Mrs. Humphry Ward
Part 4 out of 9
adversaries. English Liberals moreover hold the ridiculous opinion that the
world is to be governed by intelligence. I couldn't have believed it of
any sane men. When I discovered it, I left them. My foreign experience had
given the lie to all that. And when I left them, the temptation to throw a
paradox in their faces was irresistible.'
She said nothing, but her expression spoke for her.
'You think me mad?'
She turned aside--dumb--plucking at a root of cyclamen beside her.
'No. But you like to startle people--to make them talk about you!'
Her eyes were visible again; and he perceived at once her courage and her
'Perhaps! English political life runs so smooth, that to throw in a stone
and make a splash was amusing.'
'But was it fair?' she said, flushing.
'What do you mean?'
'Other people were in earnest; and you--'
'Were not? Charge home. I am prepared,' he said, smiling.
'You talk now--as though you were a Catholic--and you are not, you don't
believe,' she said suddenly, in a deep, low voice.
He looked at her for a moment in a smiling silence. His lips were ready
to launch a reckless sentence or two; but they refrained. Her attitude
meanwhile betrayed an unconscious dread--like a child that fears a blow.
'You charming saint!'--he thought; surprised at his own feeling of
pleasure. Pleasure in what?--in the fact that however she might judge his
opinions, she was clearly interested in the holder of them?
'What does one's own point of view matter?' he said gently. 'I believe what
I can,--and as long as I can--sometimes for a whole twenty-four hours! Then
a big doubt comes along, and sends me floundering. But that has nothing
to do with it. The case is quite simple. The world can't get on without
morals; and Catholicism, Anglicanism too--the religions of authority in
short--are the great guardians of morals. They are the binding forces--the
forces making for solidarity and continuity. Your cocksure, peering
Protestant is the dissolvent--the force making for ruin. What's his
private judgment to me, or mine to him? But for the sake of it, he'll make
everything mud and puddle! Of course you may say to me--it is perfectly
open to you to say'--he looked away from her, half-forgetting her,
addressing with animation and pugnacity an imaginary opponent--'what
do morals matter?--how do you know that the present moral judgments
of the world represent any ultimate truth? Ah! well'--he shrugged his
shoulders--'I can't follow you there. Black may be really white--and white
black; but I'm not going to admit it. It would make me too much of a dupe.
I take my stand on morals. And if you give me morals, you must give me
the only force that can guarantee them,--Catholicism, more or less:--and
dogma,--and ritual,--and superstition,--and all the foolish ineffable
things that bind mankind together, and send them to "face the music" in
this world and the next!'
She sat silent, with twitching lips, excited, yet passionately scornful
and antagonistic. Thoughts of her home, of that Puritan piety amid which
she had been brought up, flashed thick and fast through her mind. Suddenly
she covered her face with her hands, to hide a fit of laughter that had
'All that amuses you?'--said Manisty, breathing a little faster.
'No--oh! no. But--I was thinking of my uncle--of the people in our village
at home. What you said of Protestants seemed to me, all at once, so odd--so
'Did it? Tell me then about the people in your valley at home.'
And turning on his elbows beside her, he put her through a catechism as to
her village, her uncle, her friends. She resisted a little, for the brusque
assurance of his tone still sounded oddly in her American ear. But he was
not easy to resist; and when she had yielded she soon discovered that to
talk to him was a no less breathless and absorbing business than to listen
to him. He pounced on the new, the characteristic, the local; he drew out
of her what he wanted to know; he made her see her own trees and fields,
the figures of her home, with new sharpness, so quick, so dramatic, so
voracious, one might almost say, were his own perceptions.
Especially did he make her tell him of the New England winter; of the long
pauses of its snow-bound life; its whirling winds and drifts; its snapping,
crackling frosts; the lonely farms, and the deep sleigh-tracks amid the
white wilderness, that still in the winter silence bind these homesteads to
each other and the nation; the strange gleams of moonrise and sunset on the
cold hills; the strong dark armies of the pines; the grace of the stripped
birches. Above all, must she talk to him of the people in these farms,
the frugal, or silent, or brooding people of the hills; honourable, hard,
knotted, prejudiced, believing folk, whose lives and fates, whose spiritual
visions and madnesses, were entwined with her own young memories and
Figure after figure, story after story, did he draw from her,--warm from
the hidden fire of her own strenuous, loving life. Once or twice she
spoke of her mother--like one drawing a veil for an instant from a holy
of holies. He felt and saw the burning of a sacred fire; then the veil
dropped, nor would it lift again for any word of his. And every now
and then, a phrase that startled him by its quality,--its suggestions.
Presently he was staring at her with his dark absent eyes.
'Heavens!'--he was thinking--'what a woman there is in her!--what a
The artist--the poet--the lover of things significant and moving,--all
these were stirred in him as he listened to her, as he watched her young
and noble beauty.
* * * * *
But, in the end, he would not grant her much, argumentatively.
'You make me see strange things--magnificent things, if you like! But your
old New England saints and dreamers are not your last word in America. They
tell me your ancestral Protestantisms are fast breaking down. Your churches
are turning into concert and lecture rooms. Catholicism is growing among
you,--science gaining on the quack-medicines! But there--there--I'll not
prate. Forgive me. This has been a fascinating half-hour. Only, take care!
I have seen you a Catholic once, for three minutes!'
'In St. Peter's.'
His look, smiling, provocative, drove home his shaft.
'I saw you overthrown. The great tradition swept upon you. You bowed to
She made no reply. Far within she was conscious of a kind of tremor. The
personality beside her seemed to be laying an intimate, encroaching hand
upon her own, and her maidenliness shrank before it.
She threw herself hastily upon other subjects. Presently, he found to his
surprise that she was speaking to him of his book.
'It would be so sad if it were not finished,' she said timidly. 'Mrs.
Burgoyne would feel it so.'
His expression changed.
'You think Mrs. Burgoyne cares about it so much?'
'But she worked so hard for it!'--cried Lucy, indignant with something in
his manner, though she could not have defined what. Her mind, indeed, was
full of vague and generous misgivings on the subject of Mrs. Burgoyne.
First she had been angry with Mr. Manisty for what had seemed to her
neglect and ingratitude. Now she was somehow dissatisfied with herself too.
'She worked too hard,' said Manisty gravely. 'It is a good thing the
pressure has been taken off. Have you found out yet, Miss Foster, what a
remarkable woman my cousin is?'
He turned to her with a sharp look of inquiry.
'I admire her all day long,' cried Lucy, warmly.
'That's right,' said Manisty slowly--'that's right. Do you know her
'Mr. Brooklyn told me--
'He doesn't know very much,--shall I tell it you?'
'If you ought--if Mrs. Burgoyne would like it,' said Lucy, hesitating.
There was a chivalrous feeling in the girl's mind that she was too new an
acquaintance, that she had no right to the secrets of this friendship, and
Manisty no right to speak of them.
But Manisty took no notice. With half-shut eyes, like a man looking into
the past, he began to describe his cousin; first as a girl in her father's
home; then in her married life, silent, unhappy, gentle; afterwards in
the dumb years of her irreparable grief; and finally in this last phase
of intellectual and spiritual energy, which had been such an amazement to
himself, which had first revealed to him indeed the true Eleanor.
He spoke slowly, with a singular and scrupulous choice of words; building
up the image of Mrs. Burgoyne's life and mind with an insight and a
delicacy which presently held his listener spell-bound. Several times Lucy
felt herself flooded with hot colour.
'Does he guess so much about--about us all?' she asked herself with a
Suddenly Manisty said, with an entire change of tone, springing to his feet
as he did so:
'In short, Miss Foster--my cousin Eleanor is one of the ablest and dearest
of women--and she and I have been completely wasting each other's time this
Lucy stared at him in astonishment.
'Shall I tell you why? We have been too kind to each other!'
He waited, studying his companion's face with a hard, whimsical look.
'Eleanor gave my book too much sympathy. It wanted brutality. I have
worn her out--and my book is in a mess. The best thing I could do for us
both--was to cut it short.'
Lucy was uncomfortably silent.
'There's no use in talking about it,' Manisty went on, impatiently, with
a shake of his great shoulders; 'I am not meant to work in partnership. A
word of blame depresses me; and I am made a fool by praise. It was all a
mistake. If only Eleanor could understand--that it's my own fault--and I
know it's my own fault--and not think me unjust and unkind. Miss Foster--'
Lucy looked up. In the glance she encountered, the vigorous and wilful
personality beside her seemed to bring all its force to bear upon herself--
'--if Eleanor talks to you--
'She never does!' cried Lucy.
'She might,' said Manisty, coolly. 'She might. If she does, persuade her of
my admiration, my gratitude! Tell her that I know very well that I am not
worth her help. Her inspiration would have led any other man to success. It
only failed because I was I. I hate to seem to discourage and disavow what
I once accepted so eagerly.--But a man must find out his own mistakes--and
thrash his own blunders. She was too kind to thrash them--so I have
appointed Neal to the office. Do you understand?'
She rose, full of wavering approvals and disapprovals, seized by him,--and
feeling with Mrs. Burgoyne.
'I understand only a very little,' she said, lifting her clear eyes to
his; 'except that I never saw anyone I--I cared for so much, in so short a
time--as Mrs. Burgoyne.'
'Ah! care for her!' he said, in another voice, with another aspect. 'Go on
caring for her! She needs it.'
They walked on together towards the villa, for Alfredo was on the balcony
signalling to them that the twelve o'clock breakfast was ready.
On the way Manisty turned upon her.
'Now, you are to be obedient! You are not to pay any attention to my
sister. She is not a happy person--but you are not to be sorry for her. You
can't understand her; and I beg you will not try. You are, please, to leave
her alone. Can I trust you?'
'Hadn't you better send me into Rome?' said Lucy, laughing and embarrassed.
'I always intended to do so,' said Manisty shortly.
* * * * *
Towards five o'clock, Alice Manisty arrived, accompanied by an elderly
maid. Lucy, before she escaped into the garden, was aware of a very
tall woman, possessing a harshly handsome face, black eyes, and a thin
long-limbed frame. These black eyes, uneasily bright, searched the salon,
as she entered it, only to fasten, with a kind of grip, in which there
was no joy, upon her brother. Lucy saw her kiss him with a cold
perfunctoriness, bowed herself, as her name was nervously pronounced
by Miss Manisty, and then withdrew. Mrs. Burgoyne was in Rome for the
But at dinner they all met, and Lucy could satisfy some of the curiosity
that burnt in her very feminine mind. Alice Manisty was dressed in black
lace and satin, and carried herself with stateliness. Her hair, black like
her brother's, though with a fine line of grey here and there, was of
enormous abundance, and she wore it heavily coiled round her head in a mode
which gave particular relief to the fire and restlessness of the eyes which
flashed beneath it. Beside her, Eleanor Burgoyne, though she too was rather
tall than short, suffered a curious eclipse. The plaintive distinction that
made the charm of Eleanor's expression and movements seemed for the moment
to mean and say nothing, beside the tragic splendour of Alice Manisty.
The dinner was not agreeable. Manisty was clearly ill at ease, and seething
with inward annoyance; Miss Manisty had the air of a frightened mouse;
Alice Manisty talked not at all, and ate nothing except some poached
eggs that she had apparently ordered for herself before dinner; and
Eleanor--chattering of her afternoon in Rome--had to carry through the
business as best she could, with occasional help from Lucy.
From the first it was unpleasantly evident to Manisty that his sister took
notice of Miss Foster. Almost her only words at table were addressed to the
girl sitting opposite to her; and her roving eyes returned again and again
to Lucy's fresh young face and quiet brow.
After dinner Manisty followed the ladies into the salon, and asked his
aunt's leave to smoke his cigarette with them.
Lucy wondered what had passed between him and his sister before dinner. He
was polite to her; and yet she fancied that their relations were already
Presently, as Lucy was busy with some embroidery on one of the settees
against the wall of the salon, she was conscious of Alice Manisty's
approach. The new-comer sat down beside her, bent over her work, asked
her a few low, deep-voiced questions. Those strange eyes fastened upon
her,--stared at her indeed.
But instantly Manisty was there, cigarette in hand, standing between them.
He distracted his sister's attention, and at the same moment Eleanor called
to Lucy from the piano.
'Won't you turn over for me? I can't play them by heart.'
Lucy wondered at the scantiness of Mrs. Burgoyne's musical memory that
night. She, who could play by the hour without note, on most occasions,
showed herself, on this, tied and bound to the printed page; and that page
must be turned for her by Lucy, and Lucy only.
Meanwhile Manisty sat beside his sister smoking, throwing first the left
leg over the right, then the right leg over the left, and making attempts
at conversation with her, that Eleanor positively must not see, lest music
and decorum both break down in a wreck of nervous laughter.
Alice Manisty scarcely responded; she sat motionless, her wild black head
bent like that of a Maenad at watch, her gaze fixed, her long thin hands
grasping the arm of her chair with unconscious force.
'What is she thinking of?' thought Lucy once, with a momentary shiver.
When bedtime came, Manisty gave the ladies their candles. As he bade
good-night to Lucy, he said in her ear: 'You said you wished to see the
Lateran Museum. My aunt will send Benson with you to-morrow.'
His tone did not ask whether she wished for the arrangement, but simply
Then, as Eleanor approached him, he raised his shoulders with a gesture
that only she saw, and led her a few steps apart in the dimly lighted
ante-room, where the candles were placed.
'She wants the most impossible things, my dear lady,' he said in low-voiced
despair--'things I can no more do than fly over the moon!'
'Edward!'--said his sister from the open door of the salon--'I should like
some further conversation with you before I go to bed.'
Manisty with the worst grace in the world saw his aunt and Eleanor to their
rooms, and then went back to surrender himself to Alice. He was a man who
took family relations hardly, impatient of the slightest bond that was not
of his own choosing. Yet it was Eleanor's judgment that, considering his
temperament, he had not been a bad brother to this wild sister. He had
spent both heart and thought upon her case; and at the root of his relation
to her, a deep and painful pity was easily to be divined.
Vast as the villa-apartment was, the rooms were all on one floor, and the
doors fitted badly. Lucy's sleep was haunted for long by a distant sound of
voices, generally low and restrained, but at moments rising and sharpening
as though their owners forgot the hour and the night. In the morning it
seemed to her that she had been last conscious of a burst of weeping, far
distant--then of a sudden silence ...
* * * * *
The following day, Lucy in Benson's charge paid her duty to the Sophocles
of the Lateran Museum, and, armed with certain books lent her by Manisty,
went wandering among the art and inscriptions of Christian Rome. She came
home, inexplicably tired, through a glorious Campagna, splashed with
poppies, embroidered with marigold and vetch; she climbed the Alban slopes
from the heat below, and rejoiced in the keener air of the hills, and the
freshness of the _ponente_, as she drove from the station to the villa.
Mrs. Burgoyne was leaning over the balcony looking out for her. Lucy ran
up to her, astonished at her own eagerness of foot, at the breath of home
which seemed to issue from the great sun-beaten house.
Eleanor looked pale and tired, but she took the girl's hand kindly.
'Oh! you must keep all your gossip for dinner!' said Eleanor, as they
greeted. 'It will help us through. It has been rather a hard day.'
Lucy's face showed her sympathy, and the question she did not like to put
'Oh, it has been a wrestle all day,' said Eleanor wearily. 'She wants Mr.
Manisty to do certain things with her property, that as her trustee he
_cannot_ do. She has the maddest ideas--she _is_ mad. And when she is
crossed, she is terrible.'
At dinner Lucy did her best to lighten the atmosphere, being indeed most
truly sorry for her poor friends and their dilemma. But her pleasant
girlish talk seemed to float above an abyss of trouble and discomfort,
which threatened constantly to swallow it up.
Alice Manisty indeed responded. She threw off her silence, and talked
of Rome, exclusively to Lucy and with Lucy, showing in her talk a great
deal of knowledge and a great deal of fine taste, mingled with occasional
violence and extravagance. Her eyes indeed were wilder than ever. They
shone with a miserable intensity, that became a positive glare once or
twice, when Manisty addressed her. Her whole aspect breathed a tragic
determination, crossed with an anger she was hardly able to restrain. Lucy
noticed that she never spoke to or answered her brother if she could help
After dinner Lucy found herself the object of various embarrassing
overtures on the part of the new-comer. But on each occasion Manisty
interposed at first adroitly, then roughly. On the last occasion Alice
Manisty sprang to her feet, went to the side table where the candles
were placed, disappeared and did not return. Manisty, his aunt, and Mrs.
Burgoyne, drew together in a corner of the salon discussing the events of
the day in low anxious voices. Lucy thought herself in the way, and went to
* * * * *
After some hours of sleep, Lucy awoke, conscious of movement somewhere near
her. With the advent of the hot weather she had been moved to a room on the
eastern side of the villa, in one of two small wings jutting out from the
facade. She had locked her door, but the side window of her room, which
overlooked the balcony towards the lake, was open, and slight sounds came
from the balcony. Springing up she crept softly towards the window. The
wooden shutters had been drawn forward, but both they and the casements
Through the chink she saw a strange sight. On the step leading from the
house to the terrace of the balcony sat Alice Manisty. Her head was
thrown back against the wall of the villa, and her hands were clasped upon
her knee. Her marvellous hair fell round her shoulders, and a strange
illumination, in which a first gleam of dawn mingled with the moonlight,
struck upon the white face and white hands emerging from the darkness of
her hair and of her loose black dress.
Was she asleep? Lucy, holding back so as not to be seen, peered with held
breath. No!--the large eyes were wide open, though it seemed to Lucy that
they saw nothing. Minute after minute passed. The figure on the terrace
sat motionless. There were two statues on either side of her, a pair of
battered round-limbed nymphs, glorified by the moonlight into a grace and
poetry not theirs by day. They seemed to be looking down upon the woman at
their feet in a soft bewilderment--wondering at a creature so little like
themselves; while from the terrace came up the scent of the garden, heavy
with roses and bedrenched with dew.
Suddenly it seemed to Lucy as though that white face, those intolerable
eyes, awoke--turned towards herself, penetrated her room, pursued her. The
figure moved, and there was a low sound of words. Her window was in truth
inaccessible from the terrace; but in a panic fear, Lucy threw herself
on the casement and the shutters, closed them and drew the bolts; as
noiselessly as: she could, still not without some noise. Then hurrying to
her bed, she threw herself upon it, panting--in a terror she could neither
explain nor compose.
'My dear lady--there's nothing to be done with her whatever. She will not
yield one inch--and I cannot. But one thing at last is clear to me. The
mischief has made progress--I fear, great progress.'
Manisty had drawn his cousin into the garden, and they were pacing the
avenue. With his last words he turned upon her a grave significant look.
The cause of Alice Manisty's visit, indeed, had turned out to be precisely
what Manisty supposed. The sister had come to Marinata in order to persuade
her brother, as one of the trustees of her property, to co-operate with
her in bestowing some of her money on the French artist, Monsieur Octave
Vacherot, to whom, as she calmly avowed, her affections were indissolubly
attached, though she did not ever intend to marry him, nor indeed to
see much of him in the future. 'I shall never do him the disservice of
becoming his wife'--she announced, with her melancholy eyes full upon her
brother--'But money is of no use to me. He is young and can employ it.'
Manisty inquired whether the gentleman in question was aware of what she
proposed. Alice replied that if money were finally settled upon him he
would accept it; whereas his pride did not allow him to receive perpetual
small sums at her hands. 'But if I settle a definite sum upon him, he will
take it as an endowment of his genius. It would be giving to the public,
not to him. His great ideas would get their chance.'
Manisty, in his way as excitable as she, had evidently found it difficult
to restrain himself when M. Octave Vacherot's views as to his own value
were thus explained to him. Nevertheless he seemed to have shown on the
whole a creditable patience, to have argued with his sister, to have even
offered her money of his own, for the temporary supply of M. Vacherot's
necessities. But all to no avail; and in the end it had come of course
to his flatly refusing any help of his to such a scheme, and without it
the scheme fell. For their father had been perfectly well aware of his
daughter's eccentricities, and had placed her portion, by his will, in the
hands of two trustees, of whom her brother was one, without whose consent
she could not touch the capital.
'It always seemed to her a monstrous arrangement,' said Manisty, 'and I can
see now it galls her to the quick to have to apply to me, in this way. I
don't wonder--but I can't help it. The duty's there--worse luck!--and I've
got to face it, for my father's sake. Besides, if I were to consent, the
other fellow--an old cousin of ours--would never dream of doing it. So
what's the good? All the same, it makes me desperately anxious, to see the
effect that this opposition of mine produces upon her.'
'I saw yesterday that she must have been crying in the night'--said
Her words evoked some emotion in Manisty.
'She cried in my presence, and I believe she cried most of the night
afterwards,'--he said in hasty pain. 'That beast Vacherot!'
'Why doesn't she marry him?'
'For the noblest of reasons!--She knows that her brain is clouded, and she
won't let him run the risk.'
Their eyes met in a quick sympathy. She saw that his poetic susceptibility,
the romantic and dramatic elements in him were all alive to his sister's
case. How critically, sharply perceptive he was--or could be--with regard
apparently to everybody in the world--save one! Often--as they talked--her
heart stirred in this way, far out of sight, like a fluttering and wounded
'It is the strangest madness'--said Manisty presently--'Many people would
say it was only extravagance of imagination unless they knew--what I know.
She told me last night, that she was not one person but two--and the other
self was a brother!--not the least like me--who constantly told her what to
do, and what not to do. She calls him quite calmly "my brother John"--"my
heavenly brother." She says that he often does strange things, things that
she does not understand; but that he tells her the most wonderful secrets;
and that he is a greater poet than any now living. She says that the first
time she perceived him as separate from herself was one day in Venice, when
a friend came for her to the hotel. She went out with the friend, or seemed
to go out with her--and then suddenly she perceived that she was lying
on her bed, and that the other Alice--had been John! He looks just like
herself--but for the eyes. The weirdness of her look as she tells these
things! But she expresses herself often with an extraordinary poetry. I
envy her the words, and the phrases!--It seemed to me once or twice, that
she had all sorts of things I wished to have. If one could only be a little
mad--one might write good books!'
He turned upon his companion, with a wild brilliance in his own blue eyes,
that, taken together with the subject of their conversation and his many
points of physical likeness to his sister, sent an uncomfortable thrill
through Eleanor. Nevertheless, as she knew well, at the very bottom of
Manisty's being, there lay a remarkable fund of ordinary capacity, an
invincible sanity in short, which had always so far rescued him in the long
run from that element which was extravagance in him, and madness in his
And certainly nothing could have been more reasonable, strong and kind,
than his further talk about his sister. He confided to his cousin that his
whole opinion of Alice's state had changed; that certain symptoms for which
he had been warned to be on the watch had in his judgment appeared; that he
had accordingly written to a specialist in Rome, asking him to come and see
Alice, without warning, on the following day; and that he hoped to be able
to persuade her without too much conflict to accept medical watching and
treatment for a time.
'I feel that it is plotting against her,' he said, not without feeling,
'but it has gone too far--she is not safe for herself or others. One of the
most anxious things is this night-wandering, which has taken possession of
her. Did you hear her last night?'
'Last night?'--said Eleanor, startled.
'I had been warned by Dalgetty,' said Manisty. 'And between three and four
I thought I heard sounds somewhere in the direction of the Albano balcony.
So I crept out through the salon into the library. And there, sitting on
the step of the glass passage--was Alice--looking as though she were turned
to marble--and staring at Miss Foster's room! To my infinite relief I saw
that Miss Foster's shutters and windows were fast closed. But I felt I
could not leave Alice there. I made a little noise in the library to warn
her, and then I came out upon her. She showed no surprise--nor did I. I
asked her to come and look at the sunrise striking over the Campagna.
She made no objection, and I took her through my room and the salon to
the salon balcony. The sight was marvellous; and first, it gave her
pleasure--she said a few things about it with her old grace and power.
Then--in a minute--a veil seemed to fall over her eyes. The possessed,
miserable look came back. She remembered that she hated me--that I had
thwarted her. Yet I was able to persuade her to go back to her room. I
promised that we would have more talk to-day. And when she had safely shut
her own door--you know that tiled ante-room, that leads to her room?--I
found the key of it, and locked it safely from outside. That's one access
to her. The other is through the room in which Dalgetty was sleeping. I'd
have given a good deal to warn Dalgetty, but I dared not risk it. She had
not heard Alice go out by the ante-room, but she told me the other day the
smallest sound in her own room woke her. So I felt tolerably safe, and I
went to bed.--Eleanor! do you think that child saw or knew anything of it?'
'Lucy Foster? I noticed nothing.'
The name, even on her own lips, struck Eleanor's aching sense like a
sound of fate. It seemed now as if through every conversation she foresaw
it--that all talk led up to it.
'She looks unlike herself still, this morning--don't you think?' said
Manisty, in disquiet.
'Very possibly she got some chill at Nemi--some slight poison--which will
'Well, now'--he said, after a pause--'how shall we get through the day? I
shall have another scene with Alice, I suppose. I don't see how it is to
be avoided. Meanwhile--will you keep Miss Foster here?'--he pointed to the
garden--'out of the way?'
'I must think of Aunt Pattie, remember,' said Eleanor quickly.
'Ah! dear Aunt Pattie!--but bring her too.--I see perfectly well that Alice
has already marked Miss Foster. She has asked me many questions about her.
She feels her innocence and freshness like a magnet, drawing out her own
sorrows and grievances. My poor Alice--what a wreck! Could I have done
He walked on absently, his hands behind his back, his face working
Eleanor was touched. She did her best to help him throw off his misgivings;
she defended him from himself; she promised him her help, not with the old
effusion, but still with a cousinly kindness. And his mercurial nature soon
passed into another mood--a mood of hopefulness that the doctor would set
everything right, that Alice would consent to place herself under proper
care, that the crisis would end well--and in twenty-four hours.
'Meanwhile for this afternoon?' said Eleanor.
'Oh! we must be guided by circumstances. We understand each
other.--Eleanor!--what a prop, what a help you are!'
She shrank into herself. It was true indeed that she had passed through
a good many disagreeable hours since Alice Manisty arrived, on her own
account; for she had been left in charge several times; and she had a
secret terror of madness. Manisty had not given her much thanks till now.
His facile gratitude seemed to her a little tardy. She smiled and put it
* * * * *
Manisty wrestled with his sister again that morning, while the other three
ladies, all of them silent and perturbed, worked and read in the garden.
Lucy debated with herself whether she should describe what she had seen
the night before. But her instinct was always to make no unnecessary fuss.
What harm was there in sitting out of doors, on an Italian night in May?
She would not add to the others' anxieties. Moreover she felt a curious
slackness and shrinking from exertion--even the exertion of talking. As
Eleanor had divined, she had caught a slight chill at Nemi, and the effects
of it were malarious, in the Italian way. She was conscious of a little
shiveriness and languor, and of a wish to lie or sit quite still. But Aunt
Pattie was administering quinine, and keeping a motherly eye upon her.
There was nothing, according to her, to be alarmed about.
At the end of a couple of hours, Manisty came out from his study much
discomposed. Alice Manisty shut herself up in her room, and Manisty
summoned Eleanor to walk up and down a distant path with him.
When luncheon came Alice Manisty did not appear. Dalgetty brought a message
excusing her, to which Manisty listened in silence.
Aunt Pattie slipped out to see that the visitor had everything she
required. But she returned almost instantly, her little parchment face
quivering with nervousness.
'Alice would not see me,' she said to Manisty.
'We must leave her alone,' he said quickly. 'Dalgetty will look after her.'
The meal passed under a cloud of anxiety. For once Manisty exerted himself
to make talk, but not with much success.
As the ladies left the dining-room, he detained Lucy.
'Would it be too hot for you in the garden now? Would you mind returning
Lucy fetched her hat. There was only one short stretch of sun-beaten path
to cross, and then, beyond, one entered upon the deep shade of the ilexes,
already penetrated, at the turn of the day, by the first breaths of the
sea-wind from the west. Manisty carried her books, and arranged a chair for
her. Then he looked round to see if any one was near. Yes. Two gardeners
were cutting the grass in the central zone of the garden--well within call.
'My aunt, or Mrs. Burgoyne will follow you very shortly,' he said 'You do
not mind being alone?'
'Please, don't think of me!' cried Lucy. 'I am afraid I am in your way.'
'It will be all right to-morrow,' he said, following his own thoughts. 'May
I ask that you will stay here for the present?'
Lucy promised, and he went.
She was left to think first, to think many times, of the constant courtesy
and kindness which had now wholly driven from her mind the memory of his
first manner to her; then to ponder, with a growing fascination which her
own state of slight fever and the sultry heat of the day seemed to make it
impossible for her to throw off, on Alice Manisty, on the incident of the
night before, and on the meaning of the poor lady's state and behaviour.
She had taken Mrs. Burgoyne's word of 'mad' in a general sense, as meaning
eccentricity and temper. But surely they were gravely anxious--and
everything was most strange and mysterious. The memory of the white staring
face under the moonlight appalled her. She tried not to think of it; but it
Her nerves were not in their normal state; and as she sat there in the
cool, dark, vague, paralysing fears swept across her, of which she was
ashamed, One minute she longed to go back to them, and help them. The next,
she recognised that the best help she could give was to stay where she was.
She saw very well that she was a responsibility and a care to them.
'If it lasts, I must go away'--she said to herself firmly. 'Certainly I
But at the thought of going, the tears came into her eyes. At most, there
was little more than a fortnight before the party broke up, and she went
with Aunt Pattie to Vallombrosa.
She took up the book upon her knee. It was a fine poem in Roman dialect,
on the immortal retreat of Garibaldi after '49. But after a few lines,
she let it drop again, listlessly. One of the motives which had entered
into her reading of these things--a constant heat of antagonism and of
protest--seemed to have gone out of her.
* * * * *
Meanwhile Aunt Pattie, Eleanor and Manisty held conclave in Aunt Pattie's
sitting-room, which was a little room at the south-western corner of the
apartment. It opened out of the salon, and overlooked the Campagna.
On the north-eastern side, Dalgetty, Alice Manisty's maid, sat sewing in a
passage-room, which commanded the entrance to the glass passage--her own
door--the door of the ante-room that Manisty had spoken of to Eleanor, and
close beside her a third door--which was half open--communicating with
Manisty's library. The glass passage, or conservatory, led directly to the
staircase and the garden, past the French windows of the library.
Dalgetty was a person of middle age, a strongly made Scotchwoman with
a high forehead and fashionable rolls of sandy hair. Her face was thin
and freckled, and one might have questioned whether its expression was
shrewd, or self-important. She was clearly thinking of other matters than
needlework. Her eyes travelled constantly to one or other of the doors in
sight; and her lips had the pinched tension that shows preoccupation.
Her mind indeed harboured a good many disagreeable thoughts. In the first
place she was pondering the qualities of a certain drug lately recommended
as a sedative to her mistress. It seemed to Dalgetty that its effect had
not been good, but evil; or rather that it acted capriciously, exciting as
often as it soothed. Yet Miss Alice would take it. On coming to her room
after her interview with her brother, she had fallen first into a long fit
of weeping, and then, after much restless pacing to and fro, she had put
her hands to her head in a kind of despair, and had bidden Dalgetty give
her the new medicine. 'I must lie down and sleep--_sleep!_'--she had said,
And then she had paused, looking at Dalgetty with an aspect so piteous and
wild that the maid's heart had quaked within her. Nevertheless she had
tried to keep the new medicine away from her mistress. But Miss Alice had
shown such uncontrollable anger on being crossed, that there was nothing
for it but to yield. And as all was quiet in her room, Dalgetty hoped that
this time the medicine would prove to be a friend, and not a foe, and that
the poor lady would wake up calmer and less distraught.
She was certainly worse--much worse. The maid guessed at Mr. Manisty's
opinion; she divined the approach of some important step. Very likely she
would soon be separated from her mistress; and the thought depressed her.
Not only because she had an affection for her poor charge; but also because
she was a rather lazy and self-indulgent woman. Miss Alice had been very
trying certainly; but she was not exacting in the way of late hours and
needlework; she had plenty of money, and she liked moving about. All these
qualities suited the tastes of the maid, who knew that she would not easily
obtain another post so much to her mind.
The electric bell on the outer landing rang. Alfredo admitted the caller,
and Dalgetty presently perceived a tall priest standing in the library. He
was an old man with beautiful blue eyes, and he seemed to Dalgetty to have
a nervous timid air.
Alfredo had gone to ask Mr. Manisty whether he could receive this
gentleman--and meanwhile the stranger stood there twisting his long bony
hands, and glancing about him with the shyness of a bird.
Presently Alfredo came back, and conducted the priest to the salon.
He had not been gone five minutes before Mr. Manisty appeared. He came
through the library, and stood in the doorway of the passage room where she
'All right, Dalgetty?' he said, stooping to her, and speaking in a whisper.
'I think and hope she's asleep, sir,' said the maid, in his ear--'I have
heard nothing this half-hour.'
Manisty looked relieved, repeated his injunctions to be watchful, and went
back to the salon. Dalgetty presently heard his voice in the distance,
mingling with those of the priest and Mrs. Burgoyne.
Now she had nothing left to amuse her but the view through the glass
passage to the balcony and the lake. It was hot, and she was tired of her
sewing. The balcony however was in deep shade, and a breath of cool air
came up from the lake. Dalgetty could not resist it. She glanced at her
mistress's door and listened a moment. All silence.
She put down her work and slipped through the glass passage on to the broad
There her ears were suddenly greeted with a sound of riotous shouting and
singing on the road, and Alfredo ran out from the dining-room to join her.
'_Festa!_'--he said, nodding to her in a kindly patronage, and speaking as
he might have spoken to a child--'_Festa!_'
And Dalgetty began to see a number of carts adorned with green boughs and
filled with singing people, coming along the road. Each cart had a band of
girls dressed alike--red, white, orange, blue, and so forth.
Alfredo endeavoured to explain that these were Romans who after visiting
the church of the 'Madonna del Divino Amore' in the plain were now bound to
an evening of merriment at Albano. According to him it was not so much a
case of 'divino amore' as of 'amore di vino,' and he was very anxious that
the English maid should understand his pun. She laughed--pretended--showed
off her few words of Italian. She thought Alfredo a funny, handsome little
man, a sort of toy wound up, of which she could not understand the works.
But after all he was a man; and the time slipped by.
After ten minutes, she remembered her duties with a start, and hastily
crossing the glass passage, she returned to her post. All was just as she
had left it. She listened at Miss Alice's door. Not a sound was to be
heard; and she resumed her sewing.
* * * * *
Meanwhile Manisty and Eleanor were busy with Father Benecke. The poor
priest had come full of a painful emotion, which broke its bounds as soon
as he had Manisty's hand in his.
'You got my letter?' he said. 'That told you my hopes were dead--that the
sands for me were running out?--Ah! my kind friend--there is worse to tell
He stood clinging unconsciously to Manisty's hand, his eyes fixed upon the
'I had submitted. The pressure upon me broke me down. I had given way. They
brought me a message from the Holy Father which wrung my heart. Next week
they were to publish the official withdrawal--"_librum reprobavit, et se
laudabiliter subjecit_"--you know the formula? But meanwhile they asked
more of me. His Eminence entreated of me a private letter that he might
send it to the Holy Father. So I made a condition. I would write,--but they
must promise, on their part, that nothing should be published beyond the
formal submission,--that my letter should be for his eyes alone, and for
the Pope. They promised,--oh! not in writing--I have nothing written!--so I
wrote. I placed myself, like a son, in the hands of the Holy Father.--Now,
this morning there is my letter--the whole of it--in the _Osservatore
Romano_! To-morrow!--I came to tell you--I withdraw it. I withdraw my
He drew himself up, his blue eyes shining. Yet they were swollen with
fatigue and sleeplessness, and over the whole man a blighting breath of age
and pain had passed since the day in St. Peter's.
Manisty looked at him in silence a moment. Then he said--
'I'm sorry--heartily, heartily sorry!'
At this Eleanor, thinking that the two men would prefer to be alone, turned
to leave the room. The priest perceived it.
'Don't leave us, madame, on my account. I have no secrets, and I know that
you are acquainted with some at least of my poor history. But perhaps I am
intruding; I am in your way?'
He looked round him in bewilderment. It was evident to Eleanor that he
had come to Manisty in a condition almost as unconscious of outward
surroundings as that of the sleep-walker. And she and Manisty, on their
side, as they stood looking at him, lost the impression of the bodily man
in the overwhelming impression of a wounded spirit, struggling with mortal
'Come and sit down,' she said to him gently, and she led him to a chair.
Then she went into the next room, poured out and brought him a cup of
coffee. He took it with an unsteady hand and put it down beside him
untouched. Then he looked at Manisty and began in detail the story of all
that had happened to him since the letter in which he had communicated to
his English friend the certainty of his condemnation.
Nothing could have been more touching than his absorption in his own
case; his entire unconsciousness of anything in Manisty's mind that could
conflict with it. Eleanor turning from his tragic simplicity to Manisty's
ill-concealed worry and impatience, pitied both. That poor Father Benecke
should have brought his grief to Manisty, on this afternoon of all
It had been impossible to refuse to see him. He had come a pilgrimage from
Rome and could not be turned away. But she knew well that Manisty's ear was
listening all the time for every sound in the direction of his sister's
room; his anxieties indeed betrayed themselves in every restless movement
as he sat with averted head--listening.
Presently he got up, and with a hurried 'Excuse me an instant'--he left the
Father Benecke ceased to speak, his lips trembling. To find himself alone
with Mrs. Burgoyne embarrassed him. He sat, folding his soutane upon his
knee, answering in monosyllables to the questions that she put him. But
her sympathy perhaps did more to help him unpack his heart than he knew;
for when Manisty returned, he began to talk rapidly and well, a natural
eloquence returning to him. He was a South German, but he spoke a fine
literary English, of which the very stumbles and occasional naivetes had
a peculiar charm; like the faults which reveal a pure spirit even more
plainly than its virtues.
He reached his climax, in a flash of emotion--
'My submission, you see--the bare fact of it--left my cause intact. It
was the soldier falling by the wall. But my letter must necessarily be
misunderstood--my letter betrays the cause. And for that I have no right.
You understand? I thought of the Pope--the old man. They told me he was
distressed--that the Holy Father had suffered--had lost sleep--through me!
So I wrote out of my heart--like a son. And the paper this morning!--See--I
have brought it you--the _Osservatore Romano_. It is insolent--brutal--but
not to me! No, it is all honey to me! But to the truth--to our
ideas.--No!--I cannot suffer it. I take it back!--I bear the consequences.'
And with trembling fingers, he took a draft letter from his pocket, and
handed it, with the newspaper, to Manisty.
Manisty read the letter, and returned it, frowning.
'Yes--you have been abominably treated--no doubt of that. But have you
counted the cost? You know my point of view! It's one episode, for me, in a
world-wide struggle. Intellectually I am all with you--strategically, all
with them. They can't give way! The smallest breach lets in the flood. And
'But the flood is truth!' said the old man, gazing at Manisty. There was a
spot of red on each wasted cheek.
Manisty shrugged his shoulders, then dropped his eyes upon the ground, and
sat pondering awhile in a moody silence. Eleanor looked at him in some
astonishment. It was as though for the first time his habitual paradox hurt
him in the wielding--or rather as though he shrank from using what was a
conception of the intellect upon the flesh and blood before him. She had
never yet seen him visited by a like compunction.
It was curious indeed to see that Father Benecke himself was not affected
by Manisty's attitude. From the beginning he had always instinctively
appealed from the pamphleteer to the man. Manisty had been frank, brutal
even. But notwithstanding, the sensitive yet strong intelligence of the
priest had gone straight for some core of thought in the Englishman
that it seemed only he divined. And it was clear that his own utter
selflessness--his poetic and passionate detachment from all the objects
of sense and ambition--made him a marvel to Manisty's more turbid and
ambiguous nature. There had been a mystical attraction between them from
the first; so that Manisty, even when he was most pugnacious, had yet a
filial air and way towards the old man.
Eleanor too had often felt the spell. Yet to-day there were both in herself
and Manisty hidden forces of fever and unrest which made the pure idealism,
the intellectual tragedy of the priest almost unbearable. Neither--for
different and hidden reasons--could respond; and it was an infinite relief
to both when the old man at last rose to take his leave.
They accompanied him through the library to the glass passage.
'Keep me informed,' said Manisty, wringing him by the hand; 'and tell me if
there is anything I can do.'
Eleanor said some parting words of sympathy. The priest bowed to her with a
grave courtesy in reply.
'It will be as God wills,' he said gently; and then went his way in a sad
Eleanor was left a moment alone. She put her hands over her heart, and
pressed them there. 'He suffers from such high things!'--she said to
herself in a sudden passion of misery--'and I?'
* * * * *
Manisty came hurrying back from the staircase, and crossed the library
to the passage-room beyond. When he saw Dalgetty there, still peacefully
sewing, his look of anxiety cleared again.
'All right?' he said to her.
'She hasn't moved, sir. Miss Manisty's just been to ask, but I told her
it's the best sleep Miss Alice has had this many a day. After all, that
stuff do seem to have done her good.'
'Well, Eleanor--shall we go and look after Miss Foster?'--he said,
returning to her.
They entered the garden with cheered countenances. The secret terror of
immediate and violent outbreak which had possessed Manisty since the
morning subsided; and he drew in the _ponente_ with delight.
Suddenly, however, as they turned into the avenue adorned by the battered
bust of Domitian, Manisty's hand went up to his eyes. He stopped; he gave a
'Good God!'--he said--'She is there!'
And halfway down the shadowy space, Eleanor saw two figures, one white, the
other dark, close together.
She caught Manisty by the arm.
'Don't hurry!--don't excite her!'
As they came nearer, they saw that Lucy was still in the same low chair
where Manisty had left her. Her head was thrown back against the cushions,
and her face shone deathly white from the rich sun-warmed darkness shed by
the over-arching trees. And kneeling beside her, holding both her helpless
wrists, bending over her in a kind of passionate, triumphant possession,
was Alice Manisty.
At the sound of the steps on the gravel she looked round; and at the sight
of her brother, she slowly let fall the hands she held--she slowly rose to
her feet. Her tall emaciated form held itself defiantly erect; her eyes
'Alice!'--said Manisty, approaching her--'I have something important to say
to you. I have reconsidered our conversation of this morning, and I came to
tell you so. Come back with me to the library--and let us go into matters
He spoke with gentleness, controlling her with a kind look. She shivered
and hesitated; her eyes wavered. Then she began to say a number of rapid,
incoherent things, in an under-voice. Manisty drew her hand within his arm.
'Come,' he said, and turned to the house.
She pulled herself angrily away.
'You are deceiving me,' she said. 'I won't go with you.'
But Manisty captured her again.
'Yes--we must have our talk,' he said, with firm cheerfulness; 'there will
be no time to-night.'
She broke into some passionate reproach, speaking in a thick low voice
He answered it, and she replied. It was a quick dialogue, soothing on his
side, wild on hers. Lucy, who had dragged herself from her attitude of
mortal languor, sat with both hands grasping her chair, staring at the
brother and sister. Eleanor had eyes for none but Manisty. Never had she
seen him so adequate, so finely master of himself.
He conquered. Alice dropped her head sullenly, and let herself be led away.
Then Eleanor turned to Lucy, and the girl, with a great sob, leant against
her dress, and burst into uncontrollable tears.
'Has she been long here?' said Eleanor, caressing the black hair.
'Very nearly an hour, I think. It seemed interminable. She has been telling
me of her enemies--her unhappiness--how all her letters are opened--how
everybody hates her--especially Mr. Manisty. She was followed at
Venice by people who wished to kill her. One night, she says, she
got into her gondola, in a dark canal, and found there a man with a
dagger who attacked her. She only just escaped. There were many other
things,--so--so--horrible!'--said Lucy, covering her eyes. But the next
moment she raised them. 'Surely,' she said imploringly, 'surely she is
Eleanor looked down upon her, mutely nodding.
'There is a doctor coming to-morrow,' she said, almost in a whisper.
'But we have to get through the night,' said Eleanor.
'Oh! at night'--said Lucy--'if one found her there--beside one--one would
die of it! I tried to shake her off just now, several times; but it was
She tried to control herself, to complain no more, but she trembled
from head to foot. It was evident that she was under some overmastering
impression, some overthrow of her own will-power which had unnerved and
disorganised her. Eleanor comforted her as best she could.
'Dalgetty and Edward will take care of her to-night,'--she said. 'And
to-morrow, she will be sent to some special care. How she escaped from her
room this afternoon I cannot imagine. We were all three on the watch.'
Lucy said nothing. She clung to Eleanor's hand, while long shuddering
breaths, gradually subsiding, passed through her; like the slow departure
of some invading force.
After Manisty had carried off his sister, Eleanor and Lucy sat together in
the garden, talking sometimes, but more often silent, till the sun began to
drop towards Ostia and the Mediterranean.
'You must come in,' said Eleanor, laying her hand on the girl's. 'The chill
Lucy rose, conscious again of the slight giddiness of fever, and they
walked towards the house. Half way, Lucy said with sudden, shy energy--
'I do _wish_ I were quite myself! It is I who ought to be helping you
through this--and I am just nothing but a worry!'
'You distract our thoughts,' she said. 'Nothing could have made this visit
of Alice's other than a trial.'
She spoke kindly, but with that subtle lack of response to Lucy's sympathy
which had seemed to spring first into existence on the day of Nemi. Lucy
had never felt at ease with her since then, and her heart, in truth, was
a little sore. She only knew that something intangible and dividing had
arisen between them; and that she felt herself once more the awkward,
ignorant girl beside this delicate and high-bred woman, on whose confidence
and friendship she had of course no claim whatever. Already she was
conscious of a certain touch of shame when she thought of her new dresses
and of Mrs. Burgoyne's share in them. Had she been after all the mere
troublesome intruder? Her swimming head and languid spirits left her the
prey of these misgivings.
Aunt Pattie met them at the head of the long flight of stone stairs which
led from the garden to the first floor. Her finger was on her lip.
'Will you come through my room?' she said under her breath. 'Edward and
Alice are in the library.'
So they made a round--every room almost in the apartment communicating with
every other--and thus reached Aunt Pattie's sitting-room and the salon.
Lucy sat shivering beside the wood-fire in Aunt Pattie's room, which Miss
Manisty had lit as soon as she set eyes upon her; while the two other
ladies murmured to each other in the salon.
The rich wild light from the Campagna flooded the room; the day sank
rapidly and a strange hush crept through the apartment. The women
working among the olives below had gone home; there were no sounds from
the Marinata road; and the crackling of the fire alone broke upon the
stillness--except for a sound which emerged steadily as the silence grew.
It seemed to be a man's voice reading. Once it was interrupted by a laugh
out of all scale--an ugly, miserable laugh--and Lucy shuddered afresh.
Meanwhile Aunt Pattie was whispering to Eleanor.
'He was wonderful--quite wonderful! I did not think he could--'
'He can do anything he pleases. He seems to be reading aloud?'
'He is reading some poems, my dear, that she wrote at Venice. She gave them
to him to look at the day she came. I daresay they're quite mad, but he's
reading and discussing them as though they were the most important things,
and it pleases her,--poor, poor Alice! First, you know, he quieted her very
much about the money. I listened at the door sometimes, before you came in.
She seems quite reconciled to him.'
'All the same, I wish this night were over and the doctor here!' said
Eleanor, and Miss Manisty, lifting her hands, assented with all the energy
her small person could throw into the gesture.
* * * * *
Lucy, in the course of dressing for dinner, decided that to sit through a
meal was beyond her powers, and that she would be least in the way if she
went to bed. So she sent a message to Miss Manisty, and was soon lying at
ease, with the window opposite her bed opened wide to Monte Cavo and the
moonlit lake. The window on her left hand, which looked on the balcony,
she herself had closed and fastened with all possible care. And she had
satisfied herself that her key was in her door. As soon as Miss Manisty and
Eleanor had paid her their good-night visit, she meant to secure herself.
And presently Aunt Pattie came in, to see that she had her soup and had
taken her quinine. The little old lady did not talk to Lucy of her niece,
nor of the adventure of the afternoon, though she had heard all from
Eleanor. Her family pride, as secret as it was intense, could hardly endure
this revelation of the family trouble and difficulty to a comparative
stranger, much as she liked the stranger. Nevertheless her compunctions
on the subject showed visibly. No cares and attentions could be too much
for the girl in her charge, who had suffered annoyance at the hands of a
Manisty, while her own natural protectors were far away.
'Benson, my dear, will come and look after you the last thing,' said the
old lady, not without a certain stateliness. 'You will lock your door--and
I hope you will have a very good night.'
Half an hour later came Mrs. Burgoyne. Lucy's candle was out. A wick
floating on oil gave a faint light in one corner of the room. Across the
open window a muslin curtain had been drawn, to keep out bats and moths.
But the moonlight streamed through, and lay in patches on the brick floor.
And in this uncertain illumination Lucy could just see the dark pits of
Eleanor's eyes, the sharp slightness of her form, the dim wreath of hair.
'You may be quite happy,' said Eleanor bending over her, and speaking
almost in a whisper. 'She is much quieter. They have given her a stronger
sleeping draught and locked all the doors--except the door into Dalgetty's
room. And that is safe, for Dalgetty has drawn her bed right across it.
If Alice tries to come through, she must wake her, and Dalgetty is quite
strong enough to control her. Besides, Manisty would be there in a moment.
So you may be quite, quite at ease.'
Lucy thanked her.
'And you?' she said wistfully, feeling for Eleanor's hand.
Eleanor yielded it for an instant, then withdrew it, and herself.--'Oh,
thank you--I shall sleep excellently. Alice takes no interest, alas! in
me! You are sure there is nothing else we can do for you?' She spoke in a
light, guarded voice, that seemed to Lucy to come from a person miles away.
'Thank you--I have everything.'
'Benson will bring you milk and lemonade. I shall send Marie the first
thing for news of you. You know she sleeps just beyond you, and you have
only to cross the dining room to find me. Good-night. Sleep well.'
As Eleanor closed the door behind her, Lucy was conscious of a peculiar
sinking of heart. Mrs. Burgoyne had once made all the advances in their
friendship. Lucy thought of two or three kisses that formerly had greeted
her cheek, to which she had been too shy and startled to respond. Now it
seemed to her difficult to imagine that Mrs. Burgoyne had ever caressed
her, had ever shown herself so sweet and gay and friendly as in those first
weeks when all Lucy's pleasure at the villa depended upon her. What was
wrong?--what had she done?
She lay drooping, her hot face pressed upon her hands, pondering the last
few weeks, thoughts and images passing through her brain with a rapidity
and an occasional incoherence that was the result of her feverish state.
How much she had seen and learnt in these flying days!--it often seemed to
her as though her old self had been put off along with her old clothes.
She was carried back to the early time when she had just patiently adapted
herself to Mr. Manisty's indifference and neglect, as she might have
adapted herself to any other condition of life at the villa. She had made
no efforts. It had seemed to her mere good manners to assume that he did
not want the trouble of her acquaintance, and be done with it. To her
natural American feeling indeed, as the girl of the party, it was strange
and disconcerting that her host should not make much of her. But she had
soon reconciled herself. After all, what was he to her or she to him?
Then, of a sudden, a whole swarm of incidents and impressions rushed upon
memory. The semi-darkness of her room was broken by images, brilliant or
tormenting--Mr. Manisty's mocking look in the Piazza of St. Peter's--his
unkindness to his cousin--his sweetness to his friend--the aspect, now
petulant, even childish, and now gracious and commanding beyond any other
she had ever known, which he had worn at Nemi. His face, upturned beside
her, as she and her horse climbed the steep path; the extraordinary
significance, fulness, warmth of the nature behind it; the gradual
unveiling of the man's personality, most human, faulty, self-willed, yet
perpetually interesting and challenging, whether to the love or hate of the
bystander:--these feelings or judgments about her host pulsed through the
girl's mind with an energy that she was powerless to arrest. They did not
make her happy, but they seemed to quicken and intensify all the acts of
thinking and living.
At last, however, she succeeded in recapturing herself, in beating back
the thoughts which, like troops over-rash on a doubtful field, appeared
to be carrying her into the ambushes and strongholds of an enemy. She
was impatient and scornful of them. For, crossing all these memories of
things, new or exciting, there was a constant sense of something untoward,
something infinitely tragic, accompanying them, developing beside them. In
this feverish silence it became a nightmare presence filling the room.
What was the truth about Mr. Manisty and his cousin? Lucy searched her own
innocent mind and all its new awakening perceptions in vain. The intimacy
of the friendship, as she had first seen it; the tone used by Mr. Manisty
that afternoon in speaking of Mrs. Burgoyne; the hundred small signs of a
deep distress in her, of a new detachment in him--Lucy wandered in darkness
as she thought of them, and yet with vague pangs and jarring vibrations of
Her troubled dream was suddenly broken by a sound. She sprang up trembling.
Was it an angry, distant voice? Did it come from the room across the
balcony? No!--it was the loud talking of a group of men on the road
outside. She shook all over, unable to restrain herself. 'What would Uncle
Ben think of me?' she said to herself in despair. For Uncle Ben loved calm
and self-control in women, and had often praised her for not being flighty
and foolish, as he in his bachelor solitude conceived most other young
women to be.
She looked down at her bandaged wrist. The wound still ached and burned
from the pressure of that wild grip which she had not been able to ward off
from it. Lucy herself had the strength of healthy youth, but she had felt
her strength as nothing in Alice Manisty's hands. And the tyranny of those
black eyes!--so like her brother's, without the human placable spark--and
the horror of those fierce possessing miseries that lived in them!
Perhaps after all Uncle Ben would not have thought her so cowardly! As she
sat up in bed, her hands round her knees, a pitiful home-sickness invaded
her. A May scent of roses coming from the wall below the open window
recalled to her the spring scents at home--not these strong Italian scents,
but thin northern perfumes of lilac and lavender, of pine-needles and fresh
grass. It seemed to her that she was on the slope behind Uncle Ben's house,
with the scattered farms below--and the maple green in the hollow--and the
grassy hillsides folded one upon another--and the gleam of a lake among
them--and on the furthest verge of the kind familiar scene, the blue and
shrouded heads of mountain peaks. She dropped her head on her knees, and
could hear the lowing of cattle and the clucking of hens; she saw the
meeting-house roof among the trees, and groups scattered through the lanes
on the way to the prayer meeting, the older women in their stuff dresses
and straw bonnets, the lean, bronzed men.
Benson's knock dispelled the mirage. The maid brought lemonade and milk,
brushed Lucy's long hair and made all straight and comfortable.
When her tendance was over she looked at the door and then at Lucy. 'Miss
Manisty said, Miss, I was to see you had your key handy. It's there all
right--but it is the door that's wrong. Never saw such flimsy things as the
doors in all this place.'
And Benson examined the two flaps of the door, filled with that frank
contempt for the foreigner's powers and intelligence which makes the
English race so beloved of Europe.
'Why, the floor-bolts'll scarcely hold, neither of them; and the lock's
that loose, it's a disgrace. But I shouldn't think the people that own this
place had spent a shilling on it since I was born. When you go to lay hold
on things they're just tumbling to bits.'
'Oh! never mind, Benson,' said Lucy--shrinking. 'I'm sure it'll be all
right. Thank you--and good-night.'
She and Benson avoided looking at each other; and the maid was far too
highly trained to betray any knowledge she was not asked for. But when
she had taken her departure Lucy slipped out of bed, turned the key, and
tightened the bolts herself. It was true that their sockets in the brick
floor were almost worn away; and the lock-case seemed scarcely to hold
upon the rotten wood. The wood-work, indeed, throughout the whole villa
was not only old and worm-eaten, but it had been originally of the rudest
description, meant for summer uses, and a villeggiatura existence in which
privacy was of small account. The Malestrini who had reared the villa above
the Campagna in the late seventeenth century had no money to waste on the
superfluities of doors that fitted and windows that shut; he had spent
all he had, and more, on the sprawling _putti_ and fruit wreaths of the
ceilings, and the arabesques of the walls. And now doors, windows, and
shutters alike, shrunken and scorched and blistered by the heat of two
hundred summers, were dropping into ruin.
The handling of this rotten lock and its rickety accompaniments suddenly
brought back a panic fear on Lucy. What if Alice Manisty and the wind,
which was already rising, should burst in upon her together? She looked
down upon her night-gown and her bare feet. Well, at least she would not be
taken quite unawares! She opened her cupboard and brought from it a white
wrapper of a thin woollen stuff which she put on. She thrust her feet into
her slippers, and so stood a moment listening, her long hair dropping
about her. Nothing! She lay down, and drew a shawl over her. 'I
won't--won't--sleep,' she said to herself.
And the last sound she was conscious of was the cry of the little downy
owl--so near that it seemed to be almost at her window.
* * * * *
'You are unhappy,' said a voice beside her.
Lucy started. The self in her seemed to wrestle its way upward from black
and troubled depths of sleep. She opened her eyes. Someone was bending over
her. She felt an ineffable horror, but not the smallest astonishment. Her
dreams had prophesied; and she saw what she foreknew.
In the wavering light she perceived a stooping form, and again she noticed
a whiteness of hands and face set in a black frame.
'Yes!' she said, lifting herself on her elbow. 'Yes!--what do you want?'
'You have been sobbing in your sleep,' said the voice. 'I know why you are
unhappy. My brother is beginning to love you--you might love him. But there
is some one between you--and there always will be. There is no hope for
you--unless I show you the way out.'
'Miss Manisty!--you oughtn't to be here,' said Lucy, raising herself higher
in bed and trying to speak with absolute self-command. 'Won't you go back
to bed--won't you let me take you?'
And she made a movement. Instantly a hand was put out. It seized her arm
first gently, then irresistibly.
'Don't, don't do that,' said the voice. 'It makes me angry--and--that
Alice Manisty raised her other hand to her head, with a strange piteous
gesture. Lucy was struck with the movement of the hand. It was shut over
something that it concealed.
'I don't want to make you angry,' she said, trying to speak gently and keep
down the physical tumult of the heart; 'but it is not good for you to be up
like this. You are not strong--you ought to have rest.'
The grip upon her arm relaxed.
'I don't rest now'--a miserable sigh came out of the darkness. 'I sleep
sometimes--but I don't rest. And it used all to be so happy once--whether
I was awake or asleep. I was extraordinarily happy, all the winter, at
Venice. One day Octave and I had a quarrel. He said I was mad--he seemed to
be sorry for me--he held my arms and I saw him crying. But it was quite a
mistake--I wasn't unhappy then. My brother John was always with me, and he
told me the most wonderful things--secrets that no one else knows. Octave
could never see him--and it was so strange--I saw him so plain. And my
mother and father were there too--there was nothing between me and any dead
person. I could see them and speak to them whenever I wished. People speak
of separation from those who die. But there is none--they are always there.
And when you talk to them, you know that you are immortal as they are--only
you are not like them. You remember this world still--you know you have
to go back to it. One night John took me--we seemed to go through the
clouds--through little waves of white fire--and I saw a city of light, full
of spirits--the most beautiful people, men and women--with their souls
showing like flames through their frail bodies. They were quite kind--they
smiled and talked to me. But I cried bitterly--because I knew I couldn't
stay with them--in their dear strange world--I must come back--back to all
I hated--all that strangled and hindered me.'
The voice paused a moment. Through Lucy's mind certain incredible words
which it had spoken echoed and re-echoed. Consciousness did not master
them; but they made a murmur within it through which other sounds hardly
penetrated. Yet she struggled with herself--she remembered that only
clearness of brain could save her.
She raised herself higher on her pillows that she might bring herself more
on a level with her unbidden guest.
'And these ideas gave you pleasure?' she said, almost with calm.
'The intensest happiness,' said the low, dragging tones. 'Others pity
me.--"Poor creature--she's mad"--I heard them say. And it made me smile.
For I had powers they knew nothing of; I could pass from one world to
another; one place to another. I could see in a living person the soul of
another dead long ago. And everything spoke to me--the movement of leaves
on a tree--the eyes of an animal--all kinds of numbers and arrangements
that come across one in the day. Other people noticed nothing. To me it was
all alive--everything was alive. Sometimes I was so happy, so ecstatic,
I could hardly breathe. The people who pitied me seemed to me dull and
crawling beings. If they had only known! But now--'
A long breath came from the darkness--a breath of pain. And again the
figure raised its hand to its head.
'Now--somehow, it is all different. When John comes, he is cold and
unkind--he won't open to me the old sights. He shows me things instead
that shake me with misery--that kill me. My brain is darkening--its powers
are dying out. That means that I must let this life go--I must pass into
another. Some other soul must give me room. Do you understand?'
Closer came the form. Lucy perceived the white face and the dimly burning
eyes, she felt herself suffocating, but she dared make no sudden move for
fear of that closed hand and what it held.
'No--I don't understand,' she said faintly; 'but I am sure--no good can
come to you--from another's harm.'
'What harm would it be? You are beginning to love--and your love will never
make you happy. My brother is like me. He is not mad--but he has a being
apart. If you cling to him, he puts you from him--if you love him he tires.
He has never loved but for his own pleasure--to complete his life. How
could you complete his life? What have you that he wants? His mind now is
full of you--his senses, his feeling are touched--but in three weeks he
would weary of and despise you. Besides--you know--you know well--that is
not all. There is another woman--whose life you must trample on--and you
are not made of stuff strong enough for that. No, there is no hope for you,
in this existence--this body. But there is no death; death is only a change
from one form of being to another. Give up your life, then--as I will give
up mine. We will escape together. I can guide you--I know the way. We shall
find endless joy--endless power! I shall be with Octave then, as and when I
please--and you with Edward. Come!'
The face bent nearer, and the iron hold closed again stealthily on the
girl's wrist. Lucy lay with her own face turned away and her eyes shut. She
scarcely breathed. A word of prayer passed through her mind--an image of
her white-haired uncle, her second father left alone and desolate.
Suddenly there was a quick movement beside her. Her heart fluttered wildly.
Then she opened her eyes. Alice Manisty had sprung up, had gone to the
window, and flung back the muslin curtains. Lucy could see her now quite
plainly in the moonlight--the haggard energy of look and movement, the wild
'I knew the end was come--this afternoon,' said the hurrying voice. 'When I
came out to you, as I walked along the terrace--the sun went out! I saw it
turn black above the Campagna--all in a moment--and I said to myself, "What
will the world do without the sun?--how will it live?" And now--do you
see?'--she raised her arm, and Lucy saw it for an instant as a black bar
against the window, caught the terrible dignity of gesture,--'there is not
one moon--but many! Look at them! How they hurry through the clouds--one
after the other! Do you understand what that means? Perhaps not--for your
sight is not like mine. But I know. It means that the earth has left its
orbit--that we are wandering--wandering in space--like a dismasted vessel!
We are tossed this way and that, sometimes nearer to the stars--and
sometimes further away. That is why they are first smaller--and then
larger. But the crash must come at last--death for the world--death for us
Her hands fell to her side, the left hand always tightly closed--her head
drooped; her voice, which had been till now hoarse and parched as though
it came from a throat burnt with fever, took a deep dirge-like note.
Noiselessly Lucy raised herself--she measured the distance between herself
and the door--between the mad woman and the door. Oh God!--was the door
locked? Her eyes strained through the darkness. How deep her sleep must
have been that she had heard no sound of its yielding! Her hand was
ready to throw off the shawl that covered her, when she was startled
by a laugh--a laugh vile and cruel that seemed to come from a new
presence--another being. Alice Manisty rapidly came back to her, stood
between her bed and the wall, and Lucy felt instinctively that some hideous
change had passed.
'Dalgetty thought that all was safe, so did Edward. And indeed the locks
were safe--the only doors that hold in all the villa--I tried _yours_ in
the afternoon while Manisty and the priest were talking! But mine held. So
I had to deal with Dalgetty.' She stooped, and whispered:--'I got it in
Venice one day--the chemist near the Rialto. She might have found it--but
she never did--she is very stupid. I did her no harm--I think. But if it
kills her, death is nothing!--nothing!--only the gate of life. Come!--come!
A hand darted and fell, like a snake striking. Lucy just threw herself
aside in time--she sprang up--she rushed--she tore at the door--pulling
at it with a frantic strength. It yielded with a crash, for the lock
was already broken. Should she turn left or right?--to the room of Mrs.
Burgoyne's maid, or to Mr. Manisty's library? She chose the right and fled
on. She had perhaps ten seconds start, since the bed had been between
her enemy and the door. But if any other door interposed between her and
succour, all was over!--for she heard a horrible cry behind her, and knew
that she was pursued. On she dashed, across the landing at the head of the
stairs. Ah! the dining-room door was open! She passed it, and then turned,
holding it desperately against her pursuer.
'Mr. Manisty! help!'
The agonised voice rang through the silent rooms. Suddenly--a sound from
the library--a chair overturned--a cry--a door flung open. Manisty stood in
He bounded to her side. His strength released hers. The upper part of the
door was glass, and that dark gasping form on the other side of it was
visible to them both, in a pale dawn light from the glass passage.
'Go!'--he said--'Go through my room--find Eleanor!'
She fled. But as she entered the room, she tottered--she fell upon the
chair that Manisty had just quitted,--and with a long shudder that relaxed
all her young limbs, her senses left her.
Meanwhile the whole apartment was alarmed. The first to arrive upon the
scene was the strong housemaid, who found Alice Manisty stretched upon
the floor of the glass passage, and her brother kneeling beside her, his
clothes and hands torn in the struggle with her delirious violence. Alfredo
appeared immediately afterwards; and then Manisty was conscious of the
flash of a hand-lamp, and the soft, hurrying step of Eleanor Burgoyne.
She stood in horror at the entrance of the glass passage. Manisty gave his
sister into Alfredo's keeping as he rose and went towards her.
'For God's sake'--he said under his breath--'go and see what has happened
He took for granted that Lucy had taken refuge with her, and Eleanor stayed
to ask no questions, but fled on to Dalgetty's room. As she opened the
door the fumes of chloroform assailed her, and there on the bed lay the
unfortunate maid, just beginning to moan herself back to consciousness from
beneath the chloroformed handkerchief that had reduced her to impotence.
Her state demanded every care. While Manisty and the housemaid Andreina
conveyed Alice Manisty, now in a state of helpless exhaustion, to her room,
and secured her there, Alfredo ran for the Marinata doctor. Eleanor and
Aunt Pattie forced brandy through the maid's teeth, and did what they could
to bring back warmth and circulation.
They were still busy with their task when the elderly Italian arrived who
was the communal doctor and chemist of the village. The smell of the room,
the sight of the woman, was enough. The man was efficient and discreet, and
he threw himself into his work without more questions than were absolutely
necessary. In the midst of their efforts Manisty reappeared, panting.
'Ought he not to see Miss Foster too?' he said anxiously to Eleanor
Eleanor looked at him in astonishment.
A smothered exclamation broke from him. He rushed away, back to the library
which he had seen Lucy enter.
The cool clear light was mounting. It penetrated the wooden shutters of
the library and mingled with the dying light of the lamp which had served
him to read with through the night, beside which, in spite of his utmost
efforts, he had fallen asleep at the approach of dawn. There, in the
dream-like illumination, he saw Lucy lying within his deep arm-chair. Her
face was turned away from him and hidden against the cushion; her black
hair streamed over the white folds of her wrapper: one arm was beneath her,
the other hung helplessly over her knee.
He went up to her and called her name in an agony.
She moved slightly, made an effort to rouse herself and raised her hand.
But the hand fell again, and the word half-formed upon her lips died away.
Nothing could be more piteous, more disarmed. Yet even her disarray and
helplessness were lovely; she was noble in her defeat; her very abandonment
breathed youth and purity; the man's wildly surging thoughts sank abashed.
But words escaped him--words giving irrevocable shape to feeling. For he
saw that she could not hear.
'Lucy!--Lucy--dear, beautiful Lucy!'
He hung over her in an ardent silence, his eyes breathing a respect that
was the very soul of passion, his hand not daring to touch even a fold of
her dress. Meanwhile the door leading to the little passage-room opened
noiselessly. Eleanor Burgoyne entered. Manisty was not aware of it. He bent
above Lucy in a tender absorption speaking to her as he might have spoken
to a child, calling to her, comforting and rousing her. His deep voice had
an enchanter's sweetness; and gradually it wooed her back to life. She did
not know what he was saying to her, but she responded. Her lids fluttered;
she moved in her chair, a deep sigh lifted her breast.
At that moment the door in Eleanor's hand escaped her and swung to. Manisty
started back and looked round him.
'Eleanor!--is that you?'
In the barred and ghostly light Eleanor came slowly forward. She looked
first at Lucy--then at Manisty. Their eyes met.
Manisty was the first to move uneasily.
'Look at her, Eleanor!--poor child!--Alice must have attacked her in her
room. She escaped by a marvel. When I wrestled with Alice, I found this in
her hand. One second more, and she would have used it on Miss Foster.'
He took from his pocket a small surgical knife, and looked, shuddering, at
its sharpness and its curved point.
Eleanor too shuddered. She laid her hand on Lucy's shoulder, while Manisty
withdrew into the shadows of the room.
Lucy raised herself by a great effort. Her first half-conscious impulse was
to throw herself into the arms of the woman standing by her. Then as she
perceived Eleanor clearly, as her reason came back, and her gaze steadied,
the impulse died.
'Will you help me?' she said, simply--holding out her hand and tottering to
A sudden gleam of natural feeling lit up the frozen whiteness of Eleanor's
face. She threw her arm round Lucy's waist, guiding her. And so, closely
entwined, the two passed from Manisty's sight.
The sun had already deserted the eastern side of the villa when, on the
morning following these events, Lucy woke from a fitful sleep to find
Benson standing beside her. Benson had slept in her room since the dawn;
and, thanks to exhaustion and the natural powers of youth, Lucy came back
to consciousness, weak but refreshed, almost free from fever and in full
possession of herself. Nevertheless, as she raised herself in bed to drink
the tea that Benson offered her--as she caught a glimpse through the open
window of the convent-crowned summit and wooded breast of Monte Cavo,
flooded with a broad white sunlight--she had that strange sense of change,
of a yesterday irrevocably parted from to-day, that marks the entry into
another room of life. The young soul at such times trembles before a
power unknown, yet tyrannously felt. All in a moment without our knowledge
or co-operation something has happened. Life will never be again as it
was last week. 'How?--or why?' the soul cries. 'I knew nothing--willed
nothing.' And then dimly, through the dark of its own tumult, the veiled
Benson was not at all anxious that Lucy should throw off the invalid.
'And indeed, Miss, if I may say so, you'll be least in the way where you
are. They're expecting the doctor from Rome directly.'
The maid looked at her curiously. All that the household knew was that
Miss Alice Manisty had escaped from her room in the night, after pinioning
Dalgetty's arms and throwing a chloroformed handkerchief over her face.
Miss Foster, it seemed, had been aroused and alarmed, and Mr. Manisty
coming to the rescue had overpowered his sister by the help of the stout
_cameriera_, Andreina. This was all that was certainly known.
Nor did Lucy shew herself communicative. As the maid threw back all the
shutters and looped the curtains, the girl watched the summer light conquer
the room with a shiver of reminiscence.
'And Mrs. Burgoyne?' she asked eagerly.
The maid hesitated.
'She's up long ago, Miss. But she looks that ill, it's a pity to see her.
She and Mr. Manisty had their coffee together an hour ago--and she's been
helping him with the arrangements. I am sure it'll be a blessing when the
poor lady's put away. It would soon kill all the rest of you.'
'Will she go to-day, Benson?' said Lucy, in a low voice.
The maid replied that she believed that was Mr. Manisty's decision, that
he had been ordering a carriage, and that it was supposed two nurses were
coming with the doctor. Then she enquired whether she might carry good news
of Lucy to Miss Manisty and the master.
Lucy hurriedly begged they might be told that she was quite well, and
nobody was to take the smallest trouble about her any more. Benson threw a
sceptical look at the girl's blanched cheek, shook her head a little, and
A few minutes afterwards there was a light tap at the door and Eleanor
'You have slept?--you are better,' she said, standing at Lucy's bedside.
'I am only ashamed you should give me a thought,' the girl protested. 'I
should be up now but for Benson. She said I should be out of the way.'
'Yes,' said Eleanor quietly. 'That is so.' She hesitated a moment, and then
resumed--'If you should hear anything disagreeable don't be alarmed. There
will be a doctor and nurses. But she is quite quiet this morning--quite
broken--poor soul! My cousins are going into Rome with her. The home where
she will be placed is on Monte Mario. Edward wishes to assure himself that
it is all suitable and well managed. And Aunt Pattie will go with him.'
Through the girl's mind flashed the thought--'Then _we_ shall be
alone together all day,'--and her heart sank. She dared not look into
Mrs. Burgoyne's tired eyes. The memory of words spoken to her in the
darkness--of that expression she had surprised on Mrs. Burgoyne's face as
she woke from her swoon in the library, suddenly renewed the nightmare in
which she had been living. Once more she felt herself walking among snares
and shadows, with a trembling pulse.
Yet the feeling which rose to sight was nothing more than a stronger form
of that remorseful tenderness which had been slowly invading her during
many days. She took Eleanor's hand in hers and kissed it shyly.
'Then _I_ shall look after _you_,' she said trying to smile. 'I'll have my
way this time!'
'Wasn't that a carriage?' said Eleanor hurriedly. She listened a moment.
Yes--a carriage had drawn up. She hastened away.
Lucy, left alone, could hear the passage of feet through the glass passage,
and the sound of strange voices, representing apparently two men, and
neither of them Mr. Manisty.
She took a book from her table and tried not to listen. But she could not
distract her mind from the whole scene which she imagined must be going
on,--the consultation of the doctors, the attitude of the brother.
How had Mr. Manisty dealt with his sister the night before? What weapon
was in Alice Manisty's hand? Lucy remembered no more after that moment at
the door, when Manisty had rushed to her relief, bidding her go to Mrs.
Burgoyne. He himself had not been hurt, or Mrs. Burgoyne would have told
her. Ah!--he had surely been kind, though strong. Her eyes filled. She
thought of the new light in which he had appeared to her during these
terrible days with his sister; the curb put on his irritable, exacting
temper; his care of Alice, his chivalry towards herself. In another man
such conduct would have been a matter of course. In Manisty it touched and
captured, because it could not have been reckoned on. She had done him
injustice, and--unknowing--he had revenged himself.
The first carriage apparently drove away; and after an interval another
replaced it. Nearly an hour passed:--then sudden sounds of trampling feet
and opening doors broke the silence which had settled over the villa.
Voices and steps approached, entered the glass passage. Lucy sprang up.
Benson had flung the window looking on the balcony and the passage open,
but had fastened across it the outside sun-shutters. Lucy, securely hidden
herself, could see freely through the wooden strips of the shutter.
Ah!--sad procession! Manisty came first through the passage, the sides
of which were open to the balcony. His sister was on his arm, veiled and
in black. She moved feebly, sometimes hesitating and pausing, and Lucy
distinguished the wild eyes, glancing from side to side. But Manisty bent
his fine head to her; his left hand secured hers upon his arm; he spoke
to her gently and cheerfully. Behind walked Aunt Pattie, very small and
nervously pale, followed by a nurse. Then two men--Lucy recognised one as
the Marinata doctor--and another nurse; then Alfredo, with luggage.
They passed rapidly out of her sight. But the front door was immediately
below the balcony, and her ear could more or less follow the departure. And
there was Mrs. Burgoyne, leaning over the balcony. Mr. Manisty spoke to her
from below. Lucy fancied she caught her own name, and drew back indignant
with herself for listening.
Then a sound of wheels--the opening of the iron gate--the driving up of
another carriage--some shouting between Alfredo and Andreina--and it was
all over. The villa was at peace again.
Lucy drew herself to her full height, in a fierce rigidity of
self-contempt. What was she still listening for--still hungering for? What
seemed to have gone suddenly out of heaven and earth, with the cessation of
She fell on her knees beside her bed. It was natural to her to pray, to
throw herself on a sustaining and strengthening power. Such prayer in such
a nature is not the specific asking of a definite boon. It is rather a
wordless aspiration towards a Will not our own--a passionate longing, in
the old phrase, to be 'right with God,' whatever happens, and through all
the storms of personal impulse.
* * * * *
An hour later Lucy entered the salon just as Alfredo, coming up behind her,
announced that the midday breakfast was ready. Mrs. Burgoyne was sitting
near the western window with her sketching things about her. Some western
clouds had come up from the sea to veil the scorching heat with which the
day had opened. Eleanor had thrown the sun-shutters hack, and was finishing
and correcting one of the Nemi sketches she had made during the winter.
She rose at sight of Lucy.
'Such a relief to throw oneself into a bit of drawing!' She looked down at
her work. 'What hobby do you fly to?'
'I mend the house-linen, and I tie down the jam,' said Lucy, laughing. 'You
have heard me play--so you know I don't do that well! And I can't draw a
'You play very well,' said Eleanor embarrassed, as they moved towards the
'Just well enough to send Uncle Ben to sleep when he's tired! I learnt it
for that. Will you play to me afterwards?'
'With pleasure,' said Eleanor, a little formally.
How long the luncheon seemed! Eleanor, a white shadow in her black
transparent dress, toyed with her food, eat nothing, and complained of the
waits between the courses.
Lucy reminded her that there were fifty steps between the kitchen and their
apartment. Eleanor did not seem to hear her; she had apparently forgotten
her own remark, and was staring absently before her. When she spoke next
it was about London, and the June season. She had promised to take a young
cousin, just 'come out,' to some balls. Her talk about her plans was
careless and languid, but it showed the woman naturally at home in the
fashionable world, with connections in half the great families, and access
to all doors. The effect of it was to make Lucy shrink into herself. Mrs.
Burgoyne had spoken formerly of their meeting in London. She said nothing
of it to-day, and Lucy felt that she could never venture to remind her.
From Eleanor's disjointed talk, also, there flowed another subtle
impression. Lucy realised what kinship means to the English wealthy and
well-born class--what a freemasonry it establishes, what opportunities it
confers. The Manistys and Eleanor Burgoyne were part of a great clan with
innumerable memories and traditions. They said nothing of them; they merely
took them for granted with all that they implied, the social position, the
'consideration,' the effect on others.
The American girl is not easily overawed. The smallest touch of English
assumption in her new acquaintances would have been enough, six weeks
before, to make Lucy Foster open her dark eyes in astonishment or contempt.
That is not the way in which women of her type understand life.
But to-day the frank forces of the girl's nature felt themselves harassed
and crippled. She sat with downcast eyes, constrainedly listening and
sometimes replying. No--it was very true. Mr. Manisty was not of her world.
He had relations, friendships, affairs, infinitely remote from hers--none
of which could mean anything to her. Whereas his cousin's links with
him were the natural inevitable links of blood and class. He might be
unsatisfactory or uncivil; but she had innumerable ways of recovering him,
not to be understood even, by those outside.
When the two women returned to the salon, a kind of moral distance had
established itself between them. Lucy was silent; Eleanor restless.
Alfredo brought the coffee. Mrs. Burgoyne looked at her watch as he
'Half past one,' she said in a reflective voice. 'By now they have made all
'They will be back by tea-time?'
'Hardly,--but before dinner. Poor Aunt Pattie! She will be half dead.'
'Was she disturbed last night?' asked Lucy in a low voice.
'Just at the end. Mercifully she heard nothing till Alice was safe in her
Then Eleanor's eyes dwelt broodingly on Lucy. She had never yet questioned
the girl as to her experiences. Now she said with a certain abruptness--
'I suppose she forced your door?'
'I suppose so.--But I was asleep.'
'Were you terribly frightened when you found her there?'
As she spoke Eleanor said to herself that in all probability Lucy knew
nothing of Manisty's discovery of the weapon in Alice's hand. While she was
helping the girl to bed, Lucy, in her dazed and shivering submission, was
true to her natural soberness and reserve. Instead of exaggerating, she had
minimised what had happened. Miss Alice Manisty had come to her room,--had
behaved strangely,--and Lucy, running to summon assistance, had roused Mr.
Manisty in the library. No doubt she might have managed better, both then
and in the afternoon. And so, with a resolute repression of all excited
talk, she had turned her blanched face from the light, and set herself to
go to sleep, as the only means of inducing Mrs. Burgoyne also to leave her
Eleanor's present question, however, set the girl's self-control
fluttering, so sharply did it recall the horror of the night. She curbed
herself visibly before replying.
'Yes,--I was frightened. But I don't think she could have hurt me. I should
have been stronger when it came to the point.'
'Thank God Edward was there!' cried Eleanor.
'Where did he come to you?'
'At the dining-room door. I could not have held it much longer. Then he
told me to go to you. And I tried to. But I only just managed to get to
that chair in the library.'
'Mr. Manisty found you quite unconscious.'
A sudden red dyed Lucy's cheek.
'Mr. Manisty!--was he there? I hoped he knew nothing about it. I only saw
Eleanor's thought drew certain inferences. But they gave her little
comfort. She turned away abruptly, complaining of the heat, and went to the
Lucy sat listening, with a book on her knee. Everything seemed to have
grown strangely unreal in this hot silence of the villa--the high room
with its painted walls--the marvellous prospect outside, just visible in
sections through the half-closed shutters--herself and her companion. Mrs.
Burgoyne played snatches of Brahms and Chopin; but her fingers stumbled
more than usual. Her attention seemed to wander.
Inevitably the girl's memory went back to the wild things which Alice
Manisty had said to her. In vain she rebuked herself. The fancies of a
mad-woman were best forgotten,--so common-sense told her. But over the
unrest of her own heart, over the electrical tension and dumb hostility
that had somehow arisen between her and Eleanor Burgoyne, common-sense
had small power. She could only say to herself with growing steadiness of
purpose that it would be best for her not to go to Vallombrosa, but to make
arrangements as soon as possible to join the Porters' friends at Florence,
and go on with them to Switzerland.
To distract herself, she presently drew towards her the open portfolio of
Eleanor's sketches, which was lying on the table. Most of them she had seen
before, and Mrs. Burgoyne had often bade her turn them over as she pleased.
She looked at them, now listlessly, now with sudden stirs of feeling. Here
was the niched wall of the Nemi temple; the arched recesses overgrown with
ilex and fig and bramble; in front the strawberry pickers stooping to
their work. Here, an impressionist study of the lake at evening, with the
wooded height of Genzano breaking the sunset; here a sketch from memory of
Aristodemo teasing the girls. Below this drawing, lay another drawing of
figures. Lucy drew it out, and looked at it in bewilderment.
At the foot of it was written--'The Slayer and the Slain.' Her thoughts
rushed back to her first evening at the villa--to the legend of the priest.
The sketch indeed contained two figures--one erect and triumphant, the
other crouching on the ground. The prostrate figure was wrapped in a cloak
which was drawn over the head and face. The young victor, sword in hand,
stood above his conquered enemy.
Or--Was it a man?
Lucy looked closer, her cold hand shaking on the paper. The vague classical
dress told nothing. But the face--whose was it?--and the long black hair?
She raised her eyes towards an old mirror on the wall in front, then
dropped them to the drawing again, in a sudden horror of recognition. And
the piteous figure on the ground, with the delicate woman's hand?--Lucy
caught her breath. It was as though the blow at her heart, which Manisty
had averted the night before, had fallen.
Then she became aware that Eleanor had turned round upon her seat at the
piano, and was watching her.
'I was looking at this strange drawing,' she said. Her face had turned a
sudden crimson. She pushed the drawing from her and tried to smile.
Eleanor rose and came towards her.
'I thought you would see it,' she said. 'I wished you to see it.'
Her voice was hoarse and shaking. She stood opposite to Lucy, supporting
herself by a marble table that stood near.
Lucy's colour disappeared, she became as pale as Eleanor.
'Is this meant for me?'
She pointed to the figure of the victorious priest. Eleanor nodded.
'I drew it the night after our Nemi walk,' she said with a fluttering
breath. 'A vision came to me so--of you--and me.'
Lucy started. Then she put her arms on the table and dropped her face into
her arms. Her voice became a low and thrilling murmur that just reached
'I wish--oh! how I wish--that I had never come here!'
Eleanor wavered a moment, then she said with gentleness, even with
'You have nothing to blame yourself for. Nor has anyone. That picture
accuses no one. It draws the future--which no one can stop or change--but
'In the first place,' said Lucy, still hiding her eyes and the bitter tears
that dimmed them--'what does it mean? Why am I the slayer?--and--and--you
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