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enchanting genius, proved beyond cavil,” said an en- little panting puffs of story. Agnes rose to receive her thusiastic reviewer of youthful years, who on the child from the hand of a stranger who with cold counstrength of this faith addressed her a private communi- tenance but perfect breeding told where he had found cation through her publishers, in it informing her that her little girl, and, barely waiting to receive thanks, ** his own personal experience had been of a like char- departed. She had never seen him since, though while acter ; that he felt an irresistible conviction that his she stayed at Dufferin she certainly heard the name of soul was bound to the soul of Ulm Neil by mysterious the young rector on feminine lips oftener than any cognate ties that time would prove indissoluble; that other. their destinies were coeval; that he awaited breath- Here was a letter from him to “ Ulm Neil, Esquire.” lessly till he should see his conviction attested by the He said in this letter “ that when he became conscious divine seal of her own inspirational words ;” in short
, of owing a debt, he could not make himself easy until he waited an answer. This was but one of hundreds he paid it. He was certainly a debtor to the writer of personal letters which from every direction out in the of “The Annals of a Quiet City.' He rarely troubled world now met on the little table in the quaint log. himself with new authors, especially the writers of house at the Pinnacle. There were men who wanted stories, their books being the very opposite of his usual wives, and who were sure, by the delicate and touching line of reading. Indeed, it was quite by accident that revelations of feminine character made by Ulm Neil, he took up • The Annals of a Quiet City,' in a bookthat Ulm Neil was the mortal who could lead them to
For the mines of human experience which it their ideals, which they had long been searching for revealed, the types of human character which it embodbut never yet had found. There were women who ied, above all for the strong yet tender help which it wanted to tell their sorrows, to pour out their aspira- | rendered to all upward-reaching souls, he thanked the tions; women who wanted sympathy, women who writer. One quality in the book he could not analyze, wanted help, women who wanted love; women whose while he felt it as a fascination : this was its atmoshair was gray and whose day was almost done, and phere of familiarity, a haunting something like a look young girls who wanted to be told the sunniest way to in the eyes of a stranger reminding one of a cherished the fulness of love and happiness.
and familiar friend. He felt rather than saw in some Through the mass of egotism, conceit, and foolish- of these pages the vivid light and quickening atmosness, how often the unfeigned cry of the human pene- phere of his native North. There were touches, trated her heart. What could she do ? Alas! how touches only, which seemed surely to indicate that the little to appease the never-satisfied want, to still the writer was familiar with the very scenes surrounding never-ceasing plaint. A word of sympathy, of help, of the reader while he read. Yet this was impossible. cheer, was all it was in her power to give ; how futile Nobody had ever dwelt at Dufferin who could have it was to relieve the stress of so much supplicating combined with suggestions of all its glorious outlying need! In the humility of helplessness she took on the land such revelations of cosmopolitan character and yoke of success. What was any pang of her own but a experience. Only a man could have written it, for it tiny pulse in the universal aching heart? She bore was granted to man only to add to tenderness the griefs and carried the sorrows of her kind. She strength.” could pity, cheer, and soothe, but she could not save. Sometimes with flushing cheeks, then with suffusing Because she could not she felt weighted with the bur- eyes, then with indifference, Agnes read, in the news
papers sent by her publishers, both the gracious and Her letters were addressed to “Miss Ulm Neil,” to ungracious notices of her book. One would tell her “ Mrs. Ulm Neil,” to “Mr. Ulm Neil,” and one to that “ Ulm Neil was all imagination ;” another, that “ Ulm Neil, Esquire.” This one made an emphatic · Ulm Neil had no imagination at all.” In one he was impression, partly because it bore the address of Duf- an idealist with little or no force of thought; in another ferin, partly because of its tone, and partly because of he was a realist, and his worse than pre-Raphaelite its writer. He was the only one of these many letter- strokes were mere copies of literal life. She found Ulm writers whom she bad ever
As she read the Neil both unappreciated and over-praised. Perhaps " Athel Dane,” the image of a sombre-faced three“ notice” writers in a hundred had really read the young man rose before her, leading her sunny-faced lit- book with sufficient leisure and interest to receive its tle girl by the hand, just as he appeared once in the spirit, to quicken to the humanity thrilling through it, open door of Miss Buzzill's shop. Vida, pursuing but- to perceive its mental quality, and to judge it justly both terflies, had run far down the street, where panting and in what it reached and in what it failed to reach. discomfited, for the butterfly had flitted far above her Because it was born of life, it lived. To her wonder childish reach, she was found just inside the church- that which was most living in it, which touched lite yard fence by the Reverend Athel Dane, as he was most nearly, was what the reviewers called “overstarting to take his afternoon ride. Anything half as wrought," and the most“ untrue to actual experience.” pretty as that yellow-haired little girl he had never She knew now out of what travail of brain and soul seen inside of that church-yard fence. Flushed with and conscience a living book came; what will, what running and tearful with disappointment, she was full bravery, it cost to dare to tell the truth, to paint life as of confidence and eager to be comforted. She had lost it is.
How often the conscientiousness of a true artist, her butterfly, she had run away, and her mamma was adhering to her ideal of truth as she perceived it, at any up to the Corners. Whereupon Athel Dane, instead of price to herself, had been the only support of her sinkgoing for his horse, took the little girl by the hand and ing spirit. From the first line to the last, not one led her back to her mother. Agnes, looking up from word of faith and encouragement had come to her from her work in an inner room, saw framed in the outer any human source. Even Mr. Blank One failed her on door the youthful but solemn face of a man (an unusual the reception of the first chapter. He told her plainly sight in the door of Miss Buzzill's shop), and in the that he was disappointed. He expected - he did not same instant Vida's piping voice began to send forth know what he expected; but "certainly something
dens of many.
"A MARRIAGE IN HIGH LIFE.
Her hand grew
different." “ He still hoped ” (but with many doubts down the newspaper columns, rested upon this anand many fears unmistakably) “ to sell the fifty thou- nouncement: sand copies; but to make this possible she must brighten up, resume the sparkling style of · Basil : A Boy,' which was simply perfect in its way.”
Mr. Blank Two took the chapter to his home and “In this city, on the 1st of October, at the residence read it one evening to a circle of friends, critical and of the bride, Murray Hill, by the Reverend 0. Tristcultivated to an extreme degree. No one of them ingbee, D. D., of the Church of the New Covenant, could create a work either of art or of inspiration, but Circe, only child of the late Rothsay Sutherland, of they could mildly and maliciously tear both to pieces Sutherlands, Louisiana, and Hon. Cyril King, M. C. with a facility which amounted to genius. They con- Louisiana, Edinburgh, and Paris journals please copy." scientiously filtered forth a few drops of occasional praise to the unknown writer during the pleasant proc- She read this notice through once, twice, thrice, as ess of dissecting him, but Mr. Blank Two was scarcely she might have read it had she been asleep, with eyes conscious of these drops, and forgot them altogether open yet with suspended consciousness. Slowly the sigwhen the next morning, from sheer nervousness, he nificance of what she read came to her comprehension reported to Ulm Neil every disagreeable word said “ This is the woman who did not want my husband, by the guests of the evening before. The combined
who did not want to marry, who wanted her freedom, verdict was certainly unfavorable to the first “ Annal her kingdom, her subjects only ; wanted his adulation, of a Quiet City,” it gave him great pain to say, but his homage, bis subjugation, at any cost of honor, but as the larger share of the work was still unwritten not him! A year since the divorce! To the world there was a chance for growth, for a development of she is his wife. Then what am I? I? I am dead. the faculty of telling common things in an uncom- I am buried. I am forgotten. I am not, and as if I mon way,— a faculty which Ulm Neil did not yet com- had never been, in his world. Yet in wifehood, in mand.
motherhood, I still live for him, for his child. Beyond These were her publishers who held her in such all outward form, beyond the power of human law to poor esteem, and beyond them her fancy conjured up annul, beyond the power of human treachery to dethe voiceless but scornful image of the sublimated stroy, I am his wife ; I only, forever. I thank Thee,
Co.," with his nose in the air, waiting the loss and my God, that she is not, that she never can be, his disappointment of “ the House” as due retribution for wife !” its unwise trust in an untried writer.
These words would have sounded like the raving of still, her brain cold and numb. She could not go on, a wild woman to the gay denizens of Vanity Fair, who not without one encouraging word, and in all the world with fawning and flattering salute hastened to welcome there was not one human being to utter it. Yes, there back to the capital Circe Sutherland as the Hon. Mrs.
Evelyn begged her to read “jest a page, King. The announcement of the marriage was more as they sat alone one evening. As Agnes read, Ev- than a month old. In a later journal that Agnes me. elyn laughed and cried, grew wrathful and tender and chanically took up, her eyes encountered, under the silent. The written page moved Evelyn just as life head of “ Gay Life at the National Capital,” an exmoved her, als she lived it hour by hour. Agnes went tended report of "a resplendent reception given by the
She never knew how or why; surely it was with Hon. Cyril King and Mrs. Sutherland King, on the no hope of reward, but no less with unconscious fidel- opening for theseason of their magniticent mansion at ity to the truth that was in her. Here was the re- the West End.” More than a column of a metropolitan sponse. Her book lived in the affections of the people journal was devoted to a description of the upholstery because it was woven of the same tissue out of which and furniture of this “ palatial abode.” All the adjectheir daily human life was made ; yet wrought into tives of English speech were exhausted in portraying purer, sweeter, nobler forms of experience than those its curtains, cushions, and divans of coral and amber to which they yet had grown ; forms which they satin, of Gobelin and Aubusson tapestry; its velvet yearned and reached after, nevertheless.
carpets; its inlaid floors; its salons paved with mosaics ; The book sold well, if not wonderfully. Blank, its marvels of silver, gold, and glass ; its furniture of Blank & Co. were satisfied. Agnes Darcy was gone malachite and ebony ; its paintings; its statues from and forgotten. Because she had lived, loved, suf- Rome; its carvings from Florence and Oberammerfered, and died to herself, Ulm Neil lived, strong, gau; its laces from the looms of Saxony and the bobtender, not unto herself, but for every human being bins of Chantilly. out on the lonely earth, hungering for sympathy, whom But the culminating “ description,” the one in which her great, helpful pity could reach. These were not Jenkins surpassed even himself in inflated metaphors Agnes' thoughts. She was thinking, before all this and fulsome fattery, was in the portraiture of this manrecognition how poor was the woman to whom it sion's mistress : “ Beautiful beyond the possibility of
Admiration, homage, criticism, blame, held language to portray, or of eyes that had never beheld their due value in her mind, no doubt, but they were her dazzling loveliness to imagine, was this sumptuous less than nothing to her yearning and unauswering woman, who had been the cynosure of worshipping heart. Her heart had never sought such rewards nor eyes in the courts of Europe, had now begun her reign such a life. Desire had never painted it. The world as empress supreme in the social realm of the Federal might set its own value upon it — it belonged to the capital.” Then followed a minute description of the world. It had cost the woman too dear. What if the dress worn by her at her first reception. • A robe of whole world were hers, and yet the life of her life, of lace made in Scotland from her own designs, worn her love, of her home, were not ? She was still so over yellow satin, while the .rarest amber of Constanpoor that for such poverty the universe held no rec- tinople, the palest that ever a sorrowing peri wept, ompense. With these thoughts her eyes, glancing shed its soft lustre upon her lustrous neck and arms
“ The host, superb in health and manly beauty, witty, this prove that the “moral tone” of the American fascinating, magnetic, looked a radiant god in happi- capital was lower than is that of other cities of the ness as he stood the central sun of attraction, fairly earth. Wealth, beauty, grace, wit, fascination, place, dividing the homage of the occasion with his dazzling and power are potential forces the whole earth over. bride. A pair so distingué had not appeared at the Without these, the concentrated purity of the entire national capital for a generation. Such wealth, wit, human race would stand as a cipher to what is termed esprit, eloquence, elegance, beauty, and grace did not gay world.” It was what Mrs. Sutherland King unite in one pair once in a century.”
had, not what she had not, that the gay world wanted As Agnes finished this paragraph, how distinctly she and took. It reserved to itself, however, its own invisaw the dome of the Capitol, white, stainless against the olable right of " making remarks ” during the pleasant blue, as she saw it last; the Capitol itself on its emer- process. Example: Scene, morning reception at the ald hill; the alcove in its library where she sat and White House. Mrs. Sutherland King upon the arm of listened to the beguiling voice that wrought her woe ; her distinguished-looking husband appears in the doorthe drawing-rooms at the West End beneath whose way of the Blue Room, and advances, while hundreds blinding lights she herself once stood, wherein she was of eyes concentrate upon her, toward the Presidential now as utterly forgotten as if she had never made one circle. Very near it, a little to one side, hovers the in their splendid throngs. Now? She could touch the Hon. Mrs. Peppercorn, exchanging running comments ceiling of the cramped room in which she sat. The
upon all she sees and hears with her friend, Mrs. tapestry on its walls was six-cent cotton. Not a picture Midget. frame that decked it ever cost a dollar; the most sumpt- “There's that woman !” she exclaims, with loweruous article in it was her cane-seated rocking-chair. ing brows. These cheap comforts, this small room even, were not “I do not call upon her,” replies Mrs. Midget with her own. Earth did not hold an object really her own, elevated eyes. - and he!
"I do," responds the senatress, " though first I never Vida laughed in her sleep. Nothing her own! She would. With all her airs she is only a member's wife; went and threw her arms around her child ; was not nor that, by right or decency. My list is too long to she all her own? No woman was poor, no woman was admit of my running after members' wives (such a alone, who could hold to her heart her breathing child, herd!) even if etiquette did not demand imperatively all, all her own. In' having her, she had more than that they should make the first call. In society I they. In her poverty she was richer than they were. stand upon etiquette to the death, but not with my
Did Mrs. Sutherland King, as her estates and her friends, as Mrs. Skinflint of I. does. Her bosom friend pride caused her to call herself, step at once to her might die in the next room alone, if she hadn't made throne in the social kingdom without protest ? Was the first call. Mrs. Sutherland King made the first no one brave enough to call her a pretender ? to chal- call. • You see I accept the Washington code,' she lenge her as a usurper of at least her newly attained said. I knew she accepted the necessity of propitiatname? Yes, the Hon. Mrs. Peppercorn was brave ing me. Money and beauty are not everything, even enough and honest enough to do both, and in a voice of in Washington. A good name and good behavior are no uncertain sound. There were a few, a very few, not without value, even here. She knows my opinion who, remembering “the first Mrs. King,” as Agnes of hers ; that I'll never forgive her for her treatment was now called, and remembering also that she was of Mrs. King — the only Mrs. King. I know she was yet alive, somewhere in the world, regarded the pres- a poor-spirited little thing, and scarcely deserved the ence of a second Mrs. King as a sin against the family keeping of a husband when she wouldn't manage him state, and an offense against good society. True to any better. But to my dying day I shall never forget their convictions, a truth not easily maintained amid the look on her face at the ambassadors' ball; and I'm the many conflicting interests of Capitolian life, they not going to try. Now look at that woman in her proved it upon every possible occasion by the pointed place already!" remark, “ We do not call upon Mrs. Sutherland King.” Circe, all grace, in radiant beauty even under the But as thousands did, that conquering lady did not searching chandelier, was dispensing smiles and wordseem to receive even a chill from the “cold shoulder” | music to the President, who was sufficiently entranced of the righteous minority. Society cherished its own to make
necessary for the official usher to recall him private opinion of Mrs. Sutherland King, a private
a private from his lapse to hand-shaking and the throng. opinion that was perpetually “ leaking out
" into public
“ Look at her, Mrs. Midget !” groaned Mrs. Pepthrough the unguarded comments of the ten thousand percorn in suppressed bass. dear friends who attended her receptions and balls, spoke to a man in her life without the fixed intention drank her champagne, ate her French dinners, waltzed of making him fall in love with her.” in her magnificent salle de danse, and the next morn- “ And she usually succeeds, does she not?” ventures ing, in boudoir and parlor, with smiling malice picked Mrs. Midget. her reputation to pieces by way of reward.
“No indeed. All men are not Cyril Kings, thank Stories of her past career casting deep shadow upon Heaven! Mr. Peppercorn despises her, just as much her womanhood, gathering exaggeration as they went, as I do. I know it by his remarks.” flew eagerly from lip to lip. Everything dubious was “I doubt if wives can always tell whom their husinsinuated of her, if not asserted. Everybody ques. bands depise or otherwise — by their remarks." tioned or distrusted her, even while they followed and "Judge for yourself, not me, Mrs. Midget. I know flattered her; but because of distrust or even open ac- that Mr. Peppercorn despises that woman as he should. cusation, they did not flatter her or follow after her the I return her calls for one purpose only. If I see her less. Not to be able to show Mrs. Sutherland King's and speak with her, I can give her many a dig that I card of invitation, with its delicate tracery and ancient never could if I didn't. I've one ready for her now. crest, was to prove yourself“ not in society.” Nor did | And she will find her way here in a moment, you see!'
Making your usually astute observations on wom- dimness of the far past, seemed to touch them and to ankind ? You don't take the trouble to judge the make them live again. gentlemen, I believe, Mrs. Peppercorn?” said Circe “John Darcy!” and as she spoke his name a pink in the blandest tones, as she slipped through a little tinge touched her withered cheek. “ John Darcy! opening in the throng.
Surely it is he ! and I! We both are here. Not as You mistake me there. I comment on whatever we are now, the one old, the other glorified, but both I see, you may be sure of that. I see women plainer beautiful with youth. Only one living being could than men, for it was never my fashion to run after make this picture — John Darcy's child. I see not a One is quite enough for me to manage.”
line to tell, but it was she who sent it to me, she who “I agree with you, Mrs. Peppercorn. One is more
wrote it. I am sure, şure. May God love her and than it's really worth one's while to manage. It's ever keep her in her great sorrow, wherever on this earth so much nicer to let even him go his way, and you go she may be! And if He would only let my old eyes yours.”
see her face once more, I would praise his holy "I do not agree with you. It is much safer for Mr. name!” Peppercorn to go my way; and pleasanter, he finds
ON CASTERBRIDGE HIGHWAY.
“ Doubtless. You have a genius for government I never had. "Let me introduce you to the Marquise, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. the wife of the new Minister from France. I knew her in Paris. She is charming." “ Thank you ;” and the senatress drew herself up
For a considerable time the woman walked on. Her till she looked inches taller. “I prefer to meet her first officially. I'm not one of the crowd who run and
steps became feebler, and she strained her eyes to look
afar upon the naked road, now indistinct amid the penumfawn about the Diplomatic Corps. They may be as bræ of night. At length her onward walk dwindled to the good as other people in their own countries, but they merest totter, and she opened a gate within which was a are not better than other people here, though as a rule haystack. Underneath this she sat down and presently they show plainly enough that they think they are. I slept. will meet them half-way, but I never go after foreign-depths of a moonless and starless night. A heavy un
When the woman awoke it was to find herself in the ers — nor anybody else.”
broken crust of cloud stretched across the sky, shutting “Let me bring the Marquise to you?” in the sweetest of unruffled tones., “You could not help loving
out every speck of heaven; and a distant halo which hung
over the town of Casterbridge was visible against the black her."
concave, the luminosity appearing the brighter by its great “ I have more to love now than I can do justice to,” contrast with the circumscribing darkness. Towards this said the implacable. “ You remind me more and more weak, soft glow the woman turned her eyes. of a character in “The Annals of a Quiet City.' Have
“ If I could only get there !” she said. “ Meet him the you read it yet ? ”
day after to-morrow: God help me! Perhaps I shall be “ Yes. A remarkable book ; so quiet, and yet so
in my grave before then.”
A clock from the far depths of shadow struck the hour, full of human emotion and experience. I know whom one, in a small, attenuated tone. After midnight the voice you mean, Mrs. Peppercorn. I think, myself, she is
of a clock seems to lose in breadth as much as in length, like me ; like what I would have been under the same and to diminish its sonorousness to a thin falsetto. conditions. It's a haunting kind of a book, isn't it ?” Afterwards a light — two lights
arose from the remote “Yes, it is. It is something better than I expected shade, and grew larger. A carriage rolled along the road, to hear at a morning reception, that it haunts you. I
and passed the gate. It probably contained some late hope it will continue to haunt you.”.
diners-out. The beams from one lamp shone for a moment
upon the crouching woman, and threw her face into vivid “ How kind of you! For it is like being haunted
relief. The face was young in the groundwork, old in the with the refrain of a song after the song has ceased. finish ; the general contours were flexuous and childlike, If it is half sad, it is delicious.”
but the finer lineaments had begun to be sharp and thin. " It would not be delicious to me if I were in your The pedestrian stood up, apparently with a revived deplace,” Mrs. Peppercorn wanted to say ; but even she
termination, and looked around. The road appeared to be felt compelled to keep within the bounds of insult if
familiar to her, and she carefully scanned the fence as she not of rudeness. Cyril King kept clear of Mrs. Pepper- slowly walked along. Presently there became visible a
dim white shape; it was a mile-stone. She drew her fincorn. He was chatting with the Marquise. In a mo
gers across its face to feel the marks. ment more, all radiance still, Circe joined them.
“ Three!” she said. That evening, amid her plants and cats in her little She leant against the stone as a means of rest for a short lilac-shaded cottage in old Ulm, Mrs. Twilight sat by interval, then bestirred herself, and again pursued her way. her lamp, peering through her round spectacles down For a lengthy distance she bore up bravely, afterwards the pages of a new book. Mrs. Twilight did not
flagging as before. This was beside a lone hazel copse, abound in new books. As a rule she did not care for
wherein heaps of white chips strewn upon the leafy ground them. She preferred her Bible, Shakespeare, Milton,
showed that woodmen had been fagoting and making hur
dles during the day. Now there was not a rustle, not a and Young's Night Thoughts," she believed, to all breeze, not the faintest clash of twigs to keep her company. the new books in the world. Yet here was a new book The woman looked over the gate, opened it, and went in. which not only chained her attention, but made her Close to the entrance stood a row of fagots, bound and heart, in the most unexpected and unprecedented man- unbound, together with stakes of all sizes. ner, — her heart that had beat slowly and peacefully so
For a few seconds the wayfarer stood with that tense many years as an old heart should,
— now actually the suspension, of a previous motion. Her attitude was
stillness which signifies itself to be not the end, but merely thrill and throb once more with the sweetest experi- that of a person who listens, either to the external world ence of youth. Something what was it? - in the
of sound, or to the imagined discourse of thought. A close book, through all the dust of years, through all the criticism might have detected signs proving that she was
intent on the latter alternative. Moreover, as was shown | beguilement with what she had known all the time to be by what followed, she was oddly exercising the faculty of false had given her strength to come a quarter of a mile invention upon the speciality of the clever Jacquet Droz, that she would have been powerless to face in the lump. the designer of automatic substitutes for human limbs. The artifice showed that the woman, by some mysterious
By the aid of the Casterbridge aurora, and by feeling intuition, had grasped the paradoxical truth that blindness with her hands, the woman selected two sticks from the may operate more vigorously than prescience, and the heaps. These sticks were nearly straight to the height of short-sighted effect more than the far-seeing ; that limitathree or four feet, where each branched into a fork like the ion, and not comprehensiveness, is needed for riking a letter Y. She sat down, snapped off the small upper twigs,
blow. and carried the remainder with her into the road. She The half-mile stood now before the sick and weary placed one of these forks under each arm as a crutch, woman like a stolid Juggernaut. It was an impassive King tested them, timidily threw) her whole weight upon them, of her world. The road here' ran across a level plateau
so little that it was, and swung herself forward. The with only a bank on either side. She surveyed the wide girl had made for herself a material aid.
space, the lights, herself, sighed, and lay down on the bank. The crutches answered well. The pat of her feet, and Never was ingenuity exercised so sorely as the traveller the tap of her sticks upon the highway, were all the sounds here exercised hers. Every conceivable aid, method, stratthat came from the traveller now. She had passed a sec- agem, mechanism, by which these last desperate eight hunond mile-stone by a good long distance, and began to look dred yards could be overpassed by a human being unper. wistfully towards the bank, as if calculating upon another ceived, was revolved in her busy brain, and dismissed as mile-stone soon.
so very useful, had impracticable. She thought of sticks, wheels, crawling their limits of power. Mechanism only transnutes labor, she even thought of rolling. But the exertion demanded being powerless to abstract it, and the original quantum of by either of these latter two was greater than to walk erect. exertion was not cleared away ; it was thrown into the The faculty of contrivance was worn out. Hopelessness body and arms. She was exhausted, and each swing for- had come at last. ward became fainter. At last she swayed sideways, and “ No farther!” she whispered, and closed her eyes. fell.
From the stripe of shadow on the opposite side of the Here she lay, a shapeless heap, for ten minutes and way a portion of shade seemed to detach itself and move
The morning wind began to boom dully over the into isolation upon the pale white of the road. It glided flats, and to move afresh dead leaves which had lain still noiselessly towards the recumbent woman. since yesterday. The woman desperately turned round She became conscious of something touching her hand; it upon her knees, and next rose to her feet. Steadying her- was softness and it was warmth. She opened her eyes, self by the help of one crutch she essayed a step, then and the substance touched her face. A dog was licking another, then a third, using the crutches now as walking her cheek. sticks only. Thus she progressed till the beginning of a He was a huge, heavy, and quiet creature, standing long railed fence came into view. She staggered across to darkly against the low horizon, and at least two feet higher the first post, clung to it, and looked around. Another than the present position of her eyes. Whether Newfoundmile-stone was on the opposite side of the road.
land, mastiff, blood-hound, or what not, it was impossible to The Casterbridge lights were now individually visible. say. He seemed to be of too strange and mysterious a It was getting towards morning, and vehicles 'might be nature to belong to any variety among those of popular hoped for if not expected soon.
She listened. There was nomenclature. Being thus assignable to no breed he was not a sound of life save that acme and sublimation of all the ideal embodiment of canine greatness -- a generalizadismal sounds, the bark of a fox, its three hollow notes be- tion from what was common to all. Night, in its sad, ing rendered at intervals of a minute with the precision of solemn, and benevolent aspect, apart from its stealthy and a funeral bell.
cruel side, was personified in this form. Darkness endows “ One mile more," the woman murmured. “No, less," the small and ordinary ones among mankind with poetical she added, after a pause. " The mile is to the Town Hall power, and even the suffering woman threw her idea into and my resting place is on this side Casterbridge. Three figure. quarters of a mile, and there I, am !” After an interval In her reclining position she looked up to him just as in she again spoke. “ Five or six steps to a yard — six per- earlier times she had, when standing, looked up to a man. haps. I have to go twelve hundred yards. A hundred The animal, who was as homeless as she, respectfully withtimes six, six hundred. Twelve times that. Oh pity me, drew a step or two when the woman moved, and, seeing Lord!”
that she did not repulse him, he licked her hand again. Holding to the rails she advanced, thrusting one hand A thought moved within her like lightning. Perhaps forward upon the rail, then the other, then leaning over it I can make use of him - I might do it then! whilst she dragged her feet on beneath.
She pointed in the direction of Casterbridge, and the dog This woman was not given to soliloquy; but extremity of seemed to misunderstand : he trotted on. Then, finding feeling lessens the individuality of the weak, as it increases she could not follow, he came back and whined. that of the strong. She said again in the same tone, “I'll The ultimate and saddest singularity of woman's effort believe that the end lies five posts forward, and no farther, and invention was reached when, with a quickened breathand so get strength to pass them.”
ing, she rose to a stooping posture, and, resting her two This was a practical application of the principle that a little arms upon the shoulders of the dog, leant firmly half-feigned and factitious faith is better than no faith at thereon, and" murmured stimulating words. Whilst she all.
sorrowed in her heart she cheered with her voice, and She passed five posts, and held on to the fifth.
what was stranger than that the strong should need enpass five more by believing my longed-for spot is couragement from the weak was that cheerfulness should at the next fifth. I can do it."
be so well simulated by such utter dejection. Her friend She passed five more.
moved forward slowly, and she with small
, mincing steps “ It lies only five farther.”
moved forward beside him, half her weight being thrown She passed five more.
upon the animal.
Sometimes she sank as she had sunk « But it is five farther."
from walking erect, from the crutches, from the rails. She passed them.
The dog, who now thoroughly understood her desire and “ The end of these railings is the end of my journey," her incapacity, was frantic in his distress on these occashe said, when the end was in view.
sions ; he would tug at her dress and run forward. She She crawled to the end. During the effort each breath always called him back, and it was now to be observed that of the woman went into the air as if never to return again. the woman listened for human sounds only to avoid them.
“ Now for the truth of the matter,” she said, sitting down. It was evident that she had an object in keeping her pres“The truth is, that I have less than half a mile." Self- ence on the road and her forlorn state unknown.