Sandra Belloni by George Meredith, complete
Part 11 out of 11
sense conversation--in which she shines. I envy the man that marries
her, but she denies me such luck. There! if you want to shoot me for my
share in that transaction, I'll give you your chance: and if you do, my
dear Pole, either you must be a tremendous fool, or that woman's ten
times cleverer than I thought. You know where to find me. Good night."
The captain gave heel to his horse, hearing no more.
Adela confirmed to Wilfrid what Gambier had spoken; and that it was she
who had given him his dismissal. She called him by his name, "Augustus,"
in a kindly tone, remarking, that Lady Charlotte had persecuted him
dreadfully. "Poor Augustus! his entire reputation for evil is owing to
her black paint-brush. There is no man so easily 'hooked,' as Mrs.
Bayruffle would say, as he, though he has but eight hundred a year:
barely enough to live on. It would have been cruel of me to keep him,
for if he is in love, it's with Emilia."
Wilfrid here took upon himself to reproach her for a certain negligence
of worldly interests. She laughed and blushed with humorous
satisfaction; and, on second thoughts, he changed his opinion, telling
her that he wished he could win his freedom as she had done.
"Wilfrid," she said suddenly, "will you persuade Cornelia not to wear
"Yes, if you wish it," he replied.
"You will, positively? Then listen, dear. I don't like the prospect of
your alliance with Lady Charlotte."
Wilfrid could not repress a despondent shrug.
"But you can get released," she cried; and ultimately counselled him:
"Mention the name of Lord Eltham before her once, when you are alone.
Watch the result. Only, don't be clumsy. But I need not tell you that."
For hours he cudgelled his brains to know why she desired Cornelia not to
wear black, and when the light broke in on him he laughed like a jolly
youth for an instant. The reason why was in a web so complicated, that,
to have divined what hung on Cornelia's wearing of black, showed a rare
sagacity and perception of character on the little lady's part. As
thus:--Sir Twickenham Pryme is the most sensitive of men to ridicule and
vulgar tattle: he has continued to visit the house, learning by degrees
to prefer me, but still too chivalrous to withdraw his claim to Cornelia,
notwithstanding that he has seen indications of her not too absolute
devotion towards him:--I have let him become aware that I have broken
with Captain Gambier (whose income is eight hundred a year merely), for
the sake of a higher attachment: now, since the catastrophe, he can with
ease make it appear to the world that I was his choice from the first,
seeing that Cornelia will assuredly make no manner of objection:--but, if
she, with foolish sentimental persistence, assumes the garb of sorrow,
then Sir Twickenham's ears will tingle; he will retire altogether; he
will not dare to place himself in a position which will lend a colour to
the gossip, that jilted by one sister, he flew for consolation to the
other; jilted, too, for the mere memory of a dead man! an additional
Exquisite intricacy! Wilfrid worked through all the intervolutions, and
nearly forgot his wretchedness in admiration of his sister's mental
endowments. He was the more willing to magnify them, inasmuch as he
thereby strengthened his hope that liberty would follow the speaking of
the talismanic name of Eltham to Lady Charlotte, alone. He had come to
look upon her as the real barrier between himself and Emilia.
"I think we have brains," he said softly, on his pillow, upon a review of
the beggared aspect of his family; and he went to sleep with a smile on
A sharp breath of air had passed along the dews, and all the young green
of the fresh season shone in white jewels. The sky, set with very dim
distant stars, was in grey light round a small brilliant moon. Every
space of earth lifted clear to her; the woodland listened; and in the
bright silence the nightingales sang loud.
Emilia and Tracy Runningbrook were threading their way toward a lane over
which great oak branches intervolved; thence under larches all with
glittering sleeves, and among spiky brambles, with the purple leaf and
the crimson frosted. The frost on the edges of the brown-leaved bracken
gave a faint colour. Here and there, intense silver dazzled their eyes.
As they advanced amid the icy hush, so hard and instant was the ring of
the earth under them, their steps sounded as if expected.
"This night seems made for me!" said Emilia.
Tracy had no knowledge of the object of the expedition. He was her
squire simply; had pitched on a sudden into an enamoured condition, and
walked beside her, caring little whither he was led, so that she left him
They came upon a clearing in the wood where a tournament of knights might
have been held. Ranged on two sides were rows of larches, and forward,
fit to plume a dais, a clump of tall firs stood with a flowing silver fir
to right and left, and the white stems of the birch-tree shining from
among them. This fair woodland court had three broad oaks, as for
gateways; and the moon was above it. Moss and the frosted brown fern
were its flooring.
Emilia said eagerly, "This way," and ran under one of the oaks. She
turned to Tracy following: "There is no doubt of it." Her hand was lying
softly on her throat.
"Your voice?" Tracy divined her.
She nodded, but frowned lovingly at the shout he raised, and he
understood that there was haply some plot to be worked out. The open
space was quite luminous in the middle of those three deep walls of
shadow. Emilia enjoined him to rest where he was, and wait for her on
that spot like a faithful sentinel, whatsoever ensued. Coaxing his
promise, she entered the square of white light alone. Presently she
stood upon a low mound, so that her whole figure was distinct, while the
moon made her features visible.
Expectancy sharpened the stillness to Tracy's ears. A nightingale began
the charm. He was answered by another. Many were soon in song, till
even the pauses were sweet with them. Tracy had the thought that they
were calling for Emilia to commence; that it was nature preluding the
divine human voice, weaving her spell for it. He was seized by a thirst
to hear the adorable girl, who stood there patiently, with her face
lifted soft in moonlight. And then the blood thrilled along his veins,
as if one more than mortal had touched him. It seemed to him long before
he knew that Emilia's voice was in the air.
In such a place, at such a time, there is no wizardry like a woman's
voice. Emilia had gained in force and fulness. She sang with a stately
fervour, letting the notes flow from her breast, while both her arms hung
loose, and not a gesture escaped her. Tracy's fiery imagination set him
throbbing, as to the voice of the verified spirit of the place. He heard
nothing but Emilia, and scarce felt that it was she, or that tears were
on his eyelids, till her voice sank richly, deep into the bosom of the
woods. Then the stillness, like one folding up a precious jewel, seemed
to pant audibly.
"She's not alone!" This was human speech at his elbow, uttered in some
stupefied amazement. In an extremity of wrath, Tracy turned about to
curse the intruder, and discerned Wilfrid, eagerly bent forward on the
other side of the oak by which he leaned. Advancing toward Emilia, two
figures were seen. Mr. Pericles in his bearskin was easily to be
distinguished. His companion was Laura Tinley. The Greek moved at rapid
strides, and coming near upon Emilia, raised his hands as in exclamation.
At once he disencumbered his shoulders of the enormous wrapper, held it
aloft imperiously, and by main force extinguished Emilia. Laura's shrill
"Oh! beastly bathos!" Tracy groaned in his heart. "Here we are down in
Avernus in a twinkling!"
There was evidently quick talk going on among the three, after which
Emilia, heavily weighted, walked a little apart with Mr. Pericles, who
looked lean and lank beside her, and gesticulated in his wildest manner.
Tracy glanced about for Wilfrid. The latter was not visible, but,
stepping up the bank of sand and moss, appeared a lady in shawl and hat,
in whom he recognized Lady Charlotte. He went up to her and saluted.
"Ah! Tracy," she said. "I saw you leave the drawing room, and expected
to find you here. So, the little woman has got her voice again; but why
on earth couldn't she make the display at Richford? It's very pretty,
and I dare say you highly approve of this kind of romantic interlude,
Signor Poet, but it strikes me as being rather senseless."
"But, are you alone? What on earth brings you here?" asked Tracy.
"Oh!" the lady shrugged. "I've a guard to the rear. I told her I would
come. She said I should hear something to-night, if I did. I fancied
naturally the appointment had to do with her voice, and wished to please
her. It's only five minutes from the west-postern of the park. Is she
going to sing any more? There's company apparently. Shall we go and
"I'm on duty, and can't," replied Tracy, and twisting his body in an
ecstasy, added: "Did you hear her?"
Lady Charlotte laughed softly. "You speak as if you had taken a hurt, my
dear boy. This sort of scene is dangerous to poets. But, I thought you
"I don't know whether I'm breathing yet," Tracy rejoined. She's a
Goddess to me from this moment. Not like music? Am I a dolt? She would
raise me from the dead, if she sang over me. Put me in a boat, and let
her sing on, and all may end! I could die into colour, hearing her!
That's the voice they hear in heaven."
"When they are good, I suppose," the irreverent lady appended. "What's
that?" And she held her head to listen.
Emilia's mortal tones were calling Wilfrid's name. The lady became
grave, as with keen eyes she watched the open space, and to a second call
Wilfrid presented himself in a leisurely way from under cover of the
trees; stepping into the square towards the three, as one equal to all
occasions, and specially prepared for this. He was observed to bow to
Mr. Pericles, and the two men extended hands, Laura Tinley standing
decently away from them.
Lady Charlotte could not contain her mystification. "What does it mean?"
she said. "Wilfrid was to be in town at the Ambassador's to-night! He
wrote to me at five o'clock from his Club! Is he insane? Has he lost
every sense of self-interest? He can't have made up his mind to miss his
opportunity, when all the introductions are there! Run, like a good
creature, Tracy, and see if that is Wilfrid, and come back and tell me;
but don't sag I am here."
"Desert my post?" Tracy hugged his arms tight together. "Not if I
The doubt in Lady Charlotte's eyes was transient. She dropped her glass.
Visible adieux were being waved between Mr. Pericles and Laura Tinley on
the one hand, and Wilfrid and Emilia, on the other. After which, and at
a quick pace, manifestly shivering, Mr. Pericles drew Laura into the
shadows, and Emilia, clad in the immense bearskin, as with a trailing
black barbaric robe, walked toward the oaks. Wilfrid's head was stooped
to a level with Emilia's, into whose face he was looking obliviously,
while the hot words sprang from his lips. They neared the oak, and
Emilia slanted her direction, so as to avoid the neighbourhood of the
tree. Tracy felt a sudden grasp of his arm. It was momentary, coming
simultaneously with a burst of Wilfrid's voice.
"Do I know what I love, you ask? I love your footprints! Everything you
have touched is like fire to me. Emilia! Emilia!"
"Then," came the clear reply, "you do not love Lady Charlotte?"
"Love her!" he shouted scornfully, and subdued his voice to add: "she has
a good heart, and whatever scandal is talked of her and Lord Eltham, she
is a well-meaning friend. But, love her! You, you I love!"
"Theatrical business," Lady Charlotte murmured, and imagined she had
expected it when she promised Emilia she would step out into the night
air, as possibly she had.
The lady walked straight up to them.
"Well, little one!" she addressed Emilia; "I am glad you have recovered
your voice. You play the game of tit-for-tat remarkably well. We will
now sheath our battledores. There is my hand."
The unconquerable aplomb in Lady Charlotte, which Wilfrid always
artistically admired, and which always mastered him; the sight of her
pale face and courageous eyes; and her choice of the moment to come
forward and declare her presence;--all fell upon the furnace of Wilfrid's
heart like a quenching flood. In a stupefaction, he confessed to himself
that he could say actually nothing. He could hardly look up.
Emilia turned her eyes from the outstretched hand, to the lady's face.
"What will it mean?" she said.
"That we are quits, I presume; and that we bear no malice. At any rate,
that I relinquish the field. I like a hand that can deal a good stroke.
I conceived you to be a mere little romantic person, and correct my
mistake. You win the prize, you see."
"You would have made him an Austrian, and he is now safe from that. I
win nothing more," said Emilia.
When Tracy and Emilia stood alone, he cried out in a rapture of praise,
"Now I know what a power you have. You may bid me live or die."
The recent scene concerned chiefly the actors who had moved onward: it
had touched Emilia but lightly, and him not at all. But, while he
magnified the glory of her singing, the imperishable note she had sounded
this night, and the power and the triumph that would be hers, Emilia's
bosom began to heave, and she checked him with a storm of tears.
"Triumph! yes! what is this I have done? Oh, Merthyr, my, true hero! He
praises me and knows nothing of how false I have been to you. I am a
slave! I have sold myself--sold myself!" She dropped her face in her
hands, broken with grief. "He fights," she pursued; "he fights for my
country. I feel his blood--it seems to run from my body as it runs from
his. Not if he is dying--I dare not go to him if he is dying! I am in
chains. I have sworn it for money. See what a different man Merthyr is
from any on earth! Would he shoot himself for a woman? Would he grow
meaner the more he loved her? My hero! my hero! and Tracy, my friend!
what is my grief now? Merthyr is my hero, but I hear him--I hear him
speaking it into my ears with his own lips, that I do not love him. And
it is true. I never should have sold myself for three weary years away
from him, if I had loved him. I know it now it is done. I thought more
of my poor friends and Wilfrid, than of Merthyr, who bleeds for my
country! And he will not spurn me when we meet. Yes, if he lives, he
will come to me gentle as a ghost that has seen God!"
She abandoned herself to weeping. Tracy, in a tender reverence for one
who could speak such solemn matter spontaneously, supported her, and felt
her tears as a rain of flame on his heart.
The nightingales were mute. Not a sound was heard from bough or brake.
A wreck from the last Lombard revolt landed upon our shores in June. His
right arm was in a sling, and his Italian servant following him, kept
close by his side, with a ready hand, as if fearing that at any moment
the wounded gentleman's steps might fail. There was no public war going
on just then: for which reason he was eyed suspiciously by the rest of
the passengers making their way up the beach; who seemed to entertain an
impression that he had no business at such a moment to be crippled, and
might be put down as one of those foreign fools who stand out for a
trifle as targets to fools a little luckier than themselves. Here,
within our salt girdle, flourishes common sense. We cherish life; we
abhor bloodshed; we have no sympathy with your juvenile points of honour:
we are, in short, a civilized people; and seeing that Success has made us
what we are, we advise other nations to succeed, or be quiet. Of all of
which the gravely-smiling gentleman appeared well aware; for, with an eye
that courted none, and a perfectly calm face, he passed through the
crowd, only once availing himself of his brown-faced Beppo's
spontaneously depressed shoulder when a twinge of pain shooting from his
torn foot took his strength away. While he remained in sight, some
speculation as to his nationality continued: he had been heard to speak
nothing but Italian, and yet the flower of English cultivation was
signally manifest in his style and bearing. The purchase of that day's
journal, giving information that the Lombard revolt was fully, it was
thought finally, crushed out, and the insurgents scattered, hanged, or
shot, suggested to a young lady in a group melancholy with luggage, that
the wounded gentleman was one who had escaped from the Austrians.
"Only, he is English."
"If he is, he deserves what he's got."
A stout Briton delivered this sentence, and gave in addition. a sermon
on meddling, short, emphatic, and not uncheerful apparently, if estimated
by the hearty laugh that closed it; though a lady remarked, "Oh, dear me!
You are very sweeping."
"By George! ma'am," cried the Briton, holding out his newspaper, "here's
a leader on the identical subject, with all my views in it! Yes! those
Italians are absurd: they never were a people: never agreed. Egad! the
only place they're fit for is the stage. Art! if you like. They know
all about colouring canvas, and sculpturing. I don't deny 'em their
merits, and I don't mind listening to their squalling, now and then:
though, I'll tell you what: have you ever noticed the calves of those
singers?--I mean, the men. Perhaps not--for they' ve got none. They're
sticks, not legs. Who can think much of fellows with such legs? Now,
the next time you go to the Italian Opera, notice 'em. Ha! ha!--well,
that would sound queer, told at secondhand; but, just look at their legs,
ma'am, and ask yourself whether there's much chance for a country that
stands on legs like those! Let them paint, and carve blocks, and sing.
They're not fit for much else, as far as I can see."
Thus, in the pride of his manliness, the male Briton. A shrill cry drew
the attention of this group once more to the person who had just kindly
furnished a topic. He had been met on his way by a lady unmistakeably
foreign in her appearance. "Marini!" was the word of the cry; and the
lady stood with her head bent and her hands stiffened rigidly.
"Lost her husband, I dare say!" the Briton murmured. "Perhaps he's one
of the 'hanged, or shot,' in the list here Hanged! shot! Ask those
Austrians to be merciful, and that's their reply. Why, good God! it's
like the grunt of a savage beast! Hanged! shot!--count how many for one
day's work! Ten at Verona; fifteen at Mantua; five--there, stop! If we
enter into another alliance with those infernal ruffians!--if they're not
branded in the face of Europe as inhuman butchers! if I--by George! if I
were an Italian I'd handle a musket myself, and think great guns
the finest music going. Mind, if there's a subscription for the widows
of these poor fellows, I put down my name; so shall my wife, so shall my
daughters, so we will all, down to the baby!"
Merthyr's name was shouted first on his return to England by Mrs. Chump.
He was waiting on the platform of the London station for the train to
take him to Richford, when, "Oh! Mr. Pow's, Mr. Pow's!" resounded, and
Mrs. Chump fluttered before him. She was on her way to Brookfield, she
said; and it was, she added, her firm belief that heaven had sent him to
her sad, not deeming "that poor creature, Mr. Braintop, there, sufficient
for the purpose. For what I've got to go through, among them at
Brookfield, Mr. Pow's, it's perf'ctly awful. Mr. Braintop," she turned
to the youth, "you may go now. And don't go takin' ship and sailin' for
Italy after the little Belloni, for ye haven't a chance--poor fella!
though he combs 's hair so careful, Mr. Pow's, and ye might almost laugh
and cry together to see how humble he is, and audacious too--all in a
lump. For, when little Belloni was in the ship, ye know, and she
thinkin', 'not one of my friends near to wave a handkerchief!' behold,
there's that boy Braintop just as by maguc, and he wavin' his best, which
is a cambric, and a present from myself, and precious wet that night, ye
might swear; for the quiet lovers, Mr. Pow's, they cry, they do,
"And is Miss Belloni gone?" said Merthyr, looking steadily for answer.
"To be sure, sir, she has; but have ye got a squeak of pain? Oh, dear!
it makes my blood creep to see a man who's been where there's been firing
of shots in a temper. Ye're vary pale, sir."
"She went--on what day?" asked Merthyr.
"Oh! I can't poss'bly tell ye that, Mr. Pow's, havin' affairs of my own
most urrgent. But, Mr. Paricles has got her at last. That's certain.
Gall'ns of tears has poor Mr. Braintop cried over it, bein' one of the
mew-in-a-corner sort of young men, ye know, what never win the garl, but
cry enough to float her and the lucky fella too, and off they go, and he
left on the shore."
Merthyr looked impatiently out of the window. His wounds throbbed and
his forehead was moist.
"With Mr. Pericles?" he queried, while Mrs. Chump was giving him the
reasons for the immediate visit to Brookfield.
"They're cap'tal friends again, ye know, Mr. Pow's, Mr. Paricles and
Pole; and Pole's quite set up, and yesterday mornin' sends me two
thousand pounds--not a penny less! and ye'll believe me, I was in a stiff
gape for five minutes when Mr. Braintop shows the money. What a
temptation for the young man! But Pole didn't know his love for little
"Has she no one with her?" Merthyr seized the opportunity of her name
being pronounced to get clear tidings of her, if possible.
"Oh, dear, yes, Mr. Paricles is with her," returned Mrs. Chump. "And, as
I was sayin', sir, two thousand pounds! I ran off to my lawyer; for,
it'll seem odd to ye, now, Mr. Pow's, that know my 'ffection for the
Poles, poor dears, I'd an action against 'em. 'Stop ut,' I cries out to
the man: if he'd been one o' them that wears a wig, I couldn't ha' spoken
so--'Stop ut,' I cries, not a bit afraid of 'm. I wouldn't let the man
go on, for all I want to know is, that I'm not rrooned. And now I've got
money, I must have friends; for when I hadn't, ye know, my friends seemed
against me, and now I have, it's the world that does, where'll I hide it?
Oh, dear! now I'm with you, I don't mind, though this brown-faced
forr'ner servant of yours, he gives me shivers. Can he understand
English?--becas I've got ut all in my pockut!"
Merthyr sighed wearily for release. At last the train slackened speed,
and the well-known fir-country appeared in sight. Mrs. Chump caught him
by the arm as he prepared to alight. "Oh! and are ye goin' to let me
face the Poles without anyone to lean on in that awful moment, and no one
to bear witness how kind I've spoken of 'em. Mr. Pow's! will ye prove
that you're a blessed angel, sir, and come, just for five minutes--which
is a short time to do a thing for a woman she'll never forget."
"Pray spare me, madam," Merthyr pleaded. "I have much to learn at
"I cann't spare ye, sir," cried Mrs. Chump. "I cann't go before that
fam'ly quite alone. They're a tarr'ble fam'ly. Oh! I'll be goin' on my
knees to ye, Mr. Pow's. Weren't ye sent by heaven now? And you to run
away! And if you're woundud, won't I have a carr'ge from the station,
which'll be grander to go in, and impose on 'em, ye know. Pray, sir! I
The tears burst from her eyes, and her hot hand clung to his imploringly.
Merthyr was a witness of the return of Mrs. Chump to Brookfield. In that
erewhile abode of Fine Shades, the Nice Feelings had foundered. The
circle of a year, beginning so fairly for them, enfolded the ladies and
their first great scheme of life. Emilia had been a touchstone to this
family. They could not know it in their deep affliction, but in manger
they had much improved. Their welcome of Mrs. Chump was an admirable
seasoning of stateliness with kindness. Cornelia and Arabella took her
hand, listening with an incomparable soft smile to her first
protestations, which they quieted, and then led her to Mr. Pole; of whom
it may be said, that an accomplished coquette could not in his situation
have behaved with a finer skill; so that, albeit received back into the
house, Mrs. Chump had yet to discover what her footing there was to be,
and trembled like the meanest of culprits. Mr. Pole shook her hand
warmly, tenderly, almost tearfully, and said to the melted woman: "You're
right, Martha; it's much better for us to examine accounts in a friendly
way, than to have strangers and lawyers, and what not--people who can't
possibly know the whole history, don't you see--meddling and making a
scandal; and I'm much obliged to you for coming."
Vainly Mrs. Chump employed alternately innuendo and outcry to make him
perceive that her coming involved a softer business, and that to money,
she having it now, she gave not a thought. He assured her that in future
she must; that such was his express desire; that it was her duty to
herself and others. And while saying this, which seemed to indicate that
widowhood would be her state as far as he was concerned, he pressed her
hand with extreme sweetness, and his bird's-eyes twinkled obligingly. It
is to be feared that Mr. Pole had passed the age of improvement, save in
his peculiar art. After a time Nature stops, and says to us 'thou art
now what thou wilt be.'
Cornelia was in black from neck to foot. She joined the conversation as
the others did, and indeed more flowingly than Adela, whose visage was
soured. It was Cornelia to whom Merthyr explained his temporary
subjection to the piteous appeals of Mrs. Chump. She smiled humorously
to reassure him of her perfect comprehension of the apology for his
visit, and of his welcome: and they talked, argued a little, differed,,
until the terrible thought that he talked, and even looked like some one
else, drew the blood from her lips, and robbed her pulses of their play.
She spoke of Emilia, saying plainly and humbly: "All we have is owing to
her." Arabella spoke of Emilia likewise, but with a shade of the
foregone tone of patronage. "She will always be our dear little sister."
Adela continued silent, as with ears awake for the opening of a door.
Was it in ever-thwarted anticipation of the coming of Sir Twickenham?
Merthyr's inquiry after Wilfrid produced a momentary hesitation on
Cornelia's Part--"He has gone to Verona. We have an uncle in the
Austrian service," she said; and Merthyr bowed.
What was this tale of Emilia, that grew more and more perplexing as he
heard it bit by bit? The explanation awaited him at Richford. There,
when Georgiana had clasped her brother in one last jealous embrace, she
gave him the following letter straightway, to save him, haply, from the
false shame of that eager demand for one, which she saw ready to leap to
words in his eyes. He read it, sitting in the Richford library alone,
while the great rhododendron bloomed outside, above the shaven sunny
sward, looking like a monstrous tropic bird alighted to brood an hour in
"I would say my Beloved! I will not write it, for it would be false. I
have read of the defeat. Why was a battle risked at that cruel place!
Here are we to be again for so many years before we can win God to be on
our side! And I--do you not know? we used to talk of it!--I never can
think it the Devil who has got the upper hand. What succeeds, I always
think should succeed--was meant to, because the sky looks clear over it.
This knocks a blow at my heart and keeps it silent and only just beating.
I feel that you are safe. That, I am thankful for. If you were not, God
would warn me, and not let me mock him with thanks when I pray. I pray
till my eyelids burn, on purpose to get a warning if there is any black
messenger to be sent to me. I do not believe it.
"For three years I am a prisoner. I go to the Conservatorio in Milan
with Mr. Pericles, and my poor little mother, who cries, asking me where
she will be among such a people, until I wonder she should be my mother.
My voice has returned. Oh, Merthyr! my dear, calm friend! to keep
calling you friend, and friend, puts me to sleep softly!--Yes, I have my
voice. I felt I had it, like some one in a room with us when we will not
open our eyes. There was misery everywhere, and yet I was glad. I kept
it secret. I began to feel myself above the world. I dreamed of what I
would do for everybody. I thought of you least! I tell you so, and take
a scourge and scourge myself, for it is true that in her new joy this
miserable creature that I am thought of you least. Now I have the
"My friend! the Poles were at the mercy of Mr. Pericles: Wilfrid had
struck him: Mr. Pericles was angry and full of mischief. Those dear
people had been kind to me, and I heard they were poor. I felt money in
my breast, in my throat, that only wanted coining. I went to Georgiana,
and oh! how truly she proved to me that she loves you better than I do.
She refused to part with money that you might soon want. I laid a scheme
for Mr. Pericles to hear me sing. He heard me, and my scheme succeeded.
If Italy knew as well as I, she would never let her voice be heard till
she is sure of it:--Yes! from foot to head, I knew it was impossible to
fail. If a country means to be free, the fire must run through it and
make it feel that certainty. Then--away the whitecoat! I sang, and the
man twisted, as if I had bent him in my hand. He rushed to me, and
offered me any terms I pleased, if for three years I would go to the
Conservatorio at Milan, and learn submissively. It is a little grief to
me that I think this man loves music more deeply than I do. In the two
things I love best, the love of others exceeds mine. I named a sum of
money--immense! and I desired that Mr. Pericles should assist Mr. Pole in
his business. He consented at once to everything. The next day he gave
me the money, and I signed my name and pledged my honour to an
engagement. My friends were relieved.
"It was then I began to think of you. I had not to study the matter long
to learn that I did not love you: and I will not trust my own feelings as
they come to me now. I judge myself by my acts, or, Merthyr! I should
sink to the ground like a dead body when I think of separation from you
for three years. But, what am I? I am a raw girl. I command nothing
but raw and flighty hearts of men. Are they worth anything? Let me
study three years, without any talk of hearts at all. It commenced too
early, and has left nothing to me but a dreadful knowledge of the
weakness in most people:--not in you!
"If I might call you my Beloved! and so chain myself to you, I think I
should have all your firmness and double my strength. I will not; for I
will not have what I do not deserve. I think of you reading this, till I
try to get to you; my heart is like a bird caught in the hands of a cruel
boy. By what I have done I know I do not love you. Must we half-despise
a man to love him? May no dear woman that I know ever marry the man she
first loves! My misery now is gladness, is like rain-drops on rising
wings, if I say to myself 'Free! free, Emilia!' I am bound for three
years, but I smile at such a bondage to my body. Evviva! my soul is
free! Three years of freedom, and no sounding of myself--three years of
growing, and studying; three years of idle heart!--Merthyr! I throb to
think that those three years--true man! my hero, I may call you!--those
three years may make me worthy of you. And if you have given all to
Italy, that a daughter of Italy should help to return it, seems, my
friend, so tenderly sweet--here is the first drop from my eyes!
"I would break what you call a Sentiment: I broke my word to Wilfrid.
But this sight of money has a meaning that I cannot conquer. I know you
would not wish me to for your own pleasure; and therefore I go. I hope
to be growing; I fly like a seed to Italy. Let me drill, and take sharp
words, and fret at trifles! I lift my face to that prospect as if I
smelt new air. I am changeing--I have no dreams of Italy, no longings,
but go to see her like a machine ready to do my work. Whoever speaks to
me, I feel that I look at them and know them. I see the faults of my
country--Oh, beloved Breseians! not yours, Florentines! nor yours, dear
Venice! We will be silent when they speak of the Milanese, till Italy
can say to them, 'That conduct is not Italian, my children.' I see the
faults. Nothing vexes me.
"Addio! My friend, we will speak English in dear England! Tell all that
I shall never forget England! My English Merthyr! the blood you have
shed is not for a woman. The blood that you have shed, laurels spring
from it! For a woman, the blood spilt is sickly and poor, and nourishes
nothing. I shudder at the thought of one we knew. He makes Love seem
like a yellow light over a plague-spotted city, like a painting I have
seen. Goodbye to the name of Love for three years! My engagement to Mr.
Pericles is that I am not to write, not to receive letters. To you I say
now, trust me for three years! Merthyr's answer is already in my bosom.
Beloved!--let me say it once--when the answer to any noble thing I might
ask of you is in my bosom instantly, is not that as much as marriage?
But be under no deception. See me as I am. Oh, good-bye! good-bye!
Good-bye to you! Good-bye to England!
"Most humbly and affectionately,
"And her daughter by the mother's side,
"Emilia Alessandra Belloni."
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A plunge into the deep is of little moment
And he passed along the road, adds the Philosopher
It was as if she had been eyeing a golden door shut fast
My engagement to Mr. Pericles is that I am not to write
Man who beats his wife my first question is, 'Do he take his tea?'
Oh! beastly bathos
On a wild April morning
Once my love? said he. Not now?--does it mean, not now?
So it is when you play at Life! When you will not go straight
To know that you are in England, breathing the same air with me
We are, in short, a civilized people
We have now looked into the hazy interior of their systems
What was this tale of Emilia, that grew more and more perplexing
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