Part 10 out of 14
'Only it is the first drawback in our real day-dream.'
'Just so, and that is all,' said Amy; 'I am glad you feel the same, not
that I want you to change your mind.'
'Don't you remember our resolution against mere pleasure-hunting? That
adventure at Interlachen seemed to be meant to bring us up short just
as we were getting into that line.'
'You think we were?'
'I was, at least; for I know it was a satisfaction not to find a
letter, to say Redclyffe was ready for us.'
'I had rather it was Redclyffe than Philip.'
'To be sure, I would not change my own dancing leaping waves for this
clear blue looking-glass of a lake, or even those white peaks. I want
you to make friends with those waves, Amy. But it is a more real
matter to make friends with Philip, the one wish of my life. Not that
I exactly expect to clear matters up, but if some move is not made now,
when it may, we shall stand aloof for life, and there will be the feud
where it was before.'
'It is quite right,' said Amy; 'I dare say that, meeting so far from
home, he will be glad to see us, and to hear the Hollywell news. I
little thought last autumn where I should meet him again.'
On the second evening from that time, Philip Morville was walking, hot
and dusty, between the high stone walls bordering the road, and
shutting out the beautiful view of the lake, at the entrance of
Ballagio, meditating on the note he bad received from Guy, and
intending to be magnanimous, and overlook former offences for Amabel's
sake. He would show that he considered the marriage to have cleared
off old scores, and that as long as she was happy, poor little thing,
her husband should be borne with, though not to the extent of the
spoiling the Edmonstones gave him.
Thus reflecting, he entered the town, and walked on in search of the
hotel. He presently found himself on a terrace, looking out on the
deep blue lake, there divided by the promontory of Bellagio, into two
branches, the magnificent mountain forms rising opposite to him. A
little boat was crossing, and as it neared the landing-place, he saw
that it contained a gentleman and lady, English--probably his cousins
themselves. They looked up, and in another moment had waved their
recognition. Gestures and faces were strangely familiar, like a bit of
Hollywell transplanted into that Italian scene. He hastened to the
landing-place, and was met by a hearty greeting from Guy, who seemed
full of eagerness to claim their closer relationship, and ready to be
'How d'ye do, Philip? I am glad we have caught you at last. Here she
If he had wished to annoy Philip, he could hardly have done so more
effectually than by behaving as if nothing was amiss, and disconcerting
his preparations for a reconciliation. But the captain's ordinary
manner was calculated to cover all such feelings; and as he shook
hands, he felt much kindness for Amabel, as an unconscious victim,
whose very smiles were melancholy, and plenty of them there were, for
she rejoiced sincerely in the meeting, as Guy was pleased, and a home
face was a welcome sight.
'I have your letters in my knapsack; I will unpack them as soon as we
get to the hotel. I thought it safer not to send them in search of you
again, as we were to meet so soon.'
'Certainly. Are there many?'
'One for each of you, both from Hollywell. I was very sorry to have
engrossed them; but not knowing you were so near, I only gave my
'It was lucky for us,' said Guy, 'otherwise we could not have traced
you. We saw your name at Altdorf, and have been trying to come up with
you ever since.'
'I am glad we have met. What accounts have you from home?'
'Excellent,' said Amy; 'Charlie is uncommonly well, he has been out of
doors a great deal, and has even dined out several times.'
'I am very glad.'
'You know he has been improving ever since his great illness.'
'You would be surprised to see how much better he moves,' said Guy; 'he
helps himself so much more.'
'Can he set his foot to the ground?'
'No,' said Amy, 'there is no hope of that; but he is more active,
because his general health is improved; he can sleep and eat more.'
'I always thought exertion would do more for him than anything else.'
Amabel was vexed, for she thought exertion depended more on health,
than health on exertion; besides, she thought Philip ought to take some
blame to himself for the disaster on the stairs. She made no answer,
and Guy asked what Philip had been doing to-day.
'Walking over the hills from Como. Do you always travel in this
fashion, "impedimentis relictis"?'
'Not exactly,' said Guy; 'the "impedimenta" are, some at Varenna, some
at the inn with Arnaud.'
'So you have Arnaud with you?'
'Yes, and Anne Trower,' said Amy, for her maid was a Stylehurst person,
who had lived at Hollywell ever since she had been fit for service.
'She was greatly pleased to hear we were going to meet the captain.'
'We amuse ourselves with thinking how she gets on with Arnaud,' said
Guy. 'Their introduction took place only two days before we were
married, since which, they have had one continued tete-a-tete, which
must have been droll at first.'
'More so at last,' said Amy. 'At first Anne thought Mr. Arnaud so fine
a gentleman, that she hardly dared to speak to him. I believe nothing
awed her so much as his extreme courtesy; but lately he has been quite
fatherly to her, and took her to dine at his sister's chalet, where I
would have given something to see her. She tells me he wants her to
admire the country, but she does not like the snow, and misses our
beautiful clover-fields very much.'
'Stylehurst ought to have been better training for mountains,' said
They were fast losing the stiffness of first meeting. Philip could not
but acknowledge to himself that Amy was looking very well, and so happy
that Guy must be fulfilling the condition on which he was to be borne
with. However, these were early days, and of course Guy must be kind
to her at least in the honeymoon, before the wear and tear of life
began. They both looked so young, that having advised them to wait
four years, he was ready to charge them with youthfulness, if not as a
fault, at least as a folly; indeed, the state of his own affairs made
him inclined to think it a foible, almost a want of patience, in any
one to marry before thirty. It was a conflict of feeling. Guy was so
cordial and good-humoured, that he could not help being almost gained;
but, on the other hand, he had always thought Guy's manners eminently
agreeable; and as happiness always made people good-humoured, this was
no reason for relying on him. Besides, the present ease and openness
of manner might only result from security.
Other circumstances combined, more than the captain imagined, in what
is popularly called putting him out. He had always been hitherto on
equal terms with Guy; indeed, had rather the superiority at Hollywell,
from his age and assumption of character, but here Sir Guy was
somebody, the captain nobody, and even the advantage of age was lost,
now that Guy was married and head of a family, while Philip was a stray
young man and his guest. Far above such considerations as he thought
himself, and deeming them only the tokens of the mammon worship of the
time, Philip, nevertheless, did not like to be secondary to one to whom
he had always been preferred; and this, and perhaps the being half
ashamed of it, made him something more approaching to cross than ever
before; but now and then, the persevering amiability of both would
soften him, and restore him to his most gracious mood.
He gave them their letters when they reached the inn, feeling as if he
had a better right than they, to one which was in Laura's writing, and
when left in solitary possession of the sitting-room--a very pleasant
one, with windows opening on the terrace just above the water--paced up
and down, chafing at his own perplexity of feeling.
Presently they came back; Guy sat down to continue their joint journal-
like letter to Charles, while Amabel made an orderly arrangement of
their properties, making the most of their few books, and taking out
her work as if she had been at home. Philip looked at the books.
'Have you a "Childe Harold" here?' said he. 'I want to look at
something in it.'
'No, we have not.'
'Guy, you never forget poetry; I dare say you can help me out with
those stanzas about the mists in the valley.'
'I have never read it,' said Guy. 'Don't you remember warning me
'You did not think that was for life! Besides,' he continued, feeling
this reply inconsistent with his contempt for Guy's youth, 'that
applied to his perversions of human passions, not to his descriptions
'I think,' said Guy, looking up from his letter, 'I should be more
unwilling to take a man like that to interpret nature than anything
else, except Scripture. It is more profane to attempt it.'
'I see what you mean,' said Amabel, thoughtfully.
'More than I do,' said Philip. 'I never supposed you would take my
advice "au pied de la lettre",' he had almost added, 'perversely.'
'I have felt my obligations for that caution ever since I have come to
some knowledge of what Byron was,' said Guy.
'The fascination of his "Giaour" heroes has an evil influence on some
minds,' said Philip. 'I think you do well to avoid it. The half
truth, resulting from its being the effect of self-contemplation, makes
it more dangerous.'
'True,' said Guy, though he little knew how much he owed to having
attended to that caution, for who could have told where the mastery
might have been in the period of fearful conflict with his passions, if
he had been feeding his imagination with the contemplation of revenge,
dark hatred, and malice, and identifying himself with Byron's brooding
and lowering heroes!
'But,' continued Philip, 'I cannot see why you should shun the fine
descriptions which are almost classical--the Bridge of Sighs, the
'He may describe the gladiator as much as he pleases,' said Guy;
'indeed there is something noble in that indignant line--
Butchered to make a Roman holiday;
but that is not like his meddling with these mountains or the sea.'
'Fine description is the point in both. You are over-drawing.'
'My notion is this,' said Guy,--'there is danger in listening to a man
who is sure to misunderstand the voice of nature,--danger, lest by
filling our ears with the wrong voice we should close them to the true
one. I should think there was a great chance of being led to stop
short at the material beauty, or worse, to link human passions with the
glories of nature, and so distort, defile, profane them.'
'You have never read the poem, so you cannot judge,' said Philip,
thinking this extremely fanciful and ultra-fastidious. 'Your rule would
exclude all descriptive poetry, unless it was written by angels, I
'No; by men with minds in the right direction.'
'Very little you would leave us.'
'I don't think so,' said Amabel. 'Almost all the poetry we really care
about was written by such men.'
'Shakspeare, for instance?'
'No one can doubt of the bent of his mind from the whole strain of his
writings,' said Guy. 'So again with Spenser; and as to Milton, though
his religion was not quite the right sort, no one can pretend to say he
had it not. Wordsworth, Scott--'
'Scott?' said Philip.
'Including the descriptions of scenery in his novels,' said Amy,
'where, I am sure, there is the spirit and the beauty.'
'Or rather, the spirit is the beauty,' said Guy.
'There is a good deal in what you say,' answered Philip, who would not
lay himself open to the accusation of being uncandid, 'but you will
forgive me for thinking it rather too deep an explanation of the
grounds of not making Childe Harold a hand-book for Italy, like other
Amabel thought this so dogged and provoking, that she was out of
patience; but Guy only laughed, and said, 'Rather so, considering that
the fact was that we never thought of it.'
There were times when, as Philip had once said, good temper annoyed him
more than anything, and perhaps he was unconsciously disappointed at
having lost his old power of fretting and irritating Guy, and watching
him champ the bit, so as to justify his own opinion of him. Every
proceeding of his cousins seemed to give him annoyance, more especially
their being at home together, and Guy's seeming to belong more to
Hollywell than himself. He sat by, with a book, and watched them, as
Guy asked for Laura's letter, and Amy came to look over his half-
finished answer, laughing over it, and giving her commands and
messages, looking so full of playfulness and happiness, as she stood
with one hand on the back of her husband's chair, and the other holding
the letter, and Guy watching her amused face, and answering her remarks
with lively words and bright smiles. 'People who looked no deeper than
the surface would, say, what a well-matched pair,' thought Philip; 'and
no doubt they were very happy, poor young things, if it would but
last.' Here Guy turned, and asked him a question about the line of
perpetual snow, so much in his own style, that he was almost ready to
accuse them of laughing at him. Next came what hurt him most of all,
as they talked over Charles's letter, and a few words passed about
Laura, and the admiration of some person she had met at Allonby. The
whole world was welcome to admire her: nothing could injure his hold on
her heart, and no joke of Charles could shake his confidence; but it
was hard that he should be forced to hear such things, and ask no
questions, for they evidently thought him occupied with his book, and
did not intend him to listen. The next thing they said, however,
obliged him to show that he was attending, for it was about her being
'Who? Laura!' he said, in a tone that, in spite of himself, had a
startled sound. 'You did not say she had been ill?'
'No, she has not,' said Amy. 'Dr. Mayerne said there was nothing
really the matter: but she has been worried and out of spirits lately;
and mamma thought it would be good for her to go out more.'
Philip would not let himself sigh, in spite of the oppressing
consciousness of having brought the cloud over her, and of his own
inability to do aught but leave her to endure it in silence and
patience. Alas! for how long! Obliged, meanwhile, to see these young
creatures, placed, by the mere factitious circumstance of wealth, in
possession of happiness which they had not had time either to earn or
to appreciate. He thought it shallow, because of their mirth and
gaiety, as if they were only seeking food for laughter, finding it in
mistakes, for which he was ready to despise them.
Arnaud had brought rather antiquated notions to the renewal of his
office as a courier: his mind had hardly opened to railroads and
steamers, and changes had come over hotels since his time. Guy and
Amabel, both young and healthy, caring little about bad dinners, and
unwilling to tease the old man by complaints, or alterations of his
arrangements, had troubled themselves little about the matter; took
things as they found them, ate dry bread when the cookery was bad,
walked if the road was 'shocking'; went away the sooner, if the inns
were 'intolerable'; made merry over every inconvenience, and turned it
into an excellent story for Charles. They did not even distress
themselves about sights which they had missed seeing.
Philip thought all this very foolish and absurd, showing that they were
unfit to take care of themselves, and that Guy was neglectful of his
wife's comforts: in short, establishing his original opinion of their
youth and folly.
So passed the first evening; perhaps the worst because, besides what he
had heard about Laura, he had been somewhat over-fatigued by various
hot days' walks.
Certain it is, that next morning he was not nearly so much inclined to
be displeased with them for laughing, when, in speaking to Anne, he
inadvertently called her mistress Miss Amabel.
'Never mind,' said Amy, as Anne departed--and he looked disconcerted,
as a precise man always does when catching himself in a mistake--'Anne
is used to it, Guy is always doing it, and puzzles poor Arnaud sorely
by sending him for Miss Amabel's parasol.'
'And the other day,' said Guy, 'when Thorndale's brother, at Munich,
inquired after Lady Morville, I had to consider who she was.'
'Oh! you saw Thorndale's brother, did you?'
'Yes; he was very obliging. Guy had to go to him about our passports:
and when he found who we were, he brought his wife to call on us, and
asked us to an evening party.'
'Did you go?'
'Guy thought we must, and it was very entertaining. We had a curious
adventure there. In the morning, we had been looking at those
beautiful windows of the great church, when I turned round, and saw a
gentleman--an Englishman--gazing with all his might at Guy. We met
again in the evening, and presently Mr. Thorndale came and told us it
was Mr. Shene.'
'Shene, the painter?'
'Yes. He had been very much struck with Guy's face: it was exactly
what he wanted for a picture he was about, and he wished of all things
just to be allowed to make a sketch.'
'Did you submit?'
'Yes' said Guy; 'and we were rewarded. I never saw a more agreeable
person, or one who gave so entirely the impression of genius. The next
day he took us through the gallery, and showed us all that was worth
'And in what character is he to make you appear?'
'That is the strange part of it,' said Amabel. 'Don't you remember how
Guy once puzzled us by choosing Sir Galahad for his favourite hero? It
is that very Sir Galahad, when he kneels to adore the Saint Greal.'
'Mr. Shene said he had long been dreaming over it, and at last, as he
saw Guy's face looking upwards, it struck him that it was just what he
wanted: it would be worth anything to him to catch the expression.'
'I wonder what I was looking like!' ejaculated Guy.
'Did he take you as yourself, or as Sir Galahad?'
'As myself, happily.'
'How did he succeed?'
'Amy likes it; but decidedly I should never have known myself.'
'Ah,' said his wife--
'Could some fay the giftie gie us,
To see ourselves as others see us.'
'As far as the sun-burnt visage is concerned, the glass does that every
'Yes, but you don't look at yourself exactly as you do at a painted
window,' said Amy, in her demure way.
'I cannot think how you found time for sitting,' said Philip.
'0, it is quite a little thing, a mere sketch, done in two evenings and
half an hour in the morning. He promises it to me when he has done
with Sir Galahad,' said Amy.
'Two--three evenings. You must have been a long time at Munich.'
'A fortnight,' said Guy, 'there is a great deal to see there.'
Philip did not quite understand this, nor did he think it very
satisfactory that they should thus have lingered in a gay town, but he
meant to make the best of them to-day, and returned to his usual
fashion of patronizing and laying down the law. They were so used to
this that they did not care about it; indeed, they had reckoned on it
as the most amiable conduct to be expected on his part.
The day was chiefly spent in an excursion on the lake, landing at the
most beautiful spots, walking a little way and admiring, or while in
the boat, smoothly moving over the deep blue waters, gaining lovely
views of the banks, and talking over the book with which their
acquaintance had begun, "I Promessi Sposi". Never did tourists spend a
more serene and pleasant day.
On comparing notes as to their plans, it appeared that each party had
about a week or ten days to spare; the captain before he must embark
for Corfu, and Sir Guy and Lady Morville before the time they had fixed
for returning home. Guy proposed to go together somewhere, spare the
post-office further blunders, and get the Signor Capitano to be their
interpreter. Philip thought it would be an excellent thing for his
young cousins for him to take charge of them, and show them how people
ought to travel; so out came his little pocket map, marked with his
route, before he left Ireland, whereas they seemed to have no fixed
object, but to be always going 'somewhere.' It appeared that they had
thought of Venice, but were easily diverted from it by his design of
coasting the eastern bank of the Lago di Como, and so across the
Stelvio into the Tyrol, all together as far as Botzen, whence Philip
would turn southward by the mountain paths, while they would proceed to
Innsbruck on their return home.
Amabel was especially pleased to stay a little longer on the banks of
the lake, and to trace out more of Lucia's haunts; and if she secretly
thought it would have been pleasanter without a third person, she was
gratified to see how much Guy's manner had softened Philip's injustice
and distrust, making everything so smooth and satisfactory, that at the
end of the day, she told her husband that she thought his experiment
had not failed.
She was making the breakfast the next morning, when the captain came
into the room, and she told him Guy was gone to settle their plans with
Arnaud. After lingering a little by the window, Philip turned, and
with more abruptness than was usual with him, said--
'You don't think there is any cause of anxiety about Laura?'
'No; certainly not!' said Amy, surprised. 'She has not been looking
well lately, but Dr. Mayerne says it is nothing, and you know'--she
blushed and looked down--'there were many things to make this a trying
'Is she quite strong? Can she do as much as usual?'
'She does more than ever: mamma is only afraid of her overworking
herself, but she never allows that she is tired. She goes to school
three days in the week, besides walking to East-hill on Thursday, to
help in the singing; and she is getting dreadfully learned. Guy gave
her his old mathematical books, and Charlie always calls her Miss
Philip was silent, knowing too well why she sought to stifle care in
employment; and feeling embittered against the whole world, against her
father, against his own circumstances, against the happiness of others;
nay, perhaps, against the Providence which had made him what he was.
Presently Guy came in, and the first thing he said was, 'I am afraid we
must give up our plan.'
'How?' exclaimed both Philip and Amy.
'I have just heard that there is a fever at Sondrio, and all that
neighbourhood, and every one says it would be very foolish to expose
ourselves to it.'
'What shall we do instead?' said Amy.
'I told Arnaud we would let him know in an hour's time; I thought of
'Venice, oh, yes, delightful.'
'What do you say, Philip?' said Guy.
'I say that I cannot see any occasion for our being frightened out of
our original determination. If a fever prevails among the half-starved
peasantry, it need not affect well-fed healthy persons, merely passing
through the country.'
'You see we could hardly manage without sleeping there,' said Guy: 'we
must sleep either at Colico, or at Madonna. Now Colico, they say, is a
most unhealthy place at this time of year, and Madonna is the very
heart of the fever--Sondrio not much better. I don't see how it is to
be safely done; and though very likely we might not catch the fever, I
don't see any use in trying.'
'That is making yourself a slave to the fear of infection.'
'I don't know what purpose would be answered by running the risk,' said
'If you chose to give it so dignified a name as a risk,' said Philip.
'I don't, then,' said Guy, smiling. 'I should not care if there was
any reason for going there, but, as there is not, I shall face Mr.
Edmonstone better if I don't run Amy into any more chances of
'Is Amy grateful for the care,' said Philip, 'after all her wishes for
the eastern bank?'
'Amy is a good wife,' said Guy. 'For Venice, then. I'll ring for
Arnaud. You will come with us, won't you, Philip?'
'No, I thank you; I always intended to see the Valtelline, and an
epidemic among the peasantry does not seem to me to be sufficient to
'0 Philip, you surely will not?' said Amy.
'My mind is made up, Amy, thank you.'
'I wish you would be persuaded,' said Guy. 'I should like particularly
to have you to lionize us there; and I don't fancy your running into
The argument lasted long. Philip by no means approved of Venice,
especially after the long loitering at Munich, thinking that in both
places there was danger of Guy's being led into mischief by his musical
connections. Therefore he did his best, for Amabel's sake, to turn
them from their purpose, persuaded in his own mind that the fever was a
mere bugbear, raised up by Arnaud; and, perhaps, in his full health and
strength, almost regarding illness itself as a foible, far more the
dread of it. He argued, therefore, in his most provoking strain,
becoming more vexatious as the former annoyance was revived at finding
the impossibility of making Guy swerve from his purpose, while
additional mists of suspicion arose before him, making him imagine that
the whole objection was caused by Guy's dislike to submit to him, and a
fit of impatience of which Amy was the victim; nay, that his cousin
wanted to escape from his surveillance, and follow the beat of his
inclinations; and the whole heap of prejudices and half-refuted
accusations resumed their full ascendancy. Never had his manner been
more vexatious, though without departing from the coolness which always
characterized it; but all the time, Guy, while firm and unmoved in
purpose, kept his temper perfectly, and apparently without effort.
Even Amabel glowed with indignation, at the assumption with which he
was striving to put her husband down, though she rejoiced to see its
entire failure: for some sensible argument, or some gay, lively, good-
humoured reply, was the utmost he could elicit. Guy did not seem to be
in the least irritated or ruffled by the very behaviour which used to
cause him so many struggles. Having once seriously said that he did
not think it right to run into danger, without adequate cause, he held
his position with so much ease, that he could afford to be playful, and
laugh at his own dread of infection, his changeableness, and credulity.
Never had temper been more entirely subdued; for surely if he could
bear this, he need never fear himself again.
So passed the hour; and Amabel was heartily glad when the debate was
closed by Arnaud's coming for orders. Guy went with him; Amabel began
to collect her goods; and Philip, after a few moments' reflection,
spoke in the half-compassionate, half-patronizing manner with which he
used, now and then, to let fall a few crumbs of counsel or commendation
for silly little Amy.
'Well, Amy, you yielded very amiably, and that is the only way. You
will always find it best to submit.'
He got no further in his intended warning against the dissipations of
Venice, for her eyes were fixed on him at first with a look of extreme
wonder. Then her face assumed an expression of dignity, and gently,
but gravely, she said, 'I think you forget to whom you are speaking.'
The gentlemanlike instinct made him reply, 'I beg your pardon'--and
there he stopped, as much taken by surprise as if a dove had flown in
his face. He actually was confused; for in very truth, he had, after a
fashion, forgotten that she was Lady Morville, not the cousin Amy with
whom Guy's character might be freely discussed. He had often presumed
as far with his aunt; but she, though always turning the conversation,
had never given him a rebuff. Amabel had not done; and in her soft
voice, firmly, though not angrily, she spoke on. 'One thing I wish to
say, because we shall never speak on this subject again, and I was
always afraid of you before. You have always misunderstood him, I
might almost say, chosen to misunderstand him. You have tried his
temper more than any one, and never appreciated the struggles that have
subdued it. It is not because I am his wife that I say this--indeed I
am not sure it becomes me to say it; yet I cannot bear that you should
not be told of it, because you think he acts out of enmity to you. You
little know how your friendship has been his first desire--how he has
striven for it--how, after all you have done and written, he defended
you with all his might when those at home were angry--how he sought you
out on purpose to try to be real cordial friends'
Philip's face had grown rigid, and chiefly at the words, 'those at home
were angry.' 'It is not I that prevent that friendship,' said he: 'it
is his own want of openness. My opinion has never changed.'
'No; I know it has never changed' said Amy, in a tone of sorrowful
displeasure. 'Whenever it does, you will be sorry you have judged him
She left the room, and Philip held her in higher esteem. He saw there
was spirit and substance beneath that soft girlish exterior, and hoped
she would better be able to endure the troubles which her precipitate
marriage was likely to cause her; but as to her husband, his combined
fickleness and obstinacy had only become more apparent than ever--
fickleness in forsaking his purpose, obstinacy in adherence to his own
Displeased and contemptuous, Philip was not softened by Guy's freedom
and openness of manner and desire to help him as far as their roads lay
together. He was gracious only to Lady Morville, whom he treated with
kindness, intended to show that he was pleased with her for a reproof
which became her position well, though it could not hurt him. Perhaps
she thought this amiability especially insufferable: for when she
arrived at Varenna her chief thought was that here they should be free
'Come, Philip,' said Guy, at that last moment, 'I wish you would think
better of it after all, and come with us to Milan.'
'Thank you, my mind is made up.'
'Well, mind you don't catch the fever: for I don't want the trouble of
'Thank you; I hope to require no such services of my friends,' said
Philip, with a proud stem air, implying, 'I don't want you.'
'Good-bye, then,' said Guy. Then remembering his promise to Laura, he
added, 'I wish we could have seen more of you. They will be glad to
hear of you at Hollywell. You have had one warm friend there all
He was touched for a moment by this kind speech, and his tone was less
grave and dignified. 'Remember me to them when you write,' he
answered, 'and tell Laura she must not wear herself out with her
studies. Good-bye, Amy, I hope you will have a pleasant journey.'
The farewells were exchanged and the carriage drove off. 'Poor little
Amy!' said Philip to himself, 'how she is improved. He has a sweet
little wife in her. The fates have conspired to crown him with all man
can desire, and little marvel if he should abuse his advantages. Poor
little Amy! I have less hope than ever, since even her evident wishes
could not bend his determination in this trifle; but she is a good
little creature, happy in her blindness. May it long continue! It is
my uncle and aunt who are to be blamed.'
He set himself to ascend the mountain path, and they looked back,
watching the firm vigorous steps with which he climbed the hill side,
then stood to wave his hand to Amabel looking a perfect specimen of
health and activity.
'Just like himself,' said Amy, drawing so long a breath that Guy
smiled, but did not speak.
'Are you much vexed?' said she.
'I don't feel as if I had made the most of my opportunities.'
'Then if you have not, I can tell you who has. What do you think of
his beginning to give me a lecture how to behave to you?'
'Did he think you wanted it very much?'
'I don't know: for of course I could not let him go on.'
Guy was so much diverted at the idea of her wanting a lecture on wife-
like deportment, that he had no time to be angry at the impertinence,
and he made her laugh also by his view that was all force of habit.
'Now, Guido--good Cavaliere Guido--do grant me one satisfaction,' said
she, coaxingly. 'Only say you are very glad he is gone his own way.'
On the contrary, I am sorry he is running his head into a fever,' said
Guy, pretending to be provoking.
'I don't want you to be glad of that, I only want you to be glad he is
not sitting here towering over us.' Guy smiled, and began to whistle--
'Cock up your beaver, and cock it fu' sprush!'
And turned the thistles of a curse
To types beneficent.--WORDSWORTH
It was about three weeks after the rendezvous at Bellagio, that Sir Guy
and Lady Morville arrived at Vicenza, on their way from Venice. They
were in the midst of breakfast when Arnaud entered, saying,--
'It was well, Sir Guy, that you changed your intention of visiting the
Valtelline with Captain Morville.'
'What! Have you heard anything of him?'
'I fear that his temerity has caused him to suffer. I have just heard
that an Englishman of your name is severely ill at Recoara.'
'At "la badia di Recoara". It is what in English we call a watering-
place, on the mountains to the north, where the Vicentini do go in
summer for "fraicheur", but they have all returned in the last two days
for fear of the infection.'
'I'll go and make inquiries' said Guy, rising in haste. Returning in a
quarter of an hour, he said,--'It is true. It can be no other than
poor Philip. I have seen his doctor, an Italian, who, when he saw our
name written, said it was the same. He calls it "una febbre molto
'Very heavy! Did he only know the name in writing?'
'Only from seeing it on his passport. He has been unable to give any
'How dreadfully ill he must be! And alone! What shall we do? You
won't think of leaving me behind you, whatever you do?' exclaimed
'It is at no great distance, and--'
'0, don't say that. Only take me with you. I will try to bear it, if
you don't think it right; but it will be very hard.'
Her eyes were full of tears, but she struggled to repress them, and was
silent in suspense as she saw him considering.
'My poor Amy!' said he, presently; 'I believe the anxiety would be
worse for you if I were to leave you here.'
'Oh, thank you!' exclaimed she.
'You will have nothing to do with the nursing. No, I don't think there
is much risk; so we will go together.'
'Thank you! thank you! and perhaps I may be of some use. But is it
'I hope not: caught at Colico, and imported to a fresh place. I should
think there was little fear of its spreading. However, we must soon be
off: I am afraid he is very ill, and almost deserted. In the first
place, I had better send an express to the Consul at Venice, to ask him
to recommend us a doctor, for I have not much faith in this Italian.'
They were soon on the way to Recoara, a road bordered on one side by
high rocks, on the other by a little river flowing down a valley, shut
in by mountains. The valley gradually contracted in the ascent, till
it became a ravine, and further on a mere crevice marked by the thick
growth of the chestnut-trees; but before this greater narrowing, they
saw the roofs of the houses in the little town. The sun shone clear,
the air had grown fresh as they mounted higher; Amabel could hardly
imagine sickness and sorrow in so fair a spot, and turned to her
husband to say so, but he was deep in thought, and she would not
The town was built on the bank of the stream, and very much shut in by
the steep crags, which seemed almost to overhang the inn, to which they
drove, auguring favourably of the place from its fresh, clean aspect.
Guy hastened to the patient; while Amabel was conducted to a room with
a polished floor, and very little furniture, and there waited anxiously
until he returned. There was a flush on his face, and almost before he
spoke, he leant far out of the window to try to catch a breath of air.
'We must find another room for him directly,' said he. 'He cannot
possibly exist where he is--a little den--such an atmosphere of fever--
enough to knock one down! Will you have one got ready for him?'
'Directly,' said Amabel, ringing. 'How is he?'
'He is in a stupor; it is not sleep. He is frightfully ill, I never
felt anything like the heat of his skin. But that stifling hole would
account for much; very likely he may revive, when we get him into a
better atmosphere. No one has attended to him properly. It is a
terrible thing to be ill in a foreign country without a friend!'
Arnaud came, and Amabel sent for the hostess, while Guy returned to his
charge. Little care had been taken for the solitary traveller on foot,
too ill to exact attention, and whose presence drove away custom; but
when his case was taken up by a Milord Inglese, the people of the inn
were ready to do their utmost to cause their neglect to be forgotten,
and everything was at the disposal of the Signora. The rooms were
many, but very small, and the best she could contrive was to choose
three rooms on the lower floor, rather larger than the rest, and
opening into each other, as well as into the passage, so that it was
possible to produce a thorough draught. Under her superintendence,
Anne made the apartment look comfortable, and almost English, and
sending word that all was ready, she proceeded to establish herself in
the corresponding rooms on the floor above.
Philip was perfectly unconscious when he was carried to his new room.
His illness had continued about a week, and had been aggravated first
by his incredulous and determined resistance of it, and then by the
neglect with which he had been treated. It was fearful to see how his
great strength had been cut down, as there he lay with scarcely a sign
of life, except his gasping, labouring breath. Guy stood over him, let
the air blow in from the open window, sprinkled his face with vinegar,
and moistened his lips, longing for the physician, for whom, however,
he knew he must wait many hours. Perplexed, ignorant of the proper
treatment, fearing to do harm, and extremely anxious, he still was
almost rejoiced: for there was no one to whom he was so glad to do a
service, and a hope arose of full reconciliation.
The patient was somewhat revived by the fresh air, he breathed more
freely, moved, and made a murmuring sound, as if striving painfully for
'"Da bere",' at last he said; and if Guy had not known its meaning, it
would have been plain from the gasping, parched manner in which it was
'Some water?' said Guy, holding it to his lips, and on hearing the
English, Philip opened his eyes, and, as he drank, gazed with a heavy
sort of wonder. 'Is that enough? Do you like some on your forehead?'
'Is that more comfortable? We only heard to-day you were ill.'
He turned away restlessly, as if hardly glad to see Guy, and not awake
to the circumstances, in a dull, feverish oppression of the senses.
Delirium soon came on, or, more properly, delusion. He was distressed
by thinking himself deserted, and struggling to speak Italian, and when
Guy replied in English, though the native tongue seemed to fall kindly
on his ear, yet, to Guy's great grief, the old dislike appeared to
prevent all comfort in his presence, though he could not repel his
attentions. At night the wandering increased, till it became
unintelligible raving, and strength was required to keep him in bed.
Amabel seldom saw her husband this evening. He once came up to see
her, when she made him drink some coffee, but he soon went, telling her
he should wait up, and begging her to go to rest quietly, as she looked
pale and tired. The night was a terrible one, and morning only brought
insensibility. The physician arrived, a sharp-looking Frenchman, who
pronounced it to be a very severe and dangerous case, more violent than
usual in malaria fever, and with more affection of the brain. Guy was
glad to be set to do something, instead of standing by in inaction; but
ice and blisters were applied without effect, and they were told that
it was likely to be long before the fever abated.
Day after day passed without improvement, and with few gleams of
consciousness, and even these were not free from wandering; they were
only intervals in the violent ravings, or the incoherent murmurs, and
were never clear from some torturing fancy that he was alone and ill at
Broadstone, and neither the Edmonstones nor his brother-officers would
come to him, or else that he was detained from Stylehurst. 'Home' was
the word oftenest on his lips. 'I would not go home,' the only
expression that could sometimes be distinctly heard. He was obliged to
depend on Guy as the only Englishman at hand; but whenever he
recognized him, the traces of repugnance were evident, and in his
clearer intervals, he always showed a preference for Arnaud's
attendance. Still Guy persevered indefatigably, sitting up with him
every night, and showing himself an invaluable nurse, with his tender
hand, modulated voice, quick eye, and quiet activity. His whole soul
was engrossed: he never appeared to think of himself, or to be sensible
of fatigue; but was only absorbed in the one thought of his patient's
comfort! He seldom came to Amabel except at meals, and now and then
for a short visit to her sitting-room to report on Philip's condition.
If he could spare a little more time when Philip was in a state of
stupor, she used to try to persuade him to take some rest; and if it
was late, or in the heat of noon, she could sometimes get him, as a
favour to her, to lie down on the sofa, and let her read to him; but it
did not often end in sleep, and he usually preferred taking her out
into the fresh air, and wandering about among the chestnut-trees and
green hillocks higher up in the ravine.
Very precious were these walks, with the quiet grave talk that the
scene and the circumstances inspired--when he would tell the thoughts
that had occupied him in his night-watches, and they shared the subdued
and deep reflection suited to this period of apprehension. These were
her happiest times, but they were few and uncertain. She had in the
meantime to wait, to watch, and hope alone, though she had plenty of
employment; for besides writing constant bulletins, all preparations
for the sickroom fell to her share. She had to send for or devise
substitutes for all the conveniences that were far from coming readily
to hand in a remote Italian inn--to give orders, send commissions to
Vicenza, or even to Venice, and to do a good deal, with Anne's'
assistance, by her own manual labour. Guy said she did more for Philip
outside his room than he did inside, and often declared how entirely at
a loss he should have been if she had not been there, with her ready
resources, and, above all, with her sweet presence, making the short
intervals he spent out of the sick chamber so much more than repose,
such refreshment at the time, and in remembrance.
Thus it had continued for more than a fortnight, when one evening as
the French physician was departing, he told Guy that he would not fail
to come the next night, as he saw every reason to expect a crisis. Guy
sat intently marking every alteration in the worn, flushed, suffering
face that rested helplessly on the pillows, and every unconscious
movement of the wasted, nerveless limbs stretched out in pain and
helplessness, contrasting his present state with what he was when last
they parted, in the full pride of health, vigour, and intellect. He
dwelt on all that had passed between them from the first, the strange
ancestral enmity that nothing had as yet overcome, the
misunderstandings, the prejudices, the character whose faultlessness he
had always revered, and the repeated failure of all attempts to be
friends, as if his own impatience and passion had borne fruit in the
merited distrust of the man whom of all others he respected, and whom
he would fain love as a brother. He earnestly hoped that so valuable a
life might be spared; but if that might not be, his fervent wish was,
that at least a few parting words of goodwill and reconciliation might
be granted to be his comfort in remembrance.
So mused Guy during the night, as he watched the heavy doze between
sleep and stupor, and tried to catch the low, indistinct mutterings
that now and then seemed to ask for something. Towards morning Philip
awoke more fully, and as Guy was feeling his pulse, he faintly asked,--
'How many?' while his eyes had more of their usual expression.
'I cannot count,' returned Guy; 'but it is less than in the evening.
Philip took some, then making an effort to look round, said,--'What day
'Saturday morning, the 23rd of August.'
'I have been ill a long time!'
'You have indeed, full three weeks; but you are better to-night.'
He was silent for some moments; then, collecting himself, and looking
fixedly at Guy, he said, in his own steady voice, though very feeble,--
'I suppose, humanly speaking, it is an even chance between life and
'Yes,' said Guy, firmly, the low sweet tones of his voice full of
tenderness. 'You are very ill; but not without hope.' Then, after a
pause, during which Philip looked thoughtful, but calm, he added,--'I
have tried to bring a clergyman here, but I could not succeed. Would
you like me to read to you?'
'Thank you-presently--but I have something to say. Some more water;--
thank you.' Then, after pausing, 'Guy, you have thought I judged you
harshly; I meant to act for the best.'
'Don't think of that,' said Guy, with a rush of joy at hearing the
words of reconciliation he had yearned for so long.
'And now you have been most kind. If I live, you shall see that I am
sensible of it;' and he feebly moved his hand to his cousin, who
pressed it, hardly less happy than on the day he stood before Mrs.
Edmonstone in the dressing-room. Presently, Philip went on. 'My
sister has my will. My love to her, and to--to--to poor Laura.' His
voice suddenly failed; and while Guy was again moistening his lips, he
gathered strength, and said,--'You and Amy will do what you can for
her. Do not let the blow come suddenly. Ah! you do not know. We have
been engaged this long time.'
Guy did not exclaim, but Philip saw his amazement. 'It was very wrong;
it was not her fault,' he added. 'I can't tell you now; but if I live
all shall be told. If not, you will be kind to her?'
'Indeed we will.'
'Poor Laura!' again said Philip, in a much weaker voice, and after
lying still a little longer, he faintly whispered,--'Read to me.'
Guy read till he fell into a doze, which lasted till Arnaud came in the
morning, and Guy went up to his wife.
'Amy,' said he, entering with a quiet bright look, 'he has spoken to me
according to my wish.'
'Then it is all right,' said Amabel, answering his look with one as
calm and sweet. 'Is he better?'
'Not materially; his pulse is still very high; but there was a gleam of
perfect consciousness; he spoke calmly and clearly, fully understanding
his situation. Come what will, it is a thing to be infinitely thankful
for! I am very glad! Now for our morning reading.'
As soon as it was over, and when Guy had satisfied himself that the
patient was still quiet, they sat down to breakfast. Guy considered a
little while, and said,--
'I have been very much surprised. Had you any idea of an attachment
between him and Laura?'
'I know she is very fond of him, and she has always been his favourite.
What? Has he been in love with her all this time, poor fellow?'
'He says they are engaged.'
'Laura? Our sister! Oh, Guy, impossible! He must have been
'I could have almost thought so; but his whole manner forbade me to
think there was any delusion. He was too weak to explain; but he said
it was not her fault, and was overcome when speaking of her. He begged
us to spare her from suddenly hearing of his death. He was as calm and
reasonable as I am at this moment. No, Amy, it was not delirium.'
'I don't know how to believe it!' said Amabel. 'It is so impossible
for Laura, and for him too. Don't you know how, sometimes in fevers,
people take a delusion, and are quite rational about everything else,
and that, too; if only it was true; and don't you think it very likely,
that if he really has been in love with her all this time, (how much he
must have gone through!) he may fancy he has been secretly engaged, and
'I cannot tell,' said Guy; 'there was a reality in his manner of
speaking that refuses to let me disbelieve him. Surely it cannot be
one of the horrors of death that we should be left to reproach
ourselves with the fancied sins we have been prone to, as well as with
our real ones. Then'--and he rose, and walked about the room--'if so,
more than ever, in the hour of death, good Lord, deliver us!'
Amabel was silent, and presently he sat down, saying,--'Well, time will
'I cannot think it' said Amy. 'Laura! How could she help telling
mamma!' And as Guy smiled at the recollection of their own simultaneous
coming to mamma, she added,--'Not only because it was right, but for
the comfort of it.'
'But, Amy, do you remember what I told you of poor Laura's fears, and
what she said to me, on our wedding-day?'
'Poor Laura!' said Amy. 'Yet--' She paused, and Guy presently said,--
'Well, I won't believe it, if I can possibly help it. I can't afford
to lose my faith in my sister's perfection, or Philip's, especially
now. But I must go; I have loitered too long, and Arnaud ought to go
to his breakfast.'
Amabel sat long over the remains of her breakfast. She did not puzzle
herself over Philip's confession, for she would not admit it without
confirmation; and she could not think of his misdoings, even those of
which she was certain, on the day when his life was hanging in the
balance. All she could bear to recollect was his excellence; nay, in
the tenderness of her heart, she nearly made out that she had always
been very fond of him, overlooking that even before Guy came to
Hollywell, she had always regarded him with more awe than liking, been
disinclined to his good advice, shrunk from his condescension, and
regularly enjoyed Charles's quizzing of him. All this, and all the
subsequent injuries were forgotten, and she believed, as sincerely as
her husband, that Philip had been free from any unkind intention. But
she chiefly dwelt on her own Guy, especially that last speech, so
unlike some of whom she had heard, who were rather glad to find a flaw
in a faultless model, if only to obtain a fellow-feeling for it.
'Yes,' thought she, 'he might look far without finding anything better
than himself, though he won't believe it. If ever he could make me
angry, it will be by treating me as if I was better than he. Such
nonsense! But I suppose his goodness would not be such if he was
conscious of it, so I must be content with him as he is. I can't be so
unwifelike after all; for I am sure nothing makes me feel so small and
foolish as that humility of his! Come, I must see about some dinner
for the French doctor.'
She set to work on her housewifery cares; but when these were
despatched, it was hard to begin anything else on such a day of
suspense, when she was living on reports from the sick room. The
delirium had returned, more violent than ever; and as she sat at her
open window she often heard the disconnected words. She could do
nothing but listen--she could neither read nor draw, and even letter-
writing failed her to-day, for it seemed cruel to send a letter to his
sister, and if Philip was not under a delusion, it was still worse to
write to Hollywell; it made her shudder to think of the misery she
might have inflicted in the former letters, where she had not spared
the detail of her worst fears and conjectures, and by no means softened
the account, as she had done to his sister.
Late in the afternoon the physician came, and she heard of his being
quieter; indeed, there were no sounds below. It grew dark; Arnaud
brought lights, and told her Captain Morville had sunk into stupor.
After another long space, the doctor came to take some coffee, and said
the fever was lessening, but that strength was going with it, and if
"le malade" was saved, it would be owing to the care and attention of
Of Guy she saw no more that evening. The last bulletin was pencilled
by him on a strip of paper, and sent to her at eleven at night:
'Pulse almost nothing; deadly faintness; doctor does not give him up;
it may be many hours: don't sit up; you shall hear when there is
Amy submitted, and slowly put herself to bed, because she thought Guy
would not like to find her up; but she had little sleep, and that was
dreamy, full of the same anxieties as her waking moments, and perhaps
making the night seem longer than if she had been awake the whole time.
At last she started from a somewhat sounder doze than usual, and saw it
was becoming light, the white summits of the mountains were beginning
to show themselves, and there was twilight in the room. Just then she
heard a light, cautious tread in the passage; the lock of Guy's
dressing-room was gently, slowly turned. It was over then! Life or
death? Her heart beat as she heard her husband's step in the next
room, and her suspense would let her call out nothing but--'I am not
Guy came forward, and stood still, while she looked up to the outline
of his figure against the window. With a kind of effort he said, with
forced calmness--'He'll do now! and came to the bedside. His face was
wet with tears, and her eyes were over-flowing. After a few moments he
murmured a few low words of deep thanksgivings, and again there was a
'He is asleep quietly and comfortably,' said Guy, presently, 'and his
pulse is steadier. The faintness and sinking have been dreadful; the
doctor has been sitting with his hand on his pulse, telling me when to
put the cordial into his mouth. Twice I thought him all but gone; and
till within the last hour, I did not think he could have revived; but
now, the doctor says we may almost consider the danger as over.'
'Oh, how glad I am! Was he sensible? Could he speak?'
'Sensible at least when not fainting; but too weak to speak, or often,
to look up. When he did though, it was very kindly, very pleasantly.
And now! This is joy coming in the morning, Amy!'
'I wonder if you are happier now than after the shipwreck,' said Amy,
after a silence.
'How can you ask? The shipwreck was a gleam, the first ray that came
to cheer me in those penance hours, when I was cut off from all; and
now, oh, Amy! I cannot enter into it. Such richness and fullness of
blessing showered on me, more than I ever dared to wish for or dream
of, both in the present and future hopes. It seems more than can
belong to man, at least to me, so unlike what I have deserved, that I
can hardly believe it. It must be sent as a great trial.'
Amabel thought this so beautiful, that she could not answer; and he
presently gave her some further particulars. He went back in spite of
her entreaties that he would afford himself a little rest, saying that
the doctor was obliged to go away, and Philip still needed the most
careful watching. Amy could not sleep any more, but lay musing over
that ever-brightening goodness which had lately at all times almost
startled her from its very unearthliness.
Sure all things wear a heavenly dress,
Which sanctifies their loveliness,
Types of that endless resting day,
When we shall be as changed as they.--HYMN FOR SUNDAY
From that time there was little more cause for anxiety. Philip was,
indeed, exceedingly reduced, unable to turn in bed, to lift his head,
or to speak except now and then a feeble whisper; but the fever was
entirely gone, and his excellent constitution began rapidly to repair
its ravages. Day by day, almost hour by hour, he was rallying,
spending most of his time profitably in sleep, and looking very
contented in his short intervals of waking. These became each day
rather longer, his voice became stronger, and he made more remarks and
inquiries. His first care, when able to take heed of what did not
concern his immediate comfort, was that Colonel Deane should be written
to, as his leave of absence was expired; but he said not a word about
Hollywell, and Amabel therefore hoped her surmise was right, that his
confession had been prompted by a delirious fancy, though Guy thought
something was implied by his silence respecting the very persons of
whom it would have been natural to have talked.
He was very patient of his weakness and dependence, always thankful and
willing to be pleased, and all that had been unpleasant in his manner
to Guy was entirely gone. He liked to be waited on by him, and
received his attentions without laborious gratitude, just in the way
partly affectionate, partly matter of course, that was most agreeable;
showing himself considerate of his fatigue, though without any of his
old domineering advice.
One evening Guy was writing, when Philip, who had been lying still, as
if asleep, asked, 'Are you writing to Hollywell?'
'Yes, to Charlotte; but there is no hurry, it won't go till tomorrow.
Have you any message?
'No, thank you.'
Guy fancied he sighed; and there was a long silence, at the end of
which he asked, 'Guy, have I said anything about Laura?'
'Yes,' said Guy, putting down the pen.
'I thought so; but I could not remember,' said Philip, turning round,
and settling himself for conversation, with much of his ordinary
deliberate preparation; 'I hope it was not when I had no command of
'No, you were seldom intelligible, you were generally trying to speak
Italian, or else talking about Stylehurst. The only time you mentioned
her was the night before the worst.'
'I recollect,' said Philip. 'I will not draw back from the resolution
I then made, though I did not know whether I had spoken it, let the
consequences be what they may. The worst is, that they will fall the
most severely on her: and her implicit reliance on me was her only
His voice was very low, and so full of painful feeling that Guy doubted
whether to let him enter on such a subject at present; but remembering
the relief of free confession, he thought it best to allow him to
proceed, only now and then putting in some note of sympathy or of
interrogation, in word or gesture.
'I must explain,' said Philip, 'that you may see how little blame can
be imputed to her. It was that summer, three years ago, the first
after you came. I had always been her chief friend. I saw, or thought
I saw, cause for putting her on her guard. The result has shown that
the danger was imaginary; but no matter--I thought it real. In the
course of the conversation, more of my true sentiments were avowed than
I was aware of; she was very young, and before we, either of us, knew
what we were doing, it had been equivalent to a declaration. Well! I
do not speak to excuse the concealment, but to show you my motive. If
it had been known, there would have been great displeasure and
disturbance; I should have been banished; and though time might have
softened matters, we should both have had a great deal to go through.
Heaven knows what it may be now! And, Guy,' he added, breaking off
with trembling eagerness, 'when did you hear from Hollywell? Do you
know how she has borne the news of my illness?'
'We have heard since they knew of it,' said Guy; 'the letter was from
Mrs. Edmonstone to Amy; but she did not mention Laura.'
'She has great strength; she would endure anything rather than give
way; but how can she have borne the anxiety and silence? You are sure
my aunt does not mention her?'
'Certain. I will ask Amy for the letter, if you like.'
'No, do not go; I must finish, since I have begun. We did not speak of
an engagement; it was little more than an avowal of preference; I doubt
whether she understood what it amounted to, and I desired her to be
silent. I deceived myself all along, by declaring she was free; and I
had never asked for her promise; but those things will not do when we
see death face to face, and a resolve made at such a moment must be
kept, let it bring what it may.'
'She will be relieved; she wished it to be known; but I thought it best
to wait for my promotion--the only chance of our being able to marry.
However, it shall be put into her father's hands as soon as I can hold
a pen. All I wish is, that she should not have to bear the brunt of
'He is too kind and good-natured to keep his displeasure long.'
'If it would only light on the right head, instead of on the head of
the nearest. You say she was harassed and out of spirits. I wish you
were at home; Amy would comfort her and soften them.'
'We hope to go back as soon as you are in travelling condition. If you
will come home with us, you will be at hand when Mr. Edmonstone is
ready to forgive, as I am sure he soon will be. No one ever was so
glad to forget his displeasure.'
'Yes; it will be over by the time I meet him, for she will have borne
it all. There is the worst! But I will not put off the writing, as
soon as I have the power. Every day the concealment continues is a
'And present suffering is an especial earnest and hope of forgiveness,'
said Guy. 'I have no doubt that much may be done to make Mr.
Edmonstone think well of it.'
'If any suffering of mine would spare hers!' sighed Philip. 'You
cannot estimate the difficulties in our way. You know nothing of
poverty,--the bar it is to everything; almost a positive offence in
'This is only tiring yourself with talking,' said Guy, perceiving how
Philip's bodily weakness was making him fall into a desponding strain.
'You must make haste to get well, and come home with us, and I think we
shall find it no such bad case after all. There's Amy's fortune to
begin with, only waiting for such an occasion. No, I can't have you
answer; you have talked, quite long enough.'
Philip was in a state of feebleness that made him willing to avoid the
trouble of thinking, by simply believing what he was told, 'that it was
no bad case.' He was relieved by having confessed, though to the
person whom, a few weeks back, he would have thought the last to whom
he could have made such a communication, over whom he had striven to
assume superiority, and therefore before whom he could have least borne
to humble himself--nay, whose own love he had lately traversed with an
arrogance that was rendered positively absurd by this conduct of his
own. Nevertheless, he had not shrunk from the confession. His had
been real repentance, so far as he perceived his faults; and he would
have scorned to avail himself of the certainty of Guy's silence on what
he had said at the time of his extreme danger. He had resolved to
speak, and had found neither an accuser nor a judge, not even one
consciously returning good for evil, but a friend with honest, simple,
straightforward kindness, doing the best for him in his power, and
dreading nothing so much as hurting his feelings. It was not the way
in which Philip himself could have received such a confidence.
As soon as Guy could leave him, he went up to his wife. 'Amy,' said
he, rather sadly, 'we have had it out. It is too true.'
Her first exclamation surprised him: 'Then Charlie really is the
cleverest person in the world.'
'How? Had he any suspicion?'
'Not that I know of; but, more than once, lately, I have been alarmed
by recollecting how he once said that poor Laura was so much too wise
for her age, that Nature would some day take her revenge, and make her
do something very foolish. But has Philip told you all about it?'
'Yes; explained it all very kindly. It must have cost him a great
deal; but he spoke openly and nobly. It is the beginning of a full
confession to your father.'
'So, it is true!' exclaimed Amabel, as if she heard it for the first
time. 'How shocked mamma will be! I don't know how to think it
possible! And poor Laura! Imagine what she must have gone through,
for you know I never spared the worst accounts. Do tell me all.'
Guy told what he had just heard, and she was indignant.
'I can't be as angry with him as I should like,' said she, 'now that he
is sorry and ill; but it was a great deal too bad! I can't think how
he could look any of us in the face, far less expect to rule us all,
and interfere with you!'
'I see I never appreciated the temptations of poverty,' said Guy,
thoughtfully. 'I have often thought of those of wealth, but never of
'I wish you would not excuse him. I don't mind your doing it about
ourselves, because, though he made you unhappy, he could not make you
do wrong. Ah! I know what you mean; but that was over after the first
minute; and he only made you better for all his persecution; but I
don't know how to pardon his making poor Laura so miserable, and
leading her to do what was not right. Poor, dear girl! no wonder she
looked so worn and unhappy! I cannot help being angry with him,
indeed, Guy!' said she, her eyes full of tears.
'The best pleading is his own repentance, Amy. I don't think you can
be very unrelenting when you see how subdued and how altered he is.
You know you are to make him a visit to-morrow, now the doctor says all
fear of infection is over.'
'I shall be thinking of poor Laura the whole time.'
'And how she would like to see him in his present state? What shall
you do if I bring him home to Redclyffe? Shall you go to Hollywell, to
'I shall wait till you send me. Besides, how can you invite company
till we know whether we have a roof over our house or not? What is he
'As usual, he has an unlimited capacity for sleep.'
'I wish you had. I don't think you have slept two hours together since
you left off sitting up.'
'I am beginning to think it a popular delusion. I do just as well
'So you say; but Mr. Shene would never have taken such a fancy to you,
if you always had such purple lines as those under your eyes. Look!
Is that a face for Sir Galahad, or Sir Guy, or any of the Round Table?
Come, I wish you would lie down, and be read to sleep.'
'I should like a walk much better. It is very cool and bright. Will
They walked for some time, talking over the conduct of Philip and
Laura. Amabel seemed quite oppressed by the thought of such a burthen
of concealment. She said she did not know what she should have done in
her own troubles without mamma and Charlie; and she could not imagine
Laura's keeping silence through the time of Philip's danger; more
especially as she recollected how appalling some of her bulletins had
been. The only satisfaction was in casting as much of the blame on him
'You know he never would let her read novels; and I do believe that was
the reason she did not understand what it meant.'
'I think there is a good deal in that,' said Guy, laughing, 'though
Charlie would say it is a very _novel_ excuse for a young lady falling
imprudently in love.'
'I do believe, if it was any one but Laura, Charlie would be very glad
of it. He always fully saw through Philip's supercilious shell.'
'No; let me go on, Guy, for you must allow that it was much worse in
such a grave, grand, unromantic person, who makes a point of thinking
before he speaks, than if it had been a hasty, hand-over-head man like
Maurice de Courcy, who might have got into a scrape without knowing it.
'That must have made the struggle to confess all the more painful; and
a most free, noble, open-hearted confession it was.'
They tried to recollect all that had passed during that summer, and to
guess against whom he had wished to warn her; but so far were they from
divining the truth, that they agreed it must either have been Maurice,
or some other wild Irishman.
Next, they considered what was to be done. Philip must manage his
confession his own way; but they had it in their power greatly to
soften matters; and there was no fear that, after the first shock, Mr.
Edmonstone would insist on the engagement being broken off, Philip
should come to recover his health at Redclyffe, where he would be ready
to meet the first advance towards forgiveness,--and Amabel thought it
would soon be made. Papa's anger was sharp, but soon over; he was very
fond of Philip, and delighted in a love affair, but she was afraid
mamma would not get over it so soon, for she would be excessively hurt
and grieved. 'And when I was naughty,' said Amy, 'nothing ever made me
so sorry as mamma's kindness.'
Guy launched out into more schemes for facilitating their marriage than
ever he had made for himself; and the walk ended with extensive castle
building on Philip's account, in the course of which Amy was obliged to
become much less displeased. Guy told her, in the evening, that she
would have been still more softened if she could have heard him talk
about Stylehurst and his father. Guy had always wished to hear him
speak of the Archdeacon, though they had never been on terms to enter
on such a subject. And now Philip had been much pleased by Guy's
account of his walks to Stylehurst, and taken pleasure in telling which
were his old haunts, making out where Guy had been, and describing his
The next day was Sunday, and Amabel was to pay her cousin a visit. Guy
was very eager about it, saying it was like a stage in his recovery;
and though the thought of her mother and Laura could not be laid aside,
she would not say a word to damp her husband's pleasure in the
anticipation. It seemed as if Guy, wanting to bestow all he could upon
his cousin in gratitude for his newly-accorded friendship, thought the
sight of his little wife the very best thing he had to give.
It was a beautiful day, early in September, with a little autumnal
freshness in the mountain breezes that they enjoyed exceedingly.
Philip's convalescence, and their own escape, might be considered as so
far decided, that they might look back on the peril as past. Amabel
felt how much cause there was for thankfulness; and, after all, Philip
was not half as bad now as when he was maintaining his system of
concealment; he had made a great effort, and was about to do his best
by way of reparation; but it was so new to her to pity him, that she
did not know how to begin.
She tried to make the day seem as Sunday-like as she could, by putting
on her white muslin dress and white ribbons, with Charles's hair
bracelet, and a brooch of beautiful silver workmanship, which Guy had
bought for her at Milan, the only ornament he had ever given to her.
She sat at her window, watching the groups of Italians in their holiday
costume, and dwelling on the strange thoughts that had passed through
her mind often before in her lonely Sundays in this foreign land,
thinking much of her old home and East-hill Church, wondering whether
the letter had yet arrived which was to free them from anxiety, and
losing herself in a maze of uncomfortable marvels about Laura.
'Now, then,' at length said Guy, entering, 'I only hope he has not
knocked himself up with his preparations, for he would make such a
setting to rights, that I told him I could almost fancy he expected the
queen instead of only Dame Amabel Morville.'
He led her down, opened the door, and playfully announced, 'Lady
Morville! I have done it right this time. Here she is'!
She had of course expected to see Philip much altered, but she was
startled by the extent of the change; for being naturally fair and
high-coloured, he was a person on whom the traces of illness were
particularly visible. The colour was totally gone, even from his lips;
his cheeks were sunken, his brow looked broader and more massive from
the thinness of his face and the loss of his hair, and his eyes
themselves appeared unlike what they used to be in the hollows round
them. He seemed tranquil, and comfortable, but so wan, weak, and
subdued, and so different from himself, that she was very much shocked,
as smiling and holding out a hand, where the white skin seemed hardly
to cover the bone and blue vein, he said, in a tone, slow, feeble, and
languid, though cheerful,--
'Good morning, Amy. You see Guy was right, after all. I am sorry to
have made your wedding tour end so unpleasantly.'
'Nay, most pleasantly, since you are better,' said Amabel, laughing,
because she was almost ready to cry, and her displeasure went straight
out of her head.
'Are you doing the honours of my room, Guy?' said Philip, raising his
head from the pillow, with a becoming shade of his ceremonious
courtesy. 'Give her a chair.'
Amy smiled and thanked him, while he lay gazing at her as a sick person
is apt to do at a flower, or the first pretty enlivening object from
which he is able to derive enjoyment, and as if he could not help
expressing the feeling, he said--
'Is that your wedding-dress, Amy?'
'Oh, no; that was all lace and finery.'
'You look so nice and bridal--'
'There's a compliment that such an old wife ought to make the most of,
Amy,' said Guy, looking at her with a certain proud satisfaction in
Philip's admiration. 'It is high time to leave off calling you a
bride, after your splendid appearance at the party at Munich, in all
your whiteness and orange-flowers.'
'That was quite enough of it,' said Amy, smiling.
'Not at all,' said Philip; 'you have all your troubles in the visiting
line to come, when you go home.'
'Ah! you know the people, and will be a great help to us,' said Amy,
and Guy was much pleased to hear her taking a voluntary share in the
invitation, knowing as he did that she only half liked it.
'Thank you; we shall see,' replied Philip.
'Yes; we shall see when you are fit for the journey, and it will not be
long before we can begin, by short stages. You have got on wonderfully
in the last few days. How do you think he is looking, Amy?' finished
Guy, with an air of triumph, that was rather amusing, considering what
a pale skeleton face he was regarding with so much satisfaction.
'I dare say he is looking much mended,' said Amy; 'but you must not
expect me to see it.'
'You can't get a compliment for me, Guy,' said Philip. 'I was a good
deal surprised when Arnaud brought me the glass this morning.'
'It is a pity you did not see yourself a week ago,' said Guy, shaking
his head drolly.
'It is certain, as the French doctor says, that monsieur has a very
'Charles says, having a good constitution is only another name for
undergoing every possible malady,' said Amy.
'Rather good' said Guy; 'for I certainly find it answer very well to
have none at all.'
'Haven't you?' said Amy, rather startled.
'Or how do you know?' said Philip; 'especially as you never were ill.'
'It is a dictum of old Walters, the Moorworth doctor, the last time I
had anything to do with him, when I was a small child. I suppose I
remembered it for its oracular sound, and because I was not intended to
listen. He was talking over with Markham some illness I had just got
through, and wound up with, "He may be healthy and active now; but he
has no constitution, there is a tendency to low fever, and if he meets
with any severe illness, it will go hard with him."'
'How glad I am I did not know that before' cried Amy.
'Did you remember it when you came here?' said Philip.
'Yes,' said Guy, not in the least conscious of the impression his words
made on the others. 'By the bye, Philip, I wish you would tell us how
you fared after we parted, and how you came here.'
'I went on according to my former plan,' said Philip, 'walking through
the Valtelline, and coming down by a mountain path. I was not well at
Bolzano, but I thought it only fatigue, which a Sunday's rest would
remove, so on I went for the next two days, in spite of pain in head
'Not walking!' said Amy.
'Yes, walking. I thought it was stiffness from mountain climbing, and
that I could walk it off; but I never wish to go through anything like
what I did the last day, between the up and downs of that mountain
path, and the dazzle of the snow and heat of the sun. I meant to have
reached Vicenza, but I must have been quite knocked up when I arrived
here, though I cannot tell. My head grew so confused, that my dread,
all the way, was that I should forget my Italian; I can just remember
conning a phrase over and over again, lest I should lose it. I suppose
I was able to speak when I came here, but the last thing I remember was
feeling very ill in some room, different from this, quite alone, and
with a horror of dying deserted. The next is a confused recollection
of the relief of hearing English again, and seeing my excellent nurse
There was a little more talk, but a little was enough for Philip's
feeble voice, and Guy soon told him he was tired, and ordered in his
broth. He begged that Amy would stay, and it was permitted on
condition that he would not talk, Guy even cutting short a quotation
of,--'As Juno had been sick and he her dieter,'--appropriate to the
excellence of the broths, which Amabel and her maid, thanks to their
experience of Charles's fastidious tastes, managed to devise and
execute, in spite of bad materials. It was no small merit in Guy to
stop the compliment, considering how edified he had been by his wife's
unexpected ingenuity, and what a comical account he had written of it
to her mother, such, as Amy told him, deserved to be published in a
book of good advice to young ladies, to show what they might come to if
they behaved well. However, she was glad to have ocular demonstration
of the success of the cookery, which she had feared might turn out
uneatable; and her gentle feelings towards Philip were touched, by
seeing one wont to be full of independence and self-assertion, now meek
and helpless, requiring to be lifted, and propped up with pillows, and
depending entirely and thankfully upon Guy.
When he had been settled and made comfortable, they read the service;
and she thought her husband's tones had never been so sweet as now,
modulated to the pitch best suited to the sickroom, and with the
peculiarly beautiful expression he always gave such reading. It was
the lesson from Jeremiah, on the different destiny of Josiah and his
sons, and he read that verse, 'Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan
him, but weep sore for him that goeth away; for he shall return no
more, nor see his native country;' with so remarkable a melancholy and
beauty in his voice, that she could hardly refrain from tears, and it
also greatly struck Philip, who had been so near 'returning no more,
neither seeing his native country.'
When the reading was over, and they were leaving him to rest, while
they went to dinner, he said, as he wished Amy good-bye, 'Till now I
never discovered the practical advantage of such a voice as Guy's.
There never was such a one for a sick-room. Last week, I could not
bear any one else to speak at all; and even now, no one else could have
read so that I could like it.'
'Your voice; yes,' said Amy, after they had returned to their own
sitting-room. 'I want to hear it very much. I wonder when you will
sing to me again.'
'Not till he has recovered strength to bear the infliction with
firmness,' said Guy; 'but, Amy, I'll tell you what we will do, if you
are sure it is good for you. He will have a good long sleep, and we
will have a walk on the green hillocks.'
Accordingly they wandered in the cool of the evening on the grassy
slopes under the chestnut-trees, making it a Sunday walk, calm, bright
and meditative, without many words, but those deep and grave, 'such as
their walks had been before they were married,' as Amabel said.
'Better,' he answered.
A silence, broken by her asking, 'Do you recollect your melancholy
definition of happiness, years ago?'
'What was it?'
'Gleams from another world, too soon eclipsed or forfeited. It made me
sad then. Do you hold to it now?'
'I want to know what you would say now?'
'Gleams from another world, brightening as it gets nearer.'
Ever the richest, tenderest glow,
Sets round the autumnal sun;
But their sight fails, no heart may know
The bliss when life is done.
'Old age,' she added; 'that seems very far off.'
'Each day is a step,' he answered, and then came a silence while both
were thinking deeply.
They sat down to rest under a tree, the mountains before them with
heavy dark clouds hanging on their sides, and the white crowns clear
against the blue sky, a perfect stillness on all around, and the red
glow of an Italian sunset just fading away.
'There is only one thing wanting,' said Amy. 'You may sing now. You
are far from Philip's hearing. Suppose we chant this afternoon's
It was the fifth day of the month, and the psalms seemed especially
suitable to their thoughts. Before the 29th was finished, it was
beginning to grow dark. There were a few pale flashes of lightning in
the mountains, and at the words 'The voice of the Lord shaketh the
wilderness,' a low but solemn peal of thunder came as an accompaniment.
'The Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.'
The full sweet melody died away, but the echo caught it up and answered
like the chant of a spirit in the distance--'The blessing of peace.'
The effect was too solemn and mysterious to be disturbed by word or
remark. Guy drew her arm into his, and they turned homewards.
They had some distance to walk, and night had closed in before they
reached the village, but was only more lovely. The thunder rolled
solemnly among the hills, but the young moon shone in marvellous
whiteness on the snowy crowns, casting fantastic shadows from the
crags, while whole showers of fire-flies were falling on them from the
trees, floating and glancing in the shade.
'It is a pity to go in,' said Amy. But Arnaud did not seem to be of
the same opinion: he came out to meet them very anxiously,
expostulating on the dangers of the autumnal dew; and Guy owned that
though it had been the most wonderful and delightful evening he had
ever known, he was rather fatigued.
From darkness here and dreariness,
We ask not full repose.--CHRISTIAN YEAR
It seemed as if the fatigue which Guy had undergone was going to make
itself felt at last, for he had a slight headache the next morning, and
seemed dull and weary. Both he and Amabel sat for some time with
Philip, and when she went away to write her letters, Philip began
discussing a plan which had occurred to him of offering himself as
chief of the constabulary force in the county where Redclyffe was
situated. It was an office which would suit him very well, and opened
a new hope of his marriage, and he proceeded to reckon on Lord
Thorndale's interest, counting up all the magistrates he knew, and
talking them over with Guy, who, however, did not know enough of his
own neighbourhood to be of much use; and when he came up-stairs a
little after, said he was vexed at having been so stupid. He was
afraid he had seemed unkind and indifferent. But the truth was that he
was so heavy and drowsy, that he had actually fallen twice into a doze
while Philip was talking.
'Of course,' said Amy, 'gentle sleep will take her revenge at last for
your calling her a popular delusion. Lie down, let her have her own
way, and you will be good for something by and by.'
He took her advice, slept for a couple of hours, and awoke a good deal
refreshed, so that though his head still ached, he was able to attend
as usual to Philip in the evening.
He did not waken the next morning till so late, that he sprung up in
consternation, and began to dress in haste to go to Philip; but
presently he came back from his dressing-room with a hasty uncertain
step, and threw himself down on the bed. Amabel came to his side in an
instant, much frightened at his paleness, but he spoke directly. 'Only
a fit of giddiness--it is going off;' and he raised himself, but was
obliged to lie down again directly.
'You had better keep quiet' said she. 'Is it your headache?'
'It is aching,' said Guy, and she put her hand over it.
'How hot and throbbing!' said she. ' You must have caught cold in that
walk. No, don't try to move; it is only making it worse.'
'I must go to Philip,' he answered, starting up; but this
brought on such a sensation of dizziness and faintness, that he sunk
back on the pillow.
'No; it is of no use to fight against it,' said Amy, as soon as he was
a little better. 'Never mind Philip, I'll go to him. You must keep
quiet, and I will get you a cup of hot tea.'
As he lay still, she had the comfort of seeing him somewhat revived,
but he listened to her persuasions not to attempt to move. It was
later than she had expected, and she found that breakfast was laid out
in the next room. She brought him some tea; but he did not seem
inclined to lift his head to drink it; and begged her to go at once to
Philip, fearing he must be thinking himself strangely forgotten, and
giving her many directions about the way he liked to be waited on at
Very much surprised was Philip to see her instead, of her husband, and
greatly concerned to hear that Guy was not well.
'Over-fatigue,' said he. 'He could not but feel the effects of such
long-continued exertion.' Then, after an interval, during which he had
begun breakfast, with many apologies for letting her wait on him, he
said, with some breaks, 'Never was there such a nurse as he, Amy; I
have felt much more than I can express, especially now. You will never
have to complain of my harsh judgment again!'
'It is too much for you to talk of these things,' said Amabel, moved by
the trembling of his feeble voice, but too anxious to return to her
husband to like to wait even to hear that Philip's opinion _had_
altered. It required much self-command not to hurry, even by manner,
her cousin's tardy, languid movements; but she had been well trained by
Charles in waiting on sick breakfasts.
When at length she was able to escape, she found that Guy had
undressed, and gone to bed again. He said he was more comfortable, and
desired her to go and take her own breakfast before coming back to him,
and she obeyed as well as she could, but very soon was again with him.
He looked flushed and oppressed, and when she put her cool hand across
his forehead, she was frightened at the increased throbbing of his
'Amy,' said he, looking steadily at her, 'this is the fever.'
Without answering, she drew his hand into hers, and felt his pulse,
which did indeed plainly respond fever. Each knew that the other was
recollecting what he had said, on Sunday, of the doctor's prediction,
and Amy knew he was thinking of death; but all that passed was a
proposal to send at once for the French physician. Amabel wrote her
note with steadiness, derived from the very force of the shock. She
could not think; she did not know whether she feared or hoped. To act
from one moment to another was all she attempted, and it was well that
her imagination did not open to be appalled at her own situation--so
young, alone with the charge of two sick men in a foreign country; her
cousin, indeed, recovering, but helpless, and not even in a state to
afford her counsel; her husband sickening for this frightful fever, and
with more than ordinary cause for apprehension, even without the
doctor's prophecy, when she thought of his slight frame, and excitable
temperament, and that though never as yet tried by a day's illness, he
certainly had more spirit than strength, while all the fatigue he had
been undergoing was likely to tell upon him now. She did not look
forward, she did not look round; she did not hope or fear; she
_trusted_, and did her best for each, as she was wanted, trying not to
make herself useless to both, by showing that she wished to be in two
places at once.
It was a day sufficiently distressing in itself had there been no
further apprehension, for there was the restlessness of illness,
working on a character too active and energetic to acquiesce without a
trial in the certainty that there was no remedy for present discomfort.
There was no impatience nor rebellion against the illness itself, but a
wish to try one after another the things that had been effective in
relieving Philip during his recovery. At the same time, he could not
bear that Amabel should do anything to tire herself, and was very
anxious that Philip should not be neglected. He tossed from one side
to the other in burning oppression or cold chills; Amy saw him looking
wistful, suggested something by way of alleviation, then found he had
been wishing for it, but refraining from asking in order to spare her,
and that he was sorry when she procured it. Again and again this
happened; she smoothed the coverings, and shook up the pillow: he would
thank her, look at her anxiously, beg her not to exert herself, but
soon grew restless, and the whole was repeated.
At last, as she was trying to arrange the coverings, he exclaimed,--
'I see how it is. This is impatience. Now, I will not stir for an
hour,' and as he made the resolution, he smiled at treating himself so
like a child. His power of self-restraint came to his aid, and long
before the hour was over he had fallen asleep.
This was a relief; yet that oppressed, flushed, discomposed slumber,
and heavy breathing only confirmed her fears that the fever had gained
full possession of him. She had not the heart to write such tidings,
at least till the physician should have made them too certain, nor
could she even bear to use the word 'feverish,' in her answers to the
anxious inquiries Philip made whenever she went into his room, though
when he averted his face with a heavy sigh, she knew his conclusion was
the same as her own.
The opinion of the physician was the only thing wanting to bring home
the certainty, and that fell on her like lead in the evening; with one
comfort, however, that he thought it a less severe case than the former
one. It was a great relief, too, that there was no wandering of mind,
only the extreme drowsiness and oppression; and when Guy was roused by
the doctor's visit, he was as clear and collected as possible, making
inquiries and remarks, and speaking in a particularly calm and quiet
manner. As soon as the doctor was gone, he looked up to Amabel,
saying, with his own smile, only very dim,--
'It would be of no use, and it would not be true, to say I had rather
you did not nurse me. The doctor hopes there is not much danger of
infection, and it is too late for precautions.'
'I am very glad,' said Amy.
'But you must be wise, and not hurt yourself. Will you promise me not
to sit up?'
'It is very kind of you to tell me nothing worse,' said she, with a sad
He smiled again. 'I am very sorry for you,' he said, looking very
tenderly at her. 'To have us both on your hands at once! But it comes
straight from Heaven, that is one comfort, and you made up your mind to
such things when you took me.'
Sadness in his eye, a sweet smile on his lip, and serenity on his brow,
joined with the fevered cheek, the air of lassitude, and the panting,
oppressed breath, there was a strange, melancholy beauty about him; and
while Amy felt an impulse of ardent, clinging affection to one so
precious to her, there was joined with it a sort of awe and veneration
for one who so spoke, looked, and felt. She hung over him, and
sprinkled him with Eau-de-Cologne; then as his hair teased him by
falling into his eyes, he asked her to cut the front lock off. There
was something sad in doing this, for that 'tumble-down wave,' as
Charlotte called it, was rather a favourite of Amy's; it always seemed
to have so much sympathy with his moods, and it was as if parting with
it was resigning him to a long illness. However, it was too
troublesome not to go, and he looked amused at the care with which she
folded up the glossy, brown wave, and treasured it in her dressing-
case, then she read to him a few verses of a psalm, and he soon fell
into another doze.
There was little more of event, day after day. The fever never ran as
high as in Philip's case, and there was no delirium. There was almost
constant torpor, but when for any short space he was thoroughly
awakened, his mind was perfectly clear, though he spoke little, and
then only on the subject immediately presented to him. There he lay
for one quiet hour after another, while Amy sat by him, with as little
consciousness of time as he had himself, looking neither forward nor
backward, only to the present, to give him drink, bathe his face and
hands, arrange his pillows, or read or repeat some soothing verse. It
always was a surprise when meal times summoned her to attend to Philip,
when she was asked for the letters for the post, when evening twilight
gathered in, or when she had to leave the night-watch to Arnaud, and go
to bed in the adjoining room.
This was a great trial, but he would not allow her to sit up; and her
own sense showed her that if this was to be a long illness, it would
not do to waste her strength. She knew he was quiet at night, and her
trustful temper so calmed and supported her, that she was able to
sleep, and thus was not as liable to be overworked as might have been
feared, and as Philip thought she must be.
She always appeared in his room with her sweet face mournful and
anxious, but never ruffled, or with any air of haste or discomfiture,
desirous as she was to return to her husband; for, though he frequently
sent her to take care of herself or of Philip, she knew that while she
was away he always grew more restless and uncomfortable, and his look
of relief at her re-entrance said as much to her as a hundred
complaints of her absence would have done.
Philip was in the meantime sorely tried by being forced to be entirely
inactive and dependent, while he saw Amabel in such need of assistance;
and so far from being able to requite Guy's care, he could only look on
himself as the cause of their distress, and an addition to it--a
burthen instead of a help. If he had been told a little while ago what
would be the present state of things, he would almost have laughed the
speaker to scorn. He would never have thought a child as competent as
Amy to the sole management of two sick persons, and he not able either
to advise or cheer her. Yet he could not see anything went wrong that
depended on her. His comforts were so cared for, that he was often
sorry she should have troubled herself about them; and though he could
have little of her company, he never was allowed to feel himself
deserted. Anne, Arnaud, the old Italian nurse, or Amy herself, were
easily summoned, and gave him full care and attention.
He was, however, necessarily a good deal alone; and though his cousin's
books were at his disposal, eyes and head were too weak for reading,
and he was left a prey to his own thoughts. His great comfort was,
that Guy was less ill than he had been himself, and that there was no
present danger; otherwise, he could never have endured the conviction
that all had been caused by his own imprudence. Imprudence! Philip
was brought very low to own that such a word applied to him, yet it
would have been well for him had that been the chief burthen on his
mind. Was it only an ordinary service of friendship and kindred that
Guy had, at the peril of his own life, rendered him? Was it not a
positive return of good for evil? Yes, evil! He now called that evil,
or at least harshness and hastiness in judgment, which he had hitherto
deemed true friendship and consideration for Guy and Amy. Every
feeling of distrust and jealousy had been gradually softening since his
recovery began; gratitude had done much, and dismay at Guy's illness
did more. It would have been noble and generous in Guy to act as he
had done, had Philip's surmises been correct, and this he began to
doubt, though it was his only justification, and even to wish to lose
it. He had rather believe Guy blameless. He would do so, if possible;
and he resolved, on the first opportunity, to beg him to give him one
last assurance that all was right, and implicitly believe him. But how
was it possible again to assume to be a ruler and judge over Guy after
it was known how egregiously he himself had erred? There was shame,
sorrow, self-humiliation, and anxiety wherever he turned, and it was no
wonder that depression of spirits retarded his recovery.
It was not till the tenth day after Guy's illness had begun that Philip
was able to be dressed, and to come into the next room, where Amabel
had promised to dine with him. As he lay on the sofa, she thought he
looked even more ill than in bed, the change from his former appearance
being rendered more visible, and his great height making him look the
more thin. He was apparently exhausted with the exertion of dressing,
for he was very silent all dinner-time, though Amabel could have better
talked to-day than for some time past, since Guy had had some
refreshing sleep, was decidedly less feverish, seemed better for
nourishing food, and said that he wanted nothing but a puff of
Redclyffe wind to make him well. He was pleased to hear of Philip's
step in recovery, and altogether, Amy was cheered and happy.
She left her cousin as soon as dinner was over, and did not come to him