Sandra Belloni by George Meredith, complete
Part 4 out of 11
He said: "In many cases. There are two sorts. If you could call it the
language of nature! which anything...I beg your pardon, Slang! Polite
society rightly excludes it, because..."
"Yes, yes," returned Adela; "but do we do rightly in submitting to the
absolute tyranny?--I mean, I think, originality flies from us in
The pitiable mortal became a trifle more luminous: "The objection is to
the repetition of risked phrases. A happy audacity of expression may
pass. It is bad taste to repeat it, that is all. Then there is the
slang of heavy boorishness, and the slang of impatient wit..."
"Is there any fine distinction between the extremes?" said Cornelia, in
as clear a tone as she could summon.
"I think," observed Arabella, "that whatever shows staleness speedily is
self-condemned; and that is the case with slang."
"And yet it's to avoid some feeling of the sort that people employ it,"
was Adela's remark; and the discussion of this theme dropped lifelessly,
and they walked on as before.
Coming to a halt near the garden gate, Adela tapped Emilia's cheek,
addressing her: "How demure she has become!"
"Ah!" went Arabella, "does she know papa has had a letter from Mr.
Pericles, who wrote from Milan to say that he has made arrangements for
her to enter the Academy there, and will come to fetch her in a few
Emilia's wrists crossed below her neck, while she gave ear.
"To take me away?" she said.
The tragic attitude and outcry, with the mournful flash of her eyes,
might have told Emilia's tale.
Adela unwillingly shielded her by interpreting the scene. "See! she
must be a born actress. They always exaggerate in that style, so that
you would really think she had a mighty passion for Brookfield."
"Or in it," suggested Freshfield.
"Or in it!" she laughed assentingly.
Mr. Pole was perceived entering the garden, rubbing his hands a little
too obsequiously to some remark of the baronet's, as the critical ladies
imagined. Sir Twickenham's arm spread out in a sweep; Mr. Pole's head
nodded. After the ceremony of the salute, the ladies were informed of
Sir Twickenham's observation: Sir Twickenham Pryme, a statistical member
of Parliament, a well-preserved half-century in age, a gentleman in
bearing, passably grey-headed, his whiskers brushed out neatly, as if he
knew them individually and had the exact amount of them collectively at
his fingers' ends: Sir Twickenham had said of Mr. Pole's infant park that
if devoted to mangold-wurzel it would be productive and would pay:
whereas now it was not ornamental and was waste.
"Sir Twickenham calculates," said Mr. Pole, "that we should have a crop
"The average?" Sir Twickenham asked, on the evident upward mounting of a
sum in his brain. And then, with a relaxing look upon Cornelia: "Perhaps
you might have fifteen, sixteen, perhaps for the first year; or, say--you
see, the exact acreage is unknown to me. Say roughly, ten thousand sacks
the first year."
"Of what?" inquired Cornelia.
"Mangold-wurzel," said the baronet.
She gazed about her. Mr. Barrett was gone.
"But, no doubt, you take no interest in such reckonings?" Sir Twickenham
"On the contrary, I take every interest in practical details."
Practical men believe this when they hear it from the lips of
gentlewomen, and without philosophically analyzing the fact that it is
because the practical quality possesses simply the fascination of a form
of strength. Sir Twickenham pursued his details. Day closed on
Brookfield blankly. Nevertheless, the ladies felt that the situation was
now dignified by tragic feeling, and remembering keenly how they had been
degraded of late, they had a sad enjoyment of the situation.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Emilia alone of the party was as a blot to her
I cannot delay; but I request you, that are here privileged
I detest anything that has to do with gratitude
Love, with his accustomed cunning
No nose to the hero, no moral to the tale
Nor can a protest against coarseness be sweepingly interpreted
One of those men whose characters are read off at a glance
The majority, however, had been snatched out of this bliss
Their way was down a green lane and across long meadow-paths
They, meantime, who had a contempt for sleep
Women are wonderfully quick scholars under ridicule
By GEORGE MEREDITH
XVIII. RETURN OF THE SENTIMENTALIST INTO BONDAGE
XIX. LIFE AT BROOKFIELD.
XX. BY WILMING WEIR
XXI. RETURN OF MR. PERICLES
XXII. THE PITFALL OF SENTIMENT
XXIII. WILFRID DIPLOMATIZES
XXIV. EMILIA MAKES A MOVE
XXV. A FARCE WITHIN A FARCE
Meantime Wilfrid was leading a town-life and occasionally visiting
Stornley. He was certainly not in love with Lady Charlotte
Chillingworth, but he was in harness to that lady. In love we have some
idea whither we would go: in harness we are simply driven, and the
destination may be anywhere. To be reduced to this condition (which will
happen now and then in the case of very young men who are growing up to
something, and is, if a momentary shame to them, rather a sign of promise
than not) the gentle male need not be deeply fascinated. Lady Charlotte
was not a fascinating person. She did not lay herself out to attract.
Had she done so, she would have failed to catch Wilfrid, whose soul
thirsted for poetical refinement and filmy delicacies in a woman. What
she had, and what he knew that he wanted, and could only at intervals
assume by acting as if he possessed it, was a victorious aplomb, which
gave her a sort of gallant glory in his sight. He could act it well
before his sisters, and here and there a damsel; and coming fresh from
Lady Charlotte's school, he had recently done so with success, and had
seen the ladies feel toward him, as he felt under his instructress in the
art. Some nature, however, is required for every piece of art. Wilfrid
knew that he had been brutal in his representation of the part, and the
retrospect of his conduct at Brookfield did not satisfy his remorseless
critical judgement. In consequence, when he again saw Lady Charlotte,
his admiration of that one prized characteristic of hers paralyzed him.
She looked, and moved, and spoke, as if the earth were her own. She was
a note of true music, and he felt himself to be an indecisive chord;
capable ultimately of a splendid performance, it might be, but at present
crying out to be played upon. This is the condition of a man in harness,
whom witlings may call what they will. He is subjugated: not won. In
this state of subjugation he will joyfully sacrifice as much as a man in
love. For, having no consolatory sense of happiness, such as encircles
and makes a nest for lovers, he seeks to attain some stature, at least,
by excesses of apparent devotion. Lady Charlotte believed herself
beloved at last. She was about to strike thirty; and Rumour, stalking
with a turban of cloud on her head,--enough that this shocking old
celestial dowager, from condemnation had passed to pity of the dashing
lady. Beloved at last! After a while there is no question of our
loving; but we thirst for love, if we have not had it. The key of Lady
Charlotte will come in the course of events. She was at the doubtful
hour of her life, a warm-hearted woman, known to be so by few, generally
consigned by devout-visaged Scandal (for who save the devout will dare to
sit in the chair of judgement?) as a hopeless rebel against conventional
laws; and worse than that, far worse,--though what, is not said.
At Stornley the following letter from Emilia hit its mark:--
Dear Mr. Wilfrid,
"It is time for me to see you. Come when you have read this letter. I
cannot tell you how I am, because my heart feels beating in another body.
Pray come; come now. Come on a swift horse. The thought of you
galloping to me goes through me like a flame that hums. You will come, I
know. It is time. If I write foolishly, do forgive me. I can only make
sure of the spelling, and I cannot please you on paper, only when I see
The signature of 'Emilia Alessandra Belloni' was given with her wonted
Wilfrid stared at the writing. "What! all this time she has been
thinking the same thing!" Her constancy did not swim before him in
alluring colours. He regarded it as a species of folly. Disgust had
left him. The pool of Memory would have had to be stirred to remind him
of the pipe-smoke in her hair. "You are sure to please me when you see
me?" he murmured. "You are very confident, young lady!" So much had her
charm faded. And then he thought kindly of her, and that a meeting would
not be good for her, and that she ought to go to Italy and follow her
profession. "If she grows famous," whispered coxcombry, "why then
oneself will take a little of the praises given to her." And that seemed
eminently satisfactory. Men think in this way when you have loved them,
ladies. All men? No; only the coxcombs; but it is to these that you
give your fresh affection. They are, as it were, the band of the
regiment of adorers, marching ahead, while we sober working soldiers
follow to their music. "If she grows famous, why then I can bear in mind
that her heart was once in my possession: and it may return to its old
owner, perchance." Wilfrid indulged in a pleasant little dream of her
singing at the Opera-house, and he, tied to a ferocious, detested wife,
how softly and luxuriously would he then be sighing for the old time! It
was partly good seed in his nature, and an apprehension of her force of
soul, that kept him from a thought of evil to her. Passion does not
inspire dark appetite. Dainty innocence does, I am told. Things are
tested by the emotions they provoke. Wilfrid knew that there was no
trifling with Emilia, so he put the letter by, commenting thus "she's
right, she doesn't spell badly." Behind, which, to those who have caught
the springs of his character, volumes may be seen.
He put the letter by. Two days later, at noon, the card of Captain
Gambier was brought to him in the billiard-room,--on it was written:
"Miss Belloni waits on horseback to see you." Wilfrid thought "Waits!"
and the impossibility of escape gave him a notion of her power.
"So, you are letting that go on," said Lady Charlotte, when she heard
that Emilia and the captain were in company.
"There is no fear for her whatever."
"There is always fear when a man gives every minute of his time to that
kind of business," retorted her ladyship.
Wilfrid smiled the smile of the knowing. Rivalry with Gambier (and
successful too!) did not make Emilia's admiration so tasteless. Some one
cries out: "But, what a weak creature is this young man!" I reply, he
was at a critical stage of his career. All of us are weak in the period
of growth, and are of small worth before the hour of trial. This fellow
had been fattening all his life on prosperity; the very best dish in the
world; but it does not prove us. It fattens and strengthens us, just as
the sun does. Adversity is the inspector of our constitutions; she
simply tries our muscle and powers of endurance, and should be a
periodical visitor. But, until she comes, no man is known. Wilfrid was
not absolutely engaged to Lady Charlotte (she had taken care of that),
and being free, and feeling his heart beat in more lively fashion, he
turned almost delightedly to the girl he could not escape from. As when
the wriggling eel that has been prodded by the countryman's fork, finds
that no amount of wriggling will release it, to it twists in a knot
around the imprisoning prong. This simile says more than I mean it to
say, but those who understand similes will know the measure due to them.
There sat Emilia on her horse. "Has Gambier been giving her lessons?"
thought Wilfrid. She sat up, well-balanced; and, as he approached, began
to lean gently forward to him. A greeting 'equal to any lady's,' there
was no doubt. This was the point Emilia had to attain, in his severe
contemplation. A born lady, on her assured level, stood a chance of
becoming a Goddess; but ladyship was Emilia's highest mark. Such is the
state of things to the sentimental fancy when girls are at a
disadvantage. She smiled, and held out both hands. He gave her one,
nodding kindly, but was too confused to be the light-hearted cavalier.
Lady Charlotte walked up to her horse's side, after receiving Captain
Gambier's salute, and said: "Come, catch hold of my hands and jump."
"No," replied Emilia; "I only came to see him."
"But you will see him, and me in the bargain, if you stay."
"I fancy she has given her word to return early," interposed Wilfrid.
"Then we'll ride back with her," said Lady Charlotte. "Give me five
minutes. I'll order a horse out for you."
She smiled, and considerately removed the captain, by despatching him to
A quivering dimple of tenderness hung for a moment in Emilia's cheeks, as
she looked upon Wilfrid. Then she said falteringly, "I think they wish
to be as we do."
"Alone?" cried Wilfrid.
"Yes; that is why I brought him over. He will come anywhere with me."
"You must be mistaken."
"No; I know it."
"Did he tell you so?"
"No; Mr. Powys did."
"Told you that Lady Charlotte--"
"Yes. Not, is; but, was. And he used that word...there is no word like
it,...he said 'her lover'--Oh! mine!" Emilia lifted her arms. Her voice
from its deepest fall had risen to a cry.
Wilfrid caught her as she slipped from her saddle. His heart was in a
tumult; stirred both ways: stirred with wrath and with love. He clasped
"Am I?--am I?" he breathed.
"My lover!" Emilia murmured.
He was her slave again.
For, here was something absolutely his own. His own from the roots; from
the first growth of sensation. Something with the bloom on it: to which
no other finger could point and say: "There is my mark."
(And, ladies, if you will consent to be likened to a fruit, you must bear
with these observations, and really deserve the stigma. If you will
smile on men, because they adore you as vegetable products, take what
Lady Charlotte did no more than double the time she had asked for. The
party were soon at a quiet canter up the lanes; but entering a broad
furzy common with bramble-plots and oak-shaws, the Amazon flew ahead.
Emilia's eyes were so taken with her, that she failed to observe a tiny
red-flowing runlet in the clay, with yellow-ridged banks almost baked to
brick. Over it she was borne, but at the expense of a shaking that
caused her to rely on her hold of the reins, ignorant of the notions of a
horse outstripped. Wilfrid looked to see that the jump had been
accomplished, and was satisfied. Gambier was pressing his hack to keep a
Lady Charlotte spun round suddenly, crying, "Catch the mare!" and
galloped back to Emilia, who was deposited on a bush of bramble.
Dismounting promptly, the lady said: "My child, you're not hurt?"
"Not a bit." Emilia blinked.
"Not a bit," was half whispered.
"That's brave. Now jump on your feet. Tell me why you rode over to us
this morning. Quick. Don't hesitate."
"Because I want Wilfrid to see his sister Cornelia," came the answer,
with the required absence of indecision.
Emilia ran straightway to meet Wilfrid approaching; and as both her
hands, according to her fashion, were stretched out to him to assure him
of her safety and take his clasp, forgetful of the instincts derived from
riding-habits, her feet became entangled; she trod herself down, falling
plump forward and looking foolish--perhaps for the first time in her life
plainly feeling so.
"Up! little woman," said Lady Charlotte, supporting her elbow.
"Now, Sir Wilfrid, we part here; and don't spoil her courage, now she has
had a spill, by any 'assiduous attentions' and precautions. She's sure
to take as many as are needed. If Captain Gambler thinks I require an
escort, he may offer."
The captain, taken by surprise, bowed, and flowed in ardent commonplace.
Wilfrid did not look of a wholesome colour.
"Do you return?" he stammered; not without a certain aspect of righteous
"Yes. You will ride over to us again, probably, in a day or two?
Captain Gambler will see me safe from the savage admirers that crowd this
country, if I interpreted him rightly."
Emilia was lifted to her seat. Lady Charlotte sprang unassisted to hers.
"Ta-ta!" she waved her fingers from her lips. The pairs then separated;
one couple turning into green lanes, the other dipping to blue hills.
Gossip of course was excited on the subject of the choice of a partner
made by the member for the county. Cornelia placed her sisters in one of
their most pleasing of difficulties. She had not as yet pledged her
word. It was supposed that she considered it due to herself to withhold
her word for a term. The rumour in the family was, that Sir Twickenham
appreciated her hesitation, and desired that he might be intimately known
before he was finally accepted. When the Tinleys called, they heard that
Cornelia's acceptance of the baronet was doubtful. The Copleys, on the
other hand, distinctly understood that she had decided in his favour.
Owing to the amiable dissension between the Copleys and the Tinleys, each
party called again; giving the ladies of Brookfield further opportunity
for studying one of the levels from which they had risen. Arabella did
almost all the fencing with Laura Tinley, contemptuously as a youth of
station returned from college will turn and foil an ill-conditioned
villager, whom formerly he has encountered on the green.
"Had they often met, previous to the...the proposal?" inquired Laura; and
laughed: "I was going to say 'popping.'"
"Pray do not check yourself, if a phrase appears to suit you," returned
"But it was in the neighbourhood, was it not?"
"They have met in the neighbourhood."
"Also at Richford."
"We thought it was sudden, dear; that's all."
"Why should it not be?"
"Perhaps the best things are, it is true."
"You congratulate us upon a benefit?"
"He is to be congratulated seriously. Naturally. When she decides, let
me know early, I do entreat you, because...well, I am of a different
opinion from some people, who talk of another attachment, or engagement,
and I do not believe in it, and have said so."
Rising to depart, Laura Tinley resumed: "Most singular! You are aware,
of course, that poor creature, our organist--I ought to say yours--who
looked (it was Mr. Sumner I heard say it--such a good thing!)" as if he
had been a gentleman in another world, and was the ghost of one in this:"
really one of the cleverest things! but he is clever!--Barrett's his
name: Barrett and some: musical name before it, like Handel. I mean one
that we are used to. Well, the man has totally and unexpectedly thrown
up his situation."
"His appointment," said Arabella. Permitting no surprise to be visible,
she paused: "Yes. I don't think we shall give our consent to her filling
Laura let it be seen that her adversary was here a sentence too quick for
"Ah! you mean your little Miss Belloni?"
"Was it not of her you were thinking?"
"When?" asked Laura, shamefully bewildered.
"When you alluded to Mr. Barrett's vacant place."
"Not at the moment."
"I thought you must be pointing to her advancement."
"I confess it was not in my mind."
"In what consisted the singularity, then?"
"You prefaced your remarks with the exclamation, 'Singular!'"
Laura showed that Arabella had passed her guard. She hastened to
compliment her on her kindness to Emilia, and so sheathed her weapon for
the time, having just enjoyed a casual inspection of Mrs. Chump entering
the room, and heard the brogue an instant.
"Irish!" she whispered, smiling, with a sort of astonished discernment of
the nationality, and swept through the doorway: thus conveying forcibly
to Arabella her knowledge of what the ladies of Brookfield were enduring:
a fine Parthian shot.
That Cornelia should hold a notable county man, a baronet and owner of
great acres, in a state between acceptance and rejection, was considered
high policy by the ladies, whom the idea of it elevated; and they
encouraged her to pursue this course, without having a suspicion, shrewd
as they were, that it was followed for any other object than the honour
of the family. But Mr. Pole was in the utmost perplexity, and spoke of
baronets as things almost holy, to be kneeled to, prayed for. He was
profane. "I thought, papa," said Cornelia, "that women conferred the
favour when they gave their hands!"
It was a new light to the plain merchant. "How should you say if a
Prince came and asked for you?"
"Still that he asked a favour at my hands."
"Oh!" went Mr. Pole, in the voice of a man whose reason is outraged. The
placidity of Cornelia's reply was not without its effect on him,
nevertheless. He had always thought his girls extraordinary girls, and
born to be distinguished. "Perhaps she has a lord in view," he
concluded: it being his constant delusion to suppose that high towering
female sense has always a practical aim at a material thing. He was no
judge of the sex in its youth. "Just speak to her," he said to Wilfrid.
Wilfrid had heard from Emilia that there was a tragic background to this
outward placidity; tears on the pillow at night and long vigils. Emilia
had surprised her weeping, and though she obtained no confidences, the
soft mood was so strong in the stately lady, that she consented to weep
on while Emilia clasped her. Petitioning on her behalf to Wilfrid for
aid, Emilia had told him the scene; and he, with a man's stupidity,
alluded to it, not thinking what his knowledge of it revealed to a woman.
"Why do you vacillate, and keep us all in the dark as to what you mean?"
"I am not prepared," said Cornelia; the voice of humility issuing from a
"One of your oracular phrases! Are you prepared to be straightforward in
"I am prepared for any sacrifice, Wilfrid."
"The marrying of a man in his position is a sacrifice!"
"I cannot leave papa."
"And why not?"
"He is ill. He does not speak of it, but he is ill. His actions are
strange. They are unaccountable."
"He has an old friend to reside in his house?"
"It is not that. I have noticed him. His mind...he requires watching."
"And how long is it since you made this discovery?"
"One sees clearer perhaps when one is not quite happy."
"Not happy! Then it's for him that you turn the night to tears?"
Cornelia closed her lips. She divined that her betrayer must be close in
his confidence. She went shortly after to Emilia, whose secret at once
stood out bare to a kindled suspicion. There was no fear that Cornelia
would put her finger on it accusingly, or speak of it directly. She had
the sentimentalist's profound respect for the name and notion of love.
She addressed Emilia vaguely, bidding her keep guard on her emotions, and
telling her there was one test of the truth of masculine protestations;
this, Will he marry you? The which, if you are poor, is a passably
infallible test. Emilia sucked this in thoughtfully. She heard that
lovers were false. Why, then of course they were not like her lover!
Cornelia finished what she deemed her duty, and departed, while Emilia
thought: "I wonder whether he could be false to me;" and she gave herself
shrewd half-delicious jarrings of pain, forcing herself to contemplate
the impossible thing.
She was in this state when Mrs. Chump came across her, and with a slight
pressure of a sovereign into her hand, said: "There, it's for you, little
Belloni! and I see ye've been thinkin' me one o' the scrape-hards and
close-fists. It's Pole who keeps me low, on purpose. And I'm a wretch
if I haven't my purse full, so you see I'm all in the dark in the house,
and don't know half so much as the sluts o' the kitchen. So, ye'll tell
me, little Belloni, is Arr'bella goin' to marry Mr. Annybody? And is
Cornelia goin' to marry Sir Tickleham? And whether Mr. Wilfrud's goin'
to marry Lady Charlotte Chill'nworth? Becas, my dear, there's Arr'bella,
who's sharp, she is, as a North-easter in January, (which Chump 'd cry
out for, for the sake of his ships, poor fella--he kneelin' by 's bedside
in a long nightgown and lookin' just twice what he was!) she has me like
a nail to my vary words, and shows me that nothin' can happen betas o'
what I've said. And Cornelia--if ye'll fancy a tall codfish on its tail:
'Mrs. Chump, I beg ye'll not go to believe annything of me.' So I says
to her, 'Cornelia! my dear! do ye think, now, it's true that Chump went
and marrud his cook, that ye treat me so? becas my father,' I tell her,
'he dealt in porrk in a large way, and I was a fine woman, full of the
arr'stocracy, and Chump a little puffed-out bladder of a man.' So then
she says: 'Mrs. Chump, I listen to no gossup: listen you to no gossup.
'And Mr. Wilfrud, my dear, he sends me on the flat o' my back, laughin'.
And Ad'la she takes and turns me right about, so that I don't see the
thing I'm askin' after; and there's nobody but you, little Belloni, to
help me, and if ye do, ye shall know what the crumple of paper sounds
Mrs. Chump gave a sugary suck with her tongue. Emilia returned the money
"Ye're foolush!" said Mrs. Chump. "A shut fist's good in fight and bad
in friendship. Do ye know that? Open your hand."
"Excuse me," persisted Emilia.
"Pooh! take the money, or I'll say ye're in a conspiracy to make me
blindman's-buff of the parrty. Take ut."
"I don't want it."
"Maybe, it's not enough?"
"I don't want any, ma'am."
"Ma'am, to the deuce with ye! I'll be callin' ye a forr'ner in a minute,
Emilia walked away from a volley of terrific threats.
For some reason, unfathomed by her, she wanted to be alone with Wilfrid
and put a question to him. No other, in sooth, than the infallible test.
Not, mind you, that she wished to be married. But something she had
heard (she had forgotten what it was) disturbed her, and that recent
trifling with pain, in her excess of happiness, laid her open to it. Her
heart was weaker, and fluttered, as if with a broken wing. She thought,
"if I can be near him to lean against him for one full hour!" it would
make her strong again. For, she found that if her heart was rising on a
broad breath, suddenly, for no reason that she knew, it seemed to stop in
its rise, break, and sink, like a wind-beaten billow. Once or twice, in
a quick fear, she thought: "What is this? Is this a malady coming before
death?" She walked out gloomily, thinking of the darkness of the world
to Wilfrid, if she should die. She plucked flowers, and then reproached
herself with plucking them. She tried to sing. "No, not till I have
been with him alone;" she said, chiding her voice to silence. A shadow
crossed her mind, as a Spring-mist dulls the glory of May. "Suppose all
singing has gone from me--will he love wretched me?"
By-and-by she met him in the house. "Come out of doors
to-night," she whispered.
Wilfrid's spirit of intrigue was never to be taken by surprise. "In the
wood, under the pine, at nine," he replied.
"Not there," said Emilia, seeing this place mournfully dark from
Cornelia's grief. "It is too still; say, where there's water falling.
One can't be unhappy by noisy water."
Wilfrid considered, and named Wilming Weir. "And there we'll sit and
you'll sing to me. I won't dine at home, so they won't susp-a-fancy
anything.--Soh! and you want very much to be with me, my bird? What am
I?" He bent his head.
He pressed her hand rapturously, half-doubting whether her pronunciation
of the word had not a rather too confident twang.
Was it not delightful, he asked her, that they should be thus one to the
other, and none know of it. She thought so too, and smiled happily,
promising secresy, at his request; for the sake of continuing so
felicitous a life.
"You, you know, have an appointment with Captain Gambier, and, I with
Lady Charlotte Chillingworth," said he. "How dare you make appointments
with a captain of hussars?" and he bent her knuckles fondlingly.
Emilia smiled as before. He left her with a distinct impression that she
did not comprehend that part of her lesson.
Wilfrid had just bled his father of a considerable sum of money; having
assured him that he was the accepted suitor of Lady Charlotte
Chillingworth, besides making himself pleasant in allusion to Mrs. Chump,
so far as to cast some imputation on his sisters' judgement for not
perceiving the virtues of the widow. The sum was improvidently large.
Mr. Pole did not hear aright when he heard it named. Even at the
repetition, he went: "Eh?" two or three times, vacantly. The amount was
distinctly nailed to his ear: whereupon he said, "Ah!--yes! you young
fellows want money: must have it, I suppose. Up from the bowels of the
earth Up from the--: you're sure they're not playing the fool with you,
Wilfrid understood the indication to Stornley. "I think you need have no
fear of that, sir." And so his father thought, after an examination of
the youth, who was of manly shape, and had a fresh, non-fatuous, air.
"Well, if that's all right..." sighed Mr. Pole. "Of course you'll always
know that money's money. I wish your sisters wouldn't lose their time,
as they do. Time's worth more than money. What sum?"
"I told you, sir, I wanted--there's the yacht, you know, and a lot of
tradesmen's bills, which you don't like to see standing:-about--perhaps I
had better name the round sum. Suppose you write down eight hundred. I
shan't want more for some months. If you fancy it too much..."
Mr. Pole had lifted his head. But he spoke nothing. His lips and brows
were rigid in apparent calculation. Wilfrid kept his position for a
minute or so; and then, a little piqued, he moved about. He had
inherited the antipathy to the discussion of the money question, and
fretted to find it unnecessarily prolonged.
"Shall I come to you on this business another time, sir?"
"No, God bless my soul!" cried his father; "are you going to keep this
hanging over me for ever? Eight hundred, you said." He mumbled: "salary
of a chief clerk of twenty years' standing. Eight: twice four:--there
you have it exactly."
"Will you send it me in a letter?" said Wilfrid, out of patience.
"I'll send it you in a letter," assented his father. Upon which Wilfrid
changed his mind. "I can take a chair, though. I can easily wait for it
"Save trouble, if I send it. Eh?"
"Do you wish to see whether you can afford it, sir?"
"I wish to see you show more sense--with your confounded 'afford.' Have
you any idea of bankers' books?--bankers' accounts?" Mr. Pole fished his
cheque-book from a drawer and wrote Wilfrid's name and the sum, tore out
the leaf and tossed it to him. "There, I've written to-day. Don't
present it for a week." He rubbed his forehead hastily, touching here
and there a paper to put it scrupulously in a line with the others.
Wilfrid left him, and thought: "Kind old boy! Of course, he always means
kindly, but I think I see a glimpse of avarice as a sort of a sign of age
coming on. I hope he'll live long!"
Wilfrid was walking in the garden, imagining perhaps that he was
thinking, as the swarming sensations of little people help them to
imagine, when Cornelia ran hurriedly up to him and said: "Come with me to
papa. He's ill: I fear he is going to have a fit."
"I left him sound and well, just now," said Wilfrid. "This is your
"I found him gasping in his chair not two minutes after you quitted him.
Dearest, he is in a dangerous state!"
Wilfrid stept back to his father, and was saluted with a ready "Well?" as
he entered; but the mask had slipped from half of the old man's face, and
for the first time in his life Wilfrid perceived that he had become an
"Well, sir, you sent for me?" he said.
"Girls always try to persuade you you're ill--that's all," returned Mr.
Pole. His voice was subdued; but turning to Cornelia, he fired up: "It's
preposterous to tell a man who carries on a business like mine, you've
observed for a long while that he's queer!--There, my dear child, I know
that you mean well. I shall look all right the day you're married."
This allusion, and the sudden kindness, drew a storm of tears to
"Papa! if you will but tell me what it is!" she moaned.
A nervous frenzy seemed to take possession of him. He ordered her out of
She was gone, but his arm was still stretched out, and his expression of
irritated command did not subside.
Wilfrid took his arm and put it gently down on the chair, saying: "You're
not quite the thing to-day, sir."
"Are you a fool as well?" Mr. Pole retorted. "What do you know of, to
make me ill? I live a regular life. I eat and drink just as you all do;
and if I have a headache, I'm stunned with a whole family screaming as
hard as they can that I'm going to die. Damned hard! I say, sir, it's--"
He fell into a feebleness.
"A little glass of brandy, I think," Wilfrid suggested; and when Mr. Pole
had gathered his mind he assented, begging his son particularly to take
precautions to prevent any one from entering the room until he had tasted
the reviving liquor.
A half-circle of high-banked greensward, studded with old park-trees,
hung round the roar of the water; distant enough from the white-twisting
fall to be mirrored on a smooth-heaved surface, while its out-pushing
brushwood below drooped under burdens of drowned reed-flags that caught
the foam. Keen scent of hay, crossing the dark air, met Emilia as she
entered the river-meadow. A little more, and she saw the white weir-
piles shining, and the grey roller just beginning to glisten to the moon.
Eastward on her left, behind a cedar, the moon had cast off a thick
cloud, and shone through the cedar-bars with a yellowish hazy softness,
making rosy gold of the first passion of the tide, which, writhing and
straining on through many lights, grew wide upon the wonderful velvet
darkness underlying the wooded banks. With the full force of a young
soul that leaps from beauty seen to unimagined beauty, Emilia stood and
watched the picture. Then she sat down, hushed, awaiting her lover.
Wilfrid, as it chanced, was ten minutes late. She did not hear his voice
till he had sunk on his knee by her side.
"What a reverie!" he said half jealously. "Isn't it lovely here?"
Emilia pressed his hand, but without turning her face to him, as her
habit was. He took it for shyness, and encouraged her with soft
exclamations and expansive tenderness.
"I wish I had not come here!" she murmured.
"Tell me why?" He folded his arm about her waist.
"Why did you let me wait?" said she.
Wilfrid drew out his watch; blamed the accident that had detained him,
and remarked that there were not many minutes to witness against him.
She appeared to throw off her moodiness. "You are here at last. Let me
hold your hand, and think, and be quite silent."
"You shall hold my hand, and think, and be quite silent, my own girl! if
you will tell me what's on your mind."
Emilia thought it enough to look in his face, smiling.
"Has any one annoyed you?" he cried out.
"Then receive the command of your lord, that you kiss him."
"I will kiss him," said Emilia; and did so.
The salute might have appeased an imperious lord, but was not so
satisfactory to an exacting lover. He perceived, however, that, whether
as lover or as lord, he must wait for her now, owing to her having waited
for him: so, he sat by her, permitting his hand to be softly squeezed,
and trying to get at least in the track of her ideas, while her ear was
turned to the weir, and her eyes were on the glowing edges of the cedar-
Finally, on one of many deep breaths, she said: "It's over. Why were you
late? But, never mind now. Never let it be long again when I am
expecting you. It's then I feel so much at his mercy. I mean, if I am
where I hear falling water; sometimes thunder."
Wilfrid masked his complete mystification with a caressing smile; not
without a growing respect for the only person who could make him
experience the pangs of conscious silliness. You see, he was not a
"That German!" Emilia enlightened him.
"Your old music-master?"
"I wish it, I wish it! I should soon be free from him. Don't you know
that dreadful man I told you about, who's like a black angel to me,
because there is no music like his? and he's a German! I told you how I
first dreamed about him, and then regularly every night, after talking
with my father about Italy and his black-yellow Tedeschi, this man came
over my pillow and made me call him Master, Master. And he is. He seems
as if he were the master of my soul, mocking me, making me worship him in
spite of my hate. I came here, thinking only of you. I heard the water
like a great symphony. I fell into dreaming of my music. That's when I
am at his mercy. There's no one like him. I must detest music to get
free from him. How can I? He is like the God of music."
Wilfrid now remembered certain of her allusions to this rival, who had
hitherto touched him very little. Perhaps it was partly the lovely scene
that lifted him to a spiritual jealousy, partly his susceptibility to a
sentimental exaggeration, and partly the mysterious new charm in Emilia's
manner, that was as a bordering lustre, showing how the full orb was
rising behind her.
"His name?" Wilfrid asked for.
Emilia's lips broke to the second letter of the alphabet; but she cut
short the word. "Why should you hear it? And now that you are here, you
drive him away. And the best is," she laughed, "I am sure you will not
remember any of his pieces. I wish I could not--not that it's the
memory; but he seems all round me, up in the air, and when the trees move
all together...you chase him away, my lover!"
It was like a break in music, the way that Emilia suddenly closed her
sentence; coming with a shock of flattering surprise upon Wilfrid.
Then she pursued: "My English lover! I am like Italy, in chains to that
German, and you...but no, no, no! It's not quite a likeness, for my
German is not a brute. I have seen his picture in shop-windows: the wind
seemed in his hair, and he seemed to hear with his eyes: his forehead
frowning so. Look at me, and see. So!"
Emilia pressed up the hair from her temples and bent her brows.
"It does not increase your beauty," said Wilfrid.
"There's the difference!" Emilia sighed mildly. "He sees angels,
cherubs, and fairies, and imps, and devils; or he hears them: they come
before him from far off, in music. They do to me, now and then. Only
now and then, when my head's on fire.--My lover!"
Wilfrid pressed his mouth to the sweet instrument. She took his kiss
fully, and gave her own frankly, in return. Then, sighing a very little,
she said: "Do not kiss me much."
"But, look at me."
"I will look at you. Only take my hand. See the moon is getting whiter.
The water there is like a pool of snakes, and then they struggle out, and
roll over and over, and stream on lengthwise. I can see their long flat
heads, and their eyes: almost their skins. No, my lover! do not kiss me.
I lose my peace."
Wilfrid was not willing to relinquish his advantage, and the tender deep
tone of the remonstrance was most musical and catching. What if he
pulled her to earth from that rival of his in her soul? She would then
be wholly his own. His lover's sentiment had grown rageingly jealous of
the lordly German. But Emilia said, "I have you on my heart more when I
touch your hand only, and think. If you kiss me, I go into a cloud, and
lose your face in my mind."
"Yes, yes;" replied Wilfrid, pleased to sustain the argument for the sake
of its fruitful promises. "But you must submit to be kissed, my darling.
You will have to."
She gazed inquiringly.
"When you are married, I mean."
"When will you marry me?" she said.
The heir-apparent of the house of Pole blinked probably at that moment
more foolishly than most mortal men have done. Taming his astonishment
to represent a smile, he remarked: "When? are you thinking about it
She answered, in a quiet voice that conveyed the fact forcibly, "Yes."
"But you're too young yet; and you're going to Italy, to learn in the
schools. You wouldn't take a husband there with you, would you? What
would the poor devil do?"
"But you are not too young," said she.
Wilfrid supposed not.
"Could you not go to my Italy with me?"
"Impossible! What! as a dangling husband?" Wilfrid laughed scornfully.
"They would love you too," she said. "They are such loving people. Oh,
come! Consent to come, my lover! I must learn. If I do not, you will
despise me. How can I bring anything to lay at your feet, my dear! my
dear! if I do not?"
"Impossible!" Wilfrid reiterated, as one who had found moorings in the
"Then I will give up Italy!"
He had not previously acted hypocrite with this amazing girl.
Nevertheless, it became difficult not to do so. He could scarcely
believe that he had on a sudden, and by strange agency, slipped into an
earnest situation. Emilia's attitude and tone awakened him to see it.
Her hands were clenched straight down from the shoulders: all that she
conceived herself to be renouncing for his sake was expressed in her
"Would you, really?" he murmured.
"And be English altogether?"
"Yes; from this time."
Now stirred his better nature: though not before had he sceptically
touched her lips and found them cold, as if the fire had been taken out
of them by what they had uttered. He felt that it was no animal love,
but the force of a soul drawn to him; and, forgetting the hypocritical
foundation he had laid, he said: "How proud I shall be of you!"
"I shall go with you to battle," returned Emilia.
"My little darling! You won't care to see those black fellows killed,
Emilia shuddered. "No; poor things! Why do you hurt them? Kill wicked
people, tyrant white-coats! And we will not talk of killing now. Proud
of me? If I can make you!"
"You sigh so heavily!"
"Something makes me feel like a little beggar."
"When I tell you I love you?"
"Yes; but I only feel rich when I am giving; and I seem to have nothing
to give now:--now that I have lost Italy!"
"But you give me your love, don't you?"
"All of it. But I seem to give it to you in tatters it's like a beggar;
like a day without any sun."
"Do you think I shall have that idea when I hear you sing to me, and know
that this little leaping fountain of music here is mine?"
Dim rays of a thought led Emilia to remark, "Must not men keel to women?
I mean, if they are to love them for ever?"
Wilfrid smiled gallantly: "I will kneel to you, if it pleases you."
"Not now. You should have done so, once, I dreamed only once, just for a
moment, in Italy; when all were crying out to me that I had caught their
hearts. I fancied standing out like a bright thing in a dark crowd, and
then saying "I am his!" pointing to you, and folding my arms, waiting for
you to take me."
The lover's imagination fired at the picture, and immediately he told a
lover's lie; for the emotion excited by the thought of her glory coloured
deliciously that image of her abnegation of all to him. He said: "I
would rather have you as you are."
Emilia leaned to him more, and the pair fixed their eyes on the moon,
that had now topped the cedar, and was pure silver: silver on the grass,
on the leafage, on the waters. And in the West, facing it, was an arch
of twilight and tremulous rose; as if a spirit hung there over the
"At least," thought Wilfrid, "heaven, and the beauty of the world,
approve my choice." And he looked up, fancying that he had a courage
almost serene to meet his kindred with Emilia on his arm.
She felt his arm dreamily stressing its clasp about her, and said: "Now I
know you love me. And you shall take me as I am. I need not be so poor
after all. My dear! my dear! I cannot see beyond you."
"Is that your misery?" said he.
"My delight! my pleasure! One can live a life anywhere. And how can I
belong to Italy, if I am yours? Do you know, when we were silent just
now, I was thinking that water was the history of the world flowing out
before me, all mixed up of kings and queens, and warriors with armour,
and shouting armies; battles and numbers of mixed people; and great red
sunsets, with women kneeling under them. Do you know those long low
sunsets? I love them. They look like blood spilt for love. The noise
of the water, and the moist green smell, gave me hundreds of pictures
that seemed to hug me. I thought--what could stir music in me more than
this? and, am I not just as rich if I stay here with my lover, instead of
flying to strange countries, that I shall not care for now? So, you
shall take me as I am. I do not feel poor any longer."
With that she gave him both her hands.
"Yes," said Wilfrid.
As if struck by the ridicule of so feeble a note, falling upon her
passionate speech, he followed it up with the "yes!" of a man; adding:
"Whatever you are, you are my dear girl; my own love; mine!"
Having said it, he was screwed up to feel it as nearly as possible, such
virtue is there in uttered words.
Then he set about resolutely studying to appreciate her in the new
character she had assumed to him. It is barely to be supposed that he
should understand what in her love for him she sacrificed in giving up
Italy, as she phrased it. He had some little notion of the sacrifice;
but, as he did not demand any sacrifice of the sort, and as this involved
a question perplexing, irritating, absurd, he did not regard it very
favourably. As mistress of his fancy, her prospective musical triumphs
were the crown of gold hanging over her. As wife of his bosom, they were
not to be thought of. But the wife of his bosom must take her place by
virtue of some wondrous charm. What was it that Emilia could show, if
not music? Beautiful eyebrows: thick rare eyebrows, no doubt couched
upon her full eyes, they were a marvel: and her eyes were a marvel. She
had a sweet mouth, too, though the upper lip did not boast the
aristocratic conventional curve of adorable pride, or the under lip a
pretty droop to a petty rounded chin. Her face was like the aftersunset
across a rose-garden, with the wings of an eagle poised outspread on the
light. Some such coloured, vague, magnified impression Wilfrid took of
her. Still, it was not quite enough to make him scorn contempt, should
it whisper: nor even quite enough to combat successfully the image of
elegant dames in their chosen attitudes--the queenly moments when perhaps
they enter an assembly, or pour out tea with an exquisite exhibition of
arm, or recline upon a couch, commanding homage of the world of little
men. What else had this girl to count upon to make her exclusive? A
devoted heart; she had a loyal heart, and perfect frankness: a mind
impressible, intelligent, and fresh. She gave promise of fair
companionship at all seasons. She could put a spell upon him, moreover.
By that power of hers, never wilfully exercised, she came, in spite of
the effect left on him by her early awkwardnesses and 'animalities,'
nearer to his idea of superhuman nature than anything he knew of. But
how would she be regarded when the announcement of Mrs. Wilfrid Pole
brought scrutinizing eyes and gossiping mouths to bear on her?
It mattered nothing. He kissed her, and the vision of the critical world
faded to a blank. Whatever she was, he was her prime luminary, so he
determined to think that he cast light upon a precious, an unrivalled
"You are my own, are you not, Emilia?"
"Yes; I am," she answered.
"That water seems to say 'for ever,'" he murmured; and Emilia's fingers
pressed upon his.
Of marriage there was no further word. Her heart was evidently quite at
ease; and that it should be so without chaining him to a date, was
Wilfrid's peculiar desire. He could pledge himself to eternity, but
shrank from being bound to eleven o'clock on the morrow morning.
So, now, the soft Summer hours flew like white doves from off the
mounting moon, and the lovers turned to go, all being still: even the
noise of the waters still to their ears, as life that is muffled in
sleep. They saw the cedar grey-edged under the moon: and Night, that
clung like a bat beneath its ancient open palms. The bordering sward
about the falls shone silvery. In its shadow was a swan. These scenes
are but beckoning hands to the hearts of lovers, waving them on to that
Eden which they claim: but when the hour has fled, they know it; and by
the palpitating light in it they know that it holds the best of them.
At this season Mr. Pericles reappeared. He had been, he said, through
"Paris, Turin, Milano, Veniss, and by Trieste over the Summering to
Vienna on a tour for a voice." And in no part of the Continent, his
vehement declaration assured the ladies, had he found a single one. It
was one universal croak--ahi! And Mr. Pericles could, affirm that
Purgatory would have no pains for him after the torments he had recently
endured. "Zey are frogs if zey are not geese," said Mr. Pericles. "I
give up. Opera is dead. Hein? for a time;" and he smiled almost
graciously, adding: "Where is she?" For Emilia was not present.
The ladies now perceived a greatness of mind in the Greek's devotion to
music, and in his non-mercenary travels to assist managers of Opera by
discovering genius. His scheme for Emilia fired them with delight. They
were about to lay down all the material arrangements at once, but Mrs.
Chump, who had heard that there was a new man in the house, now entered
the room, prepared to conquer him. As thus, after a short form of
introduction: "D'ye do, sir! and ye're Mr. Paricles. Oh! but ye're a
Sultan, they say. Not in morr'ls, sir. And vary pleasant to wander on
the Cont'nent with a lot o' lacqueys at your heels. It's what a bachelor
can do. But I ask ye, sir, is ut fair, ye think, to the poor garls that
has to stop at home?"
Hereat the ladies of Brookfield, thus miserably indicated, drew upon
their self-command that sprang from the high sense of martyrdom.
Mr. Pericles did not reply to Mrs. Chump at all. He turned to Adela,
saying aloud: "What is zis person?"
It might have pleased them to hear any slight put publicly on Mrs. Chump
in the first resistance to the woman, but in the present stage their
pride defended her. "Our friend," was the reply with which Arabella
rebuked his rudeness; and her sister approved her. "We can avoid showing
that we are weak in our own opinion, whatsoever degrades us," they had
said during a consultation. Simultaneously they felt that Mr. Pericles
being simply a millionaire and not In Society, being also a middle-class
foreigner (a Greek whose fathers ran with naked heels and long lank hair
on the shores of the Aegean), before such a man they might venture to
identify this their guest with themselves an undoubted duty, in any case,
but not always to be done; at least, not with grace and personal
satisfaction. Therefore, the "our friend" dispersed a common gratulatory
glow. Very small points, my masters; but how are coral-islands built?
Mrs. Chump fanned her cheek, in complete ignorance of the offence and
defence. Chump, deceased, in amorous mood, had praised her management of
the fan once, when breath was in him: "'Martha," says he, winkin' a sort
of 'mavourneen' at me, ye know--'Martha! with a fan in your hand, if
ye're not a black-eyed beauty of a Spaniard, ye little devil of Seville!'
says he." This she had occasionally confided to the ladies. The marital
eulogy had touched her, and she was not a woman of coldly-flowing blood,
she had an excuse for the constant employment of the fan.
"And well, Mr. Paricles! have ye got nothin' to tell us about foreign
countesses and their slips? Because, we can listen, sir, garls or not.
Sure, if they understand ye, ye teach 'em nothin'; and if they don't
understand ye, where's the harm done? D'ye see, sir? It's clear in
favour of talkin'."
Mr. Pericles administered consolation to his moustache by twisting it
into long waxy points. "I do not know; I do not know," he put her away
with, from time to time. In the end Mrs. Chump leaned over to Arabella.
"Don't have 'm, my dear," she murmured.
"You mean--?" quoth Arabella.
"Here's the driest stick that aver stood without sap."
Arabella flushed when she took the implication that she was looking on
the man as a husband. Adela heard the remarks, and flushed likewise.
Mrs. Chump eyed them both. "It's for the money o' the man," she
soliloquized aloud, as her fashion was. Adela jumped up, and with an
easy sprightly posture of her fair, commonly studious person, and natural
run of notes "Oh!" she cried, "I begin to feel what it is to be like a
live fish on the fire, frying, frying, frying! and if he can keep his
Christian sentiments under this infliction, what a wonderful hero he must
be! What a hot day!"
She moved swiftly to the door, and flung it open. A sight met her eyes
at which she lost her self-possession. She started back, uttering a soft
"Ah! aha! oh!" went the bitter ironic drawl of Mr. Pericles, whose sharp
glance had caught the scene as well.
Emilia came forward with a face like sunset. Diplomacy, under the form
of Wilfrid Pole, kicked its heels behind, and said a word or two in a
tone of false cheerfulness.
"Oh! so!" Mr. Pericles frowned, while Emilia held her hand out to him.
"Yeas! You are quite well? H'm! You are burnt like a bean--hein? I
shall ask you what you have been doing, by and by."
Happily for decency, Mrs. Chump had not participated in the fact
presented by ocular demonstration. She turned about comfortably to greet
Wilfrid, uttering the inspired remark: "Ye look red from a sly kiss!"
"For one?" said he, sharpening his blunted wits on this dull instrument.
The ladies talked down their talk. Then Wilfrid and Mr. Pericles
interchanged quasi bows.
"Oh, if he doesn't show his upper teeth like an angry cat, or a leopard
I've seen!" cried Mrs. Chump in Adela's ear, designating Mr. Pericles.
"Does he know Mr. Wilfrud's in the British army, and a new lieuten't,
gazetted and all?"
Mr. Pericles certainly did not look pleasantly upon Wilfrid: Emilia
received his unconcealed wrath and spite.
"Go and sing a note!" he said.
"At the piano?" Emilia quietly asked.
"At piano, harp, what you will--it is ze voice I want."
Emilia pitched her note high from a full chest and with glad bright eyes,
which her fair critics thought just one degree brazen, after the
revelation in the doorway.
Mr. Pericles listened; wearing an aching expression, as if he were
sending one eye to look up into his brain for a judgement disputed in
that sovereign seat.
Still she held on, and then gave a tremulous, rich, contralto note.
"Oh! the human voice!" cried Adela, overcome by the transition of tones.
"Like going from the nightingale to the nightjar," said Arabella.
Mrs. Chump remarked: "Ye'll not find a more susceptible woman to musuc
Wilfrid looked away. Pride coursed through his veins in a torrent.
When the voice was still, Mr. Pericles remained in a pondering posture.
"You go to play fool with zat voice in Milano, you are flogged," he cried
terribly, shaking his forefinger.
Wilfrid faced round in wrath, but Mr. Pericles would not meet his
challenge, continuing: "You hear? you hear?--so!" and Mr. Pericles
brought the palms of his hands in collision.
"Marcy, man!" Mrs. Chump leaped from her chair; "d'ye mean that those
horrud forr'ners'll smack a full-grown young woman?--Don't go to 'm, my
dear. Now, take my 'dvice, little Belloni, and don't go. It isn't the
sting o' the smack, ye know--"
"Shall I sing anything to you?" Emilia addressed Mr. Pericles. The
latter shrugged to express indifference. Nevertheless she sang. She had
never sung better. Mr. Pericles clutched his chin in one hand, elbow on
knee. The ladies sighed to think of the loss of homage occasioned by the
fact of so few being present to hear her. Wilfrid knew himself the
fountain of it all, and stood fountain-like, in a shower of secret
adulation: a really happy fellow. This: that his beloved should be the
centre of eyes, and pronounced exquisite by general approbation, besides
subjecting him to a personal spell: this was what he wanted. It was
mournful to think that Circumstance had not at the same time created the
girl of noble birth, or with an instinct for spiritual elegance. But the
world is imperfect.
Presently he became aware that she was understood to be singing pointedly
to him: upon which he dismissed the council of his sensations, and began
to diplomatize cleverly. Leaning over to Adela, he whispered:
"Pericles wants her to go to Italy. My belief is, that she won't."
"And why?" returned Adela, archly reproachful.
"Well, we've been spoiling her a little, perhaps. I mean, we men, of
course. But, I really don't think that I'm chiefly to blame. You won't
allow Captain Gambier to be in fault, I know."
"Why not?" said Adela.
"Well, if you will, then he is the principal offender."
Adela acted disbelief; but, unprepared for her brother's perfectly
feminine audacity of dissimulation, she thought: "He can't be in earnest
about the girl," and was led to fancy that Gambier might, and to
determine to see whether it was so.
By this manoeuvre, Wilfrid prepared for himself a defender when the
charge was brought against him.
Mr. Pericles was thunderstruck on hearing Emilia refuse to go to Italy.
A scene of tragic denunciation on the one hand, and stubborn decision on
the other, ensued.
"I shall not mind zis" (he spoke of Love and the awakening of the female
heart) "not when you are trained. It is good, zen, and you have fire
from it. But, now! little fool, I say, it is too airly--too airly! How
shall you learn--eh? with your brain upon a man? And your voice, little
fool, a thing of caprice, zat comes and goes as he will, not you will.
Hein? like a barrel-organ, which he turns ze handle.--Mon Dieu! Why did
I leave her?" Mr. Pericles struck his brow with his wrist, clutching at
the long thin slice of hair that did greasy duty for the departed crop on
his poll. "Did I not know it was a woman? And so you are, what you say,
Emilia replied: "I have not said so," with exasperating coolness.
"You have your eye on a man. And I know him, zat man! When he is tired
of you--whiff, away you go, a puff of smoke! And you zat I should make a
Queen of Opera! A Queen? You shall have more rule zan twenty Queens--
forty! See" (Mr. Pericles made his hand go like an aspen-leaf from his
uplifted wrist); "So you shall set ze hearts of sossands! To dream of
you, to adore you! and flowers, flowers everywhere, on your head, at
your feet. You choose your lofer from ze world. A husband, if it is
your taste. Bose, if you please. Zen, I say, you shall, you shall lofe
a man. Let him tease and sting--ah! it will be magnifique: Aha! ze voice
will sharpen, go deep; yeas! to be a tale of blood. Lofe till you could
stab yourself:--Brava! But now? Little fool, I say!"
Emilia believed that she was verily forfeiting an empire. Her face wore
a soft look of delight. This renunciation of a splendid destiny for
Wilfrid's sake, seemed to make her worthier of him, and as Mr. Pericles
unrolled the list of her rejected treasures, her bosom heaved without a
"Ha!" Mr. Pericles flung away from her: "go and be a little gutter-girl!"
The musical connoisseur drew on his own disappointment alone for
eloquence. Had he been thinking of her, he might have touched cunningly
on her love for Italy. Music was the passion of the man; and a
millionaire's passion is something that can make a stir. He knew that in
Emilia he had discovered a pearl of song rarely to be found, and his
object was to polish and perfect her at all cost: perhaps, as a secondary
and far removed consideration, to point to her as a thing belonging to
him, for which Emperors might envy him. The thought of losing her drove
him into fits of rage. He took the ladies one by one, and treated them
each to a horrible scene of gesticulation and outraged English. H
accused their brother of conduct which they were obliged to throw (by a
process of their own) into the region of Fine Shades, before they dared
venture to comprehend him. Gross facts in relationship with the voice,
this grievous "machine, not man,"--as they said--stated to them, harshly,
impetuously. The ladies felt that he had bored their ears with hot iron
pins. Adela tried laughter as a defence from his suggestion against
Wilfrid, but had shortly afterwards to fly from the fearful anatomist.
She served her brother thoroughly in the Council of Three; so that Mr.
Pericles was led by them to trust that there had; been mere fooling in
his absence, and that the emotions he looked to as the triumphant reserve
in Emilia's bosom, to be aroused at some crisis when she was before the
world, slumbered still. She, on her part, contrasting her own burning
sensations with this quaint, innocent devotion to Art and passion for
music, felt in a manner guilty; and whenever he stormed with additional
violence, she became suppliant, and seemed to bend and have regrets. Mr.
Pericles would then say, with mollified irritability: "You will come to
Italy to-morrow?--Ze day after?--not at all?" The last was given with a
roar, for lack of her immediate response. Emilia would find a tear on
her eyelids at times. Surround herself as she might with her illusions,
she had no resting-place in Wilfrid's heart, and knew it. She knew it as
the young know that they are to die on a future day, without feeling the
sadness of it, but with a dimly prevalent idea that this life is
therefore incomplete. And again her blood, as with a wave of rich
emotion, washed out the blank spot. She thought: "What can he want but
my love?" And thus she satisfied her own hungry questioning by seeming
to supply an answer to his.
The ladies of Brookfield by no means encouraged Emilia to refuse the
generous offer of Mr. Pericles. They thought, too, that she might--might
she? Oh! certainly she might go to Italy under his protection. "Would
you let one of your blood?" asked Wilfrid brutally. With some cunning he
led them to admit that Emilia's parents should rightly be consulted in
such a case.
One day Mr. Pericles said to the ladies: "I shall give a fete: a party
monstre. In ze air: on grass. I beg you to invite friends of yours."
Before the excogitation of this splendid resolve, he had been observed to
wear for some period a conspiratorial aspect. When it was delivered, and
Arabella had undertaken the management of the "party monstre"--(which was
to be on Besworth Lawn, and, as it was not their own party, could be
conducted with a sort of quasi-contemptuous superiority to incongruous
gatherings)--this being settled, the forehead of Mr. Pericles cleared and
he ceased to persecute Emilia.
"I am not one that is wopped," he said significantly; nodding to his
English hearers, as if this piece of shrewd acquaintance with the
expressive mysteries of their language placed them upon equal terms.
It was really 'a providential thing' (as devout people phrase it) that
Laura Tinley and Mabel Copley should call shortly after this, and invite
the ladies to a proposed picnic of theirs on Besworth Lawn. On Besworth
Lawn, of all places! and they used the word 'picnic.'
"A word suggestive of gnawed drumstick and ginger-beer bottles." Adela
quoted some scapegoat of her acquaintance, as her way was when she wished
to be pungent without incurring the cold sisterly eye of reproof for a
Both Laura and Mabel, when they heard of the mighty entertainment fixed
for Besworth Lawn by Mr. Pericles, looked down. They were invited, and
looked up. There was the usual amount of fencing with the combative
Laura, who gave ground at all points, and as she was separating, said (so
sweetly!) "Of course you have heard of the arrest of your--what does one
call him?--friend?--or a French word?"
"You mean?" quoth Arabella.
"That poor, neatly brushed, nice creature whom you patronized--who played
the organ!" she jerked to Arabella's dubious eyes.
"And he?" Arabella smiled, complacently.
"Then perhaps you may know that all is arranged for him?" said Laura,
interpreting by the look more than the word, after a habit of women.
"Indeed, to tell you the truth, I know nothing," said Arabella.
"Really?" Laura turned sharply to Cornelia, who met her eyes and did not
exhibit one weak dimple.
The story was, that Mr. Chips, the Bookseller of Hillford, objected to
the departure of Mr. Barrett, until Mr. Barrett had paid the bill of Mr.
Chips: and had signified his objection in the form of a writ. "When, if
you know anything of law," said Laura, "you will see why he remains.
For, a writ once served, you are a prisoner. That is, I believe, if it's
above twenty pounds. And Mr. Chips' bill against Mr. Barrett was, I have
heard, twenty-three pounds and odd shillings. Could anything be more
preposterous? And Mr. Chips deserves to lose his money!"
Ah! to soar out of such a set as this, of which Laura Tinley is a sample,
are not some trifling acts of inhumanity and practices in the art of
'cutting' permissible? So the ladies had often asked of the Unseen in
their onward course, if they did not pointedly put the question now.
Surely they had no desire to give pain, but the nature that endowed them
with a delicate taste, inspired them to defend it. They listened gravely
to Laura, who related that not only English books, but foreign (repeated
and emphasized), had been supplied by Mr. Chips to Mr. Barrett.
They were in the library, and Laura's eyes rested on certain yellow and
blue covers of books certainly not designed for the reading of Mr. Pole.
"I think you must be wrong as to Mr. Barrett's position," said Adela.
"No, dear; not at all," Laura was quick to reply. "Unless you know
anything. He has stated that he awaits money remittances. He has, in
fact, overrun the constable, and my brother Albert says, the constable is
very likely to overrun ham, in consequence. Only a joke! But an
organist with, at the highest computation--poor absurd thing!--fifty-five
pounds per annum: additional for singing lessons, it is true,--but an
organist with a bookseller's bill of twenty-three pounds! Consider!"
"Foreign books, too!" interjected Adela.
"Not so particularly improving to his morals, either!" added Laura.
"You are severe upon the greater part of the human race," said Arabella.
"So are the preachers, dear," returned Laura.
"The men of our religion justify you?." asked Arabella.
"Let me see;--where were we?" Laura retreated in an affected
"You had reached the enlightened belief that books written by any but
English hands were necessarily destructive of men's innocence," said
Arabella; and her sisters thrilled at the neatness of the stroke, for the
moment, while they forgot the ignoble object it transfixed. Laura was
sufficiently foiled by it to be unable to return to the Chips-Barrett
theme. Throughout the interview Cornelia had maintained a triumphant
posture, superior to Arabella's skill in fencing, seeing that it exposed
no weak point of the defence by making an attack, and concealed
especially the confession implied by a relish for the conflict. Her
sisters considerately left her to recover herself, after this mighty
exercise of silence.
Cornelia sat with a clenched hand. "You are rich and he is poor," was
the keynote of her thoughts, repeated from minute to minute. "And it is
gold gives you the right in the world's eye to despise him!" she
apostrophized the vanished Laura, clothing gold with all the baseness of
that person. Now, when one really hates gold, one is at war with one's
fellows. The tide sets that way. There is no compromise: to hate it is
to try to stem the flood. It happens that this is one of the temptations
of the sentimentalist, who should reflect, but does not, that the fine
feelers by which the iniquities of gold are so keenly discerned, are a
growth due to it, nevertheless. Those 'fine feelers,' or antennae of the
senses, come of sweet ease; that is synonymous with gold in our island-
latitude. The sentimentalists are represented by them among the
civilized species. It is they that sensitively touch and reject, touch
and select; whereby the laws of the polite world are ultimately
regulated, and civilization continually advanced, sometimes ridiculously.
The sentimentalists are ahead of us, not by weight of brain, but through
delicacy of nerve, and, like all creatures in the front, they are open to
be victims. I pray you to observe again the shrinking life that afflicts
the adventurous horns of the snail, for example. Such are the
sentimentalists to us--the fat body of mankind. We owe them much, and
though they scorn us, let us pity them.
Especially when they are young they deserve pity, for they suffer
cruelly. I for my part prefer to see boys and girls led into the ways of
life by nature; but I admit that in many cases, in most cases, our good
mother has not (occupied as her hands must be) made them perfectly
presentable; by which fact I am warned to have tolerance for the finer
beings who labour under these excessive sensual subtleties. I perceive
their uses. And they are right good comedy; for which I may say that I
almost love them. Man is the laughing animal: and at the end of an
infinite search, the philosopher finds himself clinging to laughter as
the best of human fruit, purely human, and sane, and comforting. So let
us be cordially thankful to those who furnish matter for sound embracing
Cornelia detested gold--entirely on general grounds and for abstract
reasons. Not a word of Mr. Barrett was shaped, even in fancy; but she
interjected to herself, with meditative eye and mouth: "The saints were
poor!" (the saints of whom he had read, translating from that old Latin
book) "St. Francis! how divine was his life!" and so forth, until the
figure of Mr. Penniless Barrett walked out in her imagination clad in
saintly garments, superior not only to his creditor, Mr. Chips, but to
all who bought or sold.
"I have been false," she said; implying the "to him." Seeing him on that
radiant height above her, she thought "How could I have fallen so!" It
was impossible for her mind to recover the delusion which had prompted
her signing herself to bondage--pledging her hand to a man she did not
love. Could it have been that she was guilty of the immense folly,
simply to escape from that piece of coarse earth, Mrs. Chump? Cornelia
smiled sadly, saying: "Oh, no! I should not have committed a wickedness
for so miserable an object." Despairing for a solution of the puzzle,
she cried out, "I was mad!", and with a gasp of horror saw herself madly
signing her name to perdition.
"I was mad!" is a comfortable cloak to our sins in the past. Mournful to
think that we have been bereft of reason; but the fit is over, and we are
not in Bedlam!
Cornelia next wrestled with the pride of Mr. Barrett. Why had he not
come to her once after reading the line pencilled in the book? Was it
that he would make her his debtor in everything? He could have
reproached her justly; why had he held aloof? She thirsted to be
scourged by him, to hang her head ashamed under his glance, and hug the
bitter pain he dealt her. Revolving how the worst man on earth would
have behaved to a girl partially in his power (hands had been permitted
to be pressed, and the gateways of the eyes had stood open: all but vows
had been interchanged), she came to regard Mr. Barrett as the best man on
the earth. That she alone saw it, did not depreciate the value of her
knowledge. A goal gloriously illumined blazed on her from the distance.
"Too late!" she put a curb on the hot courses in her brain, and they
being checked, turned all at once to tears and came in a flood. How
indignant would the fair sentimentalist have been at a whisper of her
caring for the thing before it was too late!
Cornelia now daily trod the red pathways under the firs, and really
imagined herself to be surprised, even vexed, when she met Mr. Barrett
there at last. Emilia was by his side, near a drooping birch. She
beckoned to Cornelia, whose North Pole armour was doing its best to keep
down a thumping heart.
"We are taking our last walk in the old wood," said, Mr. Barrett,
admirably collected. "That is, I must speak for myself."
"You leave early?" Cornelia felt her throat rattle hideously.
"In two days, I expect--I hope," said he.
"Why does he hope?" thought Cornelia, wounded, until a vision of the
detaining Chips struck her with pity and remorse.
She turned to Emilia. "Our dear child is also going to leave us."
"I?" cried Emilia, fierily out of languor.
"Does not your Italy claim you?"
"I am nothing to Italy any more. Have I not said so? I love England
Cornelia smiled complacently. "Let us hope your heart is capacious
enough to love both."
"Then your theory is" (Mr. Barrett addressed Cornelia in the winning old
style), "that the love of one thing enlarges the heart for another?"
"Should it not?" She admired his cruel self-possession pitiably, as she
contrasted her own husky tones with it.
Emilia looked from one to the other, fancying that they must have her
case somewhere in prospect, since none could be unconscious of the
vehement struggle going on in her bosom; but they went farther and
farther off from her comprehension, and seemed to speak of bloodless
matters. "And yet he is her lover," she thought. "When they meet they
talk across a river, and he knows she is going to another man, and does
not gripe her wrist and drag her away!" The sense that she had no
kinship with such flesh shut her mouth faster than Wilfrid's injunctions
(which were ordinarily conveyed in too subtle a manner for her to feel
their meaning enough to find them binding). Cornelia, for a mask to her
emotions, gave Emilia a gentle, albeit high-worded lecture on the
artist's duty toward Art, quoting favourite passages from Mr. Barrett's
favourite Art-critic. And her fashion of dropping her voice as she
declaimed the more dictatorial sentences (to imply, one might guess, by a
show of personal humility that she would have you to know her preaching
was vicarious; that she stood humbly in the pulpit, and was but a vessel
for the delivery of the burden of the oracle), all this was beautiful to
him who could see it. I cannot think it was wholesome for him; nor that
Cornelia was unaware of a naughty wish to glitter temporarily in the eyes
of the man who made her feel humble. The sorcery she sent through his
blood communicated itself to hers. When she had done, Emilia,
convincedly vanquished by big words, said, "I cannot talk," and turned
heavily from them without bestowing a smile upon either.
Cornelia believed that the girl would turn back as abruptly as she had
retreated; and it was not until Emilia was out of sight that she
remembered the impropriety of being alone with Mr. Barrett. The Pitfall
of Sentiment yawned visible, but this lady's strength had been too little
tried for her to lack absolute faith in it. So, out of deep silences,
the two leapt to speech and immediately subsided to the depths again: as
on a sultry summer's day fishes flash their tails in the sunlight and
leave a solitary circle widening on the water.
Then Cornelia knew what was coming. In set phrase, and as one who
performs a duty frigidly pleasant, he congratulated her on her rumored
union. One hand was in his buttoned coat; the other hung elegantly
loose: not a feature betrayed emotion. He might have spoken it in a
ballroom. To Cornelia, who exulted in self-compression, after the Roman
method, it was more dangerous than a tremulous tone.
"You know me too well to say this, Mr. Barrett."
The words would come. She preserved her steadfast air, when they had
escaped, to conceal her shame. Seeing thus much, he took it to mean that
it was a time for plain-speaking. To what end, he did not ask.
"You have not to be told that I desire your happiness above all earthly
things," he said: and the lady shrank back, and made an effort to recover
her footing. Had he not been so careful to obliterate any badge of the
Squire of low degree, at his elbows, cuffs, collar, kneecap, and head-
piece, she might have achieved it with better success. For cynicism (the
younger brother of sentiment and inheritor of the family property) is
always on the watch to deal fatal blows through such vital parts as the
hat or the H's, or indeed any sign of inferior estate. But Mr. Barrett
was armed at all points by a consummate education and a most serviceable
"You know how I love this neighbourhood!" said she.
"And I! above all that I have known!"
They left the pathway and walked on mosses--soft yellow beds, run over
with grey lichen, and plots of emerald in the midst.
"You will not fall off with your reading?" he recommenced.
She answered "Yes," meaning "No"; and corrected the error languidly,
thinking one of the weighty monosyllables as good as the other: for what
was reading to her now?
"It would be ten thousand pities if you were to do as so many women do,
when...when they make these great changes," he continued.
"Of what avail is the improvement of the mind?" she said, and followed
his stumble over the "when," and dropped on it.
"Of what avail! Is marriage to stop your intellectual growth?"
"Without sympathy," she faltered, and was shocked at what she said; but
it seemed a necessity.
"You must learn to conquer the need for it."
Alas! his admonition only made her feel the need more cravingly.
"Promise me one thing," he said. "You will not fall into the rut? Let
me keep the ideal you have given me. For the sake of heaven, do not
cloud for me the one bright image I hold! Let me know always that you
are growing, and that the pure, noble intelligence which distinguishes
you advances, and will not be subdued."
Cornelia smiled faintly. "You have judged me too generously,
"Too little so! might I tell you!" He stopped short, and she felt the
silence like a great wave sweeping over her.
They were nearing the lake, with the stump of the pollard-willow in
sight, and toward it they went.
"I shall take the consolation of knowing that I shall hear of you, some
day," she said, having recourse to a look of cheerfulness.
He knew her to allude to certain hopes of fame. "I am getting wiser,
I fear--too wise for ambition!"
"That is a fallacy, a sophism."
He pointed to the hollow tree. "Is there promise of fruit from that?"
"You...you are young, Mr. Barrett."
"And on a young, forehead it may be written, 'Come not to gather more.'"
Cornelia put her hand out: "Oh, Mr. Barrett! unsay it!" The nakedness of
her spirit stood forth in a stinging tear. "The words were cruel."
"But, if they live, and are?"
"I feel that you must misjudge me. When I wrote them...you cannot know!
The misery of our domestic life was so bitter! And yet, I have no
excuse, none! I can only ask for pity."
"And if you are wretched, must not I be? You pluck from me my last
support. This, I petitioned Providence to hear from you--that you would
be happy! I can have no comfort but in that."
"Happy!" Cornelia murmured the word musically, as if to suck an irony
from the sweetness of the sound. "Are we made for happiness?"
Mr. Barrett quoted the favourite sage, concluding: "But a brilliant home
and high social duties bring consolation. I do acknowledge that an
eminent station will not only be graced by you, but that you give the
impression of being born to occupy it. It is your destiny."
"A miserable destiny!"
It pleased Cornelia to become the wilful child who quarrels with its
tutor's teachings, upon this point.
Then Mr. Barrett said quickly: "Your heart is not in this union?"
"Can you ask? I have done my duty."
"Have you, indeed!"
His tone was severe in the deliberation of its accents.
Was it her duty to live an incomplete life? He gave her a definition of
personal duty, and shadowed out all her own ideas on the subject; seeming
thus to speak terrible, unanswerable truth.
As one who changes the theme, he said: "I have forborne to revert to
myself in our interviews; they were too divine for that. You will always
remember that I have forborne much."
"Yes!" She was willing at the instant to confess how much.
"And if I speak now, I shall not be misinterpreted?"
"You never would have been, by me."
Though she knew what was behind the door, this flinging of it open with
her name startled the lady; and if he had faltered, it would not have
been well for him. But, plainly, he claimed the right to call her by her
Christian name. She admitted it; and thenceforward they were equals.
It was an odd story that he told of himself. She could not have repeated
it to make it comprehensible. She drank at every sentence, getting no
more from it than the gratification of her thirst. His father, at least,
was a man of title, a baronet. What was meant by estates not entailed?
What wild freak of fate put this noble young man in the power of an
eccentric parent, who now caressed him, now made him an outcast? She
heard of the sum that was his, coming from his dead mother to support him
just one hundred pounds annual! Was ever fate so mournful?
Practically, she understood that if Mr. Barrett would write to his
father, pledging himself to conform to his mysterious despotic will in
something, he would be pardoned and reinstated.
He concluded: "Hitherto I have preferred poverty. You have taught me at
what a cost! Is it too late?"
The fall of his voice, with the repetition of her name, seemed as if
awakening her, but not in a land of reason.
"Why...why!" she whispered.
"Why did you not tell me this before?"
"Do you upbraid me?"
"Oh, no! Oh, never!" she felt his hand taking hers gently. "My friend,"
she said, half in self-defence; and they, who had never kissed as lovers,
kissed under the plea of friendship.
All Wilfrid's diplomacy was now brought into play to baffle Mr. Pericles,
inspire Emilia with the spirit of secresy, and carry on his engagement to
two women to their common satisfaction. Adela, whose penetration he
dreaded most, he had removed by a flattering invitation to Stornley; and
that Emilia might be occupied during his absences, and Mr. Pericles
thrown on a false scent, he persuaded Tracy Runningbrook to come to
Brookfield, and write libretti for Emilia's operas. The two would sit
down together for an hour, drawing wonderful precocious noses upon
juvenile visages, when Emilia would sigh and say: "I can't work!"--Tracy
adding, with resignation: "I never can!" At first Mr. Pericles dogged
them assiduously. After a little while he shrugged, remarking: "It is a
They were, however, perfectly serious about the production of an opera,
Tracy furnishing verse to Emilia's music. He wrote with extraordinary
rapidity, but clung to graphic phrases, that were not always supple
enough for nuptials with modulated notes. Then Emilia had to hit his
sense of humour by giving the words as they came in the run of the song.
"You make me crow, or I croak," she said.
"The woman follows the man, and music fits to verse," cried Tracy.
"Music's the vine, verse the tree."
Emilia meditated. "Not if they grow up together," she suggested, and
broke into a smile at his rapture of amusement; which was succeeded by a
dark perplexity, worthy of the present aspect of Mr. Pericles.
"That's what has upset us," he said. "We have been trying to 'grow up
together,' like first-cousins, and nature forbids the banns. To-morrow
you shall have half a libretto. And then, really, my child, you must
adapt yourself to the words."
"I will," Emilia promised; "only, not if they're like iron to the teeth."
"My belief is," said Tracy savagely, "that music's a fashion, and as
delusive a growth as Cobbett's potatoes, which will go back to the deadly
nightshade, just as music will go back to the tom-tom."
"What have you called out when I sang to you!" Emilia reproached him for
this irreverent nonsense.
"Oh! it was you and not the music," he returned half-cajolingly, while he
beat the tom-tom on air.
"Hark here!" cried Emilia. She recited a verse. "Doesn't that sound
dead? Now hark!" She sang the verse, and looked confidently for Tracy's
verdict at the close.
"What a girl that is!" He went about the house, raving of her to
everybody, with sundry Gallic interjections; until Mrs. Chump said:
"'Deed, sir, ye don't seem to have much idea of a woman's feelin's."
Tracy produced in a night two sketches of libretti for Emilia to choose
from--the Roman Clelia being one, and Camillus the other. Tracy praised
either impartially, and was indifferent between them, he told her.
Clelia offered the better theme for passionate song, but there was a
winning political object and rebuff to be given to Radicalism in
Camillus. "Think of Rome!" he said.
Emilia gave the vote for Camillus, beginning forthwith to hum, with
visions of a long roll of swarthy cavalry, headed by a clear-eyed young
chief, sunlight perching on his helm.
"Yes; but you don't think of the situations in Clelia, and what I can do
with her," snapped Tracy. "I see a song there that would light up all
London. Unfortunately, the sentiment's dead Radical. It wouldn't so
much matter if we were certain to do Camillus as well; because one would
act as a counterpoise to the other, you know. Well, follow your own
fancy. Camillus is strictly classical. I treat opera there as Alfieri
conceived tragedy. Clelia is modern style. Cast the die for Camillus,
and let's take horse. Only, we lose the love-business--exactly where I
show my strength. Clelia in the camp of the king: dactyllic chorus-
accompaniment, while she, in heavy voluptuous anapaests, confesses her
love for the enemy of her country. Remember, this is our romantic opera,
where we do what we like with History, and make up our minds for asses
telling us to go home and read our 'student's Rome.' Then that scene
where she and the king dance the dactyls, and the anapaests go to the
chorus. Sublime! Let's go into the woods and begin. We might give the
first song or two to-night. In composition, mind, always strike out your
great scene, and work from it--don't work up to it, or you've lost fire
when you reach the point. That's my method."
They ran into the woods, skipping like schoolboy and schoolgirl. On
hearing that Camillus would not be permitted to love other than his
ungrateful country, Emilia's conception of the Roman lord grew pale, and
a controversy ensued-she maintaining that a great hero must love a woman;
he declaring that a great hero might love a dozen, but that it was
beneath the dignity of this drama to allow of a rival to Rome in
"He will not do for music," said Emilia firmly, and was immoveable. In
despair, Tracy proposed attaching a lanky barbarian daughter to Brennus,
whose deeds of arms should provoke the admiration of the Roman.
"And so we relinquish Alfieri for Florian! There's a sentimental
burlesque at once!" the youth ejaculated, in gloom. "I chose this
subject entirely to give you Rome for a theme."
Emilia took his hand. "I do thank you. If Brennus has a daughter, why
not let her be half Roman?"
Tracy fired out: "she's a bony woman, with a brawny development; mammoth
haunches, strong of the skeleton; cheek-bones, flat-forward, as a fish 's
rotting on a beach; long scissor lips-nippers to any wretched rose of a
kiss! a pugilist's nose to the nostrils of a phoca; and eyes!--don't you
see them?--luminaries of pestilence; blotted yellow, like a tallow candle
shining through a horny lantern."
At this horrible forced-poetic portrait, Emilia cried in pain: "You hate
"I loathe the creature--pah!" went Tracy.
"Why do you make her so hideous?" Emilia complained. "I feel myself
hating her too. Look at me. Am I such a thing as that?"
"You!" Tracy was melted in a trice, and gave the motion of hugging, as a
commentary on his private opinion.
"Can you also be sure that Camillus can love nothing but his country?
Would one love stop the other?" she persisted, gazing with an air of
steady anxiety for the answer.
"There isn't a doubt about it," said Tracy.
Emilia caught her face in her hands, and exclaimed in a stifling voice:
"It's true! it's true!"
Tracy saw that her figure was shaken with sobs--unmistakeable, hard,
"Confound historical facts that make her cry!" he murmured to himself, in
a fury at the Roman fables. "It's no use comforting her with Niebuhr
now. She's got a live Camillus in her brain, and there he'll stick."
Tracy began to mutter the emphatic D.; quite cognizant of her case, as he
supposed. This intensity of human emotion about a dry faggot of history
by no means surprised him; and he was as tender to the grief of his
darling little friend as if he had known the conflict that tore her in
two. Subsequently he related the incident, in a tone of tender delight,
to Wilfrid, whom it smote. "Am I a brute?" asked the latter of the
Intelligences in the seat of his consciousness, and they for the moment
gravely affirmed it. I have observed that when young men obtain this
mental confirmation of their suspicions, they wax less reluctant to act
as brutes than when the doubt restrained them.
He reasoned thus: "I can bring my mind to the idea of losing her, if it
must be so." (Hear, hear! from the unanimous internal Parliament.) "But
I can't make her miserable (cheers)--I can't go and break her heart"
(loud cheers, drowning a faint dissentient hum).--The scene, of which
Tracy had told him, gave Wilfrid a kind of dread of the girl. If that
was her state of feeling upon a distant subject, how would it be when he
applied the knife. Simply, impossible to use the knife at all! Wield it
thou, O Circumstance, babe-munching Chronos, whosoever thou art, that
jarrest our poor human music effectually from hour to hour!
Colonel Pierson paid his promised visit, on his way back to his quarters
at Verona. His stay was shortened by rumours of anticipated troubles in
Italy. One day at table he chanced to observe, speaking of the Milanese,
that they required another lesson, and that it would save the shedding of
blood if, annually, the chief men of the city took a flogging for the
community (senseless arrogance that sensible, and even kindly, men will
sometimes be tempted to utter, and prompted to act on, in that
deteriorating state of a perpetual repressive force).--Emilia looked at
him till she caught his eye: "I hope I shall never meet you there," she
The colonel coloured, and drew his finger along each curve of his
moustache. The table was silent. Colonel Pierson was a gentleman, but a
false position and the irritating topic deprived him of proper self-
"What would you do?" he said, not gallantly.
Emilia would have been glad to have been allowed to subside, but the tone
"I could not do much; I am a woman," said she.
Whereto the colonel: "It's only the women who do anything over there."
"And that is why you flog them!"
The colonel, seeing himself surrounded by ladies, lost the right guidance
of his wits, at this point, reddened, and was saved by an Irish outcry of
horror from some unpleasant and possibly unmanly retort. "Mr. Paricles
said exactly the same. Oh, sir! do ye wear an officer's uniform to go
about behavin' in that shockin' way to poor helpless females?"
This was the first time Mrs. Chump had ever been found of service at the
Brookfield dining-table. Colonel Pierson joined the current smile, and
the matter passed.
He was affectionate with Wilfrid, and invited him to Verona, with the
assurance that his (the Austrian) school of cavalry was the best in the
world. "You beat us in pace and weight; but you can't skirmish, you
can't manage squadrons, and you know nothing of outpost duty," said the
colonel. Wilfrid promised to visit him some day: a fact he denied to
Emilia, when she charged him with it. Her brain seemed to be set on fire
by the presence of an Austrian officer. The miserable belief that she
had abandoned her country pressing on her remorsefully, she lost
appetite, briskness of eye, and the soft reddish-brown ripe blood-hue
that made her cheeks sweet to contemplate. She looked worn, small,
wretched: her very walk indicated self-contempt. Wilfrid was keen to see
the change for which others might have accused a temporary headache. Now
that she appeared under this blight, it seemed easier to give her up; and
his magnanimity being thus encouraged (I am not hard on him--remember the
constitution of love, in which a heart un-aroused is pure selfishness,
and a heart aroused heroic generosity; they being one heart to outer
life)--his magnanimity, I say, being under this favourable sun, he said
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