Mrs. Humphry Ward
Part 3 out of 9
'One must have information!--I merely went to headquarters.'
'You have paid for it too dear. Your book is a plea for superstition!'
Whereupon a flame in Manisty's black eyes, and a burst in honour of
superstition, which set the garden paths echoing.
But Neal pushed quietly on; untiring, unappeasable; pointing to a
misstatement here, an exaggeration there, till Manisty was in a roar of
argument, furious half with his friend, half with himself.
Meanwhile if the writer bore attack hardly, the man of piety found it still
harder to endure the praise of piety. When Manisty denounced irresponsible
science and free thought, as the enemies of the State, which must live,
and can only live by religion; when he asked with disdain 'what reasonable
man would nowadays weigh the membership of the Catholic church against
an opinion in geology or exegesis'; when he dwelt on the _easiness_
of faith,--which had nothing whatever to do with knowledge, and had,
therefore, no quarrel with knowledge; or upon the incomparable social power
of religion;--his friend grew restive. And while Manisty, intoxicated with
his own phrases, and fluencies, was alternately smoking and declaiming,
Neal with his grey hair, his tall spare form, and his air of old-fashioned
punctilium, would sit near, fixing the speaker with his pale-blue eyes,--a
little threateningly; always ready to shatter an exuberance, to check an
oratorical flow by some quick double-edged word that would make Manisty
trip and stammer; showing, too, all the time, by his evident shrinking, by
certain impregnable reserves, or by the banter that hid a feeling too keen
to show itself, how great is the gulf between a literary and a practical
Nevertheless, from the whole wrestle two facts emerged:--the pleasure which
these very dissimilar men took in each other's society; and that strange
ultimate pliancy of Manisty which lay hidden somewhere under all the surge
and froth of his vivacious rhetoric. Both were equally surprising to
Lucy Foster. How had Manisty ever attached himself to Vanbrugh Neal? For
Neal had a large share of the weaknesses of the student and recluse; the
failings, that is to say, of a man who had lived much alone, and found
himself driven to an old-maidish care of health and nerves, if a delicate
physique was to do its work. He had fads; and his fads were often
unexpected and disconcerting. One day he would not walk; another day he
would not eat; driving was out of the question, and the sun must be avoided
like the plague. Then again it was the turn of exercise, cold baths,
and hearty fare. It was all done with a grace that made his whims more
agreeable than other men's sense. But one might have supposed that such
claims on a friend's part would have annoyed a man of Manisty's equally
marked but very different peculiarities. Not at all. He was patience and
good temper itself on these occasions.
'Isn't he _bon enfant_?' Mr. Neal said once to Mrs. Burgoyne in Lucy's
presence, with a sudden accent of affection and emotion--on some occasion
when Manisty had borne the upsetting of a cherished plan for the afternoon
with quite remarkable patience.
'He has learnt how to spoil _you_!' said Eleanor, with a fluttering smile,
and an immediate change of subject. Lucy looking up, felt a little pang.
For nothing could he more curious than the change in Manisty's manner
towards the most constant of companions and secretaries. He had given up
all continuous work at his book; he talked now of indefinite postponement;
and it seemed as if with the change of plan Mrs. Burgoyne had dropped out
of the matter altogether. He scarcely consulted her indeed; he consulted
Mr. Neal. Mr. Neal often, moved by a secret chivalry, would insist upon
bringing her in to their counsels; Manisty immediately became unmanageable,
silent, and embarrassed. And how characteristic and significant was that
embarrassment of his! It was as though he had a grievance against her;
which however he could neither formulate for himself nor express to her.
On the other hand--perhaps inevitably--he began to take much more notice
of Lucy Foster, and to find talking with her an escape. He presently found
it amusing to 'draw' her; and subjects presented themselves in plenty. She
was now much less shy; and her secret disapproval gave her tongue. His
challenges and her replies became a feature of the day; Miss Manisty and
Mr. Neal began to listen with half-checked smiles, to relish the girl's
crisp frankness, and the quick sense of fun that dared to show itself now
that she was more at home.
'And how improved she is! That's like all the Americans--they're so
adaptable,'--Miss Manisty would think, as she watched her nephew in the
evenings teasing, sparring, or arguing with Lucy Foster--she so adorably
young and fresh, the new and graceful lines of the _coiffure_ that Eleanor
had forced upon her, defining the clear oval of the face and framing the
large eyes and pure brow. Her hands, perhaps, would be lightly clasped on
her white lap, their long fingers playing with some flower she had taken
from her belt. The lines of the girlish figure would be full of dignity and
strength. She might have been herself the young America, arguing, probing,
deciding for herself--refusing to be overawed or brow-beaten by the old
Eleanor meanwhile was unfailingly gracious both to Lucy and the others,
though perhaps the grace had in it sometimes a new note of distance, of
that delicate _hauteur_, which every woman of the world has at command. She
gave as much attention as ever--more than ever--to the fashioning of Lucy's
dresses; the girl was constantly pricked with compunction and shame on the
subject. Who was she, that Mrs. Burgoyne--so elegant and distinguished a
person--should waste so much time and thought upon her? But sometimes she
could not help seeing that Mrs. Burgoyne was glad of the occupation. Her
days had been full to the brim; they were now empty. She said nothing; she
took up the new books; she talked to and instructed the maids; but Lucy
divined a secret suffering.
* * * * *
One evening, about a week after Mr. Neal's arrival at the Villa, Manisty
was more depressed than usual. He had been making some attempts to
rearrange a certain section of his book which had fallen especially under
the ban of Neal's criticism. He had not been successful; and in the process
his discontent with one chapter had spread to several. In talking about the
matter to Vanbrugh Neal in the salon after dinner he broke out into some
expression of disgust as to the waste of time involved in much of his
work of the winter. The two friends were in a corner of the vast room;
and Manisty spoke in an undertone. But his voice had the carrying and
penetrating power of his personality.
Presently Eleanor Burgoyne rose, and softly approached Miss Manisty. 'Dear
Aunt Pattie--don't move'--she said, bending over her--'I am tired and will
go to bed.'
Manisty, who had turned at her movement, sprang up, and came to her.
'Eleanor! did we walk you too far this afternoon?'
She smiled, but hardly replied. He busied himself with gathering up her
possessions, and lit her candle at the side-table.
As she passed by him to the door, he looked at her furtively for a
moment,--hanging his head. Then he pressed her hand, and said so that only
she could hear--
'I should have kept my regrets to myself!'
She shook her head, with faint mockery.
'It would be the first time.'
Her hand dropped from his, and she passed out of sight. Manisty walked back
to his seat discomfited. He could not defend himself against the charges of
secret tyranny and abominable ill-humour that his conscience was pricking
him with. He was sorry--he would have liked to tell her so. And yet somehow
her very weakness and sweetness, her delicate uncomplainingness seemed only
to develope his own small egotisms and pugnacities.
* * * * *
That night--a night of rain and scirocco--Eleanor wrote in her
journal--'Will he ever finish the book? Very possibly it has been all a
mistake. Yet when he began it, he was in the depths. Whatever happens, it
has been his salvation.
'--Surely he will finish it? He cannot forego the effect he is almost sure
it will produce. But he will finish it with impatience and disgust; he is
out of love with it and all its associations. All that he was talking of
to-night represents what I had most share in,--the chapters which brought
us most closely together. How happy we were over them! And now, how
'It is curious--the animation with which he has begun to talk to Lucy
Foster. Pretty child! I like to feel that I have been the fairy god-mother,
dressing her for the ball. How little she knows what it means to be talked
to by him, to receive courtesies from him,--how many women would like to
be in her place. Yet now she is not shy; she has no alarms; she treats him
like an equal. If it were not ridiculous, one could be angry.
'She dislikes and criticises him, and he can have no possible understanding
of or sympathy with her. But she is a way out of embarrassment. How
fastidious and proud he is with women!--malicious too, and wilful. Often I
have wished him more generous--more kind.
'... In three weeks the anniversary will be here--the ninth. Why am I still
alive? How often have I asked myself that! Where is my place?--who needs
me?--My babe, if he still exists, is alone--there. And I still here. If I
had only had the courage to rejoin him! The doctors deceived me. They made
me think it could not be long. And now I am better--much better. If I were
happy I should be quite well.
'How weary seems this Italian spring!--the restlessness of this eternal
wind--the hot clouds that roll up from the Campagna. "Que vivre est
difficile, o mon coeur fatigue!"'
'I think it's lovely,' said Lucy in an embarrassed voice. 'And I just don't
know how to thank you--indeed I don't.'
She was standing inside the door of Mrs. Burgoyne's room, arrayed in the
white crepe gown with the touches of pale green and vivid black that
Eleanor had designed for her. Its flowing elegance made her positively a
stranger to herself. The two maids moreover who had attired her had been
intent upon a complete, an indisputable perfection. Her hat had been
carried off and retrimmed, her white gloves, her dainty parasol, the bunch
of roses at her belt--everything had been thought for; she had been allowed
a voice in nothing. And the result was extraordinary. The day before
she had been still a mere fresh-cheeked illustration of those 'moeurs
de province' which are to be found all over the world, in Burgundy and
Yorkshire no less and no more than in Vermont; to-day she had become what
others copy, the best of its kind--the 'fleeting flower' that 'blooms
for one day at the summit'--as the maids would no doubt have expressed
themselves, had they been acquainted with the works of Mr. Clough.
And thanks to that pliancy of her race, which Miss Manisty had discovered,
although she was shy in these new trappings, she was not awkward. She was
assimilating her new frocks, as she had already assimilated so many other
things, during her weeks at the villa--points of manner, of speech, of
mental perspective. Unconsciously she copied Mrs. Burgoyne's movements
and voice; she was learning to understand Manisty's paradoxes, and Aunt
Pattie's small weaknesses. She was less raw, evidently; yet not less
individual. Her provincialisms were dropping away; her character, perhaps,
was only emerging.
'Are you pleased with it?' she said timidly, as Mrs. Burgoyne bade her come
in, and she advanced towards that lady, who was putting on her own hat
before the glass.
Eleanor, with uplifted arms, turned and smiled.--
'Charming! You do one credit!--Is Aunt Pattie better?'
Lucy was conscious of a momentary chill. Mrs. Burgoyne had been so kind
and friendly during the whole planning and making of this dress, the girl,
perhaps, had inevitably expected a keener interest in its completion.
She answered in some discomfort:--
'I am afraid Miss Manisty's not coming. I saw Benson just now. Her headache
is still so bad.'
'Ah!'--said Eleanor, absently, rummaging among her gloves; 'this scirocco
weather doesn't suit her.'
Lucy fidgetted a little as she stood by the dressing-table, took up one
knick-knack after another and put it down. At last she said--
'Do you mind my asking you a question?'
Mrs. Burgoyne turned in surprise.
'By all means!--What can I do?'
'Do you mind telling me whether you think I ought to stay on here? Miss
Manisty is so kind--she wants me to stay till you leave, and then go to
Vallombrosa with you--next month. But--'
'Why "but"?'--said Mrs. Burgoyne, briskly, still in quest of rings,
handkerchief, and fan,--'unless you are quite tired of us.'
The girl smiled. 'I couldn't be that. But--I think you'll be tired of me!
And I've heard from the Porters of a quiet pension in Florence, where some
friends of theirs will be staying till the middle of June. They would let
me join them, till the Porters are ready for me.'
There was just a moment's pause before Eleanor said--
'Aunt Pattie would be very sorry. I know she counts on your going with her
to Vallombrosa. I must go home by the beginning of June, and I believe Mr.
Manisty goes to Paris.'
'And the book?' Lucy could not help saying, and then wished vehemently that
she had left the question alone.
'I don't understand'--said Mrs. Burgoyne, stooping to look for her
'I didn't--I didn't know whether it was still to be finished by the
'No one knows,--certainly not the author! But it doesn't concern me in the
'How can it be finished without you?' said Lucy wondering. Again she could
not restrain the spirit of eager championship which had arisen in her mind
of late; though she was tremulously uncertain as to how far she might
Certainly Mrs. Burgoyne showed a slight stiffening of manner.
'It will have to get finished without me, I'm afraid. Luckily I'm not
wanted; but if I were, I shall have no time for anything but my father this
Lucy was silent. Mrs. Burgoyne finished tying her shoes, then rose, and
'Besides--poor book! It wanted a change badly. So did I.--Now Mr. Neal will
see it through.'
* * * * *
Lucy went to say good-bye to Aunt Pattie before starting. Eleanor, left
alone, stood a moment, thoughtful, beside the dressing-table.
'She is sorry for me!' she said to herself, with a sudden, passionate
This was the Nemi day--the day of festival, planned a fortnight before, to
celebrate the end, the happy end of the book. It was to have been Eleanor's
special day--the sign and seal of that good fortune she had brought her
cousin and his work.
And now?--Why were they going? Eleanor hardly knew. She had tried to stop
it. But Reggie Brooklyn had been asked, and the Ambassador's daughter. And
Vanbrugh Neal had a fancy to see Nemi. Manisty, who had forgotten all that
the day was once to signify, had resigned himself to the expedition--he who
hated expeditions!--' because Neal wanted it.' There had not been a word
said about it during the last few days that had not brought gall and wound
to Eleanor. She, who thought she knew all that male selfishness was capable
of, was yet surprised and pricked anew, hour after hour, by Manisty's
casual sayings and assumptions.
It was like some gourd-growth in the night--the rise of this entangling
barrier between herself and him. She knew that some of it came from those
secret superstitions and fancies about himself and his work which she had
often detected in him. If a companion or a place, even a particular table
or pen had brought him luck, he would recur to them and repeat them with
eagerness. But once prove to him the contrary, and she had seen him drop
friend and pen with equal decision.
And as far as she could gather--as far as he would discuss the matter at
all--it was precisely with regard to those portions of the book where her
influence upon it had been strongest, that the difficulties put forward by
Mr. Neal had arisen.
Her lip quivered. She had little or no personal conceit. Very likely Mr.
Neal's criticisms were altogether just, and she had counselled wrongly.
When she thought of the old days of happy consultation, of that vibrating
sympathy of thought which had arisen between them, glorifying the winter
days in Rome, of the thousand signs in him of a deep, personal gratitude
Vanished!--vanished! The soreness of heart she carried about with
her, proudly concealed, had the gnawing constancy of physical pain.
While he!--Nothing seemed to her more amazing than the lapses in mere
gentlemanliness that Manisty could allow himself. He was capable on
occasion of all that was most refined and tender in feeling. But once jar
that central egotism of his, and he could behave incredibly! Through the
small actions and omissions of every day, he could express, if he chose, a
hardness of soul before which the woman shuddered.
Did he in truth mean her to understand, not only that she had been an
intruder, and an unlucky one, upon his work and his intellectual life, but
that any dearer hopes she might have based upon their comradeship were to
be once for all abandoned? She stood there, lost in a sudden tumult of
passionate pride and misery, which was crossed every now and then by a
strange and bitter wonder.
Each of us carries about with him a certain mental image of
himself--typical, characteristic--as we suppose; draped at any rate to our
fancy; round which we group the incidents of life. Eleanor saw herself
always as the proud woman; it is a guise in which we are none of us loth
to masquerade. Haughtily dumb and patient during her married years; proud
morally, socially, intellectually; finding in this stiffening of the self
her only defence against the ugly realities of daily life. Proud too in her
loneliness and grief--proud of her very grief, of her very capacity for
suffering, of all the delicate shades of thought and sorrow which furnished
the matter of her secret life, lived without a sign beside the old father
whose coarser and commoner pride took such small account of hers!
And now--she seemed to herself to be already drinking humiliation, and
foreseeing ever deeper draughts of it to come. She, who had never begged
for anything, was in the mood to see her whole existence as a refused
petition, a rejected gift. She had offered Edward Manisty her all of
sympathy and intelligence, and he was throwing it back lightly, inexorably
upon her hands. Her thin cheek burnt; but it was the truth. She annoyed and
wearied him; and he had shaken her off; her, Eleanor Burgoyne! She did not
know herself. Her inmost sense of identity was shaken.
She leant her head an instant against the frame of the open window, closing
her tired eyes upon the great Campagna below her. A surge of rebellious
will passed through her. Always submission, patience, silence,--till now!
But there are moments when a woman must rouse herself, and fight--must not
accept, but make, her fate.
Jealous! Was that last heat and ignominy of the soul to be hers too? She
was to find it a threat and offence that he should spend some of the
evenings that now went so heavily, talking with this girl,--this nice
simple girl, whom she had herself bade him cultivate, whom she had herself
brought into notice, rubbing off her angles,--drilling her into beauty? The
very notion was madness and absurdity. It degraded her in her own eyes. It
was the measure of her own self-ignorance. She--resign him at the first
threat of another claim! The passionate life of her own heart amazed and
The clock in the salon struck. She started, and went to straighten her veil
at the glass. What would the afternoon bring her? Something it should bring
her. The Nemi days of the winter were shrined in memory--each with its
halo. Let her put out her full strength again, and now, before it was too
late--before he had slipped too far away from her.
The poor heart beat hotly against the lace of her dress. What did she
intend or hope for? She only knew that this might be one of her last
chances with him--that the days were running out--and the moment of
separation approached. Her whole nature was athirst, desperately athirst
for she knew not what. Yet something told her that among these ups and
downs of daily temper and fortune there lay strewn for her the last chances
of her life.
* * * * *
'Please, ma'am, will you go in for a moment to Miss Manisty?'
The voice was Benson's, who had waylaid Mrs. Burgoyne in the salon.
From the shadows of her dark room Aunt Pattie raised a wan face.
'Eleanor!--what do you think?'--
Eleanor ran to her. Miss Manisty handed her a telegram which read as
'Your letter arrived too late to alter arrangements. Coming to-morrow--two
or three nights--discuss plans.--ALICE.'
Eleanor let her hand drop, and the two ladies looked at each other in
'But you told her you couldn't receive her here?'
'Several times over. Edward will be in despair. How are we to have her
here with Miss Foster? Her behaviour the last two months has been too
Aunt Pattie fell back a languid little heap upon her pillows. Eleanor
looked almost equally disconcerted.
'Have you told Edward?'
'No,' said Aunt Pattie miserably, raising a hand to her aching head, as
though to excuse her lack of courage.
'Shall I tell him?'
'It's too bad to put such things on you.'
'No, not at all. But I won't tell him now. It would spoil the day. Some
time before the evening.'
Aunt Pattie showed an aspect of relief.
'Do whatever you think best. It's very good of you--'
'Not at all. Dear Aunt Pattie!--lie still. By the way--has she anyone with
'Only her maid--the one person who can manage her at all. That poor lady,
you know, who tried to be companion, gave it up some time ago. Where shall
we put her?'
'There are the two east rooms. Shall I tell Andreina to get them ready?'
Aunt Pattie acquiesced, with a sound rather like a groan.
'There is no chance still of stopping her?' said Eleanor, moving away.
'The telegram gives no address but Orte station,' said Aunt Pattie wearily;
'she must have sent it on her journey.'
'Then we must be prepared. Don't fret--dear Aunt Pattie!--we'll help you
Eleanor stood a moment in the salon, thinking.
Unlucky! Manisty's eccentric and unmanageable sister had been for many
years the secret burden of his life and Aunt Pattie's. Eleanor had been a
witness of the annoyance and depression with which he had learnt during the
winter that she was in Italy. She knew something of the efforts that had
been made to keep her away from the villa.--
He would be furiously helpless and miserable under the
infliction.--Somehow, her spirits rose.--
She went to the door of the salon, and heard the carriage drive up that was
to take them to Nemi. Across Manisty's room, she saw himself on the balcony
lounging and smoking till the ladies should appear. The blue lake with its
green shores sparkled beyond him. The day was brightening. Certainly--let
the bad news wait!
* * * * *
As they drove along the Galleria di Sotto, Manisty seemed to be
preoccupied. The carriage had interrupted him in the midst of reading a
long letter which he still held crumpled in his hand.
At last he said abruptly to Eleanor--'Benecke's last chance is up. He is
summoned to submit next week at latest.'
'He tells you so?'
'Yes. He writes me a heart-broken letter.'
'Poor, poor fellow! It's all the Jesuits' doing. Mr. Neal told me the whole
'Oh! it's tyranny of course. And the book's only a fraction of the
truth,--a little Darwinian yeast leavening a lump of theology. But they're
quite right. They can't help it.'
Eleanor looked at Lucy Foster and laughed.
'Dangerous to say those things before Miss Foster.'
'Does Miss Foster know anything about it?'--he said coolly.
Lucy hastily disclaimed any knowledge of Father Benecke and his affairs.
'They're very simple'--said Manisty. 'Father Benecke is a priest, but also
a Professor. He published last year a rather Liberal book--very mildly
liberal--some evolution--some Biblical criticism--just a touch! And a good
deal of protest against the way in which the Jesuits are ruining Catholic
University education in Germany. Lord! more than enough. They put his book
on the Index within a month; he has had a year's grace to submit in; and
now, if the submission is not made within a week or so, he will be first
suspended, and then--excommunicated.'
'Who's "they"? 'said Lucy.
'Oh! the Congregation of the Index--or the people who set them on.'
'Is the book a bad book?'
'Quite the contrary.'
'And you're pleased?'
'I think the Papacy is keeping up discipline--and is not likely to go under
He turned to her with his teasing laugh and was suddenly conscious of her
new elegance. Where was the 'Sunday school teacher'? Transformed!--in five
weeks--into this vision that was sitting opposite to him? Really, women
were too wonderful! His male sense felt a kind of scorn for the plasticity
of the sex.
'He has asked your opinion?' said Lucy, pursuing the subject.
'Yes. I told him the book was excellent--and his condemnation certain.'
Lucy bit her lip.
'Who did it?'
'And you defend them?'
'Of course!--They're the only gentlemen in Europe who thoroughly understand
their own business.'
'What a business!' said Lucy, breathing quick.--'To rush on every little
bit of truth they see and stamp it out!'
'Like any other dangerous firework,--your simile is excellent.'
'Dangerous!' She threw back her head.--'To the blind and the cripples.'
'Who are the larger half of mankind. Precisely.'
She hesitated, then could not restrain herself.
'But _you're_ not concerned?'
'I? Oh dear no. I can be trusted with fireworks. Besides I'm not a
'Is that fair?--to stand outside slavery--and praise it?'
'Why not?--if it suits my purpose?'
The girl was silent. Manisty glanced at Eleanor; she caught the mischievous
laugh in his eyes, and lightly returned it. It was his old comrade's look,
come back. A warmer, more vital life stirred suddenly through all her
veins; the slight and languid figure drew itself erect; her senses told
her, hurriedly, for the first time that the May sun, the rapidly freshening
air, and the quick movement of the carriage were all physically delightful.
How fast, indeed, the spring was conquering the hills! As they passed over
the great viaduct at Aricia, the thick Chigi woods to the left masked the
deep ravine in torrents of lightest foamiest green; and over the vast plain
to the right, stretching to Ardea, Lanuvium and the sea, the power of the
reawakening earth, like a shuttle in the loom, was weaving day by day its
web of colour and growth, the ever brightening pattern of crop, and grass
and vine. The beggars tormented them on the approach to Genzano, as they
tormented of old Horace and Maecenas; and presently the long falling street
of the town, with its multitudes of short, wiry, brown-faced folk, its
clatter of children and mules, its barbers and wine shops, brought them in
sight again of the emerald-green Campagna, and the shiny hazes over the
sea. In front rose the tower-topped hill of Monte Giove, marking the site
of Corioli; and just as they turned towards Nemi the Appian Way ran across
their path. Overhead, a marvellous sky with scudding veils of white cloud.
The blur and blight of the scirocco had vanished without rain, under
a change of wind. An all-blessing, all-penetrating sun poured upon the
stirring earth. Everywhere fragments and ruins--ghosts of the great
past--yet engulfed, as it were, and engarlanded by the active and fertile
And now they were to follow the high ridge above the deep-sunk lake, toward
Nemi on its farther side--Nemi with its Orsini tower, grim and tall, rising
on its fortress rock, high over the lake and what was once the thick grove
or 'Nemus' of the Goddess, mantling the proud white of her inviolate
'Look!'--slid Eleanor, touching Lucy's hand. 'There's the niched wall--and
the platform of the temple.'
And Lucy, bending eager brows, saw across the lake a line of great
recesses, overgrown and shadowy against the steep slopes or cliffs of the
crater, and in front of them a flat space, with one farm-shed upon it.
In the crater-wall, just behind and above the temple-site, was a black
vertical cleft. Eleanor pointed it out to Manisty.
'Do you remember we never explored it? But the spring must be
Manisty lazily said he didn't know.
'Don't imagine you will be let off,' said Eleanor, laughing. 'We have
settled every other point at Nemi. This is left for to-day. It will make a
scramble after tea.'
'You will find it further than you think,' said Manisty, measuring the
'So it was somewhere on that terrace he died--poor priest!'--said Lucy,
Manisty, who was walking beside the carriage, turned towards her. Her
little speech flattered him. But he laughed.
'I wonder how much it was worth--that place--in hard cash,' he said, drily.
'No doubt that was the secret of it.'
Lucy smiled--unwillingly. They were mounting a charming road high above the
lake. Stretching between them and the lake were steep olive gardens and
vineyards; above them light half-fledged woods climbed to the sky. In the
vineyards the fresh red-brown earth shone amid the endless regiments of
vines, just breaking into leaf; daisies glittered under the olives; and
below, on a mid-way crag, a great wild-cherry, sun-touched, flung its
boughs and blossoms, a dazzling pearly glory, over the dark blue hollow of
And on the farther side, the high, scooped-out wall of the crater rose
rich and dark above the temple-site. How white--_white_--it must have
shone!--thought Lucy. Her imagination had been caught by the priest's
story. She saw Nemi for the first time as one who had seen it before.
Timidly she looked at the man walking beside the carriage. Strange! She no
longer disliked him as she had done, no longer felt it impossible that he
should have written the earlier book which had been so dear to her. Was it
that she had seen him chastened and depressed of late--had realised the
comparative harmlessness of his vanity, the kindness and docility he could
show to a friend? Ah no!--if he had been kind for one friend, he had been
difficult and ungrateful for another. The thinness of Eleanor's cheek, the
hollowness of her blue eye accused him. But even here the girl's inner mind
had begun to doubt and demur. After all did she know much--or anything--of
their real relation?
Certainly this afternoon he was a delightful companion. That phrase which
Vanbrugh Neal had applied to him in Lucy's hearing, which had seemed to her
so absurd, began after all to fit. He was _bon enfant_ both to Eleanor and
to her on this golden afternoon. He remembered Eleanor's love for broom and
brought her bunches of it from the steep banks; he made affectionate mock
of Neal's old-maidish ways; he threw himself with ejaculations, joyous,
paradoxical, violent, on the unfolding beauty of the lake and the spring;
and throughout he made them feel his presence as something warmly strong
and human, for all his provoking defects, and that element of the
uncommunicated and unexplained which was always to be felt in him. Eleanor
began to look happier and younger than she had looked for days. And Lucy
wondered why the long ascent to Nemi was so delightful; why the scirocco
seemed to have gone from the air, leaving so purpureal and divine a light
on mountain and lake and distance.
* * * * *
When they arrived at Nemi, Manisty as usual showed that he knew nothing of
the practical arrangements of the day, which were always made for him by
'_What_ am I to do with these?' he said, throwing his hands in despair
towards the tea-baskets in the carriage.--'We can't drive beyond this--And
how are we to meet the others?--when do they come?--why aren't they here?'
He turned with peremptory impatience to Eleanor. She laid a calming hand
upon his arm, pointing to the crowd of peasant folk from the little town
that had already gathered round the carriage.
'Get two of those boys to carry the baskets. We are to meet the others at
the temple. They come by the path from Genzano.'
Manisty's brow cleared at once like a child's. He went into the crowd,
chattering his easy Italian, and laid hands on two boys, one of whom was
straight and lithe and handsome as a young Bacchus, and bore the noble name
of Aristodemo. Then, followed by a horde of begging children which had
to be shaken off by degrees, they began the descent of the steep cliff
on which Nemi stands. The path zigzagged downwards, and as they followed
it, they came upon files of peasant women ascending, all bearing on their
kerchiefed heads great flat baskets of those small wood-strawberries, or
_fragole_, which are the chief crop of Nemi and its fields.
The handsome women, the splendid red of the fruit and the scent which it
shed along the path, the rich May light upon the fertile earth and its
spray of leaf and blossom, the sense of growth and ferment and pushing life
everywhere--these things made Lucy's spirits dance within her. She hung
back with the two boys, shyly practising her Italian upon them, while
Eleanor and Manisty walked ahead.
But Manisty did not forget her. Half-way down the path, he turned back to
look at her, and saw that she was carrying a light waterproof, which aunt
Pattie had forced upon her lest the scirocco should end in rain. He stopped
and demanded it. Lucy resisted.
'I _can_ carry that,' he urged impatiently; 'it isn't baskets.'
'You _could_ carry those,' she said laughing.
'Not in a world that grows boys and sixpences. But I want that cloak.
The tone was imperious and she yielded. He hurried on to join Eleanor,
carrying the cloak with his usual awkwardness, and often trailing it in
the dust. Lucy, who was very neat and precise in all her personal ways,
suffered at the sight, and wished she had stood firm. But to be waited on
and remembered by him was not a disagreeable experience; perhaps because it
was still such a new and surprising one.
Presently they were on the level of the lake, and their boys guided them
through a narrow and stony by-path, to the site of the temple, or as the
peasant calls it the 'Giardino del Lago.'
It is a flat oblong space, with a two-storied farm building--part of it
showing brickwork of the early Empire--standing upon it. To north and east
runs the niched wall in which, deep under accumulations of soil, Lord
Savile found the great Tiberius, and those lost portrait busts which had
been waiting there through the centuries till the pick and spade of an
Englishman should release them. As to the temple walls which the English
lord uncovered, the trenches that he dug, and the sacrificial altar that he
laid bare--the land, their best guardian, has taken them back into itself.
The strawberries grow all over them; only strange billows and depressions
in the soil make the visitor pause and wonder. The earth seems to say to
him--'Here indeed are secrets and treasures--but not for you! I have been
robbed enough. The dead are mine. Leave them in my breast. And you!--go
your ways in the sun!'
They made their way across the strawberry fields, looking for the friends
who were to join them--Reggie Brooklyn, Mr. Neal, and the two ladies. There
was no sign of them whatever. Yet, according to time and trains, they
should have been on the spot, waiting.
'Annoying!' said Manisty, with his ready irritability. 'Reggie might really
have managed better.--Who's this fellow?'
It was the padrone or tenant of the Giardino, who came up and parleyed with
them. Yes, 'Vostra Eccellenza' might put down their baskets and make their
tea. He pointed to a bench behind the shed. The _forestieri_ came every
day; he turned away in indifference.
Meanwhile the girls and women gathering among the strawberries, raised
themselves to look at the party, flashing their white teeth at Aristodemo,
who was evidently a wit among them. They flung him gibes as he passed,
to which he replied disdainfully. A group of girls who had been singing
together, turned round upon him, 'chaffing' him with shrill voices and
outstretched necks, like a flock of young cackling geese, while he, holding
himself erect, threw them back flinty words and glances, hitting at every
stroke, striding past them with the port of a young king. Then they broke
into a song which they could hardly sing for laughing--about a lover who
had been jilted by his mistress. Aristodemo turned a deaf ear, but the
mocking song, sung by the harsh Italian voices, seemed to fill the hollow
of the lake and echoed from the steep side of the crater. The afternoon
sun, striking from the ridge of Genzano, filled the rich tangled cup, and
threw its shafts into the hollows of the temple wall. Lucy standing still
under the heat and looking round her, felt herself steeped and bathed in
Italy. Her New England reserve betrayed almost nothing; but underneath,
there was a young passionate heart, thrilling to nature and the spring,
conscious too of a sort of fate in these delicious hours, that were so much
sharper and full of meaning than any her small experience had yet known.
She walked on to look at the niched wall, while Manisty and Eleanor
parleyed with Aristodemo as to the guardianship of the tea. Presently she
heard their steps behind her, and she turned back to them eagerly.
'The boy was in that tree!'--she said to Manisty, pointing to a great olive
that flung its branches over a mass of ruin, which must once have formed
part of an outer enclosure wall beyond the statued recesses.
'Was he?' said Manisty, surprised into a smile. 'You know best.--You are
very kind to that nonsense.'
'Perhaps--perhaps you don't know why I liked it so particularly. It
reminded me of things in your other book.'
'The "Letters from Palestine"?' said Manisty, half amused, half astonished.
'I suppose you wonder I should have seen it? But we read a great deal in my
country! All sorts of people read--men and women who do the roughest work
with their hands, and never spend a cent on themselves they can help. Uncle
Ben gave it me. There was a review of it in the "Springfield Republican"--I
guess they will have sent it you. But'--her voice took a shy note--'do you
remember that piece about the wedding feast at Cana--where you imagined the
people going home afterwards over the hill paths--how they talked, and what
'I remember something of the sort,' said Manisty--I wrote it at
Nazareth--in the spring. I'm sure it was bad!'
'I don't know why you say that?' She knit her brows a little. 'If I shut
my eyes, I seemed to be walking with them. And so with your goat-herd. I'm
certain it was that tree!' she said, pointing to the tree, her bright smile
breaking. 'And the grove was here.--And the people came running down from
the village on the cliff,'--she turned her hand towards Nemi.
Manisty was flattered again, all the more because the girl had evidently
no intention of flattery whatever, but was simply following the pleasure
of her own thought. He strolled on beside her, poking into the niches, and
talking, as the whim took him, pouring out upon her indeed some of the many
thoughts and fancies which had been generated in him by those winter visits
to Nemi that he and Eleanor had made together.
Eleanor loitered behind, looking at the strawberry gatherers.
'The next train should bring them here in about an hour,' she thought to
herself in great flatness of spirit. 'How stupid of Reggie!'
Then as she lifted her eyes, they fell upon Manisty and Lucy, strolling
along the wall together, he talking, she turning her brilliant young face
towards him, her white dress shining in the sun.
A thought--a perception--thrust itself like a lance-point through Eleanor's
mind.--She gave an inward cry--a cry of misery. The lake seemed to swim
They made their tea under the shadow of the farm-building, which consisted
of a loft above, and a large dark room on the ground floor, which was
filled with the flat strawberry-baskets, full and ready for market.
Lucy found the little festa delightful, though all that the ladies had
to do was to make an audience for Aristodemo and Manisty. The handsome
dare-devil lad began to talk, drawn out by the Englishman, and lo! instead
of a mere peasant they had got hold of an artist and a connoisseur! Did he
know anything of the excavations and the ruins? Why, he knew everything! He
chattered to them, with astonishing knowledge and shrewdness, for half an
hour. Complete composure, complete good-humour, complete good manners--he
possessed them all. Easy to see that he was the son of an old race, moulded
by long centuries of urbane and civilised living!
A little boastful, perhaps. He too had found the head of a statue, digging
in his father's orchard. Man or woman?--asked Mrs. Burgoyne. A woman. And
handsome? The handsomest lady ever seen. And perfect? Quite perfect. Had
she a nose, for instance? He shook his young head in scorn. Naturally she
had a nose! Did the ladies suppose he would have picked up a creature
Then he rose and beckoned smiling to Eleanor and Lucy. They followed him
through the cool lower room, where the strawberries gleamed red through the
dark, up the creaking stairs to the loft. And there on the ground was an
old box and in the box, a few score of heads and other fragments--little
terracottas, such as the peasants turn up every winter as they plough or
dig among the olives.. Delicate little hooded women, heads of Artemis with
the crown of Cybele, winged heads, or heads covered with the Phrygian
cap, portrait-heads of girls or children, with their sharp profiles still
perfect, and the last dab of the clay under the thumb of the artist, as
clear and clean as when it was laid there some twenty-two centuries ago.
Lucy bent over them in a passion of pleasure, turning over the little
things quite silently, but with sparkling looks.
'Would you like them?' said Manisty, who had followed them, and stood over
her, cigarette in hand.
'Oh no!' said Lucy, rising in confusion. 'Don't get them for me.'
'Come away,' said Eleanor, laughing. 'Never interfere between a man and a
The _padrone_ indeed appeared at the moment. Manisty sent the ladies
downstairs, and the bargaining began.
When he came downstairs ten minutes later a small basket was in his hand.
He offered it to Lucy, while he held out his other hand to Eleanor. The
hand contained two fragments only, but of exquisite quality, one a fine
Artemis head with the Cybele crown, the other merely the mask or shell of a
face, from brow to chin,--a gem of the purest and loveliest Greek work.
Eleanor took them with a critical delight. Her comments were the comments
of taste and knowledge. They were lightly given, without the smallest
pedantry, but Manisty hardly answered them. He walked eagerly to Lucy
Foster, whose shy intense gratitude, covering an inward fear that he had
spent far, far too much money upon her, and that she had indecorously
provoked his bounty, was evidently attractive to him. He told her that he
had got them for a mere nothing, and they sat down on the bench behind
the house together, turning them over, he holding forth, and now and then
discovering through her modest or eager replies, that she had been somehow
remarkably well educated by that old Calvinist uncle of hers. The tincture
of Greek and Latin, which had looked so repellent from a distance,
presented itself differently now that it enabled him to give his talk rein,
and was partly the source in her of these responsive grateful looks which
became her so well. After all perhaps her Puritan stiffness was only on the
surface. How much it had yielded already to Eleanor's lessons! He really
felt inclined to continue them on his own account; to test for himself this
far famed pliancy of the American woman.
Meanwhile Eleanor moved away, watching the path from Genzano which wound
downwards from the Sforza Cesarini villa to the 'Giardino,' and was now
visible, now hidden by the folds of the shore.
Presently Manisty and Lucy heard her exclamation.
'At last!--What has Reggie been about?'
'Coming?' said Manisty.
'Yes--thank goodness! Evidently they missed that first train. But now there
are four people coming down the hill--two men and two ladies. I'm sure
'Well, for the practical man he hasn't distinguished himself,' said
Manisty, taking out another cigarette.
'I can't see them now--they're hidden behind that bend. They'll be ten
minutes more, I should think, before they arrive. Edward!'
'Yes?--Don't be energetic!'
'There's just time to explore that ravine--while they're having tea. Then
we shall have seen it all--done the last, last thing! Who knows--dear
Nemi!--if we shall ever see it again?'
Her tone was quite gay, yet, involuntarily, there was a touching note in
it. Lucy looked down guiltily, wishing herself away. But Manisty resisted.
'You'll be very tired, Eleanor--it's much further than you think--and it's
'Oh no, it's not far--and the sun's going down fast. You wouldn't be
afraid? They'll be here directly,' she said, turning to Lucy. 'I'm sure it
'Don't mind me, please!' said Lucy. 'I shall be perfectly right. I'll boil
the kettle again, and be ready for them. Aristodemo will look after me.'
Eleanor turned to Manisty.
'Come!' she said.
This time she rather commanded than entreated. There was a delicate
stateliness in her attitude, her half-mourning dress of grey and black,
her shadowy hat, the gesture of her hand, that spoke a hundred subtle
things--all those points of age and breeding, of social distinction and
experience, that marked her out from Lucy--from the girl's charming
Manisty rose ungraciously. As he followed his cousin along the narrow path
among the strawberry beds his expression was not agreeable. Eleanor's
heart--if she had looked back--might have failed her. But she hurried on.
* * * * *
Lucy, left to herself, set the stove under the kettle alight and prepared
some fresh tea, while Aristodemo and the other boy leant against the wall
in the shade chattering to each other.
The voices of Eleanor and Manisty had vanished out of hearing in the wood
behind the Giardino. But the voices from Genzano began to come nearer. A
quarter to six.--There would be only a short time for them to rest and have
their tea in, before they must all start home for the villa, where Miss
Manisty was expecting the whole party for dinner at eight. Was that Mr.
Brooklyn's voice? She could not see them, but she could hear them talking
in the narrow overgrown lane leading from the lake to the ruins.
How _very_ strange! The four persons approaching entered the Giardino still
noisily laughing and talking--and Lucy knew none of them! The two men, of
whom one certainly resembled Mr. Brooklyn in height and build, were quite
strangers to her; and she felt certain that the two ladies, who were stout
and elderly, had nothing to do either with Mrs. Elliott, Mr. Reggie's
married sister, or with the Ambassador's daughter.
She watched them with astonishment. They were English, tourists apparently
from Frascati, to judge from their conversation. And they were in a great
hurry. The walk had taken them longer than they expected, and they had only
a short time to stay. They looked carelessly at the niched wall, and the
shed with the strawberry baskets, remarking that there was 'precious little
to see, now you'd done it.' Then they walked past Lucy, throwing many
curious glances at the solitary English girl with the tea-things before
her, the gentlemen raising their hats. And finally they hurried away, and
all sounds of them were soon lost in the quiet of the May evening.
Lucy was left, feeling a little forlorn and disconcerted. Presently she
noticed that all the women working on the Giardino land were going home.
Aristodemo and his companion ran after some of the girls, and their
discordant shouts and laughs could be heard in the distance, mingled with
the 'Ave Maria' sung by groups of woman and girls who were mounting the
zigzag path towards Nemi, their arms linked together.
The evening stillness came flooding into the great hollow like a soft
resistless wave. Every now and then the voices of peasants going home
rippled up from unseen paths, then sank again into the earth. On the high
windows of Nemi the sunset light from the Campagna struck and flamed, '_Ave
Maria--gratia plena._' How softened now, how thinly, delicately far! The
singers must be nearing their homes in the little hill town.
Lucy looked around her. No one on the Giardino, no one in the fields near,
no one on the Genzano road. She seemed to be absolutely alone. Her two
companions indeed could not be far away, and the boys no doubt would come
back for the baskets. But meanwhile she could see and hear no one.
The sun disappeared behind the Genzano ridge, and it grew cold all in
a moment. She felt the chill, together with a sudden consciousness of
fatigue. Was there fever in this hollow of the lake? Certainly the
dwellings were all placed on the heights, save for the fisherman's cottage
half-way to Genzano. She got up and began to move about, wishing for her
cloak. But Mr. Manisty had carried it off, absently, on his arm.
Then she packed up the tea-things. What had happened to the party from
Surely more than an hour had passed. Had it taken them longer to climb to
the spring's source than they supposed? How fast the light was failing, the
rich Italian light, impatient to be gone, claiming all or nothing!
The girl began to be a little shaken with vague discomforts and terrors.
She had been accustomed to wander about the lake of Albano by herself, and
to make friends with the peasants. But after all the roads would not be so
closely patrolled by _carabinieri_ if all was quite as safe as in Vermont
or Middlesex; and there were plenty of disquieting stories current among
the English visitors, even among the people themselves. Was it not only a
month since a carriage containing some German royalties had been stopped
and robbed by masked peasants on the Rocca di Papa road? Had not an old
resident in Rome told her, only the day before, that when he walked about
these lake paths he always filled his pockets with cigars and divested them
of money, in order that the charcoal-burners might love him without robbing
him? Had not friends of theirs going to Cori and Ninfa been followed by
mounted police all the way?
These things weighed little with her as she wandered in broad daylight
about the roads near the villa. But now she was quite alone, the night was
coming, and the place seemed very desolate.
But of course they would be back directly! Why not walk to meet them? It
was the heat and slackness of the day which had unnerved her. Perhaps, too,
unknown to herself!--the stir of new emotions and excitements in a deep and
She had marked the path they took, and she made her way to it. It proved
to be very steep, dark, and stony under meeting trees. She climbed it
laboriously, calling at intervals.
Presently--a sound of steps and hoofs. Looking up she could just
distinguish a couple of led mules with two big lads picking their way down
the rocky lane. There was no turning aside. She passed them with as much
dispatch as possible.
They stopped, however, and stared at her,--the elegant lady in her white
dress all alone. Then they passed, and she could not but be conscious of
relief, especially as she had neither money nor cigars.
Suddenly there was a clatter of steps behind her, and she turned to see one
of the boys, holding out his hand--
She walked fast, shaking her head.
'Non ho niente--niente.'
He followed her, still begging, his whining note passing into something
more insolent. She hurried on. Presently there was a silence; the steps
ceased; she supposed he was tired of the pursuit, and had dropped back to
the point where his companion was waiting with the mules.
But there was a sudden movement in the lane behind. She put up her hand
with a little cry. Her cheek was struck,--again!--another stone struck her
wrist. The blood flowed over her hand. She began to run, stumbling up the
path, wondering how she could defend herself if the two lads came back and
attacked her together.
Luckily the path turned; her white dress could no longer offer them a mark.
She fled on, and presently found a gap in the low wall of the lane, and
a group of fig-trees just beyond it, amid which she crouched. The shock,
the loneliness, the pang of the boys' brutality, had brought a sob into
her throat. Why had her companions left her?--it was not kind!--till they
were sure that the people coming were their expected guests. Her cheek
seemed to be merely grazed, but her wrist was deeply cut. She wrapped her
handkerchief tightly round it, but it soon began to drip again upon her
pretty dress. Then she tore off some of the large young fig-leaves beside
her, not knowing what else to do, and held them to it.
* * * * *
A few minutes later, Manisty and Eleanor descended the same path in haste.
They had found the ascent longer and more intricate than even he had
expected, and had lost count of time in a conversation beside Egeria's
spring--a conversation that brought them back to Lucy changed beings, in
a changed relation. What was the meaning of Manisty's moody, embarrassed
look? and of that white and smiling composure that made a still frailer
ghost of Eleanor than before?
'Did you hear that call?' said Manisty, stopping.
It was repeated, and they both recognised Lucy Foster's voice, coming from
somewhere close to them on the richly grown hillside. Manisty exclaimed,
ran on--paused--listened again--shouted--and there, beside the path,
propping herself against the stones of the wall, was a white and tremulous
girl holding a swathed arm stiffly in front of her so that the blood
dripping from it should not fall upon her dress.
Manisty came up to her in utter consternation. 'What has happened? How are
you here? Where are the others?'
She answered dizzily, then said, faintly trying to smile, 'If you could
provide me with--something to tie round it?'
'Eleanor!' Manisty's voice rang up the path. Then he searched his own
pockets in despair--remembering that he had wrapped his handkerchief round
Eleanor's precious terracottas just before they started, that the little
parcel was on the top of the basket he had given to Miss Foster, and that
both were probably waiting with the tea-things below.
Eleanor came up.
'Why did we leave her?' cried Manisty, turning vehemently upon his
cousin--'That was _not_ Reggie and his party! What a horrible mistake!
She has been attacked by some of these peasant brutes. Just look at this
Something in his voice roused a generous discomfort in Lucy even through
'It is nothing,' she said. 'How could you help it? It is so silly!--I am
so strong--and yet any cut, or prick even, makes me feel faint. If only we
could make it stop--I should be all right.'
Eleanor stooped and looked at the wound, so far as the light would
serve, touching the wrist with her ice-cold fingers. Manisty watched her
anxiously. He valued her skill in nursing matters.
'It will soon stop,' she said. 'We must bind it tightly.'
And with a spare handkerchief, and the long muslin scarf from her own neck,
she presently made as good a bandage as was possible.
'My poor frock!' said Lucy, half laughing, half miserable,--'what will
Benson say to me?'
Mrs. Burgoyne did not seem to hear.
'We must have a sling,' she was saying to herself, and she took off the
light silk shawl she wore round her own shoulders.
'Oh no! Don't, please!' said Lucy. 'It has grown so cold.'
And then they both perceived that she was trembling from head to foot.
'Good Heavens!' cried Manisty, looking at something on his own arm. 'And I
carried off her cloak! There it's been all the time! What a pretty sort of
care to take of you!'
Eleanor meanwhile was turning her shawl into a sling in spite of Lucy's
remonstrances. Manisty made none.
When the arm was safely supported, Lucy pulled herself together with a
great effort of will, and declared that she could now walk quite well.
'But all that way round the lake to Genzano!'--said Manisty; 'or up that
steep hill to Nemi? Eleanor! how can she possibly manage it?'
'Let her try,' said Eleanor quietly. 'It is the best. Now let her take your
Lucy looked up at Mrs. Burgoyne, smiling tremulously. 'Thank you!--thank
you! What a trouble I am!'
She put out her free hand, but Mrs. Burgoyne seemed to have moved away. It
was taken by Manisty, who drew it within his arm.
They descended slowly, and just as they were emerging from the heavy shadow
of the lane into the mingled sunset and moonlight of the open 'Giardino,
sounds reached them that made them pause in astonishment.
'Reggie!' said Manisty--'and Neal! Listen! Good gracious!--there they are!'
And sure enough, there in the dim light behind the farm-building, gathered
in a group round the tea-baskets, laughing, and talking eagerly with each
other, or with Aristodemo, was the whole lost party--the two ladies and the
two men. And beside the group, held by another peasant, was a white horse
with a side-saddle.
Manisty called. The new-comers turned, looked, then shouted exultant.
'Well!'--said Reggie, throwing up his arms at sight of Manisty, and
skimming over the strawberry furrows towards them. 'Of all the muddles!
I give you this blessed country. I'll never say a word for it again.
Everything on this beastly line altered for May--no notice to anybody!--all
the old trains printed as usual, and a wretched flyleaf tucked in somewhere
that nobody saw or was likely to see. Station full of people for the 2.45.
Train taken off--nothing till 4.45. Never saw such a confusion!--and the
_Capo-stazione_ as rude as he could be. I _say_!--what's the matter?'
He drew up sharp in front of them.
'We'll tell you presently, my dear fellow,' said Manisty peremptorily.
'But now just help us to get Miss Foster home. What a mercy you thought of
bringing a horse!'
'Why!--I brought it for--for Mrs. Burgoyne,' said the young man,
astonished, looking round for his cousin. 'We found the carriage waiting at
the Sforza Cesarini gate, and the man told us you were an hour behind your
time. So I thought Eleanor would be dead-tired, and I went to that man--you
remember?--we got a horse from before--'
But Manisty had hurried Lucy on without listening to a word; and she
herself was now too dizzy with fatigue and loss of blood to grasp what was
being said around her.
Reggie fell back in despair on Mrs. Burgoyne.
'Eleanor!--what have you been doing to yourselves! What a nightmare of an
afternoon! How on earth are you going to walk back all this way? What's
wrong with Miss Foster?'
'Some rough boys threw stones at her, and her arm is badly cut. Edward will
take her on to Genzano, find a doctor and then bring her home.--We'll go on
first, and send back another carriage for them. You angel, Reggie, to think
of that horse!'
'But I thought of it for you, Eleanor,' said the young man, looking in
distress at the delicate woman for whom he had so frank and constant an
affection. 'Miss Foster's as strong as Samson!--or ought to be. What
follies has she been up to?'
'_Please_, Reggie--hold your tongue! You shall talk as much nonsense as you
please when once we have started the poor child off.'
And Eleanor too ran forward. Manisty had just put together a rough mounting
block from some timber in the farm-building. Meanwhile the other two ladies
had been helpful and kind. Mrs. Elliott had wrapped a white Chudda shawl
round Lucy's shivering frame. A flask containing some brandy had been
extracted from Mr. Neal's pocket, more handkerchiefs and a better sling
found for the arm. Finally Lucy, all her New England pride outraged by the
fuss that was being made about her, must needs submit to be almost lifted
on the horse by Manisty and Mr. Brooklyn. When she found herself in the
saddle, she looked round bewildered. 'But this must have been meant for
Mrs. Burgoyne! Oh how tired she will be!'
'Don't trouble yourself about me! I am as fresh as paint,' said Eleanor's
laughing voice beside her.
'Eleanor! will you take them all on ahead?' said Manisty impatiently; 'we
shall have to lead her carefully to avoid rough places.'
Eleanor carried off the rest of the party. Manisty established himself at
Lucy's side. The man from Genzano led the horse.
After a quarter of an hour's walking, mixed with the give and take of
explanations on both sides as to the confusion of the afternoon, Eleanor
paused to recover breath an instant on a rising ground. Looking back, she
saw through the blue hazes of the evening the two distant figures--the
white form on the horse, the protecting nearness of the man.
She stifled a moan, drawn deep from founts of covetous and passionate
agony. Then she turned and hurried up the stony path with an energy, a
useless haste that evoked loud protests from Reggie Brooklyn. Eleanor did
not answer him. There was beating within her veins a violence that appalled
herself. Whither was she going? What change had already passed on all the
gentle tendernesses and humanities of her being?
* * * * *
Meanwhile Lucy was reviving in the cool freshness of the evening air. She
seemed to be travelling through a world of opal colour, arched by skies
of pale green, melting into rose above, and daffodil gold below. All about
her, blue and purple shadows were rising, like waves interfused with
moonlight, flooding over the land. Where did the lake end and the shore
begin? All was drowned in the same dim wash of blue--the olives and figs,
the reddish earth, the white of the cherries, the pale pink of the almonds.
In front the lights of Genzano gleamed upon the tall cliff. But in this
lonely path all was silence and woody fragrance; the honeysuckles threw
breaths across their path; tall orchises, white and stately, broke here
and there from the darkness of the banks. In spite of pain and weakness
her senses seemed to be flooded with beauty. A strange peace and docility
'You are better?' said Manisty's voice beside her. The tones of it were
grave and musical; they expressed an enwrapping kindness, a 'human
softness' that still further moved her.
'So much better! The bleeding has almost stopped. I--I suppose it would
have been better, if I had waited for you?--if I had not ventured on those
There was in her scrupulous mind a great penitence about the whole matter.
How much trouble she was giving!--how her imprudence had spoilt the little
festa! And poor Mrs. Burgoyne!--forced to walk up this long, long way.
'Yes--perhaps it would have been better'--said Manisty. 'One never quite
knows about this population. After all, for an Italian lady to walk about
some English country lanes alone, might not be quite safe--and one ruffian
is enough. But the point is--we should not have left you.'
She was too feeble to protest. Manisty spoke to the man leading the horse,
bidding him draw on one side, so as to avoid a stony bit of path. Then the
reins fell from her stiff right hand, which seemed to be still trembling
with cold. Instantly Manisty gathered them up, and replaced them in the
chill fingers. As he did so he realised with a curious pleasure that the
hand and wrist, though not small, were still beautiful, with a fine shapely
Presently, as they mounted the steep ascent towards the Sforza Cesarini
woods, he made her rest half way.
'How those stones must have jarred you!'--he said frowning, as he turned
the horse, so that she sat easily, without strain.
'No! It was nothing. Oh--glorious!'
For she found herself looking towards the woods of the south-eastern ridge
of the lake, over which the moon had now fully risen. The lake was half
shade, half light; the fleecy forests on the breast of Monte Cavo rose
soft as a cloud into the infinite blue of the night-heaven. Below, a
silver shaft struck the fisherman's hut beside the shore, where, deep
in the water's breast, lie the wrecked ships of Caligula,--the treasure
ships--whereof for seventy generations the peasants of Nemi have gone
As they passed the hut,--half an hour before--Manisty had drawn her
attention, in the dim light, to the great beams from the side of the nearer
ship, which had been recently recovered by the divers, and were lying
at the water's edge. And he had told her,--with a kindling eye--how he
himself, within the last few months, had seen fresh trophies recovered from
the water,--a bronze Medusa above all, fiercely lovely, the work of a most
noble and most passionate art, not Greek though taught by Greece, fresh,
full-blooded, and strong, the art of the Empire in its eagle-youth.
'Who destroyed the ships, and why?' he said, as they paused, looking
down upon the lake. 'There is not a shred of evidence. One can only
dream. They were a madman's whim; incredibly rich in marble, and metal,
and terra-cotta, paid for, no doubt, from the sweat and blood of this
country-side. Then the young monster who built and furnished them was
murdered on the Palatine. Can't you see the rush of an avenging mob
down this steep lane?--the havoc and the blows--the peasants hacking at
the statues and the bronzes--loading their ox-carts perhaps with the
plunder--and finally letting in the lake upon the wreck! Well!--somehow
like that it must have happened. The lake swallowed them; and, in spite of
all the efforts of the Renaissance people, who sent down divers, the lake
has kept them, substantially, till now. Not a line about them in any known
document! History knows nothing. But the peasants handed down the story
from father to son. Not a fisherman on this lake, for eighteen hundred
years, but has tried to reach the ships. They all believed--they still
believe--that they hold incredible treasures. But the lake is jealous--they
Lucy bent forward, peering into the blue darkness of the lake, trying to
see with his eyes, to catch the same ghostly signals from the past. The
romance of the story and the moment, Manisty's low, rushing speech, the
sparkle of his poet's look--the girl's fancy yielded to the spell of them;
her breath came quick and soft. Through all their outer difference, Manisty
suddenly felt the response of her temperament to his. It was delightful to
be there with her--delightful to be talking to her.
'I was on the shore,' he continued, 'watching the divers at work, on the
day they drew up the Medusa. I helped the man who drew her up to clean the
slime and mud from them, and the vixen glared at me all the time, as though
she thirsted to take vengeance upon us all. She had had time to think about
it,--for she sank perhaps ten years after the Crucifixion,--while Mary
still lived in the house of John!'
His voice dropped to the note of reverie, and a thrill passed through
Lucy. He turned the horse's head towards Genzano, and they journeyed on
in silence. She indeed was too weak for many words; but enwrapped as it
were by the influences around her,--of the place, the evening beauty, the
personality of the man beside her,--she seemed to be passing through a
many-coloured dream, of which the interest and the pleasure never ceased.
Presently they passed a little wayside shrine. Within its penthouse eave
an oil-lamp flickered before the frescoed Madonna and Child; the shelf
in front of the picture was heaped with flowers just beginning to fade.
Manisty stayed the horse a moment; pointed first to the shrine, then to the
bit of road beneath their feet.
'Do you see this travertine--these blocks? This is a bit of the old road to
the temple. I was with the exploring party when they carried up the Medusa
and some other of their finds along here past the shrine. It was nearly
dark--they did not want to be observed. But I was an old friend of the man
in command, and he and I were walking together. The bearers of the heavy
bronze things got tired. They put down their load just here, and lounged
away. My friend stepped up to the sort of wooden bier they were carrying,
to see that all was right. He uncovered the Medusa, and turned her to the
light of the lamp before the shrine. You never saw so strange and wild a
thing!--the looks she threw at the Madonna and Child. "Ah! Madam," I said
to her--"the world was yours when you went down--but now it's theirs! Tame
your insolence!" And I thought of hanging her here, at night, just outside,
under the lamp against the wall of the shrine--and how one might come in
the dark upon the fierce head with the snakes--and watch her gazing at the
Lucy shuddered and smiled.
'I'm glad she wasn't yours!'
'Why? The peasants would soon have made a saint of her, and invented a
legend to fit. The snakes, for them, would have been the instruments
of martyrdom--turned into a martyr's crown. Italy and Catholicism
absorb--assimilate--everything. "_Santa Medusa!_"--I assure you, she would
be quite in order.'
There was a pause. Then she heard him say under his breath--'Marvellous,
She started and gave a slight cry--unsteady, involuntary.
'But you don't love her!--you are ungrateful to her!'
He looked up surprised--then laughed--a frank, pugnacious laugh.
'There is Italy--and Italy.'
'There is only one Italy!--Aristodemo's Italy--the Italy the peasants work
She turned to him, breathing quicker, the colour returning to her pale
'The Italy that has just sent seven thousand of her sons to butchery in a
wretched colony, because her hungry politicians must have glory and keep
themselves in office? You expect me to love that Italy?'
Within the kind new sweetness of his tone--a sweetness no man could use
more subtly--there had risen the fiery accustomed note. But so restrained,
so tempered to her weakness, her momentary dependence upon him!
'You might be generous to her--just, at least!--for the sake of the old.'
She trembled a little from the mere exertion of speaking, and he saw it.
'No controversy to-night!' he said smiling. 'Wait till you are fit for
it, and I will overwhelm you. Do you suppose I don't know all about the
partisan literature you have been devouring?'
'One had to hear the other side.'
'Was I such a bore with the right side?'
They both laughed. Then he said, shrugging his shoulders with sudden
'What a nation of revolutionists you are in America! What does it feel
like, I wonder, to be a people without a past, without traditions?'
Lucy exclaimed: 'Why, we are made of traditions!'
'Traditions of revolt and self-will are no traditions,' he said
provokingly. 'The submission of the individual to the whole--that's what
you know nothing of.'
'We shall know it when we want it! But it will be a free submission--given
'No priests allowed? Oh! you will get your priests. You are getting them.
No modern nation can hold together without them.'
They sparred a little longer. Then Lucy's momentary spirit of fight
departed. She looked wistfully to see how near they were to Genzano.
Manisty approached her more closely.
'Did my nonsense cheer you--or tire you?' he said in a different voice. 'I
only meant it to amuse you, Hark!--did you hear that sound?'
They stopped. Above them, to the right, they saw through the dusk a small
farm in a patch of vineyard. A dark figure suddenly hurled itself down a
steep path towards them. Other figures followed it--seemed to wrestle with
it; there was a confused wailing and crying--the piteous shrill lamenting
of a woman's voice.
'Oh, what is it?' cried Lucy, clasping her hands.
Manisty spoke a few sharp words to the man leading the horse. The man stood
still and checked his beast. Manisty ran towards the sounds and the dim
struggle on the slope above them.
Such a cry! It rent and desolated the evening peace. It seemed to Lucy the
voice of an old woman, crossed by other voices--rough, chiding voices of
men. Oh, were they ill-treating her? The girl said hurriedly to the man
beside her that she would dismount.
'No, no, signorina,' said the man, placidly, raising his hand. 'The signor
will be here directly. It happens often, often.'
And almost at the same moment Manisty was beside her again, and the
gruesome sounds above were dying away.
'Were you frightened?' he said, with anxiety. 'There was no need. How
strange that it should have happened just now! It's a score that _your_
Italy must settle--_mine_ washes her hands of it!' and he explained that
what she had heard were the cries of a poor hysterical woman, a small
farmer's wife, who had lost both her sons in the Abyssinian war, in the
frightful retreat of Adowa, and had never been in her right mind since the
news arrived. With the smallest lapse in the vigilance of those about her,
she would rush down to the road, and throw herself upon any passer-by,
imploring them to intercede for her with the Government--that they should
give her back her sons--Nino, at least!--Nino, her youngest, and darling.
It was impossible that they should both be dead--impossible! The Holy
Virgin would never have suffered it.
'Poor soul!--she tried to cling round my knees--wailing out the candles and
prayers she had offered--shrieking something about the "Governo." I helped
the sons to carry her in. They were quite gentle to her.'
Lucy turned away her head; and they resumed their march. She governed
herself with all her power; but her normal self-control was weakened, and
that cry of anguish still haunted her. Some quiet tears fell--she hoped,
she believed that they were unseen.
But Manisty perceived them. He gave not the smallest direct sign; he began
at once to talk of other things in a quite other vein. But underlying his
characteristic whims and sallies she was presently conscious of a new and
exquisite gentleness. It seemed to address itself both to her physical
fatigue, and to the painful impression of the incident which had just
passed. Her sudden tears--the tears of a tired child--and his delicate
feeling--there arose out of them, as out of their whole journey, a
relation, a bond, of which both were conscious, to which she yielded
herself in a kind of vague and timid pleasure.
For Manisty--as she sat there, high above him, yet leaning a little
towards him--there was something in the general freshness and purity of
her presence, both physical and moral, that began most singularly to steal
upon his emotions. Certain barriers seemed to be falling, certain secret
sympathies emerging, drawn from regions far below their differences of age
and race, of national and intellectual habit. How was it she had liked his
Palestine book so much? He almost felt as though in some mysterious way
he had been talking to her, and she listening, for years,--since first,
perhaps, her sweet crude youth began.
Then even his egotism felt the prick of humour. Five weeks had she been
with them at the villa?--and in a fortnight their party was to break
up. How profitably indeed he had used his time with her! How civil--how
kind--how discerning he had shown himself!
Yet soreness of this kind was soon lost in the surge of this new and
unexpected impulse, which brought his youth exultantly back upon him.
A beautiful woman rode beside him, through the Italian evening. With
impatience, with an inward and passionate repudiation of all other bonds
and claims, he threw himself into that mingled process--at once exploring
and revealing--which makes the thrill of all the higher relations between
men and women, and ends invariably either in love--or tragedy.
* * * * *
They found a carriage waiting for them near the Sforza-Cesarini gate, and
in it Mrs. Elliott, Reggie Brooklyn's kind sister. Lucy was taken to a
doctor, and the hurt was dressed. By nine o'clock she was once more under
the villa-roof. Miss Manisty received her with lamentations and enquiries,
that the tottering Lucy was too weary even to hear aright. Amid what seemed
to her a babel of tongues and lights and kind concern, she was taken to bed
Mrs. Burgoyne did not attend her. She waited in Manisty's library, and when
Manisty entered the room she came forward--
'Edward, I have some disagreeable news'--
He stopped abruptly.
'Your sister Alice will be here to-morrow.'
'My sister--Alice?'--he repeated incredulously.
'She telegraphed this morning that she must see you. Aunt Pattie consulted
me. The telegram gave no address--merely said that she would come to-morrow
for two or three nights.'
Manisty first stared in dismay, then, thrusting his hands into his pockets,
began to walk hurriedly to and fro.
'When did this news arrive?'
'This morning, before we started.'
'Eleanor!--_Why_ was I not told?'
'I wanted to save the day,'--the words were spoken in Eleanor's most
charming, most musical voice. 'There was no address. You could not have
'I would have managed somehow,'--said Manisty striking his hand on the
table beside him in his annoyance and impatience.
Eleanor did not defend herself. She tried to soothe him, to promise him as
usual that the dreaded visit should be made easy to him. But he paid little
heed. He sat moodily brooding in his chair; and when Eleanor's persuasions
ceased, he broke out--
'That poor child!--After to-day's experiences,--to have Alice let loose
upon her!--I would have given anything--anything!--that it should not have
'Miss Foster?' said Eleanor lightly--'oh! she will bear up.'
'There it is!'--said Manisty, in a sudden fury. 'We have all been
misjudging her in the most extraordinary way! She is the most sensitive,
tender-natured creature--I would not put an ounce more strain upon her for
His aunt called him, and he went stormily away. Eleanor's smile as she
stood looking after him--how pale and strange it was!
'Miss Foster is not getting up? How is she?'
'I believe Aunt Pattie only persuaded her to rest till after breakfast, and
that was hard work. Aunt Pattie thought her rather shaken still.'
The speakers were Manisty and Mrs. Burgoyne. Eleanor was sitting in the
deep shade of the avenue that ran along the outer edge of the garden.
Through the gnarled trunks to her right shone the blazing stretches of the
Campagna, melting into the hot shimmer of the Mediterranean. A new volume
of French memoirs, whereof not a page had yet been cut, was lying upon her
Manisty, who had come out to consult with her, leant against the tree
beside her. Presently he broke out impetuously:
'Eleanor! we must protect that girl. You know what I mean? You'll help me?'
'What are you afraid of?'
'Good heavens!--I hardly know. But we must keep Alice away from Miss
Foster. She mustn't walk with her, or sit with her, or be allowed to worry
her in any way. I should be beside myself with alarm if Alice were to take
a fancy to her.'
Eleanor hesitated a moment. The slightest flush rose to her cheek,
unnoticed in the shadow of her hat.
'You know--if you are in any real anxiety--Miss Foster could go to
Florence. She told me yesterday that the Porters have friends there whom
she could join.'
'Well, I hardly think that's necessary. It's a great pity she should miss
Vallombrosa. I hoped I might settle her and Aunt Pattie there by about the
middle of June.'
Eleanor made so sudden a movement that her book fell to the ground.
'You are going to Vallombrosa? I thought you were due at home, the
beginning of June?'
'That was when I thought the book was coming out before the end of the
month. But now--
'Now that it isn't coming out at all, you feel there's no hurry?'
Manisty looked annoyed.
'I don't think that's a fair shot. Of course the book's coming out! But if
it isn't June, it must be October. So there's no hurry.'
The little cold laugh with which Eleanor had spoken her last words
subsided. But she gave him no sign of assent. He pulled a stalk of grass,
and nibbled at it uncomfortably.
'You think I'm a person easily discouraged?' he said presently.
'You take advice so oddly,' she said, smiling; 'sometimes so ill--sometimes
so desperately well.'
'I can't help it. I am made like that. When a man begins to criticise my
work, I first hate him--then I'm all of his opinion--only more so.'
'I know,' said Eleanor impatiently. 'It's this dreadful modern
humility--the abominable power we all have of seeing the other side. But an
author is no good till he has thrown his critics out of window.'
'Poor Neal!' said Manisty, with his broad sudden smile, 'he would fall
hard. However, to return to Miss Foster. There's no need to drive her away
if we look after her. You'll help us, won't you, Eleanor?'
He sat down on a stone bench beside her. The momentary cloud had cleared
away. He was his most charming, most handsome self. A shiver ran through
Eleanor. Her thought flew to yesterday--compared the kind radiance of the
face beside her, its look of brotherly confidence and appeal, with the
look of yesterday, the hard evasiveness with which he had met all her
poor woman's attempts to renew the old intimacy, reknit the old bond. She
thought of the solitary, sleepless misery of the night she had just passed
through. And here they were, sitting in cousinly talk, as though nothing
else were between them but this polite anxiety for Miss Foster's peace of
mind! What was behind that apparently frank brow--those sparkling grey-blue
eyes? Manisty could always be a mystery when he chose, even to those who
knew him best.
She drew a long inward breath, feeling the old inexorable compulsion that
lies upon the decent woman, who can only play the game as the man chooses
to set it.
'I don't know what I can do--' she said slowly. 'You think Alice is no
Manisty shook his head. He looked at her sharply and doubtfully, as though
measuring her--and then said, lowering his voice:
'I believe--I know I can trust you with this--I have some reason to suppose
that there was an attempt at suicide at Venice. Her maid prevented it, and
gave me the hint. I am in communication with the maid--though Alice has no
idea of it.
'Ought she to come here at all?' said Eleanor after a pause.
'I have thought of that--of meeting all the trains and turning her back.
But you know her obstinacy. As long as she is in Rome and we here, we can't
protect ourselves and the villa. There are a thousand ways of invading us.
Better let her come--find out what she wants--pacify her if possible--and
send her away. I am not afraid for ourselves, you included, Eleanor! She
would do us no harm. A short annoyance--and it would be over. But Miss
Foster is the weak point.'
Eleanor looked at him inquiringly.
'It is one of the strongest signs of her unsound state,' said Manisty,
frowning--'her wild fancies that she takes for girls much younger than
herself. There have been all sorts of difficulties in hotels. She will be
absolutely silent with older people--or with you and me, for instance--but
if she can captivate any quite young creature, she will pour herself out to
her, follow her, write to her, tease her.--Poor, poor Alice!'
Manisty's voice had become almost a groan. His look betrayed a true and
'One must always remember,' he resumed, 'that she has still the power to
attract a stranger. Her mind is in ruins--but they are the ruins of what
was once fine and noble. But it is all so wild, and strange, and desperate.
A girl is first fascinated--and then terrified. She begins by listening,
and pitying--then Alice pursues her, swears her to secrecy, talks to her
of enemies and persecutors, of persons who wish her death, who open her
letters, and dog her footsteps--till the girl can't sleep at nights, and
her own nerve begins to fail her. There was a case of this at Florence last
year. Dalgetty, that's the maid, had to carry Alice off by main force. The
parents of the girl threatened to set the doctors in motion--to get Alice
sent to an asylum.'
'But surely, surely,' cried Mrs. Burgoyne, 'that would be the right
Manisty shook his head.
'Impossible!' he said with energy. 'Don't imagine that my lawyers and I
haven't looked into everything. Unless the disease has made much progress
since I last saw her, Alice will always baffle any attempts to put her in
restraint. She is queer--eccentric--melancholy; she envelopes the people
she victimises with a kind of moral poison; but you can't _prove_--so far,
at least--that she is dangerous to herself or others. The evidence always
falls short.' He paused; then added with cautious emphasis: 'I don't speak
without book. It has been tried.'
'But the attempt at Venice?'
'No good. The maid's letter convinced me of two things--first, that she had
attempted her life, and next, that there is no proof of it.'
Eleanor bent forward.
'And the suitor--the man?'
'Dalgetty tells me there have been two interviews. The first at
Venice--probably connected with the attempt we know of. The second some
weeks ago at Padua. I believe the man to be a reputable person, though no
doubt not insensible to the fact that Alice has some money. You know who he
is?--a French artist she came across in Venice. He is melancholy and lonely
like herself. I believe he is genuinely attached to her. But after the last
scene at Padua she told Dalgetty that she would never make him miserable by
'What do you suppose she is coming here for?'
'Very likely to get me to do something for this man. She won't be his wife,
but she likes to be his Providence: I shall promise anything, in return for
her going quickly back to Venice--or Switzerland--where she often spends
the summer. So long as she and Miss Foster are under one roof, I shall not
have a moment free from anxiety.'
Eleanor sank back in her chair. She was silent; but her eye betrayed the
bitter animation of the thoughts passing behind them, thoughts evoked not
so much by what Manisty had said, as by what he had _not_ said. All alarm,
all consideration to be concentrated on one point?--nothing, and no one
else, to matter?
But again she fought down the rising agony, refused to be mastered by it,
or to believe her own terrors. Another wave of feeling rose. It was so
natural to her to love and help him!
'Well, of course I shall do what you tell me! I generally do--don't I? What
are your commands?'
He brought his head nearer to hers, his brilliant eyes bent upon her
'Never let her be alone with Miss Foster! Watch her. If you see any sign of
persecution--if you can't check it--let me know at once. I shall keep Alice
in play of course. One day we can send Miss Foster into Rome--perhaps two.
Ah! hush!--here she comes!'
Eleanor looked round. Lucy had just appeared in the cool darkness of the
avenue. She walked slowly and with a languid grace, trailing her white
skirts. The shy rusticity, the frank robustness of her earlier aspect were
now either gone, or temporarily merged in something more exquisite and
more appealing. Her youth too had never been so apparent. She had been too
strong too self-reliant. The touch of physical delicacy seemed to have
brought back the child.
Then, turning back to her companion, Eleanor saw the sudden softness in
Manisty's face--the alert expectancy of his attitude.
'What a wonderful oval of the head and cheek!' he said under his breath,
half to himself, half to her. 'Do you know, Eleanor, what she reminds me
Eleanor shook her head.
'Of that little head--little face rather--that I gave you at Nemi. Don't
you see it?'
'I always said she was like your Greek bust,' said Eleanor slowly.
'Ah, that was in her first archaic stage. But now that she's more at
ease with us--you see?--there's the purity of line just the same--but
subtilised--humanised--somehow! It's the change from marble to terra-cotta,
His fancy pleased him, and his smile turned to hers for sympathy. Then,
springing up, he went to meet Lucy.
'Oh, there can be nothing in his mind! He could not
speak--look--smile--like that to _me_,' thought Eleanor with passionate
Then as they approached, she rose, and with kind solicitude forced Lucy to
take her chair, on the plea that she herself was going back to the villa.
Lucy touched her hand with timid gratitude. 'I don't know what's happened
to me,' she said, half wistful, half smiling; 'I never stayed in bed to
breakfast in my life before. At Greyridge, they'd think I had gone out of
Eleanor inquired if it was an invariable sign of lunacy in America to take
your breakfast in bed. Lucy couldn't say. All she knew was that nobody ever
took it so in Greyridge, Vermont, unless they were on the point of death.
'I should never be any good, any more,' she said, with an energy that
brought the red back to her cheeks,--'if they were to spoil me at home, as
you spoil me here.'
Eleanor waved her hand, smiled, and went her way.
As she moved further and further away from them down the long avenue, she
saw them all the time, though she never once looked back--saw the eager
inquiries of the man, the modest responsiveness of the girl. She was
leaving them to themselves--at the bidding of her own pride--and they had
the May morning before them. According to a telegram just received, Alice
Manisty was not expected till after lunch.
* * * * *
Meanwhile Manisty was talking of his sister to Lucy, With coolness, and as
much frankness as he thought necessary.
'She is very odd--and very depressing. She is now very little with us.
There is no company she likes as well as her own. But in early days, she
and I were great friends. We were brought up in an old Yorkshire house
together, and a queer pair we were. I was never sent to school, and I got
the better of most of my tutors. Alice was unmanageable too, and we spent
most of our time rambling and reading as we pleased. Both of us dreamed
awake half our time. I had shooting and fishing to take me out of myself;
but Alice, after my mother's death, lived with her own fancies and got
less like other people every day. There was a sort of garden house in the
park,--a lonely, overgrown kind of place. We put our books there, and used
practically to live there for weeks together. That was just after I came
into the place, before I went abroad. Alice was sixteen. I can see her now
sitting in the doorway of the little house, hour after hour, staring into
the woods like a somnambulist, one arm behind her head. One day I said
to her: "Alice, what are you thinking of?" "Myself!" she said. So then I
laughed at her, and teased her. And she answered quite quietly, "I know it
is a pity--but I can't help it."
Lucy's eyes were wide with wonder. 'But you ought to have given her
something to do--or to learn: couldn't she have gone to school, or found
'Oh! I dare say I ought to have done a thousand things,' said Manisty
impatiently. 'I was never a model brother, or a model anything! I grew
up for myself and by myself, and I supposed Alice would do the same. You
He turned his sharp, compelling eyes upon her, so that Lucy flinched a
little. 'I shouldn't dare,' she said laughing. 'I don't know enough about
it. But it's plain, isn't it, that girls of sixteen shouldn't sit on
doorsteps and think about themselves?'
'What did you think about at sixteen?'
Her look changed.
'I had mother then,'--she said simply.
'Ah! then--I'm afraid you've no right to sit in judgment upon us. Alice
and I had no mother--no one but ourselves. Of course all our relations and
friends disapproved of us. But that somehow has never made much difference
to either of us. Does it make much difference to you? Do you mind if people
praise or blame you? What does it matter what anybody thinks? Who can know
anything about you but yourself?--Eh?'
He poured out his questions in a hurry, one tumbling over the other. And he
had already begun to bite the inevitable stalk of grass. Lucy as usual was
conscious both of intimidation and attraction--she felt him at once absurd
'I'm sure we're meant to care what people think,' she said, with spirit.
'It helps us. It keeps us straight.'
His eyes flashed.
'You think so? Then we disagree entirely--absolutely--and _in toto_! I
don't want to be approved--outside my literary work any way--I want to be
happy. It never enters my head to judge other people--why should they judge
'But--but'--Then she laughed out, remembering his book, and his political
escapade, 'Aren't you _always_ judging other people?'
'Fighting them--yes! That's another matter. But I don't give myself
superior airs. I don't judge--I just love--and hate.'
Her attention followed the bronzed expressive face, so bold in outline, so
delicate in detail, with a growing fascination.
'It seems to me you hate more than you love.'
He considered it.
'Quite possible. It isn't an engaging world. But I don't hate readily--I
hate slowly and by degrees. If anybody offends me, for instance, at first I
hardly feel it,--it doesn't seem to matter at all. Then it grows in my mind
gradually, it becomes a weight--a burning fire--and drives everything else
out. I hate the men, for instance, that I hated last year in England, much
worse now than I did then!'
She bit her lip, but could not help the broadening smile, to which his own
'Do you take any interest, Miss Foster, in what happened to me last year?'
'I often wonder whether you regret it,' she said, rather shyly. 'Wasn't
it--a great pity?'
'Not at all,' he said peremptorily; 'I shall recover all I let slip.'
She did not reply. But the smile still trembled on her lips, while she
copied his favourite trick in stripping the leaves from a spray of box.
'You don't believe that?'
'Does one ever recover all one lets slip--especially in politics?'
'Goodness--you are a pessimist! Why should one not recover it?'
Her charming mouth curved still more gaily.
'I have often heard my uncle say that the man who "resigns" is lost.'
'Ah!--never regret--never resign--never apologise? We know that creed. Your
uncle must be a man of trenchant opinions. Do you agree with him?'
She tried to be serious.
'I suppose one should count the cost before--'
'Before one joins a ministry? Yes, that's a fair stroke. I wish to heaven
I had never joined it. But when I began to think that this particular
Ministry was taking English society to perdition, it was as well--wasn't
it?--that I should leave it?'
Her face suddenly calmed itself to a sweet gravity.
'Oh yes--yes!--if it was as bad as that.'
'I'm not likely to confess, anyway, that it wasn't as bad as that!--But I
will confess that I generally incline to hate my own side,--and to love my
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