Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

a modest conservatory; and as he did so, hardly knowing it, he lightened his heavy-shod tread. The glass door was open and Richard looked in. There stood Gertrude with her back to him, bending apart with her hands a couple of tall flowering plants, and looking through the glazed partition behind them. Advancing a step, and glancing over the young girl's shoulder, Richard had just time to see Severn mounting his horse at the stable door, before Gertrude, startled by his approach, turned hastily round. Herface was flushed hot, and her eyes brimming with tears. “You !” she exclaimed, sharply. Richard's head swam. That single word was so charged with cordial impatience that it seemed the death-knell of his hope. He stepped inside the room and closed the door, keeping his hand on the knob. “Gertrude,” he said, “you love that man '" “Well, sir?” “Do you confess it?” cried Richard. “Confess it? Richard Clare, how dare you use such language 2 I'm in no humor for a scene. Let me pass.” Gertrude was angry; but as for Richard, it may almost be said that he was mad. “One scene a day is enough, I suppose,” he cried. “What are these tears about 2 Would n’t he have you? Did he refuse you, as you refused me? Poor Gertrude l’” Gertrude looked at him a moment with concentrated scorn. “You fool!” she said, for all answer. She pushed his hand from the latch, flung open the door, and moved rapidly away. Left alone, Richard sank down on a sofa and covered his face with his hands. It burned them, but he sat motionless, repeating to himself, mechanically, as if to avert thought, “You fool! you fool!” At last he got up and made his way out. It seemed to Gertrude, for several hours after this scene, that she had at this juncture a strong case against Fortune. It is not our purpose to repeat the words which she had exchanged with Captain Severn. They had come

within a single step of an éclaircissement, and when but another movement would have flooded their souls with Hight, some malignant influence had seized them by the throats. Had they too much pride? —too little imagination ? We must content ourselves with this hypothesis. Severn, then, had walked mechanically across the yard, saying to himself, “She belongs to another”; and adding, as he saw Richard, “and stich another!”. Gertrude had stood at her window, repeating, under her breath, “He belongs to himself, himself alone.” And as if this was not enough, when misconceived, slighted, wounded, she had faced about to her old, passionless, dutiful past, there on the path of retreat to this asylum Richard Clare had arisen to forewarn her that she should find no peace even at home. There was something in the violent impertinence of his appear

cance at this moment which gave her a

dreadful feeling that fate was against her. More than this. There entered into her emotions a certain minute particle of awe of the man whose passion was so uncompromising. She felt that it was out of place any longer to pity him. He was the slave of his passion; but his passion was strong. In her reaction against the splendid civility of Severn's silence, (the real antithesis of which would have been simply the perfect courtesy of explicit devotion,) she found herself touching with pleasure on the fact of Richard's brutality. He at least had ventured to insult her. He had loved her enough to forget himself. He had dared to make himself odious in her eyes, because he had cast away his sanity. What cared he for the impression he made 2 He cared only for the impression he received. The violence of this reaction, however, was the measure of its duration. It was impossible that she should walk backward so fast without stumbling. Brought to her senses by this accident, she became aware that her judgment was missing. She smiled to herself as she reflected that it had been taking holiday for a whole afternoon. “Richard was right,” she said to herself. “I am no fool. I can't be a fool if I try. I'm too thoroughly my father's daughter for that. I love that man, but I love myself better. Of course, then, I don't deserve to have him. If I loved him in a way to merit his love, I would sit down this moment and write him a note telling him that if he does not come back to me, I shall die. But I shall neither write the note nor die. I shall live and grow stout, and look after my chickens and my flowers and my colts, and thank the Lord in my old age that I have never done anything unwomanly. Well! I’m as He made me. Whether I can deceive others, I know not ; but I certainly can't deceive myself. I’m quite as sharp as Gertrude Whittaker; and this it is that has kept me from making a fool of myself and writing to poor Richard the note that I would n’t write to Captain Severn. I needed to fancy myself wronged. I suffer so little I needed a sensation | So, shrewd Yankee that I am, I thought I would get one cheaply by taking up that unhappy boy! Heaven preserve me from the heroics, especially the economical heroics : The one heroic course possible, I decline. What, then, have I to complain off Must I tear my hair because a man of taste has resisted my unspeakable charms ? To be charming, you must be charmed yourself, or at least you must be able to be charmed; and that apparently I’m not. I did n’t love him, or he would have known it. Love gets love, and no-love gets none.”

But at this point of her meditations Gertrude almost broke down. She felt that she was assigning herself but a dreary future. Never to be loved but by such a one as Richard Clare was a cheerless prospect; for it was identical with an eternal spinsterhood. “Am I, then,” she exclaimed, quite as passionately as a woman need do, “am I, then, cut off from a woman’s dearest joys 2 What blasphemous nonsense ! One thing is plain: I am made to be a mother; the wife may take care of herself. I am made to be a wife ; the mistress may take care of herself. I am in the Lord's hands,” added the

poor girl, who, whether or no she could forget herself in an earthly love, had at all events this mark of a spontaneous nature, that she could forget herself in a heavenly one. But in the midst of her pious emotion, she was unable to subdue her conscience. It smote her heavily for her meditated falsity to Richard, for her miserable readiness to succumb to the strong temptation to seek a momentary resting-place in his gaping heart. She recoiled from this thought as from an act cruel and immoral. Was Richard's heart the place for her now, any more than it had been a month before ? Was she to apply for comfort where she would not apply for counsel ? Was she to drown her decent sorrows and regrets in a base, a dishonest, an extemporized passion ? Having done the young man so bitter a wrong in intention, nothing would appease her magnanimous remorse (as time went on) but to repair it in fact. She went so far as keenly to regret the harsh words she had cast upon him in the conservatory. He had been insolent and unmannerly; but he had an excuse. Much should be forgiven him, for he loved much. Even now that Gertrude had imposed upon her feelings a sterner regimen than ever, she could not defend herself from a sweet and sentimental thrill—a thrill in which, as we have intimated, there was something of a tremor — at the recollection of his strident accents and his angry eyes. It was yet far from her heart to desire a renewal, however brief, of this exhibition. She wished simply to efface from the young man's morbid soul the impression of a real contempt; for she knew—or she thought that she knew—that against such an impression he was capable of taking the most fatal and inconsiderate comfort. Before many mornings had passed, accordingly, she had a horse saddled, and, dispensing with attendance, she rode rapidly over to his farm. The house door and half the windows stood open; but no answer came to her repeated summons. She made her way to the rear of the house, to the barn-yard,

fiercer because unmingled with the time she was a blooming girl, - and noise of fifes. Once more now the paid nothing for either privilege. What Germans are gone, and, let us trust, wild and confused reminiscences on forever; but when I saw them, there the wrinkled visage we should find seemed little hope of their going. thereafter of the fierce republican times, They had a great Biergarten on the of Ecelino, of the Carraras, of the Vetop of the wall, and they had set up netian rule! And is it not sad to think the altars of their heavy Bacchus in of systems and peoples all passing many parts of the city.

away, and these ancient women lasting I please myself with thinking that, if still, and still selling grapes in front of I walked on such a spring day as this the Palazzo della Ragione? What a in the arcaded Paduan streets, I should long mortality ! catch glimpses, through the gateways The youngest of their number is a of the palaces, of gardens full of vivid thousand years older than the palace, bloom, and of fountains that tinkle there which was begun in the twelfth century, forever. If it were autumn, and I were and which is much the same now as it in the great market - place before the was when first completed. I know that, Palazzo della Ragione, I should hear if I entered it, I should be sure of findthe baskets of amber-hued and hon- ing the great hall of the palace - the eyed grapes humming with the murmur vastest hall in the world - dim and of multitudinous bees, and making a dull and dusty and delightful, with nothmusic as if the wine itself were already ing in it except at one end Donatello's singing in their gentle hearts. It is a colossal marble-headed wooden horse great field of succulent verdure, that of Troy, stared at from the other end wide old market-place; and fancy loves by the two dog-faced Egyptian women to browse about among its gay stores of in basalt placed there by Belzoni. fruits and vegetables, brought thither by Late in the drowsy summer afterthe world-old peasant-women who have noons I should have the Court of the been bringing fruits and vegetables to University all to myself, and might study the Paduan market for so many centu- unmolested the blazons of the noble ries. They sit upon the ground before youth who have attended the school in their great panniers, and knit and doze, different centuries ever since 1200, and and wake up with a drowsy “Comanda- have left their escutcheons on the walls la ?as you linger to look at their grapes. to commemorate them. At the foot of They have each a pair of scales, – the the stairway ascending to the schools emblem of Injustice, – and will weigh from the court is the statue of the you out a scant measure of the fruit, if learned lady who was once a professor you like. Their faces are yellow as in the University, and who, if her likeparchment, and Time has written them ness belie not her looks, must have so full of wrinkles that there is not given a great charm to student life in room for another line. Doubtless these other times. At present there are no old parchment visages are palimpsests, lady professors at Padua, any more and would tell the whole history of than at Harvard ; and during late years Padua if you could get at each succes- the schools have suffered greatly from sive inscription. Among their primal the interference of the Austrian governrecords there must be some account of ment, which frequently closed them for the Roman city, as each little contadi- months, on account of political demonnella remembered it on market-days; strations among the students. But now and one might read of the terror of At- there is an end of this and many other tila's sack, a little later, with the peas- stupid oppressions; and the time-honant-maid's personal recollections of the ored University will doubtless regain bold Hunnish trooper who ate up the its ancient importance. Even in 1864 grapes in her basket, and kissed her it had nearly fifteen hundred students, hard, round red cheeks,- for in that and one met them everywhere under the arcades, and could not well mistake the porticos of other Paduan churches them, with that blended air of pirate rest upon the backs of bird - headed and dandy which these studious young lions and leopards that fascinate with men loved to assume. They were to be their mystery and beauty. seen a good deal on the promenades It was the wish to see the attributive outside the walls, where the Paduan la Giottos in the Chapter which drew us dies are driven in their carriages in first to St. Anthony's, and we saw them the afternoon, and where one sees the with the satisfaction naturally attending blood - horses and fine equipages for the contemplation of frescos discovered which Padua is famous. There used only since 1858, after having been hidonce to be races in the Prato della Valle, den under plaster and whitewash for after the Italian notion of horse-races ; many centuries ; but we could not bebut these are now discontinued, and lieve that Giotto's fame was destined there is nothing to be found there but to gain much by their rescue from obthe statues of scholars and soldiers livion. They are in no wise to be comand statesmen, posted in a circle around pared with this master's frescos in the the old race - course. If you strolled Chapel of the Annunziata, — which, inthither about dusk on such a day as deed, is in every way a place of wonder this, you might see the statues unbend and delight. You reach it by passing a little from their stony rigidity, and in through a garden lane bordered with the failing light nod to each other very roses, and a taciturn gardener comes pleasantly through the trees. And if out with clinking keys, and lets you you stayed in Padua over night, what into the chapel, where there is nobody could be better to-morrow morning than but Giotto and Dante, nor seems to a stroll through the great Botanical Gar- have been for ages. Cool it is, and of den, — the oldest botanical garden in a pulverous smell, as a sacred place the world, - the garden which first re. should be ; a blessed benching goes ceived in Europe the strange and splen- round the wall, and you sit down and did growths of our hemisphere, - the take unlimited comfort in the frescos. garden where Doctor Rappaccini doubt. The gardener leaves you alone to the less found the germ of his mortal plant? solitude and the silence, in which the

On the whole, I believe I would talk of the painter and the exile is rather go this moment to Padua than plain enough. Their contemporaries to Lowell or Lawrence, or even to and yours are cordial in their gay Worcester; and as to the disadvantage companionship; through the half-open of having seen Padua, I begin to think door falls, in a pause of the rain, the the whole place has now assumed so same sunshine that they saw lie there ; fantastic a character in my mind that I the deathless birds that they heard am almost as well qualified to write of sing out in the garden trees; it is the it as if I had merely dreamed it.

fresh sweetness of the grass mown The day that we first visited the six hundred years ago that breathes city was very rainy, and we spent most through all the lovely garden grounds. of the time in viewing the churches. How mistaken was Ponce de Leon, These, even after the churches of Ven- to seek the fountain of youth in the ice, one finds rich in art and historic New World ! It is there,- in the Old interest, and they in no instance fall World, — far back in the past. We into the maniacal excesses of the Re- are all old men and decrepit together naissance to which some of the tem- in the present; the future is full of ples of the latter city abandon them- death; in the past we are light and selves. Their architecture forms a sort glad as boys turned barefoot in the of border-land between the Byzantine spring. The work of the heroes is of Venice and the Lombardic of Ve- play to us; the pang of the martyr is rona. The superb domes of St. Antho- a thrill of rapture; the exile's longing ny's emulate those of St. Mark's, and is a strain of plaintive music touching and delighting us. We are not do with art, I here dismiss that subject, only young again, we are immortal. and with a gross and idle delight follow It is this divine sense of superiority to the sacristan down under this church fate which is the supreme good won to the prison of Santa Giustina. from travel in historic lands, and from Of all the faculties of the mind there the presence of memorable things, and is none so little fatiguing to exercise as which no sublimity of natural aspects mere wonder; and, for my own sake, I can bestow. It is this which forms the try always to wonder at things without wide difference between Europe and the least critical reservation. I thereAmerica, - a gulf that it will take a fore, in the sense of deglutition, bolted thousand years to bridge.

this prison at once, though subsequent It is a shame that the immortals experiences led me to look with grave should be limited in their pleasures indigestion upon the whole idea of prisby the fact that they have hired their ons, their authenticity, and even their brougham by the hour; yet we early existence. quit the Chapel of Giotto on this ac- As far as mere dimensions are count. We had chosen our driver from concerned, the prison of Santa Giusamong many other drivers of brough- tina was not a hard one to swallow, ams in the vicinity of Pedrocchi's, be- being only three feet wide by about cause he had such an honest look, and ten feet in length. In this limited was not likely, we thought, to deal un- space, Santa Giustina passed five years fairly with us.

of the paternal reign of Nero (a vir“But first,” said the signor who had tuous and a long - suffering prince, selected him, “how much is your whom, singularly enough, no historic brougham an hour ?"

artist has yet arisen to whitewash), and So and so.

was then brought out into the larger “Show me the tariff of fares." cell adjoining, to suffer a blessed mar“There is no tariff.”

tyrdom. I am not sure now whether “ There is. Show it to me.”

the sacristan said she was dashed to "It is lost, signor."

death on the stones, or cut to pieces “I think not. It is here in this pock- with knives ; but whatever the form of et. Get it out."

martyrdom, an iron ring in the ceiling The tariff appears, and with it the was employed in it, as I know from fact that he had demanded just what seeing the ring, - a curiously wellthe boatman of the ballad received in preserved piece of ironmongery. Withgift, - thrice his fee.

in the narrow prison of the saint, and The driver mounted his seat, and just under the grating, through which served us so faithfully that day in Padua the sacristan thrust his candle to illumithat we took him the next day for Arquà. nate it, was a mountain of candle-dripAt the end, when he had received his pings, -a monument to the fact that due, and a handsome mancia besides, faith still largely exists in this doubting he was still unsatisfied, and referred to world. My own credulity, not only with the tariff in proof that he had been regard to this prison, but also touching under-paid. On that confronted and the coffin of St. Luke, which I saw in defeated, he thanked us very cordially, the church, had so wrought upon the gave us the number of his brougham, esteem of the sacristan, that he now and begged us to ask for him when we took me to a well, into which, he said, came next to Padua and needed a car- had been cast the bones of three thouriage.

sand Christian martyrs. He lowered From the Chapel of the Annunziata a lantern into the well, and assured he drove us to the Church of Santa me that, if I looked through a cerGiustina, where is a very famous and tain screenwork there, I could see the noble picture by Romanino. But as bones. On experiment I could not see this paper has nothing in the world to the bones, but this circumstance did

« ПредишнаНапред »