Imatges de pàgina


Hastily, therefore, and incon- and secondly, because, justify to himsiderately, the Major determined to con- self as he would his new-born indifferfirm this ignorance. “ No," said he; ence, he could not entirely cast away "I've had no news. Severn and I are the suspicion that it was a last remnant not on such terms as to correspond.” of disease, and that, when he stood on

The next time Luttrel came to the his legs again in the presence of those farm, he found the master sitting up in exuberant landscapes with which he a great, cushioned, chintz-covered arm- had long since established a sort of chair which Gertrude had sent him the sensuous communion, he would feel, as day before out of her own dressing with a great tumultuous rush, the reroom.

turn of his impetuous manhood and of “ Are you engaged yet?” asked his old capacity. When he had smoked Richard.

a pipe in the outer sunshine, when he There was a strain as if of defiance had settled himself once more to the in his tone. The Major was irritated. long elastic bound of his mare, then he “ Yes,” said he, are engaged would see Gertrude. The reason of the now.”

change which had come upon him was The young man's face betrayed no that she had disappointed him, - she emotion.

whose magnanimity it had once seemed “Are you reconciled to it?” asked that his fancy was impotent to measure. Luttrel.

She had accepted Major Luttrel, a man “Yes, practically I am.”

whom he despised ; she had so muti“What do you mean by practically ?lated her magnificent heart as to match Explain yourself.”

it with his. The validity of his dislike “A man in my state can't explain to the Major, Richard did not trouble himself. I mean that, however I feel himself to examine. He accepted it about it, I shall accept Gertrude's mar- as an unerring instinct; and, indeed,

he might have asked himself, had he "You ’re a wise man, my boy," said not sufficient proof? Moreover he lathe Major, kindly.

bored under the sense of a gratuitous * I 'm growing wise. I feel like wrong. He had suffered an immense Solomon on his throne in this chair. torment of remorse to drive him into But I confess, sir, I don't see how she brutishness, and thence to the very could have you."

gate of death, for an offence which he “Well, there 's no accounting for had deemed mortal, and which was tastes," said the Major, good-hu- after all but a phantasm of his impasmoredly.

sioned conscience. What a fool he Ah, if it's been a matter of taste had been ! a fool for his nervous fears, with her,” said Richard, “ I have noth- and a fool for his penitence. Marriage ing to say."

with Major Luttrel, - such was the end They came to no more express un- of Gertrude's fancied anguish. Such, derstanding than this with regard to too, we hardly need add, was the end the future. Richard continued to grow of that idea of reparation which had stronger daily, and to defer the renewal been so formidable to Luttrel. Richof his intercourse with Gertrude. A ard had been generous; he would now month before, he would have resented be just. as a bitter insult the intimation that he Far from impeding his recovery, these would ever be so resigned to lose her reflections hastened it. One morning as he now found himself. He would in the beginning of August, Gertrude not see her for two reasons : first, be- received notice of Richard's presence. cause he felt that it would be – or that it was a still, sultry day, and Miss at least in reason it ought to be - a Whittaker, her habitual pallor deepened painful experience to look upon his by the oppressive heat, was sitting alone old mistress with a coldly critical eye ; in a white morning-dress, languidly fan


I 'll go

ning aside at once the droning flies and “Yes, I know. I don't congratulate her equally importunate thoughts. She you." found Richard standing in the middle of “I have not counted upon that honthe drawing-room, booted and spurred. or, Richard. I shall have to do with“Well, Richard,” she exclaimed, with

out it.” some feeling, “you 're at last willing

“ You 'll have to do without a great to see me!"

many things !” cried Richard, horrified As his eyes fell upon her, he started by what seemed to him her blind selfand stood almost paralyzed, heeding immolation. neither her words nor her extended “ I have all I ask," said Gertrude. hand. It was not Gertrude he saw, but 6 You have n't all I ask then ! You her ghost.

have n't all your friends ask.” "In Heaven's name what has hap- “ My friends are very kind, but I pened to you ?” he cried. “Have you marry to suit myself.” been ill ?"

“ You ’ve not suited yourself!” reGertrude tried to smile in feigned torted the young man. “ You 've suitsurprise at his surprise ; but her mus- ed – God knows what ! - your pride, cles relaxed. Richard's words and looks your despair, your resentment.” As reflected more vividly than any mirror he looked at her, the secret history of the dejection of her person ; and this, her weakness seemed to become plain to the misery of her soul. She felt her- him, and he felt a mighty rage against self growing faint. She staggered back the man who had taken a base advanto a sofa and sank down.

tage of it.

Gertrude !” he cried, " I Then Richard felt as if the room entreat you to go back. It's not for were revolving about him, and as if my sake, -1'll give you up, his throat were choked with impreca- a thousand miles away, and never look tions, as if his old erratic passion at you again. It's for your own. In had again taken possession of him, like the name of your happiness, break with a mingled legion of devils and angels. that man! Don't Aling yourself away. It was through pity that his love re- Buy him off, if you consider yourself turned. He went forward and dropped bound. Give him your money. That 's on his knees at Gertrude's feet. “Speak all he wants.” to me!” he cried, seizing her hands. As Gertrude listened, the blood came “ Are you unhappy ? Is your heart back to her face, and two flames into broken? O Gertrude ! what have you her eyes. She looked at Richard from come to?"

head to foot. “ You are not weak," Gertrude drew her hands from his she said, “ you are in your senses, you grasp and rose to her feet.

are well and strong; you shall tell me Richard," she said. " Don't talk so what you mean. You insult the best wildly. I'm not well. I 'm very glad friend I have. Explain yourself! you You look well."

insinuate foul things, — speak them “I 've got my strength again, -- and out!” Her eyes glanced toward the meanwhile you've been failing. You ’re door, and Richard's followed them. unhappy, you 're wretched ! Don't say Major Luttrel stood on the threshold. you 're not, Gertrude : it's as plain as “ Come in, sir !” cried Richard. day. You ’re breaking your heart.” “ Gertrude swears she'll believe no

“The same old Richard !” said Ger- harm of you. Come and tell her that trude, trying to smile again.

she's wrong! How can you keep on “ Would that you were the same harassing a woman whom you've old Gertrude! Don't try to smile ; you brought to this state? Think of what can't!"

she was three months ago, and look at “ I shall !said Gertrude, desper- her now !” ately. "I'm going to be married, you Luttrel received this broadside withknow.”

out flinching. He had overheard Rich

Get up,

to see you.

ard's voice from the entry, and he had * You beast !” cried Luttrel. steeled his heart for the encounter. Richard turned upon him savagely. He assumed the air of having been so "Shut your infernal mouth!” he roared. amazed by the young man's first words “You told me he was alive and well ! ” as only to have heard his last; and he Gertrude made a movement of speechglanced at Gertrude mechanically as less distress. if to comply with them. “What's the ** You would have it, my dear,” said matter ?” he asked, going over to her, Luttrel, with a little bow. and taking her hand; “are you ill ?” Richard had turned pale, and began Gertrude let him have her hand, but to tremble. “Excuse me, Gertrude," she forbore to meet his eyes.

he said, hoarsely, “ I 've been deceived. “ III ! of course she's ill!” cried Poor, unhappy woman! Gertrude," he Richard, passionately. “She's dying, continued, going nearer to her, and - she's consuming herself! I know speaking in a whisper, “ / killed him.” I seem to be playing an odious part Gertrude fell back from him, as he here, Gertrude, but, upon my soul, I approached her, with a look of unuttercan't help it. I look like a betrayer, able horror. “ I and he,” said Richard, an informer, a sneak, but I don't feel pointing at Luttrel. like one! Still, I 'll leave you, if you Gertrude's eyes followed the direcsay, so.”

tion of his gesture, and transferred their “Shall he go, Gertrude ?” asked scorching disgust to her suitor. This Luttrel, without looking at Richard. was too much for Luttrel's courage.

No. Let him stay and explain “You idiot!” she shouted at Richard, himself. He has accused you, — let “speak out!” him prove his case.”

“ He loved you, though you believed “I know what he is going to say," he did n’t,” said Richard. “I saw it said Luttrel. “It will place me in a the first time I looked at him. To bad light. Do you still wish to hear every one but you it was as plain as it?”

day. Luttrel saw it too. But he was Gertrude drew her hand hastily out too modest, and he never fancied you of Luttrel's. “Speak, Richard !” she cared for him. The night before he cried, with a passionate gesture. went back to the army, he came to bid

“ I will speak,” said Richard. “I've you good by. If he had seen you, it done you a dreadful wrong, Gertrude. would have been better for every one. How great a wrong, I never knew until You remember that evening, of course. I saw you to-day so miserably altered. We met him, Luttrel and I. He was When I heard that you were to be mar- all on fire, — he meant to speak. I ried, I fancied that it was no wrong, knew it, you knew it, Luttrel: it was and that my remorse had been wasted. in his fingers' ends. I intercepted But I understand it now; and he un- him. I turned him off, - I lied to derstands it, too. You once told me him and told him you were away. I that you had ceased to love Captain was a coward, and I did neither more Severn. It was n't true. You never nor less than that. I knew you were ceased to love him. You love him at waiting for him. It was stronger than this moment. If he were to get an- my will, - I believe I should do it other wound in the next battle, how again. Fate was against him, and he would you feel? How would you bear went off. I came back to tell you, but it?" And Richard paused for an in- my damnable jealousy strangled me. stant with the force of his interrogation. I went home and drank myself into a

“For God's sake,” cried Gertrude, fever. I've done you a wrong that I “respect the dead !”

can never repair. I'd go hang myself * The dead! Is he dead?”

if I thought it would help you.” RichGertrude covered her face with her ard spoke slowly, softly, and explicitly, hands.

as if irresistible Justice in person had

I mean,

her hand upon his neck, and were for- It is my duty to tell you so. cing him down upon his knees. In the of course, a profoundly unwilling accespresence of Gertrude's dismay nothing sory. I pity you more than I can tell seemed possible but perfect self-convic- you. I think your position more pitition.

In Luttrel's attitude, as he stood able than mine. It is true that I nevwith his head erect, his arms folded, er made a confidant of you. I never and his cold gray eye fixed upon the made one of Richard. I had a secret, distance, it struck him that there was and he surprised it. You were less forsomething atrociously insolent; not in- tunate.” It might have seemed to a solent to him,for that he cared little thoroughly dispassionate observer that enough, — but insolent to Gertrude and in these last four words there was an to the dreadful solemnity of the hour. infinitesimal touch of tragic irony. Richard sent the Major a look of the Gertrude paused a moment while Lutmost aggressive contempt. As for trel eyed her intently, and Richard, from Major Luttrel,” he said, “ he was but a a somewhat tardy instinct of delicacy, passive spectator. No, Gertrude, by walked over to the bow-window. “This Heaven!” he burst out; "he was worse is the most painful moment of my life," than I! I loved you, and he did n’t!” she resumed. “I hardly know where

“Our friend is correct in his facts, my duty lies. The only thing that is Gertrude,” said Luttrel, quietly. “He plain to me is, that I must ask you to is incorrect in his opinions. I was a release me from my engagement.

I passive spectator of his deception. He ask it most humbly, Major Luttrel,” appeared to enjoy a certain author- Gertrude continued, with warmth in her ity with regard to your wishes, — the words, and a chilling coldness in her source of which I respected both of voice, - a coldness which it sickened you sufficiently never to question, her to feel there, but which she was unand I accepted the act which he has de- able to dispel. “I can't expect that scribed as an exercise of it. You will you should give me up easily; I know remember that you had sent us away that it 's a great deal to ask, and ”- she on the ground that you were in no forced the chosen words out of her humor for company.

To deny you,

mouth — “I should thank you more therefore, to another visitor, seemed to than I can say if you would put some me rather officious, but still pardonable. condition upon my release. You have You will consider that I was wholly done honorably by me, and I repay you ignorant of your relations to that vis- with ingratitude. But I can't marry itor ; that whatever you may have done you.” Her voice began to melt. “I for others, Gertrude, to me you never have been false from the beginning. I vouchsafed a word of information on have no heart to give you. I should the subject, and that Mr. Clare's words make you a despicable wife.” are a revelation to me. But I am

The Major, too, had listened and bound to believe nothing that he says. chosen, and in this trying conjuncture I am bound to believe that I have in- he set the seal to his character as an jured you only when I hear it from your accomplished man. He saw that Gerown lips."

trude's movement was final, and he deRichard made a movement as if to termined to respect the inscrutable mysbreak out upon the Major ; but Ger- tery of her heart. He read in the glance trude, who had been standing motion- of her eye and the tone of her voice that less with her eyes upon the ground, the perfect dignity had fallen from his quickly raised them, and gave him a character, that his integrity had lost look of imperious prohibition. She its bloom; but he also read her firm had listened, and she had chosen. She resolve never to admit this fact to her turned to Luttrel. “ Major Luttrel,” own mind, nor to declare it to the world, she said, “ you have been an accessory and he honored her forbearance. His in what has been for me a serious grief. hopes, his ambitions, his visions, lay before him like a colossal heap of broken never looked before; but he saw nothglass; but he would be as graceful as ing of it. He saw a sad, plain girl in a she was. She had divined him ; but white dress, nervously handling her fan. she had spared him. The Major was He was thinking of himself. If he had inspired.

been thinking of her, he would have “ You have at least spoken to the read in her lingering, upward gaze, that point,” he said. “You leave no room he had won her; and if, so reading, he for doubt or for hope. With the little had opened his arms, Gertrude would light I have, I can't say I understand have come to them. We trust the your feelings, but I yield to them relig- reader is not shocked. She neither iously. I believe so thoroughly that hated him nor despised him, as she you suffer from the thought of what you ought doubtless in consistency to have ask of me, that I will not increase your done. She felt that he was abundantsuffering by assuring you of my own. ly a man, and she loved him. Richard I care for nothing but your happiness. on his side felt humbly the same truth, You have lost it, and I give you mine and he began to respect himself. The to replace it. And although it's a sim- past had closed abruptly behind him, ple thing to say,” he added, “I must and tardy Gertrude had been shut in. say simply that I thank you for your The future was dimly shaping itself implicit faith in my integrity,” — and without her image. So he did not open he held out his hand. As she gave his arms. him hers, Gertrude felt utterly in the “Good by,” he said, holding out his wrong; and she looked into his eyes hand. “I may not see you again for a with an expression so humble, so ap- long time.” pealing, so grateful, that, after all, his Gertrude felt as if the world were deexit may be called triumphant.

serting her. “Are you going away?” When he had gone, Richard turned she asked, tremulously. from the window with an

“I mean to sell out and pay my debts, sense of relief. He had heard Ger- and go to the war.” trude's speech, and he knew that perfect She gave him her hand, and he silentjustice had not been done ; but still ly shook it. There was no contending there was enough to be thankful for. with the war, and she gave him up. Yet now that his duty was accomplished, With their separation our story prophe was conscious of a sudden lassitude. erly ends, and to say more would be to Mechanically he looked at Gertrude, begin a new story. It is perhaps our and almost mechanically he came to- duty, however, expressly to add, that wards her. She, on her side, looking Major Luttrel, in obedience to a logic of at him as he walked slowly down the his own, abstained from revenge ; and long room, his face indistinct against that, if time has not avenged him, it has the deadened light of the white-draped at least rewarded him. General Lutwindows behind him, marked the ex- trel, who lost an arm before the war pression of his figure with another pang. was over, recently married Miss Van “ He has rescued me,” she said to her- Winkel of Philadelphia, and seventy self; "but his passion has perished in thousand a year. Richard engaged in the tumult. Richard," she said aloud, the defence of his country, on a caputtering the first words of vague kind- tain's commission, obtained with some ness that came into her mind, “I for- difficulty. He saw a great deal of fightgive you.”

ing, but he has no scars to show. The Richard stopped. The idea had lost return of peace found him in his native its charm. * You 're very kind,” he place, without a home, and without resaid, wearily. “You 're far too kind. sources. One of his first acts was to How do you know you forgive me? call dutifully and respectfully upon Wait and see."

Miss Whittaker, whose circle of acGertrude looked at him as she had quaintance had apparently become very VOL. XX. — NO. 118.


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