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a modest conservatory; and as he did within a single step of an éclaircissement, so, hardly knowing it, he lightened his and when but another movement would heavy-shod tread. The glass door was have flooded their souls with light, some open and Richard looked in. There malignant influence had seized them by stood Gertrude with her back to him, the throats. Had they too much pride? bending apart with her hands a couple — too little imagination ? We must of tall flowering plants, and looking content ourselves with this hypothesis. through the glazed partition behind Severn, then, had walked mechanically them. Advancing a step, and glancing across the yard, saying to himself, over the young girl's shoulder, Richard “She belongs to another"; and adding, had just time to see Severn mounting as he saw Richard, “and such anothhis horse at the stable door, before Ger- er!”. Gertrude had stood at her wintrude, startled by his approach, turned dow, repeating, under her breath, “He hastily round. Her face was flushed hot belongs to himself, himself alone.” And and her eyes brimming with tears. as if this was not enough, when miscon
* You !” she exclaimed, sharply. ceived, slighted, wounded, she had faced
Richard's head swam. That single about to her old, passionless, dutiful word was so charged with cordial im- past, there on the path of retreat to this patience that it seemed the death-knell asylum Richard Clare had arisen to foreof his hope. He stepped inside the warn her that she should find no peace room and closed the door, keeping his even at home. There was something in hand on the knob.
the violent impertinence of his appear“ Gertrude,” he said, " you love that ance at this moment which gave her a
dreadful feeling that fate was against her. “Well, sir ? "
More than this. There entered into “Do you confess it ?” cried Richard. her emotions a certain minute particle
“Confess it? Richard Clare, how of awe of the man whose passion was dare you use such language ? I'm in so uncompromising. She felt that it no humor for a scene. Let me pass.” was out of place any longer to pity him.
Gertrude was angry; but as for He was the slave of his passion ; but Richard, it may almost be said that he his passion was strong. In her reaction was mad. “One scene a day is enough, against the splendid civility of Severn's I suppose," he cried. “What are these silence, (the real antithesis of which tears about? Would n't he have you ? would have been simply the perfect courDid he refuse you, as you refused me? tesy of explicit devotion) she found herPoor Gertrude !"
self touching with pleasure on the fact Gertrude looked at him a moment of Richard's brutality. He at least had with concentrated scorn. “ You fool!” ventured to insult her. He had loved she said, for all answer. She pushed her enough to forget himself. He had his hand from the latch, flung open the dared to make himself odious in her door, and moved rapidly away.
eyes, because he had cast away his sanLeft alone, Richard sank down on a ity. What cared he for the impression sofa and covered his face with his he made ? He cared only for the imhands. It burned them, but he sat pression he received. The violence of motionless, repeating to himself, me- this reaction, however, was the measchanically, as if to avert thought, “ You ure of its duration. It was impossible fool ! you fool!” At last he got up that she should walk backward so fast and made his way out.
without stumbling. Brought to her It seemed to Gertrude, for several senses by this accident, she became hours after this scene, that she had at aware that her judgment was missing. this juncture a strong case against For- She smiled to herself as she reflected tune. It is not our purpose to repeat that it had been taking holiday for a the words which she had exchanged whole afternoon. “ Richard was right," with Captain Severn. They had come she said to herself. “I am no fool. I can't be a fool if I try. I'm too thor- poor girl, who, whether or no she could oughly my father's daughter for that. forget herself in an earthly love, had at I love that man, but I love myself bet- all events this mark of a spontaneous ter. Of course, then, I don't deserve nature, that she could forget herself in a to have him. If I loved him in a way heavenly one. But in the midst of her to merit his love, I would sit down this pious emotion, she was unable to subdue moment and write him a note telling her conscience. It smote her heavily him that if he does not come back to for her meditated falsity to Richard, for me, I shall die. But I shall neither her miserable readiness to succumb to write the note nor die. I shall live and the strong temptation to seek a momengrow stout, and look after my chickens tary resting place in his gaping heart. and my flowers and my colts, and thank She recoiled from this thought as from the Lord in my old age that I have nev- an act cruel and immoral. Was Richer done anything unwomanly. Well ! ard's heart the place for her now, any I'm as He made me. Whether I can more than it had been a month before ? deceive others, I know not; but I cer- Was she to apply for comfort where she tainly can't deceive myself. I'm quite would not apply for counsel ? Was as sharp as Gertrude Whittaker ; and she to drown her decent sorrows and this it is that has kept me from making regrets in a base, a dishonest, an exa fool of myself and writing to poor temporized passion ? Having done the Richard the note that I would n't write young man so bitter a wrong in intento Captain Severn. I needed to fancy tion, nothing would appease her magmyself wronged. I suffer so little ! I nanimous remorse (as time went on) needed a sensation! So, shrewd Yan- but to repair it in fact. She went so kee that I am, I thought I would get far as keenly to regret the harsh words one cheaply by taking up that unhap- she had cast upon him in the conpy boy! Heaven preserve me from servatory. He had been insolent and the heroics, especially the economical unmannerly; but he had an excuse. heroics! The one heroic course possi- Much should be forgiven him, for he ble, I decline. What, then, have I to loved much. Even now that Gercomplain of ? Must I tear my hair be- trude had imposed upon her feelings cause a man of taste has resisted my a sterner regimen than ever, she could unspeakable charms ? To be charm- not defend herself from a sweet and ing, you must be charmed yourself, or sentimental thrill - a thrill in which, at least you must be able to be charmed; as we have intimated, there was someand that apparently I 'm not. I did n't thing of a tremor — at the recollection love him, or he would have known it. of his strident accents and his angry Love gets love, and no-love gets none.” eyes. It was yet far from her heart to
But at this point of her meditations desire a renewal, however brief, of this Gertrude almost broke down. She exhibition. She wished simply to effelt that she was assigning herself but face from the young man's morbid soul a dreary future. Never to be loved the impression of a real contempt; for but by such a one as Richard Clare she knew — or she thought that she was a cheerless prospect ; for it was knew that against such an impression identical with an eternal spinsterhood. he was capable of taking the most fatal " Am I, then," she exclaimed, quite as and inconsiderate comfort. passionately as a woman need do,- Before many mornings had passed, “ am I, then, cut off from a woman's accordingly, she had a horse saddled, dearest joys ? What blasphemous non- and, dispensing with attendance, she sense! One thing is plain : I am made rode rapidly over to his farm. The to be a mother; the wife may take care house door and half the windows stood of herself. I am made to be a wife; open ; but no answer came to her rethe mistress may take care of herself. peated summons. She made her way to I am in the Lord's hands," added the the rear of the house, to the barn-yard,
thinly tenanted by a few common fowl, and across the yard to a road which skirted its lower extremity and was accessible by an open gate. No human figure was in sight; nothing was visible in the hot stillness but the scattered and ripening crops, over which, in spite of her nervous solicitude, Miss Whittaker cast the glance of a connoisseur. A great uneasiness filled her mind as she measured the rich domain apparently deserted of its young master, and reflected that she perhaps was the cause of its abandonment. Ah, where was Richard? As she looked and listened in vain, her heart rose to her throat, and she felt herself on the point of calling all too wistfully upon his name. But her voice was stayed by the sound of a heavy rumble, as of cart-wheels, beyond a turn in the road. She touched up her horse and cantered along until she reached the turn. A great four-wheeled cart, laden with masses of newly broken stone, and drawn by four oxen, was slowly advancing towards her. Beside it, patiently cracking his whip and shouting monotonously, walked a young man in a slouched hat and a red shirt, with his trousers thrust into his dusty boots. It was Richard. As he saw Gertrude, he halted a moment, amazed, and then advanced, flicking the air with his whip. Gertrude's heart went out towards him in a silent Thank God! Her next reflection was that he had never looked so well. The truth is, that, in ... this rough adjustment, the native barbarian was duly represented. His face and neck were browned by a week in the fields, his eye was clear, his step seemed to have learned a certain manly dignity from its attendance on the heavy bestial tramp. Gertrude, as he reached her side, pulled up her horse and held out her gloved fingers to his brown dusty hand. He took them, looked for a moment into her face, and for the second time raised them to his lips.
* Excuse my glove,” she said, with a little smile.
"Excuse mine," he answered, ex
hibiting his sunburnt, work-stained hand. “Richard,” said Gertrude, “you never had less need of excuse in your life. You never looked half so well.” He fixed his eyes upon her a moment. “Why, you have forgiven me!” he exclaimed. “Yes,” said Gertrude, “I have forgiven you, -both you and myself. We both of us behaved very absurdly, but we both of us had reason. I wish you had come back.” Richard looked about him, apparently at loss for a rejoinder. “I have been very busy,” he said, at last, with a simplicity of tone slightly studied. An odd sense of dramatic effect prompted him to say neither more nor less. An equally delicate instinct forbade Gertrude to express all the joy which this assurance gave her. Excessive joy would have implied undue surprise; and it was a part of her plan frankly to expect the best things of her companion. “If you have been busy,” she said, “I congratulate you. What have you been doing?” “O, a hundred things. I have been quarrying, and draining, and clearing, and I don't know what all. I thought the best thing was just to put my own hands to it. I am going to make a stone fence along the great lot on the hill there. Wallace is forever grumbling about his boundaries. I'll fix them once for all. What are you laughing at 2" “I am laughing at certain foolish apprehensions that I have been indulging for a week past. You "re wiser than I, Richard. I have no imagination." “Do you mean that I have? I haven't enough to guess what you do mean.” “Why, do you suppose, have I come over this morning * * “Because you thought I was sulking on account of your having called me a fool.” “Sulking, or worse. What do I deserve for the wrong I have done you?" "You have done me no wrong. You reasoned fairly enough. You are not obliged to know me better than I know myself. It's just like you to be ready to take back that bad word, and try to make yourself believe that it was unjust. But it was perfectly just, and therefore I have managed to bear it. I was a fool at that moment, — a stupid, impudent fool. I don't know whether that man had been making love to you or not. But you had, I think, been feeling love for him, -you looked it; I should have been less than a man, I should be unworthy of your—your affection, if I had failed to see it. I did see it, — I saw it as clearly as I see those oxen now ; and yet I bounced in with my own ill-timed claims. To do so was to be a fool. To have been other than a fool would have been to have waited, to have backed out, to have bitten my tongue off before I spoke, to have done anything but what I did. I have no right to claim you, Gertrude, until I can woo you better than that. It was the most fortunate thing in the world that you spoke as you did : it was even kind. It saved me all the misery of groping about for a starting-point. Not to have spoken as you did would have been to fail of justice; and then, probably, I should have sulked, or, as you very considerately say, done worse. I had made a false move in the game, - and the only thing to do was to repair it. But you were not obliged to know that I would so readily admit my move to have been false. Whenever I have made a fool of myself before, I have been for sticking it out, and trying to turn all mankind—that is, you — into a a fool too, so that I should n't be an exception. But this time, I think, I had a kind of inspiration. I felt that my case was desperate. I felt that if I adopted my folly now I adopted it forever. The other day I met a man who had just come home from Europe, and who spent last summer in Switzerland. He was telling me about the mountainclimbing over there, —how they get over the glaciers, and all that. He said that you sometimes came upon great slippery, steep, snow-covered slopes that
end short off in a precipice, and that if you stumble or lose your footing as you cross them horizontally, why you go shooting down, and you're gone; that is, but for one little dodge. You have a long walking-pole with a sharp end, you know, and as you feel yourself sliding, —it's as likely as not to be in a sitting posture, — you just take this and ram it into the snow before you, and there you are, stopped. The thing is, of course, to drive it in far enough, so that it won't yield or break; and in any case it hurts infernally to come whizzing down upon this upright pole. But the interruption gives you time to pick yourself up. Well, so it was with me the other day. I stumbled and fell; I slipped, and was whizzing downward; but I just drove in my pole and pulled up short. It nearly tore me in two; but it saved my life.” Richard made this speech with one hand leaning on the neck of Gertrude's horse, and the other on his own side, and with his head slightly thrown back and his eyes on hers. She had sat quietly in her saddle, returning his gaze. He had spoken slowly and deliberately; but without hesitation and without heat. “This is not romance,” thought Gertrude, “it’s reality.” And this feeling it was that dictated her reply, divesting it of romance so effectually as almost to make it sound trivial. “It was fortunate you had a walkingpole,” she said. “I shall never travel without one again.” “Never, at least,” smiled Gertrude, “with a companion who has the bad habit of pushing you off the path.” “O, you may push all you like,” said Richard. “I give you leave. But isn't this enough about myself?” “That's as you think.” “Well, it's all I have to say for the present, except that I am prodigiously glad to see you, and that of course you will stay awhile.” “But you have your work to do.” “Dear me, never you mind my work. I've earned my dinner this morning, if you have no objection; and I propose to share it with you. So we will go back to the house.” He turned her horse's head about, started up his oxen with his voice, and walked along beside her on the grassy roadside, with one hand in the horse's mane, and the other swinging his whip. Before they reached the yard-gate, Gertrude had revolved his speech. “Enough about himself,” she said, silently echoing his words. “Yes, Heaven be praised, it is about himself. I am but a means in this matter, — he himself, his own character, his own happiness, is the end.” Under this conviction it seemed to her that her part was appreciably simplified. Richard was learning wisdom and self-control, and to exercise his reason. Such was the suit that he was destined to gain. Her duty was as far as possible to remain passive, and not to interfere with the working of the gods who had selected her as the instrument of their prodigy. As they reached the gate, Richard made a trumpet of his hands, and sent a ringing summons into the fields; whereupon a farm-boy approached, and, with an undisguised stare of amazement at Gertrude, took charge of his master's team. Gertrude rode up to the door-step, where her host assisted her to dismount, and bade her go in and make herself at home, while he busied himself with the bestowal of her horse. She found that, in her absence, the old woman who administered her friend's household had reappeared, and had laid out the preparations for his mid-day meal. By the time he returned, with his face and head shining from a fresh ablution, and his shirt-sleeves decently concealed by a coat, Gertrude had apparently won the complete confidence of the good wife. Gertrude doffed her hat, and tucked up her riding-skirt, and sat down to a fête-d-tête over Richard's crumpled table-cloth. The young man played the host very soberly and naturally; and Gertrude hardly knew whether to augur from his perfect self-possession that her star was already on the wane,
or that it had waxed into a steadfast and eternal sun. The solution of her doubts was not far to seek; Richard was absolutely at his ease in her presence. He had told her indeed that she intoxicated him; and truly, in those moments when she was compelled to oppose her dewy eloquence to his servid importunities, her whole presence seemed to him to exhale a singularly potent sweetness. He had told her that she was an enchantress, and this assertion, too, had its measure of truth. But her spell was a steady one ; it sprang not from her beauty, her wit, her figure, —it sprang from her character. When she found herself aroused to appeal or to resistance, Richard's pulses were quickened to what he had called intoxication, not by her smiles, her gestures, her glances, or any accession of that material beauty which she did not possess, but by a generous sense of her virtues in action. In other words, Gertrude exercised the magnificent power of making her lover forget her face. Agreeably to this fact, his habitual feeling in her presence was one of deep repose, – a sensation not unlike that which in the early afternoon, as he lounged in his orchard with a pipe, he derived from the sight of the hot and vaporous hills. He was innocent, then, of that delicious trouble which Gertrude's thoughts had . touched upon as a not unnatural result of her visit, and which another woman's fancy would perhaps have dwelt upon as an indispensable proof of its success. “Porphyro grew faint,” the poet assures us, as he stood in Madeline's chamber on Saint Agnes' eve. But Richard did not in the least grow faint now that his mistress was actually filling his musty old room with her voice, her touch, her looks; that she was sitting in his unfrequented chairs, trailing her skirt over his faded carpet, casting her perverted image upon his mirror, and breaking his daily bread. He was not fluttered when he sat at her well-served table, and trod her muffled floors. Why, then, should he be fluttered now f Gertrude was her