Imatges de pÓgina

said, “there is a picket of police come to She stepped out into the starlight, look. arrest you.” But May did not know at the ing right and left and over her shoulder, moment whether it was a strange thing or hoping to see Paul coming back. She zot. She only wished that Bridget would could not but think still that he was sulkgo away, so that Paul might speak again. ing among the tombstones, or stamping out

“ Yes, miss. A fine big gintleman wid his passion behind some hedge. How she a spankin' horse. Misther Lee is his would langh at him by-and-bye when he name, an' he says

would come to finish his tragedy! How Paul had turned his back upon the un- she would tease him about being so daunted welcome Bridget, and was standing at the by an unreality! open window looking out. When Bridget Yes, there was Christopher Lee, surely said "Misther Lee” he put his hand on the enough, in this unwonted place, and at this sill, vaulted quickly out, and disappeared. untimely hour. Till she really saw him,

May sat down and stared pitifully at her there in the night, at Monasterled, she did handmaiden. Had the lass been but away not know how odd it was. It was very odd, she might have held out a finger to keep and of course Paul thought it so. A little Paul by her side. But Bridget's presence boy was holding a horse out on the road, was a broad_fact, in every sense of the and the rider was walking up and down word; and Paul was gone away:

Not by the ruined cloisters. In the clearness for ever, oh, no, not for ever. That would of the half-dark May could see that his be too mad, when she had not even an- clothes were white with dust, and his face swered him nor said good-bye.

like one distracted. He said, miss,” went on Bridget in her “Oh, Miss Mourne !" he said, hurrying blissful ignorance,

“ that he would not to meet her, and grasping her hands paincome in, but axes as a faviour that yoursel' fully, “It is kind of you to come and would spake a word wid him outbye.” speak to a ruined man !"

“Very well ; let him wait. Bridget, go “Ruined! Oh, no, Mr. Lee, not that!" for my handkerchief, if you please, on the cried May, with an overwhelming sense of table, in the drawer, in my


everything in the world having gone wrong Bridget gone, she flew to the window, at the same time. peeped across the sash, thrust herself across "Quite ruined; utterly ruined !” said the sash. She could see faintly the moors, Christopher, grimly lingering on, and emthe meadows, the white path, the distant phasising the fatal word. stile. But there was no Paul anywhere to “ But how ruined ? Surely it cannot be be seen.

that Katherine“Paul!" she whispered softly. “Paul!" “Don't mention her!” he cried. “ Don't she wailed more audibly. But he was not name her name ! A cruel, cold blooded lurking anywhere within the reach of a woman. Oh, I was warned and I would not timid voice. She drew back and leaned, listen! How could I believe the woman I sickening, against the wall. And then loved, and who had vowed herself to me, Bridget came back with the handkerchief, to be a heartless actress, a mere shameful and then there was nothing to be done coquette ? Now I am paying the penalty but to go out and meet Christopher Lee. of my folly. 'Oh, I am maddened at the

She did not doubt as she stood yet a bare thought of it; that for months she minute longer, trying to steady her nerves, has been laughing at me, while she made that Christopher had come to tell her of me play the fool for her amusement. Sbe his full happiness, as she had bade him. owned it to me to-day, when she laughed She remembered that the curious crisis of in


face. She laughed again when I his fate must be either past or close at was idiot enough to threaten her with hand. Perhaps he was already married; what the world would think of her. She or perhaps he would be to-morrow. She smiled and beamed, and it was all rapture was glad for his sake, but it was not so to her, every reproach, every groan that I easy to spend good wishes on his bride, uttered; for I did give her this glorywhose vanity had so wantonly wrought I groaned.” mischief. Yet she could now afford to The young man saited the action to the laugh at the silly blunders that had been word, and looked fiercely at May, and over made. She could laugh, or she could cry, her head, as if she and the whole world but there was no time for doing either. had been to blame in this matter. Then, She must go out and show some courtesy having gathered up his scattered breath, to the visitor.

he made a fresh dash at his wrongs.

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“ Yes, I groaned,” he went on, "and that He gazed at her in silence. gave her delight. She had looked forward “You must break your rash oath," she so that hour, had willed it and planned it, repeated. “ You see I am not afraid of so that a man might be drowned in ruin to you, though you are so desperate. I degive her beauty an unholy triumph. She clare that I will not let you go away from will wear my wrecked life as a feather in this place to-night until you have sworn her cap. Let her wear it, then! and may to me that you will do yourself no hurt !” at be very becoming to her, especially when “I might break that oath also,” he said. she is old and faded, and shall long for a No, you would not, and I will tell you kind heart near her own, and shall not why. You would not throw away your find it ! In the mean time let her world soul, because you have lost your love and make a goddess of her, and let it join in her your fortune. And if you do not give me laugh against the idiot who is lost, lost for the promise at once,” she added, passing her sake!”

her arm through his, “I will hold


like “No, no, not lost!” said May, in great this until you will give it to me.” awe of this excited grief, yet not know- He looked at her wonderingly. His ing what to say

passion seemed to have cooled down. He “Not lost, do you say? Do you know that put her hand gently from his arm, and if I am a married man in three weeks hence began walking rapidly up and down under I shall be the owner of twenty thousand the shadow of the cloisters. May stood by, a year for the remainder of my life? Think silent; urging nothing; but watching. She of what it means, that twenty thousand saw that he was deliberating, or seemed to a year. It means to be a gentleman, to be be so doing. He saw her standing there, of some use in the world, to have liberty patient, watchful, resolved. Every time to enjoy the sweet pleasant things of life. he turned be could see the gracious white And all this I might have had, with some figure waiting unwearied, upon a mound of body to be loved by, and to share it with, graves, whither she had followed him, and only for her. And oh! how I loved her where he had left her; with a broken cross and trusted in her !"

at her feet, and the stars about her head. He buried his face in his hands, and At last he approached her, humbly and sobbed like a child.

quietly. “ And now I am a beggar!” he said, “You see I am quite calm now. I will looking up again savagely. “A beggar, rave no more.” But he was not calm at and a fool before the world. I have broken all, though his voice was subdued, and my mother's heart; I have destroyed my there was a very strange wildness in his own future; I will not endure to live any eyes.

“ Shall I dare to speak to you everylonger."

thing that is in my heart at this moment ? "You are talking wildly,” said May, Shall I tell you of a whisper that an angel touching his arm. “ You cannot mean has whispered to me?” You are no coward ?"

“Yes," said May, “for angels whisper " It does not matter what you call me," nothing that is horrible and wrong. You he said ; “call me anything you please. I know that I am your friend, and I will am a coward, if that means a man who help you all that such a weak friend may will not ontlive his rain and disgrace. I help.” came here to-night to say good-bye to you,

He drew her hand through his arm, and May Mourne. You were very kind to me, placed it where she had before placed it and you are the last person I shall look herself. She did not hinder, because she on in this world. I will not see my was bent on saving him. They walked on mother's face again. You will, maybe, a few steps, and then Christopher said be good to her when I am gone, for I have abruptly: sworn not to live another day!”

"May Mourne, will you marry me?” He was speaking in an unnaturally high- Marry you !" she cried. pitched voice, like a suppressed shriek. It “ Yes,” said he, “me. One who has been was getting wilder every moment. May raving to you about the loss of another was thoroughly terrified, but controlled woman. A man who has been tricked and herself with an effort.

blinded, but has got his eyes opened at “Then

you must break your oath !" she last. A man who can see you faithful and said, in a strong, distinct voice, which good, and can curse the days he ever loved shocked him from its contrast with her one less noble. I will worship you all the former pleading tones.

my life. I will be a good husband

years of

what you say.


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to you. I will strive to be a good man, in “Nay, come in,” said May, coaxingly, order to do you honour. I will have gold while she shivered with fear. "I am tired to share with you, gold which you will and cold. Come in, and we will talk about have bestowed on me as if you

had brought it.” it for a dowry. May Mourne, I will love “Curse you!” he said, flinging back her you. Will you be my wife?"

hands with such force that she nearly fell. “Oh, no," said May,“ oh, no!" , ,

“Curse your smooth promises, and your “Ah! there it is,” he cried. “I knew coaxing, and your putting off. I will have that you would refuse. But I can plead. no more of it.” And with a cry like that of You think I love Katherine Archbold- some hurt animal, he bounded from her side, Nay, I hate her; I hate her!”

and rushed, like a madman as he was, “Hush,” said May. Indeed, I am not across the graveyard, towards the river. jealous of her.”

But May was as swift-footed as a deer. “God bless you !

What is it then? She could run to save a life. She had no Whisper, and tell me what it is that you blinding flashes of the fire of madness beare afraid of. Not of Christopher Lee? fore her eyes to make her stumble, and she He would not hurt any one, though he had, besides, the cunning of sanity, and a was near drowning himself in the river an natural presence of mind. She knew all hour ago. He is a poor wrecked creature, the short cuts about Monasterlea. By whom you can save if you will. He has loved means of her wit, and her speed, she met you already longer than you think. How Christopher Lea before he reached the beautiful you looked with all the stars river side. She was a quarter of a mile head! She never had the stars from home, and she was at the mercy

of about her head, curse her! There is a hard, strong man bereft of reason ; but she was cruel, blazing sun always shining and burn- not afraid. ing round her head, that scorches men's She laid hold of him and clasped her eyes, and withers

their brains."

two hands across his arm.
He was lashing himself into a fury again. “Come with me, dear," she said. “I am
It was such a strange kind of fury, that your mother. You would not hurt me,
May felt more frightened for him than an- Christopher? Not hurt your

old mother?" noyed for herself. She thought of him less For he was wrestling with her. as a sane man than as one sick and delirious. At the last words he stood still, as if

“Mr. Lee,” she said, “ will you come in shocked. “Hurt my mother!” he said. and rest awhile ? You are sadly tired, and “Who asked such a question ? When did

1 you want refreshment."

I hurt you, mother ?" “I want you," he said, wildly, “I want “Never indeed, dear,” said May. “ And only you. You will be rest and refresh- you will not now. I want you to help me ment, and all that I need. I will make with your strong arm, Christopher

. Help you a princess. I will pour gold into your me up the hill, and into the house." lap. You will rest my head on your knee, He obeyed her, gentle as a lamb, but it and cool it with your hands. It is burning was a terrible walk.

Every moment she hot, it is full of fire-and nobody will give expected that he would break from her, me a drink of cold water, because it is but she kept the firm locked clasp of her known that I am a beggar.'

two hands on his arm.

At the door she “Come in,” said May, soothingly, and met old Nannie and Miss Martha, going drawing him gently, come in with me, out to look for her in some dismay. She and I will give you water—anything you signed to them, and they gradually underlike.” She had felt the burning touch of stood her. And after some fright and difhis hand upon her own, and she dreaded ficulty the two old women got Christopher the strange glare which she saw in his put to bed; where a man sick of a fever eyes. The man had got a fever, and his ought to be. And then a doctor was sent life might be in her hands.

for to the nearest post town; and the dis" I will not go,” he said, “I will not traught lover began a hard fight for his move, until you promise me that you will life. marry me to-morrow. Katherine! Ka- Later he wrote to his mother in his contherine !” he cried, gnashing his teeth, and valescence : grasping her hands until he almost crushed "I am sorry for having brought so the slight fingers, “promise that you will much affliction upon you, for I know that marry me to-morrow. Promise, or I will vexation must have been the cause of your drown myself this night!"


illness. I


am wise

though my wisdom


is bought at a great cost. I could wish that whatever she may have looked, as she I had remained delirious for a few more moved among her flower-beds. Angels days, for the crisis of my life would have ought at least to be quite happy, and been then quite over. After all, it makes at peace with all men—including women. only a little bit of difference, though it And May was not at peace with all men, will be tedious counting the hours going nor all

She was very angry past, and I dare say I shall lie awake to with Katherine, whose vanity had led her hear the clock strike twelve on next into that unfortunate mistake which she Friday night. Afterwards it will be some had made. And it was hard to forgive thing to tell you, the tenderness and care Christopher—though so easy to be good I have met with here. At present I am to him—whose coming had driven Paul weak, as you will see by my scrawl. I out of her sight. For Paul had not been have some recollection of making an ass of heard of since that night, and May's maiden myself by asking Miss Mourne to marry me modesty must hinder her from asking (not the old lady) just before I fell into about him or looking for him. Aunt Marmy fever. Of course I was not in my tha would keep saying: “I wonder what senses, and she pretends to forget it can have happened to that young Would to God I had been lucky enough to and “Upon my_word he has treated us meet her first! But the other would have very badly !"

But still he never came out-dazzled her, I suppose, and it would back along the path across the moor. His have been just the same thing. I have farm-house still smoked with its chimney been thinking that there are attorney thrust out of the hollow; but the people friends of yours in Dublin who would take there knew nothing of him, except that he me into their office.

had paid them and gone away. “She is getting some flowers for me in May was sorry for Christopher, yet her garden at this moment. I know they while he was lying desperately ill, and she are for me, for she brings them fresh every was creeping about all day with ice for his day. She seems to me like an angel, if head and medicine from the doctor, she angels could be so sympathetic and prac- could not have denied herself to be untical in their ways. There is something in utterably happy all the time. her swift movements, and the flutter of her glorying in her good fortune, and looking white dress, that suggests the idea of wings. out through every loophole to see her lover It is the quaintest garden that you ever set coming back. And she triumphed over your eyes upon. A place that Nathaniel Katherine as an angel could not have done; Hawthorne would delight in, when the sun but yet Paul did not appear. shines across it, stopping with an in- to be not wonderful to see her, who had tense frown of shade at every obstacle in been so quick about her business, standing his way. The manner in which cloisters, with Christopher's glass of wine or basin and arches, and tombstones peep through of custard in her hands, gazing, with eyes all the holes in the bloom has an oddity and that were very strange, out of some wincharm for any one who has time to think.dow or open door. Any ordinary observer I have plenty of time now. ...'

would have said that she rejoiced because Mrs. Lee uttered her customary long la- Christopher was ill, and was in trouble bementation over this letter, and declared to cause he got better. For Christopher was her nurse and doctor that her boy must be growing well again ; was able to write a still raving, or he could not think of gar- letter, and to follow her with admiring dens at such a time. While there was life eyes while she picked blossoms from her there was hope, and, as he had returned to rose-trees. Mr. Lee's state of health did his senses, there were still five long days of not much affect her spirits; but she had life before his future need be buried out rather he had died than that Paul should of sight of the prosperous world. Get her not come back. her shawls and her bonnet, for her pains So went over the sad, profitless, golden were much better. The poor lady had been September days. Fruit was ripe, hay was suffering from an attack of rheumatism, made, and the last of the sweet rose-tribe brought on by her eccentric flight to Dublin blushed like rubies on their withering from Camlough. Her patience had sud- trees. The summer greens were waning denly expired one night, about midnight, in the Woods of Tobereevil, and richer and she had bribed one of the coachmen to glories were stealing into their place. Here take her away before dawn.

and there the foliage of an over-wearied May did not feel at all like an angel, autumn bough had already fluttered with

She was

It grew little gold wings to the ground. The birds' chair at the parlour window, watching ebb notes were deeper and more rare than they away tediously the last remnant of time in had been a month ago, and between the glit- which it was still actually possible for him tering links of radiant days a heavy leaden to avert his worldly ruin. Her voice was one now and then intruded itself. The har- monotonous, at times almost harsh, and vest moonlight was so bright at nights that jarred on her own ears and made her yon might have gleaned the meadows by task irksome. The best thing about the it, or picked pebbles on a beach, and the effort was, that it was easier than talking, creepers were all afire among the ivy over when it seemed that there was nothing she the ruins, and had licked a portion of the wanted to say except, “Why does not cottage into their flames. Miss Martha Paul come back ?" Neither she nor Chris. was fattening cows for the fair, and be topher took in the meaning of one word tween this anxious business and her cares that she read, as the young voice went on for a sick stranger, had little time to give telling forth the scenes of a play in a plainmore than a regretful thought to Paul. tive recitative, across which there swept Her wonder had abated after three weeks from time to time some brusque and disof his absence, and she had made up her cordant note. mind to be disappointed in him. She And all this time Aunt Martha was at feared that he was not untainted by the rest about her, seeing her so quiet, and so oddities of his race. She dropped some willing to be useful. If her cheeks were tears in secret to the memory of her white, the bloom had gone so gradually friend Elizabeth, and owned that her pro- that the good lady did not miss it. She mise was very difficult in the fulfilment. had feared some weeks ago that her pretty But the younger heart that was beating maid might too well like that Paul

, who in the house could not so easily let him go : had since proved himself so fantastic, and could not so easily be consoled by cows, and so unstable, and so cold; but as the child the best prices at the fair. It sickened at did not talk of him, nor complain, nor seem every word that was not news of Paul; and to miss him, she concluded that this alarmı the only things that talked of him were the had been but a fancy of her own. She did pigeons, which mourned over him inces- not stop to ask herself if she had talked santly every hour in the day. But they or complained when the joy had been never had any news; nothing but unin- taken away out of her own bygone youth. telligible moans and warblings. The sad It was well, thought Miss Martha, that night breeze began to tell her from under there had been no promise to Elizabeth the eaves that she had lived up to the about giving her girl, as a wife, to the highest point of her life, and must now miser's heir. Tobereevis should never blight travel backward and downward. And the her as it had blighted her old aunt. She worst of it was that there had been made would pray that her niece might be blest such a great mistake; it being somebody with a better lot than that of a heart-broken else's will than that of the good and boun- wife, or a saddened old maid. tiful God which had thus thrust her back Miss Martha had never complained of on the fair threshold of a beautiful fate, her lot as an old maid; but she plainly and had left her all forlorn in the very avowed to herself now, when she was on blush of her surprise. She began to pity the subject, that the life of a woman such Aunt Martha, with a pity which she had as herself was apt to be sadder than never thought her worthy of before ; for many others. There is a trick of lookshe, too, had lost her love, and the bright ing back which she finds it difficult to promise of her youth. But then she had unlearn; and her glances over her shoullived down her grief

, and could fatten cows der hurt her more sharply than do other for the fair; could speak of Simon of people's. A man inclined for retrospect Tobereevil, and laugh in the same breath; will perhaps see efforts before success, while there could be no pity great enough which he would not be willing to cancel in the world to avail the loneliness of May even to bring back his youth; Mourne, spinster, even when the twenty knows nothing better worth her mature years of her age should come, in time, to contemplation than the early years of love be thrice told. The blooming, oval face which she has toiled through with her was growing white and pointed, her step husband; a mother will see her children was slow and weary about the house. She grown so tall that between their smiling read aloud to Christopher as he sat, six feet faces the landscape of the past shines but of patient convalescence in the great arm- in very faint gleams, she is no longer

a wife

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