Imatges de pÓgina
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had but one answer, 'If Roberta were “First let me go and see if she is only with us,'” Louis said, in a tone of awake, and tell her that you have come. laughing petulance; and Roberta won- She is so feeble, you see.” dered if all her life was to be like this. “There is no need,” said Roberta, And even while she wondered relief came moving her gently to one side. “If she to her in a way she least expected. is asleep I will sit quietly by the bed un

That same night on which they re- til she awakes." turned a letter came to her from the She pushed the door softly open and mother-superior of the convent, asking as softly closed it again. Her first glance her to come at once. Sister Agatha showed her Sister Agatha lying upon was sick, dying they feared, and had en- the low couch-the same Sister Agatha, treated to be allowed to see Roberta but how greatly changed, etherealized as again.

it were! Roberta went softly up to the “It is very selfish in me; I know it is bed and knelt down, stifling the great so,” cried Fay, clinging to her, “but I sob which threatened to choke her. Ao can not endure the idea of your going imploring look crept into Sister Agatha's away now, when we have just come deep eyes, a look which Roberta anhome.”

swered by the faintest whisper. “I must go; Sister Agatha loved me,” “Not that name, never that," murwas all that Roberta said.

mured Sister Agatha, brokenly; then, She made the few preparations need- pointing to a glass, “Give me some of ful for the journey with feverish haste. that. It gives me strength, and I must In her heart of hearts she had determin- speak." Roberta rose and brought it ed never to come back, never. The to her. After a few moments, Sister year had not completed one cycle of Agatha spoke in a stronger voice: “I seasons since she had left those walls knew that you would come. I felt sure with such eager longing. Her life there that you would. I have longed so to see had been so colorless and repressed; you, my very other self. Let me look she thirsted for the life without; and into your face again. It is there, too. now, as if a life-time had been com- I could not save you from it. I felt pressed in those few months, she found that you were suffering, and still was herself longing as eagerly for the calm powerless to help you." again-the dead monotony of a life which “Dear Sister," entreated Roberta, "it never changes.

is nothing. I only suffer for myself. The journey was not a long one; as Were I better and greater, nearer the in a trance Roberta passed the hours ideal which you ever held before me, I which intervened. Sister Monica met could not suffer so." her, looking just the same, though it “You must tell me all. I alone can seemed to Roberta that everyone must help you. I have lived for that." have changed as she herself had.

The story took not long to tell, though “How is Sister Agatha ? Can I see Roberta did not spare herself, only passher now?were her eager questions. ed over as lightly as possible the feeling

“The same. She is waiting for you. of loneliness and isolation which posShe felt sure that you would come. sessed her. You will find her much changed, though “And you never knew?” we never thought her case dangerous “Never. As often as I had looked until lately."

upon the portrait, I had never identified “Let me see her. Take me to her at it. A vague resemblance, a strange once."

likeness to some one, I knew not whom,

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puzzled me; but on that morning, even brain. I saw myself as I was while I was looking, a strange spell what I had done, abhorred myself. I came over the picture, and I saw not was mad, I think. I never saw Lawthe face of the dead Alice, for the living rence Haight again. When I awoke, I one of Sister Agatha shadowed it, and I was in the convent here. They called knew, as if I had known it always, that me Sister Agatha. I had been here five you were one. It was that which saved years, they said. One day a little child me, for I sought it in an agony which was brought here. There were already would have betrayed me to all, and I a great many children here, but I had left it in a calm which was never wholly never noticed them. This child had broken afterward."

eyes of wondrous melancholy, and a When Roberta paused in her recital, smile more sweet than bright. O! RoSister Agatha spoke quickly: "I should berta, I saw that I could live again never have sent for you, Roberta, but I that I should live again in you. I beg. felt your pain through that strange sym- ged the mother-superior to let me teach. pathy which binds us together, and I I could do it easily, for music was an knew that I alone could save you from open book to me. How I loved you, yourself. You are no longer a child, Roberta! How I have ever loved you ! and must know, must realize, something I could not trust myself to embrace you, of the struggle which conquered me. to give you even one of the caresses that Yet you have not entered life upon the you longed for, lest my idolatry should same footing. To me self-control and be discovered and you should be taken renunciation were as words unknown, away from me. Always at confessional and when I awoke to the knowledge that the one sin which I had to confess and I loved Lawrence Haight, I could have do penance for was that of idolatry, and blotted out the sun and left the world in yet I suffered. You were a part of my darkness in my passion, dismay, and bitter punishment. I felt all the hardanger. For the first time in my life ness of my brother in his coldness to something had come to me that I could you. I realized that this enforced prinot alter. Much as my brother loved vation of all the joys and pleasures of me, deeply as my father idolized me, I life would only make your longing for knew that they would turn in horror them more eager, more uncontrolled, from me did they even suspect the truth. when the opportunity for satisfying them There was no one in whom I could con- came, and I labored and strove to prefide. I loved Ray even while I deceiv- pare you for that struggle.” ed him. I see now that he would have “And all in vain; I am so utterly unhelped me. He was the only one who worthy that you should have cared for could, but I did not trust him, and the me,” said Roberta. “It has seemed to end came. I said that I would throw to me that nothing but death could be welthe wind all the chains which bound my come to me, since life had nothing for past with theirs, and for one short week me to do except to suffer." I did. Then some chance-nay, I mis- “ And there was One who took upon take, for nothing happens by chance - Himself life even for that. O! Roberta, left a paper in my way. It was open, my work was only half completed. To and the first paragraph which met my live for others, to do good for others, eye was the account of my father's death, that is all there is worthy of life. And with a few scathing words on my shame- to do that best you must not shut yourless conduct. It was a short paragraph, self away from the world, with its breathbut every word burned like fire in my ing hopes and sorrows. That was the


first light which came to me in the black Roberta. For a long time after that night of my despair. I knew that I there was silence; then Sister Agatha must bear the consequences of my own moved restlessly. deeds. By my own act I had narrowed “Is there anything you want?” Rothe field of my activity. I had taken berta asked. the broken worthless fragments of my “No, I have said all.” life and thought, to dedicate them to a The answer came in little more than a God who had placed me in a world fill- breath. A sudden thought moved Roed with my fellow- creatures needing berta. She bent lower. care and love-a God who demanded “And Mr. Llorente, dear Sister-aftthe best powers of heart and brain. O, er all these years, have you no word, no it was maddening! Then you came, message, to send to him ?” teaching me that I had still something She searched the pale face with painto live for."

ful eagerness, and then repeated the “But it is so hard to know what to question. The colorless lips moved. do, what it is right for one to do,” sigh- Roberta bent nearer. ed Roberta.

“O, I can not understand !” she cried “Be sure that when you have learned in a distressed voice. to distrust your own desires, the path Sister Agatha repeated her words with will become plain to you. When we painful effort. strive to grasp happiness, to search for “Ray!” a path which shall be soft and gentle to That was all that Roberta could unour feet, we are sure to be farthest from derstand. She listened in agony of the right."

suspense - listened, but the silence was While they talked the evening shad- never broken more by Sister Agatha. ows deepened into night. The dull Hours after, Roberta, through the haze November sky was covered with dull- of unwept tears, sat gazing upon a face er clouds, and the wind beat restlessly too beautiful for life, too beautiful for against the panes. The bare desolate death — the face of one who had put on room was more gloomy in the darkness, immortal life and beauty. and the breathless silence was broken only by the low murmur of their voices. Again Mossland bowed beneath its Now and then long pauses came be- summer weight of roses. Wilder, more tween the words, and more than once luxuriant, the air seemed fainting under Roberta in affright bent nearer to see the sweet burden of their bloom, and if the life fluttering on the pale lips had sky and earth were lost in the richness ceased to stir. The bells for vespers of their perfect lives. The radiant glory had rung out their soft melancholy sum- of sunset still lingered in the west, and mons, and the steps of the sisters and the maple- leaves were all aflame. Be. children had ceased to echo through fore one of the open windows Fay was the carpetless halls. Roberta thought lying, dreamily watching the moving with a pang, half of sorrow, half of joy, shadows through her half-closed eyes. that never more would Sister Agatha's On a low stool by her side Roberta was voice sound in the vesper hymn, but sitting. Their white dresses, of thina celestial choir would be the gainer. nest texture, mingled together insepaLater, one of the sisters came in, but rably like a fleecy cloud. Upon Fay's seeing Sister Agatha lying as if asleep, arms and neck and in the golden setshe had gone out again, promising to ting of her hair the bluest sapphires come in later and share the watch with rested. Roberta wore

no ornament,

and young

only a black cross suspended by a del. berta had ever finished the second part icate thread of gold from her neck. The for me.” year had brought no perceptible change No one knew that he was there. No to either outwardly. Joy and sorrow one had seen him enter. But Roberta had come to them when life was fresh answered without surprise:

“Yes, I finished it long ago; will you "Of what are you thinking?" asked hear it now?Roberta at last, breaking the silence “I should like first to hear the other which had encompassed them with its part.”. calm.

It was her father who spoke. RoBefore Fay could answer, Louis, who berta answered not; she had already had entered the room through the open struck the first notes, and faultlessly, window, threw the long chain of roses without hesitation, unconscious of her which he had in his hand in a sportive listeners' wonder and delight, she gave way around them.

the whole of the first part — the same, “How lovely!” exclaimed Fay. but softened by memory, like sorrow

Roberta uttered, or rather suppressed, and pain. A moment's pause, and then a cry of pain. The fine needle-like briars the white keys glistening in the twilight had pierced her uncovered arm, bringing interpreted the second part, to which the scarlet blood in a quick gush to the the first was as but the faint prelude white surface.

sounding from afar. For this was the "I have hurt you !” exclaimed Louis, life of a life, softened, melodious, and in a tone of dismay.

divine in its exquisite harmony. It was "It is nothing,” said Roberta, laugh- as if an angel presence shadowed the ing, with pale lips; "only I am so fool- player, breathing through the keys; and ish about the merest scratch.”

two there felt the breath strike warmly She looked ready to faint.

to their inmost hearts, which had so long "It is one of the most beautiful of all been deadened to all but suffering. the roses,” said Fay regretfully. “What “It is Alice as she was, as she might a pity - and I was just thinking of the have been,” murmured Llorente. Fantasy of Roses which you played for “As she is and always will be,” came us last summer. Do you remember it, from Roberta in answering murmur; "it Louis ?"

is the message that she would have sent “And I," said Llorente, “was won- had not sleep come upon her while yet dering at that very moment if Miss Ro- your name trembled on her lips."

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I recollect one certain night in June,

(It seems to me our nights are dearer than our days ), When dust of silver from the moon

(As some familiar poet says ) Fell softly on the sea and land.

It was the night of nights; pray tell what harm

For youth and beauty, arm in arm, To saunter down the yellow sand ?

I quite forget just how it came about;
There was an earnest word, two hands held out,

And then upon his breast

In momentary rest;
The mobile mouth and tender eyes
Were turned to him in glad surprise.
It was so very, very nice, you know,

To press her sea - side hat against his vest;
A sweet foretaste of heaven, although

The rest was only momentary rest, For with remorseful start she said, " Alas! alas! for me,

It can not, can not be! Tomorrow week I am to wed."

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An oft-told tale; it was the wealth
Of youth and hope and matchless health,
It was the opulence of brawny arms,
Against five - twenties and a hundred farms.

Back to his dull unconscious books
He went, with bruiséd heart and sharpened brain,

To school his thoughts and mask his looks,
And nurse a purpose born of pain.
A trifle cynical he seems, and yet

He may, perhaps, forget.
“Hard hit,” Sir Blasé says in well-bred slang.
He sees the symptoms and has felt the pang.
Brave hearts will sometimes wince, he knows;

Will wince, and still not whine,
If once there is no color to the rose,

No sparkle to the wine.

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