Mrs. Humphry Ward
Part 2 out of 9
house, and the glass door communicating with the library had slipped from
her hand. She passed Manisty with a rather scared penitent look, quickly
opened the outer door, and ran downstairs.
Manisty watched her as she turned into the garden. The shadows of the
ilex-avenue chequered her straw bonnet, her prim black cape, her white
skirt. There had been no meddling of freakish hands with her dark hair
this morning. It was tightly plaited at the back of her head. Her plain
sun-shade, her black kid gloves were neatness itself--middle-class,
Manisty recalled his thoughts of the last half-hour with a touch of
amusement. He had been meditating on 'women'--the delightfulness of
'women,' his own natural inclination to their society. But how narrow is
His collective noun of course had referred merely to that small, high-bred,
cosmopolitan class which presents types like Eleanor Burgoyne. And here
came this girl, walking through his dream, to remind him of what 'woman,'
average virtuous woman of the New or the Old World, is really like.
All the same, she walked well,--carried her head remarkably well. There
was a free and springing youth in all her movements that he could not but
follow with eyes that noticed all such things as she passed through the old
trees, and the fragments of Graeco-Roman sculpture placed among them.
* * * * *
That afternoon Lucy Foster was sitting by herself in the garden of the
villa. She had a volume of sermons by a famous Boston preacher in her
hand, and was alternately reading--and looking. Miss Manisty had told her
that some visitors from Rome would probably arrive between four and five
o'clock, and close to her indeed the little butler, running hither and
thither with an anxiety, an effusion that no English servant would have
deigned to show, was placing chairs and tea-tables and putting out
Presently indeed Alfredo approached the silent lady sitting under the
trees, on tip-toe.
Would the signorina be so very kind as to come and look at the tables?
The signora--so all the household called Miss Manisty--had given
directions--but he, Alfredo, was not sure--and it would be so sad if when
she came out she were not satisfied!
Lucy rose and went to look. She discovered some sugar-tongs missing.
Alfredo started like the wind in search of them, running down the avenue
with short, scudding steps, his coat-tails streaming behind him.
What a child-like eagerness to please! Yet he had been five years in the
cavalry; he was admirably educated; he wrote a better hand than Manisty's
own, and when his engagement at the villa came to an end he was already,
thanks to a very fair scientific knowledge, engaged as manager in a
firework factory in Rome.
Lucy's look pursued the short flying figure of the butler with a smiling
kindness. What was wrong with this clever and loveable people that Mr.
Manisty should never have a good word for their institutions, or their
history, or their public men? Unjust! Nor was he even consistent with his
own creed. He, so moody and silent with Mrs. Burgoyne and Miss Manisty,
could always find a smile and a phrase for the natives. The servants adored
him, and all the long street of Marinata welcomed him with friendly eyes.
His Italian was fluency itself; and his handsome looks perhaps, his keen
commanding air gave him a natural kingship among a susceptible race.
But to laugh and live with a people, merely that you might gibbet it before
Europe, that you might show it as the Helot among nations--there was a kind
of treachery in it! Lucy Foster remembered some of the talk and feeling in
America after the Manistys' visit there had borne fruit in certain hostile
lectures and addresses on the English side of the water. She had shared the
feeling. She was angry still. And her young ignorance and sympathy were up
in arms so far on behalf of Italy. Who and what was this critic that he
should blame so freely, praise so little?
Not that Mr. Manisty had so far confided any of his views to her! It seemed
to her that she had hardly spoken with him since that first evening of her
arrival. But she had heard further portions of his book read aloud; taken
from the main fabric this time and not from the embroideries. The whole
villa indeed was occupied, and pre-occupied by the book. Mrs. Burgoyne was
looking pale and worn with the stress of it.
Mrs. Burgoyne! The girl fell into a wondering reverie. She was Mr.
Manisty's second cousin--she had lost her husband and child in some
frightful accident--she was not going to marry Mr. Manisty--at least nobody
said so--and though she went to mass, she was not a Catholic, but on the
contrary a Scotch Presbyterian, by birth, being the daughter of a Scotch
laird of old family--one General Delafield Muir--?
'She is very kind to me,' thought Lucy Foster in a rush of gratitude mixed
with some perplexity.--'I don't know why she takes so much trouble about
me. She is so different--so--so fashionable--so experienced. She can't care
a bit about me. Yet she is very sweet to me--to everybody, indeed. But--'
And again she lost herself in ponderings on the relation of Mr. Manisty to
his cousin. She had never seen anything like it. The mere neighbourhood
of it thrilled her, she could not have told why. Was it the intimacy that
it implied--the intimacy of mind and thought? It was like marriage--but
married people were more reserved, more secret. Yet of course it was only
friendship. Miss Manisty had said that her nephew and Mrs. Burgoyne were
'very great friends.' Well--One read of such things--one did not often see
* * * * *
The sound of steps approaching made her lift her eyes.
It was not Alfredo, but a young man, a young Englishman apparently, who
was coming towards her. He was fair-haired and smiling; he carried his hat
under his arm; and he wore a light suit and a rose in his button-hole--this
was all she had time to see before he was at her side.
'May I introduce myself? I must!--Miss Manisty told me to come and find
you. I'm Reggie Brooklyn--Mrs. Burgoyne's friend. Haven't you heard of me?
I look after her when Manisty ought to, and doesn't; I'm going to take you
all to St. Peter's next week.'
Lucy looked up to see a charming face, lit by the bluest of blue eyes,
adorned moreover by a fair moustache, and an expression at once confident
Was this the 'delightful boy' from the Embassy Mrs. Burgoyne had announced
to her? No doubt. The colour rose softly in her cheek. She was not
accustomed to young gentlemen with such a manner and such a _savoir faire_.
'Won't you sit down?' She moved sedately to one side of the bench.
He settled himself at once, fanning himself with his hat, and looking at
'You're American, aren't you? You don't mind my asking you?'
'Not in the least. Yes; it's my first time in Europe.'
'Well, Italy's not bad; is it? Nice place, Rome, anyway. Aren't you rather
knocked over by it? I was when I first came.'
'I've only been here four days.
'And of course nobody here has time to take you about. I can guess that!
How's the book getting on?'
'I don't know,' she said, opening her eyes wide in a smile that would not
be repressed, a smile that broke like light in her grave face.
Her companion looked at her with approval.
'My word! she's dowdy'--he thought--'like a Sunday-school teacher. But
The real point was, however, that Mrs. Burgoyne had told him to go out and
make himself agreeable, and he was accustomed to obey orders from that
'Doesn't he read it to you all day and all night?' he asked. 'That's his
'I have heard some of it. It's very interesting.'
The young man shrugged his shoulders.
'It's a queer business that book. My chief here is awfully sick about it.
So are a good many other English. Why should an Englishman come out here
and write a book to run down Italy?--And an Englishman that's been in the
Government, too--so of course what he says'll have authority. Why, we're
friends with Italy--we've always stuck up for Italy! When I think what he's
writing--and what a row it'll make--I declare I'm ashamed to look one's
Italian friends in the face!--And just now, too, when they're so down on
For it was the year of the Abyssinian disasters; and the carnage of Adowa
was not yet two months old.
Lucy's expression showed her sympathy.
'What makes him--'
'Take such a twisted sort of a line? O goodness! what makes Manisty do
anything? Of course, I oughtn't to talk. I'm just an understrapper--and
he's a man of genius,--more or less--we all know that. But what made him
do what he did last year? I say it was because his chief--he was in the
Education Office you know--was a Dissenter, and a jam manufacturer, and had
mutton-chop whisker. Manisty just couldn't do what he was told by a man
like that. He's as proud as Lucifer. I once heard him tell a friend of mine
that he didn't know how to obey anybody--he'd never learnt. That's because
they didn't send him to a public school--worse luck; that was his mother's
doing, I believe. She thought him so clever--he must be treated differently
to other people. Don't you think that's a great mistake?'
'Why--to prefer the cross-cuts, when you might stick to the high road?'
The American girl considered. Then she flashed into a smile.--
'I think I'm for the cross-cuts!'
'Ah--that's because you're American. I might have known you'd say that. All
your people want to go one better than anybody else. But I can tell you it
doesn't do for Englishmen. They want their noses kept to the grindstone.
That's my experience! Of course it was a great pity Manisty ever went into
Parliament at all. He'd been abroad for seven or eight years, living with
all the big-wigs and reactionaries everywhere. The last thing in the world
he knew anything about was English politics.--But then his father had been
a Liberal, and a Minister for ever so long. And when Manisty came home, and
the member for his father's division died, I don't deny it was very natural
they should put him in. And he's such a queer mixture, I dare say he didn't
know himself where he was.--But I'll tell you one thing--'
He shook his head slowly,--with all the airs of the budding statesman.
'When you've joined a party,--you must _dine_ with 'em:--It don't sound
much--but I declare it's the root of everything. Now Manisty was always
dining with the other side. All the great Tory ladies,--and the charming
High Churchwomen, and the delightful High Churchmen--and they _are_ nice
fellows, I can tell you!--got hold of him. And then it came to some
question about these beastly schools--don't you wish they were all at
the bottom of the sea?--and I suppose his chief was more annoying than
usual--(oh, but he had a number of other coolnesses on his hands by that
time--he wasn't meant to be a Liberal!) and his friends talked to him--and
so--Ah! there they are!
And lifting his hat, the young man waved it towards Mrs. Burgoyne who with
Manisty and three or four other companions had just become visible at the
further end of the ilex-avenue which stretched from their stone bench to
'Why, that's my chief,'--he cried--'I didn't think he was to be here this
afternoon. I say, do you know my chief?'
And he turned to her with the brightest, most confiding manner, as though
he had been the friend of her cradle.
'Who?'--said Lucy, bewildered--'the tall gentleman with the white hair?'
'Yes,--that's the ambassador. Oh! I'm glad you'll see him. He's a charmer,
is our chief! And that's his married daughter, who's keeping house for
him just now.--I'll tell you something, if you'll keep a secret'--he bent
towards her,--'He likes Mrs. Burgoyne of course,--everybody does--but
he don't take Manisty at his own valuation. I've heard him say some
awfully good things to Manisty--you'd hardly think a man would get over
them.--Who's that on the other side?'
He put his hand over his eyes for a moment, then burst into a laugh.--
'Why, it's the other man of letters!--Bellasis. I should think you've read
some of his poems--or plays? Rome has hardly been able to hold the two
of them this winter. It's worse than the archaeologists. Mrs. Burgoyne is
always trying to be civil to him, so that he mayn't make uncivil remarks
about Manisty. I say--don't you think she's delightful?'
He lowered his voice as he looked round upon his companion, but his blue
'Mrs. Burgoyne?'--said Lucy--'Yes, indeed!--She's so--so very kind.'
'Oh! she's a darling, is Eleanor Burgoyne. And I may call her that, you
know, for I'm her cousin, just as Manisty is--only on the other side. I
have been trying to look after her a bit this winter in Rome; she never
looks after herself. And she's not a bit strong.--You know her history of
He lowered his voice with young importance, speaking almost in a whisper,
though the advancing party were still far away. Lucy shook her head.
'Well, it's a ghastly tale, and I've only a minute.--Her husband, you see,
had pneumonia--they were in Switzerland together, and he'd taken a chill
after a walk--and one night he was raving mad, mad you understand with
delirium and fever--and poor Eleanor was so ill, they had taken her away
from her husband, and put her to bed on the other side of the hotel.--And
there was a drunken nurse--it's almost too horrible, isn't it?--and while
she was asleep Mr. Burgoyne got up, quite mad--and he went into the next
room, where the baby was, without waking anybody, and he took the child out
asleep in his arms, back to his own room where the windows were open, and
there he threw himself and the boy out together--headlong! The hotel was
high up,--built, one side of it, above a rock wall, with a stream below
it.--There had been a great deal of rain, and the river was swollen. The
bodies were not found for days.--When poor Eleanor woke up, she had lost
everything.--Oh! I dare say, when the first shock was over, the husband
didn't so much matter--he hadn't made her at all happy.--But the child!'--
He stopped, Mrs. Burgoyne's gay voice could be heard as she approached.
All the elegance of the dress was visible, the gleam of a diamond at the
throat, the flowers at the waist. Lucy Foster's eyes, dim with sudden
tears, fastened themselves upon the slender, advancing form.
The party grouped themselves round the tea-tables. Mrs. Burgoyne laid
a kind hand on Lucy Foster's arm, and introduced one or two of the
Then, while Miss Manisty, a little apart, lent her ear to the soft chat
of the ambassador, who sat beside her, supporting a pair of old and very
white hands upon a gold-headed stick, Mrs. Burgoyne busied herself with Mr.
Bellasis and his tea. For he was anxious to catch a train, and had but a
short time to spare.
He was a tall stiffly built man, with a heavy white face, and a shock of
black hair combed into a high and bird-like crest. As to Mrs. Burgoyne's
attentions, he received them with a somewhat pinched but still smiling
dignity. Manisty, meanwhile, a few feet away, was fidgetting on his chair,
in one of his most unmanageable moods. Around him were two or three young
men bearing the great names of Rome. They all belonged to the Guardia
Nobile, and were all dressed by English tailors. Two of them, moreover,
were the sons of English mothers. They were laughing and joking together,
and every now and then they addressed their host. But he scarcely replied.
He gathered stalk after stalk of grass from the ground beside him, nibbled
it and threw it away--a constant habit of his when he was annoyed or out of
"So you have read my book?" said Mr. Bellasis pleasantly, addressing Mrs.
Burgoyne, as she handed him a cup of tea. The book in question was long;
it revived the narrative verse of our grandfathers; and in spite of the
efforts of a 'set' the world was not disposed to take much notice of it.
'Yes, indeed! We liked it so much.--But I think when I wrote to you I told
you what we thought about it?'
And she glanced towards Manisty for support. He, however, did not
apparently hear what she said. Mr. Bellasis also looked round in his
direction; but in vain. The poet's face clouded.
'May I ask what reading you are at?' he said, returning to his tea.
'What reading?'--Mrs. Burgoyne looked puzzled.
'Have you read it more than once?'
'Ah!--my friends tell me in Rome that the book cannot be really appreciated
except at a second or third reading--'
Mrs. Burgoyne looked up in dismay, as a shower of gravel descended on the
tea-table. Manisty has just beckoned in haste to his great Newfoundland who
was lying stretched on the gravel path, and the dog bounding towards him,
seemed to have brought the path with him.
Mr. Bellasis impatiently shook some fragments of gravel from his coat, and
'I have just got a batch of the first reviews. Really criticism has become
an absurdity! Did you look at the "Sentinel"?'
Mrs. Burgoyne hesitated.
'Yes--I saw there was something about the style--'
'The style!'--Mr. Bellasis threw himself back in his chair and laughed
loud--'Why the style is done with a magnifying-glass!--There's not a
phrase,--not a word that I don't stand by.'
'Mr. Bellasis'--said the courteous voice of the ambassador--'are you going
by this train?'
The great man held out his watch.
'Yes indeed--and I must catch it!' cried the man of letters. He started to
his feet, and bending over Mrs. Burgoyne, he said in an aside perfectly
audible to all the world--'I read my new play to-night--just finished--at
Eleanor smiled and congratulated him. He took his leave, and Manisty in an
embarrassed silence accompanied him half way down the avenue.
Then returning, he threw himself into a chair near Lucy Foster and young
Brooklyn, with a sigh of relief.
'Intolerable ass!'--he said under his breath, as though quite unconscious
of any bystander.
The young man looked at Lucy with eyes that danced.
* * * * *
'Who is your young lady?' said the ambassador.
Miss Manisty explained.
'An American? Really? I was quite off the scent, But now--I see--I see! Let
me guess. She is a New Englander--not from Boston, but from the country. I
remember the type exactly. The year I was at Washington I spent some weeks
in the summer convalescing at a village up in the hills of Maine.--The
women there seemed to me the salt of the earth. May I go and talk to her?'
Miss Manisty led him across the circle to Lucy, and introduced him.
'Will you take me to the terrace and show me St. Peter's? I know one can
see it from here,' said the suave polished voice.
Lucy rose in a shy pleasure that became her. The thought flashed happily
through her, as she walked beside the old man, that Uncle Ben would like
to hear of it! She had that 'respect of persons' which comes not from
snobbishness, but from imagination and sympathy. The man's office thrilled
her, not his title.
The ambassador's shrewd eyes ran over her face and bearing, taking note of
all the signs of character. Then he began to talk, exerting himself as he
had not exerted himself that morning for a princess who had lunched at his
table. And as he was one of the enchanters of his day, known for such in
half a dozen courts, and two hemispheres, Lucy Foster's walk was a walk
of delight. There was only one drawback. She had heard some member of the
party say 'Your Excellency'--and somehow her lips would not pronounce it!
Yet so kind and kingly was the old man, there was no sign of homage she
would not have gladly paid him, if she had known how.
They emerged at last upon the stone terrace at the edge of the garden
looking out upon the Campagna.
'Ah! there it is!'--said the ambassador, and, walking to the corner of the
terrace, he pointed northwards.
And there--just caught between two stone pines--in the dim blue distance
rose the great dome.
'Doesn't it give you an emotion?' he said, smiling down upon her.--'When
I first stayed on these hills I wrote a poem about it--a very bad poem.
There's a kind of miracle in it, you know. Go where you will, that dome
follows you. Again and again, storm and mist may blot out the rest--that
remains. The peasants on these hills have a superstition about it. They
look for that dome as they look for the sun. When they can't see it, they
are unhappy--they expect some calamity.--It's a symbol, isn't it, an
idea?--and those are the things that touch us. I have a notion'--he turned
to her smiling, 'that it will come into Mr. Manisty's book?'
Their eyes met in a smiling assent.
"Well, there are symbols--and symbols. That dome makes my old heart beat
because it speaks of so much--half the history of our race. But looking
back--I remember another symbol--I was at Harvard in '69; and I remember
the first time I ever saw those tablets--you recollect--in the Memorial
Hall--to the Harvard men that fell in the war?"
The colour leapt into her cheek. Her eyes filled.
"Oh yes! yes!"--she said, half eager, half timid--"My father lost two
brothers--both their names are there."
The ambassador looked at her kindly.--"Well--be proud of it!--be proud of
it! That wall, those names, that youth, and death--they remain with me,
as the symbol of the other great majesty in the world! There's one,"--he
pointed to the dome,--"that's Religion. And the other's Country. It's
country that Mr. Manisty forgets--isn't it?"
The old man shook his head, and fell silent, looking out over the
"Ah, well"--he said, rousing himself--"I must go. Will you come and see me?
My daughter shall write to you."
And five minutes later the ambassador was driving swiftly towards Rome, in
a good humour with himself and the day. He had that morning sent off what
he knew to be a masterly despatch, and in the afternoon, as he was also
quite conscious, he had made a young thing happy.
* * * * *
Manisty could not attend the ambassador to his carriage. He was absorbed by
another guest. Mrs. Burgoyne, young Brooklyn, and Lucy, paid the necessary
When they returned, they found a fresh group gathered on the terrace. Two
persons made the centre of it--a grey-haired cardinal--and Manisty.
Lucy looked at her host in amazement. What a transformation! The man who
had been lounging and listless all the afternoon--barely civil to his
guests--making no effort indeed for anyone, was now another being. An hour
before he had been in middle age; now he was young, handsome, courteous,
animating, and guiding the conversation around him with the practised ease
of one who knew himself a master.
Where was the spell? The Cardinal?
The Cardinal sat to Manisty's right, one wrinkled hand resting on the neck
of the Newfoundland. It was a typical Italian face, large-cheeked and
large-jawed, with good eyes,--a little sleepy, but not unspiritual. His
red-edged cassock allowed a glimpse of red stockings to be seen, and his
finely worked cross and chain, his red sash, and the bright ribbon that lit
up his broad-brimmed hat, made spots of cheerful colour in the shadow of
He was a Cardinal of the Curia, belonging indeed to the Congregation of the
Index. The vulgar believed that he was staying on the hills for his health.
The initiated, however, knew that he had come to these heights, bringing
with him the works of a certain German Catholic professor threatened with
the thunders of the Church. It was a matter that demanded leisure and a
As he sat sipping Miss Manisty's tea, however, nothing could be divined of
those scathing Latin sheets on which he had left his secretary employed. He
had the air of one at peace with all the world--hardly stirred indeed by
the brilliance of his host.
'Italy again!'--said Reggie Brooklyn in Lucy's ear--poor old Italy!--one
might be sure of that, when one sees one of these black gentlemen about.'
The Cardinal indeed had given Manisty his text. He had brought an account
of some fresh vandalism of the Government--the buildings of an old Umbrian
convent turned to Government uses--the disappearance of some famous
pictures in the process, supposed to have passed into the bands of a Paris
dealer by the connivance of a corrupt official.
The story had roused Manisty to a white heat. This maltreatment of
religious buildings and the wasting of their treasures was a subject on
which he was inexhaustible. Encouraged by the slow smile of the Cardinal,
the laughter and applause of the young men, he took the history of a
monastery in the mountains of Spoleto, which had long been intimately known
to him, and told it,--with a variety, a passion, an irony, that only he
could achieve--that at last revealed indeed to Lucy Foster, as she sat
quivering with antagonism beside Miss Manisty, all the secret of the man's
fame and power in the world.
For gradually--from the story of this monastery, and its suppression at
the hands of a few Italian officials--he built up a figure, typical,
representative, according to him, of the New Italy, small, insolent,
venal,--insulting and despoiling the Old Italy, venerable, beautiful and
defenceless. And then a natural turn of thought, or a suggestion from one
of the group surrounding him, brought him to the scandals connected with
the Abyssinian campaign--to the charges of incompetence and corruption
which every Radical paper was now hurling against the Crispi government.
He gave the latest gossip, handling it lightly, inexorably, as one more
symptom of an inveterate disease, linking the men of the past with the men
of the present, spattering all with the same mud, till Italian Liberalism,
from Cavour to Crispi, sat shivering and ugly--stripped of all those pleas
and glories wherewith she had once stepped forth adorned upon the page of
Finally--with the art of the accomplished talker--a transition! Back to the
mountains, and the lonely convent on the heights--to the handful of monks
left in the old sanctuary, handing on the past, waiting for the future,
heirs of a society which would destroy and outlive the New Italy, as it had
destroyed and outlived the Old Rome,--offering the daily sacrifice amid the
murmur and solitude of the woods,--confident, peaceful, unstained; while
the new men in the valleys below peculated and bribed, swarmed and sweated,
in the mire of a profitless and purposeless corruption.
And all this in no set harangue--but in vivid broken sentences; in snatches
of paradox and mockery; of emotion touched and left; interrupted, moreover,
by the lively give and take of conversation with the young Italians, by
the quiet comments of the Cardinal. None the less, the whole final image
emerged, as Manisty meant it to emerge; till the fascinated hearers felt,
as it were, a breath of hot bitterness and hate pass between them and the
spring day, enveloping the grim phantom of a ruined and a doomed State.
The Cardinal said little. Every now and then he put in a fact of his own
knowledge--a stroke of character--a phrase of compassion that bit more
sharply even than Manisty's scorns--a smile--a shake of the head. And
sometimes, as Manisty talked with the young men, the sharp wrinkled eyes
rested upon the Englishman with a scrutiny, instantly withdrawn. All the
caution of the Roman ecclesiastic,--the inheritance of centuries--spoke in
It was perceived by no one, however, but a certain dark elderly lady, who
was sitting restlessly silent beside Miss Manisty. Lucy Foster had noticed
her as a new-comer, and believed that her name was Madame Variani.
As for Eleanor Burgoyne, she sat on Manisty's left while he talked--it was
curious to notice how a place was always made for her beside him!--her head
raised a little towards him, her eyes bright and fixed. The force that
breathed from him passed through her frail being, quickening every pulse of
life. She neither criticised nor accepted what he said. It was the man's
splendid vitality that subdued and mastered her.
Yet she alone knew what no one else suspected. At the beginning of the
conversation Manisty had placed himself behind an old stone table of oblong
shape and thick base, of which there were several in the garden. Round it
grew up grasses and tall vetches which had sown themselves among the gaping
stones of the terrace. Nothing, therefore, could be seen of the talker as
he leant carelessly across the table but the magnificent head, and the
shoulders on which it was so freely and proudly carried.
Anybody noticing the effect--for it was an effect--would have thought it
a mere happy accident. Eleanor Burgoyne alone knew that it was conscious.
She had seen the same pose, the same concealment practised too often to be
mistaken. But it made no difference whatever to the spell that held her.
The small vanities and miseries of Manisty's nature were all known to
her--and alas! she would not have altered one of them!
* * * * *
When the Cardinal rose to go, two Italian girls, who had come with their
brother, the Count Casaleschi, ran forward, and curtseying kissed the
Cardinal's ring. And as he walked away, escorted by Manisty, a gardener
crossed the avenue, who also at sight of the tall red-sashed figure fell on
his knees and did the same. The Cardinal gave him an absent nod and smile,
and passed on.
'Ah! _j'etouffe_!'--cried Madame Variani, throwing herself down by Miss
Manisty. 'Give me another cup, _chere Madame_. Your nephew is too bad.
Let him show us another nation born in forty years--that has had to make
itself in a generation--let him show it us! Ah! you English--with all your
advantages--and your proud hearts.--Perhaps we too could pick some holes in
She fanned herself with angry vigour. The young men came to stand round
her arguing and laughing. She was a favourite in Rome, and as a French
woman, and the widow of a Florentine man of letters, occupied a somewhat
independent position, and was the friend of many different groups.
'And you--young lady, what do you think?'--she said suddenly, laying a
large hand on Lucy Foster's knee.
Lucy, startled, looked into the sparkling black eyes brought thus close to
'But I just _long_'--she said, catching her breath--'to hear the other
'Ah, and you shall hear it, my dear--you shall!' cried Madame Variani.
'_N'est-ce pas, Madame?_' she said, addressing Miss Manisty--'We will get
rid of all those priests--and then we will speak our mind? Oh, and you
too,'--she waved her hand with a motherly roughness towards the young
men,--'What do you know about it, Signor Marchese? If there were no Guardia
Nobile, you would not wear those fine uniforms.--That is why you like the
The Marchese Vitellucci--a charming boy of two and twenty, tall, thin-faced
and pensive,--laughed and bowed.
'The Pope, Madame, should establish some _dames d'honneur_. Then he would
have all the ladies too on his side.
'_O, mon Dieu!_--he has enough of them,' cried Madame Variani. 'But here
comes Mr. Manisty, I must drink my tea and hold my tongue. I am going out
to dinner to-night, and if one gets hot and cross, that is not good for the
Manisty advanced at his usual quick pace, his head sunk once more between
Young Vitellucci approached him. 'Ah! Carlo!' he said, looking up
affectionately--'dear fellow!--Come for a stroll with me.'
And linking his arm in the young man's, he carried him off. Their peals of
laughter could be heard coming back from the distance of the ilex-walk.
Madame Variani tilted back her chair to look after them.
'Ah! your nephew can be agreeable too, when he likes,' she said to Miss
Manisty. 'I do not say no. But when he talks of these poor Italians, he is
As for Lucy Foster, as Manisty passed out of sight, she felt her pulses
still tingling with a wholly new sense of passionate hostility--dislike
even. But none the less did the stage seem empty and meaningless when he
had left it.
* * * * *
Manisty and Mrs. Burgoyne were closeted in the library for some time before
dinner. Lucy in the salon could hear him pacing up and down, and the deep
Then Mrs. Burgoyne came into the salon, and not noticing the girl who was
hidden behind a great pot of broom threw herself on the sofa with a long
sigh of fatigue. Lucy could just see the pale face against the pillow and
the closed eyes. Thus abandoned and at rest, there was something strangely
pitiful in the whole figure, for all its grace.
A wave of feeling rose in the girl's breast. She slipped softly from her
hiding-place, took a silk wrap that was lying on a chair, and approached
'Let me put this over you. Won't you sleep before dinner? And I will shut
the window. It is getting cold.'
Mrs. Burgoyne opened her eyes in astonishment, and murmured a few words of
Lucy covered her up, closed the window, and was stealing away, when Mrs.
Burgoyne put out a hand and touched her.
'It is very sweet of you to think of me.'
She drew the girl to her, enclosed the hand she had taken in both hers,
pressed it and released it. Lucy went quietly out of the room.
Then till dinner she sat reading her New Testament, and trying rather
piteously to remind herself that it was Sunday. Far away in a New England
village, the bells were ringing for the evening meeting. Lucy, shutting
her eyes, could smell the spring scents in the church lane, could hear
the droning of the opening hymn. A vague mystical peace stole upon her,
as she recalled the service; the great words of 'sin,' 'salvation,'
'righteousness,' as the Evangelical understands them, thrilled through her
Then, as she rose to dress, there burst upon her through the open window
the sunset blaze of the Campagna with the purple dome in its midst. And
with that came the memory of the afternoon,--of the Cardinal--and Manisty.
Very often, in these first days, it was as though her mind ached, under
the stress of new thinking, like something stretched and sore. In the New
England house where she had grown up, a corner of the old-fashioned study
was given up to the books of her grandfather, the divinity professor. They
were a small collection, all gathered with one object,--the confuting and
confronting of Rome. Like many another Protestant zealot, the old professor
had brooded on the crimes and cruelties of persecuting Rome, till they
became a madness in the blood. How well Lucy remembered his books--with
their backs of faded grey or brown cloths, and their grim titles. Most of
them she had never yet been allowed to read. When she looked for a book,
she was wont to pass this shelf by in a vague horror. What Rome habitually
did or permitted, what at any rate she had habitually done or permitted in
the past, could not--it seemed--be known by a pure woman! And she would
glance from the books to the engraving of her grandfather above them,--to
the stern and yet delicate face of the old Calvinist, with its high-peaked
brow, and white neckcloth supporting the sharp chin; lifting her heart
to him in a passionate endorsement, a common fierce hatred of wrong and
She had grown older since then, and her country with her. New England
Puritanism was no longer what it had been; and the Catholic Church had
spread in the land. But in Uncle Ben's quiet household, and in her own
feeling, the changes had been but slight and subtle. Pity, perhaps, had
insensibly taken the place of hatred. But those old words 'priest' and
'mass' still rung in her ears as symbols of all that man had devised to
corrupt and deface the purity of Christ.
And of what that purity might be, she had such tender, such positive
traditions! Her mother had been a Christian mystic--a 'sweet woman,' meek
as a dove in household life, yet capable of the fiercest ardours as a
preacher and missionary, gathering rough labourers into barns and by the
wayside, and dying before her time, worn out by the imperious energies of
religion. Lucy had always before her the eyes that seemed to be shining
through a mist, the large tremulous mouth, the gently furrowed brow. Those
strange forces--'grace'--and 'the spirit'--had been the realities, the
deciding powers of her childhood, whether in what concerned the great
emotions of faith, or the most trivial incidents of ordinary life--writing
a letter--inviting a guest--taking a journey. The soul bare before God,
depending on no fleshly aid, distracted by no outward rite; sternly
defending its own freedom as a divine trust:--she had been reared on these
main thoughts of Puritanism, and they were still through all insensible
transformation, the guiding forces of her own being.
Already, in this Catholic country, she had been jarred and repelled on all
sides. Yet she found herself living with two people for whom Catholicism
was not indeed a personal faith--she could not think of that side of it
without indignation--but a thing to be passionately admired and praised,
like art, or music, or scenery. You might believe nothing, and yet write
pages and pages in glorification of the Pope and the Mass, and in contempt
of everything else!--in excuse too of every kind of tyranny so long as it
served the Papacy and 'the Church.'
She leaned out to the sunset, remembering sentence after sentence from the
talk on the terrace--hating or combating them all.
Yet all the time a new excitement invaded her. For the man who had spoken
thus was, in a sense, not a mere stranger to her. Somewhere in his being
must be the capacity for those thoughts and feelings that had touched her
so deeply in his book--for that magical insight and sweetness--
Ah!--perhaps she had not understood his book--no more than she understood
him now. The sense of her own ignorance oppressed her--and of all that
_might_ be said, with regard apparently to anything whatever. Was there
nothing quite true--quite certain--in the world?
So the girl's intense and simple nature entered like all its fellows, upon
the old inevitable struggle. As she stood there, with locked hands and
flushed cheeks, conscious through every vein of the inrush and shock of new
perceptions, new comparisons, she was like a ship that leaves the harbour
for the open, and feels for the first time on all her timbers the strain of
the unplumbed sea.
And of this invasion, this excitement, the mind, in haunting debate and
antagonism, made for itself one image, one symbol--the face of Edward
While he was thus--unknowing--the cause of so many new attractions and
repulsions in his guest's mind, Manisty, after the first shock of annoyance
produced by her arrival was over, hardly remembered her existence. He was
incessantly occupied by the completion of his book, working late and early,
sometimes in high and even extravagant spirits, but, on the whole, more
commonly depressed and discontented.
Eleanor Burgoyne worked with him or for him many hours in each day. Her
thin pallor became more pronounced. She ate little, and Miss Manisty
believed that she slept less. The elder lady indeed began to fidget and
protest, to remonstrate now and then with Manisty himself, even to threaten
a letter to 'the General.' Eleanor's smiling obstinacy, however, carried
all before it. And Manisty, in spite of a few startled looks and
perfunctory dissuasions, whenever his aunt attacked him, soon slipped back
into his normal ways of depending on his cousin, and not being able to work
without her. Lucy Foster thought him selfish and inconsiderate. It gave her
one more cause of quarrel with him.
For she and Mrs. Burgoyne were slowly but surely making friends. The
clearer it became that Manisty took no notice of Miss Foster, and refused
to be held in any way responsible for her entertainment, the more anxious,
it seemed, did Eleanor show herself to make life pleasant for the American
girl. Her manner, which had always been kind, became more natural and gay.
It was as though she had settled some question with herself, and settled it
entirely to Lucy Foster's advantage.
Not much indeed could be done for the stranger while the stress of
Manisty's work lasted. Aunt Pattie braced herself once or twice, got out
the guide-books and took her visitor into Rome to see the sights. But the
little lady was so frankly worn out by these expeditions, that Lucy, full
of compunctions, could only beg to be left to herself in future. Were not
the garden and the lake, the wood-paths to Rocca di Papa, and the roads to
Albano good enough?
So presently it came to her spending many hours alone in the terraced
garden on the hill-side, with all the golden Campagna at her feet. Her
young fancy, however, soon learnt to look upon that garden as the very
concentration and symbol of Italy. All the Italian elements, the Italian
magics were there. Along its topmost edge ran a vast broken wall, built
into the hill; and hanging from the brink of the wall like a long roof,
great ilexes shut out the day from the path below. Within the thickness of
the wall--in days when, in that dim Rome upon the plain, many still lived
who could remember the voice and the face of Paul of Tarsus--Domitian had
made niches and fountains; and he had thrown over the terrace, now darkened
by the great ilex boughs, a long portico roof supported on capitals and
shafts of gleaming marble. Then in the niches round the clear fountains,
he had ranged the fine statues of a still admirable art; everywhere he had
lavished marbles, rose and yellow and white, and under foot he had spread a
mosaic floor, glistening beneath the shadow-play of leaf and water, in the
rich reflected light from the garden and the Campagna outside; while at
intervals, he had driven through the very crest of the hill long tunnelled
passages, down which one might look from the garden and see the blue lake
shining at their further end.
And still the niches and the recesses were there,--the huge wall too along
the face of the hill; all broken and gashed and ruinous, showing the fine
reticulated brickwork that had been once faced with marble; alternately
supported and torn by the pushing roots of the ilex-trees. The tunnelled
passages too were there, choked and fallen in; no flash of the lake now
beyond their cool darkness! And into the crumbling surface of the wall,
rude hands had built fragments of the goddesses and the Caesars that had
once reigned there, barbarously mingled with warm white morsels from
the great cornice of the portico, acanthus blocks from the long buried
capitals, or dolphins orphaned of Aphrodite.
The wreck was beautiful, like all wrecks in Italy where Nature has had her
way. For it was masked in the gloom of the overhanging trees; or hidden
behind dropping veils of ivy; or lit up by straggling patches of broom and
cytisus that thrust themselves through the gaps in the Roman brickwork and
shone golden in the dark. At the foot of the wall, along its whole length,
ran a low marble conduit that held still the sweetest liveliest water.
Lilies of the valley grew beside it, breathing scent into the shadowed air;
while on the outer or garden side of the path, the grass was purple with
long-stalked violets, or pink with the sharp heads of the cyclamen. And a
little further, from the same grass, there shot up in a happy neglect, tall
camellia-trees ragged and laden, strewing the ground red and white beneath
them. And above the camellias again, the famous stone-pines of the villa
climbed into the high air, overlooking the plain and the sea, peering at
Rome and Soracte.
So old it was!--and yet so fresh with spring! In the mornings at least the
spring was uppermost. It silenced the plaint of outraged beauty which the
place seemed to be always making, under a flutter of growth and song. Water
and flowers and nightingales, the shadow, the sunlight, and the heat, were
all alike strong and living,--Italy untamed. It was only in the evenings
that Lucy shunned the path. For then, from the soil below and the wall
above, there crept out the old imprisoned forces of sadness, or of poison,
and her heart flagged or her spirits sank as she sat or walked there.
Marinata has no malaria; but on old soils, and as night approaches, there
is always something in the shade of Italy that fights with human life. The
poor ghosts rise from the earth--jealous of those that are still walking
the warm ways of the world.
But in the evenings, when the Fountain Walk drove her forth, the central
hot zone of the garden was divine, with its roses and lilacs, its birds,
its exquisite grass alive with shining lizards, jewelled with every flower,
breathing every scent; and at its edge the old terrace with its balustrade,
set above the Campagna, commanding the plain and the sea, the sky and the
Evening after evening Lucy might have been found perched on the stone
coping of the balustrade, sometimes trying, through the warm silent hours,
by the help of this book or that, to call up again the old Roman life;
sometimes dreaming of what there might still be--what the archaeologists
indeed said must be--buried beneath her feet; of the marble limbs and faces
pressed into the earth, and all the other ruined things, small and great,
mean or lovely, that lay deep in a common grave below the rustling olives,
and the still leafless vineyards; and sometimes the mere passive companion
of the breeze and the sun, conscious only of the chirping of the crickets,
or the loudness of the nightingales, or the flight of a hoopoe, like some
strange bright bird of fairy-tale, flashing from one deep garden-shadow to
Yet the garden was not always given up to her and the birds. Peasant folk
coming from Albano or the olive-grounds between it and the villa would
take a short cut through the garden to Marinata; dark-faced gardeners,
in blue linen suits, would doff their peaked hats to the strange lady;
or a score or two of young black-frocked priestlings from a neighbouring
seminary would suddenly throng its paths, playing mild girlish games,
with infinite clamour and chatter, running races as far and fast as their
black petticoats would allow, twisting their long overcoats and red sashes
meanwhile round a battered old noseless bust that stood for Domitian at the
end of a long ilex-avenue, and was the butt for all the slings and arrows
of the day,--poor helpless State, blinded and buffeted by the Church!
Lucy would hide herself among the lilacs and the arbutus when the seminary
invaded her; watching through the leaves the strapping Italian boys
in their hindering womanish dress; scorning them for their state of
supervision and dependence; pitying them for their destiny!
And sometimes Manisty, disturbed by the noise, would come out--pale and
frowning. But at the sight of the seminarists and of the old priest in
command of them, his irritable look would soften. He would stand indeed
with his hands on his sides, laughing and chatting with the boys, his head
uncovered, his black curls blown backward from the great furrowed brow; and
in the end Lucy peering from her nook would see him pacing up and down the
ilex-walk with the priest,--haranguing and gesticulating--the old man in
a pleased wonder looking at the Englishman through his spectacles, and
throwing in from time to time ejaculations of assent, now half puzzled,
and now fanatically eager. "He is talking the book!"--Lucy would think to
herself--and her mind would rise in revolt.
One day after parting with the lads he came unexpectedly past her
hiding-place, and paused at sight of her. "Do the boys disturb you?" he
said, glancing at her book, and speaking with the awkward abruptness which
with him could in a moment take the place of ease and mirth.
"Oh no--not at all."
He fidgeted, stripping leaves from the arbutus tree under which she sat.
"That old priest who comes with them is a charming fellow!"
Her shyness gave way.
"Is he?--He looks after them like an old nurse. And they are such
babies--those great boys!"
His eye kindled.
"So you would like them to be more independent--more brutal. You prefer
a Harvard and Yale football match--with the dead and wounded left on the
She laughed, daring for the first time to assert herself.
"No. I don't want blood! But there is something between. However--"
She hesitated. He looked down upon her half irritable, half smiling.
"Please go on."
"It would do them no good, would it--to be independent?"
"Considering how soon they must be slaves for life? Is that what you mean?"
Her frank blue eyes raised themselves to his. He was instantly conscious of
something cool and critical in her attitude towards him. Very possibly he
had been conscious of it for some time, which accounted for his instinctive
avoidance of her. In the crisis of thought and production through which
he was passing he shrank from any touch of opposition or distrust. He
distrusted himself enough. It was as though he carried about with him
wounds that only Eleanor's soft touch could be allowed to approach. And
from the first evening he had very naturally divined in this Yankee girl,
with her mingled reserve and transparency, her sturdy Protestantisms of all
sorts, elements antagonistic to himself.
She answered his question, however, by another--still referring to the
'Isn't that the reason why they take and train them so young--that they may
have no will left?'
'Well, is that the worst condition in the world--to give up your own will
to an idea--a cause?'
She laughed shyly--a low musical sound that suddenly gave him, as it
seemed, a new impression of her.
'You call the old priest an "idea"?'
Both had the same vision of the most portly and substantial of figures.
Manisty smiled unwillingly.
'The old priest is merely the symbol.'
She shook her head obstinately.
'He is all they know anything about. He gives orders, and they obey. Soon
it will be some one else's turn to give them the orders--'
'Till the time comes for them to give orders themselves?--Well, what is
there to object to in that?' He scanned her severely. 'What does it mean
but that they are parts of a great system, properly organised, to a great
end? Show me anything better?'
'It is better, isn't it, that--sometimes--one should give oneself orders?'
she said in a low voice.
'Liberty to make a fool of oneself--in short. No doubt,--that's the great
modern panacea.' He paused, staring at her without being conscious of it,
with his absent brilliant eyes. Then he broke out--'Well! so you despise
my little priests! Did you ever think of inquiring, however, which wears
best--their notion of human life, which after all has weathered 1900 years,
and is as strong and prevailing as it ever was--or the sort of notion
that their enemies here go to work upon? Look into the history of this
Abyssinian war--everybody free to make fools of themselves, in Rome
or Africa--and doing it magnificently! Private judgment--private aims
everywhere--from Crispi to the smallest lieutenant. Result--universal wreck
and muddle--thousands of lives thrown away--a nation brought to shame.
Then look about you at what's going on--here--this week--on these hills.
It's Holy Week. They're all fasting--they're a11 going to mass--the people
working in the fields, our servants, the bright little priests. To-morrow's
Holy Thursday. From now till Sunday, nobody here will eat anything but a
little bread and a few olives. The bells will cease to-morrow. If a single
church-bell rang in Rome--over this plain, and these mountains--through the
whole of Italy--from mass to-morrow till mass on Saturday--a whole nation
would feel pain and outrage. Then on Saturday--marvellous symbol!--listen
for the bells. You will hear them all loosed together, as soon as the
Sanctus begins--all over Italy. And on Sunday--watch the churches. If it
isn't Matthew Arnold's "One common wave of thought and joy--Lifting mankind
amain,"--what is it? To me, it's what keeps the human machine running. Make
the comparison!--it will repay you. My little muffs of priests with their
silly obedience won't come so badly out of it.'
Unconsciously he had taken a seat beside her, and was looking at her with
a sharp imperious air. She dimly understood that he was not talking to her
but to a much larger audience, that he was still in fact in the grip of
"the book." But that he should have anyway addressed so many consecutive
sentences to her excited her after these many days of absolute neglect and
indifference on his part; she felt a certain tremor of pulse. Instead,
however, of diminishing self-command, it bestowed it.
'Well, if that's the only way of running the machine--the Catholic way I
mean,'--her words came out a little hurried and breathless--'I don't see
how _we_ exist.'
'_Do_ you exist?--in any sense that matters?'
He laughed as he spoke; but his tone provoked her. She threw up her head a
little, suddenly grave.
'Of course we know that you dislike us.'
He showed a certain embarrassment.
'How do you know?'
'Oh!--we read what you said of us.'
'I was badly reported,' he said, smiling.
'No,'--she insisted. 'But you were mistaken in a great many things--very,
very much mistaken. You judged much too quickly.'
He rose, a covert amusement playing round his lips. It was the indulgence
of the politician and man of affairs towards the little backwoods girl who
was setting him to rights.
'We must have it out,' he said, 'I see I shall have to defend myself. But
now I fear Mrs. Burgoyne will be waiting for me.'
And lifting his hat with the somewhat stately and excessive manner, which
he could always substitute at the shortest notice for _brusquerie_ or
inattention, he went his way.
Lucy Foster was left with a red cheek. She watched him till he had passed
into the shadow of the avenue leading to the house; then with an impetuous
movement she took up a book which had been lying beside her on the bench,
and began to read it with a peculiar ardour--almost passion. It was the
life of one of the heroes of the Garibaldian expedition of 1860-61.
For of late she had been surrounding herself--by the help of a library
in Rome to which the Manistys had access--with the books of the Italian
_Risorgimento_, that great movement, that heroic making of a nation, in
which our fathers felt so passionate an interest, which has grown so dim
and far away now, not only in the mind of a younger England, but even in
that of a younger Italy.
But to Lucy--reading the story with the plain of Rome, and St. Peter's in
sight, her wits quickened by the perpetual challenge of Manisty's talk with
Mrs. Burgoyne, or any chance visitor,--Cavour, Garibaldi, Mazzini; all the
striking figures and all the main stages in the great epic; the blind,
mad, hopeless outbreaks of '48; the hangings and shootings and bottomless
despairs of '49; the sullen calm of those waiting years from '49 to '58;
the ecstasy of Magenta and Solferino, and the fierce disappointment of
Villafranca; the wild golden days of Sicily in 1860; the plucking of Venice
like a ripe fruit in '66; of Rome, in 1870; all the deliriums of freedom,
vengeance, union--these immortal names and passions and actions, were
thrilling through the girl's fresh poetic sense, and capturing all her
sympathies. Had Italy indeed been 'made too quick'? Was all the vast
struggle, and these martyred lives for nothing--all to end like a choked
river in death and corruption? Well, if so, whose fault was it, but the
priests'?--of that black, intriguing, traitorous Italy, headed by the
Papacy, which except for one brief moment in the forties, had upheld every
tyranny, and drenched every liberty in blood, had been the supporter of the
Austrian and the Bourbon, and was now again tearing to pieces the Italy
that so many brave men had died to make?
The priests!--the Church!--Why!--she wondered, as she read the story of
Charles Albert, and Metternich and the Naples Bourbons, that Italy still
dared to let the ignorant, persecuting brood live and thrive in her midst
at all! Especially was it a marvel to her that any Jesuit might still walk
Italian streets, that a nation could ever forgive or forget such crimes
against her inmost life as had been the crimes of the Jesuits. She would
stand at the end of the terrace, her hands behind her clasping her book,
her eyes fixed on the distant dome amid the stone-pines. Her book opened
with the experiences of a Neapolitan boy at school in Naples during the
priest-ridden years of the twenties, when Austrian bayonets, after the
rising of '21, had replaced Bourbons and Jesuits in power, and crushed the
life out of the young striving liberty of '21, as a cruel boy may crush and
strangle a fledgling bird. 'What did we learn,' cried the author of the
memoir--'from that monkish education which dwarfed both our mind and body?
How many have I seen in later life groaning over their own ignorance, and
pouring maledictions on the seminary or the college, where they had wasted
so many years and had learnt nothing!'
'That monkish education which dwarfed both our mind and body'--
Lucy would repeat the words to herself--throwing them out as a challenge
to that great dome hovering amid the sunny haze. That old man there, among
his Cardinals--she thought of him with a young horror and revolt; yet not
without a certain tremor of the imagination. Well!--in a few days--Sunday
week--she was to see him, and judge for herself.
* * * * *
Meanwhile visitors were almost shut out. The villa sank into a convent-like
quiet; for in a week, ten days, the book was perhaps to be finished. Miss
Manisty, as the crisis approached, kept a vigilant eye on Mrs. Burgoyne.
She was in constant dread of a delicate woman's collapse; and after the
sittings in the library had lasted a certain time she had now the courage
to break in upon them, and drive Manisty's Egeria out of her cave to rest
and to the garden.
So Lucy, as the shadows lengthened in the garden, would hear the sound of a
light though languid step, and would look up to see a delicate white face
smiling down upon her.
'Oh! how tired you must be!' she would say, springing up. 'Let me make a
place for you here under the trees.'
'No, no. Let us move about. I am tired of sitting.'
And they would pace up and down the terrace and the olive-garden beyond,
while Mrs. Burgoyne leant upon Lucy's arm, chatting and laughing with an
evident relief from tension which only betrayed the mental and physical
Lucy wondered to see how exquisite, how dainty, she would emerge from these
wrestles with hard work. Her fresh white or pale dresses, the few jewels
half-hidden at her wrists or throat, the curled or piled masses of the fair
hair, were never less than perfection, it seemed to Lucy; she was never
more the woman of fashion and the great world than when she came out from
a morning's toil that would have left its disturbing mark on a strong man,
her eyes shining under the stress and ardour of those 'ideas,' as to which
it was good to talk with her.
But how eagerly she would throw off that stress, and turn to wooing and
winning Lucy Foster! All hanging back in the matter was gone. Certain vague
thoughts and terrors were laid to sleep, and she must needs allow herself
the luxury of charming the quiet girl, like all the rest--the dogs, the
servants or the village children. There was a perpetual hunger for love in
Eleanor's nature which expressed itself in a thousand small and piteous
ways. She could never help throwing out tendrils, and it was rarely that
she ventured them in vain.
In the case of Lucy Foster, however, her fine tact soon discovered that
caresses were best left alone. They were natural to herself, and once or
twice as the April days went by, she ventured to kiss the girl's fresh
cheek, or to slip an arm round her waist. But Lucy took it awkwardly. When
she was kissed she flushed, and stood passive; and all her personal ways
were a little stiff and austere. After one of these demonstrations indeed
Mrs. Burgoyne generally found herself repaid in some other form, by some
small thoughtfulness on Lucy's part--the placing of a stool, the fetching
of a cloak--or merely perhaps by a new softness in the girl's open look.
And Eleanor never once thought of resenting her lack of response. There
was even a kind of charm in it. The prevailing American type in Rome that
winter had been a demonstrative type.
Lucy's manner in comparison was like a cool and bracing air. 'And when she
does kiss!' Eleanor would say to herself--'it will be with all her heart.
One can see that.'
Meanwhile Mrs. Burgoyne took occasional note of the Mazzinian literature
that lay about. She would turn the books over and read their titles, her
eyes sparkling with a little gentle mischief, as she divined the girl's
disapproval of her host and his views. But she never argued with Lucy. She
was too tired of the subject, too eager to seek relief in talking of the
birds and the view, of people and _chiffons_.
Too happy perhaps--also. She walked on air in these days before Easter.
The book was prospering; Manisty was more content; and as agreeable in all
daily ways and offices as only the hope of good fortune can make a man.
'The Priest of Nemi'--indeed, with several other prose poems of the same
kind, had been cast out of the text; which now presented one firm and
vigorous whole of social and political discussion. But the Nemi piece was
to be specially bound for Eleanor, together with some drawings that she had
made of the lake and the temple site earlier in the spring. And on the day
the book was finished--somewhere within the next fortnight--there was to be
a festal journey to Nemi--divine and blessed place!
So she felt no fatigue, and was always ready to chatter to Lucy of the most
womanish things. Especially, as the girl's beauty grew upon her, was she
anxious to carry out those plans of transforming her dress and hair,--her
gowns and hats and shoes--the primness of her brown braids, which she and
Miss Manisty had confided to each other.
But Lucy was shy--would not be drawn that way. There were fewer visitors
at the villa than she had expected. For this quiet life in the garden, and
on the country roads, it seemed to her that her dresses did very well. The
sense of discomfort excited by the elegance of her Florentine acquaintance
died away. And she would have thought it wrong and extravagant to spend
So she had quietly ceased to think about her dress; and the blue and white
check, to Eleanor's torment, had frequently to be borne with.
Even the promised invitation to the Embassy had not arrived. It was said
that the Ambassador's daughter had gone to Florence. Only Lucy wished
she had not written that letter to Uncle Ben from Florence:--that
rather troubled and penitent letter on the subject of dress. He might
misunderstand--might do something foolish.
* * * * *
And apparently Uncle Ben did do something foolish. For a certain letter
arrived from Boston on the day after the seminarists' invasion of the
garden. Lucy after an hour's qualms and hesitations, must needs reluctantly
confide the contents of it to Miss Manisty. And that lady with smiles and
evident pleasure called Mrs. Burgoyne--and Eleanor called her maid,--and
the ball began to roll.
* * * * *
On Saturday morning early, Mrs. Burgoyne's room indeed was in a
bustle--delightful to all but Lucy. Manisty was in Rome for the day, and
Eleanor had holiday. She had never looked more frail--a rose-leaf pink in
her cheek--nor more at ease. For she was at least as good to consult about
a skirt as an idea.
'Marie!'--she said, giving her own maid a little peremptory push--'just run
and fetch Benson--there's an angel. We must have all the brains possible.
If we don't get the bodice right, it won't suit Miss Foster a bit.'
Marie went in all haste. Meanwhile in front of a large glass stood a rather
red and troubled Lucy arrayed in a Paris gown belonging to Mrs. Burgoyne.
Eleanor had played her with much tact, and now had her in her power.
'It is the crisis, my dear,' Miss Manisty had said in Eleanor's ear, as
they rose from breakfast, with a twinkle of her small eyes. 'The question
is; can we, or can we not, turn her into a beauty? _You_ can!'
Eleanor at any rate was doing her best. She had brought out her newest
gowns and Lucy was submissively putting them on one after the other.
Eleanor was in pursuit first of all of some general conceptions. What was
the girl's true style?--what were the possibilities?
'When I have got my lines and main ideas in my head,' she said pensively,
'then we will call in the maids. Of course you _might_ have the things made
in Rome. But as we have the models--and these two maids have nothing to
do--why not give ourselves the pleasure of looking after it?'
Pleasure! Lucy Foster opened her eyes.
Still, here was this absurd, this most extravagant cheque from Uncle Ben,
and these peremptory commands to get herself everything--everything--that
other girls had. Why, it was demanded of her, had she been economical and
scrupulous before starting? Folly and disobedience! He had been told of
her silly hesitations, her detestable frugalities--he had ferretted it all
out. And now she was at a disadvantage--was she? Let her provide herself at
once, or old as he was, he would take train and steamer and come and see to
She was not submissive in general--far from it. But the reading of Uncle
Ben's letter had left her very meek in spirit and rather inclined to cry.
Had Uncle Ben really considered whether it was right to spend so much money
on oneself, to think so much about it? Their life together had been so
simple, the question had hardly emerged. Of course it was right to be neat
and fresh, and to please his taste in what she wore. But--
The net result of all this internal debate, however, was to give a peculiar
charm, like the charm of rippled and sensitive water, to features that were
generally too still and grave. She stood silently before the long glass
while Mrs. Burgoyne and the maids talked and pinned. She walked to the end
of the room and back, as she was bid; she tried to express a preference,
when she was asked for one; and as she was arrayed in one delicious gown
after another, she became more and more alive to the beauty of the soft
stuffs, the invention and caprice with which they were combined, the
daintiness of their pinks and blues, their greys and creams, their lilacs
and ivories. At last Mrs. Burgoyne happened upon a dress of white crape,
opening upon a vest of pale green, with thin edges of black here and there,
disposed with the tact, the feeling of the artist; and when Lucy's tall
form had been draped in this garment, her three attendants fell back with
one simultaneous cry:
'Oh my dear!' said Mrs. Burgoyne drawing a long breath.--'Now you see,
Marie--I told you!--that's the cut. And just look how simple that is, and
how it falls! That's the green. Yes, when Mathilde is as good as that she's
divine.--Now all you've got to do is just to copy that. And the materials
are just nothing--you'll get them in the Corso in half-an-hour.'
'May I take it off?' said Lucy.
'Well yes, you may'--said Mrs. Burgoyne, reluctantly--'but it's a great
pity. Well now, for the coat and skirt,'--she checked them off on her slim
fingers--'for the afternoon gown, and one evening dress, I think I see my
'Enough for one morning isn't it?' said Lucy half laughing, half imploring.
'Yes,'--said Mrs. Burgoyne absently, her mind already full of further
The gowns were carried away, and Aunt Pattie's maid departed. Then as Lucy
in her white cotton wrapper was retiring to her own room, Mrs. Burgoyne
caught her by the arm.
'You remember,'--she said appealingly,--'how rude I was that evening
you came--how I just altered your hair? You don't know how I long to
do it properly! You know I shall have a little trouble with these
dresses--trouble I like--but still I shall pretend it's trouble, that you
may pay me for it. Pay me by letting me experiment! I just long to take all
your hair down, and do it as it ought to be done. And you don't know how
clever I am. _Let_ me!'
And already, before the shamefaced girl could reply, she was gently pushed
into the chair before Mrs. Burgoyne's dressing-table, and a pair of skilled
hands went to work.
'I can't say you look as though you enjoyed it,' said Mrs. Burgoyne by the
time she had covered the girl's shoulders with the long silky veil which
she had released from the stiff plaits confining it. 'Do you think it's
wrong to do your hair prettily?' Lucy laughed uneasily.
'I was never brought up to think much about it. My mother had very strict
'Ah!'--said Eleanor, with a discreet intonation. 'But you see, at Rome it
is really so much better for the character to do as Rome does. To be out of
the way makes one self-conscious. Your mother didn't foresee that.'
Silence,--while the swift white fingers plaited and tied and laid
'It waves charmingly already'--murmured the artist--'but it must be just
a little more _ondule_ in the right places--just a touch--here and there.
Quick, Marie!--bring me the stove--and the tongs--and two or three of those
The maid flew, infected by the ardour of her mistress, and between them
they worked to such purpose that when at last they released their victim,
they had turned the dark head into that of a stately and fashionable
beauty. The splendid hair was raised high in small silky ripples above
the white brow. The little love-locks on the temples had been delicately
arranged so as to complete the fine oval of the face, and at the back the
black masses drawn lightly upwards from the neck, and held in place there
by a pearl comb of Mrs. Burgoyne's, had been piled and twisted into a crown
that would have made Artemis herself more queenly.
'Am I really to keep it like this?' cried Lucy, looking at herself in the
'But of course you are!' and Mrs. Burgoyne instinctively held the girl's
arms, lest any violence should be offered to her handiwork--'And you must
put on your _old_ white frock--_not_ the check--the nice soft one that's
been washed, with the pink sash--Goodness, how the time goes! Marie, run
and tell Miss Manisty not to wait for me--I'll follow her to the village.'
The maid went. Lucy looked down upon her tyrant--
You are very kind to me'--she said with a lip that trembled slightly. Her
blue eyes under the black brows showed a feeling that she did not know how
to express. The subdued responsiveness, indeed, of Lucy's face was like
that of Wordsworth's Highland girl struggling with English. You felt her
'beating up against the wind,'--in the current, yet resisting it. Or
to take another comparison, her nature seemed to be at once stiff and
rich--like some heavy church stuff, shot with gold.
'Oh! these things are my snare,' said Eleanor, laughing--'If I have any
gift, it is for _chiffons_.'
'Any gift!' said Lucy wondering--'when you do so much for Mr. Manisty?'
Mrs. Burgoyne shrugged her shoulders.
'Ah! well--he wanted a secretary--and I happened to get the place,' she
said, in a more constrained voice.
'Miss Manisty told me how you helped him in the winter. And she and Mr.
Brooklyn--have--told me--other things--' said Lucy. She paused, colouring
deeply. But her eyes travelled timidly to the photographs on Mrs.
'Ah!--they told you that, did they?'--The speaker turned a little white.
'And you wonder--don't you?--that I can go on talking about frocks, and new
ways of doing one's hair?'
She moved away from Lucy, a touch of cold defensive dignity effacing all
her pliant sweetness.
Lucy followed and caught her hand.
'Oh no! no!'--she said--'it is only so brave and good of you--to be able
still--to take an interest--'
'Do I take it?' said Eleanor, scornfully, raising her other hand and
letting it fall.
Lucy was silenced. After a moment Eleanor looked round, calmly took the
photograph of the child from the table, and held it towards Lucy.
'He was just two--his birthday was four days before this was taken.
It's the picture I love best, because I last saw him like that--in his
night-gown. I was very ill that night--they wouldn't let me stay with my
husband--but after I left him, I came and rocked the baby and tucked him
up--and leant my face against his. He was so warm and sweet always in his
sleep. The touch of him--and the scent of him--his dear breath--and his
curls--and the moist little hands--sometimes they used to intoxicate me--to
give me life--like wine. They did me such good--that night.'
Her voice did not tremble. Tears softly found their way down Lucy's face.
And suddenly she stooped, and put her lips, tenderly, clingingly, to Mrs.
Eleanor smiled. Then she herself bent forward and lightly kissed the girl's
'Oh! I am not worthy either to have had him--or lost him--' she said
bitterly. There was a little pause, which Eleanor broke. 'Now really we
must go to Aunt Pattie--mustn't we?'
'Ah! here you are! Don't kill yourselves. Plenty of time--for us!
Listen--there's the bell--eight o'clock--now they open the doors.
Goodness!--Look at the rush--and those little Italian chaps tackling those
strapping priests. Go it, ye cripples!'
Lucy tamed her run to a quick walk, and Mr. Reggie took care of her, while
Manisty disappeared ahead with Mrs. Burgoyne, and Aunt Pattie fell to the
share of a certain Mr. Vanbrugh Neal, an elderly man tall and slim, and
of a singular elegance of bearing, who had joined them at the Piazza, and
seemed to be an old friend of Mr. Manisty's.
Lucy looked round her in bewilderment. Before the first stroke of the bell
the Piazza of St. Peter's had been thickly covered with freely moving
groups, all advancing in order upon the steps of the church. But as the
bell began to speak, there was a sudden charge mostly of young priests and
seminarists--black skirts flying, black legs leaping--across the open space
and up the steps.
'Reminds me of nothing so much'--said Reggie laughing back over his
shoulder at a friend behind--'as the charge of the Harrow boys at Lord's
last year--when they stormed the pavilion--did you see it?--and that little
Harrow chap saved the draw? I say!--they've broken the line!--and there'll
be a bad squash somewhere.'
And indeed the attacking priests had for a moment borne down the Italian
soldiers who were good-naturedly guarding and guiding the Pope's guests
from the entrance of the Piazza to the very door of the church. But the
little men--as they seemed to Lucy's eyes--recovered themselves in a
twinkling, threw themselves stoutly on the black gentry, like sheep dogs on
the sheep, worried them back into line, collared a few bold spirits here,
formed a new cordon there, till all was once more in tolerable order, and a
dangerous pressure on the central door was averted.
Meanwhile Lucy was hurried forward with the privileged crowd going to the
tribunes, towards the sacristy door on the south.
'Let's catch up Mrs. Burgoyne'--said the young man, looking ahead with some
anxiety--'Manisty's no use. He'll begin to moon and forget all about her. I
say!--Look at the building--and the sky behind it! Isn't it stunning?'
And they threw up a hasty glance as they sped along at the superb walls and
apses and cornices of the southern side--golden ivory or wax against the
blue.--The pigeons flew in white eddies above their heads; the April wind
flushed Lucy's cheek, and played with her black mantilla. All qualms were
gone. After her days of seclusion in the villa garden, she was passionately
conscious of this great Rome and its magic; and under her demure and rather
stately air, her young spirits danced and throbbed with pleasure.
'How that black lace stuff does become all you women!'--said Reggie
Brooklyn, throwing a lordly and approving glance at her and his cousin
Eleanor, as they all met and paused amid the crowd that was concentrating
itself on the sacristy door; and Lucy, instead of laughing at the
lad's airs, only reddened a little more brightly and found it somehow
sweet--April sweet--that a young man on this spring morning should admire
her; though after all, she was hardly more inclined to fall in love with
Reggie Brooklyn than with Manisty's dear collie puppy, that had been left
behind, wailing, at the villa.
At the actual door the young man quietly possessed himself of Mrs.
Burgoyne, while Manisty with an unconscious look of relief fell behind.
'And you, Miss Foster,--keep closer--my coat's all at your service--it'll
stand a pull. Don't you be swept away--and I'll answer for Mrs. Burgoyne.'
So on they hurried, borne along with the human current through passages and
corridors, part of a laughing, pushing, chatting crowd, containing all the
types that throng the Roman streets--English and American tourists, Irish
or German or English priests, monks white and brown, tall girls who wore
their black veils with an evident delight in the new setting thus given to
their fair hair and brilliant skins, beside older women to whom, on the
contrary, the dress had given a kind of unwonted repose and quietness of
look, as though for once they dared to be themselves in it, and gave up the
struggle with the years.
Reggie Brooklyn maintained a lively chatter all the time, mostly at
Manisty's expense. Eleanor Burgoyne first laughed at his sallies, then
gently turned her head in a pause of the general advance and searched the
crowd pressing at their heels. Lucy's eyes followed hers, and there far
behind, carried forward passively in a brown study, losing ground slightly
whenever it was possible, was Manisty. The fine significant face was turned
a little upward; the eyes were full of thoughts; he was at once the slave
of the crowd, and its master.
And across Eleanor's expression--unseen--there passed the slightest,
subtlest flash of tenderness and pride. She knew and understood him--she
* * * * *
At last the doors are passed. They are in the vast barricaded and
partitioned space, already humming with the talk and tread of
thousands,--the 'Tu es Petrus' overhead. Reggie Brooklyn would have hurried
them on in the general rush for the tribunes. But Mrs. Burgoyne laid a
restraining hand upon him. 'No--we mustn't separate,' she said, gently
peremptory. And for a few minutes Mr. Reggie in an anguish must needs see
the crowd flow past him, and the first seats of Tribune D filled. Then
Manisty appeared, lifting his eyebrows in a frowning wonder at the young
man's impatience;--and on they flew.
At last!--They are in the third row of Tribune D, close to the line by
which the Pope must pass, and to the platform from which he will deliver
the Apostolic Benediction. Reggie the unsatisfied, the idealist, grumbles
that they ought to have been in the very front. But Eleanor and Aunt Pattie
are well satisfied. They find their acquaintance all around them. It is a
general flutter of fans, and murmur of talk. Already people are standing on
their seats looking down on the rapidly filling church. In press the less
favoured thousands from the Piazza, through the Atrium and the Eastern
door--great sea of human life spreading over the illimitable nave behind
the two lines of Swiss and Papal Guards, in quick never-ending waves that
bewilder and dazzle the eye.
Lucy found the three hours' wait but a moment. The passing and re-passing
of the splendid officials in their Tudor or Valois dress; the great names,
'Colonna,' 'Barberini,' 'Savelli,' 'Borghese' that sound about her, as Mrs.
Burgoyne who knows everybody, at least by sight, laughs and points and
chats with her neighbour, Mr. Neal; the constant welling up of processions
from behind,--the Canons and Monsignori in their fur and lace tippets,
the red Cardinals with their suites; the entry of the Guardia Nobile,
splendid, incredible, in their winged Achillean helmets above their Empire
uniforms--half Greek, half French, half gods, half dandies, the costliest
foolishest plaything that any court can show; and finally as the time draws
on, the sudden thrills and murmurs that run through the church, announcing
the great moment which still, after all, delays: these things chase the
minutes, blot out, the sense of time.
Meanwhile, again and again, Lucy, the sedate, the self-controlled, cannot
prevent herself from obeying a common impulse with those about her--from
leaping on her chair--straining her white throat--her eyes. Then a handsome
chamberlain would come by, lifting a hand in gentle protest, motioning to
the ladies--'De grace, mesdames--mesdames, de _grace_!--' Or angry murmurs
would rise from those few who had not the courage or the agility to
mount--'_Giu! giu!_--Descendez, mesdames!--qu'est-ce que c'est done que ces
manieres?'--and Lucy, crimson and abashed, would descend in haste, only to
find a kind Irish priest behind smiling at her,--prompting her,--'Never
mind them!--take no notice!--who is it you're harmin'?'--And her excitement
would take him at his word--for who should know if not a priest?
And from these risky heights she looked down sometimes on
Manisty--wondering where was emotion, sympathy. Not a trace of them! Of
all their party he alone was obviously and hideously bored by the long
wait. He leant back in his chair, with folded arms, staring at the
ceiling--yawning--fidgetting. At last he took out a small Greek book from
his pocket, and hung over it in a moody absorption. Once only, when a
procession of the inferior clergy went by, he looked at it closely, turning
afterwards to Mrs. Burgoyne with the emphatic remark: 'Bad faces!--aren't
they?--almost all of them?'
Yet Lucy could see that even here in this vast crowd, amid the hubbub and
bustle, he still counted, was still remembered. Officials came to lean
and chat across the rope; diplomats stopped to greet him on the way to
the august seats beyond the Confession. His manner in return showed no
particular cordiality; Lucy thought it languid, even cold. She was struck
with the difference between his mood of the day, and that brilliant and
eager homage he had lavished on the old Cardinal in the villa garden. What
a man of change and fantasy! Here it was he _qui tendait la joue_. Cold,
distant, dreamy--one would have thought him either indifferent or hostile
to the whole great pageant and its meanings.
Only once did Lucy see him bestir himself--show a gleam of animation.
A white-haired priest, all tremulous dignity and delicacy, stood for a
moment beside the rope-barrier, waiting for a friend. Manisty bent over and
touched him on the arm. The old man turned. The face was parchment, the
cheeks cavernous. But in the blue eyes there was an exquisite innocence and
Manisty smiled at him. His manner showed a peculiar almost a boyish
deference. 'You join us afterwards--at lunch?'
'Yes, yes.' The old priest beamed and nodded; then his friend came up and
he was carried on.
* * * * *
'A quarter to eleven,' said Manisty with a yawn, looking at his watch.
He sprang to his feet. In an instant half the occupants of Tribune D
were on their chairs, Lucy and Eleanor among them. A roar came up the
church--passionate--indescribable. Lucy held her breath.
There--there he is,--the old man! Caught in a great shaft of sunlight
striking from south to north, across the church, and just touching the
chapel of the Holy Sacrament--the Pope emerges. The white figure, high
above the crowd, sways from side to side; the hand upraised gives the
benediction. Fragile, spiritual as is the apparition, the sunbeam refines,
subtilises, spiritualises it still more. It hovers like a dream above the
vast multitudes--surely no living man!--but thought, history, faith, taking
shape; the passion of many hearts revealed. Up rushes the roar towards
the Tribunes. 'Did you hear?' said Manisty to Mrs. Burgoyne, lifting a
smiling brow, as a few Papalino cries--'Viva il Papa Re'--make themselves
heard among the rest. Eleanor's thin face turns to him with responsive
excitement. But she has seen these things before. Instinctively her eyes
wander perpetually to Manisty's, taking their colour, their meaning from
his. It is not the spectacle itself that matters to her--poor Eleanor!
One heart-beat, one smile of the man beside her outweighs it all. And he,
roused at last from his nonchalance, watching hawk-like every movement of
the figure and the crowd, is going mentally through a certain page of his
book, repeating certain phrases--correcting here--strengthening there.
Lucy alone--the alien and Puritan Lucy--Lucy surrenders herself completely.
She betrays nothing, save by the slightly parted lips, and the flutter of
the black veil fastened on her breast; but it is as though her whole inner
being were dissolving, melting away, in the flame of the moment. It is her
first contact with decisive central things, her first taste of the great
world-play, as Europe has known it and taken part in it, at least since
Charles the Great.
Yet, as she looks, within the visible scene, there opens another: the
porch of a plain, shingled house, her uncle sitting within it, his pipe
and his newspaper on his knee, sunning himself in the April morning. She
passes behind him, looks into the stiff leaf-scented parlour--at the
framed Declaration of Independence on the walls, the fresh boughs in the
fire-place, the Bible on its table, the rag-carpet before the hearth.
She breathes the atmosphere of the house; its stern independence and
simplicities; the scorns and the denials, the sturdy freedoms both of
body and soul that it implies--conscience the only master--vice-master
for God, in this His house of the World. And beyond--as her lids sink for
an instant on the pageant before her--she hears, as it were, the voices
of her country, so young and raw and strong!--she feels within her the
throb of its struggling self-assertive life; she is conscious too of the
uglinesses and meannesses that belong to birth and newness, to growth and
fermentation. Then, in a proud timidity--as one who feels herself an alien
and on sufferance--she hangs again upon the incomparable scene. This is St.
Peter's; there is the dome of Michael Angelo; and here, advancing towards
her amid the red of the cardinals, the clatter of the guards, the tossing
of the flabellae, as though looking at her alone--the two waxen fingers
raised for her alone--is the white-robed triple-crowned Pope.
She threw herself upon the sight with passion, trying to penetrate and
possess it; and it baffled her, passed her by. Some force of resistance
within her cried out to it that she was not its subject--rather its enemy!
And august, unheeding, the great pageant swept on. Close, close to her now!
Down sink the crowd upon the chairs; the heads fall like corn before the
wind. Lucy is bending too. The Papal chair borne on the shoulders of the
guards is now but a few feet distant; vaguely she wonders that the old
man keeps his balance, as he clings with one frail hand to the arm of the
chair, rises incessantly--and blesses with the other. She catches the
very look and meaning of the eyes--the sharp long line of the closed and
toothless jaw. Spirit and spectre;--embodying the Past, bearing the clue to
'_Yeux de police!_'--laughed Reggie Brooklyn to Mrs. Burgoyne as the
procession passed--'don't you know?--that's what they say.'
Manisty bent forward. The flush of excitement was still on his cheek, but
he threw a little nod to Brooklyn, whose gibe amused him.
Lucy drew a long breath--and the spell was broken.
* * * * *
Nor was it again renewed, in the same way. The Pope and his cortege
disappeared behind the Confession, behind the High Altar, and presently,
Lucy, craning her neck to the right, could see dimly in the furthest
distance, against the apse, and under the chair of St. Peter, the chair of
Leo XIII. and the white shadow, motionless, erect, within it, amid a court
of cardinals and diplomats. As for the mass that followed, it had its
moments of beauty for the girl's wondering or shrinking curiosity, but also
its moments of weariness and disillusion. From the latticed choir-gallery,
placed against one of the great piers of the dome, came unaccompanied
music--fine, pliant, expressive--like a single voice moving freely in
the vast space; and at the High Altar, Cardinals and Bishops crossed and
recrossed, knelt and rose, offered and put off the mitre; amid wreaths of
incense, long silences, a few chanted words; sustained, enfolded all the
while by the swelling tide of _Gloria_, or _Sanctus_.
At last--the elevation!--and at the bell the whole long double line of
soldiers, from the Pope's chair at the western end to the eastern door,
with a rattle of arms that ran from end to end of the church, dropped on
one knee--saluted. Then, crac!--and as they had dropped, they rose, the
stiff white breeches and towering helmets of the Guardia Nobile, the
red and yellow of the Swiss, the red and blue of the Papal guards--all
motionless as before. It was like the movement of some gigantic toy. And
who or what else took any notice? Lucy looked round amazed. Even the Irish
priest behind her had scarcely bowed his head. Nobody knelt. Most people
were talking. Eleanor Burgoyne indeed had covered her face with her long
delicate fingers. Manisty leaning back in his chair, looked up for an
instant at the rattle of the soldiers, then went back sleepily to his Greek
book. Yet Lucy felt her own heart throbbing. Through the candelabra of the
High Altar beneath the dome, she can see the moving figures of the priests,
the wreaths of incense ascending. The face of the celebrant Cardinal,
which had dropped out of sight, reappears. Since it was last visible,
according to Catholic faith, the great act of Catholic worship has been
accomplished--the Body and Blood are there--God has descended, has
mingled with a mortal frame. And who cares? Lucy looks round her at the
good-humoured indifference, vacancy, curiosity, of the great multitude
filling the nave; and her soul frees itself in a rush of protesting
* * * * *
One more 'moment' however there was,--very different from the great moment
of the entry, yet beautiful. The mass is over, and a temporary platform has
been erected between the Confession and the nave. The Pope has been placed
upon it, and is about to chant the Apostolic Benediction.
The old man is within thirty feet of Manisty, who sits nearest to the
barrier. The red Cardinal holding the service-book, the groups of guards,
clergy and high officials, every detail of the Pope's gorgeous dress, nay
every line of the wrinkled face, and fleshless hands, Lucy's eyes command
them all. The quavering voice rises into the sudden silence of St. Peter's.
Fifty thousand people hush every movement, strain their ears to listen.
Ah! how weak it is! Surely the effort is too great for a frame so
enfeebled, so ancient. It should not have been exacted--allowed. Lucy's
ears listen painfully for the inevitable break. But no!--The Pope draws a
long sigh--the sigh of weakness,--('Ah! poveretto!' says a woman, close to
Lucy, in a transport of pity),--then once more attempts the chant--sighs
again--and sings. Lucy's face softens and glows; her eyes fill with tears.
Nothing more touching, more triumphant, than this weakness and this
perseverance. Fragile indomitable face beneath the Papal crown! Under the
eyes of fifty thousand people the Pope sighs like a child, because he is
weak and old, and the burden of his office is great; but in sighing, keeps
a perfect simplicity, dignity, courage. Not a trace of stoical concealment;
but also not a trace of flinching. He sings to the end, and St. Peter's
listens in a tender hush.
Then there seems to be a moment of collapse. The long straight lips close
as though with a snap, the upper jaw protruding; the eyelids drop; the
emaciated form sinks upon itself.--
But his guards raise the chair, and the Pope's trance passes away. He opens
his eyes, and braces himself for the last effort. Whiter than the gorgeous
cope which falls about him, he raises himself, clinging to the chair; he
lifts the skeleton fingers of his partially gloved hand; his look searches
Lucy fell on her knees, a sob in her throat. When the Pope had passed, some
influence made her look up. She met the eyes of Edward Manisty. They were
instantly withdrawn, but not before the mingling of amusement and triumph
in them had brought the quick red to the girl's cheek.
* * * * *
And outside, in the Piazza, amid the out-pouring thousands, as they were
rushing for their carriage, Manisty's stride overtook her.
'Well--you were impressed?'--he said, looking at her sharply.
The girl's pride was somehow nettled by his tone.
'Yes--but by the old man--more than by the Pope,'--she said quickly.
'I hope not,' he said, with emphasis.--'Otherwise you would have missed the
'Why?--Mayn't one feel it was pathetic, and touching--'
'No--not in the least!' he said, impatiently. 'What does the man himself
matter, or his age?--That's all irrelevant,--foolish sentiment. What makes
these ceremonies so tremendous is that there is no break between that man
and Peter--or Linus, if you like--it comes to the same thing:--that the
bones, if not of Peter, at any rate of men who might have known Peter,
are there, mingled with the earth beneath his feet--that he stands there
recognised by half the civilised world as Peter's successor--that five
hundred, a thousand years hence, the vast probability is there will still
be a Pope in St. Peter's to hand on the same traditions, and make the same
'But if you don't acknowledge the tradition or the claims!--why shouldn't
you feel just the human interest?'
'Oh, of course, if you want to take the mere vulgar, parochial view--the
halfpenny interviewer's view--why, you must take it!' he said, almost with
violence, shrugging his shoulders.
Lucy's eyes sparkled. There was always something of the overgrown,
provoking child in him, when he wanted to bear down an opinion or feeling
that displeased him. She would have liked to go on walking and wrangling
with him, for the great ceremony had excited her, and made it easier
for her to talk. But at that moment Mrs. Burgoyne's voice was heard
in front--'Joy! there is the carriage, and Reggie has picked up
another.--Edward, take Aunt Pattie through--we'll look after ourselves.'
* * * * *
And soon the whole party were driving in two of the little Roman victorias
through streets at the back of the Capitol, and round the base of the
Palatine, to the Aventine, where it appeared they were to lunch at an
open-air _trattoria_, recommended by Mr. Brooklyn.
Mrs. Burgoyne, Lucy and Mr. Vanbrugh Neal found themselves together. Mrs.
Burgoyne and Mr. Neal talked of the function, and Lucy, after a few shy
expressions of gratitude and pleasure, fell silent, and listened. But she
noticed very soon that Mrs. Burgoyne was talking absently. Amid the black
that fell about her slim tallness, she was more fragile, more pale than
ever; and it seemed to Lucy that her eyes were dark with a fatigue that had
not much to do with St. Peter's. Suddenly indeed, she bent forward and said
in a lowered voice to Mr. Neal--
'You have read it?'
He too bent forward, with a smile not quite free from embarrassment--
'Yes, I have read it--I shall have some criticisms to make.--You won't
She threw up her hands--
'I think I must--for the good of the book,'--he said reluctantly. 'Very
likely I'm all wrong. I can only look at it as one of the public. But
that's what he wants,'--what you both want--isn't it?'
She assented. Then she turned her head away, looked out of the carriage and
said no more. But her face had drooped and dimmed, all in a moment; the
lines graven in it long years before, by grief and delicacy, came out with
a singular and sudden plainness.
The man sitting opposite to her was of an aspect little less distinguished
than hers. He had a long face, with a high forehead, set in grizzled hair,
and a mouth and chin of peculiar refinement. The shortness of the chin gave
a first impression of weakness, which however was soon undone by the very
subtle and decided lines in which, so to speak, the mouth, and indeed the
face as a whole, were drawn. All that Lucy knew of him was that he was a
Cambridge don, a man versed in classical archaeology who was an old friend
and tutor of Mr. Manisty's. She had heard his name mentioned several times
at the Villa, and always with an emphasis that marked it out from other
names. And she understood from various signs that before finally passing
his proofs for publication, Mr. Manisty had taken advantage of his old
friend's coming to Rome to ask his opinion on them.
How brilliant was the April day on the high terrace of the Aventine
_trattoria_! As Lucy and Aunt Pattie stood together beside the little
parapet looking out through the sprays of banksia rose that were already
making a white canopy above the restaurant tables, they had before them
the steep sides and Imperial ruins of the Palatine; the wonderful group of
churches on the Coelian; the low villa-covered ridges to the right melting
into the Campagna; and far away, the blue, Sabine mountains--'suffused with
sunny air'--that look down with equal kindness on the refuge of Horace, and
the oratory of St. Benedict. What sharpness of wall and tree against the
pearly sky--what radiance of blossom in the neighbouring gardens--what ruin
everywhere, yet what indomitable life!
Beneath on a lower terrace, Manisty and Mr. Vanbrugh Neal were walking up
'He's such a clever man,' sighed Aunt Pattie, as she looked down upon them.
'But I do hope he won't discourage Edward.'
Whereupon she glanced not at Manisty but at Eleanor, who was sitting near
them, pretending to talk to Reggie Brooklyn--but in reality watching the
Presently some other guests arrived, and amongst them the tall and
fine-faced priest who had spoken to Manisty in St. Peter's. He came in very
shyly. Eleanor Burgoyne received him, made him sit by her, and took charge
of him till Manisty should appear. But he seemed to be ill at ease with
ladies. He buried his hands in the sleeves of his soutane, and would answer
little more than Yes and No.
'There'll be a great fuss about him soon,' whispered Aunt Pattie in
Lucy's ear--'I don't quite understand--but he's written a book that's
been condemned; and the question is, will he submit? They give you a year
apparently to decide in. Edward says the book's quite right--and yet they
were quite right to condemn him. It's very puzzling!'
When Manisty and Mr. Neal answered to the call of luncheon, Mr. Neal
mounted the steps leading to the open-air restaurant, with the somewhat
sheepish air of the man who has done his duty, and is inclined to feel
himself a meddler for his pains. The luncheon itself passed without gaiety.
Manisty was either moodily silent, or engaged in discussions with the
strange priest, Father Benecke, as to certain incidents connected with a
South German University, which had lately excited Catholic opinion. He
scarcely spoke to any of the ladies--least of all to Eleanor Burgoyne. She
and Aunt Pattie must needs make all the greater efforts to carry off the
festa. Aunt Pattie chattered nervously like one in dread of a silence,
while Eleanor was merry with young Brooklyn, and courteous to the other
guests whom Manisty had invited--a distinguished French journalist for
instance, an English member of Parliament and his daughter, and an Italian
senator with an English wife.
Nevertheless when the party was breaking up, Reggie who had thrown her
occasional glances of disquiet, approached Lucy Foster and said to her in a
low voice, twirling an angry moustache--
'Mrs. Burgoyne is worn out. Can't you look after her?'
Lucy, a little scared by so much responsibility, did her best. She
dissuaded Aunt Pattie from dragging Mrs. Burgoyne through an afternoon
of visits. She secured an early train for the return to Marinata, and so
earned a special and approving smile from Mr. Reggie, when at last he had
settled the three ladies safely in their carriage, and was raising his hat
to them on the platform. Manisty and Mr. Neal were to follow by a later
No sooner were they speeding through the Campagna than Eleanor sank back in
her corner with a long involuntary sigh.
'My dear--you are very tired!'--exclaimed Miss Manisty.
Mrs. Burgoyne took off the hat which had by now replaced the black veil of
the morning, and closed her eyes. Her attitude by its sad unresistingness
appealed to Lucy as it had done once before. And it was borne in upon her
that what she saw was not mere physical fatigue, but a deep discouragement
of mind and heart. As to the true sources of it Lucy could only guess. She
guessed at any rate that they were somehow connected with Mr. Manisty and
his book; and she was indignant again--she hardly knew why. The situation
suggested to her a great devotion ill-repaid, a friendship, of which the
strong tyrannous man took advantage. Why should he behave as though all
that happened ill with regard to his book was somehow Mrs. Burgoyne's
fault? Claim all her time and strength--overstrain and overwork her--and
then make her tacitly responsible if anything went amiss! It was like the
petulant selfishness of his character. Miss Manisty ought to interfere!
* * * * *
Dreary days followed at the Villa.
It appeared that Mr. Vanbrugh Neal had indeed raised certain critical
objections both to the facts and to the arguments of one whole section of
the book, and that Manisty had been unable to resist them. The two men
would walk up and down the ilex avenues of the garden for hours together,
Mr. Neal gentle, conciliating, but immovable; Manisty violent and excited,
but always submitting in the end. He would defend his point of view with
obstinacy, with offensiveness even, for an afternoon, and then give way,
with absolute suddenness. Lucy learnt with some astonishment that beneath
his outward egotism he was really amazingly dependent on the opinions of
two or three people, of whom Mr. Neal seemed to be one. This dependence
turned out indeed to be even excessive. He would make a hard fight for his
own way; but in the end he was determined that what he wrote should please
his friends, and please a certain public. At bottom he was a rhetorician
writing for this public--the slave of praise, and eager for fame, which
made his complete indifference as to what people thought of his actions
all the more remarkable. He lived to please himself; he wrote to be read;
and he had found reason to trust the instinct of certain friends in this
respect, Vanbrugh Neal among them.
To do him justice, indeed, along with his dependence on Vanbrugh Neal's
opinion, there seemed to go a rather winning dependence on his affection.
Mr. Neal was apparently a devout Anglican, of a delicate and scrupulous
type. His temper was academic, his life solitary; rhetoric left him
unmoved, and violence of statement caused him to shiver. To make the State
religious was his dearest wish. But he did not forget that to accomplish
it you must keep the Church reasonable. A deep, though generally silent
enthusiasm for the Anglican _Via Media_ possessed him; and, like the Newman
of Oriel, he was inclined to look upon the appearance of Antichrist as
coincident with the Council of Trent. In England it seemed to him that
persecution of the Church was gratuitous and inexcusable; for the Church
had never wronged the State. In Italy, on the contrary, supposing the State
had been violent, it could plead the earlier violences of the Church. He
did not see how the ugly facts could be denied; nor did a candid unveiling
of them displease his Anglican taste.
'You should have made a study--and you have written a pamphlet,' he would
say, with that slow shake of the head which showed him inexorable. 'Why
have you given yourself to the Jesuits? You were an Englishman and an
outsider--enormous advantages! Why have you thrown them away?'
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