Imatges de pÓgina
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self in all places, and (once granted that she was at peace) to be at her side was to drink peace as fully in one place as in another.

Richard accordingly ate a great working-day dinner in Gertrude's despite, and she ate a small one for his sake. She asked questions moreover, and offered counsel with most sisterly freedom. She deplored the rents in his table-cloth, and the dismemberments of his furniture; and although by no means absurdly fastidious in the matter of household elegance, she could not but think that Richard would be a happier and a better man if he were a little more comfortable. She forbore, however, to criticise the poverty of his entourage, for she felt that the obvious answer was, that such a state of things was the penalty of his living alone; and it was desirable, under the circumstances, that this idea should remain implied.

When at last Gertrude began to bethink herself of going, Richard broke a long silence by the following question: "Gertrude, do you love that man?"

"Richard," she answered, “I refused to tell you before, because you asked the question as a right. Of course you do so no longer. No. I do not love him. I have been near it, but I have missed it. And now good by."

For a week after her visit, Richard worked as bravely and steadily as he had done before it. But one morning he woke up lifeless, morally speaking. His strength had suddenly left him. He had been straining his faith in himself to a prodigious tension, and the chord had suddenly snapped. In the hope that Gertrude's tender fingers might repair it, he rode over to her towards evening. On his way through the village, he found people gathered in knots, reading fresh copies of the Boston newspapers over each other's shoulders, and learned that tidings had just come of a great battle in Virginia, which was also a great defeat. He procured a copy of the paper from a man who had read it out, and made haste to Gertrude's dwelling.

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Gertrude received his story with those passionate imprecations and regrets which were then in fashion. Before long, Major Luttrel presented himself, and for half an hour there was no talk but about the battle. The talk, however, was chiefly between Gertrude and the Major, who found considerable ground for difference, she being a great radical and he a decided conservative.. Richard sat by, listening apparently, but with the appearance of one to whom the matter of the discourse was of much less interest than the manner of those engaged in it. At last, when tea was announced, Gertrude told her friends, very frankly, that she would not invite them to remain, that her heart was too heavy with her country's woes, and with the thought of so great a butchery, to allow her to play the hostess, and that, in short, she was in the humor to be alone. Of course there was nothing for the gentlemen but to obey; but Richard went out cursing the law, under which, in the hour of his mistress's sorrow,. his company was a burden and not a relief. He watched in vain, as he bade her farewell, for some little sign that she would fain have him stay, but that as she wished to get rid of his companion civility demanded that she should dismiss them both. No such sign was forthcoming, for the simple reason that Gertrude was sensible of no conflict between her desires. The men mounted their horses in silence, and rode slowly along the lane which led from Miss Whittaker's stables to the high-road. As they approached the top of the lane, they perceived in the twilight a mounted figure coming towards them. Richard's heart began to beat with an angry foreboding, which was confirmed as the rider drew near and disclosed Captain Severn's features. Major Luttrel and he, being bound in courtesy to a brief greeting, pulled up their horses; and as an attempt to pass them in narrow quarters would have been a greater incivility than even Richard was prepared to commit, he likewise halted.

"This is ugly news, is n't it?" said Severn. "It has determined me to go back to-morrow."

"Go back where?" asked Richard.

"To my regiment."

"Are you well enough?" asked Major Luttrel. "How is that wound?” "It's so much better that I believe it can finish getting well down there as easily as here. Good by, Major. I hope we shall meet again." And he shook hands with Major Luttrel. "Good by, Mr. Clare." And, somewhat to Richard's surprise, he stretched over and held out his hand to him.

Richard felt that it was tremulous, and, looking hard into his face, he thought it wore a certain unwonted look of excitement. And then his fancy coursed back to Gertrude, sitting where he had left her, in the sentimental twilight, alone with her heavy heart. With a word, he reflected, a single little word, a look, a motion, this happy man whose hand I hold can heal her sorrows. "Oh!" cried Richard, "that by this hand I might hold him fast forever!"

It seemed to the Captain that Richard's grasp was needlessly protracted and severe. "What a grip the poor fellow has!" he thought. "Good by," he repeated aloud, disengaging himself.

"Good by," said Richard. And then he added, he hardly knew why, "Are you going to bid good by to Miss Whittaker?"

"Yes. Isn't she at home?" Whether Richard really paused or not before he answered, he never knew. There suddenly arose such a tumult in his bosom that it seemed to him several moments before he became conscious of his reply. But it is probable that to Severn it came only too

soon.

"No," said Richard; "she's not at home. We have just been calling." As he spoke, he shot a glance at his companion, armed with defiance of his impending denial. But the Major just met his glance and then dropped his eyes. This slight motion was a horrible

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"Ah? I'm sorry," said Severn, slacking his rein, — "I'm sorry." And from his saddle he looked down toward the house more longingly and regretfully than he knew.*

Richard felt himself turning from pale to consuming crimson. There was a simple sincerity in Severn's words which was almost irresistible. For a moment he felt like shouting out a loud denial of his falsehood: "She is there she 's alone and in tears, awaiting you. Go to her · - and be damned!" But before he could gather his words into his throat, they were arrested by Major Luttrel's cool, clear voice, which in its calmness seemed to cast scorn upon his weakness.

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Captain," said the Major, "I shall be very happy to take charge of your farewell."

"Thank you, Major. Pray do. Say how extremely sorry I was. Good by again." And Captain Severn hastily turned his horse about, gave him his spurs, and galloped away, leaving his friends standing alone in the middle of the road. As the sound of his retreat expired, Richard, in spite of himself, drew a long breath. He sat motionless in the saddle, hanging his head.

"Mr. Clare," said the Major, at last, "that was very cleverly done." Richard looked up.

a lie before," said he.

"I never told

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he broke out, "In God's name, sir, why don't you call me a blackguard? I've done a beastly act!"

"O, come," said the Major, "you need n't mind that, with me. We'll consider that said. I feel bound to let you know that I'm very, very much obliged to you. If you had n't spoken, how do you know but that I might?"

"If you had, I would have given you the lie, square in your teeth."

"Would you, indeed? It's very fortunate, then, I held my tongue. If you will have it so, I won't deny that your little improvisation sounded very ugly. I'm devilish glad I did n't make it, if you come to that."

Richard felt his wit sharpened by a most unholy scorn, a scorn far greater for his companion than for himself. I am glad to hear that it did sound ugly," he said. "To me, it seemed beautiful, holy, and just. For the space of a moment, it seemed absolutely right that I should say what I did. But you saw the lie in its horrid nakedness, and yet you let it pass. You have no excuse."

"I beg your pardon. You are immensely ingenious, but you are immensely wrong. Are you going to make out that I am the guilty party? Upon my word, you 're a cool hand. I have an excuse. I have the excuse of being interested in Miss Whittaker's remaining unengaged."

black eyes of yours that I held my tongue. As for my loving or not loving Miss Whittaker, I have no report to make to you about it. I will simply say that I intend, if possible, to marry her."

"She 'll not have you. She'll never marry a cold-blooded rascal."

"I think she'll prefer him to a hotblooded one. Do you want to pick a quarrel with me? Do you want to make me lose my temper? I shall refuse you that satisfaction. You have been a coward, and you want to frighten some one before you go to bed to make up for it. Strike me, and I'll strike you in self-defence, but I'm not going to mind your talk. Have you anything to say? No? Well, then, good evening." And Major Luttrel started away.

It was with rage that Richard was dumb. Had he been but a cat's-paw after all? Heaven forbid ! He sat irresolute for an instant, and then

"So I suppose. But you don't love turned suddenly and cantered back to her. Otherwise

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Major Luttrel laid his hand on Richard's bridle. "Mr. Clare," said he, "I have no wish to talk metaphysics over this matter. You had better say no more. I know that your feelings are not of an enviable kind, and I am therefore prepared to be good-natured with you. But you must be civil yourself. You have done a shabby deed; you are ashamed of it, and you wish to shift the responsibility upon me, which is more shabby still. My advice is, that you behave like a man of spirit, and swallow your apprehensions. I trust that you are not going to make a fool of yourself by any apology or retraction in any quarter. As for its having seemed holy and just to do what you did, that is mere bosh. A lie is a lie, and as such is often excusable. As anything else, -as a thing beautiful, holy, or just,-it's quite inexcusable. Yours was a lie to you, and It serves me, and I accept it. I suppose you understand me. I adopt it. You don't suppose it was because I was frightened by those big

a lie to me.

Gertrude's gate. Here he stopped again; but after a short pause he went in over the gravel with a fast-beating heart. O, if Luttrel were but there to see him! For a moment he fancied he heard the sound of the Major's returning steps. If he would only come and find him at confession! It would be so easy to confess before him! He went along beside the house to the front, and stopped beneath the open drawingroom window.

"Gertrude!" he cried softly, from his saddle.

Gertrude immediately appeared. "You, Richard!" she exclaimed.

Her voice was neither harsh nor

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than a loud whisper. The young man sat looking up at her, silent.

"What do you want?" she asked. “Can I do anything for you?

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Richard was not destined to do his duty that evening. A certain infinitesimal dryness of tone on Gertrude's part was the inevitable result of her finding that that whispered summons came only from Richard. She was preoccupied. Captain Severn had told her a fortnight before, that, in case of news of a defeat, he should not await the expiration of his leave of absence to return. Such news had now come, and her inference was that her friend would immediately take his departure. She could not but suppose that he would come and bid her farewell, and what might not be the incidents, the results, of such a visit? To tell the whole truth, it was under the pressure of these reflections that, twenty minutes before, Gertrude had dismissed our two gentlemen. That this long story should be told in the dozen words with which she greeted Richard, will seem unnatural to the disinterested reader. But in those words, poor Richard, with a lover's clairvoyance, read it at a single glance. The same resentful impulse, the same sickening of the heart, that he had felt in the conservatory, took possession of him once more. To be witness of Severn's passion for Gertrude, that he could endure. To be witness of Gertrude's passion for Severn, against that obligation his reason rebelled.

"What is it you wish, Richard?" Gertrude repeated. "Have you forgotten anything?"

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He gave a great pull at his bridle, and almost brought his horse back on his haunches, and then, wheeling him about on himself, he thrust in his spurs and galloped out of the gate.

On the highway he came upon Major Luttrel, who stood looking down the lane.

"I'm going to the Devil, sir!" cried Richard. "Give me your hand "My

on it."

Luttrel held out his hand. poor young man," said he, "you 're out of your head. I'm sorry for you. You have n't been making a fool of yourself?"

"Yes, a damnable fool of myself!" Luttrel breathed freely. "You 'd better go home and go to bed," he said. "You'll make yourself ill by going on at this rate."

“I—I'm afraid to go home," said Richard, in a broken voice. "For God's sake, come with me!"—and the wretched fellow burst into tears. "I'm too bad for any company but yours," he cried, in his sobs.

The Major winced, but he took pity. "Come, come," said he, "we 'll pull through. I'll go home with you."

They rode off together. That night Richard went to bed miserably drunk; although Major Luttrel had left him at ten o'clock, adjuring him to drink no more. He awoke the next morning in a violent fever; and before evening the doctor, whom one of his hired men had brought to his bedside, had come and looked grave and pronounced him very ill.

DOCTOR MOLK E.

A SKETCH FROM LIFE.

A Greenland say, so thence sent S my own fancy led me into the

me into a Greenland port. It was a choice little harbor, a good way north of the Arctic Circle, - fairly within the realm of hyperborean barrenness, very near the northernmost border of civilized settlement. But civilization was exhibited there by unmistakable evidences; - a very dilute civilization, it is true, yet, such as it was, outwardly recognizable; for Christian habitations and Christian beings were in sight from the vessel's deck, - at least some of the human beings who appeared upon the beach were dressed like Christians, and veritable smoke curled gracefully upward into the bright air above the roofs of houses from veritable chimneys.

We had been fighting the Arctic ice and the Arctic storms for so long a time, that it was truly refreshing to get into this good harbor. The little craft which had borne us thither seemed positively to enjoy her repose, as she lay quietly to her anchors on the still waters, in the calm air and the blazing sunshine of the Arctic noonday. As for myself, I was simply wondering what I should find ashore. A slender fringe of European custom bordering native barbarism and dirt was what I anticipated; for, as I looked upon the naked rocks, which there, as in other Greenland ports, afforded room for a few straggling huts of native fishermen and hunters, with only now and then a more pretentious white man's lodge, I could hardly imagine that much would be found seductive to the fancy or inviting to the eye. A country where there is no soil to yield any part of man's subsistence seemed to offer such a slender chance for man in the battle of life, that I could well imagine it to be repulsive rather than

attractive; yet I was eager to see how poor men might be, and live.

While thus looking forward to a novel experience, I was unconsciously preparing myself for a great surprise. Whatever there might be of poverty in the condition of the few dozens of human beings who there forced a scanty subsistence from the sea, I was to discover one person in the place who did in no way share it, who, born as it might seem to different destinies, yet, voluntarily choosing wild Nature for companionship, and rising superior to the forbidding climate and the general desolation, rejoiced here in his own strong manhood, and lived seemingly contented as well with himself as with the great world of which he heard from afar but the faint murmurs.

The anchors had been down about an hour, and the bustle and confusion necessarily attending an entrance into port had subsided. The sails were stowed, the decks were cleared up, and the ropes were coiled. A port watch was set. The crew had received their "liberty," and there was much wondering among them whether Esquimau eyes could speak a tender welcome. Nor had the Danish flag been forgotten.

That swallow-tailed emblem of a

gallant nationality—which, according to song and tradition, has the enviable distinction of having

"Come from heaven down, my boys,

Ay, come from heaven down "—

was fluttering from a white flag-staff at the front of the government-house, and we had answered its display by running up our own Danish colors at the fore, and saluting them with our signal-gun in all due form and courtesy.

Soon after reaching the anchorage I had despatched an officer to look up the chief ruler of the place, and to assure him of the great pleasure I should

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