Part 12 out of 15
dark haired girl in the unwomanly clothes, with pride on her lips and pain
in her eyes, was no monster after all, but an erring mortal like himself,
a poor weak creature to be pitied and prayed for. And the Tenor bowed his
sunny head and prayed for her earnestly through all the long hours of
solitary suffering which closed that day.
Then came another sleepless night, and another gloomy morning which
brought his little chorister boy, whom he tried to teach as usual; but
even the child saw what the effort cost him, and looked at him with great
tender eyes solemnly, and was very docile.
Before the early service one of his fellow lay clerks came in to see how
he was. They had all noticed the feverish cold from which he had appeared
to be suffering the whole week, and this one, not finding him better,
begged him to stay in that day and take care of himself for the sake of
his voice. The Tenor brushed his hand back over his hair. He had forgotten
that he ever had a voice. But at all events he must go to the morning
service; after that he would stay at home. He longed for the Blessed
Sacrament, which was always a "Holy Communion" to him; but he did not say
That afternoon he fell asleep in his easy-chair facing the window which
looked out upon the cathedral--or into a troubled doze rather, from which
he awoke all at once with a start, and, seeing the window shut, rose
hurriedly to go and open it for the "Boy." He had done so before at night
often when he chanced to forget it. But when he got to it now he had to
clutch the frame to support himself, and he looked out stupidly for some
seconds, wondering in a dazed way why the sun was shining when it should
be dark. Then suddenly full consciousness returned, and he remembered. He
should never open the window again for the Boy, never again.
He returned to his chair after that, and sat down to think.
When he began to understand it thoroughly--the meaning of the last
incident--he was startled out of the apathy that oppressed him.
It became evident now that he was not merely suffering, but fast becoming
disabled by illness, and it was time he let someone know, otherwise there
might be confusion and annoyance about--his work--finding a substitute;
and there would be a risk about--about--what was he trying to think of?
Oh, her name. He might mention it and be overheard by curious people if he
lost his head--Angelica--Mrs. Kilroy of Ilverthorpe--he wished; he could
forget; but he would provide against the danger of repeating them aloud.
He would telegraph to his own man--the fellow had written to him the other
day, being in want of a place: a capital servant and discreet--glad he
had thought of him. And then there were other matters--the sensible
setting of his house in order which every man threatened with illness
would be wise to see to. There were several letters he must write, one to
the dean, amongst others, to ask him to come and see him. Writing was a
great effort, but he managed with much difficulty to accomplish all that
he had set himself to do, and then his mind was at rest.
Presently his old housekeeper came in with some tea. She was anxious about
"I've brought you this, sir," she said. "You've not tasted a solid morsel
since Tuesday morning, and this is Thursday afternoon. Try and take
something, sir, it will do you good. You must be getting quite faint, and
indeed you look it."
"Now, I call that good of you," the Tenor answered hoarsely, as he took
the cup from her hand. "I shall be glad to have some tea, I've been quite
longing for something hot to drink."
The woman was examining his face with critical kindness. She noticed the
constant attempt to cough, and the painful catching of the breath which
rendered the effort abortive.
"I am afraid you are not at all well, sir," she said, expecting him to
deny it, but he did not.
"I am not at all well, to tell you the truth," he confessed. "I have just
written to the dean to tell him, and--" a fit of coughing rendered the end
of the sentence unintelligible. "I want you to post these letters," he was
able to say at last distinctly; "send this telegram off at once to my
servant, and leave this note at the deanery. That will do as you go home.
The man should be here to-morrow, and anything else there may be can be
attended to when he arrives."
"You'll let your friends know you're not very well, sir," the housekeeper
"Those letters"--indicating the ones she held in her hand--"are to tell
The woman seeing to whom the letters were addressed, and hearing the Tenor
talk in an off-hand way about his manservant as if he had been accustomed
to the luxury all his life, feared for a moment that his mind was affected;
but then some of those wild surmises as to whom and what he might be,
which were rife all over the ancient city when he first arrived, recurred
to her, and there slipped from her unawares the remark: "Well, they always
said you was _somebody_, and to look at you one might suppose you was
a dook or a markis, sir, but I won't make so bold as to ask."
The Tenor smiled, "I am afraid I am only a Tenor with an abominable cold,"
he rejoined good-naturedly. "I really think I must nurse it a little. When
I have seen the dean, I shall go to bed."
"You'll see the doctor first," she muttered decisively as she took up the
tray and withdrew.
The Tenor overheard her, but was past making any objection. He had managed
to take the tea, and, eased by the grateful warmth, he sank into another
heavy doze from which the arrival of the doctor roused him. It was evening
He made an effort to rise in his courteous way to receive the doctor, was
sorry to trouble him for anything so trifling as a cold, would not have
troubled him in fact had not his officious old housekeeper taken the law
into her hands; but now that he had come was very glad to see him;
singers, as the doctor knew, being fidgety about their throats; and really
--with a smile--even a cold was important when it threatened one's means
The doctor responded cheerfully to these cheerful platitudes, but he was
listening and observing all the time. Then he took out a stethoscope in
two pieces, and as he screwed them together he asked:
"Been wet lately?"
"Well, yes," the Tenor answered--"something of that kind."
"And you did not change immediately?"
"N-no, now I think of it, not for hours. In fact, I believe my things
dried on me."
"Ah-h-h!" shaking his head. "And you'd been living rather low before that,
perhaps? (Just let me take your temperature.) I should say that you had
got a little down--below par, you know, eh?"'
"Well, perhaps," the Tenor acknowledged.
"Humph." The doctor glanced at his clinical thermometer. "You have a
temperature, young man. Now let me--" he applied the stethoscope. "I am
afraid you are in for a bad dose," he said after a careful examination. "I
wish you had sent for me twenty-four hours sooner. These things should be
taken in time. And it is marvellous how you have kept about so long. But
now go to bed at once. Keep yourself warm, and the temperature as even as
possible. It is all a matter of nursing; but I'll save--" he had been
going to say "your life" but changed the phrase--"your voice, never fear!"
The Tenor smiled: "Pneumonia, I suppose?" he said interrogatively.
"I am sorry to say it is," the doctor answered as he rose to depart; "and
double pneumonia, to boot. I'll send you something to take at once"--and
he hurried away before the housekeeper had time to speak to him.
When the medicine arrived, however, she had the satisfaction of
administering a dose to her master, and she begged at the same time that
she might be allowed to stay in the house that night in case he wanted
anything, but this the Tenor would not hear of. He did not think he should
want anything--(he could think of nothing unfortunately but the risk of
mentioning Angelica's name). She might come a little earlier in the
morning and get him some tea; probably he would be glad of some then, He
was not going to get up in the morning, he really meant to take care of
himself. The housekeeper coaxed, but in vain. There was no place for her
to sleep in comfort, no bell to summon her, and as to sitting up all night
that was out of the question; who would do her work in the morning? There
would be plenty of people to look after him to-morrow. One night could
make no difference.
Had she heard the doctor's orders she would have disobeyed her master, but
as it was his manner imposed upon her, he spoke so confidently; and
accordingly she left the house at the usual hour, to the Tenor's great
When she had gone he was seized with an attack of haemoptysis, and after he
had recovered from that sufficiently he went to bed--or rather he found
himself there, not knowing quite how it had come to pass, for the disease
had made rapid progress in the last few hours, and he now suffered
acutely, his temperature was higher, and the terrible sense of suffocation
continued to increase.
It was at this time that the dean, in his comfortable easy-chair, looked
up from the Tenor's note, and said to his wife deprecatingly: "He is ill,
it seems, and wishes to see me. Do you think I need go to-night?"
"No, my dear, _certainly_ not," was the emphatic reply. "There cannot
be much the matter with him. I saw him out only yesterday or the day
before. And at all events it will do in the morning. You must consider
So the dean stayed at home to lay up a lifelong regret for himself, but
not with an easy conscience. He had a sort of feeling that it would be
well to go, which his dislike to turning out on a raw night like that
would not have outweighed without his wife's word in the scale.
Nothing was being done to relieve the Tenor. There were no medicines
regularly administered, no soothing drinks for him, no equable
temperature, no boiling water to keep the atmosphere moist with steam, the
common necessaries of such a case; all these the Tenor, knowing his
danger, had composedly foregone lest perchance in a moment of delirium he
should mention a lady's name; and that he had had the foresight to do so
was a cause of earnest thanksgiving to him when every breath of cold air
began to stab like a knife through his lungs, and his senses wandered away
for lengths of time which he could not compute, and he became conscious
that he was uttering his thoughts aloud in spite of himself.
"It is not so very long till morning," he found himself saying once. "I
will just lie still and bear it till then. I am drowsy enough--and in the
morning--" but now all at once he asked himself, was there to be any more
morning for him?
He was too healthy-minded to long for death, and too broken-hearted to
shrink from it. His first feeling, however, when he realized the near
prospect was nothing but a kind of mild surprise that it should be near,
and even this was instantly dismissed. No more morning for him meant
little leisure to think of her, and here he hastened to fold his hands and
bow his golden head: "Lord, Lord," he entreated in the midst of his
martyrdom, "make her a good woman yet." The bells above him broke in upon
his prayer. "Amen" and "amen," they seemed to say; and then the chime,
full-fraught for him with promise, rang its constant message out, and as
he listened his heart expanded with hope, his last earthly sorrow slipped
away from him, and his soul relied upon the certainty that his final
supplication was not in vain.
After this he was conscious of nothing but his own sufferings for a
little. Then there came a blank; and next he thought he was singing. He
heard his own marvellous voice and wondered at it, and he remembered that
once before he had had the same experiences, but when or where he could
not recall. Now, he would fain have stopped; for every note was a dagger
in his breast, yet he found himself forced to sing till at last the pain
When full consciousness returned, a terrible thirst devoured him. What
would he not have given for a drink!--something to drink, and someone to
bring it to him.
What made him think of his mother just then? Where was his mother? It was
just as well, perhaps, she should not be there to see him suffer.
He had never a bitter thought in his mind about any person or thing, nor
did he dream of bemoaning the cruel fate which left him now at his death,
as at his birth, deserted. What he did think of were the many kind people
who would have been only too glad to come to his assistance had they but
known his need.
But the torment of thirst increased upon him.
He thought of the dear Lord in _his_ agony of thirst, and bore it for
a time. Then he remembered that there must be water in the room. With
great difficulty he got up to get it for himself. His face was haggard and
drawn by this time, and there were great black circles round his sunken
eyes, but the expression of strength and sweetness had been intensified if
anything, and he never looked more beautiful than then.
It seemed like a day's journey to the washstand. He reached it at last,
however, reached it and grasped the carafe--with such a feeling of relief
and thankfulness! Alas! it was empty. So also was the jug. The woman had
forgotten for once to fill them, and there was not a drop of water to
moisten his lips.
Tears came at this, and he sank into a chair. It was hard, and he was much
exhausted, but still there was no reproach upon his lips. Presently he
found himself in bed again with his pillows arranged so as to prop him up.
The struggle for breath was awful, and he could not lie down. He had only
to fight for a little longer, however, then suddenly the worst was over.
And at the same moment, as it seemed to him, the chime rang out again
triumphantly; and almost immediately afterward his first friend and foster
father, the rough collier, grasped his hand. But he had scarcely greeted
him when his second friend arrived, and bending over him called him as of
old, "Julian, my dear, dear boy!" This reminded the Tenor. "Where
_is_ the Boy?" he said, "Is the window open? It is time he came."
"Israfil, I am here," was the soft response. The Tenor's face became
radiant. All whom he had ever cared for were present with him, coming as
he called them--even the dean, who was kneeling now beside his bed
murmuring accustomed prayers. "What happiness!" The Tenor murmured. "I was
so sorrowful this afternoon, and now! A happy death! a happy death! Ah,
Boy, do you not see that he gives us our heart's desire? He slumbers not,
nor sleeps," and the Tenor's face shone.
Then the chime was ringing again, and now it never ceased for him. He had
sunk into the last dreamy lethargy from which only the clash of the bells
above roused him hour by hour during the few that remained; but all sense
of time was over; the hours were one; and so the beloved music accompanied
him till his spirit rose enraptured to the glory of the Beatific Vision
It was just at the dawn, when the Boy was wont to leave him, that,
according to his ancient faith, the dear-earned wings were given him, the
angel guardian led him, and the true and beautiful pure spirit was
welcomed by its kindred into everlasting joy.
When Angelica heard those dreadful words: "He's dead, miss, didn't you
know? and buried yesterday"--her jaw dropped, and for a moment she felt
the solid earth reel beneath her. The colour left her face and returned to
it, red chasing white as one breath follows another, and she glared at the
woman. For her first indignant thought was that she was being insulted
with a falsehood. The thing was impossible; he could not be dead.
"And buried yesterday," the woman repeated.
"I don't believe you," Angelica exclaimed, stamping her foot imperiously.
The woman drew herself up, gave one indignant look, then turned her back,
and walked into the house.
Angelica ran down the passage after her, and grasped her arm. "I beg your
pardon," she said. "But, oh, do tell me--do make me understand, for I
cannot believe it! I cannot believe it!"
The woman pushed open the sitting room door, and led her in.
"Was you a friend of his, miss--or ma'am?" she asked.
"I am Mrs. Kilroy of Ilverthorpe," Angelica answered.
"Yes, I was a friend of his. I cared for him greatly. It is only a few
days since I saw him alive and well. Oh! it isn't true, it isn't true!"
she broke off, wringing her hands. "I cannot believe it!"
The woman sat down, threw her apron back over her face, and rocked herself
to and fro.
Angelica, dazed and dry-eyed, stared at her stupidly. The shock had
Presently the woman recovered herself, and seeing the lady's stony face,
forgot her own trouble for the moment, and hastened to help her.
"I don't wonder you're took-to, my lady," she said. "It's bin a awful blow
to a many, a awful blow. Oh! I never thought when they used to come and
see him here in their fine carriages and with their servants and their
horses and that as it was anything but the music brought 'em--tho', mind
you, he was as easy with them as they, with him. Oh, dear! Oh dear!"
Angelica's lips were so parched she could hardly articulate, "Tell me,"
she gasped, "tell me all. I cannot understand."
The woman fetched her some water. "Lie back a bit in this chair, ma'am,"
she said, "and I'll just tell you. It'll come easier when you know. When
one knows, it helps a body. You see, ma'am, it was this way"--and then she
poured forth the narrative of those last sad days, omitting no detail, and
Angelica listened, dry-eyed at first, but presently she was seized upon by
the pitifulness of it all, and then, like scattered raindrops that precede
a heavy shower, the great tears gathered in her eyes and slowly
overflowed, forerunners of a storm which burst at last in deep convulsive
sobs that rent her, so that her suffering body came to the relief of her
"I wanted to stay with 'im that last night and see to 'im," the
housekeeper proceeded, "for the doctor's very words to me was, when I went
to fetch 'im, before ever 'e had come to see what was the matter, 'e ses,
knowing me for a many years, 'e ses, 'You'll look after 'im well, I'm
sure, Mrs. Jenkins,' 'e ses, and I answered, 'Yes, sir, please God, I
will,' for I felt as something was 'anging over me then, I did, tho'
little I knowed what it was. And I did my best to persuade 'im to let me
stay that night and, nurse 'im, but 'e wouldn't hear of it; 'e said there
wasn't no need; and what with the way 'e 'ad as you didn't like to go agin
'im in nothing, and what with 'is bein' so cheerful like, 'e imposed upon
me, so I went away. Oh, it's been a bad business"--shaking her head
disconsolately--"a bad business! To think of 'im bein' alone that night
without a soul near 'im, and it 'is last on earth. He'd not 'ave let a dog
die so, 'e wouldn't."
Angelica's sobs redoubled.
"But I couldn't rest, ma'am," the woman went on, "The whole night through
I kep awaking up and thinking of 'im, and I 'eard every hour strike, till
at last I couldn't stand it no longer, and I just got up and came to see
'ow 'e was. I'd 'a' bin less tired if I'd a sat up all night with 'im. And
I came 'ere, and as soon as I opened the door, ma'am, there!" she threw
her hands before her--"I knew there was something! For the smell that met
me in the passage, it was just for all the world like fresh turned clay.
But still I didn't think. It wasn't till afterward, that I knowed it was
'is grave. And I went upstairs, ma'am, not imaginin' nothin' neither, and
tapped at 'is door, and 'e didn't answer, so I opens it softly, and ses:
''Ow are you this mornin', sir?' I ses, quite softly like, in a whisper,
for fear of wakin' 'im if 'e should be asleep. Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I
needn't 'a' bin so careful! And I ses it agin: 'Ow are you, sir, this
mornin'?': I ses: 'I 'ope you 'ad a good night,' I ses; but still 'e
didn't answer, and some'ow it struck me, ma'am, that the 'ouse was very
quiet--it seemed kind of unnatural still, if you understand. So, just
without knowin' why like, I pushed the door open"--showing, how she did it
with her hands--"little by little, bit by bit, all for fear of disturbing
'im, till at last I steps in, makin' no noise--Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" She
threw her apron up over her face again, and rocked herself as she stood.
"And there 'e was, ma'am," she resumed huskily, "propped up by pillows in
the bed so as to be almost sittin', and the top one was a great broad
pillow, very white, for 'e was always most pertic'lar about such things,
and 'ad 'em all of the very best. And 'is face was turned away from me as
I came in, ma'am, so that I only saw it sidewise, and just at first I
thought 'e was asleep--very sound." She wiped her eyes with her apron, and
shook her head several times. "And there's a little window to 'is room
what slides along instead of openin' up," she proceeded when she had
recovered herself sufficiently, "with small panes, and outside there's
roses and honeysucklers, what made shadows that flickered, for the mornin'
was gusty though bright, and they deceived me. I thought 'e was breathin'
natural. But while I stood there the sun shone in and just touched the
edges of 'is 'air, ma'am, and it looked for all the world like a crown of
gold against the white pillows, it did, indeed--eh! ma'am, I don't wonder
you take on!" This emphatically upon a fresh outburst of uncontrollable
grief from Angelica. "For I ses to myself, when the light fell on 'is face
strong like that, 'It's the face of a angel,' I ses--but there!" raising
her hands palms outward, slowly, and bringing them down to her knees
again--"I can't tell you! But 'is lips were just a little parted, ma'am,
with a sort o' look on 'em, not a smile, you understand, but just a look
that sweet as made you feel like smilin' yourself! and 'is skin that
transapparent you'd 'ave expected to see through it; but that didn't make
me think nothin', for it was always so--as clear as your own, ma'am, if
you'll excuse the liberty; and some folks said it was because he was a
great lord in disguise, for such do 'ave fine skins; and some said it was
because 'e was so good, but I think it was both myself. But 'owever,
ma'am, seein' 'e slept so sound, I made bold to creep in a little nearer,
for 'e was a picter!" shaking her head solemnly--"an' I was just thinkin'
what a proud woman 'is mother would be if she was me to see 'im at that
moment an' 'im so beautiful, when, ma'am"--but here her voice broke, and
it was some seconds before she could add--"you might 'a' 'eard me scream
at the cathedral. And after I 'ad screamed I'd 'a' given untold gold not
to 'a' done it. For it seemed a sin to make a noise, and 'im so still.
And, oh! ma'am, 'e'd bin dyin' the 'ole o' that last afternoon an' I never
suspected 'e'd more nor a cold, though I knew it was bad. An' 'e'd bin
alone the 'ole o' that blessed night a dyin', an' sensible they say to the
last, an' not a soul to give 'im so much as a drink, an' the thirst awful,
so I'm told. An' 'e'd been up to try an' get one for 'imself, for the
bottle off the washstand was lyin' on the floor as if he'd dropped it out
of 'is 'and--'e'd got up to get a drink for 'imself," she repeated
impressively, "an' 'im dyin', ma'am, and _there wasn't a drop o' water
there_. I knowed it--I knowed it the moment I see that bottle on the
floor. I'd forgot to bring up any before I left the day before, though I
ses to myself when I did the room in the mornin'--'I must fetch that water
at once,' and never thought of it again from that moment."
"Oh, this is dreadful! dreadful!" Angelica moaned.
"Eh!" the woman ejaculated sympathetically. "And the 'ardest part of it
was the way they came when it was too late. Everybody. An' me, 'eaven
forgive me, thinkin' 'im out o' 'is mind when 'e wrote to 'em an' said
they was 'is friends. There was 'is lordship the Markis o' Dawne, and 'is
two sisters, an' that other great lady what is with 'em so much. An' they
didn't say much any of 'em except 'er, but she wept an' wrung 'er 'ands,
and blamed 'erself and everybody for lettin' the master 'ave 'is own way
an' leaving 'im, as it seems it was 'is wish to be left, alone with some
trouble 'e 'ad. But they 'ad come to see 'im, too, Dr. Galbraith and the
Markis 'ad, many times, for I let 'em in myself, an' never thought nothin'
of it in the way of their bein' friends of 'is, I thought they came about
the music. Eh!" she repeated, "they didn't say much, any of 'em, but you
could see, you could see! An' the dean came, an' you should 'a' 'eard 'm!
full o' remorse, 'e was, ma'am, for not 'avin 'come the night before,
though 'e was asked. An' they all went upstairs to see 'm, an' 'im lyin'
there so quiet and all indifferent to their grief, yet with such a look of
peace upon 'is face! It was sweet and it was sad too; for all the world as
if 'e'd bin 'urt cruel by somebody in 'is feelin's but 'ad forgiven 'em,
an' then bin glad to go."
"Israfil! Israfil!" the wretched Angelica moaned aloud. She could picture
the scene. Her Aunt Fulda, prayerful but tearless, only able to sorrow as
saints and angels do; Ideala with her great human heart torn, weeping and
wailing and wringing her hands; Aunt Claudia, hard of aspect and soft of
heart, stealthily wiping her tears as if ashamed of them; Uncle Dawne
sitting with his elbows on his knees and his face hidden in his hands; and
Dr. Galbraith standing beside the bed looking down on the marble calm of
the dead with a face as still, but pained in expression--Angelica knew
them all so well, it was easy for her imagination to set them before her
in characteristic attitudes at such a time; and she was not surprised to
find that they had been friends of his although no hint of the fact had
ever reached her. They were a loyal set in that little circle, and could
keep counsel among themselves, as she knew; an example which she herself
would have followed as a matter of course under similar circumstances, so
surely does the force of early associations impel us instinctively to act
on the principles which we have been accustomed to see those about us
"An' they covered 'im with flowers, an' one or other of those great ladies
in the plainest black dresses with nothin' except just white linen collar
an' cuffs, stayed with 'im day an' night till they took 'im to 'is long
'ome yesterday," the woman concluded.
Then there was a long silence, broken only by Angelica's heavy sobs.
"Can't I do nothin' for you, ma'am?" the housekeeper asked at last.
"Yes," Angelica answered; "leave me alone awhile."
And the woman had tact enough to obey.
Then Angelica got up, and went and knelt by the Tenor's empty chair, and
laid her cheek against the cold cushion.
"It isn't true, it isn't true, it isn't true," she wailed again and again,
but it was long before she could think at all; and her dry eyes ached, for
she had no more tears to shed.
Presently she became aware of a withered rose in the hollow between the
seat of the chair and the back. She knew it must be one of those she had
thrown at him that night, perhaps the one he had carelessly twirled in his
hand while they talked, now and then inhaling its perfume as he listened,
watching her with quiet eyes.
"Dead! dead!" she whispered, pressing the dry petals to her lips.
Then she looked about her.
The light of day, falling on a scene which was familiar only by the
subdued light of a lamp, produced an effect as of chill and bareness. She
noticed worn places in the carpet, and a certain shabbiness from constant
use in everything, which had not been visible at night, and now affected
her in an inexpressibly dreary way. There was very little difference
really, and yet there was _some_ change which, as she perceived it,
began gradually to bring the great change home to her. There was the empty
chair, first relic in importance and saddest in significance. There were
his pipes neatly arranged on a little fretwork rack which hung where bell
handles are usually put beside the fireplace. She remembered having seen
him replace one of them the last time she was there, and now she went over
and touched its cold stem, and her heart swelled. The stand of ferns and
flowers which he had arranged with such infinite pains to please the "Boy"
stood in its accustomed place, but ferns and flowers alike were dead or
drooping in their pots, untended and uncared for, and some had been taken
away altogether, leaving gaps on the stand, behind which the common grate,
empty, and rusted from disuse, appeared.
There was dust on her violin case, and dust on his grand piano--her violin
which he kept so carefully. She opened the violin case expecting to find
the instrument ruined by water. But no! it lay there snugly on its velvet
cushion without a scratch on its polished surface or an injured string.
She understood. And perhaps it had been one of his last conscious acts to
put it right for her. He was always doing something for her, always. They
said now that his income had been insufficient, or that he gave too much
away, and that the malady had been rendered hopeless from the first by his
weakness for want of food. The woman who waited on him had told her so.
"He'd feed that chorister brat what come every morning," she said, "in a
way that was shameful, but his own breakfast has been dry bread and
coffee, without neither sugar nor milk, for many and many a day--and his
dinner an ounce of meat at noon, with never a bite nor sup to speak of at
tea, as often as not."
"O Israfil! Israfil!" she moaned when she thought of it. There had always
been food, and wine too, for that other hungry "Boy," food and wine which
the Tenor rarely touched--she remembered that now. To see the "Boy" eat
and be happy was all he asked, and if hunger pinched him, he filled his
pipe and smoked till the craving ceased. She saw it all now. But why had
she never suspected it, she who was rolling in wealth? His face was wan
enough at times, and worn to that expression of sadness which comes of
privation, but the reason had never cost her a thought. And it was all for
her--or for "him" whom he believed to be near and dear to her. No one else
had ever sacrificed anything for her sake, no one else had ever cared for
her as he had cared, no one else would ever again. Oh, hateful deception!
She threw herself down on her knees once more.
"O Israfil! Israfil!" she cried, "only forgive me, and I will be true!
only forgive me, and I will be true!"
It was trying to rain outside. The wind swept down the Close in little
gusts, and dashed cold drops against the window pane, and in the intervals
sprays of the honeysuckle and clematis tapped on the glass, and the leaves
rustled. This roused her. She had heard them rustle like that on many a
moonlight night--with what a different significance! And he also used to
listen to them, and had told her that often when he was alone at night and
tired, they had sounded like voices whispering, and had comforted him, for
they had always said pleasant things. Oh, gentle loving heart, to which
the very leaves spoke peace, so spiritually perfect was it! And these were
the same creepers to which he had listened, these that tapped now
disconsolately, and this was his empty chair--but where was he? he who was
tender for the tiniest living thing--who had thought and cared for
everyone but himself. What was the end of it all? How had he been
rewarded? His hearth was cold, his little house deserted, and the wind and
the rain swept over his lonely grave.
She went to the window and opened it. She would go to his grave--she would
While she stood on the landing stage at the watergate waiting for the flat
ferry boat, which happened to be on the farther side of the narrow river,
to be poled across to her, the Tenor's little chorister boy came up and
waited too. He had a rustic posy in his hand, but there was no holiday air
in his manner; on the contrary, he seemed unnaturally subdued for a boy,
and Angelica somehow knew who he was, and conjectured that his errand was
the same as her own. If so he would show her the way.
The child seemed unconscious of her presence. He stepped into the boat
before her, and they stood side by side during the crossing, but his eyes
were fixed on the water and he took no notice of her. On the other side of
the landing when they reached it was a narrow lane, a mere pathway,
between a high wall on the one hand and a high hedge on the other, which
led up a steep hill to a road, on the other side of which was a cemetery.
The child followed this path, and then Angelica knew that she had been
right in her conjecture, and had only to follow him. He led her quite
across the cemetery to a quiet corner where was an open grassy space away
from the other graves. Two sides of it were sheltered by great horse
chestnuts, old and umbrageous, and from where she stood she caught a
glimpse of the city below, of the cathedral spire appearing above the
trees, of Morne in the same direction, a crest of masonry crowning the
wooded steep, and, on the other side, the country stretching away into a
dim blue hazy distance. It was a lovely spot, and she felt with a jealous
pang that the care of others had found it for him. In life or death it was
all the same; he owed her nothing.
The grass was trampled about the grave; there must have been quite a
concourse of people there the day before. It was covered with floral
tokens, wreaths and crosses, with anchors of hope and hearts of love,
pathetic symbols at such a time.
But was he really there under all that? If she dug down deep should she
The little chorister boy had gone straight to the grave and dropped on his
knees beside it. He looked at the lovely hothouse flowers and then glanced
ruefully at his own humble offering--sweetwilliam chiefly, snapdragon,
stocks, and nasturtium. But he laid it there with the rest, and Angelica's
heart was wrung anew as she thought of the tender pleasure this loving act
of the child would have been to the Tenor. Yet her eyes were dry.
The boy pressed the flowers on the grave as if he would nestle them closer
to his friend, and then all at once as he patted the cold clay his lip
trembled, his chest heaved with sobs, his eyes overflowed with tears, and
his face was puckered with grief.
Having accomplished his errand, he got up from the ground, slapped his
knees to knock the clay off them, and, still sniffing and sobbing, walked
back the way he had come in sturdy dejection.
All that was womanly in Angelica went out to the poor little fellow. She
would like to have comforted him, but what could she say or do? Alas!
alas! a woman who cannot comfort a child, what sort of a woman is she?
Presently she found herself standing beside the river looking up to the
iron bridge that crossed it with one long span. There were trees on one
side of the bridge, and old houses piled up on the other picturesquely.
Israfil had noticed them the last time they rowed down the river. The
evening was closing in. The sky was deepening from gray to indigo. There
was one bright star above the bridge. But why had she come here? She had
not come to see a bridge with one great star above it! nor to watch a
sullen river slipping by--unless, indeed--She bent over the water, peering
into it. She remembered that after the first plunge there had been no
great pain--and even if there had been, what was physical pain compared to
this terrible heartache, this dreadful remorse, an incurable malady of the
mind which would make life a burden to her forevermore, if she had the
patience to live? Patience and Angelica! What an impossible association of
ideas! Her face relaxed at the humour of it, and it was with a smile that
she turned to gather her summer drapery about her, bending sideways to
reach back to the train of her dress, as the insane fashion of tight
skirts, which were then in vogue, necessitated. In the act, however, she
became aware of someone hastening after her, and the next moment a soft
white hand grasped her arm and drew her back.
"Angelica! how can you stand so near the edge in this uncertain light? I
really thought you would lose your balance and fall in."
It was Lady Fulda who spoke, uttering the words in an irritated, almost
angry tone, as mothers do when they relieve their own feelings by scolding
and shaking a child that has escaped with a bruise from some danger to
life and limb. But that was all she ever said on the subject, and
consequently Angelica never knew if she had guessed her intention or only
been startled by her seeming carelessness, as she professed to be. The
sudden impulse passed from Angelica, as is the way with morbid impulses,
the moment she ceased to be alone. The first word was sufficient to take
her out of herself, to recall her to her normal state, and to readjust her
view of life, setting it back to the proper focus. But still she looked
out at the world from a low level, if healthy; a dull, dead level, the
mean temperature of which was chilly, while the atmosphere threatened to
vary only from stagnant apathy to boisterous discontent, positive,
hopeless, and unconcealed.
Moved by common consent, the two ladies turned from the river, and walked
on slowly together and in silence. The feeling uppermost in Angelica's
mind was one of resentment. Her aunt had appeared in the same unexpected
manner at the outset of her acquaintance with the Tenor, and she objected
to her reappearance now, at the conclusion. It was like an incident in a
melodrama, the arrival of the good influence--it was absurd; if she had
done it on purpose, it would have been impertinent.
The entrance to Ilverthorpe was only a few hundred yards from where they
had met, and they had now reached a postern which led into the grounds.
Angelica opened it with a latchkey and then stood to let her aunt pass
through before her.
"I suppose you will come in," she said ungraciously.
But Lady Fulda forgave the discourtesy, and the two walked on together up
to the house--passing, while their road lay through the park, under old
forest trees that swayed continually in a rising gale; and somewhat
buffeted by the wind till they came to a narrow path sheltered by rows of
tall shrubs, on the thick foliage of which the rain, which had fallen at
intervals during the day, had collected, and now splashed in their faces
or fell in wetting drops upon their dresses as the bushes, struck by the
heavy gusts, swayed to and fro.
Angelica, whose nervous system was peculiarly susceptible to discomfort of
the kind, felt more wretched than ever. She thought of the desolate grave
with mud-splashed, bedraggled flowers upon it and of the golden head and
beautiful calm face beneath; thought of him as we are apt to think of our
dead at first, imagining them still sentient, aware of the horror of their
position, crushed into their narrow beds with a terrible weight of earth
upon them, left out alone in the cold, uncomforted and uncared for, while
those they loved and trusted most recline in easy chairs round blazing
fires, talking forgetfully. Something like this flashed through Angelica's
mind, and a cry as of acute pain escaped from her unawares.
Her companion's features contracted for a moment, but otherwise she made
no sign of having heard.
They had not exchanged a word since they had entered the grounds, but now
the gentle Lady Fulda began again--with some trepidation, however, for
Angelica's manner continued to be chilling, not to say repellent, and she
could not tell how her advances would be received.
"I was looking for you," she said.
"For me?" raising her eyebrows.
"Yes. I went to his house this afternoon and heard from the housekeeper
that a young lady had been there, and I felt sure from the description
and--and likelihood--that it must be you. She said you had been wholly
unprepared for the dreadful news, and it had been a great shock to you.
And I thought you would probably go to see his grave. It is always one's
first impulse. And I was going to look for you there when I saw you in the
distance on the towing path."
Angelica preserved her ungracious silence, but her attention was attracted
by the way in which her aunt spoke of the Tenor in regard to herself,
apparently as if she had known of their intimacy. Lady Fulda resumed,
however, before Angelica had asked herself how this could be.
"I am afraid you will think me a very meddling person," she said, speaking
to her young niece with the respect and unassuming diffidence of high
breeding and good feeling; "but perhaps you know--how one fancies that one
can do something--or say something--or that one ought to try to. I believe
it is a comfort to one's self to be allowed to try."
"Yes," Angelica assented, thinking of her desire to help the child, and
thawing with interest at this expression of an experience similar to her
own. "I felt something of that--a while ago."
They had reached the house by this time, and Angelica ushered her aunt in,
then led her to the drawing room where she herself usually sat, the one
that opened onto the terrace. This was the sheltered side of the house
that day, and the windows stood wide, open, making the room as fresh as
the outer air. They sat themselves down at one of them from which they
could see the tops of trees swaying immediately beneath, and further off
the river, then the green upland terminating in a distance of wooded
"I always think this is prettier than the view from Morne, although not so
fine," Lady Fulda remarked tentatively. She was a little afraid of the way
in which Angelica in her present mood might receive any observation of
hers, however inoffensive. She had been looking out of the window when she
spoke, but the silence which followed caused her to turn and look at
Angelica. The latter had risen for some purpose--she could not remember
what--and now stood staring before her in a dazed way.
"I am afraid you are not well, dear," Lady Fulda said, taking her hand
"Oh, I am well enough," Angelica answered, almost snatching her hand away,
and making a great effort to control another tempest of tears which
threatened to overwhelm her. "But don't--don't expect me to be polite--or
anything--to-day. You don't know--" She took a turn up and down the room,
and then the trouble of her mind betrayed her. "O Aunt Fulda!" she
exclaimed, clasping her hands, and wringing them, "I have done such a
"I know," was the unexpected rejoinder.
Angelica's hands dropped, and she stared at her aunt, her thoughts taking
a new departure under the shock of this surprise. "Did he tell you?" she
"No," Lady Fulda stammered. "I saw you with him--several times. At first I
thought it was Diavolo, and I did not wonder, he is so naughty--or rather
he used to be. But when I asked with whom he was staying, everybody was
amazed, and maintained that he had not been in the neighbourhood at all.
So I wrote to him at Sandhurst, and his reply convinced me that I must
have been mistaken. Then I began to suspect. In fact I was sure--"
Lady Fulda spoke nervously, and with her accustomed simplicity, but
Angelica felt the fascination of the singular womanly power which her aunt
exercised, and resented it.
"Is that all!" she said defiantly. "Why didn't you interfere?"
"For one thing, because I did not like to."
"On your account."
"Did you know I was deceiving him?"
"Yes--or you would not have been with him under such circumstances," Lady
Fulda rejoined; "and then--I thought, upon the whole, it was better not to
interfere"--she broke off, recurring once more to Angelica's question. "I
was sure he would find you out sooner or later, and then I knew he would
do what was right; and in the meantime the companionship of such a man
under any circumstances was good for you."
"You seem to know him very well."
"Yes," Lady Fulda answered. "He was at the University with your Uncle
Dawne and George Galbraith. They were great friends, and used to come to
the castle a good deal at that time, but eventually Julian's visits had to
Lady Fulda coloured painfully as she made this last statement, and
Angelica, always apt to put two and two together, instantly inserted this
last fragment into an imperfect story she possessed of a love affair and
disappointment of her aunt's, and made the tale complete.
She had heard that
...never maiden glow'd,
But that was in her earlier maidenhood,
With such a fervent flame of human love,
Which being rudely blunted glanced and shot
Only to holy things; to prayer and praise
She gave herself, to fast and alms.
They must have been about the same age, Angelica reflected, as she
examined the lineless perfection of Lady Fulda's face, and then there
glanced through her mind a vision of what might have been--what ought to
have been as it seemed to her: "But why should he have been banished from
the castle because you cared for him?" she asked point blank.
Lady Fulda's confusion increased. "That was not the reason," she faltered,
making a brave effort to confide in Angelica in the hope of winning the
latter's confidence in return. "There was a dreadful mistake. Your
grandfather thought he was paying attention to me, and spoke to him about
it, telling him I should not be allowed to marry--beneath me; and Julian
said, not meaning any affront to me,--never dreaming that I cared,--that
he had not intended to ask me, which made my father angry and
unreasonable, and he scolded me because he had made a mistake. Men do
that, dear, you know; they have so little sense of justice and
self-control. And I had little self-control in those days, either. And I
retorted and told my father he had spoilt my life, for I thought it would
have been different if he had not interfered. However, I don't know"; she
sighed regretfully, "But when such absolute uncertainty prevailed it was
impossible to say that Julian was beneath me by birth, and as to position--
But, there"--she broke off, "of course he never came amongst us any
"Otherwise I should have known him all my life," Angelica exclaimed, "and
there would have been none of this misery."
They had returned to their seats, and she sat now frowning for some
seconds, then asked her aunt: "Does Uncle Dawne know--did you tell him
about my escapade?"
"You are a singularly reticent person."
"I am a singularly sore-hearted one," Lady Fulda answered, "and very full
of remorse, for I think now--I might have done something to prevent--" she
"The final catastrophe," Angelica concluded. "Then you are laying his
death at my door?"
"Oh, no; Heaven forbid!" her aunt protested.
A long pause ensued, which was broken by Lady Fulda rising.
"It is time I returned," she said. "Come back with me to Morne. It will be
less miserable for you than staying here alone to-night."
Angelica looked up at her for a second or two with a perfectly blank
countenance, then rose slowly. "How do you propose to return?" she asked.
"I had not thought of that--I left the carriage in Morningquest," Lady
"Really, Aunt Fulda," Angelica snapped, then rang the bell impatiently;
"you can't walk back to Morningquest, and be in time for dinner at the
castle also, I should think. The carriage immediately," this was to the
man who had answered the bell.
"You will accompany me?" Lady Fulda meekly pleaded.
"I suppose so," was the ungracious rejoinder--"that is if you will decide
for me, I am tired of action. I just want to drift."
"Come, then," said Lady Fulda kindly.
"I am tired of action, I just want to drift. I am tired of action, I just
want to drift," this was the new refrain which set itself as an
accompaniment to Angelica's thoughts. She was tired of thinking too, but
thought ran on, an inexhaustible stream; and the more passive she became
to the will of others outwardly, the more active was her mind.
She leant back languidly in the carriage beside her aunt as they drove
together through the city to Morne, and remained silent the whole time,
and motionless, all but her eyes, which roved incessantly from object to
object while she inwardly rendered an account to herself of each, and of
her own state of mind; keeping up disjointed comments, quotations, and
reflections consciously, but without power to check the flow.
There were a few blessed moments of oblivion caused by the bustle of their
departure from the house, then Angelica looked up, and instantly her
intellect awoke. They were driving down the avenue--"The green leaves
rustle overhead," was the first impression that formulated itself into
words. "The carriage wheels roll rhythmically. Every faculty is on the
alert. There is something unaccustomed in the aspect of things--things
familiar--this once familiar scene. A new point of view; the change is in
me. We used to ride down that lane. Blackberries. The day I found a worm
in one. Ugh! Diavolo, Diavolo--no longer in touch--a hundred thousand
miles away--what does it matter? I am tired of action; I just want to
drift. I am tired of action; I just want to drift, just want to
drift--drifting now to Morne--a restful place; but I shall drift from
thence again. Whither? Better be steered--no, though. I am not a wooden
ship to be steered, but a human soul with a sacred individuality to be
preserved, and the grand right of private judgment. What happens when such
ennobling privileges are sacrificed? Demon worship--grandpapa.
"The old duke sat in his velvet cap in a carved oak chair in the oriel
room--nonsense! And Aunt Fulda. As passive as a cow. Is she though? Is
Angelica as passive as a cow for all that she's so still? Poor Daddy!
Drudging at the House just now, not thinking of me. I hope not. Do I hope
not? No, he belongs to me, and--I _do_ care for him. The kind eyes,
the kind caress, the kind thought, 'Angelica, dear'--O Daddy! I'm sorry I
tormented you--sorry, sorry--The lonely grave, the lonely grave--O
Israfil! 'Dead, dead, long dead, and my heart is a handful of dust.' The
horses' hoofs beat out the measure of my misery. The green leaves rustle
overhead. The air is delicious after the rain. The dust is laid. Only this
afternoon, I went to see him; what was I thinking of? Can I bring him back
again? Never again! Never again! Only this afternoon, but time is not
measured by minutes. Time is measured by the consciousness of it. 'He's
dead, miss--haven't you heard? and buried yesterday.' 'Dead, dead, long
"The dearest friend to me, the kindest man,
The best conditioned and unwearied spirit
In doing courtesies.
"On through the dim rich city. A pretty girl and poor. Do you envy me, my
dear? Stare at me hard. I am a rich lady, you see, asked everywhere:
"The daughter of a hundred Earls,
You are not one to be desired.
"The Palace--poor Edith! Here we are at the Castle Hill--and that idiot
Aunt Fulda has forgotten her carriage. Shall I remind her? There is still
time to turn back. No, don't trouble yourself. 'Let them alone and they'll
come home.' I wish I had no memory. It is a perfect nuisance to have to
think in inverted commas all the time. And Shakespeare is the greatest
bore of all. The whole of life could be set to his expressions--that
cannot be quite right; what I mean is the whole of life could be expressed
in his words. Diavolo and I tried once to talk Shakespeare for a whole
day. I made the game. But Diavolo could remember nothing but 'To be or not
to be,' which went no way at all when he tried to live on it, so he said
Shakespeare was rot and I pulled his hair--I wish I could stop
thinking--suspend my thoughts--The pine woods:
"From the top of the upright pine
The snowlumps fall with a thud,
Come from where the sunbeams shine
To lie in the heart of the mud--
"The heart of the mud, the heart of the mud--Oh, for oblivion!
Nirvana--'The Dewdrop slips into the shining sea'--We're slipping into the
courtyard of the castle. How many weary women, women waiting, happy women,
despairing women, thoughtful women, thoughtless women, have those rows of
winking windows eyed as they entered? Women are much more interesting than
men--The lonely grave, the lonely grave--"
"Angelica!" Lady Fulda exclaimed as they drew up at the door, "I've left
the carriage in Morningquest!"
"Yes, I know," said Angelica.
"My dear child, why didn't you remind me?"
Angelica shrugged her shoulders. "Let them alone and they'll come home,"
recurred to her, and then: "I must be more gracious. Aunt
Fulda"--aloud--"who are here?"
"Your Uncle Dawne--"
"And Co., I suppose!" Angelica concluded derisively.
"Your Aunt Claudia and her friend are also here," Lady Fulda corrected her
"Not exactly a successful attempt to be gracious," Angelica's thoughts ran
on. "Ah, well! What does it matter? Live and let live, forget and forgive--
forgetting _is_ forgiving, and everyone forgets"--and then again
_piano_--"The lonely grave, the lonely grave."
At dinner she sat beside her grandfather; her uncle being opposite, silent
and serious as usual. But they were all subdued that night except the old
duke, who, unaware of any cause for their painful preoccupation, and glad
to see Angelica, who roused him as a rule with her wonderful spirits,
chatted inconsequently. But Angelica's unnatural quietude could not escape
the attention of the rest of the party, and inquiring glances were
directed to Lady Fulda, in the calm of whose passionless demeanour,
however, there was no consciousness of anything unusual to be read; and of
course no questions were asked.
In the drawing room, after dinner, Angelica sat on a velvet cushion at her
uncle's feet, and rested her head against his knee. Close beside her there
was a long narrow mirror let into the wall of the room like a panel, and
in this she could see herself and him reflected. At first she turned from
the group impatiently; but presently she looked again, and began to study
her uncle's appearance with conscious deliberation. It was as if she had
never seen him before and was receiving a first impression.
Lord Dawne was one of those men who make one think of another and more
picturesque age. He would have looked natural in black velvet and point
lace. He was about five and thirty at that time, to judge by his
appearance--tall, well-made, and strong with the slim strength of a race
horse, ail superfluous flesh and bone bred out of him. His skin was dark,
clear, and colourless; his hair black, wavy, and abundant; his eyes deep
blue, a contrast inherited from an Irish mother, "A Spanish hidalgo in
appearance," Angelica decided at this point.
It was a sad face, as high-bred faces often are. You would not have been
surprised to hear that his life had been blighted at the outset by some
great sorrow or disappointment. But it was a strong face too, the face of
a manly man, you would have said, and of one with self-denial, courage,
endurance, and devotion enough for a hero and a martyr.
"Angelica," her grandfather broke in upon her reflections with kindly
concern. "You look pale. Do you not feel well, my dear child?"
"Not exactly, thank you," Angelica answered mendaciously, with formal
politeness, hoping thereby to save herself the annoyance of further
remarks; then inwardly added, "sick at heart, in very truth," to save her
conscience, which was painfully sensitive just then. When anyone addressed
her, thought was suspended by the effort to answer, after which the rush
returned, but the current had usually set in a new direction, as was now
the case. Her uncle, as seen in the mirror, gave place, when she had
spoken, to the Tenor's long low room as she had seen it that afternoon;
"The light shone in and showed the shabby places. Should the light be shut
out to conceal what is wrong? Oh, no! Show up, expose, make evident. Let
in knowledge, the light--"
But here her grandfather arose. The evening was to end with service in the
chapel. "Will you come, Angelica?" he asked. "Do you feel equal to the
"Oh, yes," Angelica answered indifferently, letting herself go again to
drift with the stream.
The private chapel at Morne was lavishly decorated, an ideal shrine the
beauty of which alone would have inclined your heart to prayer and praise
by reason of the pleasure it gave you, and of the desire, which is always
apart of this form of pleasure, to express your gratitude in some sort.
On this occasion the altar was brilliantly illuminated, and as she passed
in before Lord Dawne, she was attracted like a child by the light, and
stationed herself so as to see it fully, admiring it as a spectator, but
only so. The scene, although familiar, was always impressive, being so
beautiful; and as she settled herself on a chair apart her spirit revived
under its influence enough to enable her to entertain the hope that, by
force of habit and association, that sensation of well-being which is due
to the refined and delicate flattery of the senses, a soothing without
excitement, merging in content, and restful to the verge of oblivion,
would steal over her and gradually possess her to the exclusion of all
importunate and painful thought. And this was what happened.
It came at a pause in the service when the people bent their heads, and
seemed to wait; or rather followed upon that impressive moment as did the
organ prelude, and the first notes of a glorious voice--the voice of a
woman who suddenly sang.
Angelica looked up amazed by the fervour of it, while a feeling, not new,
but strange from its intensity, took possession of her, steeping her soul
in bliss, a feeling that made her both tremble and be glad. She thought no
more of the lonely grave, but of an angel in ecstasy, an angel in heaven.
She looked around, she raised her eyes to the altar, she tried to seize
upon some idea which should continue with her, and be a key with which she
could unlock this fountain of joy hereafter when she would. She almost
felt for the moment as if it would be worthy to grovel for such opium at
the knees of an oleosaccharine priest and contribute to his support
forever. She tried to think of something to which to compare the feeling,
but in vain. In the effort to fix it her mind and memory became a blank,
and for a blissful interval she could not think, she could only feel. Then
came the inevitable moment of grateful acknowledgment when her senses
brought of their best to pay for their indulgence--their best on this
occasion being that vow to Israfil which presently she found herself
renewing. She would indeed be true.
After this surfeit of sensuous distraction she retired to her room, the
old room, as far away from Diavolo's as possible, which she had always
occupied at the castle. She dismissed her maid, and sat down to think; but
she was suffering from nervous irritability by this time, and could not
rest. She drew up a blind and looked out of the open window. The night was
calm, the air was freshly caressing, a crescent moon hung in the indigo
sky, and there were stars, bright stars. Up from the pine woods which
clothed the castle hill balsamic airs were wafted, and murmurs came as of
voices inviting--friendly voices of nature claiming a kinship with her,
which she herself had recognized from her earliest childhood. Out there in
the open was the unpolluted altar at which she was bidden to worship, and
in view of that, with the healthy breath of night expanding her lungs
revivingly, she felt that her late experiences, in the midst of perfumes
too sweet to be wholesome, and with the help of accessories too luxurious
to be anything but enervating, had been degrading to that better part of
her to which the purity and peace of night appealed. She would go shrive
herself in haunted solitudes, and listen to the voice which spoke to her
heart alone, saying "Only be true," in the silence of those scenes
incomparable which tend to reverence, promote endeavour, and prolong love.
She went to her door, opened it, looked out, and listened. The corridor
was all in darkness; an excessive silence pervaded the place; the whole
household had apparently retired.
With confident steps, although in the dark, Angelica went to Diavolo's
room, and presently returned with a suit of his clothes. These she put on,
and then, without haste, went downstairs, crossed the hall, opened a
narrow door which led into a dark, damp, flagged passage, along which she
groped for some distance, then descended a crooked stone staircase at the
foot of which was a heavy door. This she opened with a key, careless of
the noise she made, and found herself out in the open air, under the
stars, on a gravel walk, with a broad lawn stretched before her. She stood
a moment, breathing deeply in pure enjoyment of the air, then put up both
hands to rearrange a little cloth cap she wore which was slipping from off
her abundant hair. Then she threw up her arms and stretched every limb in
the joy of perfect freedom from restraint; and then with strong bounds she
cleared the grassy space, dashed down a rocky step, and found herself a
substance amongst the shadows out in the murmuring woods.
When she returned she was making less vigorous demonstrations of
superabundant strength and vitality, but still her step was swift, firm,
and elastic; and she was running up the grand staircase from the hall when
she saw that the door at the top, leading into the suite of rooms occupied
by Lord Dawne when he was at the castle, was wide open, showing the room
beyond, brilliantly lighted.
She would have to pass that open door or stay downstairs till it was shut;
but the latter she did not feel inclined to do, so, with scarcely a pause
to nerve herself for what might happen, she continued rapidly to ascend
As she expected, when she reached the top, her uncle appeared.
"Oh!" he exclaimed in surprise, seeing Diavolo as he supposed emerging
from the darkness. "I thought it was Angelica's step. I fancied I heard
her go down some time ago, and I have been waiting for her. She complained
of not feeling well this evening, and I thought she might possibly want
something. Come in." He had turned to lead the way as he spoke.
"By-the-bye," he broke off, "what are you doing here, you young rascal?"
Angelica, overcome by one of her mischievous impulses, and grinning
broadly, boldly followed her uncle into the room.
"I had forgotten for a moment that you ought not to be here, it is so
natural to find you marauding about the place at night," he pursued,
bending down to adjust the wick of a lamp that was flaring as he spoke.
Angelica sat down, and coolly waited for him to turn and look at her,
which he did when he had done with the lamp, meeting her dark eyes
unsuspectingly at first, then with fixed attention inquiringly.
"Angelica!" he exclaimed. "How can you!"
"I have been out in the woods," she rejoined with her accustomed candour.
"The suffocating fumes of incense and orthodoxy overpowered me in the
chapel, and I was miserable besides--soul-sick. But the fresh air is a
powerful tonic, and it has exhilarated me, the stars have strengthened me,
the voices of the night spoke peace to me, and the pleasant creatures,
visible and invisible, gave me welcome as one of themselves, and showed me
how to attain to their joy in life." She bent forward to brush some fresh
earth from the leg of her trousers. "But you would have me forego these
innocent, healthy-minded, invigorating exercises, I suppose, because I am
a woman," she pursued. "You would allow Diavolo to disport himself so at
will, and approve rather than object, although he is not so strong as I
am. And then these clothes, which are decent and convenient for him,
besides being a greater protection than any you permit me to wear, you
think immodest for me--you mass of prejudice."
Lord Dawne made no reply. He had taken a seat, and remained with his eyes
fixed on the floor for some seconds after she had spoken. There was
neither agreement nor dissent in his attitude, however; he was simply
"What is it, Angelica?" he said at last, looking her full in the face,
"What is what?" she asked defiantly.
"What Is the matter?" he answered, "There is something wrong, I see, and
if it is anything that you would like to talk about--I don't pretend to
offer yon advice, but sometimes when one speaks--you know, however, what a
comfort it is to 'talk a thing out,' as you used to call it when you were
a little girl." He looked at her and smiled. When she entered the room
fresh from the open air a brilliant colour glowed in her cheeks, but now
she was pale to her lips, which, perceiving, caused him to rise hastily,
and add: "But I am afraid you have tired yourself, and"--glancing at the
clock--"it is nearly breakfast time. I'll go and get you something."
After a considerable interval he returned with a tray upon which was a
plentiful variety of refreshments, prawns in aspic jelly, cold chicken and
tongue, a freshly opened tin of _pate de foie gras_, cake, bread,
butter, and champagne.
"I think I've brought everything," he remarked, surveying the tray
complacently when he had put it down upon a table beside her.
"You've forgotten the salt," snapped Angelica,
His complacency vanished, and he retired apologetically to remedy the
"Do you remember the night you and Diavolo taught me where to find food in
my father's house?" he asked when he returned.
"Yes," Angelica answered with a grin; and then she expanded into further
reminiscences of that occasion, by which time she was in such a good
humour that she began to feel hungry, and under the stimulating influences
of food and champagne she told her uncle the whole story of her intimacy
with the Tenor.
Lord Dawne listened with interest, but almost in silence. The occasion was
not one, as it appeared to him, which it would be well to improve. He
discussed the matter with her, however, as well as he could without
offering her advice or expressing an opinion of her conduct; and, in
consequence of this wise forbearance on his part, she found herself the
better in every way for the interview.
Angelica awoke unrefreshed after a few hours of light and restless sleep,
much broken by dreams. "Dead! dead!" was the first thought in her mind,
but it came unaccompanied by any feeling. "Is Israfil really dead--buried--
gone from us all forever?" she asked herself in a kind of wonder. It was
not at the thought of his death that she was wondering, however, but
because the recollection of it did not move her in any way. Reflections
which had caused her the sharpest misery only yesterday recurred to her
now without affecting her in the least degree--except in that they made
her feel herself to be a kind of monster of callousness, coldness, and
egotism. The lonely grave, looking deserted already, with the
rain-bespattered, mud-bedraggled flowers fading upon it; the man himself
as she had known him; his goodness, his kindness, the disinterested
affection he had lavished upon her--she dwelt upon these things; she
racked her brain to recall them in order to reawaken her grief and
remorse, but in vain. Mind and memory responded to the effort, but her own
heart she could not touch. The acute stage was over for the moment, and a
most distressing numbness, attended by a sense of chilliness and general
physical discomfort, had succeeded it. The rims of her eyes were red and
the lids still swollen by the tears of the day before; but the state of
weeping, with the nervous energy and mental excitement which had been the
first consequence of the shock, was a happy one compared with the dry
inhuman apathy of this, and she strove to recall it, but only succeeded in
adding the old sensation of discontent with everything as it is and
nothing is worth while to her already deep depression. She loved order and
regularity in a household, but now the very thought of the old accustomed
dull routine of life at the castle exasperated her. After her grandfather
would come her uncle, and after him in all human probability Diavolo would
succeed, and there would be a long succession of solemn servants, each
attending to the same occupations which had been carried on by other
servants in the same place for hundreds of years; horrible monotony, all
tending to nothing! For she saw as in a vision the end of the race to
which she belonged. They and their like were doomed, and, with them, the
distinguished bearing, the high-bred reserve, the refined simplicity and
dignity of manner which had held them above the common herd, a class
apart, until she came, were also doomed, "I am of the day," she said to
herself; "the vulgar outcome of a vulgar era, bred so, I suppose, that I
may see through others, which is to me the means of self-defence, I see
that in this dispute of 'womanly or unwomanly,' the question to be asked
is, not 'What is the pursuit?' but 'What are the proceeds?' No social
law-maker ever _said_ 'Catch me letting a woman into anything that
pays!' It was left for me to translate the principle into the vernacular."
She breakfasted upstairs so that she might not have to talk, but went down
immediately afterward in order to find somebody to speak to, so rapid were
the alternations of her moods. It was not in Angelica's nature to conceal
anything she had done from her friends for long, and before she had been
twenty-four hours at the castle she had taken her Aunt Claudia, and the
lady known to them all intimately as "Ideala," into her confidence; but
neither of them attempted to improve the occasion. They said even less
than her uncle had done, and this reticence perplexed Angelica. She would
have liked them to make much of her wickedness, to have reasoned with her,
lectured her, and incited her to argue. She did not perceive, as they did,
that she was one of those who must work out their own salvation in fear
and trembling, and she was angry with them because they continued their
ordinary avocations as if nothing had happened when everything had gone so
wrong with her,
The weary day dragged its slow length along. A walk about the grounds,
luncheon, a long drive, calling at Ilverthorpe on the way back for letters;
afternoon tea with her grandfather in the oriel room, and afterward the
accustomed wait with bowed head for the chime, which floated up at last
from afar, distinct, solemn, slow, and weary like the voice of one who
vainly repeats a blessed truth to ears that will not hear:
[Illustration: (musical notation); lyrics: He, watch-ing o-ver Is--ra--el,
slumbers not, nor sleeps.]
Her grandfather raised his velvet cap, and held it above his bald head
while he repeated the words aloud, after which he muttered a prayer for
the restoration of "Holy Church," then rose, and, leaning heavily on his
ebony stick, walked from the room with the springless step of age,
accompanied by his daughter Claudia and his son, and followed by two deer
hounds, old and faithful friends who seldom left him. When the door closed
upon this little procession, Angelica found herself alone with her aunt
Lady Fulda, to whom she had not spoken since the day before. They were
sitting near to each other, Angelica being in the window, from whence she
had looked down upon the tree-tops and the distant city while they waited
for the chime, the melancholy cadence of which had added something to the
chill misery of her mood.
"Do you still believe it?" she asked ironically, and then felt as if she
were always asking that question in that tone.
Lady Fulda had also looked about as she listened, but now she left the
window, and, taking a seat opposite to Angelica, answered bravely, her
face lighting up as she spoke: "I do believe it."
"Then why did he let a man like that die?" Angelica asked defiantly. "Why
did he create such a man at all merely to kill him? Wouldn't a commoner
creature have done as well?"
"We are not told that any creature is common in his sight," Lady Fulda
answered gently. "But suppose they were, would a common creature have
produced the same effect upon you?"
"Do you mean to say you think he was created to please me--"
"Oh, no, not that," Lady Fulda hastily interposed, and Angelica,
perceiving that she had at last found somebody who would kindly improve
the occasion, turned round from the window, and settled herself for a
fray. "And I don't mean," Lady Fulda pursued, "I dare not presume to
question; but still--oh, I must say it! Your heart has been very hard.
Would anything but death have touched you so? Had not every possible
influence been vainly tried before that to soften you?"
Angelica smiled disagreeably. "You are insinuating that he died for me, to
save my soul," she politely suggested.
Her aunt took no notice of the sneer. "Oh, not for you alone," she
answered earnestly; "but for all the hundreds upon whom you, in your
position, and with your attractions, will bring the new power of your
goodness to bear. You cannot think, with all your scepticism, that such a
man has lived and died for nothing. You must have some knowledge or idea
of the consequences of such a life in such a world, of the influence for
good of a great talent employed as his was, the one as an example and the
other as a power to inspire and control."
Angelica did not attempt to answer this, and there was a pause; then she
began again; "I did grasp something of what you mean, I saw for a moment
the beauty of holiness, and the joy of it continued with me for a little.
Then I went to tell Israfil. I was determined to be true, and I should
have been true had I not lost him; but now my heart is harder than ever,
and I shall be worse than I was before."
"Oh, no!" her aunt exclaimed, "you are deceiving yourself. If you had
found him there that day, your good resolutions would only have lasted
until you had bound him to you--enslaved him; and then, although you would
have carefully avoided breaking the letter of the law, you would have
broken the spirit; you would have tried to fascinate him, and bring him
down to your own level; you would have made him loathe himself, and then
you would have mocked him."
"Like the evil-minded heroine of a railway novel!" Angelica began, then
added doggedly: "You wrong me, Aunt Fulda. There is no one whose respect I
valued more. There is nothing in right or reason I would not have done to
win it--that is to say, if there had been anything I could have done. But
I do not think now that there was." This last depressing thought brought
about another of those rapid revulsions of feeling to which she had been
subject during these latter days, and she broke off for a moment, then
burst out afresh to just the opposite effect: "I do not know, though. I am
not sure of anything. Probably you are right, and I deceived myself. I
inherit bad principles from my ancestors, and it may be that I can no more
get rid of them than I could get rid of the gout or any other hereditary
malady, by simply resolving to cure myself. It is different with you. You
were born good. I was born bad, and delight in my wickedness."
"Angelica!" her aunt remonstrated, "do not talk in that reckless way."
"Well, I exaggerate," Angelica allowed, veering again, as the wind does in
squally weather before it sets steadily from a single quarter. "But what
have I done after all that you should take me to task so seriously? Wrong,
certainly; but still I have not broken a single commandment."
"Not one of the Decalogue, perhaps; but you have sinned against the whole
spirit of uprightness. Has it never occurred to you that you may keep the
ten commandments strictly, and yet be a most objectionable person? You
might smoke, drink, listen at doors, repeat private conversations, open
other people's letters, pry amongst their papers, be vulgar and offensive
in conversation, and indecent in dress--altogether detestable, if your
code of morality were confined to the ten commandments. But why will you
talk like this, Angelica? Why will you be so defiant, when your heart is
breaking, as I know it is?"
Angelica hid her face in her hands with one dry sob that made her whole
"Oh, do not be so hard!" the other woman implored. "Listen to your own
heart, listen to all that is best in yourself; you have good impulses
enough, I know you have; and you have been called to the Higher Life more
than once, but you would not hear."
"Yes"--thoughtfully--"but it is no use--no help. I never profit by
experiences because I don't object to things while they are happening. It
is only afterward, when all the excitement is over and I have had time to
reflect, that I become dissatisfied." And she threw herself back in her
easy-chair, crossed one leg over the other so as to display a fair amount
of slender foot and silk-clocked stocking, as it is the elegant fashion of
the day to do; clasped her hands behind her head, and fixed her eyes on
the ceiling, being evidently determined to let the subject drop.
Lady Fulda compressed her lips. She was baffled, and she was perplexed. A
quarter rang from the city clocks. "Do you know," she began again, "I have
a fancy--many people have--that a time comes to us all--an hour when we
are called upon to choose between good and evil. It is a quarter since we
heard the chime--"
"Only a quarter!" Angelica ejaculated. "It seems an age!"
"But suppose this is your hour," Lady Fulda patiently pursued. "One
precious quarter of it has gone already, and still you harden your heart.
You are asked to choose now, you are called to the Higher Life; you must
know that you are being called--specially--this moment. And what if it
should be for the last time? What if, after this, you are deprived of the
power to choose, and forced by that which is evil in you to wander away
from ail that is good and pure and pleasant into the turmoil and trouble,
the falseness, the illusion, and the maddening unrest of the other life?
You know it all. You can imagine what it would be when that last loophole
of escape, upon which we all rely--perhaps unconsciously--was closed, when
you knew you never could return; when you came to be shut out from hope, a
prey to remorse, a tired victim compelled to pursue excitement, and always
to pursue it, descending all the time, and finding it escape you more and
more till at last even that hateful resource was lost to you, and you
found yourself at the end of the road to perdition, a worn out woman, face
to face with despair!"
Angelica slowly unclasped her hands from behind her head, let her chin
sink on her chest, and looked up from under her eyebrows at her aunt. Her
eyes were bright, but otherwise her face was as still as a statue's, and
what she thought or felt it was impossible to say. "It is idle to talk of
choice," she answered coldly. "I _had_ chosen--honestly, I told you;
you see what has come of it!"
"Forgive me," said Lady Fulda, "but you had not chosen _honestly_.
You had not chosen the better life--to lead it for its own sake, but for
his. You wanted to bring yourself nearer to him, and you would have made
goodness a means to that end if you could. But you see it was not the
right way, and it has not succeeded."
Angelica sat up, and the dull look left her face. She seemed interested.
"You see through all my turpitude," she observed, affecting to smile,
although in truth she was more moved than her pride would allow her to
Her aunt sighed, seeing no sign of softening. She feared it was labour
lost, but still she felt impelled to try once more before she renounced
the effort. She was nervous about it, however, being naturally diffident,
and hesitated, trying to collect her thoughts; and in the interval the
evening shadows deepened, the half hour chimed from the city clocks, and
then she spoke. "Just think," she said sadly--"Just think what it will be
when you have gone from here this evening--if you carry out your
determination and return after dinner; just think what it will be when you
find yourself alone again in that great house with the night before you;
and your aching heart, and your bitter thoughts, and the remorse which
gnaws without ceasing, for companions; and not one night of it only but
all the years to come, and every phase of it; from the sharp pain of this
moment to the dull discontent in which it ends and from which nothing on
earth will rouse you; think of yourself then without comfort and without
hope." Angelica changed her position uneasily. "You still hesitate," Lady
Fulda continued; "you are loath to commit yourself; you would rather not
choose; you prefer to believe yourself a puppet at the mercy of a
capricious demon who moves you this way and that as the idle fancy seizes
him. But you are no puppet. You have the right of choice; you _must_
choose; and, having chosen, if you look up, the Power Divine will be
extended to you to support you, or--but either way your choice will at
once become a force for good or evil."
She ended abruptly, and then there was another long pause.
Angelica's mind was alive to everything--to the rustle of summer foliage
far below; to the beauty of the woman before her, to the power of her
presence, to the absolute integrity which was so impressive in all she
said, to her high-bred simplicity, to the grace of her attitude at that
moment as she sat with an elbow on the arm of her chair, covering her eyes
with, one white hand; to the tearless turmoil in her own breast, the sense
of suffering not to be relieved, the hopeless ache. Was there any way of
escape from herself? Her conscience whispered one. But was there only one?
The struggle of the last few days had recommenced; was it to go on like
this forever and ever, over and over again? What a prospect! And, oh! to
be able to end it! somehow! anyhow! Oh, for the courage to choose! but she
must choose, she knew that; Aunt Fulda was right, her hour had come. The
momentous question had been asked, and it must be answered once for all.
If she should refuse to take the hand held out to help her now, where
would she drift to eventually? Should she end by consorting with people
like--and she thought of an odious woman; or come to be talked of at
clubs, named lightly by low men--and she thought of some specimens of that
class. But why should she arrive at any decision? Why should she feel
compelled to adopt a settled plan of action? Why could she not go on as
she had done hitherto? Was there really no standing still? Were people
really rising or sinking always, doing good or evil? Why, no, for what
harm had she done? Quick, answering to the question with a pang, the rush
of recollection caught her, and again the vow, made, and forgotten for the
moment, as soon as made, burned in her heart: "Israfil! Israfil! only
forgive me, and I will be true."
She did not wait to think again. The mere repetition was a renewal of her
vow, and in the act she had unconsciously decided.
Slipping from her chair to the ground, she laid her head on Lady Fulda's
"I wish I could be sure of myself," she said, sighing deeply. "You must
help me, Aunt Fulda."
"Now the dear Lord help you," was the soft reply.
And almost at the same moment, the city clocks began to strike, and they
both raised their heads involuntarily, waiting for the chime.
It rang at last with a new significance for Angelica. The hour was over
which had been her hour; a chapter of her life had closed with it forever;
and when she looked up then, she found herself in another world, wherein
she would walk henceforth with other eyes to better purpose.
Angelica drove back to Ilverthorpe alone directly after dinner, and went
straight to bed. She slept from ten o'clock that night, till the next
morning, and awoke to the consciousness that the light of day was garish,
that she herself was an insignificant trifle on the face of the earth, and
that everything was unsatisfactory.
"Now, had I been the heroine of a story," she said to herself, "it would
have been left to the reader's imagination to suppose that I remained
forever in the state of blissful exaltation up to which Aunt Fulda wound
me by her eloquence yesterday. Here I am already, however--with my
intentions still set fair, I believe--but in spirit, oh, so flat! a siphon
of soda-water from which the gas has escaped. Well, I suppose it must be
recharged, that is all. Oh, dear! I _am_ so tired. Just five minutes
more, Angelica dear, take five minutes more!" She closed her eyes. "I'm
glad I'm the mistress and not the maid--am I though? Poor Elizabeth! It
spoils my comfort just to think of her always obliged to be up and
dressed--with a racking headache, perhaps, hardly able to rise, but forced
to drag herself up somehow nevertheless to wait upon worthless selfish me.
Live for others"--Here, however, thought halted, grew confused, ceased
altogether for an imperceptible interval, and was then succeeded by vivid
dreams. She fancied that she had wavered in her new resolutions, and gone
back to her old idea. If the conditions of life were different, _she_
would be different, in spirit and in truth, instead of only in outward
seeming as now appeared to be the case. She was doing no good in the world;
her days were steeped in idleness; her life was being wasted. Surely it
would be a creditable thing for her to take her violin, and make it what
it was intended to be, a delight to thousands. Such genius as hers was
never meant for the benefit of a little circle only, but for the world at
large, and all she wanted was to fulfil the end and object of her being by
going to work. She said so to Mr. Kilroy, and he made no objection, which,
surprised her, for always hitherto he had expressed himself strongly on
the subject even to the extent of losing his temper on one occasion. Now,
however, he heard her in silence, with his eyes fixed on the floor, and
when she had said her say he uttered not a word, but just rose from his
seat with a deep sigh--almost a groan--and a look of weariness and
perplexity in his eyes that smote her to the heart, and slowly left the
"I make his life a burden to him," she said to herself. "I can do nothing
right. I wish I was dead. I do." And then she followed him to the library.
He was sitting at his writing table with his arms folded upon it, and his
face bowed down and hidden on them, and he did not move when she entered.
The deep dejection of his attitude frightened her. She hastened to him,
knelt down beside him, and putting her arms round his neck drew him toward
her; and then he looked at her, trying to smile, but a more miserable face
she had never beheld.
"O Daddy, Daddy," she cried remorsefully, "I didn't mean to vex you. I'll
never play in public as long as I live--there! I promise you."
"I don't wish you to make rash promises," he answered hoarsely. "But if
you could care for me a little--"
"Daddy--_dear_--I do care for you. I do, indeed," she protested. "I
like to know you are here. I like to be able to come to you when--whenever
I like. I cannot do without you. If anything happened to you--"
The shock of such a dreadful possibility awoke her. She was less refreshed
than she had been when she first opened her eyes that morning, but she
sprang out of bed in an instant. The blinds were up and the windows open
as usual; the sun had spun round to the south, and now streamed hotly in,
making her feel belated.
"Elizabeth!" she called, then went to the bell and rang it, standing a
moment when she had done so, and looking down as if to consider the
blurred reflection of her bare white feet on the polished floor; but only
for an instant, for the paramount feeling that possessed her was one of
extreme haste. The painful impression of that dream was still vividly
present with her, and she wanted to do _something,/i> but what precisely
she did not wait to ask herself. As soon as she was dressed, one duty
after another presented itself as usual, and, equally as usual with her in
her own house, was carefully performed, so that she was fully occupied
until lunch time, but after lunch she ordered the carriage, and drove into
Morningquest to do some shopping for the household. This task
accomplished, she intended to return, but as she passed the station the
recollection of the dream, of her husband's bowed head, of the utter
misery in his face when he looked up at her, of the pain in his voice when
he spoke, and the effort he made in his kindly way to control it, so that
he might not hurt her with an implied reproach when he said, "If you could
care for me a little--" Dear Daddy! always so tender for her! always so
kindly forbearing! What o'clock was it? The London express would go out in
five minutes. It was the train he had gone by himself last time. How could
she let him go alone? Stop at the station, write a line to
Elizabeth--"Please pack up my things, and follow me to town immediately."
Get me a ticket, quick! Here is the train. In. Off. Thank Heaven!
Angelica threw herself back in the centre seat of the compartment, and
closed her eyes. The hurry and excitement of action suited her; her lips
were smiling, and her cheeks were flushed. There was a young man seated
opposite to her who stared so persistently that at last she became aware
of his admiring gaze and immediately despised him, although why she should
despise him for admiring her she could not have told. When he had left the
carriage, a charming-looking old Quaker lady, who was then the only other
passenger, addressed Angelica in the quaint grammar of her sect. "Art thee
travelling alone, dear child?"
"Yes," Angelica answered, with the affable smile and intonation for which
the Heavenly Twins were noted.
"Doubtless there are plenty of friends to meet thee at thy journey's end,"
the lady suggested, responding sympathetically to Angelica's pleasantness.
"Plenty," said Angelica--"not to mention my husband," When she had said it
she felt proud for the first time since her marriage because she had a
"Ah!" the lady ejaculated, somewhat sadly. "Well," she added, betraying
her thought, "in these sad days the sooner a young girl has the strong arm
of a good man to protect her the better." Then she folded her hands and
turned her placid face to the window.
Angelica looked at her for a little, wondering at the delicate pink and
white of her withered cheek, and becoming aware of a tune at the same time
set to the words _A good man! A good man!_ by the thundering
throbbing crank as they sped along. Daddy was a good man--_suppose she
lost him?_ Nobody belonged to her as he did--_suppose she lost
him?_ There was nobody else in the world to whom she could go by right
as she was going to him, nobody else in whom she had such perfect
confidence, nobody on whose devotion to herself she could rely as she did
on his; she was all the world to him. _A good man! A good man!
Suppose--suppose she lost him?_
The sudden dread gripped her heart painfully. It was not death she feared,
but that worse loss, a change in his affection. He was a simple, upright,
honourable man--what would he say if he knew? But need he ever know? The
question was answered as soon as asked, for Angelica felt in her heart
that she could bear to lose him and live alone better than be beside him
with that invisible barrier of a deception always between them to keep
them apart. It was a need of her nature to be known for what she was
exactly to those with whom she lived.
The train drew up at the terminus, and the moment she moved she was again
conscious of that terrible feeling of haste which had beset her more or
less the whole day long.
"No one to meet thee?" the Quaker lady said.
"No, I am not expected," Angelica answered, with her hand on the handle of
the door. "I am a bad wife in a state of repentance, going to give a good
husband an unpleasant surprise." She sprang from the carriage, hastened
across the platform, and got into a hansom, telling the man to drive
On arriving at the house she entered unannounced, after some little
opposition from a new manservant who did not know her by sight, and was
evidently inclined to believe her to be an impostor bent on pillage. This
check on the threshold caused her to feel deeply humiliated.
Her husband happened to be crossing the hall at the time, but he went on
without noticing the arrival at the door, and she followed him to his
study. Unconscious of her presence, he passed into the room before her
with a heavy step, and as she noted this it seemed to her that she saw him
now for the first time as he really was--of good figure and quiet
undemonstrative manners; faultlessly dressed; distinguished in appearance,
upon the whole, if not actually handsome; a man of position and means,
accustomed to social consideration as was evident by his bearing; and not
old as she was wont to think him--what difference did twenty years make at
_their_ respective ages? No, not old, but--unhappy, and lonely, for
if she did not care to be with him who would? Her heart smote her, and she
stepped forward impetuously, anxious above everything to make amends.
"Daddy!" she gasped, grasping his arm.
Startled, Mr. Kilroy turned round, and looked down into her face
"Is it you--Angelica?" he faltered. "Is anything the matter, dear?" Then
suddenly his whole being changed. A glad light came into his eyes, making
him look years younger, and he was about to take her in his arms, but she
coldly repulsed him, acting on one of two impulses, the other being to
respond, to cling close to him, to say something loving.
"There is nothing the matter," she began. "I thought I should like to come
back to you--at least"--recollecting herself--"that isn't true. But I do
wish I had never separated myself from you in any way. I do wish I had
been different." And she threw herself into a low, easy, leather-lined
armchair, and leant back, looking up to him with appealing eyes.
Mr, Kilroy's pride and affection made him nicely observant of any change
in Angelica, but still he was at a loss to understand this new freak, and
her manner alarmed him.
"I am afraid you are not well," he said anxiously.
She sat up restlessly, then threw herself back in the chair once more, and
lay there with her chin on her chest, in an utterly dejected attitude, not
looking up even when she spoke. "Oh, I am well, thank you," she said,
"Then something has annoyed you," he went on kindly. "Tell me what it is,
dear child. I am the proper person to come to when things go wrong, you
know. So tell me all about it. I--I--" he hesitated. She so often snubbed
any demonstration of affection that he shrank from expressing what he
felt, but another look at her convinced him that there was little chance
of a rebuff to-day. He remained at a safe distance, however, taking a
chair that stood beside an oval table near to which he happened to be
Newspapers and magazines were piled up on the table, and these he pushed
aside, making room for his right forearm to rest on the cool mahogany, on
the polished surface of which he kept up a continual nervous telick-telick
with the ends of his finger nails as he spoke. "If you do not come to me
for everything you want, to whom will you go?" he inquired, lamely if
pleasantly, being perturbed by the effort he was making to conceal his
uneasiness and assume a cheerful demeanour both at once. "And there is
nothing I would not do for you, as you know, I am sure." He tapped a few
times on the table. "In fact, I should be only too glad if you would give
me the opportunity"--tap, tap, tap--"a little oftener, you know"--tap,
tap, tap. "What I want to say is, I should like you to consult me and, eh,
to ask me, and all that sort of thing, if you want anything"--advice he
had been going to add, but modestly changed the word--"money, for
instance." And now his countenance cleared. He thought he had accidentally
discovered the difficulty. "I expect you have been running into debt, eh?"
He spoke quite playfully, so greatly was he relieved to think it was only
that; "and you have been thinking of me as a sort of stern parent, eh? who
would storm and all that sort of thing. But, my dear child, you mustn't do
that. You should never forget 'with all my worldly goods I thee endow.' I
assure you, ever since I uttered those words, I have felt that I held the
property, in trust for you and--" he had been going to add our children,
but sighed instead. "I have, I know, remonstrated with you when I thought
you unduly extravagant. I could not conscientiously countenance undue
extravagance in so young a wife; but still I hope you have never had to
complain of any want of liberality on my part in--in anything. In fact,
what is the good of money to me if you do not care to spend it? Come, now,
how much is it this time? Just tell me and have done with it, and then we
will go somewhere, or make plans, and 'have a good time,' as the Americans
call it. I have a better box than usual for you at the opera this year--I
think I told you. And I never lend it to anybody. I like to keep it empty
for you in case you care to go at any time. And I have season tickets,
see"--he got up and rummaged in a drawer until he found them--"for
everything, I almost think. I go sometimes myself just to see what is
going on, you know, and if it is the sort of thing you would like, so as
to know what to take you to when you come. And I accept all the nice
invitations for you, conditionally, of course. I say if you are in town at
the time, and I hope you may be (which is true enough always), you will be
happy to go, or words to that effect. So you see there is plenty for you
to do at any time in the way of amusement. I am always making
arrangements, it is like getting ready to welcome you. When I am answering
invitations or doing the theatres I feel quite as if I expected you. It is
childish, perhaps, but it makes something to look forward to, and when I
am busy preparing for you, somehow the days do not seem so blank."
Angelica felt something rise in her throat, but she neither spoke nor
"Or we might go to Paris," he proceeded tentatively. "Shall we? I could
pair with someone till the end of the session. We might go anywhere, in
fact, and I should enjoy a holiday if--if you would accompany me." He
looked at her with a smile, but the intermittent telick, telick, telick of
his nervous drumming on the table told that he was far from feeling all
the confidence he assumed. For in truth Angelica's attitude alarmed him
more and more. On other occasions, when he had tried to be more than
usually kind and indulgent, she had always called him a nice old thing or
made some such affable if somewhat patronizing acknowledgment, even when
she was out of temper; but now, finding that he was waiting for an answer,
she just looked up at him once, then fixed her eyes on the ground again,
and spoke at last in a voice so hopeless and toneless that he would not
have recognized it.
"I think I have only just this moment learnt to appreciate you," she said.
"I used to accept all your kind attentions as merely my due, but I know
now how little I deserve them, and I wish I could be different. I wish I
could repay you. I wish I could undo the past and begin all over
again--begin by loving you as a wife should. You are ten thousand times
too good for me. Yet I _have_ cared for you in a way," she protested;
"not a kind way, perhaps, but still I have relied upon you--upon your
friendship. I have felt a sense of security in the certainty of your
affection for me--and presumed upon it. O Daddy! why have you let me do as
Mr. Kilroy's face became rigid, and the fingers with which he had kept up
that intermittent tapping on the table turned cold.
"What do you mean, Angelica?" he asked hoarsely. "Are you in earnest? Have
you done--anything--or are you only tormenting me? If you are--it is hard,
you know. I do care for you; I always have done; and I have never ceased
to look forward to a time when you would love me too. God help me if you
have come to tell me that that time will never come."
Again that lump rose in Angelica's throat. A horrible form of emotion had
seized upon her: "I had better tell you and get it over," she said,
speaking in hurried gasps, and sitting up, but not looking at him. "You
will care less when you know exactly. You will see then that I am not
worth a thought. I am suffering horribly. I want to _shriek_." She
tore her jacket open, and threw her hat on the floor. "What a relief. I
was suffocating. I don't know where to begin." She looked up at him, then
stopped short, frightened by the drawn and haggard look in his face, and
tranquillised too, forgetting herself in the effort to think of something
to say to relieve him. "But you do know all about it," she added, speaking
more naturally than she had done yet. "I told you--"
"Told me _what_?"
"About--about--you thought I was inventing it--that story--about the Tenor
and the Boy."
Mr. Kilroy curved his fingers together and held them up over the table for
a moment as if he were about to tap upon it again, and it was as if he had
asked a question.
"It was all true," Angelica proceeded, "all that I told you. But there was
Mr. Kilroy uttered a low exclamation, and hung his head as if in shame.
The colour had fled from his face, leaving it ghastly gray for a moment
like that of a dead man. Angelica half rose to go to him, fearing he would
faint, but he had recovered before she could carry out her intention. She
looked at him compassionately. She would have given her life to be able to
spare him now, but it was too late, and there was nothing for it but to go
on and get it over.
"You remember the picture I had painted--'Music'?" Mr. Kilroy made a
gesture of assent. "That was his portrait."
"I always understood it was an ideal singer,"
"An _idealized_ singer was what I said; but it was not even that, as
you would have seen for yourself if you had ever gone to the cathedral. It
is a good likeness, nothing more,"
"And you had yourself put into a picture with a common tenor, and
exhibited to all the world'"
"Yes, and all the world thought it a great condescension. But he did not
consent to it, or sit for it. He objected to the picture as strongly as
you do. He was not a _common_ tenor at all. He was an old and
intimate friend of Uncle Dawne's and Dr. Galbraith's. They all--all our
people--knew him. He was often at Morne before you came to Ilverthorpe;
but I did not know it myself until afterward."
"Afterward?" he questioned.
"I had better go on from where I left off," she replied, her confidence
returning. "I told you about the accident on the river, and his finding
out who I was, and his contempt for me; and I told you I desired most
sincerely to win his respect, and you advised me to go to him and
endeavour to do so. Well, I went." She paused, and Mr. Kilroy looked hard
at her; his face was flushed now. "And he was dead," she gasped.
Mr. Kilroy seemed bewildered. "I don't understand," he exclaimed.
"I told you there was more, and that was it--that was all. He was dead,"
Mr. Kilroy drew a deep breath, and leant back in his chair. "I am ashamed
to say I feel relieved," he began, as if speaking to himself; "yet I
scarcely know what I expected." He looked down thoughtfully at his own
hand as it lay upon the table. He wanted to say something more, but his
mind moved slowly, and no words came at first. He was obliged to make a
great effort to collect himself, and in the interval he resumed that
irregular tapping upon the table. It maddened Angelica, who found herself
forced to watch and wait for the recurrence of the sound.
"Let me tell you, though--let me finish the story," she exclaimed, at last
unable to bear it any longer; and then she gave him every detail of her
doings since last they parted.
Mr. Kilroy let his hand drop on the table, and listened without looking at
her. "And that is all?" he said, when she had finished. "I mean--have you
really told me all, Angelica?"
She met his eyes fearlessly, and there was something in her face,
something innocent, an unsuspicious look of inquiry such as a child
assumes when it waits to be questioned which would have made him ashamed
of a degrading doubt had he entertained one.
"You were not--you did not care for him?"
"Oh, yes!" she exclaimed with most perfect and reassuring candour, "I
cared for him. Of course I cared for him. Haven't I told you? No one could
know such a man and not care for him."
"Thank God!" he said softly, with tremulous lips. "It would have broken my
heart if he had not been such a man."
The words brought down upon him one of Angelica's tornado-tempests of
unreasonable wrath. "Are you insinuating that my good conduct depended
upon his good character?" she demanded. "Are you no better than those
hateful French people who have no conception of anything unusual in a
woman that does not end in gross impropriety of conduct; and fill their
books with nothing else?"
Mr. Kilroy's face flushed. "Such an unworthy suspicion would never have
occurred to me in connection with yourself," he said. "At the risk of
appearing ungenerous, I must call your attention to the fact that it is
you yourself who have been the first to allude to the bare possibility of
such a thing. For my own part, if you chose to travel round the world
alone with a man, at night or at any other time that suited your
convenience, I should be content to know that you were doing so,
especially if it amused you, such is my perfect confidence in your
integrity, and in the discretion with which you choose your friends."
"I beg your pardon, forgive me!" Angelica humbly ejaculated. "You shame me
by a delicacy which I can only respect and admire in you. I cannot imitate
it; it is beyond me."
"I owe _you_ an apology," he answered. "I should have spoken plainly.
It was your feelings--your heart, not your conduct, that I suspected. You
have never pretended to love me-to be in love with me, and your Tenor was
a younger man, and more attractive."
"Not to me," Angelica hastily and sincerely asseverated.
She did not look up to see the effect of her words upon Mr. Kilroy. Her
eyes had been fixed on his feet as she spoke, and now it struck her that
they were exceedingly well-shaped feet, and well-booted in the quiet way
characteristic of the man. Everything about him was unobtrusive as his own
manner, but good as his own heart.
Angelica leant back in her chair, and a long silence ensued, during which
she lapsed into her old attitude, lying back in her chair, her hands on
the arms, her chin on her chest, her wandering glance upon the ground, so
that she did not see that her husband was watching her with eyes that
filled as he looked. What was to be the end of this? Should she lose his
affection? Would she be turned out of the kind heart that had loved her
with all her faults, and cherished her with a patient, enduring,
self-denying fondness that was worth more, and had been a greater comfort
to her, as she knew now, than all the things together, youth, beauty,
rank, wealth, and talents, for which she was envied. If he said to her in
his gentle way: "You had better return to Ilverthorpe, and live there,"
which would mean that he cared for her no longer, should she go? Yes, she
would go without a word. She would go and drown herself.
But Mr. Kilroy was far from thinking harsh thoughts of her. On the
contrary, he was blaming himself, little as he deserved it, for the
circumstances which had brought Angelica to this bitter moment of
self-abasement. He was not eloquent either in thought or speech, and with
regard to his wife he had always felt more than he could express even to
himself, though what he felt did find a certain form of expression,
intelligible enough to a loving soul, in his constant care for her, and in
the uncomplaining devotion which led him to sacrifice his own wishes to
her whims, to absent himself when he perceived that she did not want him,
and to suffer her neglect without bitterness, though certainly not without
pain. And now he never thought of blaming her. What occurred to him was
that this young half-educated girl had been committed to his care, and
left by him pretty much to her own devices. He had not done his duty by
her; he had not influenced her in any way; he had expected too much from
her. It was the old story. Had he not himself seen fifty households
wrecked because the husband, when he took a girl, little more than a child
in years, and quite a child in mind and experience, from her own family,
and the wholesome influences and companionship of father, mother,
brothers, sisters, probably left her to go unguided, to form her character
as best she could, putting that grave responsibility in her own weak hands
as if the mere making a wife of her must make her a mature and sensible
woman also? This was what he had done himself, and if Angelica had got
into bad hands, and come to grief irreparable, there would have been
nobody to blame but himself for it, especially as he knew she was
headstrong, excitable, wild, original, fearless, and with an intellect
large out of all proportion for the requirements of the life to which
society condemned her; a force which was liable, if otherwise unemployed,
to expend itself in outbursts of mischievous energy, although there was
not a scrap of vice in her--no, not a scrap, he loyally insisted. For just
look how she had come to him and told him! Would a girl who was not honest
at heart have done that when she might so easily have deceived him? It was
this confidence which touched him more than anything. She had come to him,
as she should have done, the first thing, and she had come full of remorse
and willing to atone. All this trouble was tending to unite them; it had
brought her home; it would prove what is called a, blessing in disguise
after all, he hoped. His great love inspired him with insight and taught
him tact in all his dealings with Angelica; and now it prompted him to do
the one wise simple thing that would avail under the circumstances. He
went to her, and bending over her, always delicately considerate of her
inclinations even in the matter of the least caress, laid a kind hand on
her shoulder, uttering at the same time brokenly the very words of her
dream that morning: "If you could care for me a little, Angelica."
She looked up, amazed at first, then, understanding, she rose. The
distressing tension relaxed in that moment, her heart expanded, her eyes
filled with tears and overflowed; she could not command her voice to
speak, but she threw herself impetuously into her husband's arms, and
kissed him passionately, and clung to him, until she was able to sob
out--"Don't let me go again, Daddy, keep me close. I am--I am grateful for
the blessing of a good man's love."