« ZurückWeiter »
present when she was christened. I He looked at his carpet. remember it perfectly. It was-it was "Threadbare!” he muttered. “Table -I have forgotten, but I know it is en- cloth spotted, grease, tobacco-ash, ink. tered in my diary. Elaine, Dick called Windows dirty, curtains colorless. her. I remember telling Dick that it Armchair rubbed, spring gone, castors was absurd giving her such an out- rickety. Bookcases dingy.” He looked landish name. Strange that I should into the fire. “What am I? A faded think Dick right now.
Elaine! A colorless old bachelor, who has let the pretty name. "The lily maid.' Yes world slip on twenty-five years withthat describes her accurately. And now out caring. Life! I really do not think here's the long vacation before me and I knew the possibilities of life until-and no plans. It's very lonely here. Dear me, dear me, I fear I must be in I have never noticed it before, but it is love with this young girl whose chrislonely. I shan't grow younger, and life tening I remember perfectly. What should be a little easier than it has would she say to me? Why, even my been. I'm afraid I have missed a very collars are out of date and- Tomorgreat deal. Fifty, and I have never row I will go to my hosier, and the been in love. Have I? Let me see. next day to Clevedon." Yes, once. It was a long while ago. I don't remember her name. I daresay Clevedon is a quiet town on the it's in my diary. She was very fond shore of the Bristol Channel. It is of peaches. So is Elaine. That's pretty in a quiet way that does not apstrange.' I wonder if all women are peal to lovers of piers and bands, more fond of peaches."
or less strident. Mrs. Buckiston had a Derwent Findlay, Q.C., was given to quiet unpretentious villa that hung talking to himself. He invariably over the sea like a quiet unpretentious argued his points alone, addressing his plum over a garden wall. There was book-shelves as the court.
a large garden and many trees. Elaine, “The long vacation and that blank her daughter, was a healthy, bright, sheet of paper. Oh, what a hypocrite English girl, who by the force of cir. I am.
I ought to write in very large cumstances remained poised between letters, 'Elaine! No plans when I have girlhood and womanhood. In the orthis letter from Clevedon?
I dinary state of things a girl of ninewent down there at Christmas, and at teen would have come into the full Easter—that was the time I was read. kingdom of womanhood. She had been ing Machelby 0. Gerston & Co., and educated at a quiet school, and had reElaine helped me make a digest of the mained unawakened with her mother brief. And now they seem to look upon for the eighteen months she had been my going down to them as a foregone home. Mrs. Buckiston was colorless, conclusion. And why shouldn't I go? and divided her attention between After all I was Dick's best friend, and mourning for her husband and a serene I am now his widow's sole trustee: Not delight in the ordering of her small very well off, but Dick was always household. reckless. Six hundred a year-what is Derwent Findlay, Q.C., was the one six hundred a year? I must spend excitement of the Clevedon household. quite four hundred myself and I He was more to others than to himself. haven't much comfort. Curious I To others he was the great authority never noticed that before."
on Patent Law, a man with a princely He looked at his dressing-gown. income; to himself he was Derwent “Ugh!” he said. “Faded!"
Findlay, and he saw no difference be
tween the Derwent of thirty years ago And of course there was no one with and the Derwent of to-day.
him." "Go, Elaine, and see that Mary has "He has a habit of talking to him. put the clean curtains in Mr. Findlay's self. I have often heard him. He room,” Mrs. Buckiston said.
prepares his speeches that way, I "You have told me to do that five think." times, mother dear," Elaine answered, "Poor Dick never did such a thing. slipping to her knees and taking her Besides, I am almost certain I heard mother's hands caressingly in hers. “I your name." saw Mary put them up myself at "My name-nonsense!" eleven o'clock, and it's now four."
“How like your father you grow, “Ah, yes, I had forgotten. I am so Elaine. That is just what he would anxious, dear. Poor Dick thought so have said. I suppose Mr. Findlay's much of Mr. Findlay, and one never habit comes from living so much can trust in servants. You like Mr. alone." Findlay, Elaine ?"
"He has lived a long time alone?" “Oh, yes. He is so clever."
Elaine questioned. “Just what your father said. He is “Twenty-five years. All his relatives very rich."
are dead. Dick used to say he was one "He ought to be."
of the most blessed of men. I really “It does not always follow. Poor don't think my relations ever bored Dick lost most of his money. It was him much." really inexplicable. He was always “Twenty-five years alone,” Elaine finding out such wonderful schemes murmured wonderingly. for making money-but somehow they When Derwent Findlay, Q.C., rolled never succeeded. I wonder if Jane will up to the little villa on the hill in a remember to lay an extra place at din. local cab that was almost medieval in Der?"
design, Elaine met him at the front “She ought to, mother dear. We have door, and was particularly kind to him talked of nothing else but Mr. Find- under the influence of his twenty-five lay's coming for the last four days, years of loneliness. and I have heard you tell her myself He handed out a bundle carefully quite a score of times."
wrapped in oil silk. Inside was an"You are cross, Elaine. I am sorry, other of chamois leather, but that was but your father would have been very not visible. anxious that everything should be done "Take care of it, take great care of for Mr. Findlay."
it, Elaine. I wouldn't have anything "I am not cross, dearest."
happen to it for the world. “Aren't you? I am glad of that. I “What is it?" she asked, taking it up am so nervous. I am quite sure that very carefully. something will go wrong. Have you “What is it? My immortality. Find. put out the extra napkin ring?"
lay on Patent Law. I have reached “My own dear mother, not one single the fortieth chapter. I am beginning item has been forgotten.”
to get thoroughly into the subject.” “Such a strange man Mr. Findlay. I She found its weight very great. never feel quite at ease with him, dear. "Have you been long over it?" she I heard him talking in his room such a asked. long time one night at Easter. You “Long?
Oh no. About ten years, know what a light sleeper I am. Не that's all. It means a lot of research. woke me up. He spoke 80 fiercely. I hope to do a great deal down here.
I have my law library coming on in a “Perbaps," said Elaine thoughtfully, day or so. It's coming down by goods "you haven't rehearsed it.” train. You must help me in this, “Eh, what?” he demanded, startled Elaine."
out of his nervousness, “rehearsed it? A fortnight with Elaine as amanuen- What do you mean, my dear ?" sis, as companion, as everything, com- "I have heard you sometimes repleted his subjection and managed suc- hearsing your speeches. I thought percessfully to minimize his sense of the haps it was because you hadn't done disparity of their ages. Elaine, un- so that you—that you didn't know awaķened, readily endorsed the wis- exactly how to begin." dom of her mother's wishes.
"Yes-yes,” he said, thoughtfully, “it “He is estimable man," Mrs. does help. But this I have thought Buckiston said; "he has a great deal about a good deal. I don't think I recof money; if he should propose to you ollect any other case wbich has given -and I think he will because he evi- me so much trouble." dently finds you of great assistance in "Oh, it's a case, is it?" she asked, his work, and after all, twenty-five with surprise. years of loneliness must make any “Well, it certainly is a kind of a case man wish for a change—and you -but it's not the sort of case I've been should accept him of course, Elaine, I used to arguing.” would do nothing to influence you in “Not about Patent Law ?! the slightest way, but at the same time “Not a word about Patent Law. If I know that poor Dick would have it were I don't think I should be at wished it. You will be very comfort- fault in opening. The fact is, I have able, because I feel sure he is very been very lonely for—for a long time." fond of you, and would deny you noth- “Twenty-five years,” she said, softly. ing in reason.”
"It is a terrible long time." Elaine felt the truth of her mother's "Eh? Well, well, twenty-five years involved arguments, and she waited may seem a lot to you, but after all with the patience of one waiting to do it's not a very long time. I have had a duty she is neither anxious to do nor very good rooms, and my club andanxious to leave undone.
Well, my dear, I never realized I was The dénouement came about in an lonely until-until" odd room that always looked as though
"You saw me." it did not belong to the house, and "God bless my soul!" he said, starwhich Derwent Findlay had chosen ing at her. "How did you guess that?" for his work-room.
"I don't know. Go on." Derwent felt vaguely excited and un- "I don't," he said judicially, “think comfortable; Elaine recognized it as an there is very much more to say-in event of the possible, even probable short, I think that's my case.
I saw happening of which was by no means you and I suddenly realized how lonely an unfamiliar thought to her.
I was. When one knows that one is “My dear Elaine,” he began ner- lonely it-it is rather bad, isn't it? vously; "I am going to say something
You see I began to picture you in my to you which will probably sound very rooms——they are too shabby for you, foolishly in your ears. I have lived a but it was only fancy-and it made very long time alone, and-dear me, such a difference. It was like catch: dear me, it's really very unaccountable, ing the country sunshine and taking but I hardly know how to express my.
it all the way up to London and letting self."
it loose in a dusty, shabby old room.
It was quite wonderful. The room after twenty-five years of resting on changed into home. I-I smiled, and the shelf among the dust. Even the then I woke and-and that loneliness language is a little strange to me." of mine became very apparent.”
"I think,” she announced, "that we "I am afraid you are not getting on are not meaning exactly the same with your case, Mr. Findlay," she said, thing. I mean that you ought to say unemotionally yet kindly. "I don't you love me." think I quite understand what you She was drawing upon the recollection mean."
of the novels she had been permitted "I know what I mean, but it would to read. Her own instincts were sound so foolish,” he said, ruefully. "I dormant. The situation was almost want to join your young fresh life to. pathetic, but Derwent Findlay was not mine, and I am aware, I am distinctly in a position to appreciate that. aware what an old, musty, dried-up "I have been saying that all the man I am. I have let twenty-five time,” he said in surprise. "Why, my years slip by; I have let twenty-five dear Elaine, the world is different be. years die and leave their ashes about cause I have discovered that it holds me. I think I am not a bad sort of you. Twenty-five years I have been fellow at the bottom, and I have got a in ignorance of what happiness the lot of money which is quite useless to world can hold, and now-now I verily
Not," he added, quickly, “that believe I am frightened because I have that would weigh with you, or that I found it out. I-I am such an unheroic would wish it to weigh with you; but figure that I know, I feel how very my wares are so poor that I feel bound foolish it is of me to think.-But I to pull them all out and put them be- can't help it, Elaine, I am quite powfore you.”
erless to withstand it. Oh, it's mon“You wish me to be your wife?” she strous that I should want to take the asked.
very best of the world and shut it up “That-that is a very clear putting with an old, musty, time-grimed object of the case. If you can't accept the like myself! And yet-and yet-there the proposition-and I really do not see are many better fellows than I am, how you can, a wretched old fogey like younger, more able to-to slip into your me-don't hesitate to say so. I shall thoughts, to see with your eyes, but understand, and after all there's Find- not one, not one of them all can love lay on Patent Law."
you better than I do. You see I have He looked very wistfully at her, all been waiting for twenty-five years, the same.
and it's a long time, and all that time “It is usual,” she said, serenely, “to love has been growing outside my say something about love."
door, and now that you have opened it "I'm afraid I don't know much about it has rushed in and filled my life.” it. It seems very wonderful, very like “You are very clever, Mr. Findlay." getting up early and seeing the sun rise "Not very, I am afraid. Say serviceafter a rainy night, or finding out the able, Elaine, say serviceable.” weak spot in your opponent's opening, "And very good.” and hitting it in cross-examination. My “I? Oh, not at all, not at all. I dear Elaine, I was never in love be- haven't done anything very bad before—that is, only once, and I don't re- cause-well, you see, I have always member anything about her except been very busy and have had no time. that she loved peaches. Now! think of But I am not good." it, Elaine, opening the book of romance "And father esteemed you."
"Dick!” he chuckled in a curious
kiss every evening, when Mrs. Buckismanner. "Why, Dick always called ton smiled and blinked. It was too me an old fool, and-and said I was a regular, and never deviated from a 'stick in the mud.' An idiom, a slang spot just under the cheek-bone, on the term, my dear Elaine, but very descrip- left side. tive."
“My dear,” he said once, looking up "Well, I think you are clever and from his laborious writing, "you are good and I esteem you.”
not thinking that perhaps you have “Yes, yes. It's very blind of you, made a mistake? I-I don't think you, but I am glad, very glad, only, only of seem very happy." course that is—really it's very pre- “I am quite happy," she said sumptive of me, but I would like it to serenely. be a warmer word than esteem."
"I was looking at myself in the glass "I will be quite honest with you, Mr. last night, Elaine, and I said to myself, Findlay. I do not love you.”
Is it possible that any young, beautiful "Of course not,” he said, sadly, “It
girl" was preposterous. Think no more of “You think I am beautiful?" she it. An old man like me!"
asked eagerly. When she gave up call-, “But then I love no one else, and I ing him Mr. Findlay as being too do esteem you, and I esteem no one formal for engaged people, she gave up else but my mother. And-and-I dare- addressing him by name at all. say love will come, Mr. Findlay. I “Of course you are beautiful." shall try ever so hard to love you." “Not only good-looking but really
“Yes,” he said doubtfully, and looked beautiful ?" she persisted, with more at his beard, which was streaked with animation than was usual with her. gray, and shook his head.
“Really beautiful," he said. “And I should like to marry you be- "I read somewhere," she murmured, cause because I know it will be best “that the world was made for beautifor me."
ful women." She looked out of the Mrs. Buckiston was delighted at the window at the blue of sky and sea benews and overwhelmed Derwent Find- low. law with reminiscences of Dick. Der- "And,” he went on, taking up the went would have liked to have gone thread of his broken sentence, “I said, for a stroll in the garden with Elaine, Can Elaine ever really care for me? It but he was troubled with the thought seemed preposterous, dear, it is preposof propriety. It was such a new phase terous, I am afraid. Is it?" of life that he felt like entering a court
“I do care for you. You are very without a glance at his brief-indeed, good and kind." even far more nonplussed than that. Twenty-five emotionless years had “Findlay on Patent Law" progressed
left his heart as fresh as it was at steadily. Derwent worked patiently at their commencement. He was that it for two hours in the morning and pathetic hybrid, an old man with a three in the afternoon, and Elaine sat young heart, a man capable of enjoy. in the room with him looking up refer- ing fully the pleasures of life and ences. There were moments when the barred by years from entering into elderly man looked wistfully at the their possession. girl in the freshness of her beauty. “Yes, yes. I suppose you do care for The love that she had promised to ac- me. But it is strange." He sighed quire did not come very quickly. He again, “I have spoken to your mother was not satisfied with the daughterly about our marriage. I should like it to