« ZurückWeiter »
“I have spent the day with him, and I have been wishing to see you." “Will you come in ? I thought I had left a book here, but —
" It is early, Miss Henderson. Will you sit by me for a few minutes ? We are old friends, you know."
She sat down by his side, grave and confused, never turning her eyes "I was thinking, Miss Henderson, just as you came up,” he said, with a smile, “how unchanged this scene has remained ever since. Why, this evening appears like a wanderer come back to me from ten years ago. You came up so opportunely to the fancy, that, for a minute, I was so foolish as to think you unchanged too.”
“We have been living in Dublin ever since, Mr. Roach, and the place is quite strange to us as well as to you.”
He was hurt at her coldness.
“ The place is not changed to me, but a friend of mine seems to be so."
She glanced at him hastily, and coloured.
“Indeed, Mr. Roach, I am delighted to see you. Both my father and myself were very proud of your success.
“Yes, I have been very prosperous, and should be very happy."
“Men are very ungrateful, Miss Henderson ; and success seldom brings content. One great object fills the narrow line of vision for half
their lives, and when God helps them to it, they see another dearer object beyond. I have found worldly prosperity a very lonely, lifeless blessing in the hand. I have no friend to tell me I am happy, and so I begin to doubt the fact. I had a friend, indeed—one who helped me in extremity—who put my foot on the first rung of the ladder-who saw something to like in me when I was a laughing-stock to others; but time has cooled even this friend."
“Who was she ?” said Jay, hurriedly.
, perhaps it was ; but I think it was one of the good geni who secretly paid my debts for me-who pitied me when I was very miserable, and who sent me the means of attending the great Examination. She is never out of my mind, whoever she is. I shall travel to the world's end till I find her, to offer her my heart's thanks.”
A colour rose to Jay's cheek, like a gleam from the pink sunset. He took her passive hand, and looked earnestly in her face; he spoke with the calm of subdued excitement.
“I think you can tell me her name. For five years past—and those five years have been fifty to me in changes and toil—my gratitude has kept warm to her. Gratitude ?”
His eye lit, passion took head, and shook in his voice.
“I have courage to call it by its real name. For five years—ever since your sympathy and goodness to me in my need—I have loved
Jag trembled, and was silent. Oh, for one glance into the beating heart beside him to read the riddle of that silence !
“I bave spoken to your father, and address you by his consent ; but I have learned from him how little I have to hope from you.”
She tried to speak twice, but the words would not come, this scene was so unreal. “She grew incredulous—she eagerly watched the quick waves go by, as if they were his words, and that she would have them stay. The water-moon heaved and wavered; it seemed some phantomjoy that mocked her, and could never be grasped. A sob burst from her-she had waited and waited, living upon shadows, and God had brought the tardy blessing round to her at last.
At length her voice came, and her slender fingers closed on his confidingly.
“ I thought you would come-I hoped you would come—I have never forgotten you.”
It was enough—this simple confession told all—the words were priceless to him. He wound her to his breast for a passionate moment'twas worth a realm of friendship or of fame to hold her so, and feel she was his own.
Then they forgot the hours, and sat side by side. Jay was silent, and listened whilst he spoke calm and pleasant oracles of the future.
The rich light waned in the west into faint amberthe sedgy banks grew black—the distant trees netted the sky, like fibres of skeleton leaves—a luminous fog crept up the mountain-and all this was repeated in the water at their feet. There was a trance-like lull around, as if Nature listened..
The water-moon came sharply out, wavering in languid splendour ; and on its map lay shadowed the Sea of Serenity,* like a dim index of the Future.
CHAPTER LXI.TYING UP THE SKEINS.
MR. HENDERSON heard, with some surprise, of his daughter's long constancy to what he flattered himself was a mere childish attachment, and he endeavoured to temporize for about a week. Finding, however, that Jay's happiness was deeply concerned, and feeling, moreover, that he had committed himself irretrievably, he gave that hearty consent with which relenting fathers-in-law invariably brighten the conclusion of a story, and the wedding-day was named. It became, of course, the talk of the country ; but there was another small event also discussed in connexion with the approaching festival. Young Mr. Ffrench cut Moorlands House, and soon after went abroad, where, it may be hoped, his vanity or his heart, whichever were most severely affected, speedily recovered from the wound. Melancholy seldom takes root in light soil.
After their marriage, Jay and Roach returned to France, and took a beautiful country-house near their old haunts by the Seine. At the top of its quaint roof you might observe a little cupola, in which marvellous sights could be nightly beheld.
* A large tract on the moon's surface, presenting the appearance, through a powerful telescope, of beautiful green spar,
It is a remarkable fact, that, notwithstanding her enthusiasm for science, Jay could never perform a simple sum in algebra, and with difficulty achieved the first proposition of the first book of Euclid. But if she failed in these important acquirements, she more than atoned for the deficiency. There never was a fonder or truer little wife, never a happier hearthside than that which awaited the Professor, when, after some necessary absence, he would quit the noisy, loveless city, and be whirled off by steam to his home. On such occasions he always arrived by the last train, and used to make a short-cut across the fields, thinking of Jay, and in this dark walk he was guided by a star-a loving home-star.
Jay used to place a candle in the Observatory, so that it could be seen from a distance, and by this trembling love-clue he would steer home.
When bis knock came, be sure it would be Jay that would open the door and welcome him. I see her now—the fairy white figure the strange raven hair braided back from the winsome face, with its large glad eyes and laughing lips. Our good Professor is a close prisoner in the fetters of her arms. All she would have to tell him by the logfire--and yet it was nothing-only about her rides and walks through the black wood, or about a visit from Madame Nichola, or about her little class of poor children. All that she had to ask, with his hand clasped in both her own—for she heard little news in this secluded corner, save what she might catch from the creak-creak of the rail, the complainings of the woodquest, or the chatterings of the gossip magpie, and that was not much we must all allow.
Letters came periodically from her father and her brother, the latter of whom had grown up healthy, handsome, and endearing. Her father always spoke of Johnny with enthusiasm, and seemed to be passionately attached to him, he had a fond fancy that he could observe many points of likeness coming out between his young son and poor Annie, whom we have now almost forgotten, and it became quite obvious that all his affections were engrossed by this one object.
Jay often tried to persuade them to pay her a visit, and would tempt them by descriptions of her pretty chateau, of ber two pretty children, of her garden, and her friends; but Mr. Henderson was never persuaded, as far as we could learn.
Roach's career is public property; he is mentioned constantly in the French papers, and any of our readers who are curious enough may trace his future course for themselves.
We have now followed through many vicissitudes the life of a man of marked character, whose nature was liable to strong warps toward the evil, and toward the good. In its opening there was something that prophesied of his future. An old celestial globe, picked up by chance, is given as a toy to the child—the latent taste is touched with life-the small seed is dropped—Childhood points with an index finger to the path the man should take.
Elements of a surly passionate disposition broke out in his boyhood, and a vigour of character showed itself which stood alone, and threw an influence on those around him. True to these ominous indications, his early manhood leaves behind it a stormy track. Another pursuit diverts him from his legitimate vocation, and steals away the best years of his life. He is ensnared into a presumptuous love-is maddened by jealousy, that nightshade of our nature. Principle and honour struggle long against passion, till at length insanity, caused by severe physical injury, acts upon his passion, and places a felon chain around his heart. He who does not repel the first whisperings of unreasoning passion, and who trifles with it in its first approaches, is playing with a lion's cub which will grow to rend him.
After a miserable waste of time and energy, again the early bent asserts itself, despite of poverty and mental disease, and, at length, the strong and practical will hews out for itself a sphere.
An ambitious man owes his chance of success to this fact-he lives among triflers and talkers. Misapplied energies and talent surround him. The man who could perhaps have given the world a specific for gout, is dosing away life over Blackstone and Coke. The man who might discover the lost species of the sumach on which botanists theorise, or the force of the initial P over which philologists drivel, is perched upon an officestool, and ornaments his ledger with ferns, or spends his shilling on musty old plays at a stall. The man who might claim our vacant crown of bays builds his languid vision on the chill maintopmast-yard, and is the butt of his shipmates. He who might catch the mantle of De la Roche, caricatures his bishop at visitation.
Nature is baffled as long as guardian, parent, or schoolmaster can baffle her. Her poets, her artists, her soldiers, her doctors, her mechanics, are all taken at tender age, and diligently crammed with the pedantry of the sixteenth century. Their intellects mercilessly compressed in the same relentless mould of dead language for ten years— ten precious years stolen from their life, wbich is fifty years too short for all they have to do. Nature gagged and manacled from day to day, by old world rules, as she continually pleads for her sons. They must all toil on over the same long, dreary road, with a winker of Latin at one eye, and of Greek at the other.
Hence the crowd of incapables, and hence the glorious field for the ambitious man who recognises his mission, begins in time, and works in silence.
Earnestness has become a cant, and we have all sickened of the word. All violence is mere loss of that steady, effective force engrained in a few men, which gains its end, and benefits mankind. The crowd of us are triflers and talkers, who are regally lavish of our time, as if flesh and bone were immortal. We philosophise at our leisure, and die with our theories on the lips.
If the foreshadowings of character and capacity were recognised early, and the boy were placed on his chosen path, on which to progress from year to year, turning neither to the right hand nor the left, we should have no drones in the hive, and no swollen monopolists of wealth and fame.
Higher foreshadowings there are on which the novelist may but touch, and men trifle with them most of all. Such are the traces of a watchful beneficence, which grants the temporal blessing for eternal endssuch are the hintings of some solemn denouement to mortality. These
are continually about us. Men walk beneath their light without noticing them, like the belated traveller who cares not to reflect how his road is roofed by suns and worlds ; or we veil their awful significance in some silly poetical convention, like the child who points up and lisps of the "pretty stars."
In the belief that faithful studies from the human heart might possess a peculiar interest for many, distinct from the interest of plot or stirring incident, I have attempted in the foregoing pages to follow up the mental histories of those who move in them, subordinating plot and incident to this end; and to select my types of character from the minds which I have myself come in contact with, and felt I understood, to the exclusion of letter-press hero and heroine, or aught I might have learned from books. Such has been my aim. In simply stating it, I would in no manner arrogate to myself any success.
I have been obliged to compress the story in many places, which necessitated the occasional adoption of a very sketchy style. The maniac scene on the cliffs of Erris is founded upon fact, and will be recognised by many of my readers.
It is a curious fact, that an astronomer of the name of Lalande actually mapped the planet Neptune long before discovery, supposing it to be a star, and finding its position changed on a subsequent observation, instead of attributing the occurrence to planetary motion, only considered his first observation as inaccurate.
The reader will find in Abernethy's celebrated work, “The Analysis of Melancholy,” two or three cases recorded, in which the cerebral phenomenon I have embodied in my story-viz., a temporary extinction of certain overtaxed intellectual faculties-has been known by him to have shown itself in the precise manner I have related, and to have been distinctly attributable, in the first instance, to some physical injury sustained.