Part 4 out of 4
a dreadful nightmare! It cannot be you alone, for Mrs. Greyson and Dr.
Ashton--Oh, Arthur, where has religion, where has morality gone? Oh, I
cannot understand it! I cannot bear it!"
She laid her bowed head on her arms upon the pretty breakfast table,
and sobbed as if her heart would break. Her husband looked at her with
intense irritation, and an inward curse that he had ever married her.
He sipped his coffee; he noted with admiration the rich, glowing hues
of the dull blue bowl of nasturtiums which adorned the table.
"There, Edith," he said at length, "it is rather idle to cry over the
sins of your neighbors. According to your creed each of us has enough
of his own derelictions to answer for, without going abroad for things
to repent. As for religion, I suppose girls who do Kensington work will
use it for decorative purposes for some time to come, but thinking
people long ago outgrew such folly. In regard to my friends, it is all
a question of standards, as I've said no end of times. From my point of
view they are very sensible people, and you a little bigot. Grant
Herman believes some pious nonsense, though he has too good taste to
obtrude it, and I dare say Bently and Rangely have their superstitions.
There are probably ten thousand people in this good city of Boston--and
for aught I know a hundred thousand--who believe, or, if you like,
disbelieve, as I do."
"It cannot be true," was Edith's reply. "But if it is so, it is too sad
to think of."
"Why, I suspect," Arthur continued lightly, "that the Pagans regard me
as too orthodox lately, though you'd hardly agree with them."
She made no reply, and Arthur continued his breakfast in silence. The
sun shone in at the windows, the soft coal fire sputtered in the grate,
and to all appearance the room was full of cheerfulness. Edith leaned
her head upon her hand and reflected sadly. She resolved that her
husband should be weaned from the Pagans, if that were within her
power. She seemed to herself to relinquish joy in life, and to devote
herself wholly to duty.
The entrance of a servant with the morning letters interrupted further
conversation, until Arthur tossed his wife a letter which Dr. Ashton
had mailed at the same time he posted the missive which Helen received
later in the day.
"There, you see," Fenton remarked. "Of course I show it to you in
The room swam before Edith as she read, but she forced herself to be
outwardly calm, as she ran her eye over this note:
I've a strong presentiment--and although I disbelieve in presentiments,
mine generally come true--that in about half an hour my obituary will
be in order. Certain easily foreseen contingencies have determined me
to give it up. I shall never have a better chance to make my exit
dramatically, and you've often assured me that that is the chief thing
to consider in this connection. I've contemplated such a possibility
long enough to have my affairs in order, and doubtless your wife will
have a mass or two said for the repose of my soul. If you ever have a
chance to do Helen a good turn, you may regard it as a personal favor
to my ghost to do it. I've left you my Diaz as a sort of propitiatory
Yours, of course, as ever, W. A.
"Oh, Arthur, Arthur!" Edith sobbed, breaking down again. "It is awful!
It is just as he always talked. It is as light as if he were going out
"Naturally," was the response. "If you fancy Will would cry baby at
death, you knew him far from as well as I did. How strange it is to
think of his being in the past tense, poor fellow. It was clever of him
to leave me his Diaz; I always coveted it."
In the face of this, what was there for Edith to say. She was simply
numbed to silence, and horror at her husband for the time deadened all
sense of the shock of Dr. Ashton's death. It was not until later in the
day that she was able to think of Helen.
"But, Arthur," she said then, "Mrs. Greyson?"
"Well; what of Mrs. Greyson?"
"I am going to see her."
"After your last night's indignation?"
"I may have been wrong," Mrs. Fenton said bravely, "I may have been
hard. I realize every day how little I am able to judge for other
people. Perhaps I am narrow, as you say. At least now her husband is
dead I can show her my sympathy; and since I know more of him, it does
not seem so strange that she left him."
"They left each other," he responded to these contradictory words. "But
what can you say? The consolations of religion will hardly be
available, and Helen never pretended to love Ashton?"
His tone wounded her, but she answered without a change of countenance:
"The death of the man who has been her husband can never be indifferent
to any true woman. I shall not force her to listen to any religion she
does not wish to hear."
A SYMPATHY OF WOE.
Titus Andronicus; iii.--I.
"I am afraid you will think me intrusive," was Edith's hesitating
greeting to Helen, "but I could not help coming. I thought you might
Helen looked at her for a moment with wistful eyes and trembling lips:
then she crossed swiftly to where her friend stood and kissed her. And
never could these two be so wholly separated or estranged again as to
efface the memory of all the meaning that this caress conveyed. The
word which Edith had used had been most happily chosen. Her woman's
instinct divined the loneliness which overwhelmed the widow, and this
proof of her sympathy was the passport to Mrs. Greyson's heart.
Loneliness was the feeling of which Helen was most of all conscious.
The death of even an indifferent acquaintance often may seem to
desolate the earth from its simple irremediableness, and much more does
the removal of one near to us make the world appear half a void.
Helen had been sitting alone before Edith came, reviewing her past and
drearily speculating of her future. She went over the days of her
wedded life; her innocent, introspective childhood, in which she had
dreamed and read, dwelling in a world apart; alone but for the ideal
creations of her books or her own quick fancy. She had married knowing
as little of life or of love, as when, a lonely child, she had spelled
out the tale of Prince Camaralzaman, and wondered what the divine
passion really was, or if indeed it had existence, outside of fairy
The torch of death throws its glare backward, and its funeral light
showed many a past long since forgotten, but now revealed with new and
distorting vividness. Helen remembered the baby which had lived but
long enough to open its eyes with a smile that seemed of recognition,
and then faded back into the unknown whence it had come. A throb of
tenderness for the dead father moved the mother's heart as she thought
of her baby, so little time hers, and so long asleep under the
marguerites of a grave over the sea. She had suffered much from the
selfishness, the dominant self-will, the distorted views of life of Dr.
Ashton; and these things she even now could not forget; but, too, she
thought of him as the father of her child, her baby ever dear and
living in memory.
She reflected, too, of the men she had known, and especially of Arthur
Fenton. Her nature had need of some one upon whom to expend its
treasures, and she realized that had she not felt in the artist a
certain insincerity, he might have awakened her love. He had been
appreciative, sympathetic, brilliant; and, too, he had called largely
upon her patience and forbearance, than which there is no surer way to
win a generous woman's affection. Yet always some note rang false to
her fine ear, and to the weakness of his nature she had never been
wholly blind, although not until his marriage had given him a certain
distance had she realized how deep and unsparing her knowledge of him
Of Grant Herman she would not think. Thoughts of him arose again and
again in her mind, but she resolutely put them down. Some secret stir
of mingled pain and joy told her too well that the sculptor had
awakened the first love of her life. But at least with her husband,
however unloved, lying yet unburied, she would not dwell upon the
passion of another.
She took Edith's hand, and the two women sat down side by side,
shedding tears together, rather from a sense of the general woe and
bitterness of life than for poignant grief for the present calamity. It
was not much they said at first. Neither was of the talkative order of
women, finding comfort in the mere utterance of words. They grew
together, sustained by giving and receiving tenderness, and each
tacitly asking and according forgiveness for unfriendly feelings in the
past. It is probable, too, that Edith, heavy with the disappointments
of her married life, found relief in being able to weep unrestrainedly,
even though the true source of her tears was not the obvious one.
"I never loved him," Helen said of her husband. "After we separated we
became friends, rather because of a common past when we were both
strangers here, than from any fitness for each other. But he was once
Her friend pressed her hand in silence.
"We had a child," Helen spoke again; "a little daughter. She only lived
one day. If she had not gone it might have been different. At least we
should have kept on together. My poor little baby!"
Edith's eyes were full of tears, as she answered softly:
"I hope you will let me say that I believe she is waiting for you some
"She must be," the mother responded quickly. "Whatever one doubts, one
must surely believe that. I could not lose her! She is mine, wherever
in the universe she may be."
"Yes," was all Edith ventured in reply. "I am sure of it."
They gave no heed to the fading day, but sat with clasped hands until
twilight had gathered, and it occurred at last to Mrs. Fenton that her
husband and dinner must be awaiting her. Helen had been telling of her
"I shall go abroad," she said, "I want to study in Rome; I want to meet
great men; to be influenced by great works. I have been thinking of it
for a long time, and now it seems as if some ties that held me here are
broken, for we often obey claims which we yet deny. And besides," she
added, in a lower tone, "it is a flight from temptation. I am in danger
"In danger?" Edith asked wonderingly.
"Only from myself," was the reply, "but that peril is sufficiently
imminent to make me afraid."
Edith questioned no further, and to the true import of these words she
had no clue. She looked at her friend a moment inquiringly and
musingly, but as Helen did not continue, she rose to go.
"I must get home now," she said, in a tone so tender that it seemed to
beg pardon for this abandonment. "Arthur is waiting for me and his
dinner; and if he doesn't get the latter at least, I won't answer for
the consequences. Mr. Calvin was with him when I came away."
"Mr. Peter Calvin!" exclaimed the other, in some surprise.
"Yes; he has bought one of Arthur's pictures, and he wants Arthur to
propose him at the St. Filipe Club, I believe."
She spoke in perfect ignorance of the tumult her words excited in her
hearer's mind. Long after Edith was gone Helen sat looking out into the
darkening sky and thinking of Arthur Fenton. She had heard him talk too
often about Mr. Peter Calvin not to know what was implied by this new
friendship. Mr. Peter Calvin had been for years the head and front of
Boston Philistinism in art. He had been the patron of subservient
artists; the chairman of committees for the purchase of public statues;
an elegant writer upon such live and timely topics as _Plaster
Casting among the Egyptians, Notes upon Abyssinian Statues_, while
his monograph upon the question, _What Was the Original Cost of the
Venus de Milo?_ had by his flatterers been pronounced the
masterpiece of all known art essays for power and critical research.
His was a prominent name upon the covers of dilettante art journals; it
was he who effectually crushed young and too daringly independent
artists; who repressed impertinent originality; who headed the hosts of
conventionality against individuality or genius which held itself above
the established canons of antiquated tradition. He was the High Priest
of Boston conservatism; the presiding genius of Philistia; and until
the St. Filipe Club entered a protest against him by refusing to admit
him to membership, his power had scarcely received a blow.
Tom Bently always insisted, with much profanity, that Mr. Peter Calvin
was a joke.
"He writes with tremendous pomposity," Tom would say, "and he is in no
end of societies for molly-coddling art. He goes on, too, about the
plaster casts at that hospital for decrepit gods, the Art Museum, as if
his whole soul was in the plaster barrels of the Greeks. But bless your
soul! It's only his little joke. He doesn't really mean any thing by
it. He's only a stupendous joke himself."
The Pagans, so far as they were to be regarded as an entity,
represented the protest of the artistic soul against shams. They stood
for sincerity above everything; for utter honesty in art, in life, in
manners and morals alike. To them Philistinism was the substitution of
convention for conviction. For the spirit of imitation, of blind
subservience to authority, the Pagans had no tolerance. While they held
themselves always open to conviction, they refused assent to any thing
which was offered them _ex cathedra_; they devoted themselves to
art with a passion of enthusiasm which was in itself the highest
expression of their principles. That they seemed often iconoclastic was
in reality less the result of their hatred of authority than the
prevalence of unreasoning, and therefore by their standards necessarily
insincere, adherence to established formulae. Dogmas they hated, not
because they were popularly received, but because although they had
been vital realities to their originators, they had become in time mere
lifeless forms, held in reverence by blind devotees long after the soul
had gone out of them.
In art especially the Pagans demanded the most absolute surrender of
self to truth; and it should be added that they defined truth exactly
as Helen did, "that which one sincerely believes." They had no
condemnation too severe or sweeping for the artist who worshipped the
golden gods of Philistia by following popular conventions at the
expense of his honest art ideals. It is not impossible that they
carried this feeling to extremes sometimes, suspecting every thing
which was stamped with popular approval, but in the main at least their
standard was of the highest and their lives conformed well to it.
Measured by the creeds they rejected, they might often enough be found
wanting; tried by their own, there had never been an apostate among
them until the defection of Fenton.
No one had been more bitter and outspoken in his condemnation of Mr.
Calvin and of what he represented than Arthur Fenton. Many a time he
had entertained Helen with stories of the presumption and the ignorance
of this man whom now he was receiving into his friendship, or, more
properly, in whose train of sycophants he had taken his place.
Helen could not forgive him. Leaving dinner untasted, she sat with
burning cheeks in the darkness, mourning over the apostacy of the man
who had been her warmest friend.
A MINT OF PHRASES IN HIS BRAIN.
Love's Labor's Lost; i.--1.
Dr. Ashton had been in his grave several weeks. Life had gone on much
as usual in Boston, with the bickerings of small souls the gaping
imitations of the mob, the carping of the self-appointed critics, and
the earnest endeavor of the honest and inspired workers, who leaven the
lump of modern civilization.
Among the Pagans the nomination of Mr. Calvin to the St. Filipe Club by
Arthur Fenton had been received with a bitterness born of a feeling of
outraged confidence. They were to-night to meet in Tom Bently's studio,
and Fenton, who had no intention of being present, was yet keenly
conscious of what the talk there concerning him would be. He was glum
and moody at dinner, and Edith, who knew that this was Pagan night,
watched him wistfully. She hoped to win him away from friends and
acquaintances who seemed to her dangerous. Perfectly honest and ready
to lay down her life for her husband, she was yet urging him into paths
which he felt it to be degradation to walk, since they led him away
from sincerity. She had no means of knowing how his sudden championship
of Mr. Calvin was regarded. Her own relations to art had been those of
pretty amateurishness. She had been bred to believe in conventionality,
and the flavor of Bohemianism alarmed and repelled her.
To-night she had put on her most becoming dress, she had ordered the
dinner with especial reference to her husband's tastes, and she exerted
herself to be as entertaining and attractive as lay in her power. She
even allowed herself the innocent ruse of delaying dinner a little,
that it might be later before Arthur could be ready to go out; and when
the answer to her timid hope that he was to be at home that evening,
was in the affirmative, her foolish, tender heart fluttered with
delighted hope that she was influencing him to shake off his irregular
He was rather gloomy and silent all the evening, brooding of the
Pagans, from whose meetings he had never before been absent, and of
Helen, and what she would think. Edith tried all her arts and wiles to
make him forget the pleasure he was losing, and she partly succeeded,
since her attentions and endearments chimed in with the train of
thought by which he was endeavoring to prove to his own satisfaction
that he was the most virtuous of men, and that his swearing allegiance
to Philistinism, was a noble example of a transgressor willing to
confess and abjure his faults. He accepted his wife's attentions as
eminently fitting under the circumstances, and could he have forgotten
the Pagans and Helen, he might almost have been comfortable. More than
once in the old days he had found it hard to face Mrs. Greyson's clear
eyes, which saw so readily through shams, and now while he was able to
work himself into a defensive attitude towards all others of his old
friends, he felt a horrible humiliation in the consciousness that Helen
was sure to know of his course and to understand all its weakness.
It occurred to him, too, that Helen had avoided him of late. Since the
death of Dr. Ashton, he had scarcely seen her, although she was often
with his wife. He knew from Edith that she was soon to go abroad, and
he wondered if the wish to escape him had any share in bringing her to
He tormented himself with speculations and memories until he could
endure it no longer. He must have comfort; his wounded self-sufficiency
craved the balm of approval, and although he was contemptuously
conscious of his own weakness, he turned to Edith to seek admiration
"So you are glad that I am not going to the Pagans to-night," he said
to her, as they sat before the fire, for the evening was damp and
"Very glad," she answered, leaving her chair to come and sit upon a low
hassock by his knee. "It was so good of you."
She made a beautiful picture as she sat there, her long dress of
cardinal and stone gray silk gathered in waves about her, the
Elizabethan ruffle setting off her shapely head and slender neck, while
the soft, yellow old lace showed how clear was the tone of her skin.
Her pure, sweet face, with its appealing dark eyes, was turned upward
to her husband's, in an expression at once wistful and full of love.
Edith had always a highbred air, and to-night her attitude and
expression added the one charm of warmth and softness needed to make
her most lovely and moving.
"You doubtless have some excellent reason," remarked Arthur smiling
down on her.
"I am afraid of them; they are in arms against every thing that is
acknowledged to be good."
"And yet they are the most honest men I ever knew," he returned, half
musing, and with a little pleased sense of his magnanimity in saying
this at a moment when they were probably abusing him.
"I don't know, Arthur. Perhaps they may be honest, but I am sure it is
not good for you to be with them. They are so sure that their false
views of life are true."
The little sting in the implication that he was not able to resist the
influence which had surrounded him was forgotten in the satisfactory
view which his wife took of the real value of the judgments of the
Pagans. He knew how little she understood them. With every premise upon
which her conclusions were founded he disagreed, yet he said to himself
that Edith was right; that the Pagans were quite too infallible about
every thing. They would have him grope along poor and unknown, he
argued with himself, simply for the sake of standing in the position of
chronic rebuke to established authorities; with only now and then a
chance to get a hearing upon what they assumed to be the true theory of
art. What they believed--ah! there after all was the weakness of the
whole. What ground had they for their belief? Did he himself really
believe any thing, or had he a right to assert in any matter a positive
conviction? And even if they or he asserted never so strongly, what
sort of a test of truth was that? After all the Philistines, the
Calvins, were as likely to be right as were a set of discontented if
not disappointed artists; men whose natures would never allow them to
be satisfied with any existing state of things, since it would
inevitably differ from their dreamy ideals. And it was certainly true
that the weight of authority and of numbers was with the Philistines.
"Perhaps you are right, Edith," he said aloud. "I hope so at least, for
they are probably indignant enough with me."
"With you? Why?"
"Oh, they choose to think I went over to Philistia when I proposed Mr.
Calvin for the St. Filipe. I'm sure I don't see why I haven't a right
to propose whom I please."
"But Mr. Calvin, Arthur," responded Edith, who regarded that gentleman
as one of the art gods of Boston. "I should think any body would be
proud to propose him. Why, he is one of the most distinguished men in
Her husband did not answer for a moment. He looked into the fire and
watched his inner consciousness adapt itself to this view of the case,
which than himself no one had condemned more bitterly. Yet it was the
theory upon which it was necessary to rest did he expect to arrive at
any comfort in the course of supporting Mr. Calvin, which he had
already pursued so far that retreat was impossible. Yes, he assured
himself, he could even accept this. And why not? Did not common opinion
confirm it; and however much common opinion might be sneered at, it was
surely the voice of the common sense of the world.
He looked down at his wife, who looked back smiling proudly. He
realized how pure, how tender, how true she was. He knew, too, that she
was daily and hourly weaving about him bands which held him captive to
beliefs which though true to her were the veriest falsehoods to him;
and that only his love of ease, his fatal complaisance, prevented his
rending these cords as did Samson the new ropes of the Philistines. He
realized that he was sacrificing his manhood, that he was bartering his
convictions for flattery and ease by allying himself to Calvin and his
following. He recalled Helen's remark that what is called being honest
with one's self is often the subtlest form of hypocrisy, and he did not
spare himself a single pang of self-humiliation and contempt; and then,
when he was full to the throat with self-loathing, he let his sensuous,
self-loving nature devise excuse and soothe his wounded vanity.
He looked into the fire with a smile of mingled bitterness and
complacency, half ashamed, half amused at the view which introspection
But whenever into his musings came the thought of Helen it rankled like
a poisoned barb. For he secretly believed that Helen loved him, and
although if a man humiliates himself in the eyes of the woman he loves
it is as bitter as death; yet to prove unworthy in the sight of her who
hopelessly loves him, contains a more subtly envenomed shaft, which
wounds that most sensitive spot in a sensuous man's nature--his vanity.
HEART-BURNING HEAT OF DUTY.
Love's Labor's Lost; i.--I.
That evening Helen too sat at home, alone and full of resistless
She had put the finishing touches to the _Flight of the Months_,
completing the work with scarcely less success than at first, and in
three days she was to sail for Europe. She had not allowed Dr. Ashton's
death to interrupt her work, the necessity of avoiding unpleasant
gossip which would be provoked by the disclosure of her relations with
the dead man, being sufficient reason why she should not change her
outward life. She quietly and rapidly completed the preparations for
departure, and already the feeling of severance from familiar scenes
cast its sadness over her.
Leaving the studio to-day, she had gone down to speak with Herman, whom
she wished to take the responsibility of the firing of the bas-relief.
When she had finished this errand she turned to a figure in terra-cotta
whose freshness showed that it had but recently come from the kiln.
"What is this?" she asked. "I have never seen it."
"It is a Pasht," the sculptor returned. "I modeled it as a wedding
present for Arthur Fenton, but luckily I did not get it done in time."
"Because I should be sorry to have given him any thing so closely
connected with the Pagans, as things have turned out."
Helen did not need to ask explanations of these words, although she did
not know how complete the breach between Fenton and his former friends
"I am glad I am going away," she exclaimed with a sigh.
"Going away?" he echoed, dropping his modeling tools.
"Yes, I sail Saturday."
She spoke with perfect composure, yet her glance was averted. She was
painfully conscious of having concealed the fact from him until this
He came towards her, his eyes fixed upon her face.
"What does this mean?" he demanded, almost fiercely. "Why do you go?"
"I mean to study in Rome," she replied faintly. "I always told you that
I hoped to go some day."
"But why do you go now? Why have you concealed it from me? Are you
afraid of my--of my love? If any one must go it should be I; I have no
right to drive you away."
"You are not driving me away; I--it is better that I should go."
"But why go now? Now you are free, and I have a right to claim you."
"No," Helen said in a voice suddenly firm, but which yet showed her
inward agitation, "no; there is Ninitta. I have suffered too much
myself to be willing to try to come to happiness over any woman's
heart. It is better that I should go."
"Ninitta!" Herman burst out. "She has no claim; she will not even care;
"No," interrupted Helen, laying her hand upon his arm. "You cannot say
that; you know it is not true. You can see as well as I that Ninitta is
pining her life out over your neglect. We are not free to break her
heart when you yourself taught her to love."
"I have never been unkind to her," he said, a little defiantly; "except
perhaps when she acted like a mad woman and broke your figures."
"In love," returned Helen, smiling faintly, and glad to take refuge in
generalities, "sins of commission, as compared with the deadly sin of
omission, are mere venial offenses. It is not what you have done, but
what you have left undone."
"But what can I do? I cannot force myself to love her?"
"You have made her love you."
"But I outgrew her centuries ago."
"The price of growth is always to outgrow," replied Helen.
She was struggling hard to keep the conversation away from dangerous
levels. She felt that she must seem heartless, but none the less she
went on bravely.
"And after all what is outgrowing? It is a question of moods, of--"
But her courage failed her. Her voice trembled, she turned away from
him and walked down the studio, stopping here and there as if to
examine a cast or a figure, invisible through the tears which welled up
in her eyes. The sculptor followed close behind her, until she put her
hand upon the great Oran rug which hung before the door.
"Then you leave me," he broke out bitterly. "You make Ninitta a pretext
for escaping me. You might have told me that you did not care for me. I
would not have molested you."
She turned to him suddenly, and he was startled by the whiteness of her
face, for she was pale to the very lips.
"Do you think it is easy for me to go," she cried passionately, "to
give you up when I love you! You should help me, not make it harder.
Isn't it better to part now while we have nothing to regret than to
live with a wrong between us?"
"But what wrong will be between us? Surely that boyish mistake need not
blight both our lives."
"Can we help it?" she asked sadly.
"We will help it! Are we merely puppets then, to be bandied about
helplessly? I told her I loved her; it is no longer true, and why is
the pledge that followed binding?"
"It is not simply that you gave her your word," Helen returned,
struggling bravely with herself; "it is that you made her love you, and
that obligation you can never shake off. Oh, it is because you are too
noble to take a woman's love and then trample upon it, that I love
you--that you fill my heart."
She poured out the words, her eyes blazing, her splendid form dilated,
her arms involuntarily extended towards him. He took her into his
embrace; not hastily, not wildly; but with a slow, irresistible movement
that had in it something of solemnity. He showered kisses upon her
hair, her forehead, her lips; he pressed her to his bosom as if he
would absorb her into himself.
"My darling, my darling," he said, in a hoarse, fiery whisper, "I
cannot give you up! Think how lonely I am; how I love you!"
She put up her face and kissed him with a long, clinging kiss; then she
freed herself from his arms. They stood face to face, her eyes
appealing, until his glance fell before hers.
"Yes," he said in a voice so low that she bent forward to listen, "yes;
you must be right."
"I am right," she responded sadly, "I have fought against it too much
not to be sure of that."
"It is an odd way of proving my love for you to give you up," continued
Herman, with a new accent of bitterness in his voice. "Oh, the folly of
that boyish passion!"
He strode away from her, as she leaned panting against a modeling
stand. The darkness was gathering so rapidly that when he turned back
his face came out of the gloom like a surprise.
"My reward," he said, "must be that you love me; but that very reward
makes it harder to deserve it. I am sure that we would be wiser and
happier if we had no scruples to hamper us."
"But we have," was her response; "to take your own words, we are not
Again he walked away from her, and for a few moments there was no sound
but that of his heavy footsteps, which seemed to make the silence more
solemn and penetrating.
"I will do whatever you ask," he burst out suddenly. "I will even marry
her if you wish."
"I ask nothing. It is not I but your convictions you should follow. I
am not even able to advise. Your own instincts are better and nobler
than any thing I can say to you." She stopped and choked back a sob.
"Oh, Grant, it is so hard!" she cried.
She had never used that name before, and it so thrilled him with joy
and pain that he made an impulsive movement as if once more to take her
in his arms; but she lifted her hand with a gesture of negation.
"I have been tempted as well as you," she continued, "I have said to
myself a thousand times that love justified all, and that these
theories were too fine spun. I could not keep the thought of you down
even when I first knew I was a widow, and I said over and over to
myself that now no one stood between us. I knew it was no use, but I
lay awake in the night and tried to prove to myself that Ninitta had no
claim,--but, oh! you are too much to me for me to be willing that you
should do what we both know is wrong and cruel. I can endure anything
better than that you should not always be my ideal; and I should hate
myself if I tempted you to wrong."
"What I am," he said brokenly, moved most of all by the tears upon her
cheeks, "is nothing. You have beaten this temptation, not I; I would
have done any thing if you had encouraged me. I am a very ordinary
mortal, Helen, when one really knows my littleness."
She smiled through her tears at him.
"You shall not abuse yourself;" she replied. "I will not have it."
There was not much further said between them. They remained together
until the dusk filled the studio, and it looked again like a
ghost-world as on the morning they two had come into it to see the dead
form modeled in red clay. Perhaps it was upon this remembrance that at
length Mrs. Greyson said:
"Will you give me, before I go to Europe, that figure you showed me?"
"I will give you any thing you ask," he answered; "I wish I might add
myself. Is it right," he added, with sudden fire, "for me to tie myself
to that model girl? Am I worth nothing better than that?"
"You are worth the best woman on earth; but--oh I cannot argue it, but
I feel it; I am sure that it cannot be right to deny the claim which
you yourself gave her, Grant. I know by myself what it would be to lose
"But she is not the woman you are. Her feelings are those of an
ignorant peasant; she--"
Helen laid her fingers lightly upon his lips.
"No," she said, "don't go on. We have said it all once. You are trying
to out-argue your own convictions. I must go now. It is almost dark
She took a step or two towards the door and again laid her hand upon
the rug _portiere_. Then as by a common impulse they turned
towards each other, and once more she was locked in his embrace.
And to-night, sitting alone in the dark, with dilated eyes, Helen felt
still the ecstasy of that moment, but murmured to herself:
"It must not be again; I will not see him alone."
PARTED OUR FELLOWSHIP.
Tom Bently's studio that night was a sight well worth seeing.
Tom had two rooms in Studio Building, opening into each other by
folding doors, which were never known to be shut. The walls were hung
with old French tapestry, its rich, soft colors harmonizing exquisitely
with some dull-red velvet draperies from Venice. Bits of armor, some of
them very splendid, were disposed here and there, while a wealth of
_bric-a-brac_ enriched every nook and corner. In the doorway hung
an old altar-lamp of silver, with a cup of ruby glass, and from various
points depended other lamps of Moresque and antique shapes. A pair of
tall brass flambeau-stands, spoil of a Belgian cathedral sacked a
couple of centuries ago, upheld the heaviest candles Tom had been able
to find, which smoked and flared most picturesquely.
Bently had traveled widely, every where picking up graceful and
artistic trifles--stuffs from Algiers; rugs from Persia and Turkey;
weapons from Tripoli and India and Tunis; musical instruments from
Egypt and Spain; antiques from Greece and Germany and Italy; and
pottery from every where. His studio was the envy of all his brother
artists, although he himself growled about it profanely, declaring that
he had so much rubbish about him that he could not work, yet
nevertheless declining to part with a single object.
"I ought to clear the place out," he would say. "My pictures are
getting to look like advertisements of an old clo' shop, and if a man
doesn't change all his properties every year, the sapient critics say
he has become mannered. But I can't let them go; or rather they won't
let me go; they hang on like barnacles to an old hulk."
The Pagans were six that night, Fenton's place being unfilled. The
delinquency of the absent artist was a good deal commented upon, yet
always as if an effort were made to keep the subject out of the
conversation. It came up again and again, and that not unnaturally,
since it was necessarily in every man's thoughts.
"He's a mellifluous coward, now isn't he?" Bently remarked, with his
usual picturesque disregard of the conventional use of words. "The
average American couldn't have been more sneaking."
"He was always afraid of the rough grain of life," Rangely responded.
"I always told him he was a born coward. He could never serve any cause
that wouldn't give him a uniform of broadcloth. But he was born for
something better than tagging after Calvin and his tribe, heaven
"Bah!" went on Bently, "the bad taste of it! I could get over every
thing else, but the bad taste of proving a sneak, and giving up every
thing worth while."
Somebody threw in a quotation from Browning's _Lost Leader_, and
then Grant Herman, trying to turn the conversation, took up Bently's
"You're right, Tom," he said, "in your view of taste. Taste is
sublimated morality. It is the appreciation of the proportion and
fitness of all things in the universe, and of course it is above simple
morality, for that is founded upon a partial view. Taste is the
universal, where a system of morals is the local."
"Can't you say that of art?" asked Rangely. "I should think art is the
universal, where religion is the provincial. A religion expresses the
needs and the aspirations of a race or a country, while art embodies
the aspirations and attributes of humanity."
"Good!" Bently responded. "That is better than I should have said it,
but it's my belief, all the same. There are so few people who have
imagination enough even to understand what one means by saying that art
is the only thing in the world worth living for. Why, art is the
supreme expression of humanity; the apotheosis of all the best there is
in the race."
"I don't see that," objected another. "Isn't religion the expression of
the longings of the soul, or whatever there is in us we call soul? I
can't say it well, but it seems to me you talk of religions, not
"People seldom take the trouble to make that distinction. He who
attacks any of the religions is generally set down as striking at
"Religion," returned Bently, "is the expression of fear, and nothing
else, if you sift it to the bottom. Knowledge kills so-called religion
as surely as it does those lower forms of belief which it is nowadays
the fashion to dub superstition. It is precisely the same feeling that
builds churches and that rhymes the country hag's charms. Fairies and
saints are double and twisted cousins, after all."
"But religion," persisted the German, "is more than the expression of
fear; it is the embodiment of the aspirations of mankind; of the
instinct and desire for worship."
"For worshipping something," amended Tom. "That is the same thing
"No, it isn't, either. To yearn for the higher is not to show that we
fear it, but that we long to grow like it. It is a confession of
incompleteness, of weakness, I grant you; but a thousand times no to
your calling it fear."
"I confess to having been hasty, and modify my words so far as to say;
an expression of fear or weakness."
"Is there then any shame in acknowledging weakness?" demanded the
German, pushing him as hard as he was able. "It certainly is honest."
"Is there any shame to formulating fear?" retorted the other, deftly
"Then see how religion always appeals to art to help out its ultimate
expression," observed Rangely.
"And how it has failed," added Bently, "when it has not had art to help
it. Puritanism tried to get on without art, and where is Puritanism?
You couldn't find a trace of it, if it hadn't come down on its
marrow-bones and begged art to build its churches, compose its music,
and regulate its rituals."
"It is no more fair to say that," objected another Pagan, doggedly,
"than to say that art has gone to religion for help. Their accounts are
pretty evenly balanced."
"Nonsense!" Rangely returned. "Art has never gained by being religious,
but by being art; but religion owes its hold largely to the help art
has given it."
"And it has paid its debts by blackguarding art from every pulpit it
has builded for it."
"As Fenton used to say," Ainsworth remarked, "art has been used as the
sugar-coating to the bitter pill of religion."
"Oh, Fenton again," Bently exclaimed impatiently. "What did you bring
him up for? Who the devil would have thought Fenton would have turned
"I can tell you a piece of news," said Rangely. "The Election Committee
blackballed Calvin this afternoon."
"Good!" cried they all; and some body added: "But Fenton said he'd
resign if Calvin wasn't elected."
"Resign," echoed Rangely, "I guess he'll have to. He's been sent to
Coventry by half the Club now for that Graves affair."
"The Graves affair?" some one queried. "What's that? What else has he
been doing? If a man starts to go to the devil, it does seem as if he
never could get ahead fast enough."
"Miss Graves was going to buy one of Flackerman's pictures, and heaven
knows he needs the money; and Fenton, who has always pretended to be
Flack's friend, talked her into taking one of his instead; or rather he
got Calvin to go to her and do it. It was a stunning Flackerman, too;
and we were all rejoicing over his luck."
"I would not be too ready to believe that story," Grant Herman said. "I
don't think Fenton's gone utterly to the bad all at once. He's living
expensively, they say, and possibly he let Calvin go to Miss Graves;
but I don't believe Arthur ever originated that sneaking scheme, and I
shouldn't be surprised if he never knew the rights of the case."
"He's done what so many artists have been bullied into doing before,"
Ainsworth observed. "If he has sold his birthright for a mess of
pottage, that is precisely what the patrons of art in this country
demand that every man shall do who comes here. I could tell you of a
dozen good fellows who've been spoiled in that way. I am far enough
outside to look on in an unbiased way; but they treat us architects in
the same fashion. Lots of the most rubbishy and conventional men we
have, started out to be fair and work from conviction; and they simply
had the choice between subservience and starvation, and cases of the
choice of death from starvation haven't been over plenty."
"Oh, a man is known by the tailor he keeps," threw in Rangely;
"especially if he doesn't pay him."
"It's all a game of cut-throat," Bently remarked philosophically; "art
and business alike."
"I should hate to have my throat cut," observed the German Pagan in a
matter of fact tone; "it must let a dreadful draught into the system."
"Oh, if you were beheaded," cried Rangely, "you'd turn into a capital
beer fountain, so your friends would find some consolation, even in
A diversion was caused here by the production of a splendid Japanese
punch-bowl, supported upon a teakwood stand. In it the host proceeded
to brew a potent and steaming mixture, whose fragrance must have
delighted the jocund gods of jollity and laughter. Tom was notorious
for being chronically in pecuniary difficulties, but he was always
adding to his collection of _bibelots_, and he never was known to
lack the means of concocting a glorious punch.
"Ye gods!" exclaimed Ainsworth, "how good that smells. It almost
overcomes the general mustiness of Tom's den here, which usually has
all the odors of the Ghetto from which his things are dragged."
"Casper is intoxicated already with the mere fumes," retorted Bently
good humoredly. "He's bound to fill a drunkard's grave sooner or
"No; I never shall," chuckled the other. "I'm altogether too good
natured to crowd the drunkard out."
This sally was received with applause, and the glasses being filled,
the usual toasts to the goddess Pasht and to art were drank.
"And to our seven," went on Herman, holding up his glass, and going on
with the formula they had, half unconsciously, fallen into the habit of
using, although they made no pretense of having a ritual.
But he set his glass down untasted, suddenly remembering that their
ranks were broken, and the others followed his example.
"The difference between religion and art," broke out Rangely,
hurriedly, to cover the awkward silence which followed, "is that
religion is a matter of tradition, of convention; it rests upon
authority, while art springs from inner conviction."
"Sophistry," retorted the German, picking up the gauntlet; "there have
been a good many things said here to-night which sound well but won't
stand fire. It is precisely for following conventions in art that we
"And that proves my point."
"No, it doesn't; there's as much art that depends upon tradition as
there is religion."
"No," replied Rangely. "In so far as art gets its inspiration from
fossil tradition it is lifeless and indeed ceases to be art. Religion
presupposes something exterior; while art is the outgrowth of the
individual's own mind, the best expression of his inner strength."
"Religion," Herman threw in, "demands the existence of the unknown; art
only the existence of the inexpressible."
"Yet art devotes itself to expression."
"Yes, but more to suggesting. It phrases the possible so as to suggest
that which is above and beyond expression, yet toward which it helps
the emotions and the imagination. I think a man's soul a matter of very
little moment as compared to his imagination, and it is because art
ministers to the latter that I place it above religion."
The talk was diverted here by some laughing remark which led on to a
train of gay badinage. The German tried to bring the conversation back
to serious levels, but in vain.
"Oh, what fustian we've given ourselves up to to-night," laughed
"It amuses me to hear you fellows discuss religion," Tom Bently
observed. "You wander round the subject as aimlessly as the young women
in the first half hour of a Harvard symphony concert."
"Never you mind, Bently," rejoined Ainsworth. "You are sure of coming
out all right; the gods are bound to protect humbug, for on it depends
their own existence."
They drifted in little groups to different parts of the studio,
admiring this or that bit of grace or beauty. Then the German, who was
a professional musician, tuned an old mandolin with which a Venetian
lover some star-lit night centuries ago, may have serenaded his loved
one from his gondola; and to its trembling accompaniment sang a quaint
chansonette, his Teutonic accent making havoc among its liquid Italian
syllables. Then Rangely possessed himself of a strange African
instrument, a crooked gourd, hollowed and strung with twisted tree
fibers, and joined to the notes of the mandolin, its weird, cicada-like
harshness. The duet moved Bently to clear a miscellaneous collection of
articles from the lid of a spinnet of the time of Louis XIV., upon
which be-powdered and be-patched dames, long forgotten, had strummed
pretty little tinkling tunes, while all about them other
marionette-like ladies and gallants played at little tinkling loves, as
pretty and as empty.
The three instruments, so strangely matched, went off together in a
variety of music, imparting to every thing an uncanny, ghostly flavor,
as if these airs came in wild echoes from the shores of some dead past.
"Oh, stop that," Herman cried, at last. "It's too melancholy. Your
instruments are all dead; and it's no use trying to get live music out
For reply the German led off in a drearisome minor folk-tune, Rangely
and Bently improvising their parts with some skill, albeit not always
with perfect harmony.
"Ye Gods!" cried Ainsworth, seizing the mandolin out of the player's
grasp. "Is this a Hottentot funeral? Here, Fred, give me that
diabolical gourd; it is haunted by the soul of a Caffre medicine man."
"I say, fellows," spoke Rangely, as the din subsided, "I move we make
this a funeral, by breaking up the Pagans. Of course there is nothing
to hinder our meeting round at each other's places whenever we want to;
but we've either got to turn Fenton out or break up. I, for one, am
coward enough to prefer to break up."
"So say I," said Herman. "When once a circle like this is broken, there
is an end of it. It can't be patched together."
They looked at each other in silence a moment. To disband seemed like
an acknowledgment of defeat. Many another band of ardent souls has
known the feeling, with its dreary ache, although it oftener happens
that a circle of this kind disappears by the gradual dropping away of
its numbers one by one rather than that its members are brought face to
face with the necessity of owning that its existence had resulted in
failure. Whatever their faults and extravagances, whatever their errors
and intolerance, they were sincere, self sacrificing and ardent beyond
the men who made up the world about them; a group of eager lovers of
truth and art who had been drawn together by mutual aims and
enthusiasms. Their fierceness had been in defense of honesty and
sincerity, their disinterestedness was attested by the fact that any
one of them might have made his peace with Philistia and been rewarded
for his complaisance had he so chosen. Doubtless they had their faults
and foibles, yet their comradeship, in its essential purport had been
true and noble.
They in no wise abandoned their aims in agreeing with the proposition
to disband, but about their fellowship had been a certain un-phrased
tenderness, at which, if put in word, any one of them might have
scoffed, yet which nevertheless they all felt strongly in their secret
hearts, and all were conscious that after this defection of Fenton, the
circle could never be perfect again. They did not discuss the matter
now, but in the interval of silence each acknowledged to himself that
to disband was best; and briefly each gave his assent; all soberly,
some almost gruffly.
And so it came about that the goddess Pasht lost her last band of
followers, and the Pagans assembled no more forever.
AS FALSE AS STAIRS OF SAND.
Merchant of Venice; v.--2.
"Very likely you cannot see it," Arthur Fenton said, striking in the
background of a portrait with vicious roughness. "Women and brutes
differ from men in lacking reason; if you were logical you'd see."
"See that you are right in selling your convictions for patronage,"
Helen returned gravely, ignoring the insult. "Then I am glad I am not
"If you choose to put it that way," he retorted doggedly, "I must still
It was Friday morning, and Helen was to sail the next day. She had come
to Fenton's studio to bid him good-by, knowing that they should have
that to say which could not be freely spoken before Edith, and yet not
choosing to have him come to her own house without his wife.
"Poverty," he went on aggressively, "is nature's protest against
civilization, and still more against art. I am bound to fight nature on
her own ground, am I not?"
"If I were a little more orthodox," she replied, "I might quote
Scripture upon life's being some thing more than meat. Oh, Arthur, what
is the use of all this fencing? All that is asked of you is to be
honest; and to be honest the life of an artist in America to-day must
be a protest against dominant Philistinism; nobody has ever
acknowledged that oftener or more emphatically than you have."
"But the artists," returned he, not meeting her eyes, "are too
self-centered. Look at the Pagans; what efforts have they ever made to
win society? Society is ready enough to take them in."
"Arthur! Is it you who say that? To quote yourself against yourself,
'every work of art is an effort to conquer Philistinism.' Patronage
seems already to have sucked the life out of you."
"You may say what you like," Fenton remarked defensively; "you cannot
make me angry."
"That may be your misfortune," rejoined she sadly, "but I fear it is
"The sin of a thing," he said, putting down his brushes impatiently,
"oftener consists in regarding it as a sin than in the thing itself."
He went to the round window, for his studio was high up in the
building, and removed the Japanese umbrella which served as its screen.
He threw himself upon a pile of cushions, regarding darkly the tops of
the trees in the Old Granary burying-ground opposite.
"_Que voulez-vous_?" he demanded coolly, after a moment's silence.
"You are unreasonable; you always are. I must live. I don't know why
you have a right to object to that. I have married a wife who is well
connected, and I always meant to make her connections help me,
Philistines or not. Even the godly Israelites made a virtue of spoiling
"But that was in departing from their country."
"We won't argue," the artist declared sulkily. "Argument is only
disputing about definitions, and we should never agree. I don't expect
you to think I'm right. As a matter of fact I have my doubts myself.
You might at least allow me the satisfaction of humbugging myself if I
She regarded him sadly. The chance remarks about Edith's relatives
seemed to throw a new and sinister light upon the reasons of his
marriage. She wondered if she had not been mistaken in following her
impulse to come here, and whether words could effect any thing.
"But Edith?" she said at length, and as if half to herself; "does not
her honesty rebuke you? Don't you feel unworthy of her?"
"Well, and if her severe virtue does repel me?" he asked, a hard look
coming into his face, "am I to blame for that also?"
"You are speaking of your wife!"
"_C'est vrai_" with a shrug, "but the one lie I never tell to or
of any woman is that my passion for her will be eternal, and I am long
ago tired of Edith. Her innocence bores me. She urges me, too, to do
precisely the things you condemn. And after all what is my crime?
Simply that I am following the intelligence of the majority instead of
being governed by the growls of the discontented minority, any one of
whom would be glad of the chance to follow my example."
"It is not with whom you side," Helen answered. "It is the simple
question of having the courage of your convictions. The dry rot of
hypocrisy is ruining you. I can see Peter Calvin's smirk in every brush
mark of your canvas there!"
For reply he threw a brush at the picture upon the easel. Then he sat
upright in his cushions and faced her.
"Well," he ejaculated, half-angrily, half bitterly, "you are right. You
cannot scorn me half as much as I scorn myself, and have ever since I
asked Edith Caldwell to marry me. I meant then to make my peace with
He sprang to his feet impetuously and shook himself as if to shake off
some disgusting touch.
"I like a comfortable home at the West End," he continued impetuously,
"far better than I do dreary bachelor lodgings, now here, now there. I
prefer faring sumptuously every day, to dining in an attic. Whatever
else may be said of that terrible Calvin--my God! Helen, how I would
like to choke him!--he certainly has plenty of money, and he patronizes
He walked up to the easel and regarded the half-finished portrait
"Honesty," he began again with cool irony, "is doubtless a charming
thing for digestive purposes, but it is a luxury too expensive for me.
The gods in this country bid for shams, and shams I purpose giving
them. I am not sure I shall not go into chromos eventually. I don't
enjoy this especially, but after all that is a mere matter of
standards, and I have resolved to change mine, so that I shall end by
enjoying or even honoring my eminently respectable self. As for art,
she is a jade that can't give her lovers even a fire to sit by while
they woo her. I'm sorry for her, but I don't see clearly how I can help
her by sitting down to starve in her company; so I've made friends with
the mammon of unrighteousness--you see my orthodox education was not
wholly lost upon me! _Voila tout!_ Honesty, I say, is for the most
part cant, and at any rate only a relative term. I prefer substantial
good. If you despise me, _tant pis pour_--one of us; whichever you
He spoke defiantly, but faltered a little at the last words. She rose
as he finished.
"Good-by," she said. "You have taught me forever to distrust my own
judgments, for I had mistaken you for a man! I am sorry that I have
ever known you. You lower my respect for all the race."
"But I acknowledge my faults."
"Acknowledge!" she retorted in disdain. "What of that? Acknowledgment
is not reparation, though many try to make it so."
She walked towards the door, but he reached it first and laid his hand
upon the latch.
"You are going away," he said. "Who knows when we shall ever meet
again. At least remember that I condemn myself as sharply as you can."
"That is the degradation of it," was her retort, her eyes blazing at
him. "If you could plead ignorance, I could pity you."
"Edith is a saint," he went on, not heeding, "but her good is my evil.
I do not plead it as an excuse; I have and I want no excuse: but it is
true that temptation could come to me in no shape so insidious as
through her sincerity."
"Then you will be honest!" pleaded Helen.
"I do not say that. I think I shall go on as I am; but I have changed
my idea of my epitaph. It shall be only the word 'Pardon.'"
"Your old one was better," she retorted stingingly, "and better than
either would be a blank! Let me pass!"
FAREWELL AT ONCE, FOR ONCE, FOR ALL AND EVER.
Richard II.; ii.--2.
The outward bound steamer was almost ready to sail, and all the bustle
attendant upon departure of an ocean craft eddied about three people
who stood in a half-sheltered nook upon the wharf. They were saying
little. Both Grant Herman and Ninitta kept their eyes fixed upon Helen,
while her glance was cast to the ground, save when she raised her head
The Italian from time to time took Helen's hand in hers and kissed it
"I pray the Madonna for you every night," she whispered in her native
tongue, "that she will give you a safe voyage."
The sculptor watched all that went on about them, waiting with some
inward impatience for the moment when the duty of escorting Mrs.
Greyson on board would give him an opportunity of being a moment alone
"We shall miss you much," he said, feeling that any thing would be
better than the silence which hedged them in amid the noisy bustle of
the throng. "We shall not soon fill your place, shall we, Ninitta?"
He did not listen to the eager answer; his eyes were fixed upon Helen's
face, and for her alone he had ears.
"Yes," he said again with nervous platitude, when once more they had
lapsed into the silence he found it so hard to bear; "neither my wife
nor myself has any friend to take your place."
Some faint accent in the tone in which he referred to his three hours'
bride made the widow look up suddenly. To the question in her eyes his
glance gave no answer, and for the moment a feeling of despair overcame
her. Had she given him up only to the end that his life should be
miserable; had she forced him into a marriage whose bonds would gall
and chafe him with more deadly and festering wounds as time went on?
But all these questionings Helen had answered with stern bravery during
the sad wakeful nights and lonely days just past. She had first
convinced herself that it was right that Herman should redeem his
old-time pledge to Ninitta, and after that she forced herself to the
bitterer task of realizing that when time had obliterated somewhat the
clearness of her own image in the sculptor's heart, something of his
old affection for the Italian might be rekindled in his generous, warm
nature, always tenderly chivalrous towards woman, and sure to prove
doubly so to one dependent upon him. It was hard, but Helen
unflinchingly analyzed the nature of her lover, and while she could not
believe that he would ever feel for his wife the grand passion which
she had herself inspired in his breast, she saw for him a tranquil
future in which his wife's devotion would be met with enduring, even
with increasing affection, which if not love, would be so like it that
Ninitta, at least, would never distinguish; and in which her husband
would find comfort and warmth, if not fire and aspiration.
She had a harder struggle when the thought came to her, "Have I not led
him into the one thing he most dreads and despises, an act of
insincerity? Can a loveless marriage be honest?" But she answered her
doubting heart; "No; he has told Ninitta that he does not love her as
of old, and he is not deceiving her. It is my own selfishness that puts
this thought into my mind." It may be that Helen was wrong, for the
influence of her Puritan training had left a strong impress upon her
moral sense in a regard for the sanctity of a pledge, especially to its
spirit rather than its letter, so deep as to be almost morbid; yet at
least she was self sacrificing and never more truly consistent than in
the seeming inconsistency of urging this marriage.
"Come," was Herman's word, almost a command, when the crowd upon the
steamer's deck began definitely to separate into those who were to go
and those who remained. "You must go aboard. Ninitta, stand just where
you are until I come back. I will be gone only an instant."
Helen turned and kissed Ninitta, a sharp pang stabbing her very soul,
as the thought came to her: "He will love her; she is his wife, and he
will learn to love her!" Then she put her arm upon Herman's in silence.
She had been alternately desiring and fearing this moment, until her
excitement was almost beyond control. The sculptor led her on board the
steamer, and together they descended to the saloon. Every body was on
deck except the servants, and without difficulty a nook was found where
the two were alone.
"Well," he said, breaking the silence with a voice full of emotion, "it
is done, and we are parted as far as the earth is wide."
"No," she answered, clasping his hands in hers. "With a broken faith
between us we should have been separated; now we are truly together, no
matter how many oceans part us. It is hard; it is hard; but I know it
must be right."
He bent forward to kiss her.
"No," she said, drawing back. "Your kisses belong to your wife, now. I
have no right even to your thought. But I cannot help telling you, now
we are parting, how much it is to me to love you. It is hard to leave
you, Grant, to give you up; but now I understand that it is better to
love, even if we are not together, even though we may not belong to
each other. And I cannot but find comfort in thinking that you will not
"But if hereafter," he began eagerly, but before the words were uttered
he realized what they implied, and a hot flush of shame tinged his
cheek. "No," he said, "I cannot think of the future."
She put up her hand with a gesture of appeal. The bell of the steamer
sounded out sharply upon the air.
"No," she said. "We must say good-by with no reservations, no hopes,
even with no prayers. It is simply and absolutely good-by. And oh!" she
added, her voice breaking a little, "I do so hope for your happiness,
though I must not share it."
He wrung her hand and left her. Once he halted, as if to return, but
her gesture gave him so absolute a farewell that he went on. His wife
awaited him where he had left her. She slipped her arm through his.
"I am so glad you have come back," she said in her soft Italian,
lifting to his a face full of trust and love; "I was so lonely and
afraid without you."
He was touched with a tender pity as he looked into her eyes. When he
withdrew his glance the steamer was moving, and he saw Helen leaning
over the rail. She waved her hand, and as the ship glided away, down
the harbor, these two, so separated, yet so united, clung together by
their glances until distance shut them from each other's sight.