Part 7 out of 7
She played with her fan a moment, smiling to herself in a way which he
did not understand, and looking down as if considering some old memory.
Then she met his glance with a look at once kind and wistful.
"It isn't of much use to argue the matter, I suppose," were her words.
"It seems to me as if in talking to you I see my old mental self in a
mirror, if you'll pardon me for saying so. When we come out from any
conviction, and most of all from a religious belief, it seems to us a
profound misfortune that any man should still believe what we have
decided is false. By and by I think you will see that the chief point
is that a man shall believe. What he believes doesn't so much matter.
It must be the thing that best suits his temperament."
"Then to outgrow a dogma is to weaken our power. It certainly weakens
our faith in general."
"Yes," she assented, "that is the price we must pay for freedom; but if
Philip can still believe, I have long ago passed the place where I
should regret it. Perhaps he is to be envied."
Maurice shook his head.
"We may feel like that in some moods," he concluded with a smile, "but
certainly nothing would induce you to change places with him." "Oh,
no," she cried; "certainly not. But that is mere womanly lack of
A MINT OF PHRASES IN HIS BRAIN
Love's Labor's Lost, i. 1.
The disappointment of Maurice at the failure of his effort to secure
his aunt's fortune was perhaps rather more than less keen because the
property had never tangibly been his. The title of the fancy is that of
which men are most tenacious, and the thing which has been held in fee
of the imagination is precisely that which it is most grievous to lose.
Maurice returned to Boston completely overcome by the result of his
expedition, his mind overflowing with chagrin and anger.
It was not only the money which he had missed, but he had to his
thinking lost also the hope of being in a position to press his suit
with Berenice. However intangible might be his plans for winning her,
they none the less filled his mind. He refused to regard her coldness
as enduring. He had in his thoughts imagined so many tender scenes of
reconciliation in which he magnanimously forgave her for the sharpness
of the repulse of their last meeting or humbly besought pardon for his
own offenses, that he came to feel as if all misunderstanding had
really been done away with. It had been in his mind that if he were but
in a position to meet Berenice on equal terms in regard to fortune all
might be well; and to be deprived of this hope was infinitely bitter.
Meanwhile he had before him the problem of reshaping his life. It was
necessary that he decide what should take the place of the profession
which he had laid down. Fortunately the decision was not difficult, as
former inclination had practically settled the matter. The definite
shaping of his plans came one day in a talk which he had with his
"It isn't exactly my affair, Maurice," Mrs. Staggchase said, "but I
want to know, and that always makes a thing her affair with a woman,--
what are you going to do with your life now that you have pulled it out
of the mouth of the church?"
"It is good of you to care to ask," he answered. "I suppose I shall
"May I talk with you quite frankly?" she asked. "Fred does me the honor
to say that for a woman I have a reasonably clear head."
"You may say whatever you like, Cousin Diana. I shall only be
"Well, then, in the first place, how much have you to live on?"
"I've about a thousand dollars a year. What was left of the estate at
mother's death amounts to about that. I wanted to give it all to the
church when I went into the Clergy House."
"Why didn't you?"
"Father Frontford wouldn't allow it. He said that a continual sacrifice
meant more than an act that stripped me of power to decide, and which
might be regretted."
"That was a noble temper," Mrs. Staggchase remarked thoughtfully. "A
priest is a strange being. As for you, you say you have never believed,
and yet you would have given up everything you possessed."
Maurice flushed, and looked a little shamefaced.
"I never did believe, so far as I can see now; but I thought I did, if
you see the difference. My wanting to give up everything wasn't belief;
it was a sort of instinctive desire to play fair. If I were to do the
thing at all, my impulse was to do it thoroughly. It isn't in my blood
to do a thing half way. I'm afraid the explanation doesn't speak very
well for my common sense; but so far as I can understand myself that's
the way of it."
"But if you didn't believe what were you there for?"
"I was there because Phil was. I don't pretend to understand why I, who
led Phil in everything else, who did all sorts of things that he
couldn't and had to decide everything else for him, should have
followed his lead so in religion; but I did. It was part of my caring
for him. It would have hurt him so much if I hadn't, that of course I
Mrs. Staggchase regarded him keenly. He turned away his eyes, thinking
of his friend and of the wide gulf which had opened between them, so
that he but half heard and did not understand the comment she made
"The _ewigweibliche_ in masculine shape," she murmured, smiling to
herself. "When the real came, it couldn't hold its power any longer."
"What?" he asked.
"Nothing. I was speaking in riddles. To come back to business,--you say
you've decided upon the law."
"Yes. That was always my choice. I read a good deal of law while I was
in college. It wasn't till I graduated two years ago that I fell into
theology. It's two years wasted."
"Oh, perhaps, and perhaps not. After all, experience in youth is
generally worth what it costs, little as we think so when we pay the
price. Well, then, you can easily live on your income if you choose.
Mr. Staggchase and I will be glad to have you make this your home,
"But, Cousin Diana," he interrupted in astonishment, "there is
certainly no reason why you should burden yourself with me. Not that I
am not a thousand times obliged to you, but"--
"Be as obliged as you like," interrupted she in turn, "only don't be
foolish. Fred and I are not exactly sentimentalists, and we both know
what we wish. He likes to have you to talk with, and when you have
learned to smoke you will find him a very clever and agreeable
companion after dinner. He knows the world, and he'll teach you a great
many things that you'd be slow to find out for yourself. As for me, you
amuse me, let us say. The gods have spared us the bother of children;
but the gifts of the gods are always to be paid for, and we begin to
feel as if there were a sort of loneliness ahead of us with nobody to
be especially interested in. To have somebody younger to care for is a
luxury when you are young yourself, but it's a necessity to age. I
assure you that we shouldn't have you here if we didn't want you, and
that we shall turn you out without scruple when we are tired of you."
"Very well, then," he responded with a laugh, "I am rejoiced to remain
to be a blessing."
They looked into the fire a little time as if they were considering
what effect upon the future this new arrangement would have; then Mrs.
Staggchase glanced up with a smile.
"Just now," she remarked, "before you are plunged in the study of the
law, you may do escort duty for me. I am going to call on Berenice
"On Miss Morison?"
"Yes. Her grandmother is staying with her. Mr. Frostwinch has gone
abroad, you know, and as the old house belongs to Bee, she is staying
"But--but she won't care to see me."
"Very likely not," assented his cousin coolly, "but she'll endure you
for my sake."
"I don't like being endured," he retorted, between fun and earnest.
"Besides, she's so much money"--
"You are not such a cad as to be afraid of her money, I hope."
"Not in one way, but don't you see now that she has so much, and I have
lost Aunt Hannah's"--
"Really, Maurice," she interrupted brusquely, "you must learn not to
speak your thoughts out like that! I'm not asking you to go to propose
to Bee. You have the theological habit of taking things with too
dreadful seriousness. Come with me for a call, and don't bother about
consequences and possibilities."
Maurice blushed at his own folly in betraying his secret scruples, but
his cousin spared him any farther teasing, and they went on their way
peacefully. It seemed to him when he entered the stately Frostwinch
house that it had somehow been transformed. Everything was much as it
had been in the lifetime of Mrs. Frostwinch, yet to his fancy all
looked fresher and more cheerful. He smiled to himself, feeling that
the change must simply be the result of his knowledge that this was now
the home of Berenice; yet even so he could not persuade himself that
the alteration was not actual. He felt joyously alert as he followed
Mrs. Staggchase to the library, where Bee was sitting with old Mrs.
He had never been in this apartment before. It was high, and heavily
made, with an open fire on the hearth, and enough books to justify its
name. Berenice came forward to meet them, and Mrs. Morison remained
seated near the fire.
"I am so glad to see you, Mrs. Staggchase," Bee said cordially. "It is
just one of those dreary days when it proves true courage to come out."
"And true friendship, I hope," the other answered, passing on to Mrs.
Morison. "My dear old friend, I wish I could believe you are as glad to
see me as I am to see you."
Berenice in the mean time gave her hand to Maurice graciously, but with
a certain grave courtesy which he felt to put them upon a purely
"It is kind of you to come," she said. "Grandmother will be glad to see
Maurice tried hard to look unconscious, but he could not help
questioning her with his eyes. She flushed under his eager regard, and
drew back a little.
"I am very glad of the chance to see--Mrs. Morison," he answered.
Bee flushed more deeply yet. Then she turned mischievously to Mrs.
"Grandmother," she said, "it seems that Mr. Wynne came to see you and
The old lady greeted him kindly.
"I am glad to see you looking so well, Mr. Wynne," she said. "I hope
that your arm does not trouble you at all."
"Not at all. I was too well taken care of at Brookfield."
Mrs. Staggchase laughed, spreading out her hands.
"There," said she gayly, "you see! He has only been in my hands a few
weeks, but I call that a very pretty speech."
"He probably has a natural gift for pleasing speeches," Berenice
Maurice crimsoned, but his education had not proceeded far enough for
him to have any reply.
"Well, take him away, Bee, and give him tea or gossip. I want to talk
to your grandmother about old friends, and you young people won't
"He may have tea if he is tractable," responded Bee. "We are evidently
not appreciated, Mr. Wynne. Will you ring the bell over there, please."
He did as he was directed, and then followed her to the tea-table at a
little distance from the fire. He was full of a troubled joy, the
mingled delight of being with her and the consciousness that he had
firmly determined in his own mind that he had no right to show her his
feelings. He said to himself that he could bear anything else better
than that she should think of him as a fortune-hunter. Her wealth
loomed between them as a wall which it were dishonorable even to
attempt to scale. His brain was busy phrasing things which he longed to
say to her, words seemed to seethe in his head, yet he found himself
strangely tongue-tied and awkward. When most of all he desired to
appear at his ease, he was most completely uncomfortable and self-
A servant came with the tea, and he was able to cover to some extent
his uneasiness by serving the ladies. When this was done, and he sat
nervously stirring his own cup, he found himself searching his mind in
vain for those things which it would be safe to say. His brain was full
of things which must not be said. He could think only of things which
it was not safe to utter; and his discomfiture increased as he saw Miss
Morison watching him with a half-veiled smile.
"By the way," she said at length, when the silence was becoming too
marked, "I fulfilled your request."
"My request?" he echoed, unable to remember that he had made any.
"Yes. Have you forgotten that you came to ask me"--
He put out his hand impulsively.
"Please don't!" he interrupted. "It is bad enough to remember what an
unmitigated idiot I was without the humiliation of thinking that you
remember it too."
"I remember," she responded, with a sparkle in her eye, "that you did
not seem to relish the mission on which you were sent. However, I
accepted the intention, and I have promised the men a continuance of
their stipends." Her face grew suddenly grave, and she added: "I can't
joke about it, though. I really did it because Cousin Anna would have
They were silent now because they had come so near a solemn subject
that neither of them cared to speak. The thoughts of Maurice went back
to the day he had come to do the errand of Father Frontford, and his
cheek grew hot.
"I hope you will believe," he said eagerly, "that I had really no idea
of how very ill your cousin was. She seemed so well when I saw her that
it was all unreal to me. I wish I could tell you how sorry I have been
for you. I have thought of you."
She raised her eyes to his, and they exchanged a look in which there
was more than sympathy. Maurice felt her glance so deeply that for the
moment he forgot all else. Obstacles no longer existed. He was looking
into the eyes of the woman he loved, and thrilling as if her heart was
questioning his. It seemed to him that her very self was demanding how
deep and how true had been his thought of her in her time of sorrow. He
bent forward, sounding her gaze with his, trying to convey all the
unspoken words which jostled in his brain. Her eyes fell before his
burning look, and her head drooped. The room was darkening with the
coming dusk, and they sat at some distance from the others. He laid his
hand on hers.
"Berenice!" he whispered.
She rose as if she had not noted.
"Don't you think it is time for lights, grandmother?" she said in a
voice so unemotional that it sent a chill to his heart.
"It is certainly time for us to be going home," Mrs. Staggchase
interposed, rising in her turn.
And far into the night Maurice Wynne vexed his soul with vain endeavors
to decide what Berenice meant by her treatment of him.
WHAT TIME SHE CHANTED
Hamlet, iv. 7.
The grief which Philip felt over the apostasy of Maurice overshadowed
for a time every other feeling. He sorrowed for his friend, praying and
yearning, searching his heart to discover whether his own influence or
example had helped to bring about this lamentable fall; he turned over
in his mind plans for bringing the wanderer back to the fold; he ceased
to think about the coming election, and thought of his ill-starred love
hardly otherwise than as a possible sin which had helped perhaps to
lead to this catastrophe.
Affection between two men is much more likely to be mutual than that
between two women. Men are more generally frank in their likes and
dislikes, they are as a rule more accustomed to feel at liberty to be
open and to please themselves in their familiarities; and it seems to
be true that men are more constant in friendship, as women are said to
be more constant in love. Affection between women, moreover, is apt to
be founded upon circumstance, while that between men is more often a
matter of character.
The fondness of Philip and Maurice for each other was of long standing;
it had arisen out of the mutual needs of their natures, and was part of
their growth. Philip was the one most dependent upon his friend,
however, and now he felt as if he were torn away from his chief
support. He reasoned with himself that he had been letting affection
for his friend come between him and Heaven; he tried to feel that
Providence had interfered to break down his idol; yet to all this he
could not but answer that Maurice had been always a help, and that it
was impossible to believe that Providence would accomplish his good by
the hurt of his benefactor. He did assure himself that his suffering
was the will of a higher power, and as such to be acquiesced in and
improved to his spiritual good. If the voice of his secret heart, that
inner self from which we hide our faces and whose words we so
obstinately refuse to hear, cried out against the cruelty of this
discipline, he but closed his ears more resolutely. To listen would be
to yield to temptation. He would not see Maurice; he hardly permitted
himself to read his friend's letters. He answered these notes by fervid
appeals to the wanderer to return to the fold, to be reconciled with
the church, to take up again the priesthood he had discarded. Hard as
it was, he still strove for what he felt to be the other's lasting
Lent ended, and the gladness of Easter came upon the land; the spring
showed traces of its secret presence by a thousand intangible and
delicate signs in sky, and air, and earth: there was everywhere a stir
and a quickening, a blitheness which belongs to the vernal season only.
Philip felt all these things by the growing sharpness of the contrast
between his mood and that of the world without. His melancholy and
unrest seemed to him to grow every day more intense and unbearable.
That Father Frontford did not more fully realize Philip's condition was
probably due to the near approach of the election. As the time for the
convention drew near, the supporters of the rival candidates redoubled
their exertions; there was hurrying to and fro, writing of letters and
continued consultation, all of which inevitably distracted the
attention of the Father. He did perceive, however, that Philip was
troubled, and nothing could have been more tender or considerate than
his attitude. He did not talk to Ashe about Maurice, but he contrived
to make his deacon understand that no blame was attached to him for the
apostasy of Wynne. Philip found a new affection for the Father
springing in his heart, so soothing, so winning was the sympathy of the
The days passed on until the convention actually assembled. Philip was
feverishly anxious; yet he persistently assured himself that he had no
doubt in regard to the result. He felt that the end had been
accomplished by the work which had already been done; and the
convention itself seemed to him somewhat unreal and unmeaning. It had
in his mind not much more than the function of announcing a result
which he felt to have been arrived at already in the canvassing of
lists of delegates in which he had taken part at Mrs. Wilson's. Until
the thing was formally announced, however, it was impossible to be at
The first day of the convention was mainly one of organization and of
preparation. Business was disposed of and all made ready for the
election of the morrow. Philip went into the convention in the hour of
recreation. He tried to be interested in matters which he assured
himself were of real importance; yet he found his memory dwelling on
Maurice and the times they had talked of this convention. Even his
efforts to fix his thoughts on the election itself could not drive his
friend from his mind. He walked home at last, saying passionately that
he had ceased to care for the church, for its welfare, its fate; that
he had cared only for his own selfish desires and interests. He looked
back upon the convention which he had left, and saw mentally a picture
of men who seemed strange and remote, concerned with matters which he
did not understand, in which he had no interest. He felt completely out
of key with everything; he longed for Maurice with unspeakable pain.
He had rested on Maurice. In every mental crisis he had depended upon
finding his friend at hand, sympathetic, strong, responsive; he had
come to be as one unable to stand alone. It seemed impossible for him
to go on longer without seeing his fellow, his friend, his confidant,
his support. The convention and the Clergy House alike became misty and
accidental in comparison with his own desperate need of Maurice.
A couple of blocks from the House he was joined by a fellow deacon.
"I say, Ashe," was the other's greeting, "did you ever know anything so
unfortunate as that Wilson letter?"
Philip turned upon him an uncomprehending face.
"What is the Wilson letter?" he inquired absently.
"What? Don't you know about it? I saw you at the convention."
"I was there a little while; but there was nothing said about a letter,
that I heard."
"Oh, there has been nothing said about it in the convention, but they
say it will turn the scale."
"But what is it?"
"It's a letter Mrs. Wilson--Mrs. Chauncy Wilson, you know--you must
know who she is?"
"Yes; I know her."
"Well, this is a letter that she wrote to a rector in the western part
of the State,--his name was Briggs or Biggs, or something of that kind.
She said that if he didn't vote for Father Frontford she could get him
out of his parish."
"What!" exclaimed Philip. "She couldn't have written such a thing!"
"There's a fac-simile of it in the hands of every member of the
"But how did it get out?"
"They say," answered the other, eager to impart his information, "that
a man named Rangely had it printed, and sent it around. I don't know
who he is, but he's a newspaper man, I believe."
"I know who he is," Philip returned, "but I thought he was a friend of
Mrs. Wilson. I've seen him at her house. How did he get the letter?"
"I'm sure I don't know; but he had it. He's written a circular to go
with it. He says that that is the way the friends of Father Frontford
are trying to secure the election. There is a great deal of feeling
"But will it make much difference?"
"They say that it will turn the scale. There are a number of men who
were in doubt, and this is likely to be enough to insure Mr.
"What a disgraceful trick!" Philip cried indignantly. "Father Frontford
isn't responsible for what Mrs. Wilson did. Besides, it doesn't change
the real facts of the case. It doesn't make Father Frontford any the
less the right man."
"Of course it doesn't," was the reply. "But I've been talking with my
uncle. He's a delegate from Springfield. He says that he's sure it will
get Mr. Strathmore elected."
The news gave Philip a shock, but it seemed impossible that a trivial,
outside trick like this could alter the conscientious vote of the
candidates. He was uneasy, but he seemed to have lost all vital care
about the election, and even this disconcerting event did not greatly
change his feeling. He reproached himself that he cared so little; yet
his personal misery so absorbed him that his thoughts wandered even
from this new cause for self-reproach.
After supper that night he was summoned to the Father Superior.
"I wish you to do an errand for me," Father Frontford said. "I presume
that you have heard of the publication of Mrs. Wilson's letter. It may
do harm, and whatever happens I want her to know that I do not blame
her. She acted unwisely, no doubt; but her intention was good. Besides,
I really became responsible when I trusted so much to her judgment. I
shall be happier if I know that she is not thinking that I feel
disposed to be vexed with her."
The tone in which this was said was too sincere for Philip to doubt
that the Father uttered his true feeling. He looked into the face of
the other, and was struck by the complete weariness, almost exhaustion,
which marked it. He went on his way haunted by those deep-set eyes, so
full of pain, of fatigue, and, it seemed to Philip, of self-reproach.
Mrs. Wilson was not at home, so that Philip had only to leave the note.
He turned back, crossing the Public Garden in the soft evening.
Overhead was the mysterious darkness, quivering with stars. The air
was full of suggestions of advancing spring. He felt in his veins an
unreasonable restlessness, a stirring as of sap in the tree, a longing
for that which he could not define. He heard around him gay voices and
laughter, for the night was warm, and people were sitting about on the
benches or strolling along the walks. He began to examine the groups he
passed, looking with a curious eye at the couples sitting side by side
in friendly or in loving companionship. He felt so utterly alone, and
all these about him were mated. The tones of women sounded soft and
sweet in his ear. Stray verses of Canticles began to float through his
mind as wisps of vapor drift across the sky before the fog comes in
from the sea. He repeated the collect for the day, and through it all
he was thinking that it was possible to walk past the house of Mrs.
Fenton. The difference in the time of his reaching the Clergy House
would not be so great as to attract notice; he might see her shadow on
the curtain; it was not probable, of course, but it was possible; in
any case, he should feel near to her. He walked more quickly, and as he
did so he heard the notes of a guitar, and then the sound of a girl
singing. It was only the hard, coarse voice of a street-singer, and the
language was Italian. He did not understand the words, but the music
was seductive, the night of spring, star-lit and fragrant with
intangible odors, quickened his sense. Constantly recurring in the
song, as if set there for his ear, he understood the magic word
"_amore, amore_" strung like beads down the necklace warm on a girl's
bosom. Surely he had a right to be human. All the world had leave to
love. He had given Mrs. Fenton up; she was only a memory; he should
never speak to her again; it could not be wrong simply to walk past her
house. He had lost even his friend; if this poor act were a comfort, it
surely was not sin. "_Amore--amore_," sang the Italian girl over there
in the warm, palpitating night. He had consecrated his love as an
offering on the altar; surely he need not therefore deny it.
He had gained Beacon Street, and was walking rapidly, his cheeks hot
and flushed, his heart on fire. Far down a neighboring street he heard
the approach of a band of the Salvation Army. They were singing
shrilly, with beating of tambourines and clanging of cymbals, a vulgar,
raucous tune, redolent of animal vigor and of coarse passions, a tune
as unholy as the rites of a pagan festival. Ashe stood still as with
flaring torches they drew nearer. The blare of the brass, the vibrant,
tingling clangor of the cymbals, the high, penetrating voices of the
women, the barbaric rhythm of the air, made him in his sensitive mood
tremble like a tense string. He shivered with excitement, nervous tears
coming into his eyes so thickly that he turned away blinded, and
stumbled against a man who was passing.
"My good brother," exclaimed a rich, Irish voice, jovial, yet not
without dignity, "you don't see where you are going."
Philip recognized instantly the tones of the priest whom he had met at
the North End; and without even apologizing he answered with an
overwhelming sense of how true were the words in a figurative sense:--
"No, I cannot see."
The other was evidently impressed by the manner in which the reply was
given, for instead of passing on he stopped and examined Ashe closely.
"Can I do anything for you?" he asked.
"Providence has sent you to me, I think," Philip returned. Then he put
his hand on the arm of the stranger, bending forward in his eagerness.
"Where do you live?" he asked. "May I come to see you to-morrow
afternoon? It may be that you can tell me where I am going."
THE WORLD IS STILL DECEIVED
Merchant of Venice, iii. 2.
However much or little the ill-starred letter of Mrs. Wilson may have
had to do with it, the fact was that both houses of the convention
elected Mr. Strathmore by majorities sufficiently large to satisfy even
his friends. The lay delegates were more generally in his favor than
the clergy, which circumstance gave for a time some shadowy hope to the
high-church party that the House of Bishops might refuse to confirm the
election; but whatever consolation was derived from such an expectation
was of short duration. The election was ratified, and almost
immediately preparations were begun for the consecration of the new
Father Frontford remarked to an interviewer at the close of the
convention that "it was not the least happy of the incidents of the
election that Mr. Strathmore had been chosen by a majority so decided,
since it indicated clearly the wishes of the church;" and he used his
influence to prevent any attempt to induce the House of Bishops to
oppose the choice of the convention. As soon as the matter was settled
he called upon Mr. Strathmore and offered his congratulations in
"It is true that I would have prevented your election had I been able,"
he said frankly; "but that was entirely a question of church polity. I
hardly need say how complete is my confidence in your sincerity and
"Brother," Mr. Strathmore replied, with that smile whose charm no man
could resist, "I thank you for coming, and I thank you for your
generous words. One thing we may be sure of and be grateful to God for.
The church is certainly too great and too stable to be shaken by the
mistakes of any one man. If we differ sometimes about the best way of
showing it outwardly, we at least are one in wishing the best interests
of religion and of humanity."
Father Frontford had had some difficulty in soothing Mrs. Wilson after
the election. She declared vehemently that the House of Bishops should
not confirm Mr. Strathmore.
"I will go to New York myself," she announced. "I know I can manage the
Metropolitan. If he's on our side we can prevent that infidel
Strathmore from getting a majority."
It is possible that Father Frontford, with all his decision, might have
been unable to prevent some demonstration, but Dr. Wilson quietly
remarked to his wife:--
"Elsie, we've had enough of this bishop racket. I'm devilish tired of
the whole thing, and I wish you'd find a new amusement."
"But, Chauncy," she responded, "think how maddening it is to be beaten!
And as for that Fred Rangely, I could dig out his eyes and pour in hot
Wilson chuckled gleefully.
"You played your private theatricals just a little prematurely. It was
devilish clever of him to get back at you that way; but that letter has
made newspaper talk enough about you, and you'd better drop church
politics. Isn't it time to get your stud into shape for the summer?"
Elsie shrugged her shoulders.
"I don't know. I hate to give it up while there's a fighting chance.
The campaign has been a lot of fun. However, I suppose you are right.
You have a dreadfully aggravating way of being. Besides, I am pretty
tired of parsons, and horses wear better."
She therefore managed to secure a visiting English duke with a
characteristically shady reputation, gave the most brilliant dinner of
the season in his honor, and retired to her country place in a blaze of
glory; finding some consolation for all her disappointments in the
purchase of a couple of new racers with pedigrees far longer than that
of the duke.
Easter came that year almost at its earliest, and it was therefore
found possible to have the consecration of the new bishop in June. To
it were assembled all the dignitaries of the church. Boston for a
couple of days overflowed with men in ecclesiastical garb; and if the
general public was not deeply stirred by the importance of the event,
all those connected with it were full of interest and excitement.
Mrs. Wilson surprised her friends by returning to town and reopening
her house for the consecration week. She announced to her husband her
intention of doing this as they sat in the library at their country
place while Dr. Wilson smoked his final pipe for the night. They had
been dining out, and had driven home in the moonlight, chatting of the
people they had seen and the gossip they had heard. Elsie was in high
spirits, amusing her husband by her satirical remarks. At last she
"I hope, Chauncy, you won't mind if I go off for a week."
"Off for a week? Where are you going?"
"Into town to open the house for the consecration of the great Bishop
"Well," her husband said, laughing, "I like your grit. If you can't
win, you won't show the white feather."
She laughed in turn, as gleefully and as musically as a child.
"I'm going for revenge."
"Oh, that's it. Is Rangely to die?"
"Pooh, it isn't Rangely. He's too insignificant. I can snub him any
time. It's better fun than that."
"Well, let's hear."
"You know that Marion Delegass is to end her season with a week in
"Well? You are not going to Boston to see her, are you? You've seen her
in Paris and New York enough to last, I should think."
"Oh, no; I'm going to meet her."
"Marion Delegass, the most notoriously disreputable actress even on the
French stage? Well, she'll be a change from your parsons."
"Luckily her last week is the week of the consecration of the heathen."
"Is she to take part?"
"Don't be flippant. I am to give Mlle. Delegass a luncheon. I've
arranged it by letter. By one of the most curious coincidences in the
world it comes on the very day of the consecration."
"That is amusing, but I don't see that it's much of a revenge."
"No?" Elsie responded demurely, casting down her eyes. "I am so sorry
that Mrs. Strathmore can't come."
"Mrs. Strathmore? You didn't ask her!"
"Why, of course, Chauncy, I wanted to show that I hadn't any ill
feeling against the family of my bishop."
"To meet Marion Delegass?"
"Of course. I thought it would liven Mrs. Strathmore up a little. She
always reminded me of water-gruel with not enough salt in it."
Dr. Wilson burst into a roar of laughter, leaning back in his chair and
slapping his knee.
"Marion Delegass! Why she's left more husbands and lovers behind her
than a sailor has wives! Marion Delegass and that prig in petticoats!
Well, Elsie, you do beat the devil!"
"Am I to understand that you know His Satanic Majesty well enough to
speak with authority?" she laughed. "What do you think now of my
"I don't exactly see where the revenge comes in. She won't come to the
"Come? Oh, no; thank Heaven, she won't come. She'd be like a death's
head in a punch-bowl. She won't come, but she'll tell that she was
invited. She'll be too furious not to tell; and everybody will know
that I asked her. That's all I care about."
Wilson laughed again.
"Well," he said again, "you are the cheekiest and the most amusing
woman in town. You'll shock all your relations, but they must be
getting hardened to that by this time."
Whether the relatives were on this occasion more or less shocked than
upon others was not a question to which Elsie devoted any especial
thought. She gave her luncheon, and all the world knew that she had
invited Mrs. Strathmore to meet Marion Delegass on the day of the
consecration. Mrs. Strathmore was so enraged that she talked flames and
fury, even going so far as to wonder whether there were not some
possibility of excommunication; so that her tormentor was enchanted
with the success of her revenge.
The consecration took place on a beautiful June day, and was as
imposing a function in its line as Boston had ever seen. Trinity was
crowded to overflowing, and if the ceremony was less imposing than
would have been the induction of a Catholic bishop, it was impressive
and dignified. The sunlight filtering through the windows of stained
glass splashed fantastic colors over the long surpliced train which
wound through the aisles down to the chancel, singing processionals of
joyous hope; the air was full of the sense of solemn meaning; the organ
pealed; the noble words of the fine old ritual spoke to the hearts of
the hearers, and carried their message of a faith which took hold upon
the unseen. Above all the circumstance, the form, the conventions, the
creeds, rose the spirit of the worshipers, uplifted by the thrilling
realization of the outpouring of the soul of humanity before the
Maurice had accompanied Mrs. Staggchase and Miss Morison to the
ceremony. It had been his impulse not to go, but his cousin urged it,
and it needed little to induce him to go to any place where Berenice
was, even though it were a church. He went with some secret misgiving
lest the service should move him more than he wished; but to his
satisfaction he found that while he felt aesthetic pleasure, he was
inclined to be critical about the doctrine of the ritual. His
satisfaction, he reflected, would have been thought amusing by Mrs.
Staggchase; but it at least assured him that he had not been mistaken
in his mental attitude toward the creed he had discarded.
The thing which most moved him was the sight of Philip among the
surpliced deacons in the procession. Philip's face seemed to him
thinner and paler than of old; he blamed himself that he had not
disregarded his friend's injunction, and insisted upon seeing him. To
his repeated requests Philip had returned answer that he could not bear
the meeting. Maurice had come at length to feel something almost of
resentment at the wall which this prohibition put between them; but to-
day, seeing the white countenance, he experienced a pang of deep self-
reproach. He reflected how sharply his defection must have weighed his
friend down. He should have tried to comfort him; at least he should
have assured Phil that in spite of whatever might come his affection
would remain unchanged.
He thought lovingly of the old days when he and Phil were together, and
of the plans they had sometimes made for keeping if possible together
even after they went out into the world to work. He had the impatience
of one who has recently put a doctrine by for the blindness, as it
seemed to him, which kept Phil still in the power of the old
superstition; but with his friend's white face, marked with mental
suffering, there to soften him, he dwelt little on this, and much on
his affection for his friend and fellow.
As Maurice brooded, watching Philip moving slowly down the aisle,
Berenice bent forward to take a book from the rack, and her face came
between him and his friend. The thought of Philip vanished as a shadow
before a sun-burst. He was conscious only of Berenice, sitting there so
near him, her dark eyes serious with the solemnity of the occasion, her
cheeks tinged with a color so lovely that the lining of a shell or the
petals of a rose were poor things with which to compare it. He forgot
all else, and lost himself in a delicious, troubled dream of what might
be. Surely, surely she must love him! He could not give her up; it was
not possible that he should not some day win her. He fixed on her a
look so ardent that it seemed to compel her glance to meet his. The
flush in her cheek deepened, and he reflected with an exultant thrill
that even in the absorption of a time like this he could reach and move
The rest of the service was little to Maurice. He heard the music,
listened now and then to the words which were being spoken, thought for
a moment here and there upon the strangeness that these people should
be consecrating Mr. Strathmore and not recognizing in the least that
they were assisting at the breaking down of the church; he gave a
little reflection to his own interview with the new bishop, unable
completely to satisfy himself how far Mr. Strathmore was sincere and
how far simply following out a policy; these and other matters floated
through his mind, but they were mere trifles on the surface. His real
thought was of Berenice, always of Berenice. The fluttered, troubled
look which he had seen when his gaze had compelled hers, a look which
seemed to him full of confession of things unutterable, full almost of
appeal as if she realized that she was betraying a feeling that she
feared to own even to herself, this look of a moment so fleeting
clocks could hardly have measured it, filled him with a wild,
unreasoning bliss. He did not again try to challenge her eyes. He sat
in a dream of happiness; a vague, intangible, ecstatic sense that all
was well, that the universe was in tune, and that all things were but
ministers of his joy.
When the ceremonial was concluded Mrs. Staggchase went home with
Berenice to lunch with Mrs. Morison. Maurice put them into their
carriage, feeling that he could not let Berenice go out of his sight.
He stood on the curbstone watching the carriage as if it had set out on
a voyage to regions unknown and far; then smiling at himself with a
realization of what he was doing he turned back to go home himself. As
he did so he came face to face with Philip.
THE HEAVY MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
Measure for Measure, iv. I
The mind of Philip Ashe had not become more quiet as time went on, and
the day of the consecration found him hesitating between his old life
and a new one. Ever since the chance encounter with the Irish priest he
had been going almost every afternoon to talk with this new friend, and
one by one he had found his doubts about the supremacy of the Roman
church fading away. Ashe was of a nature which must rely upon another,
and since he was shut off from the companionship of Wynne it was
inevitable that he should lean upon this great, hearty, healthy man,
who with the possibility of adding a son to the church received him so
warmly. Philip's nature, moreover, inclined him strongly toward a
church which exercised absolute authority, and in doctrinal points he
found himself surprisingly at one with his teacher. Nothing held him
back but the force of habit and a natural hesitancy to break away from
the faith which he had professed. Undoubtedly his feeling for Father
Frontford counted for much; but the fact, that in the months which had
preceded the election the Father Superior had been so much absorbed
that intimacy between him and his deacons was impossible, had greatly
lessened Philip's sense of loyalty to him. Very tenderly and wisely the
priest led Ashe on, until he was in very truth a Catholic in all but
To his ardent, mystical mind, deeply responsive to the ritual of the
older church, the ceremonies of the consecration seemed poor and thin.
He craved symbolism and richly suggestive rites. He had been more than
once in these latter days to the services of the Catholics, and his
imagination came more and more to demand the embodiment in form of the
aspirations of his soul. He tried to stifle the disappointment which
assailed him as the function proceeded, but it was impossible for him
not to realize that the ceremonial of his own faith left him cold and
unsatisfied. He missed the warm emotional excitement of the music, the
incense, the sonorous Latin, the sumptuous robes, and the romantic
associations of the mass.
He felt keenly, moreover, that the man who was being to-day installed
as the head of the diocese was of tendencies distinctly opposed to his
desires. He mingled with disappointment that Father Frontford had not
been chosen a genuine conviction that Strathmore would use his
influence to carry church forms toward a worship ever simpler and more
bare. He could not wholly smother an almost personal resentment against
Strathmore, and a consciousness that it would be always impossible for
him to regard the newly consecrated bishop with that respect and
veneration due to one holding the office. He reflected that the church
must itself be tending toward a dangerous liberalism if it were
possible for this thing to have come about. He listened dully and
confusedly to the service until the time came when the bishop elect
made his vows. He heard the strong voice of Strathmore, vibrant,
deliberate, penetrating, repeat with slow solemnity the promise of
conformity and obedience to the doctrine and worship of the church. The
words tingled through the mind of Ashe like an electric shock. To his
excited feeling Strathmore was perjuring himself in the name of God,
since it was impossible to feel that the new bishop followed or
intended to follow either. He experienced a wild impulse to spring to
his feet and protest; he wondered if he only of all the persons in this
crowded church recognized the shocking irreligion of that vow. He
reflected that in the Catholic communion it would have been impossible
for popular suffrage to raise to the bishopric a man like this, a
heretic and a perjurer.
The service went on, and Philip sat in a sort of dull stupor. He could
not think clearly; he was only dreamily conscious of what was going on
about him. The music, the prayers, the solemn words were to him so
remote from his true self that he seemed to hear them through a veil of
distance. He had ceased to have part in this rite; he ceased even to
Like one who is lost in idle musing, one who concerns himself with
trifling thoughts lest he realize too poignantly a bitter actuality,
Philip sat in his place, now and then glancing about the great church.
Changing his position a little, he saw the face of Mrs. Fenton. He
dwelt on it with mingled grief and pain. More and more he became
absorbed in gazing, while love and anguish swelled in his heart. He
forgot where he was; he saw her only; he felt only her presence in all
the throng. His passion seemed to him greater than ever. He did not for
an instant think of her as of one who could or would requite his
affection; or even as one who belonged to his future life. He was
filled with a sense of the completeness of his devotion to her; he felt
that he had loved her more than Heaven itself; but he felt also that he
was bidding her good-by. He had not definitely said to himself that a
change was before him; yet looking at her he felt it. The shadow of an
eternal farewell seemed to be over him. He was benumbed with suffering;
he drank in her face greedily; he seemed to himself to be imprinting
for the last time upon his memory that which was dearer to him than
life, yet which he was to see no more.
The service ended at last, and once more the long procession of which
he was a part slowly made its way out of the church. Philip found
himself in the vestry in the midst of a crowd of ecclesiastics from
which he extricated himself with all possible speed; and got once more
into the open air. He threaded his way among the groups standing on the
sidewalks chatting and hindering him. Suddenly a man turned close to
him, and Maurice stood before his face.
"Phil!" he heard the joyful voice of his friend cry. "My dear old Phil,
how glad I am to see you!"
The sound was like a charm which breaks a spell. For the instant all
else was forgotten in the pleasure of being again with his heart-
fellow. He could have flung his arms about the other's neck and kissed
him, so keen was his delight. The doubts and distractions which a
moment earlier had bewildered and tortured him vanished before Wynne's
greeting as a mist before a brisk and wholesome wind. He seized the
hand held out to him, and clasped it almost convulsively.
"Maurice!" was all that he could say.
"I really ought not to recognize you," Maurice said, in a great hearty
voice which sounded to Philip strangely unfamiliar. "Why in the world
have you refused to see me? I assure you I'm not contagious."
They were close to a group waiting on the sidewalk, and with
instinctive shrinking Ashe led the way down the street. Soon they were
walking in much the old fashion, and Philip left his friend's question
unanswered until they had gone some distance. Then he turned with a
smile not a little wistful.
"Certainly it was not because I did not long to see you," he said.
Maurice smiled, but Philip sensitively felt a veiled impatience in his
tone as he replied:--
"Oh, Phil, if I could only get the ascetic nonsense out of you!"
Ashe could not answer. He could not reprove his friend after the
separation--which to him had been so long and so sorrowful, and he had
a secret feeling that they were to be more entirely divided. The pair
walked in silence a moment, and then Wynne spoke.
"Well, I'll not talk on forbidden subjects; but, surely, Phil, you are
not going to throw me over entirely. I wouldn't drop you, no matter
"I'm not throwing you over," Philip answered with a choking in his
throat. "I would--Oh, Maurice," he broke out, interrupting himself, "it
isn't for want of caring for you, but if I am ever to help you, I must
keep my own faith. I have been so troubled and so--There," he broke off
again, "let us talk of something else."
He felt that Maurice was studying him carefully.
"Phil, old fellow, you are hysterically incoherent. What's the matter
with you? It can't be all my going off. Can't you come home with me,
and talk it out?"
Ashe shook his head. The more he was touched and moved by the affection
of his friend, the more he shrank from him. This tender comradeship
seemed to him the most subtile of temptations. He feared, moreover,
lest he might reveal to Maurice too much of what was in his heart.
"Not now," he said. "I must go home at once."
"Then I'll walk along with you," rejoined the other. "I do wish you'd
let me help you. You are evidently all played out physically, and half
an eye could see that you've something on your mind. Is it the bishop?"
"That has troubled me a good deal," Ashe returned, feeling a relief in
being able to say this truthfully.
"Well, Phil, if you worry yourself sick over what you can't help, what
strength will you have for the things that you can do? I'm glad it
isn't all my going that has brought you to this, for you look
positively ill. I wish you'd get sick-leave, and go off a while."
Ashe shook his head again. He felt that if Maurice went on talking to
him he should lose his self-command. He must get away; yet he could not
bear to hurt his friend. He turned toward Maurice and held out his
"Dear Maurice," he said, "don't be hurt; but I can't talk with you. I
must be alone. I am upset, and not myself. It is not that I don't trust
you, you know; but there are things that a man has to fight out for
The other stopped, and regarded him closely.
"All right, Phil," he said. "I understand. If you've got a fight with
the devil on hand nobody can help you. I only wish I could."
He wrung the hand of Ashe, and added:
"Good-by. I'm always fond of you, old fellow; and you know that when
there is a place that I can help there's nothing I wouldn't do for
Ashe tried to answer, but he could not command his voice. He could only
return the warm pressure of Wynne's hand, and then, miserable and
hopeless, go on his way to his conflict with the arch fiend.
Once in his chamber Ashe fastened the door, drew down the shades, and
lighted the gas. He laid aside his cassock, and loosened his clothing
so that his breast lay bare. He took from a drawer a little crucifix of
iron. This he placed across the chimney of the gas-burner, and watched
it until it was heated. Then he seized it with his fingers, but the
stinging pain made him drop it to the floor. He bared his breast,
wildly calling aloud to heaven, and flung himself down upon the
crucifix, pressing the hot iron to his naked bosom. A fierce shudder
convulsed him; he extended his arms in the form of a cross, and with
closed eyes lay still an instant. A horrible odor filled the room;
great drops of sweat dripped from his forehead; his teeth were set in
his lower lip. For a moment he remained motionless; then in
uncontrollable agony he writhed over upon his back and fainted.
The return to consciousness was a terrible sensation of misery and
weakness. He was heart-sick and racked in body and mind. Feebly he
rose, and gathered his scattered senses. Then with trembling he got to
his feet. His wound gave him bitter agony, but the bodily pain made him
smile. He took from the same drawer a picture of the Madonna, and knelt
before it with clasped hands. His doubts, his passion, his self-
reproaches, danced like demons before his distracted brain. The
troubled, stormy thoughts of his distraught mind merged insensibly
into prayers. He put aside the clothing and showed to the Virgin Mother
his wounded breast, scarred and bleeding. He looked into her face with
murmured words of contrition, of imploring, of faith. A gracious sense
of her womanly pity, of her heavenly tenderness, stole soothingly over
him. He seemed almost to feel cool hands on his hot forehead; it was as
if in a moment more the heavens might open and grant to him the
beatific vision. There came over him a wave of joy which was beyond
words. The longing of his soul for the woman he loved was merged in the
desire of his heart which yearned toward the blessed Virgin Mother. His
prayers became more glowing, more ecstatic, until in a rapture of
adoration, of bliss, of passion, he fell prostrate before the divine
image, crying out with all his soul:--
"Thou ever blessed one! To thee I give myself! 'O thou, to the arch of
whose eyebrow the new moon is a slave,' receive me, save me!"
He had no sense of incongruity to make the phrase unseemly or
ludicrous. It was to him the formal transfer of his deepest allegiance
from an earthly love to a heavenly. He had at last found peace.
THIS IS NOT A BOON
Othello, iii. 3.
It was Mrs. Wilson who was the immediate means of bringing about an
understanding between Maurice and Berenice. Mrs. Wilson was never so
occupied that she was not able to attend to any new thing which might
turn up, and her interest in the spring races did not prevent her from
having a hand in the affairs of the lovers. While she was in town
attending to the luncheon for Marion Delegass she dined with Mrs.
Staggchase, and Maurice took her down.
"I understand that you are a renegade," she remarked vivaciously as
soon as they were seated. "I wonder you dare look me in the face."
"Because you are the church?" he demanded.
"Certainly not now that that Strathmore is bishop," she retorted,
tossing her head. "However, I always said that you were too good to be
wasted in a cassock."
"Thank you. What would you say if I made such a reflection on the
"Oh, I've no patience with the clergy!" she declared. "They bore me to
death. There's that solemn-faced friend of yours, Mr. Ashe--his name
ought to be Ashes!--he actually lectured me on my worldliness! _My_
worldliness, if you please, and I working myself to a shadow for the
election of Father Frontford!"
"He has imagination, you see," Maurice suggested, smiling.
"Now you are sneering, Mr. Wynne. I shall talk to the man on the other
She was good as her word, and left Maurice to devote himself to the
lady on his right. He had the American adaptability, and a couple of
months had sufficed to make him reasonably at ease at a dinner. The
continuous delight he felt in his freedom, moreover, inspired him with
an inclination to be frank and communicative, so that if he did not
talk like the conventional man of the world, he managed not to sit
silent. His neighbor to-night was Mrs. Thayer Kent, and he chatted
easily with her about the West, where for a couple of years she had
been living on a ranch. Something in Mrs. Kent's talk reminded him of
Berenice, and he sighed inwardly that the latter's mourning prevented
her from going out. As if the thought had been spoken aloud, Mrs.
Wilson recalled herself to his attention by saying in his ear:--
"It is such a pity Berenice Morison isn't here. Have you seen her since
the Mardi Gras ball?"
"Yes," he answered, turning quickly, and vexed to feel himself flush.
"I saw her yesterday at the consecration."
"Did you go? How immoral! I stayed at home and gave a luncheon for
"So I heard; but everybody hadn't such a moral thing as that to do."
"Oh, no; very likely not. By the way, you have never apologized for
deserting me in the middle of the service that night."
"I had to take care of that girl. She fainted."
"Oh, you did? Who was she? What did you do with her? However, I don't
care. It's none of my business. I wonder, though, what sort of a story
you'd have told Berenice if she'd been there."
Wynne was too confused to answer this sally, although he wanted to say
something about the cruelty of taking him into the ball-room. His
confusion increased Mrs. Wilson's amusement.
"I think I should like to be in at the death," she said. "She is coming
down to stay with me next week. Come down and make love to her. I won't
tell about the girl you carried out of church in your arms."
More and more disconcerted and self-conscious, Maurice could only
stammer that Mrs. Wilson flattered him if she supposed that Miss
Morison would tolerate any love-making on his part.
"You are adorable when you blush like that," was the reply which he
got. "I have almost a mind to set you to make love to me. However, that
wouldn't be fair. I will take it out in seeing you and her. You must
surely come down."
Maurice regarded the invitation as merely part of Mrs. Wilson's
badinage, but in due time it was formally repeated by note. He opened
the letter at the breakfast table, and was advised by his cousin to
"Mrs. Wilson," she commented, "is like a banjo, more exciting than
refined, but she isn't bad-hearted. She has the old Boston blood and
traditions behind her."
"They are sometimes rather far behind," interpolated Mr. Staggchase
dryly. "She wasn't a Beauchester, you know. However, she has her
ancestors safe in their graves so that they can't escape her."
Mrs. Staggchase smiled good-naturedly at the little fling at her own
"You are wicked this morning, Fred," was her reply. "Elsie is something
of a sport on the ancestral tree; but she is worth visiting. Berenice
Morison is going down there sometime soon. Perhaps she will be there
with you, Maurice."
"I thought," Mr. Staggchase observed, "that old Mrs. Morison didn't
approve of Mrs. Wilson."
"Nobody approves of Elsie," was Mrs. Staggchase's calm reply. "I'm sure
I don't; but after all she is a sort of cousin of Berenice, and she
can't very well refuse to visit her. Really, there is nothing bad about
Elsie. She is startling, and she certainly does things which are bad
form. That's half of it because she married as she did."
Nothing more was said, and Maurice kept his own counsel in regard to
the fact that he knew that Miss Morison was to be his fellow-guest. He
was full of wild hopes. He reproached himself that he was wrong to
forget that Berenice was rich and he was poor; yet not for all his
reproaches could he keep himself from feeling Mrs. Wilson had not
seemed to see any insurmountable obstacle to his wooing; that she had
appeared rather to be ready to help his suit. He must not, of course,
try to win Berenice; yet he was going to Mrs. Wilson's to meet her, to
be with her, to revel in the delicious pleasure of hoping, of fearing,
The house of the Wilsons at Beverly Farms was on a bluff overlooking
the sea. It was reached by a long avenue winding through pines mingled
with birches and rowan trees; and stood in a clearing where all the day
and all the night the sound of the waves on the cliff answered the
whispering of the wind in the pine-tops. The broad piazzas of the house
looked out over the sea, and gave views of the islands off shore, the
ever-changing water, the beautiful curves of the sea marge, now high
with defiant rocks, and now falling into sandy beaches. A level lawn,
velvety and green, stretched from the house to the edge of the cliff,
with here and there a rustic seat or a century plant stiff and arrogant
in its lonely exile from warmer climes.
On this piazza Maurice found himself, just before dinner on the evening
of his arrival, walking up and down with Berenice. It was still cool
enough to make the exercise grateful.
"It is so delightful to have the weather warm enough to be out of doors
without being all bundled up," she said, looking over the sea, cold
green and gray in the declining light.
"The water doesn't look very warm," Maurice responded, following her
"No, it isn't exactly summer yet," she replied lightly. "Do you know,"
she added, turning to meet his eyes, "I can't help thinking how
different this is from the last time we were together away from
"When we were at Brookfield?"
"It is different; more different to me than you can have any idea of.
Then I was a cog in a machine; now I am my own master."
They walked to the end of the piazza, turned, and came down again. They
were facing the light now, and her face shone with the pale glow of the
declining day. In her black dress, with a soft shawl thrown about her,
she was dazzling; and Maurice found it difficult not to take her in his
arms then and there.
"It must have been a strange feeling," she observed thoughtfully, "to
know that you were not master of your own movements, but had to do as
you were told, whether you approved of it or not."
"Strange," he echoed, a sense of slavery coming over him which was far
stronger than anything he had felt while the bondage lasted, "it was
"Yet you endured it?" she returned, regarding him curiously.
"Yes, I endured it. In the first place, I thought that it was my duty;
and in the second, it was not so hard until I had seen"--
"Well, until you had seen?"--
"Until I had seen you, I was going to say."
Berenice flushed, and tossed her head.
"You have caught a pretty trick of paying compliments, Mr. Wynne."
"No," he answered with gravity, "I have only the mistaken temerity to
say the truth."
She regarded him with a mocking light in her deep, velvety eyes.
"And is it the truth that you have given up your religion because you
have seen me?"
Maurice wondered afterward how he looked when she sped this shaft, for
he saw her shrink and pale. She even stammered some sort of an apology;
but he did not heed it. Although he was sure that he should sooner or
later have come to the same conclusion whether he had met Berenice or
not, he knew in his secret heart that there was in her words some savor
at least of truth. He felt their bitterness to his heart's core, and
could only stand speechless, reproaching her with his glance. If they
were true it was cruel for her to say them. He regarded her a moment,
and then turned toward the long French window by which they had come
out of the house. Berenice recovered herself instantly, and behaved as
if nothing had occurred to mar the serenity of their talk.
"Yes," she said in an even voice, "you are right. It is becoming too
cold to stay out here."
He held open the window for her, and she swept past him with a soft
rustle and a faint breath of perfume. He did not follow, but drew the
window to behind her and continued his promenade alone until he was
summoned to dinner. All his glorious air-castles had fallen in ruins
about his feet, and he rated himself as a fool for having come to
Beverly Farms to meet this girl who evidently flouted him.
The result of this conversation was to bring Maurice to the resolution
to return to town. All the doubts which had been in his mind arose like
ghosts ill exorcised, more tangible and more insistent than ever. He
realized that he had come here fully persuaded in his secret heart that
Miss Morison must love him, and with the hope of winning some proof of
it. Now he assured himself that she did not care for him and that he
had been a fool to indulge in a dream so absurd. The obstacles which
lay between them presented themselves to him in a dismal array. He
decided that she could have no respect for him, or she could not have
thrown at him the implication that he had apostatized from selfish
motives. With all the awful solemnity with which a man deeply in love
examines trifles, he recalled her looks and words, deciding that he was
to her nothing more than the butt of her light contempt; and secretly
wondering when and where he should see her again, he decided to leave
He announced his determination next morning to his hostess. As he could
not well give the real reason for his decision, and had no experience
in social finesse, he came off badly when asked why he had come to this
sudden decision. He could not equivocate; and when Mrs. Wilson asked
him point-blank if Berenice had been treating him badly, he could only
take refuge in the reply that it was not for him to criticise what Miss
Morison chose to do. He persisted in his resolution to return to
Boston, feeling obstinately that he could not with dignity remain where
he was while Berenice was there. A man of the world would at once have
seen the folly of such a course, but Maurice was not a man of the
"Well," Mrs. Wilson said, after she had argued with him a little, "you
have retained the clerical obstinacy, whatever else you've given up. I
am not in the habit of pressing my guests to stay if they are tired of
my society. If you choose to go, of course you will go."
"Oh, it is not that I am tired of your society," poor Maurice put in
"If I were a man," his hostess went on, "I never would let a woman see
that I minded how she treated me. You'd soon have her coming down from
her high horse if you showed her that you didn't care."
Maurice flushed painfully. It was impossible for him to talk to Mrs.
Wilson about his feeling for Berenice.
"I am afraid that I had better go," he said, with eyes abased.
She regarded him with a mixture of impatience and amusement struggling
in her face.
"By all means go," she retorted. "I'll tell Patrick to be at the door
in time to take you to the three o'clock train."
She swept away rather brusquely, leaving him disconsolate and uneasy.
He felt that he had bungled matters; but before he had time to consider
Berenice appeared, and joined him on the piazza.
"I am sent by Mrs. Wilson," she announced, "to ask you to stay."
"You take some pains to clear yourself from the suspicion of having any
interest in the matter."
"'I am only a messenger,'" she quoted saucily, seating herself on the
rail of the piazza in the sunshine, and looking so piquant that Maurice
felt resolution and resentment oozing out of his mind with fatal
He flushed at her allusion to his ill-considered interview with her,
but he could not for his life be half so indignant as he wished to be.
"Apparently an indifferent messenger. You evidently do not care whether
I go or I stay."
"Why should I?"
"Why should Mrs. Wilson?" he retorted, not very well knowing what he
"Oh, Mrs. Wilson is your hostess. Besides," Bee went on, a delightful
look of mischief coming into her face, "she said that she hated to have
her plans interfered with, and that you were so handsome that she liked
to have you about."
Maurice flushed with a strangely mixed sensation of pleased vanity and
irritation, and was angry with himself that he could not receive her
jesting unmoved. He bowed stiffly.
"I am very sorry," he returned, "that Mrs. Wilson should be deprived of
so beautiful an ornament for her place."
"Then you will go?" Bee demanded, looking at him with mirthful eyes, a
glance which so moved him that he could not face it.
"I see no reason why I should remain."
"There certainly can be none if you see none. Well, I want to give you
something of yours before you leave us."
She drew from the folds of her handkerchief the little grotesque mask
which she had pinned upon her lover's cassock at the Mardi Gras ball.
Maurice flushed hotly at the sight.
"You are determined, Miss Morison, to spare me no humiliation in your
"Humiliation?" she echoed. "Why, I was humiliating myself. Seriously,
Mr. Wynne, I have been ashamed of that performance ever since; and I
most sincerely beg your pardon. The humiliation is mine entirely."
"But where in the world," demanded he, a new thought striking him, "did
you get the thing? You know I threw it on the table."
"Miss Carstair gave it to Mr. Stanford, and I got it from him."
Maurice came a step nearer.
"Why?" he asked, his voice deepening.
"I--I didn't like to have him keep it," Bee murmured, with downcast
face and lower tone.
"Why?" he repeated, so much in earnest that his voice was almost
She was for a moment more confused than ever, but rallying she held out
"Oh, that I might tease you with it again!" she laughed.
He took the absurd trinket in his hand.
"It is pretty badly dilapidated," he observed.
"Yes," she said demurely. "I crushed it in the carriage on the way home
from the ball. I--I crumpled it up in my hand."
"You keep saying 'why' over and over to me, Mr. Wynne, as if I were on
"Why?" he persisted.
He had forgotten all the doubts which had beset and hindered him, the
scruples he had had about wooing, and the fears that she did not love
him. He was conscious only that she was there before him and that he
loved her; that her downcast looks seemed to encourage him, so that it
was impossible to rest until he knew what was really in her mind. The
unspoken message which he had somehow intangibly received from her made
him forget everything else. He loved her; he loved her, and a wild hope
was beating in his heart and seething in his brain. He could not turn
back now; he must know. He saw her grow paler as he looked at her,
standing so close that his face was bent down almost over her bent
head. He felt that her secret, nay, the crown of life itself, was
within his grasp if he did not fail now.
"Why?" he asked still again, hardly conscious that he said it, and yet
determined that he would win an answer at whatever cost.
She raised her face slowly, shyly; her eyes were shining.
"Because," she said, hardly above a whisper, "I was determined to
convince myself that I hated you. But then"--
Her words faltered, yet he still did not dare to give way to the warm
tide which he felt swelling up from his heart. His voice softened
almost to the tone of hers.
The crimson stained her beautiful face, and faded.
"I think I--I kissed it," she murmured, so low that the words were mere
phantoms of speech.
He tried to answer, but the words choked in his throat. He sprang
forward, and gathered her into his arms. It is an art which even
deacons may know by nature.
When the pair came in to luncheon an hour later, Mrs. Wilson looked up
at them, and then without question turned to a servant.
"You may tell Patrick that we shan't need the carriage for the
station," that sagacious woman said coolly.
Maurice was both surprised and touched by the gratification which his
engagement gave to his friends. Mrs. Wilson might be expected to take
satisfaction, since any woman is likely to approve of any match which
she may be allowed to have a hand in promoting; the Staggchases were
delighted, and Mrs. Morison received him with a kindness which moved
him more than anything else. Mrs. Morison treated him much as if he
were her son. She spoke wisely to him about his future, and she had a
word of warning on the subject of his attitude toward religion.
"My dear Maurice," she said, after she had come to call him by that
name, "let me give you a caution. The most fanatical belief is less
evil than dogmatic denial. If you are really the agnostic you claim to
be, your very confession that the truth is too great for human grasp
binds you to respect the unknown."
"But one cannot respect dogmas," he objected.
"We were not speaking of dogmas," she responded with sweet and
dignified earnestness, "but of the mystery of life and the great
unknown that incloses it. The great fault and danger of this age is
that it is all for breaking down. It reforms abuses and improves away
old errors; but it seems to forget the need of providing something to
take the place of what it clears away. Men can no more live without a
belief than without air."
"But it is hard to have patience with what one sees to be false."
"What one believes to be false, you mean. It isn't easy to have
patience with those who hold to theories that we've laid by; but surely
it is impossible not to respect the spirit in which any honest soul
"Yes," Maurice assented, somewhat doubtfully; "but it is so hard to
have patience with creeds that are entirely outworn."
The old lady smiled and shook her head.
"Again I have to say 'which seem to you outworn.' A creed is never
really outworn so long as a single man sincerely believes in it.
However, you may have as little patience as you like with them if you
will only remember that after all the creed itself is nothing, while
the attitude of the mind to truth is everything. If you respect
conviction, that is all I ask."
Mrs. Staggchase at another time had also an ethical word for him.
Maurice was deeply moved by the fact that Philip had gone into the
Catholic church and entered a monastery at Montreal. Like his friend,
Ashe had left the Clergy House as soon as he had come to the decision
to which his doubts led. He had seen Maurice, and had talked to him
unreservedly of his faith and of his plans. It was idle to attempt to
move him; and it was after bidding the proselyte good-by that Maurice
was talking of him to Mrs. Staggchase, and lamenting what occurred.
"My dear fellow," she observed in her faintly satirical manner, "I know
that I'm growing old, because whereas my convictions used to be all
right and my actions all wrong, now my actions are right enough, but my
convictions have all evaporated. Mr. Ashe is still young enough to need
convictions, and the more rigid they are the more contented he'll be."
"But with his training, to turn out in this way," responded Maurice.
"It's amazing. Think of a New England Puritan turned Catholic!"
"On the contrary, it is the most natural thing in the world. His
Puritan training is what has made him a Catholic."
Maurice thought a moment in silence.
"I suppose," he said at length, "that in this age there are only two
things possible for a thinking man. One must go over to Rome and rest
on authority, or choose to use his reason, and be an agnostic."
Mrs. Staggchase regarded him with a smile which made him flush a
"'No doubt but ye are the people,'" she quoted, "'wisdom shall die with
you.' Yet I have known persons really of intellectual respectability
who haven't found it necessary to do either."
He was too wise to answer her. He remembered that it was time to keep
an appointment with Berenice, and he smiled with the air of one too
happy to be ruffled.
"I suppose," he remarked, as he rose to go, "that if I would give you
the chance you would easily prove that Phil and I both are merely
Puritans more or less disguised!"