-smoke?"
"While he is in the cannon-smoke!" Georgiana revolved the line
thoughtfully. "You are aware that my brother looks forward to the
recovery of your voice," she said.
"My voice is like a dead serpent in my throat," rejoined Emilia. "My
voice! I have forgotten music. I lived for that, once; now I live for
nothing, only to take my chance everywhere with my friend. I want to
smell powder. My father says it is like salt, the taste of blood, and is
like wine when you smell it. I have heard him shout for it. I will go
to Italy, if I may go where my friend Merthyr goes; but nothing can keep
me shut up now. My head's a wilderness when I'm in houses. I can
scarcely bear to hear this London noise, without going out and walking
till I drop."
Coming to a knot in her meditation, Georgiana concluded that Emilia's
heart was warming to Merthyr. She was speedily doubtful again.
These two delicate Welsh natures, as exacting as they were delicate, were
little pleased with Emilia's silence concerning her intercourse with
Wilfrid. Merthyr, who had expressed in her defence what could be said
for her, was unwittingly cherishing what could be thought in her
disfavour. Neither of them hit on the true cause, which lay in
Georgiana's coldness to her. One little pressure of her hand, carelessly
given, made Merthyr better aware of the nature he was dealing with. He
was telling her that a further delay might keep them in London for a
week; and that he had sent for her mother to come to her.
"I must see my mother," she had said, excitedly. The extension of the
period named for quitting England made it more imminent m her imagination
than when it was a matter of hours. "I must see her."
"I have sent for her," said Merthyr, and then pressed Emilia's hand. But
she who, without having brooded on complaints of its absence, thirsted
for demonstrative kindness, clung to the hand, drawing it, doubled,
against her chin.
"That is not the reason," she said, raising her full eyes up at him over
the unrelinquished hand. "I love the poor Madre; let her come; but I
have no heart for her just now. I have seen Wilfrid."
She took a tighter hold of his fingers, as fearing he might shrink from
her. Merthyr hated mysteries, so he said, "I supposed it must have been
so--that night of our return from Penarvon?"
"Yes," she murmured, while she read his face for a shadow of a repulsion;
"and, my friend, I cannot go to Italy now!"
Merthyr immediately drew a seat beside her. He perceived that there
would be no access to her reason, even as he was on the point of
"Then all my care and trouble are to be thrown away?" he said, taking the
short road to her feelings.
She put the hand that was disengaged softly on his shoulder. "No; not
thrown away. Let me be what Merthyr wishes me to be! That is my chief
"Why, then, will you not do what Merthyr wishes you to do?"
Emilia's eyelids shut, while her face still fronted him.
"Oh! I will speak all out to you," she cried. "Merthyr, my friend, he
came to kiss me once, before I have only just understood it! He is going
to Austria. He came to touch me for the last time before his hand is red
with my blood. Stop him from going! I am ready to follow you:--I can
hear of his marrying that woman:--Oh! I cannot live and think of him in
that Austrian white coat. Poor thing!--my dear! my dear!" And she
turned away her head.
It is not unnatural that Merthyr hearing these soft epithets, should
disbelieve in the implied self-conquest of her preceding words. He had
no clue to make him guess that these were simply old exclamations of hers
brought to her lips by the sorrowful contrast in her mind.
"It will be better that you should see him," he said, with less of his
natural sincerity; so soon are we corrupted by any suspicion that our
"Here?" And she hung close to him, open-lipped, open-eyed, open-eared,
as if (Georgiana would think it, thought Merthyr) her savage senses had
laid the trap for this proposal, and now sprung up keen for their prey.
"Here, Merthyr? Yes! let me see him. You will! Let me see him, for he
cannot resist me. He tries. He thinks he does: but he cannot. I can
stretch out my finger--I can put it on the day when, if he has galloped
one way he will gallop another. Let him come."
She held up both her hands in petition, half dropping her eyelids, with a
In Merthyr's present view, the idea of Wilfrid being in ranks opposed to
him was so little provocative of intense dissatisfaction, that it was out
of his power to believe that Emilia craved to see him simply to dissuade
the man from the obnoxious step. "Ah, well! See him; see him, if you
must," he said. "Arrange it with my sister."
He quitted the room, shrinking from the sound of her thanks, and still
more from the consciousness of his torment.
The business that detained him was to get money for Marini. Georgiana
placed her fortune at his disposal a second time. There was his own,
which he deemed it no excess of chivalry to fling into the gulf. The two
sat together, arranging what property should be sold, and how they would
share the sacrifice in common. Georgiana pressed him to dispose of a
little estate belonging to her, that money might immediately be raised.
They talked as they sat over the fire toward the dusk of the winter
"You would not have refused me once, Merthyr!"
"When you were a child, and I hardly better than a boy. Now it's
different. Let mine go first, Georgey. You may have a husband, who will
not look on these things as we do."
"How can I love a husband!" was all she said; and Merthyr took her in his
arms. His gaiety had gone.
"We can't go dancing into a pit of this sort," he sighed, partly to
baffle the scrutiny he apprehended in her silence. "The garrison at
Milan is doubled, and I hear they are marching troops through Tyrol.
Some alerte has been given, and probably some traitors exist. One
wouldn't like to be shot like a dog! You haven't forgotten poor Tarani?
I heard yesterday of the girl who calls herself his widow."
"They were betrothed, and she is!" exclaimed Georgiana.
"Well, there's a case of a man who had two loves--a woman and his
country; and both true to him!"
"And is he so singular, Merthyr?"
"No, my best! my sweetest! my heart's rest! no!"
They exchanged tender smiles.
"Tarani's bride--beloved! you can listen to such matters--she has
undertaken her task. Who imposed it? I confess I faint at the thought
of things so sad and shameful. But I dare not sit in judgement on a
people suffering as they are. Outrage upon outrage they have endured,
and that deadens--or rather makes their heroism unscrupulous. Tarani's
bride is one of the few fair girls of Italy. We have a lock of her hair.
She shore it close the morning her lover was shot, and wore the thin
white skull-cap you remember, until it was whispered to her that her
beauty must serve."
"I have the lock now in my desk," said Georgiana, beginning to tremble.
"Do you wish to look at it?"
"Yes; fetch it, my darling."
He sat eyeing the firelight till she returned, and then taking the long
golden lock in his handy he squeezed it, full of bitter memories and
"Giulietta?" breathed his sister.
"I would put my life on the truth of that woman's love. Well!"
"She abandons herself to the commandant of the citadel."
A low outcry burst from Georgiana. She fell at Merthyr's knees sobbing
violently. He let her sob. In the end she struggled to speak.
"Oh! can it be permitted? Oh! can we not save her? Oh, poor soul! my
sister! Is she blind to her lover in heaven?"
Georgiana's face was dyed with shame.
"We must put these things by," said Merthyr. "Go to Emilia presently,
and tell her--settle with her as you think fitting, how she shall see
this Wilfrid Pole. I have promised her she shall have her wish."
Coloured by the emotion she was burning from, these words smote Georgiana
with a mournful compassion for Merthyr.
He had risen, and by that she knew that nothing could be said to alter
A sentimental pair likewise, if you please; but these were
sentimentalists who served an active deity; and not that arbitrary
protection of a subtle selfishness which rules the fairer portion of our
"My brother tells me it is your wish to see Mr. Wilfrid Pole."
Emilia's "Yes" came faintly in answer to Georgiana's cold accents.
"Have you considered what you are doing in expressing such a desire?"
Another "Yes" was heard from under an uplifted head:--a culprit
affirmative, whereat the just take fire.
"Be honest, Emilia. Seek counsel and guidance to-night, as you have done
before with me, and profited, I think. If I write to bid him come, what
will it mean?"
"Nothing more," breathed Emilia.
"To him--for in his way he seems to care for you fitfully--it will mean--
stop! hear me. The words you speak will have no part of the meaning,
even if you restrain your tongue. To him it will imply that his power
over you is unaltered. I suppose that the task of making you perceive
the effect it really will have on you is hopeless."
"I have seen him, and I know," said Emilia, in a corresponding tone.
"You saw him that night of our return from Penarvon? Judge of him by
that. He would not spare you. To gratify I know not what wildness in
his nature, he did not hesitate to open your old wound. And to what
purpose? A freak of passion!"
"He could not help it. I told him he would come, and he came."
"This, possibly, you call love; do you not?"
Emilia was about to utter a plain affirmative, but it was checked. The
novelty of the idea of its not being love arrested her imagination.
"If he comes to you here," resumed Georgiana--
"He must come!" cried Emilia.
"My brother has sanctioned it, so his coming or not will rest with him.
If he comes, let me know the good that you think will result from an
interview? Ah! you have not weighed that question. Do so;--or you give
no heed to it? In any ease, try to look into your own breast. You were
not born to live unworthily. You can be, or will be, if you follow your
better star, self-denying and noble. Do you not love your country?
Judge of this love by that. Your love, if you have this power over him,
is merely a madness to him; and his--what has it done for you? If he
comes, and this begins again, there will be a similar if not the same
destiny for you."
Emilia panted in her reply. "No; it will not begin again." She threw
out both arms, shaking her head. "It cannot, I know. What am I now? It
is what I was that he loves. He will not know what I am till he sees me.
And I know that I have done things that he cannot forgive. You have
forgiven it, and Merthyr, because he is my friend; but I am sure Wilfrid
will not. He might pardon the poor 'me,' but not his Emilia! I shall
have to tell him what I did; so" (and she came closer to Georgiana)
"there is some pain for me in seeing him."
Georgiana was not proof against this simplicity of speech, backed by a
little dying dimple, which seemed a continuation of the plain sadness of
She said, "My poor child!" almost fondly, and then Emilia looked in her
face, murmuring, "You sometimes doubt me."
"Not your truth, but the accuracy of your perceptions and your knowledge
of your real designs. You are certainly deceiving yourself at this
instant. In the first place, the relation of that madness--no, poor
child, not wickedness--but if you tell it to him, it is a wilful and
unnecessary self-abasement. If he is to be your husband, unburden your
heart at once. Otherwise, why? why? You are but working up a scene,
provoking needless excesses: you are storing misery in retrospect, or
wretchedness to be endured. Had you the habit of prayer! By degrees it
will give you the thirst for purity, and that makes you a fountain of
prayer, in whom these blind deceits cannot hide."
Georgiana paused emphatically; as when, by our unrolling out of our
ideas, we have more thoroughly convinced ourselves.
"You pray to heaven," said Emilia, and then faltered, and blushed. "I
must be loved!" she cried. "Will you not put your arms round me?"
Georgiana drew her to her bosom, bidding her continue. Emilia lay
whispering under her chin. "You pray, and you wish to be seen as you
are, do you not? You do. Well, if you knew what love is, you would see
it is the same. You wish him to see and know you: you wish to be sure
that he loves nothing but exactly you; it must be yourself. You are
jealous of his loving an idea of you that is not you. You think, 'He
will wake up and find his mistake;' or you think, 'That kiss was not
intended for me; not for me as I am.' Those are tortures!"
Her discipline had transformed her, when she could utter such sentiments
Feeling her shudder, and not knowing how imagination forestalls
experience in passionate blood, Georgiana said, "You speak like one who
has undergone them. But now at least you have thrown off the mask. You
love him still, this man! And with as little strength of will! Do you
not see impiety in the comparison you have made?"
"Oh! what I see is, that I wish I could say to him, 'Look on me, for I
need not be ashamed--I am like Miss Ford!'"
The young lady's cheeks took fire, and the clear path of speech becoming
confused in her head she said, "Miss Ford?"
"Georgiana," said Emilia, and feeling that her friend's cold manner had
melted; "Georgey! my beloved! my darling in Italy, where will we go! I
envy no woman but you who have seen my dear ones fight. You and I, and
Merthyr! Nothing but Austrian shot shall part us."
"And so we make up a pretty dream!" interjected Georgiana. "The Austrian
shot, I think, will be fired by one who is now in the Austrian service,
or who will soon be."
"Wilfrid?" Emilia called out. "No; that is what I am going to stop. Why
did I not tell you so at first? But I never know what I say or do when I
am with you, and everything seems chance. I want to see him to prevent
him from doing that. I can."
"Why should you?" asked Georgiana; and one to whom the faces of the two
had been displayed at that moment would have pronounced them a hostile
"Why should I prevent him?" Emilia doled out the question slowly, and
gave herself no further thought of replying to it.
Apparently Georgiana understood the significance of this odd silence: she
was perhaps touched by it. She said, "You feel that you have a power
over him. You wish to exercise it. Never mind wherefore. If you do--if
you try, and succeed--if, by the aid of this love presupposed to exist,
you win him to what you require of him--do you honestly think the love is
then immediately to be dropped?"
Emilia meditated. She caught up her voice hastily. "I think so. Yes.
I hope so. I mean it to be."
"With a noble lover, Emilia. Not with a selfish one. In showing him the
belief you have in your power over him, you betray that he has power over
you. And it is to no object. His family, his position, his prospects--
all tell you that he cannot marry you if he would. And he is, besides,
"Let her suffer!" Emilia's eyes flashed.
"Ah!" and Georgiana thought, "Have I come upon your nature at last?"
However it might be, Emilia was determined to show it.
"She took my lover from me, and I say, let her suffer! I would not hurt
her myself--I would not lay my finger on her: but she has eyes like blue
stones, and such a mouth!--I think the Austrian executioner has one like
it. If she suffers, and goes all dark as I did, she will show a better
face. Let her keep my lover. He is not mine, but he was; and she took
him from me. That woman cannot feed on him as I did. I know she has no
hunger for love. He will look at those blue bits of ice, and think of
me. I told him so. Did I not tell him that in Devon? I saw her eyelids
move as fast as I spoke. I think I look on Winter when I see her lips.
Poor, wretched Wilfrid!"
Emilia half-sobbed this exclamation out. "I don't wish to hurt either of
them," she added, with a smile of such abrupt opposition to her words
that Georgiana was in perplexity. A lady who has assumed the office of
lecturer, will, in such a frame of mind, lecture on, if merely to
vindicate to herself her own preconceptions. Georgiana laid her finger
severely upon Wilfrid's manifest faults; and, in fine, she spoke a great
deal of the common sense that the situation demanded. Nevertheless,
Emilia held to her scheme. But, in the meantime, Georgiana had seen more
clearly into the girl's heart; and she had been won, also, by a natural
gracefulness that she now perceived in her, and which led her to think,
"Is Merthyr again to show me that he never errs in his judgement?" An
unaccountable movement of tenderness to Emilia made her drop a few kisses
on her forehead. Emilia shut her eyes, waiting for more. Then she
looked up, and said, "Have you felt this love for me very long?" at which
the puny flame, scarce visible, sprang up, and warmed to a great heat.
"My own Emilia! Sandra! listen to me: promise me not to seek this
"Will you always love me as much?" Emilia bargained.
"Yes, yes; I never vary. It is my love for you that begs you."
Emilia fell into a chair and propped her head behind both hands, tapping
the floor briskly with her feet. Georgiana watched the conflict going
on. To decide it promptly, she said: "And not only shall I love you
thrice as well, but my brother Merthyr, whom you call your friend--he
will--he cannot love you better; but he will feel you to be worthy the
best love he can give. There is a heart, you simple girl! He loves you,
and has never shown any of the pain your conduct has given him. When I
say he loves you, I tell you his one weakness--the only one I have
discovered. And judge whether, he has shown want of self-control while
you were dying for another. Did he attempt to thwart you? No; to
strengthen you; and never once to turn your attention to himself. That
is love. Now, think of what anguish you have made him pass through: and
think whether you have ever witnessed an alteration of kindness in his
face toward you. Even now, when he had the hope that you were cured of
your foolish fruitless affection for a man who merely played with you,
and cannot give up the habit, even now he hides what he feels--"
So far Emilia let her speak without interruption; but gradually awakening
to the meaning of the words:--
"For me?" she cried.
"Yes; for you."
"The same sort of love as Wilfrid feels?"
"By no means the same sort; but the love of man for woman."
"And he saw me when I was that wretched heap? And he knows everything!
and loves me. He has never kissed me."
"Does that miserable test--?" Georgiana was asking.
"Pardon, pardon," said Emilia penitently; "I know that is almost nothing,
now. I am not a child. I spoke from a sudden feeling. For if he loves
me, how--! Oh, Merthyr! what a little creature I seem. I cannot
understand it. I lose a brother. And he was such a certainty to me.
What did he love--what did he love, that night he found me on the pier?
I looked like a creature picked off a mud-bank. I felt like a worm, and
miserably abandoned, I was a shameful sight. Oh! how can I look on
Merthyr's face again?"
In these interjections Georgiana did not observe the proper humility and
abject gratitude of a young person who had heard that she was selected by
a prince of the earth. A sort of 'Eastern handmaid' prostration, with
joined hands, and, above all things, a closed mouth, the lady desired.
She half regretted the revelation she had made; and to be sure at once
that she had reaped some practical good, she said: "I need scarce ask you
whether you have come to a right decision upon that other question."
"To see Wilfrid?" said Emilia. She appeared to pause musingly, and then
turned to Georgiana, showing happy features; "Yes: I shall see him. I
must see him. Let him know he is to come immediately."
"That is your decision."
"After what I have told you?"
"Oh, yes; yes! Write the letter."
Georgiana chid at an internal wrath that struggled to win her lips.
"Promise me simply that what I have told you of my brother, you will
consider yourself bound to keep secret. You will not speak of it to
others, nor to him."
Emilia gave the promise, but with the thought; "To him?--will not he
speak of it?"
"So, then, I am to write this letter?" said Georgiana.
"Do, do; at once!" Emilia put on her sweetest look to plead for it.
"Decidedly the wisest of men are fools in this matter," Georgiana's
reflection swam upon her anger.
"And dearest! my Georgey!" Emilia insisted on being blunt to the outward
indications to which she was commonly so sensitive and reflective; "my
Georgey! let me be alone this evening in my bedroom. The little Madre
comes, and--and I haven't the habit of being respectful to her. And, I
must be alone! Do not send up for me, whoever wishes it."
Georgiana could not stop her tongue: "Not if Mr. Wilfrid Pole--?"
"Oh, he! I will see him," said Emilia; and Georgiana went from her
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