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Title: Kenelm Chillingly — Volume 08
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Kenelm Chillingly — Volume 08" ***

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BOOK VIII.



CHAPTER I.

NEVER in his whole life had the mind of Sir Peter been so agitated as
it was during and after the perusal of Kenelm's flighty composition.
He had received it at the breakfast-table, and, opening it eagerly,
ran his eye hastily over the contents, till he very soon arrived at
sentences which appalled him.  Lady Chillingly, who was fortunately
busied at the tea-urn, did not observe the dismay on his countenance.
It was visible only to Cecilia and to Gordon.  Neither guessed who
that letter was from.

"No bad news, I hope," said Cecilia, softly.

"Bad news," echoed Sir Peter.  "No, my dear, no; a letter on business.
It seems terribly long," and he thrust the packet into his pocket,
muttering, "see to it by and by."

"That slovenly farmer of yours, Mr. Nostock, has failed, I suppose,"
said Mr. Travers, looking up and observing a quiver on his host's lip.
"I told you he would,--a fine farm too.  Let me choose you another
tenant."

Sir Peter shook his head with a wan smile.

"Nostock will not fail.  There have been six generations of Nostocks
on the farm."

"So I should guess," said Travers, dryly.

"And--and," faltered Sir Peter, "if the last of the race fails, he
must lean upon me, and--if one of the two break down--it shall not
be--"

"Shall not be that cross-cropping blockhead, my dear Sir Peter.  This
is carrying benevolence too far."

Here the tact and /savoir vivre/ of Chillingly Gordon came to the
rescue of the host.  Possessing himself of the "Times" newspaper, he
uttered an exclamation of surprise, genuine or simulated, and read
aloud an extract from the leading article, announcing an impending
change in the Cabinet.

As soon as he could quit the breakfast-table, Sir Peter hurried into
his library and there gave himself up to the study of Kenelm's
unwelcome communication.  The task took him long, for he stopped at
intervals, overcome by the struggle of his heart, now melted into
sympathy with the passionate eloquence of a son hitherto so free from
amorous romance, and now sorrowing for the ruin of his own cherished
hopes.  This uneducated country girl would never be such a helpmate to
a man like Kenelm as would have been Cecilia Travers.  At length,
having finished the letter, he buried his head between his clasped
hands, and tried hard to realize the situation that placed the father
and son into such direct antagonism.

"But," he murmured, "after all it is the boy's happiness that must be
consulted.  If he will not be happy in my way, what right have I to
say that he shall not be happy in his?"

Just then Cecilia came softly into the room.  She had acquired the
privilege of entering his library at will; sometimes to choose a book
of his recommendation, sometimes to direct and seal his letters,--Sir
Peter was grateful to any one who saved him an extra trouble,--and
sometimes, especially at this hour, to decoy him forth into his wonted
constitutional walk.

He lifted his face at the sound of her approaching tread and her
winning voice, and the face was so sad that the tears rushed to her
eyes on seeing it.  She laid her hand on his shoulder, and said
pleadingly, "Dear Sir Peter, what is it,--what is it?"

"Ah--ah, my dear," said Sir Peter, gathering up the scattered sheets
of Kenelm's effusion with hurried, trembling hands.  "Don't
ask,--don't talk of it; 'tis but one of the disappointments that all
of us must undergo, when we invest our hopes in the uncertain will of
others."

Then, observing that the tears were trickling down the girl's fair,
pale cheeks, he took her hand in both his, kissed her forehead, and
said, whisperingly, "Pretty one, how good you have been to me!  Heaven
bless you.  What a wife you will be to some man!"

Thus saying, he shambled out of the room through the open casement.
She followed him impulsively, wonderingly; but before she reached his
side he turned round, waved his hand with a gently repelling gesture,
and went his way alone through dense fir-groves which had been planted
in honour of Kenelm's birth.



CHAPTER II.

KENELM arrived at Exmundham just in time to dress for dinner.  His
arrival was not unexpected, for the morning after his father had
received his communication, Sir Peter had said to Lady
Chillingly--"that he had heard from Kenelm to the effect that he might
be down any day."

"Quite time he should come," said Lady Chillingly.  "Have you his
letter about you?"

"No, my dear Caroline.  Of course he sends you his kindest love, poor
fellow."

"Why poor fellow?  Has he been ill?"

"No; but there seems to be something on his mind.  If so we must do
what we can to relieve it.  He is the best of sons, Caroline."

"I am sure I have nothing to say against him, except," added her
Ladyship, reflectively, "that I do wish he were a little more like
other young men."

"Hum--like Chillingly Gordon, for instance?"

"Well, yes; Mr. Gordon is a remarkably well-bred, sensible young man.
How different from that disagreeable, bearish father of his, who went
to law with you!"

"Very different indeed, but with just as much of the Chillingly blood
in him.  How the Chillinglys ever gave birth to a Kenelm is a question
much more puzzling."

"Oh, my dear Sir Peter, don't be metaphysical.  You know how I hate
puzzles."

"And yet, Caroline, I have to thank you for a puzzle which I can never
interpret by my brain.  There are a great many puzzles in human nature
which can only be interpreted by the heart."

"Very true," said Lady Chillingly.  "I suppose Kenelm is to have his
old room, just opposite to Mr. Gordon's."

"Ay--ay, just opposite.  Opposite they will be all their lives.  Only
think, Caroline, I have made a discovery!"

"Dear me!  I hope not.  Your discoveries are generally very expensive,
and bring us in contact with such very odd people."

"This discovery shall not cost us a penny, and I don't know any people
so odd as not to comprehend it.  Briefly it is this: To genius the
first requisite is heart; it is no requisite at all to talent.  My
dear Caroline, Gordon has as much talent as any young man I know, but
he wants the first requisite of genius.  I am not by any means sure
that Kenelm has genius, but there is no doubt that he has the first
requisite of genius,--heart.  Heart is a very perplexing, wayward,
irrational thing; and that perhaps accounts for the general incapacity
to comprehend genius, while any fool can comprehend talent.  My dear
Caroline, you know that it is very seldom, not more than once in three
years, that I presume to have a will of my own against a will of
yours; but should there come a question in which our son's heart is
concerned, then (speaking between ourselves) my will must govern
yours."

"Sir Peter is growing more odd every day," said Lady Chillingly to
herself when left alone.  "But he does not mean ill, and there are
worse husbands in the world."

Therewith she rang for her maid, gave requisite orders for the
preparing of Kenelm's room, which had not been slept in for many
months, and then consulted that functionary as to the adaptation of
some dress of hers, too costly to be laid aside, to the style of some
dress less costly which Lady Glenalvon had imported from Paris as /la
derniere mode/.

On the very day on which Kenelm arrived at Exmundham, Chillingly
Gordon had received this letter from Mr. Gerald Danvers.


DEAR GORDON,--In the ministerial changes announced as rumour in the
public papers, and which you may accept as certain, that sweet little
cherub--is to be sent to sit up aloft and pray there for the life of
poor Jack; namely, of the government he leaves below.  In accepting
the peerage, which I persuaded him to do,--creates a vacancy for the
borough of -----, just the place for you, far better in every way than
Saxborough. ----- promises to recommend you to his committee.  Come to
town at once.  Yours, etc.

     G. DANVERS.


Gordon showed this letter to Mr. Travers, and, on receiving the hearty
good-wishes of that gentleman, said, with emotion partly genuine,
partly assumed, "You cannot guess all that the realization of your
good-wishes would be.  Once in the House of Commons, and my motives
for action are so strong that--do not think me very conceited if I
count upon Parliamentary success."

"My clear Gordon, I am as certain of your success as I am of my own
existence."

"Should I succeed,--should the great prizes of public life be within
my reach,--should I lift myself into a position that would warrant my
presumption, do you think I could come to you and say, 'There is an
object of ambition dearer to me than power and office,--the hope of
attaining which was the strongest of all my motives of action?  And in
that hope shall I also have the good-wishes of the father of Cecilia
Travers?"

"My dear fellow, give me your hand; you speak manfully and candidly as
a gentleman should speak.  I answer in the same spirit.  I don't
pretend to say that I have not entertained views for Cecilia which
included hereditary rank and established fortune in a suitor to her
hand, though I never should have made them imperative conditions.  I
am neither potentate nor /parvenu/ enough for that; and I can never
forget" (here every muscle in the man's face twitched) "that I myself
married for love, and was so happy.  How happy Heaven only knows!
Still, if you had thus spoken a few weeks ago, I should not have
replied very favourably to your question.  But now that I have seen so
much of you, my answer is this: If you lose your election,--if you
don't come into Parliament at all, you have my good-wishes all the
same.  If you win my daughter's heart, there is no man on whom I would
more willingly bestow her hand.  There she is, by herself too, in the
garden.  Go and talk to her."

Gordon hesitated.  He knew too well that he had not won her heart,
though he had no suspicion that it was given to another.  And he was
much too clever not to know also how much he hazards who, in affairs
of courtship, is premature.

"Ah!" he said, "I cannot express my gratitude for words so generous,
encouragement so cheering.  But I have never yet dared to utter to
Miss Travers a word that would prepare her even to harbour a thought
of me as a suitor.  And I scarcely think I should have the courage to
go through this election with the grief of her rejection on my heart."

"Well, go in and win the election first; meanwhile, at all events,
take leave of Cecilia."

Gordon left his friend, and joined Miss Travers, resolved not indeed
to risk a formal declaration, but to sound his way to his chances of
acceptance.

The interview was very brief.  He did sound his way skilfully, and
felt it very unsafe for his footsteps.  The advantage of having gained
the approval of the father was too great to be lost altogether, by one
of those decided answers on the part of the daughter which allow of no
appeal, especially to a poor gentleman who wooes an heiress.

He returned to Travers, and said simply, "I bear with me her
good-wishes as well as yours.  That is all.  I leave myself in your
kind hands."

Then he hurried away to take leave of his host and hostess, say a few
significant words to the ally he had already gained in Mrs. Campion,
and within an hour was on his road to London, passing on his way the
train that bore Kenelm to Exmundham.  Gordon was in high spirits.  At
least he felt as certain of winning Cecilia as he did of winning his
election.

"I have never yet failed in what I desired," said he to himself,
"because I have ever taken pains not to fail."

The cause of Gordon's sudden departure created a great excitement in
that quiet circle, shared by all except Cecilia and Sir Peter.



CHAPTER III.

KENELM did not see either father or mother till he appeared at dinner.
Then he was seated next to Cecilia.  There was but little conversation
between the two; in fact, the prevalent subject of talk was general
and engrossing, the interest in Chillingly Gordon's election;
predictions of his success, of what he would do in Parliament.
"Where," said Lady Glenalvon, "there is such a dearth of rising young
men, that if he were only half as clever as he is he would be a gain."

"A gain to what?" asked Sir Peter, testily.  "To his country? about
which I don't believe he cares a brass button."

To this assertion Leopold Travers replied warmly, and was not less
warmly backed by Mrs. Campion.

"For my part," said Lady Glenalvon, in conciliatory accents, "I think
every able man in Parliament is a gain to the country; and he may not
serve his country less effectively because he does not boast of his
love for it.  The politicians I dread most are those so rampant in
France nowadays, the bawling patriots.  When Sir Robert Walpole said,
'All those men have their price,' he pointed to the men who called
themselves 'patriots.'"

"Bravo!" cried Travers.

"Sir Robert Walpole showed his love for his country by corrupting it.
There are many ways besides bribing for corrupting a country," said
Kenelm, mildly, and that was Kenelm's sole contribution to the general
conversation.

It was not till the rest of the party had retired to rest that the
conference, longed for by Kenelm, dreaded by Sir Peter, took place in
the library.  It lasted deep into the night; both parted with
lightened hearts and a fonder affection for each other.  Kenelm had
drawn so charming a picture of the Fairy, and so thoroughly convinced
Sir Peter that his own feelings towards her were those of no passing
youthful fancy, but of that love which has its roots in the innermost
heart, that though it was still with a sigh, a deep sigh, that he
dismissed the thought of Cecilia, Sir Peter did dismiss it; and,
taking comfort at last from the positive assurance that Lily was of
gentle birth, and the fact that her name of Mordaunt was that of
ancient and illustrious houses, said, with half a smile, "It might
have been worse, my dear boy.  I began to be afraid that, in spite of
the teachings of Mivers and Welby, it was 'The Miller's Daughter,'
after all.  But we still have a difficult task to persuade your poor
mother.  In covering your first flight from our roof I unluckily put
into her head the notion of Lady Jane, a duke's daughter, and the
notion has never got out of it.  That comes of fibbing."

"I count on Lady Glenalvon's influence on my mother in support of your
own," said Kenelm.  "If so accepted an oracle in the great world
pronounce in my favour, and promise to present my wife at Court and
bring her into fashion, I think that my mother will consent to allow
us to reset the old family diamonds for her next reappearance in
London.  And then, too, you can tell her that I will stand for the
county.  I will go into Parliament, and if I meet there our clever
cousin, and find that he does not care a brass button for the country,
take my word for it, I will lick him more easily than I licked Tom
Bowles."

"Tom Bowles! who is he?--ah!  I remember some letter of yours in which
you spoke of a Bowles, whose favourite study was mankind, a moral
philosopher."

"Moral philosophers," answered Kenelm, "have so muddled their brains
with the alcohol of new ideas that their moral legs have become shaky,
and the humane would rather help them to bed than give them a licking.
My Tom Bowles is a muscular Christian, who became no less muscular,
but much more Christian, after he was licked."

And in this pleasant manner these two oddities settled their
conference, and went up to bed with arms wrapped round each other's
shoulder.



CHAPTER IV.

KENELM found it a much harder matter to win Lady Glenalvon to his side
than he had anticipated.  With the strong interest she had taken in
Kenelm's future, she could not but revolt from the idea of his union
with an obscure portionless girl whom he had only known a few weeks,
and of whose very parentage he seemed to know nothing, save an
assurance that she was his equal in birth.  And, with the desire,
which she had cherished almost as fondly as Sir Peter, that Kenelm
might win a bride in every way so worthy of his choice as Cecilia
Travers, she felt not less indignant than regretful at the overthrow
of her plans.

At first, indeed, she was so provoked that she would not listen to his
pleadings.  She broke away from him with a rudeness she had never
exhibited to any one before, refused to grant him another interview in
order to re-discuss the matter, and said that, so far from using her
influence in favour of his romantic folly, she would remonstrate well
with Lady Chillingly and Sir Peter against yielding their assent to
his "thus throwing himself away."

It was not till the third day after his arrival that, touched by the
grave but haughty mournfulness of his countenance, she yielded to the
arguments of Sir Peter in the course of a private conversation with
that worthy baronet.  Still it was reluctantly (she did not fulfil her
threat of remonstrance with Lady Chillingly) that she conceded the
point, that a son who, succeeding to the absolute fee-simple of an
estate, had volunteered the resettlement of it on terms singularly
generous to both his parents, was entitled to some sacrifice of their
inclinations on a question in which he deemed his happiness vitally
concerned; and that he was of age to choose for himself independently
of their consent, but for a previous promise extracted from him by his
father, a promise which, rigidly construed, was not extended to Lady
Chillingly, but confined to Sir Peter as the head of the family and
master of the household.  The father's consent was already given, and,
if in his reverence for both parents Kenelm could not dispense with
his mother's approval, surely it was the part of a true friend to
remove every scruple from his conscience, and smooth away every
obstacle to a love not to be condemned because it was disinterested.

After this conversation, Lady Glenalvon sought Kenelm, found him
gloomily musing on the banks of the trout-stream, took his arm, led
him into the sombre glades of the fir-grove, and listened patiently to
all he had to say.  Even then her woman's heart was not won to his
reasonings, until he said pathetically, "You thanked me once for
saving your son's life: you said then that you could never repay me;
you can repay me tenfold.  Could your son, who is now, we trust, in
heaven, look down and judge between us, do you think he would approve
you if you refuse?"

Then Lady Glenalvon wept, and took his hand, kissed his forehead as a
mother might kiss it, and said, "You triumph; I will go to Lady
Chillingly at once.  Marry her whom you so love, on one condition:
marry her from my house."

Lady Glenalvon was not one of those women who serve a friend by
halves.  She knew well how to propitiate and reason down the apathetic
temperament of Lady Chillingly; she did not cease till that lady
herself came into Kenelm's room, and said very quietly,--

"So you are going to propose to Miss Mordaunt, the Warwickshire
Mordaunts I suppose?  Lady Glenalvon says she is a very lovely girl,
and will stay with her before the wedding.  And as the young lady is
an orphan Lady Glenalvon's uncle the Duke, who is connected with the
eldest branch of the Mordaunts, will give her away.  It will be a very
brilliant affair.  I am sure I wish you happy; it is time you should
have sown your wild oats."

Two days after the consent thus formally given, Kenelm quitted
Exmundham.  Sir Peter would have accompanied him to pay his respects
to the intended, but the agitation he had gone through brought on a
sharp twinge of the gout, which consigned his feet to flannels.

After Kenelm had gone, Lady Glenalvon went into Cecilia's room.
Cecilia was seated very desolately by the open window.  She had
detected that something of an anxious and painful nature had been
weighing upon the minds of father and son, and had connected it with
the letter which had so disturbed the even mind of Sir Peter; but she
did not divine what the something was, and if mortified by a certain
reserve, more distant than heretofore, which had characterized
Kenelm's manner towards herself, the mortification was less sensibly
felt than a tender sympathy for the sadness she had observed on his
face and yearned to soothe.  His reserve had, however, made her own
manner more reserved than of old, for which she was now rather chiding
herself than reproaching him.

Lady Glenalvon put her arms round Cecilia's neck and kissed her,
whispering, "That man has so disappointed me: he is so unworthy of the
happiness I had once hoped for him!"

"Whom do you speak of?" murmured Cecilia, turning very pale.

"Kenelm Chillingly.  It seems that he has conceived a fancy for some
penniless girl whom he has met in his wanderings, has come here to get
the consent of his parents to propose to her, has obtained their
consent, and is gone to propose."

Cecilia remained silent for a moment with her eyes closed, then she
said, "He is worthy of all happiness, and he would never make an
unworthy choice.  Heaven bless him--and--and--" She would have added,
"his bride," but her lips refused to utter the word bride.

"Cousin Gordon is worth ten of him," cried Lady Glenalvon,
indignantly.

She had served Kenelm, but she had not forgiven him.



CHAPTER V.

KENELM slept in London that night, and, the next day, being singularly
fine for an English summer, he resolved to go to Moleswich on foot.
He had no need this time to encumber himself with a knapsack; he had
left sufficient change of dress in his lodgings at Cromwell Lodge.

It was towards the evening when he found himself in one of the
prettiest rural villages by which


     "Wanders the hoary Thames along
      His silver-winding way."


It was not in the direct road from London to Moleswich, but it was a
pleasanter way for a pedestrian.  And when, quitting the long street
of the sultry village, he came to the shelving margin of the river, he
was glad to rest a while, enjoy the cool of the rippling waters, and
listen to their placid murmurs amid the rushes in the bordering
shallows.  He had ample time before him.  His rambles while at
Cromwell Lodge had made him familiar with the district for miles round
Moleswich, and he knew that a footpath through the fields at the right
would lead him, in less than an hour, to the side of the tributary
brook on which Cromwell Lodge was placed, opposite the wooden bridge
which conducted to Grasmere and Moleswich.

To one who loves the romance of history, English history, the whole
course of the Thames is full of charm.  Ah! could I go back to the
days in which younger generations than that of Kenelm Chillingly were
unborn, when every wave of the Rhine spoke of history and romance to
me, what fairies should meet on thy banks, O thou our own Father
Thames!  Perhaps some day a German pilgrim may repay tenfold to thee
the tribute rendered by the English kinsman to the Father Rhine.

Listening to the whispers of the reeds, Kenelm Chillingly felt the
haunting influence of the legendary stream.  Many a poetic incident or
tradition in antique chronicle, many a votive rhyme in song, dear to
forefathers whose very names have become a poetry to us, thronged
dimly and confusedly back to his memory, which had little cared to
retain such graceful trinkets in the treasure-house of love.  But
everything that, from childhood upward, connects itself with romance,
revives with yet fresher bloom in the memories of him who loves.

And to this man, through the first perilous season of youth, so
abnormally safe from youth's most wonted peril,--to this would-be
pupil of realism, this learned adept in the schools of a Welby or a
Mivers,--to this man, love came at last as with the fatal powers of
the fabled Cytherea; and with that love all the realisms of life
became ideals, all the stern lines of our commonplace destinies
undulated into curves of beauty, all the trite sounds of our every-day
life attuned into delicacies of song.  How full of sanguine yet dreamy
bliss was his heart--and seemed his future--in the gentle breeze and
the softened glow of that summer eve!  He should see Lily the next
morn, and his lips were now free to say all that they had as yet
suppressed.

Suddenly he was roused from the half-awake, half-asleep happiness that
belongs to the moments in which we transport ourselves into Elysium,
by the carol of a voice more loudly joyous than that of his own
heart--


               "Singing, singing,
      Lustily singing,
      Down the road, with his dogs before,
      Came the Ritter of Nierestein."


Kenelm turned his head so quickly that he frightened Max, who had for
the last minute been standing behind him inquisitively with one paw
raised, and sniffing, in some doubt whether he recognized an old
acquaintance; but at Kenelm's quick movement the animal broke into a
nervous bark, and ran back to his master.

The minstrel, little heeding the figure reclined on the bank, would
have passed on with his light tread and his cheery carol, but Kenelm
rose to his feet, and holding out his hand, said, "I hope you don't
share Max's alarm at meeting me again?"

"Ah, my young philosopher, is it indeed you?"

"If I am to be designated a philosopher it is certainly not I.  And,
honestly speaking, I am not the same.  I, who spent that pleasant day
with you among the fields round Luscombe two years ago--"

"Or who advised me at Tor Hadham to string my lyre to the praise of a
beefsteak.  I, too, am not quite the same,--I, whose dog presented you
with the begging-tray."

"Yet you still go through the world singing."

"Even that vagrant singing time is pretty well over.  But I disturbed
you from your repose; I would rather share it.  You are probably not
going my way, and as I am in no hurry, I should not like to lose the
opportunity chance has so happily given me of renewing acquaintance
with one who has often been present to my thoughts since we last met."
Thus saying, the minstrel stretched himself at ease on the bank, and
Kenelm followed his example.

There certainly was a change in the owner of the dog with the
begging-tray, a change in costume, in countenance, in that
indescribable self-evidence which we call "manner."  The costume was
not that Bohemian attire in which Kenelm had first encountered the
wandering minstrel, nor the studied, more graceful garb, which so well
became his shapely form during his visit to Luscombe.  It was now
neatly simple, the cool and quiet summer dress any English gentleman
might adopt in a long rural walk.  And as he uncovered his head to
court the cooling breeze, there was a graver dignity in the man's
handsome Rubens-like face, a line of more concentrated thought in the
spacious forehead, a thread or two of gray shimmering here and there
through the thick auburn curls of hair and beard.  And in his manner,
though still very frank, there was just perceptible a sort of
self-assertion, not offensive, but manly; such as does not misbecome
one of maturer years, and of some established position, addressing
another man much younger than himself, who in all probability has
achieved no position at all beyond that which the accident of birth
might assign to him.

"Yes," said the minstrel, with a half-suppressed sigh, "the last year
of my vagrant holidays has come to its close.  I recollect that the
first day we met by the road-side fountain, I advised you to do like
me, seek amusement and adventure as a foot-traveller.  Now, seeing
you, evidently a gentleman by education and birth, still a
foot-traveller, I feel as if I ought to say, 'You have had enough of
such experience: vagabond life has its perils as well as charms; cease
it, and settle down.'"

"I think of doing so," replied Kenelm, laconically.

"In a profession?--army, law, medicine?"

"No."

"Ah, in marriage then.  Right; give me your hand on that.  So a
petticoat indeed has at last found its charm for you in the actual
world as well as on the canvas of a picture?"

"I conclude," said Kenelm, evading any direct notice of that playful
taunt, "I conclude from your remark that it is in marriage /you/ are
about to settle down."

"Ay, could I have done so before I should have been saved from many
errors, and been many years nearer to the goal which dazzled my sight
through the haze of my boyish dreams."

"What is that goal,--the grave?"

"The grave!  That which allows of no grave,--fame."

"I see--despite of what you just now said--you still mean to go
through the world seeking a poet's fame."

"Alas!  I resign that fancy," said the minstrel, with another
half-sigh.  "It was not indeed wholly, but in great part the hope
of the poet's fame that made me a truant in the way to that which
destiny, and such few gifts as Nature conceded to me, marked
out for my proper and only goal.  But what a strange, delusive
Will-o'-the-Wisp the love of verse-making is!  How rarely a man of
good sense deceives himself as to other things for which he is fitted,
in which he can succeed; but let him once drink into his being the
charm of verse-making, how the glamour of the charm bewitches his
understanding! how long it is before he can believe that the world
will not take his word for it, when he cries out to sun, moon, and
stars, 'I, too, am a poet.' And with what agonies, as if at the wrench
of soul from life, he resigns himself at last to the conviction that
whether he or the world be right, it comes to the same thing.  Who can
plead his cause before a court that will not give him a hearing?"

It was with an emotion so passionately strong, and so intensely
painful, that the owner of the dog with the begging-tray thus spoke,
that Kenelm felt, through sympathy, as if he himself were torn asunder
by the wrench of life from soul.  But then Kenelm was a mortal so
eccentric that, if a single acute suffering endured by a fellow mortal
could be brought before the evidence of his senses, I doubt whether he
would not have suffered as much as that fellow-mortal.  So that,
though if there were a thing in the world which Kenelm Chillingly
would care not to do, it was verse-making, his mind involuntarily
hastened to the arguments by which he could best mitigate the pang of
the verse-maker.

Quoth he: "According to my very scanty reading, you share the love of
verse-making with men the most illustrious in careers which have
achieved the goal of fame.  It must, then, be a very noble love:
Augustus, Pollio, Varius, Maecenas,--the greatest statesmen of their
day,--they were verse-makers.  Cardinal Richelieu was a verse-maker;
Walter Raleigh and Philip Sidney, Fox, Burke, Sheridan, Warren
Hastings, Canning, even the grave William Pitt,--all were
verse-makers.  Verse-making did not retard--no doubt the qualities
essential to verse-making accelerated--their race to the goal of fame.
What great painters have been verse-makers!  Michael Angelo, Leonardo
da Vinci, Salvator Rosa"--and Heaven knows how may other great names
Kenelm Chillingly might have proceeded to add to his list, if the
minstrel had not here interposed.

"What!  all those mighty painters were verse-makers?"

"Verse-makers so good, especially Michael Angelo,--the greatest
painter of all,--that they would have had the fame of poets, if,
unfortunately for that goal of fame, their glory in the sister art of
painting did not outshine it.  But when you give to your gift of song
the modest title of verse-making, permit me to observe that your gift
is perfectly distinct from that of the verse-maker.  Your gift,
whatever it may be, could not exist without some sympathy with the non
verse-making human heart.  No doubt in your foot travels, you have
acquired not only observant intimacy with external Nature in the
shifting hues at each hour of a distant mountain, in the lengthening
shadows which yon sunset casts on the waters at our feet, in the
habits of the thrush dropped fearlessly close beside me, in that turf
moistened by its neighbourhood to those dripping rushes, all of which
I could describe no less accurately than you,--as a Peter Bell might
describe them no less accurately than a William Wordsworth.  But in
such songs of yours as you have permitted me to hear, you seem to have
escaped out of that elementary accidence of the poet's art, and to
touch, no matter how slightly, on the only lasting interest which the
universal heart of man can have in the song of the poet; namely, in
the sound which the poet's individual sympathy draws forth from the
latent chords in that universal heart.  As for what you call 'the
world,' what is it more than the fashion of the present day?  How far
the judgment of that is worth a poet's pain I can't pretend to say.
But of one thing I am sure, that while I could as easily square the
circle as compose a simple couplet addressed to the heart of a simple
audience with sufficient felicity to decoy their praises into Max's
begging-tray, I could spin out by the yard the sort of verse-making
which characterizes the fashion of the present day."

Much flattered, and not a little amused, the wandering minstrel turned
his bright countenance, no longer dimmed by a cloud, towards that of
his lazily reclined consoler, and answered gayly,--

"You say that you could spin out by the yard verses in the fashion of
the present day.  I wish you would give me a specimen of your skill in
that handiwork."

"Very well; on one condition, that you will repay my trouble by a
specimen of your own verses, not in the fashion of the present
day,--something which I can construe.  I defy you to construe mine."

"Agreed."

"Well, then, let us take it for granted that this is the Augustan age
of English poetry, and that the English language is dead, like the
Latin.  Suppose I am writing for a prize-medal in English, as I wrote
at college for a prize-medal in Latin: of course, I shall be
successful in proportion as I introduce the verbal elegances peculiar
to our Augustan age, and also catch the prevailing poetic
characteristic of that classical epoch.

"Now I think that every observant critic will admit that the striking
distinctions of the poetry most in the fashion of the present day,
namely, of the Augustan age, are,--first, a selection of such verbal
elegances as would have been most repulsive to the barbaric taste of
the preceding century; and, secondly, a very lofty disdain of all
prosaic condescensions to common-sense, and an elaborate cultivation
of that element of the sublime which Mr. Burke defines under the head
of obscurity.

"These premises conceded, I will only ask you to choose the metre.
Blank verse is very much in fashion just now."

"Pooh! blank verse indeed!  I am not going so to free your experiment
from the difficulties of rhyme."

"It is all one to me," said Kenelm, yawning; "rhyme be it: heroic or
lyrical?"

"Heroics are old-fashioned; but the Chaucer couplet, as brought to
perfection by our modern poets, I think the best adapted to dainty
leaves and uncrackable nuts.  I accept the modern Chaucerian.  The
subject?"

"Oh, never trouble yourself about that.  By whatever title your
Augustan verse-maker labels his poem, his genius, like Pindar's,
disdains to be cramped by the subject.  Listen, and don't suffer Max
to howl, if he can help it.  Here goes."

And in an affected but emphatic sing-song Kenelm began:--


     "In Attica the gentle Pythias dwelt.
      Youthful he was, and passing rich: he felt
      As if nor youth nor riches could suffice
      For bliss.  Dark-eyed Sophronia was a nice
      Girl: and one summer day, when Neptune drove
      His sea-car slowly, and the olive grove
      That skirts Ilissus, to thy shell, Harmonia,
      Rippled, he said 'I love thee' to Sophronia.
      Crocus and iris, when they heard him, wagged
      Their pretty heads in glee: the honey-bagged
      Bees became altars: and the forest dove
      Her plumage smoothed.  Such is the charm of love.
      Of this sweet story do ye long for more?
      Wait till I publish it in volumes four;
      Which certain critics, my good friends, will cry
      Up beyond Chaucer.  Take their word for 't.  I
      Say 'Trust them, but not read,--or you'll not buy.'"


"You have certainly kept your word," said the minstrel, laughing; "and
if this be the Augustan age, and the English were a dead language, you
deserve to win the prize-medal."

"You flatter me," said Kenelm, modestly.  "But if I, who never before
strung two rhymes together, can improvise so readily in the style of
the present day, why should not a practical rhymester like yourself
dash off at a sitting a volume or so in the same style; disguising
completely the verbal elegances borrowed, adding to the delicacies of
the rhyme by the frequent introduction of a line that will not scan,
and towering yet more into the sublime by becoming yet more
unintelligible?  Do that, and I promise you the most glowing panegyric
in 'The Londoner,' for I will write it myself."

"'The Londoner'!" exclaimed the minstrel, with an angry flush on his
cheek and brow, "my bitter, relentless enemy."

"I fear, then, you have as little studied the critical press
of the Augustan age as you have imbued your muse with the classical
spirit of its verse.  For the art of writing a man must cultivate
himself.  The art of being reviewed consists in cultivating the
acquaintance of reviewers.  In the Augustan age criticism is cliquism.
Belong to a clique and you are Horace or Tibullus.  Belong to no
clique and, of course, you are Bavius or Maevius.  'The Londoner' is
the enemy of no man: it holds all men in equal contempt.  But as, in
order to amuse, it must abuse, it compensates the praise it is
compelled to bestow upon the members of its clique by heaping
additional scorn upon all who are cliqueless.  Hit him hard: he has no
friends."

"Ah," said the minstrel, "I believe that there is much truth in what
you say.  I never had a friend among the cliques.  And Heaven knows
with what pertinacity those from whom I, in utter ignorance of the
rules which govern so-called organs of opinion, had hoped, in my time
of struggle, for a little sympathy, a kindly encouragement, have
combined to crush me down.  They succeeded long.  But at last I
venture to hope that I am beating them.  Happily, Nature endowed me
with a sanguine, joyous, elastic temperament.  He who never despairs
seldom completely fails."

This speech rather perplexed Kenelm, for had not the minstrel declared
that his singing days were over, that he had decided on the
renunciation of verse-making?  What other path to fame, from which the
critics had not been able to exclude his steps, was he, then, now
pursuing,--he whom Kenelm had assumed to belong to some commercial
moneymaking firm?  No doubt some less difficult prose-track, probably
a novel.  Everybody writes novels nowadays, and as the public will
read novels without being told to do so, and will not read poetry
unless they are told that they ought, possibly novels are not quite so
much at the mercy of cliques as are the poems of our Augustan age.

However, Kenelm did not think of seeking for further confidence on
that score.  His mind at that moment, not unnaturally, wandered from
books and critics to love and wedlock.

"Our talk," said he, "has digressed into fretful courses; permit me to
return to the starting-point.  You are going to settle down into the
peace of home.  A peaceful home is like a good conscience.  The rains
without do not pierce its roof, the winds without do not shake its
walls.  If not an impertinent question, is it long since you have
known your intended bride?"

"Yes, very long."

"And always loved her?"

"Always, from her infancy.  Out of all womankind, she was designed to
be my life's playmate and my soul's purifier.  I know not what might
have become of me, if the thought of her had not walked beside me as
my guardian angel.  For, like many vagrants from the beaten high roads
of the world, there is in my nature something of that lawlessness
which belongs to high animal spirits, to the zest of adventure, and
the warm blood that runs into song, chiefly because song is the voice
of a joy.  And no doubt, when I look back on the past years I must own
that I have too often been led astray from the objects set before my
reason, and cherished at my heart, by erring impulse or wanton fancy."

"Petticoat interest, I presume," interposed Kenelm, dryly.

"I wish I could honestly answer 'No,'" said the minstrel, colouring
high.  "But from the worst, from all that would have permanently
blasted the career to which I intrust my fortunes, all that would have
rendered me unworthy of the pure love that now, I trust, awaits and
crowns my dreams of happiness, I have been saved by the haunting smile
in a sinless infantine face.  Only once was I in great peril,--that
hour of peril I recall with a shudder.  It was at Luscombe."

"At Luscombe!"

"In the temptation of a terrible crime I thought I heard a voice say,
'Mischief!  Remember the little child.' In that supervention which is
so readily accepted as a divine warning, when the imagination is
morbidly excited, and when the conscience, though lulled asleep for a
moment, is still asleep so lightly that the sigh of a breeze, the fall
of a leaf, can awake it with a start of terror, I took the voice for
that of my guardian angel.  Thinking it over later, and coupling the
voice with the moral of those weird lines you repeated to ine so
appositely the next day, I conclude that I am not mistaken when I say
it was from your lips that the voice which preserved me came."

"I confess the impertinence: you pardon it?"

The minstrel seized Kenelm's hand and pressed it earnestly.

"Pardon it!  Oh, could you but guess what cause I have to be grateful,
everlastingly grateful!  That sudden cry, the remorse and horror of my
own self that it struck into me,--deepened by those rugged lines which
the next day made me shrink in dismay from 'the face of my darling
sin'!  Then came the turning-point of my life.  From that day, the
lawless vagabond within me was killed.  I mean not, indeed, the love
of Nature and of song which had first allured the vagabond, but the
hatred of steadfast habits and of serious work,--/that/ was killed.  I
no longer trifled with my calling: I took to it as a serious duty.
And when I saw her, whom fate has reserved and reared for my bride,
her face was no longer in my eyes that of the playful child; the soul
of the woman was dawning into it.  It is but two years since that day,
to me so eventful.  Yet my fortunes are now secured.  And if fame be
not established, I am at last in a position which warrants my saying
to her I love, 'The time has come when, without fear for thy future, I
can ask thee to be mine.'"

The man spoke with so fervent a passion that Kenelm silently left him
to recover his wonted self-possession,--not unwilling to be
silent,--not unwilling, in the softness of the hour, passing from
roseate sunset into starry twilight, to murmur to himself, "And the
time, too, has come for me!"

After a few moments the minstrel resumed lightly and cheerily,--

"Sir, your turn: pray have you long known--judging by our former
conversation you cannot have long loved--the lady whom you have wooed
and won?"

As Kenelm had neither as yet wooed nor won the lady in question, and
did not deem it necessary to enter into any details on the subject of
love particular to himself, he replied by a general observation,--

"It seems to me that the coming of love is like the coming of spring:
the date is not to be reckoned by the calendar.  It may be slow and
gradual; it may be quick and sudden.  But in the morning, when we wake
and recognize a change in the world without, verdure on the trees,
blossoms on the sward, warmth in the sunshine, music in the air, then
we say Spring has come!"

"I like your illustration.  And if it be an idle question to ask a
lover how long he has known the beloved one, so it is almost as idle
to ask if she be not beautiful.  He cannot but see in her face the
beauty she has given to the world without."

"True; and that thought is poetic enough to make me remind you that I
favoured you with the maiden specimen of my verse-making on condition
that you repaid me by a specimen of your own practical skill in the
art.  And I claim the right to suggest the theme.  Let it be--"

"Of a beefsteak?"

"Tush, you have worn out that tasteless joke at my expense.  The theme
must be of love, and if you could improvise a stanza or two expressive
of the idea you just uttered I shall listen with yet more pleased
attention."

"Alas!  I am no /improvisatore/.  Yet I will avenge myself on your
former neglect of my craft by chanting to you a trifle somewhat in
unison with the thought you ask me to versify, but which you would not
stay to hear at Tor Hadham (though you did drop a shilling into Max's
tray); it was one of the songs I sang that evening, and it was not
ill-received by my humble audience.


     "THE BEAUTY OF THE MISTRESS IS IN THE LOVER'S EYE.

     "Is she not pretty, my Mabel May?
        Nobody ever yet called her so.
      Are not her lineaments faultless, say?
        If I must answer you plainly, No.

     "Joy to believe that the maid I love
        None but myself as she is can see;
      Joy that she steals from her heaven above,
        And is only revealed on this earth to me!"


As soon as he had finished this very artless ditty, the minstrel rose
and said,--

"Now I must bid you good-by.  My way lies through those meadows, and
yours no doubt along the high road."

"Not so.  Permit me to accompany you.  I have a lodging not far from
hence, to which the path through the fields is the shortest way."

The minstrel turned a somewhat surprised and somewhat inquisitive look
towards Kenelm.  But feeling, perhaps, that having withheld from his
fellow-traveller all confidence as to his own name and attributes, he
had no right to ask any confidence from that gentleman not voluntarily
made to him, he courteously said "that he wished the way were longer,
since it would be so pleasantly halved," and strode forth at a brisk
pace.

The twilight was now closing into the brightness of a starry summer
night, and the solitude of the fields was unbroken.  Both these men,
walking side by side, felt supremely happy.  But happiness is like
wine; its effect differing with the differing temperaments on which it
acts.  In this case garrulous and somewhat vaunting with the one man,
warm-coloured, sensuous, impressionable to the influences of external
Nature, as an Aeolian harp to the rise or fall of a passing wind; and,
with the other man, taciturn and somewhat modestly expressed,
saturnine, meditative, not indeed dull to the influences of external
Nature, but deeming them of no value, save where they passed out of
the domain of the sensuous into that of the intellectual, and the soul
of man dictated to the soulless Nature its own questions and its own
replies.

The minstrel took the talk on himself, and the talk charmed his
listener.  It became so really eloquent in the tones of its utterance,
in the frank play of its delivery, that I could no more adequately
describe it than a reporter, however faithful to every word a true
orator may say, can describe that which, apart from all words, belongs
to the presence of the orator himself.

Not, then, venturing to report the language of this singular
itinerant, I content myself with saying that the substance of it was
of the nature on which it is said most men can be eloquent: it was
personal to himself.  He spoke of aspirations towards the achievement
of a name, dating back to the dawn of memory; of early obstacles in
lowly birth, stinted fortunes; of a sudden opening to his ambition
while yet in boyhood, through the generous favour of a rich man, who
said, "The child has genius: I will give it the discipline of culture;
one day it shall repay to the world what it owes to me;" of studies
passionately begun, earnestly pursued, and mournfully suspended in
early youth.  He did not say how or wherefore: he rushed on to dwell
upon the struggles for a livelihood for himself and those dependent on
him; how in such struggles he was compelled to divert toil and energy
from the systematic pursuit of the object he had once set before him;
the necessities for money were too urgent to be postponed to the
visions of fame.  "But even," he exclaimed, passionately, "even in
such hasty and crude manifestations of what is within me, as
circumstances limited my powers, I know that I ought to have found
from those who profess to be authoritative judges the encouragement of
praise.  How much better, then, I should have done if I had found it!
How a little praise warms out of a man the good that is in him, and
the sneer of a contempt which he feels to be unjust chills the ardour
to excel!  However, I forced my way, so far as was then most essential
to me, the sufficing breadmaker for those I loved; and in my holidays
of song and ramble I found a delight that atoned for all the rest.
But still the desire of fame, once conceived in childhood, once
nourished through youth, never dies but in our grave.  Foot and hoof
may tread it down, bud, leaf, stalk; its root is too deep below the
surface for them to reach, and year after year stalk and leaf and bud
re-emerge.  Love may depart from our mortal life: we console
ourselves; the beloved will be reunited to us in the life to come.
But if he who sets his heart on fame loses it in this life, what can
console him?"

"Did you not say a little while ago that fame allowed of no grave?"

"True; but if we do not achieve it before we ourselves are in the
grave, what comfort can it give to us?  Love ascends to heaven, to
which we hope ourselves to ascend; but fame remains on the earth,
which we shall never again revisit.  And it is because fame is
earth-born that the desire for it is the most lasting, the regret for
the want of it the most bitter, to the child of earth.  But I shall
achieve it now; it is already in my grasp."

By this time the travellers had arrived at the brook, facing the
wooden bridge beside Cromwell Lodge.

Here the minstrel halted; and Kenelm with a certain tremble in his
voice, said, "Is it not time that we should make ourselves known to
each other by name?  I have no longer any cause to conceal mine,
indeed I never had any cause stronger than whim,--Kenelm Chillingly,
the only son of Sir Peter, of Exmundham, -----shire."

"I wish your father joy of so clever a son," said the minstrel with
his wonted urbanity.  "You already know enough of me to be aware that
I am of much humbler birth and station than you; but if you chance to
have visited the exhibition of the Royal Academy this year--ah!  I
understand that start--you might have recognized a picture of which
you have seen the rudimentary sketch, 'The Girl with the Flower-ball,'
one of three pictures very severely handled by 'The Londoner,' but, in
spite of that potent enemy, insuring fortune and promising fame to the
wandering minstrel, whose name, if the sight of the pictures had
induced you to inquire into that, you would have found to be Walter
Melville.  Next January I hope, thanks to that picture, to add,
'Associate of the Royal Academy.'  The public will not let them keep
me out of it, in spite of 'The Londoner.'  You are probably an
expected guest at one of the more imposing villas from which we see
the distant lights.  I am going to a very humble cottage, in which
henceforth I hope to find my established home.  I am there now only
for a few days, but pray let me welcome you there before I leave.  The
cottage is called Grasmere."



CHAPTER VI.

THE minstrel gave a cordial parting shake of the hand to the
fellow-traveller whom he had advised to settle down, not noticing how
very cold had become the hand in his own genial grasp.  Lightly he
passed over the wooden bridge, preceded by Max, and merrily, when he
had gained the other side of the bridge, came upon Kenelm's ear,
through the hush of the luminous night, the verse of the uncompleted
love-song,--


               "Singing, singing,
      Lustily singing,
      Down the road, with his dogs before,
      Came the Ritter of Nierestein."


Love-song, uncompleted; why uncompleted?  It was not given to Kenelm
to divine the why.  It was a love-song versifying one of the prettiest
fairy tales in the world, which was a great favourite with Lily, and
which Lion had promised Lily to versify, but only to complete it in
her presence and to her perfect satisfaction.



CHAPTER VII.

IF I could not venture to place upon paper the exact words of an
eloquent coveter of fame, the earth-born, still less can I dare to
place upon paper all that passed through the voiceless heart of a
coveter of love, the heaven-born.

From the hour in which Kenelm Chillingly had parted from Walter
Melville until somewhere between sunrise and noon the next day, the
summer joyousness of that external Nature which does now and then,
though, for the most part, deceitfully, address to the soul of man
questions and answers all her soulless own, laughed away the gloom of
his misgivings.

No doubt this Walter Melville was the beloved guardian of Lily; no
doubt it was Lily whom he designated as reserved and reared to become
his bride.  But on that question Lily herself had the sovereign voice.
It remained yet to be seen whether Kenelm had deceived himself in the
belief that had made the world so beautiful to him since the hour of
their last parting.  At all events it was due to her, due even to his
rival, to assert his own claim to her choice.  And the more he
recalled all that Lily had ever said to him of her guardian, so
openly, so frankly, proclaiming affection, admiration, gratitude, the
more convincingly his reasonings allayed his fears, whispering, "So
might a child speak of a parent: not so does the maiden speak of the
man she loves; she can scarcely trust herself to praise."

In fine, it was not in despondent mood, nor with dejected looks, that,
a little before noon, Kenelm crossed the bridge and re-entered the
enchanted land of Grasmere.  In answer to his inquiries, the servant
who opened the door said that neither Mr. Melville nor Miss Mordaunt
were at home; they had but just gone out together for a walk.  He was
about to turn back, when Mrs. Cameron came into the hall, and, rather
by gesture than words, invited him to enter.  Kenelm followed her into
the drawing-room, taking his seat beside her.  He was about to speak,
when she interrupted him in a tone of voice so unlike its usual
languor, so keen, so sharp, that it sounded like a cry of distress.

"I was just about to come to you.  Happily, however, you find me
alone, and what may pass between us will be soon over.  But first tell
me: you have seen your parents; you have asked their consent to wed a
girl such as I described; tell me, oh tell me that that consent is
refused!"

"On the contrary, I am here with their full permission to ask the hand
of your niece."

Mrs. Cameron sank back in her chair, rocking herself to and fro in the
posture of a person in great pain.

"I feared that.  Walter said he had met you last evening; that you,
like himself, entertained the thought of marriage.  You, of course
when you learned his name, must have known with whom his thought was
connected.  Happily, he could not divine what was the choice to which
your youthful fancy had been so blindly led."

"My dear Mrs. Cameron," said Kenelm, very mildly, but very firmly,
"you were aware of the purpose for which I left Moleswich a few days
ago, and it seems to me that you might have forestalled my intention,
the intention which brings me; thus early to your house.  I come to
say to Miss Mordaunt's guardian, 'I ask the hand of your ward.  If you
also woo her, I have a very noble rival.  With both of us no
consideration for our own happiness can be comparable to the duty of
consulting hers.  Let her choose between the two.'"

"Impossible!" exclaimed Mrs. Cameron; "impossible.  You know not what
you say; know not, guess not, how sacred are the claims of Walter
Melville to all that the orphan whom he has protected from her very
birth can give him in return.  She has no right to a preference for
another: her heart is too grateful to admit of one.  If the choice
were given to her between him and you, it is he whom she would choose.
Solemnly I assure you of this.  Do not, then, subject her to the pain
of such a choice.  Suppose, if you will, that you had attracted her
fancy, and that now you proclaimed your love and urged your suit, she
would not, must not, the less reject your hand, but you might cloud
her happiness in accepting Melville's.  Be generous.  Conquer your own
fancy; it can be but a passing one.  Speak not to her, nor to Mr.
Melville, of a wish which can never be realized.  Go hence, silently,
and at once."

The words and the manner of the pale imploring woman struck a vague
awe into the heart of her listener.  But he did not the less
resolutely answer, "I cannot obey you.  It seems to me that my honour
commands me to prove to your niece that, if I mistook the nature of
her feelings towards me, I did not, by word or look, lead her to
believe mine towards herself were less in earnest than they are; and
it seems scarcely less honourable towards my worthy rival to endanger
his own future happiness, should he discover later that his bride
would have been happier with another.  Why be so mysteriously
apprehensive?  If, as you say, with such apparent conviction, there is
no doubt of your niece's preference for another, at a word from her
own lips I depart, and you will see me no more.  But that word must be
said by her; and if you will not permit me to ask for it in your own
house, I will take my chance of finding her now, on her walk with Mr.
Melville; and, could he deny me the right to speak to her alone, that
which I would say can be said in his presence.  Ah! madam, have you no
mercy for the heart that you so needlessly torture?  If I must bear
the worst, let me learn it, and at once."

"Learn it, then, from my lips," said Mrs. Cameron, speaking with voice
unnaturally calm, and features rigidly set into stern composure.  "And
I place the secret you wring from me under the seal of that honour
which you so vauntingly make your excuse for imperilling the peace of
the home I ought never to have suffered you to enter.  An honest
couple, of humble station and narrow means, had an only son, who
evinced in early childhood talents so remarkable that they attracted
the notice of the father's employer, a rich man of very benevolent
heart and very cultivated taste.  He sent the child, at his expense,
to a first-rate commercial school, meaning to provide for him later in
his own firm.  The rich man was the head partner of an eminent bank;
but very infirm health, and tastes much estranged from business, had
induced him to retire from all active share in the firm, the
management of which was confined to a son whom he idolized.  But the
talents of the protege he had sent to school took there so passionate
a direction towards art and estranged from trade, and his designs in
drawing when shown to connoisseurs were deemed so promising of future
excellence, that the patron changed his original intention, entered
him as a pupil in the studio of a distinguished French painter, and
afterwards bade him perfect his taste by the study of Italian and
Flemish masterpieces.

"He was still abroad, when--" here Mrs. Cameron stopped, with visible
effort, suppressed a sob, and went on, whisperingly, through teeth
clenched together--"when a thunderbolt fell on the house of the
patron, shattering his fortunes, blasting his name.  The son, unknown
to the father, had been decoyed into speculations which proved
unfortunate: the loss might have been easily retrieved in the first
instance; unhappily he took the wrong course to retrieve it, and
launched into new hazards.  I must be brief.  One day the world was
startled by the news that a firm, famed for its supposed wealth and
solidity, was bankrupt.  Dishonesty was alleged, was proved, not
against the father,--he went forth from the trial, censured indeed for
neglect, not condemned for fraud, but a penniless pauper.  The--son,
the son, the idolized son, was removed from the prisoner's dock, a
convicted felon, sentenced to penal servitude; escaped that sentence
by--by--you guess--you guess.  How could he escape except through
death?--death by his own guilty deed?"

Almost as much overpowered by emotion as Mrs. Cameron herself, Kenelm
covered his bended face with one hand, stretching out the other
blindly to clasp her own, but she would not take it.

A dreary foreboding.  Again before his eyes rose the old gray
tower,--again in his ears thrilled the tragic tale of the Fletwodes.
What was yet left untold held the young man in spell-bound silence.
Mrs. Cameron resumed,--

"I said the father was a penniless pauper; he died lingeringly
bedridden.  But one faithful friend did not desert that bed,--the
youth to whose genius his wealth had ministered.  He had come from
abroad with some modest savings from the sale of copies or sketches
made in Florence.  These savings kept a roof over the heads of the old
man and the two helpless, broken-hearted women,--paupers like
himself,--his own daughter and his son's widow.  When the savings were
gone, the young man stooped from his destined calling, found
employment somehow, no matter how alien to his tastes, and these three
whom his toil supported never wanted a home or food.  Well, a few
weeks after her husband's terrible death, his young widow (they had
not been a year married) gave birth to a child,--a girl.  She did not
survive the exhaustion of her confinement many days.  The shock of her
death snapped the feeble thread of the poor father's life.  Both were
borne to the grave on the same day.  Before they died, both made the
same prayer to their sole two mourners, the felon's sister, the old
man's young benefactor.  The prayer was this, that the new-born infant
should be reared, however humbly, in ignorance of her birth, of a
father's guilt and shame.  She was not to pass a suppliant for charity
to rich and high-born kinsfolk, who had vouchsafed no word even of
pity to the felon's guiltless father and as guiltless wife.  That
promise has been kept till now.  I am that daughter.  The name I bear,
and the name which I gave to my niece, are not ours, save as we may
indirectly claim them through alliances centuries ago.  I have never
married.  I was to have been a bride, bringing to the representative
of no ignoble house what was to have been a princely dower; the
wedding day was fixed, when the bolt fell.  I have never again seen my
betrothed.  He went abroad and died there.  I think he loved me; he
knew I loved him.  Who can blame him for deserting me?  Who could
marry the felon's sister?  Who would marry the felon's child?  Who but
one?  The man who knows her secret, and will guard it; the man who,
caring little for other education, has helped to instil into her
spotless childhood so steadfast a love of truth, so exquisite a pride
of honour, that did she know such ignominy rested on her birth she
would pine herself away."

"Is there only one man on earth," cried Kenelm, suddenly, rearing his
face,--till then concealed and downcast,--and with a loftiness of
pride on its aspect, new to its wonted mildness, "is there only one
man who would deem the virgin at whose feet he desires to kneel and
say, 'Deign to be the queen of my life,' not far too noble in herself
to be debased by the sins of others before she was even born; is there
only one man who does not think that the love of truth and the pride
of honour are most royal attributes of woman or of man, no matter
whether the fathers of the woman or the man were pirates as lawless as
the fathers of Norman kings, or liars as unscrupulous, where their own
interests were concerned, as have been the crowned representatives of
lines as deservedly famous as Caesars and Bourbons, Tudors and
Stuarts?  Nobility, like genius, is inborn.  One man alone guard /her/
secret!--guard a secret that if made known could trouble a heart that
recoils from shame!  Ah, madam, we Chillinglys are a very obscure,
undistinguished race, but for more than a thousand years we have been
English gentlemen.  Guard her secret rather than risk the chance of
discovery that could give her a pang!  I would pass my whole life by
her side in Kamtchatka, and even there I would not snatch a glimpse of
the secret itself with mine own eyes: it should be so closely muffled
and wrapped round by the folds of reverence and worship."

This burst of passion seemed to Mrs. Cameron the senseless declamation
of an inexperienced, hot-headed young man; and putting it aside, much
as a great lawyer dismisses as balderdash the florid rhetoric of some
junior counsel, rhetoric in which the great lawyer had once indulged,
or as a woman for whom romance is over dismisses as idle verbiage some
romantic sentiment that befools her young daughter, Mrs. Cameron
simply replied, "All this is hollow talk, Mr. Chillingly; let us come
to the point.  After all I have said, do you mean to persist in your
suit to my niece?"

"I persist."

"What!" she cried, this time indignantly, and with generous
indignation; "what, even were it possible that you could win your
parents' consent to marry the child of a man condemned to penal
servitude, or, consistently with the duties a son owes to parents,
conceal that fact from them, could you, born to a station on which
every gossip will ask, 'Who and what is the name of the future Lady
Chillingly?' believe that the who and the what will never be
discovered!  Have you, a mere stranger, unknown to us a few weeks ago,
a right to say to Walter Melville, 'Resign to me that which is your
sole reward for the sublime sacrifices, for the loyal devotion, for
the watchful tenderness of patient years'?"

"Surely, madam," cried Kenelm, more startled, more shaken in soul by
this appeal, than by the previous revelations, "surely, when we last
parted, when I confided to you my love for your niece, when you
consented to my proposal to return home and obtain my father's
approval of my suit,--surely then was the time to say, 'No; a suitor
with claims paramount and irresistible has come before you.'"

"I did not then know, Heaven is my witness, I did not then even
suspect, that Walter Melville ever dreamed of seeking a wife in the
child who had grown up under his eyes.  You must own, indeed, how much
I discouraged your suit; I could not discourage it more without
revealing the secret of her birth, only to be revealed as an extreme
necessity.  But my persuasion was that your father would not consent
to your alliance with one so far beneath the expectations he was
entitled to form, and the refusal of that consent would terminate all
further acquaintance between you and Lily, leaving her secret
undisclosed.  It was not till you had left, only indeed two days ago,
that I received a letter from Walter Melville,--a letter which told me
what I had never before conjectured.  Here is the letter, read it, and
then say if you have the heart to force yourself into rivalry,
with--with--"  She broke off, choked by her exertion, thrust the
letter into his hands, and with keen, eager, hungry stare watched his
countenance while he read.



               ----- STREET, BLOOMSBURY.

MY DEAR FRIEND,--Joy and triumph!  My picture is completed, the
picture on which for so many months I have worked night and day in
this den of a studio, without a glimpse of the green fields,
concealing my address from every one, even from you, lest I might be
tempted to suspend my labours.  The picture is completed: it is sold;
guess the price!  Fifteen hundred guineas, and to a dealer,--a dealer!
Think of that!  It is to be carried about the country exhibited by
itself.  You remember those three little landscapes of mine which two
years ago I would gladly have sold for ten pounds, only neither Lily
nor you would let me.  My good friend and earliest patron, the German
merchant at Luscombe, who called on me yesterday, offered to cover
them with guineas thrice piled over the canvas.  Imagine how happy I
felt when I forced him to accept them as a present.  What a leap in a
man's life it is when he can afford to say, "I give!"  Now then, at
last, at last I am in a position which justifies the utterance of the
hope which has for eighteen years been my solace, my support; been the
sunbeam that ever shone through the gloom when my fate was at the
darkest; been the melody that buoyed me aloft as in the song of the
skylark, when in the voices of men I heard but the laugh of scorn.  Do
you remember the night on which Lily's mother besought us to bring up
her child in ignorance of her parentage, not even to communicate to
unkind and disdainful relatives that such a child was born?  Do you
remember how plaintively, and yet how proudly, she, so nobly born, so
luxuriously nurtured, clasping my hand when I ventured to remonstrate,
and say that her own family could not condemn her child because of the
father's guilt,--she, the proudest woman I ever knew, she whose smile
I can at rare moments detect in Lily, raised her head from her pillow,
and gasped forth,--

"I am dying: the last words of the dying are commands.  I command you
to see that my child's lot is not that of a felon's daughter
transported to the hearth of nobles.  To be happy, her lot must be
humble: no roof too humble to shelter, no husband too humble to wed,
the felon's daughter."

From that hour I formed a resolve that I would keep hand and heart
free, that when the grandchild of my princely benefactor grew up into
womanhood I might say to her, "I am humbly born, but thy mother would
have given thee to me."  The newborn, consigned to our charge, has now
ripened into woman, and I have now so assured my fortune that it is no
longer poverty and struggle that I should ask her to share.  I am
conscious that, were her fate not so exceptional, this hope of mine
would be a vain presumption,--conscious that I am but the creature of
her grandsire's bounty, and that from it springs all I ever can
be,--conscious of the disparity in years,-conscious of many a past
error and present fault.  But, as fate so ordains, such considerations
are trivial; I am her rightful choice.  What other choice, compatible
with these necessities which weigh, dear and honoured friend,
immeasurably more on your sense of honour than they do upon mine?  and
yet mine is not dull.  Granting, then, that you, her nearest and most
responsible relative, do not contemn me for presumption, all else
seems to me clear.  Lily's childlike affection for me is too deep and
too fond not to warm into a wife's love.  Happily, too, she has not
been reared in the stereotyped boarding-school shallowness of
knowledge and vulgarities of gentility; but educated, like myself, by
the free influences of Nature, longing for no halls and palaces save
those that we build as we list, in fairyland; educated to comprehend
and share the fancies which are more than booklore to the worshipper
of art and song.  In a day or two, perhaps the day after you receive
this, I shall be able to escape from London, and most likely shall
come on foot as usual.  How I long to see once more the woodbine on
the hedgerows, the green blades of the cornfields, the sunny lapse of
the river, and dearer still the tiny falls of our own little noisy
rill!  Meanwhile I entreat you, dearest, gentlest, most honored of
such few friends as my life has hitherto won to itself, to consider
well the direct purport of this letter.  If you, born in a grade so
much higher than mine, feel that it is unwarrantable insolence in me
to aspire to the hand of my patron's grandchild, say so plainly; and I
remain not less grateful for your friendship than I was to your
goodness when dining for the first time at your father's palace.  Shy
and sensitive and young, I felt that his grand guests wondered why I
was invited to the same board as themselves.  You, then courted,
admired, you had sympathetic compassion on the raw, sullen boy; left
those, who then seemed to me like the gods and goddesses of a heathen
Pantheon, to come and sit beside your father's protege and cheeringly
whisper to him such words as make a low-born ambitious lad go home
light-hearted, saying to himself, "Some day or other."  And what it is
to an ambitious lad, fancying himself lifted by the gods and goddesses
of a Pantheon, to go home light-hearted muttering to himself, "Some
day or other," I doubt if even you can divine.

But should you be as kind to the presumptuous man as you were to the
bashful boy, and say, "Realized be the dream, fulfilled be the object
of your life! take from me as her next of kin, the last descendant of
your benefactor," then I venture to address to you this request.  You
are in the place of mother to your sister's child, act for her as a
keeper now, to prepare her mind and heart for the coming change in the
relations between her and me.  When I last saw her, six months ago,
she was still so playfully infantine that it half seems to me I should
be sinning against the reverence due to a child, if I said too
abruptly, "You are woman, and I love you not as child but as woman."
And yet, time is not allowed to me for long, cautious, and gradual
slide from the relationship of friend into that of lover.  I now
understand what the great master of my art once said to me, "A career
is a destiny."  By one of those merchant princes who now at
Manchester, as they did once at Genoa or Venice, reign alike over
those two civilizers of the world which to dull eyes seem
antagonistic, Art and Commerce, an offer is made to me for a picture
on a subject which strikes his fancy: an offer so magnificently
liberal that his commerce must command my art; and the nature of the
subject compels me to seek the banks of the Rhine as soon as may be.
I must have all the hues of the foliage in the meridian glories of
summer.  I can but stay at Grasmere a very few days; but before I
leave I must know this, am I going to work for Lily or am I not?  On
the answer to that question depends all.  If not to work for her,
there would be no glory in the summer, no triumph in art to me: I
refuse the offer.  If she says, "Yes; it is for me you work," then she
becomes my destiny.  She assures my career.  Here I speak as an
artist: nobody who is not an artist can guess how sovereign over even
his moral being, at a certain critical epoch in his career of artist
or his life of man, is the success or the failure of a single work.
But I go on to speak as man.  My love for Lily is such for the last
six months that, though if she rejected me I should still serve art,
still yearn for fame, it would be as an old man might do either.  The
youth of my life would be gone.

As man I say, all my thoughts, all my dreams of happiness, distinct
from Art and fame, are summed up in the one question, "Is Lily to be
my wife or not?"

     Yours affectionately,

          W. M.


Kenelm returned the letter without a word.

Enraged by his silence, Mrs. Cameron exclaimed, "Now, sir, what say
you?  You have scarcely known Lily five weeks.  What is the feverish
fancy of five weeks' growth to the lifelong devotion of a man like
this?  Do you now dare to say, 'I persist'?"

Kenelm waved his hand very quietly, as if to dismiss all conception of
taunt and insult and said with his soft melancholy eyes fixed upon the
working features of Lily's aunt, "This man is more worthy of her than
I.  He prays you, in his letter, to prepare your niece for that change
of relationship which he dreads too abruptly to break to her himself.
Have you done so?"

"I have; the night I got the letter."

"And--you hesitate; speak truthfully, I implore.  And she--"

"She," answered Mrs. Cameron, feeling herself involuntarily compelled
to obey the voice of that prayer--"she seemed stunned at first,
muttering, 'This is a dream: it cannot be true,--cannot!  I Lion's
wife--I--I!  I, his destiny!  In me his happiness!' And then she
laughed her pretty child's laugh, and put her arms round my neck, and
said, 'You are jesting, aunty.  He could not write thus!' So I put
that part of his letter under her eyes; and when she had convinced
herself, her face became very grave, more like a woman's face than I
ever saw it; and after a pause she cried out passionately, 'Can you
think me--can I think myself--so bad, so ungrateful, as to doubt what
I should answer, if Lion asked me whether I would willingly say or do
anything that made him unhappy?  If there be such a doubt in my heart,
I would tear it out by the roots, heart and all!'  Oh, Mr. Chillingly!
There would be no happiness for her with another, knowing that she had
blighted the life of him to whom she owes so much, though she never
will learn how much more she owes."  Kenelm not replying to this
remark, Mrs. Cameron resumed, "I will be perfectly frank with you, Mr.
Chillingly.  I was not quite satisfied with Lily's manner and looks
the next morning, that is, yesterday.  I did fear there might be some
struggle in her mind in which there entered a thought of yourself.
And when Walter, on his arrival here in the evening, spoke of you as
one he had met before in his rural excursions, but whose name he only
learned on parting at the bridge by Cromwell Lodge, I saw that Lily
turned pale, and shortly afterwards went to her own room for the
night.  Fearing that any interview with you, though it would not alter
her resolve, might lessen her happiness on the only choice she can and
ought to adopt, I resolved to visit you this morning, and make that
appeal to your reason and your heart which I have done now,--not, I am
sure, in vain.  Hush!  I hear his voice!"

Melville entered the room, Lily leaning on his arm.  The artist's
comely face was radiant with ineffable joyousness.  Leaving Lily, he
reached Kenelm's side as with a single bound, shook him heartily by
the hand, saying, "I find that you have already been a welcomed
visitor in this house.  Long may you be so, so say I, so (I answer for
her) says my fair betrothed, to whom I need not present you."

Lily advanced, and held out her hand very timidly.  Kenelm touched
rather than clasped it.  His own strong hand trembled like a leaf.  He
ventured but one glance at her face.  All the bloom had died out of
it, but the expression seemed to him wondrously, cruelly tranquil.

"Your betrothed! your future bride!" he said to the artist, with a
mastery over his emotion rendered less difficult by the single glance
at that tranquil face.  "I wish you joy.  All happiness to you, Miss
Mordaunt.  You have made a noble choice."

He looked round for his hat; it lay at his feet, but he did not see
it; his eyes wandering away with uncertain vision, like those of a
sleep-walker.

Mrs. Cameron picked up the hat and gave it to him.

"Thank you," he said meekly; then with a smile half sweet, half
bitter, "I have so much to thank you for, Mrs. Cameron."

"But you are not going already,--just as I enter too.  Hold!  Mrs.
Cameron tells me you are lodging with my old friend Jones.  Come and
stop a couple of days with us: we can find you a room; the room over
your butterfly cage, eh, Fairy?"

"Thank you too.  Thank you all.  No; I must be in London by the first
train."

Speaking thus, he had found his way to the door, bowed with the quiet
grace that characterized all his movements, and was gone.

"Pardon his abruptness, Lily; he too loves; he too is impatient to
find a betrothed," said the artist gayly: "but now he knows my dearest
secret, I think I have a right to know his; and I will try."

He had scarcely uttered the words before he too had quitted the room
and overtaken Kenelm just at the threshold.

"If you are going back to Cromwell Lodge,--to pack up, I suppose,--let
me walk with you as far as the bridge."

Kenelm inclined his head assentingly and tacitly as they passed
through the garden-gate, winding backwards through the lane which
skirted the garden pales; when, at the very spot in which the day
after their first and only quarrel Lily's face had been seen
brightening through the evergreen, that day on which the old woman,
quitting her, said, "God bless you!" and on which the vicar, walking
with Kenelm, spoke of her fairy charms; well, just in that spot Lily's
face appeared again, not this time brightening through the evergreens,
unless the palest gleam of the palest moon can be said to brighten.
Kenelm saw, started, halted.  His companion, then in the rush of a
gladsome talk, of which Kenelm had not heard a word, neither saw nor
halted; he walked on mechanically, gladsome, and talking.

Lily stretched forth her hand through the evergreens.  Kenelm took it
reverentially.  This time it was not his hand that trembled.

"Good-by," she said in a whisper, "good-by forever in this world.  You
understand,--you do understand me.  Say that you do."

"I understand.  Noble child! noble choice!  God bless you!  God
comfort me!" murmured Kenelm.  Their eyes met.  Oh, the sadness; and,
alas! oh the love in the eyes of both!

Kenelm passed on.

All said in an instant.  How many Alls are said in an instant!
Melville was in the midst of some glowing sentence, begun when Kenelm
dropped from his side, and the end of the sentence was this:

"Words cannot say how fair seems life; how easy seems conquest of
fame, dating from this day--this day"--and in his turn he halted,
looked round on the sunlit landscape, and breathed deep, as if to
drink into his soul all of the earth's joy and beauty which his gaze
could compass and the arch of the horizon bound.

"They who knew her even the best," resumed the artist, striding on,
"even her aunt, never could guess how serious and earnest, under all
her infantine prettiness of fancy, is that girl's real nature.  We
were walking along the brook-side, when I began to tell how solitary
the world would be to me if I could not win her to my side; while I
spoke she had turned aside from the path we had taken, and it was not
till we were under the shadow of the church in which we shall be
married that she uttered the word that gives to every cloud in my fate
the silver lining; implying thus how solemnly connected in her mind
was the thought of love with the sanctity of religion."

Kenelm shuddered,--the church, the burial-ground, the old Gothic tomb,
the flowers round the infant's grave!

"But I am talking a great deal too much about myself," resumed the
artist.  "Lovers are the most consummate of all egotists, and the most
garrulous of all gossips.  You have wished me joy on my destined
nuptials, when shall I wish you joy on yours?  Since we have begun to
confide in each other, you are in my debt as to a confidence."

They had now gained the bridge.  Kenelm turned round abruptly,
"Good-day; let us part here.  I have nothing to confide to you that
might not seem to your ears a mockery when I wish you joy."  So
saying, so obeying in spite of himself the anguish of his heart,
Kenelm wrung his companion's hand with the force of an uncontrollable
agony, and speeded over the bridge before Melville recovered his
surprise.

The artist would have small claim to the essential attribute of
genius--namely, the intuitive sympathy of passion with passion--if
that secret of Kenelm's which he had so lightly said "he had acquired
the right to learn," was not revealed to him as by an electric flash.
"Poor fellow!" he said to himself pityingly; "how natural that he
should fall in love with Fairy! but happily he is so young, and such a
philosopher, that it is but one of those trials through which, at
least ten times a year, I have gone with wounds that leave not a
scar."

Thus soliloquizing, the warm-blooded worshipper of Nature returned
homeward, too blest in the triumph of his own love to feel more than a
kindly compassion for the wounded heart, consigned with no doubt of
the healing result to the fickleness of youth and the consolations of
philosophy.  Not for a moment did the happier rival suspect that
Kenelm's love was returned; that an atom in the heart of the girl who
had promised to be his bride could take its light or shadow from any
love but his own.  Yet, more from delicacy of respect to the rival so
suddenly self-betrayed than from any more prudential motive, he did
not speak even to Mrs. Cameron of Kenelm's secret and sorrow; and
certainly neither she nor Lily was disposed to ask any question that
concerned the departed visitor.

In fact the name of Kenelm Chillingly was scarcely, if at all,
mentioned in that household during the few days which elapsed before
Walter Melville quitted Grasmere for the banks of the Rhine, not to
return till the autumn, when his marriage with Lily was to take place.
During those days Lily was calm and seemingly cheerful; her manner
towards her betrothed, if more subdued, not less affectionate than of
old.  Mrs. Cameron congratulated herself on having so successfully got
rid of Kenelm Chillingly.



CHAPTER VIII.

SO, then, but for that officious warning, uttered under the balcony at
Luscombe, Kenelm Chillingly might never have had a rival in Walter
Melville.  But ill would any reader construe the character of Kenelm,
did he think that such a thought increased the bitterness of his
sorrow.  No sorrow in the thought that a noble nature had been saved
from the temptation to a great sin.

The good man does good merely by living.  And the good he does may
often mar the plans he formed for his own happiness.  But he cannot
regret that Heaven has permitted him to do good.

What Kenelm did feel is perhaps best explained in the letter to Sir
Peter, which is here subjoined:--


"MY DEAREST FATHER,--Never till my dying day shall I forget that
tender desire for my happiness with which, overcoming all worldly
considerations, no matter at what disappointment to your own cherished
plans or ambition for the heir to your name and race, you sent me away
from your roof, these words ringing in my ear like the sound of
joy-bells, 'Choose as you will, with my blessing on your choice.  I
open my heart to admit another child: your wife shall be my daughter.'
It is such an unspeakable comfort to me to recall those words now.  Of
all human affections gratitude is surely the holiest; and it blends
itself with the sweetness of religion when it is gratitude to a
father.  And, therefore, do not grieve too much for me, when I tell
you that the hopes which enchanted me when we parted are not to be
fulfilled.  Her hand is pledged to another,--another with claims upon
her preference to which mine cannot be compared; and he is himself,
putting aside the accidents of birth and fortune, immeasurably my
superior.  In that thought--I mean the thought that the man she
selects deserves her more than I do, and that in his happiness she
will blend her own--I shall find comfort, so soon as I can fairly
reason down the first all-engrossing selfishness that follows the
sense of unexpected and irremediable loss.  Meanwhile you will think
it not unnatural that I resort to such aids for change of heart as are
afforded by change of scene.  I start for the Continent to-night, and
shall not rest till I reach Venice, which I have not yet seen.  I feel
irresistibly attracted towards still canals and gliding gondolas.  I
will write to you and to my dear mother the day I arrive.  And I trust
to write cheerfully, with full accounts of all I see and encounter.
Do not, dearest father, in your letters to me, revert or allude to
that grief which even the tenderest word from your own tender self
might but chafe into pain more sensitive.  After all, a disappointed
love is a very common lot.  And we meet every day, men--ay, and women
too--who have known it, and are thoroughly cured.  The manliest of our
modern lyrical poets has said very nobly, and, no doubt, very justly,


          "To bear is to conquer our fate.


     "Ever your loving son,

          "K. C."



CHAPTER IX.

NEARLY a year and a half has elapsed since the date of my last
chapter.  Two Englishmen were--the one seated, the other reclined at
length--on one of the mounds that furrow the ascent of Posilippo.
Before them spread the noiseless sea, basking in the sunshine, without
visible ripple; to the left there was a distant glimpse through gaps
of brushwood of the public gardens and white water of the Chiaja.
They were friends who had chanced to meet abroad unexpectedly, joined
company, and travelled together for many months, chiefly in the East.
They had been but a few days in Naples.  The elder of the two had
important affairs in England which ought to have summoned him back
long since.  But he did not let his friend know this; his affairs
seemed to him less important than the duties he owed to one for whom
he entertained that deep and noble love which is something stronger
than brotherly, for with brotherly affection it combines gratitude and
reverence.  He knew, too, that his friend was oppressed by a haunting
sorrow, of which the cause was divined by one, not revealed by the
other.

To leave him, so beloved, alone with that sorrow in strange lands, was
a thought not to be cherished by a friend so tender; for in the
friendship of this man there was that sort of tenderness which
completes a nature, thoroughly manlike, by giving it a touch of the
woman's.

It was a day which in our northern climates is that of winter: in the
southern clime of Naples it was mild as an English summer day,
lingering on the brink of autumn; the sun sloping towards the west,
and already gathering around it roseate and purple fleeces; elsewhere
the deep blue sky was without a cloudlet.

Both had been for some minutes silent; at length the man reclining on
the grass--it was the younger man--said suddenly, and with no previous
hint of the subject introduced, "Lay your hand on your heart, Tom, and
answer me truly.  Are your thoughts as clear from regrets as the
heavens above us are from a cloud?  Man takes regret from tears that
have ceased to flow, as the heavens take clouds from the rains that
have ceased to fall."

"Regrets?  Ah, I understand, for the loss of the girl I once loved to
distraction!  No; surely I made that clear to you many, many, many
months ago, when I was your guest at Moleswich."

"Ay, but I have never, since then, spoken to you on that subject.  I
did not dare.  It seems to me so natural that a man, in the earlier
struggle between love and reason, should say, 'Reason shall conquer,
and has conquered;' and yet--and yet--as time glides on, feel that the
conquerors who cannot put down rebellion have a very uneasy reign.
Answer me not as at Moleswich, during the first struggle, but now, in
the after-day, when reaction from struggle comes."

"Upon my honour," answered the friend, "I have had no reaction at all.
I was cured entirely, when I had once seen Jessie again, another man's
wife, mother to his child, happy in her marriage; and, whether she was
changed or not,--very different from the sort of wife I should like to
marry, now that I am no longer a village farrier."

"And, I remember, you spoke of some other girl whom it would suit you
to marry.  You have been long abroad from her.  Do you ever think of
her,--think of her still as your future wife?  Can you love her?  Can
you, who have once loved so faithfully, love again?"

"I am sure of that.  I love Emily better than I did when I left
England.  We correspond.  She writes such nice letters."  Tom
hesitated, blushed, and continued timidly, "I should like to show you
one of her letters."

"Do."

Tom drew forth the last of such letters from his breast-pocket.

Kenelm raised himself from the grass, took the letter, and read
slowly, carefully, while Tom watched in vain for some approving smile
to brighten up the dark beauty of that melancholy face.

Certainly it was the letter a man in love might show with pride to a
friend: the letter of a lady, well educated, well brought up, evincing
affection modestly, intelligence modestly too; the sort of letter in
which a mother who loved her daughter, and approved the daughter's
choice, could not have suggested a correction.

As Kenelm gave back the letter, his eyes met his friend's.  Those were
eager eyes,--eyes hungering for praise.  Kenelm's heart smote him for
that worst of sins in friendship,--want of sympathy; and that uneasy
heart forced to his lips congratulations, not perhaps quite sincere,
but which amply satisfied the lover.  In uttering them, Kenelm rose to
his feet, threw his arm round his friend's shoulder, and said, "Are
you not tired of this place, Tom?  I am.  Let us go back to England
to-morrow."  Tom's honest face brightened vividly.  "How selfish and
egotistical I have been!" continued Kenelm; "I ought to have thought
more of you, your career, your marriage,--pardon me--"

"Pardon you,--pardon!  Don't I owe to you all,--owe to you Emily
herself?  If you had never come to Graveleigh, never said, 'Be my
friend,' what should I have been now? what--what?"

The next day the two friends quitted Naples /en route/ for England,
not exchanging many words by the way.  The old loquacious crotchety
humour of Kenelm had deserted him.  A duller companion than he was you
could not have conceived.  He might have been the hero of a young
lady's novel.  It was only when they parted in London, that Kenelm
evinced more secret purpose, more external emotion than one of his
heraldic Daces shifting from the bed to the surface of a waveless
pond.

"If I have rightly understood you, Tom, all this change in you,
all this cure of torturing regret, was wrought, wrought
lastingly,--wrought so as to leave you heart-free for the world's
actions and a home's peace, on that eve when you saw her whose face
till then had haunted you, another man's happy wife, and in so seeing
her, either her face was changed or your heart became so."

"Quite true.  I might express it otherwise, but the fact remains the
same."

"God bless you, Tom; bless you in your career without, in your home
within," said Kenelm, wringing his friend's hand at the door of the
carriage that was to whirl to love and wealth and station the whilom
bully of a village, along the iron groove of that contrivance which,
though now the tritest of prosaic realities, seemed once too poetical
for a poet's wildest visions.



CHAPTER X.

A WINTER'S evening at Moleswich.  Very different from a winter sunset
at Naples.  It is intensely cold.  There has been a slight fall of
snow, accompanied with severe, bright, clean frost, a thin sprinkling
of white on the pavements.  Kenelm Chillingly entered the town on
foot, no longer a knapsack on his back.  Passing through the main
street, he paused a moment at the door of Will Somers.  The shop was
closed.  No, he would not stay there to ask in a roundabout way for
news.  He would go in straightforwardly and manfully to Grasmere.  He
would take the inmates there by surprise.  The sooner he could bring
Tom's experience home to himself, the better.  He had schooled his
heart to rely on that experience, and it brought him back the old
elasticity of his stride.  In his lofty carriage and buoyant face were
again visible the old haughtiness of the indifferentism that keeps
itself aloof from the turbulent emotions and conventional frivolities
of those whom its philosophy pities and scorns.

"Ha! ha!" laughed he who like Swift never laughed aloud, and often
laughed inaudibly.  "Ha! ha!  I shall exorcise the ghost of my grief.
I shall never be haunted again.  If that stormy creature whom love
might have maddened into crime, if he were cured of love at once by a
single visit to the home of her whose face was changed to him,--for
the smiles and the tears of it had become the property of another
man,--how much more should I be left without a scar!  I, the heir of
the Chillinglys!  I, the kinsman of a Mivers!  I, the pupil of a
Welby!  I--I, Kenelm Chillingly, to be thus--thus--"  Here, in the
midst of his boastful soliloquy, the well-remembered brook rushed
suddenly upon eye and ear, gleaming and moaning under the wintry moon.
Kenelm Chillingly stopped, covered his face with his hands, and burst
into a passion of tears.

Recovering himself slowly, he went on along the path, every step of
which was haunted by the form of Lily.  He reached the garden gate of
Grasmere, lifted the latch, and entered.  As he did so, a man,
touching his hat, rushed beside, and advanced before him,--the village
postman.  Kenelm drew back, allowing the man to pass to the door, and
as he thus drew back, he caught a side view of lighted windows looking
on the lawn,--the windows of the pleasant drawing-room in which he had
first heard Lily speak of her guardian.

The postman left his letters, and regained the garden gate, while
Kenelm still stood wistfully gazing on those lighted windows.  He had,
meanwhile, advanced along the whitened sward to the light, saying to
himself, "Let me just see her and her happiness, and then I will knock
boldly at the door, and say, 'Good-evening, Mrs. Melville.'"

So Kenelm stole across the lawn, and, stationing himself at the angle
of the wall, looked into the window.

Melville, in dressing-robe and slippers, was seated alone by the
fireside.  His dog was lazily stretched on the hearth rug.  One by one
the features of the room, as the scene of his vanished happiness, grew
out from its stillness; the delicately tinted walls, the dwarf
bookcase, with its feminine ornaments on the upper shelf; the piano
standing in the same place.  Lily's own small low chair; that was not
in its old place, but thrust into a remote angle, as if it had passed
into disuse.  Melville was reading a letter, no doubt one of those
which the postman had left.  Surely the contents were pleasant, for
his fair face, always frankly expressive of emotion, brightened
wonderfully as he read on.  Then he rose with a quick, brisk movement,
and pulled the bell hastily.

A neat maid-servant entered,--a strange face to Kenelm.  Melville gave
her some brief message.  "He has had joyous news," thought Kenelm.
"He has sent for his wife that she may share his joy."  Presently the
door opened, and entered not Lily, but Mrs. Cameron.

She looked changed.  Her natural quietude of mien and movement the
same, indeed, but with more languor in it.  Her hair had become gray.
Melville was standing by the table as she approached him.  He put the
letter into her hands with a gay, proud smile, and looked over her
shoulder while she read it, pointing with his finger as to some lines
that should more emphatically claim her attention.

When she had finished her face reflected his smile.  They exchanged a
hearty shake of the hand, as if in congratulation.

"Ah," thought Kenelm, "the letter is from Lily.  She is abroad.
Perhaps the birth of a first-born."

Just then Blanche, who had not been visible before, emerged from under
the table, and as Melville reseated himself by the fireside, sprang
into his lap, rubbing herself against his breast.  The expression of
his face changed; he uttered some low exclamation.  Mrs. Cameron took
the creature from his lap, stroking it quietly, carried it across the
room, and put it outside the door.  Then she seated herself beside the
artist, placing her hand in his, and they conversed in low tones, till
Melville's face again grew bright, and again he took up the letter.

A few minutes later the maid-servant entered with the tea-things, and
after arranging them on the table approached the window.  Kenelm
retreated into the shade, the servant closed the shutters and drew the
curtains; that scene of quiet home comfort vanished from the eyes of
the looker-on.

Kenelm felt strangely perplexed.  What had become of Lily? was she
indeed absent from her home?  Had he conjectured rightly that the
letter which had evidently so gladdened Melville was from her, or was
it possible--here a thought of joy seized his heart and held him
breathless--was it possible that, after all, she had not married her
guardian; had found a home elsewhere,--was free?  He moved on farther
down the lawn, towards the water, that he might better bring before
his sight that part of the irregular building in which Lily formerly
had her sleeping-chamber, and her "own-own room."

All was dark there; the shutters inexorably closed.  The place with
which the childlike girl had associated her most childlike fancies,
taming and tending the honey-drinkers destined to pass into fairies,
that fragile tenement was not closed against the winds and snows; its
doors were drearily open; gaps in the delicate wire-work; of its
dainty draperies a few tattered shreds hanging here and there; and on
the depopulated floor the moonbeams resting cold and ghostly.  No
spray from the tiny fountain; its basin chipped and mouldering; the
scanty waters therein frozen.  Of all the pretty wild ones that Lily
fancied she could tame, not one.  Ah! yes, there was one, probably not
of the old familiar number; a stranger that might have crept in for
shelter from the first blasts of winter, and now clung to an angle in
the farther wall, its wings folded,--asleep, not dead.  But Kenelm saw
it not; he noticed only the general desolation of the spot.

"Natural enough," thought he.  "She has outgrown all such pretty
silliness.  A wife cannot remain a child.  Still, if she had belonged
to me--"  The thought choked even his inward, unspoken utterance.  He
turned away, paused a moment under the leafless boughs of the great
willow still dipping into the brook, and then with impatient steps
strode back towards the garden gate.

"No,--no,--no.  I cannot now enter that house and ask for Mrs.
Melville.  Trial enough for one night to stand on the old ground.  I
will return to the town.  I will call at Jessie's, and there I can
learn if she indeed be happy."

So he went on by the path along the brook-side, the night momently
colder and colder, and momently clearer and clearer, while the moon
noiselessly glided into loftier heights.  Wrapped in his abstracted
thoughts, when he came to the spot in which the path split in twain,
he did not take that which led more directly to the town.  His steps,
naturally enough following the train of his thoughts, led him along
the path with which the object of his thoughts was associated.  He
found himself on the burial-ground, and in front of the old ruined
tomb with the effaced inscription.

"Ah! child! child!" he murmured almost audibly, "what depths of woman
tenderness lay concealed in thee!  In what loving sympathy with the
past--sympathy only vouchsafed to the tenderest women and the highest
poets--didst thou lay thy flowers on the tomb, to which thou didst
give a poet's history interpreted by a woman's heart, little dreaming
that beneath the stone slept a hero of thine own fallen race."

He passed beneath the shadow of the yews, whose leaves no winter wind
can strew, and paused at the ruined tomb,--no flower now on its stone,
only a sprinkling of snow at the foot of it,--sprinklings of snow at
the foot of each humbler grave-mound.  Motionless in the frosty air
rested the pointed church-spire, and through the frosty air, higher
and higher up the arch of heaven, soared the unpausing moon.  Around
and below and above her, the stars which no science can number; yet
not less difficult to number are the thoughts, desires, aspirations
which, in a space of time briefer than a winter's night, can pass
through the infinite deeps of a human soul.

From his stand by the Gothic tomb, Kenelm looked along the churchyard
for the infant's grave which Lily's pious care had bordered with
votive flowers.  Yes, in that direction there was still a gleam of
colour; could it be of flowers in that biting winter time?--the moon
is so deceptive, it silvers into the hue of the jessamines the green
of the everlastings.

He passed towards the white grave-mound.  His sight had duped him; no
pale flower, no green "everlasting" on its neglected border,--only
brown mould, withered stalks, streaks of snow.

"And yet," he said sadly, "she told me she had never broken a promise;
and she had given a promise to the dying child.  Ah! she is too happy
now to think of the dead."

So murmuring, he was about to turn towards the town, when close by
that child's grave he saw another.  Round that other there were pale
"everlastings," dwarfed blossoms of the laurestinus; at the four
angles the drooping bud of a Christmas rose; at the head of the grave
was a white stone, its sharp edges cutting into the starlit air; and
on the head, in fresh letters, were inscribed these words:--


                    To the Memory of
                          L. M.
                         Aged 17,
               Died October 29, A. D. 18--,
     This stone, above the grave to which her mortal
   remains are consigned, beside that of an infant not
        more sinless, is consecrated by those who
                 most mourn and miss her,
                     ISABEL CAMERON,
                     WALTER MELVILLE.
       "Suffer the little children to come unto me."



CHAPTER XI.

THE next morning Mr. Emlyn, passing from his garden to the town of
Moleswich, descried a human form stretched on the burial-ground,
stirring restlessly but very slightly, as if with an involuntary
shiver, and uttering broken sounds, very faintly heard, like the moans
that a man in pain strives to suppress and cannot.

The rector hastened to the spot.  The man was lying, his face
downward, on a grave-mound, not dead, not asleep.

"Poor fellow overtaken by drink, I fear," thought the gentle pastor;
and as it was the habit of his mind to compassionate error even more
than grief, he accosted the supposed sinner in very soothing
tones--trying to raise him from the ground--and with very kindly
words.

Then the man lifted his face from its pillow on the grave-mound,
looked round him dreamily into the gray, blank air of the cheerless
morn, and rose to his feet quietly and slowly.  The vicar was
startled; he recognized the face of him he had last seen in the
magnificent affluence of health and strength.  But the character of
the face was changed,--so changed! its old serenity of expression, at
once grave and sweet, succeeded by a wild trouble in the heavy eyelids
and trembling lips.

"Mr. Chillingly,--you!  Is it possible?"

"Varus, Varus," exclaimed Kenelm, passionately, "what hast thou done
with my legions?"

At that quotation of the well-known greeting of Augustus to his
unfortunate general, the scholar recoiled.  Had his young friend's
mind deserted him,--dazed, perhaps, by over-study?

He was soon reassured; Kenelm's face settled back into calm, though a
dreary calm, like that of the wintry day.

"I beg pardon, Mr. Emlyn; I had not quite shaken off the hold of a
strange dream.  I dreamed that I was worse off than Augustus: he did
not lose the world when the legions he had trusted to another vanished
into a grave."

Here Kenelm linked his arm in that of the rector,--on which he leaned
rather heavily,--and drew him on from the burial-ground into the open
space where the two paths met.

"But how long have you returned to Moleswich?" asked Emlyn; "and how
came you to choose so damp a bed for your morning slumbers?"

"The wintry cold crept into my veins when I stood in the
burial-ground, and I was very weary; I had no sleep at night.  Do not
let me take you out of your way; I am going on to Grasmere.  So I see,
by the record on a gravestone, that it is more than a year ago since
Mr. Melville lost his wife."

"Wife?  He never married."

"What!" cried Kenelm.  "Whose, then, is that gravestone,--'L. M.'?"

"Alas! it is our poor Lily's."

"And she died unmarried?"

As Kenelm said this he looked up, and the sun broke out from the
gloomy haze of the morning.  "I may claim thee, then," he thought
within himself, "claim thee as mine when we meet again."

"Unmarried,--yes," resumed the vicar.  "She was indeed betrothed to
her guardian; they were to have been married in the autumn, on his
return from the Rhine.  He went there to paint on the spot itself his
great picture, which is now so famous,--'Roland, the Hermit Knight,
looking towards the convent lattice for a sight of the Holy Nun.'
Melville had scarcely gone before the symptoms of the disease which
proved fatal to poor Lily betrayed themselves; they baffled all
medical skill,--rapid decline.  She was always very delicate, but no
one detected in her the seeds of consumption.  Melville only returned
a day or two before her death.  Dear childlike Lily! how we all
mourned for her!--not least the poor, who believed in her fairy
charms."

"And least of all, it appears, the man she was to have married."

"He?--Melville?  How can you wrong him so?  His grief was
intense--overpowering--for the time."

"For the time! what time?" muttered Kenelm, in tones too low for the
pastor's ear.

They moved on silently.  Mr. Emlyn resumed,--

"You noticed the text on Lily's gravestone--'Suffer the little
children to come unto me'?  She dictated it herself the day before she
died.  I was with her then, so I was at the last."

"Were you--were you--at the last--the last?  Good-day, Mr. Emlyn; we
are just in sight of the garden gate.  And--excuse me--I wish to see
Mr. Melville alone."

"Well, then, good-day; but if you are making any stay in the
neighbourhood, will you not be our guest?  We have a room at your
service."

"I thank you gratefully; but I return to London in an hour or so.
Hold, a moment.  You were with her at the last?  She was resigned to
die?"

"Resigned! that is scarcely the word.  The smile left upon her lips
was not that of human resignation: it was the smile of a divine joy."



CHAPTER XII.

"YES, sir, Mr. Melville is at home in his studio."

Kenelm followed the maid across the hall into a room not built at the
date of Kenelm's former visits to the house: the artist, making
Grasmere his chief residence after Lily's death, had added it at the
back of the neglected place wherein Lily had encaged "the souls of
infants unbaptized."

A lofty room, with a casement partially darkened, to the bleak north;
various sketches on the walls; gaunt specimens of antique furniture,
and of gorgeous Italian silks, scattered about in confused disorder;
one large picture on its easel curtained; another as large, and half
finished, before which stood the painter.  He turned quickly, as
Kenelm entered the room unannounced, let fall brush and palette, came
up to him eagerly, grasped his hand, drooped his head on Kenelm's
shoulder, and said, in a voice struggling with evident and strong
emotion,--

"Since we parted, such grief! such a loss!"

"I know it; I have seen her grave.  Let us not speak of it.  Why so
needlessly revive your sorrow?  So--so--your sanguine hopes are
fulfilled: the world at last has done you justice?  Emlyn tells me
that you have painted a very famous picture."

Kenelm had seated himself as he thus spoke.  The painter still stood
with dejected attitude on the middle of the floor, and brushed his
hand over his moistened eyes once or twice before he answered, "Yes,
wait a moment, don't talk of fame yet.  Bear with me.  The sudden
sight of you unnerved me."

The artist here seated himself also on an old worm-eaten Gothic chest,
rumpling and chafing the golden or tinselled threads of the
embroidered silk, so rare and so time-worn, flung over the Gothic
chest, so rare also, and so worm-eaten.

Kenelm looked through half-closed lids at the artist, and his lips,
before slightly curved with a secret scorn, became gravely compressed.
In Melville's struggle to conceal emotion the strong man recognized a
strong man,--recognized, and yet only wondered; wondered how such a
man, to whom Lily had pledged her hand, could so soon after the loss
of Lily go on painting pictures, and care for any praise bestowed on a
yard of canvas.

In a very few minutes Melville recommenced conversation,--no more
reference to Lily than if she had never existed.  "Yes, my last
picture has been indeed a success,--a reward complete, if tardy, for
all the bitterness of former struggles made in vain, for the galling
sense of injustice, the anguish of which only an artist knows, when
unworthy rivals are ranked before him.


          "'Foes quick to blame, and friends afraid to praise.'


"True that I have still much to encounter; the cliques still seek to
disparage me, but between me and the cliques there stands at last the
giant form of the public, and at last critics of graver weight than
the cliques have deigned to accord to me a higher rank than even the
public yet acknowledge.  Ah, Mr. Chillingly, you do not profess to be
a judge of paintings, but, excuse me, just look at this letter.  I
received it only last night from the greatest connoisseur of my art,
certainly in England, perhaps in Europe."  Here Melville drew, from
the side-pocket of his picturesque /moyen age/ surtout, a letter
signed by a name authoritative to all who, being painters themselves,
acknowledge authority in one who could no more paint a picture himself
than Addison, the ablest critic of the greatest poem modern Europe has
produced, could have written ten lines of the "Paradise Lost," and
thrust the letter into Kenelm's hand.  Kenelm read it listlessly, with
an increased contempt for an artist who could so find in gratified
vanity consolation for the life gone from earth.  But, listlessly as
he read the letter, the sincere and fervent enthusiasm of the
laudatory contents impressed him, and the preeminent authority of the
signature could not be denied.

The letter was written on the occasion of Melville's recent election
to the dignity of R. A., successor to a very great artist whose death
had created a vacancy in the Academy.  He returned the letter to
Melville, saying, "This is the letter I saw you reading last night as
I looked in at your window.  Indeed, for a man who cares for the
opinion of other men, this letter is very flattering; and for the
painter who cares for money, it must be very pleasant to know by how
many guineas every inch of his canvas may be covered."  Unable longer
to control his passions of rage, of scorn, of agonizing grief, Kenelm
then burst forth: "Man, man, whom I once accepted as a teacher on
human life,--a teacher to warm, to brighten, to exalt mine own
indifferent, dreamy, slow-pulsed self! has not the one woman whom thou
didst select out of this overcrowded world to be bone of thy bone,
flesh of thy flesh, vanished evermore from the earth,--little more
than a year since her voice was silenced, her heart ceased to beat?
But how slight is such loss to thy life compared to the worth of a
compliment that flatters thy vanity!"

The artist rose to his feet with an indignant impulse.  But the angry
flush faded from his cheek as he looked on the countenance of his
rebuker.  He walked up to him, and attempted to take his hand, but
Kenelm snatched it scornfully from his grasp.

"Poor friend," said Melville, sadly and soothingly, "I did not think
you loved her thus deeply.  Pardon me."  He drew a chair close to
Kenelm's, and after a brief pause went on thus, in very earnest tones,
"I am not so heartless, not so forgetful of my loss as you suppose.
But reflect, you have but just learned of her death, you are under the
first shock of grief.  More than a year has been given to me for
gradual submission to the decree of Heaven.  Now listen to me, and try
to listen calmly.  I am many years older than you: I ought to know
better the conditions on which man holds the tenure of life.  Life is
composite, many-sided: nature does not permit it to be lastingly
monopolized by a single passion, or while yet in the prime of its
strength to be lastingly blighted by a single sorrow.  Survey the
great mass of our common race, engaged in the various callings, some
the humblest, some the loftiest, by which the business of the world is
carried on,--can you justly despise as heartless the poor trader, or
the great statesman, when it may be but a few days after the loss of
some one nearest and dearest to his heart, the trader reopens his
shop, the statesman reappears in his office?  But in me, the votary of
art, in me you behold but the weakness of gratified vanity; if I feel
joy in the hope that my art may triumph, and my country may add my
name to the list of those who contribute to her renown, where and when
ever lived an artist not sustained by that hope, in privation, in
sickness, in the sorrows he must share with his kind?  Nor is this
hope that of a feminine vanity, a sicklier craving for applause; it
identifies itself with glorious services to our land, to our race, to
the children of all after time.  Our art cannot triumph, our name
cannot live, unless we achieve a something that tends to beautify or
ennoble the world in which we accept the common heritage of toil and
of sorrow, in order therefrom to work out for successive multitudes a
recreation and a joy."

While the artist thus spoke Kenelm lifted towards his face eyes
charged with suppressed tears.  And the face, kindling as the artist
vindicated himself from the young man's bitter charge, became
touchingly sweet in its grave expression at the close of the not
ignoble defence.

"Enough," said Kenelm, rising.  "There is a ring of truth in what you
say.  I can conceive the artist's, the poet's escape from this world,
when all therein is death and winter, into the world he creates and
colours at his will with the hues of summer.  So, too, I can conceive
how the man whose life is sternly fitted into the grooves of a
trader's calling, or a statesman's duties, is borne on by the force of
custom, afar from such brief halting-spot as a grave.  But I am no
poet, no artist, no trader, no statesman; I have no calling, my life
is fixed into no grooves.  Adieu."

"Hold a moment.  Not now, but somewhat later, ask yourself whether any
life can be permitted to wander in space, a monad detached from the
lives of others.  Into some groove or other, sooner or later, it must
settle, and be borne on obedient to the laws of Nature and the
responsibility to God."



CHAPTER XIII

KENELM went back alone, and with downcast looks, through the desolate,
flowerless garden, when at the other side of the gate a light touch
was laid on his arm.  He looked up, and recognized Mrs. Cameron.

"I saw you," she said, "from my window coming to the house, and I have
been waiting for you here.  I wished to speak to you alone.  Allow me
to walk beside you."'

Kenelm inclined his head assentingly, but made no answer.  They were
nearly midway between the cottage and the burial-ground when Mrs.
Cameron resumed, her tones quick and agitated, contrasting her
habitual languid quietude,--

"I have a great weight on my mind; it ought not to be remorse.  I
acted as I thought in my conscience for the best.  But oh, Mr.
Chillingly, if I erred,--if I judged wrongly, do say you at least
forgive me."  She seized his hand, pressing it convulsively.  Kenelm
muttered inaudibly: a sort of dreary stupor had succeeded to the
intense excitement of grief.  Mrs. Cameron went on,--

"You could not have married Lily; you know you could not.  The secret
of her birth could not, in honour, have been concealed from your
parents.  They could not have consented to your marriage; and even if
you had persisted, without that consent and in spite of that secret,
to press for it,--even had she been yours--"

"Might she not be living now?" cried Kenelm, fiercely.

"No,--no; the secret must have come out.  The cruel world would have
discovered it; it would have reached her ears.  The shame of it would
have killed her.  How bitter then would have been her short interval
of life!  As it is, she passed away,--resigned and happy.  But I own
that I did not, could not, understand her, could not believe her
feeling for you to be so deep.  I did think that when she knew her own
heart she would find that love for her guardian was its strongest
affection.  She assented, apparently without a pang, to become his
wife; and she seemed always so fond of him, and what girl would not
be?  But I was mistaken, deceived.  From the day you saw her last, she
began to fade away; but then Walter left a few days after, and I
thought that it was his absence she mourned.  She never owned to me
that it was yours,--never till too late,--too late,--just when my sad
letter had summoned him back, only three days before she died.  Had I
known earlier, while yet there was hope of recovery, I must have
written to you, even though the obstacles to your union with her
remained the same.  Oh, again I implore you, say that if I erred you
forgive me.  She did, kissing me so tenderly.  She did forgive me.
Will not you?  It would have been her wish."

"Her wish?  Do you think I could disobey it?  I know not if I have
anything to forgive.  If I have, now could I not forgive one who loved
her?  God comfort us both."

He bent down and kissed Mrs. Cameron's forehead.  The poor woman threw
her arm gratefully, lovingly round him, and burst into tears.

When she had recovered her emotion, she said,--

"And now, it is with so much lighter a heart that I can fulfil her
commission to you.  But, before I place this in your hands, can you
make me one promise?  Never tell Melville how she loved you.  She was
so careful he should never guess that.  And if he knew it was the
thought of union with him which had killed her, he would never smile
again."

"You would not ask such a promise if you could guess how sacred from
all the world I hold the secret that you confide to me.  By that
secret the grave is changed into an altar.  Our bridals now are only a
while deferred."

Mrs. Cameron placed a letter in Kenelm's hand, and murmuring in
accents broken by a sob, "She gave it to me the day before her last,"
left him, and with quick vacillating steps hurried back towards the
cottage.  She now understood him, at last, too well not to feel that
on opening that letter he must be alone with the dead.

It is strange that we need have so little practical household
knowledge of each other to be in love.  Never till then had Kenelm's
eyes rested upon Lily's handwriting.  And he now gazed at the formal
address on the envelope with a sort of awe.  Unknown handwriting
coming to him from an unknown world,--delicate, tremulous
handwriting,--handwriting not of one grown up, yet not of a child who
had long to live.

He turned the envelope over and over,--not impatiently, as does the
lover whose heart beats at the sound of the approaching footstep, but
lingeringly, timidly.  He would not break the seal.

He was now so near the burial-ground.  Where should the first letter
ever received from her--the sole letter he ever could receive--be so
reverentially, lovingly read, as at her grave?

He walked on to the burial-ground, sat down by the grave, broke the
envelope; a poor little ring, with a poor little single turquoise,
rolled out and rested at his feet.  The letter contained only these
words,--


The ring comes back to you.  I could not live to marry another.  I
never knew how I loved you--till, till I began to pray that you might
not love me too much.  Darling! darling! good-by, darling!

                    LILY.

Don't let Lion ever see this, or ever know what it says to you.  He is
so good, and deserves to be so happy.  Do you remember the day of the
ring?  Darling! darling!



CHAPTER XIV.

SOMEWHAT more than another year has rolled away.  It is early spring
in London.  The trees in the park and squares are budding into leaf
and blossom.  Leopold Travers has had a brief but serious conversation
with his daughter, and now gone forth on horseback.  Handsome and
graceful still, Leopold Travers when in London is pleased to find
himself scarcely less the fashion with the young than he was when
himself in youth.  He is now riding along the banks of the Serpentine,
no one better mounted, better dressed, better looking, or talking with
greater fluency on the topics which interest his companions.

Cecilia is in the smaller drawing-room, which is exclusively
appropriated to her use, alone with Lady Glenalvon.

LADY GLENALVON.--"I own, my dear, dear Cecilia, that I arrange myself
at last on the side of your father.  How earnestly at one time I had
hoped that Kenelm Chillingly might woo and win the bride that seemed
to me most fitted to adorn and to cheer his life, I need not say.  But
when at Exmundham he asked me to befriend his choice of another, to
reconcile his mother to that choice,--evidently not a suitable one,--I
gave him up.  And though that affair is at an end, he seems little
likely ever to settle down to practical duties and domestic habits, an
idle wanderer over the face of the earth, only heard of in remote
places and with strange companions.  Perhaps he may never return to
England."

CECILIA.--"He is in England now, and in London."

LADY GLENALVON.--"You amaze me!  Who told you so?"

CECILIA.--"His father, who is with him.  Sir Peter called yesterday,
and spoke to me so kindly."  Cecilia here turned aside her face to
conceal the tears that had started to her eyes.

LADY GLENALVON.--"Did Mr. Travers see Sir Peter?"

CECILIA.--"Yes; and I think it was something that passed between them
which made my father speak to me--for the first time--almost sternly."

LADY GLENALVON.--"In urging Chillingly Gordon's suit?"

CECILIA.--"Commanding me to reconsider my rejection of it.  He has
contrived to fascinate my father."

LADY GLENALVON.--"So he has me.  Of course you might choose among
other candidates for your hand one of much higher worldly rank, of
much larger fortune; yet, as you have already rejected them, Gordon's
merits become still more entitled to a fair hearing.  He has already
leaped into a position that mere rank and mere wealth cannot attain.
Men of all parties speak highly of his parliamentary abilities.  He is
already marked in public opinion as a coming man,--a future minister
of the highest grade.  He has youth and good looks; his moral
character is without a blemish: yet his manners are so free from
affected austerity, so frank, so genial.  Any woman might be pleased
with his companionship; and you, with your intellect, your
culture,--you, so born for high station,--you of all women might be
proud to partake the anxieties of his career and the rewards of his
ambition."

CECILIA (clasping her hands tightly together).--"I cannot, I cannot.
He may be all you say,--I know nothing against Mr. Chillingly
Gordon,--but my whole nature is antagonistic to his, and even were it
not so--"

She stopped abruptly, a deep blush warming up her fair face, and
retreating to leave it coldly pale.

LADY GLENALVON (tenderly kissing her).--"You have not, then, even yet
conquered the first maiden fancy; the ungrateful one is still
remembered?"

Cecilia bowed her head on her friend's breast, and murmured
imploringly, "Don't speak against him; he has been so unhappy.  How
much he must have loved!"

"But it is not you whom he loved."

"Something here, something at my heart, tells me that he will love me
yet; and, if not, I am contented to be his friend."



CHAPTER XV.

WHILE the conversation just related took place between Cecilia and
Lady Glenalvon, Chillingly Gordon was seated alone with Mivers in the
comfortable apartment of the cynical old bachelor.  Gordon had
breakfasted with his kinsman, but that meal was long over; the two men
having found much to talk about on matters very interesting to the
younger, nor without interest to the elder one.

It is true that Chillingly Gordon had, within the very short space of
time that had elapsed since his entrance into the House of Commons,
achieved one of those reputations which mark out a man for early
admission into the progressive career of office,--not a very showy
reputation, but a very solid one.  He had none of the gifts of the
genuine orator, no enthusiasm, no imagination, no imprudent bursts of
fiery words from a passionate heart.  But he had all the gifts of an
exceedingly telling speaker,--a clear metallic voice; well-bred,
appropriate action, not less dignified for being somewhat too quiet;
readiness for extempore replies; industry and method for prepared
expositions of principle or fact.  But his principal merit with the
chiefs of the assembly was in the strong good sense and worldly tact
which made him a safe speaker.  For this merit he was largely indebted
to his frequent conferences with Chillingly Mivers.  That gentleman,
whether owing to his social qualities or to the influence of "The
Londoner" on public opinion, enjoyed an intimate acquaintance with the
chiefs of all parties, and was up to his ears in the wisdom of the
world.  "Nothing," he would say, "hurts a young Parliamentary speaker
like violence in opinion, one way or the other.  Shun it.  Always
allow that much may be said on both sides.  When the chiefs of your
own side suddenly adopt a violence, you can go with them or against
them, according as best suits your own book."

"So," said Mivers, reclined on his sofa, and approaching the end of
his second Trabuco (he never allowed himself more than two), "so I
think we have pretty well settled the tone you must take in your
speech to-night.  It is a great occasion."

"True.  It is the first time in which the debate has been arranged so
that I may speak at ten o'clock or later.  That in itself is a great
leap; and it is a Cabinet minister whom I am to answer,--luckily, he
is a very dull fellow.  Do you think I might hazard a joke,--at least
a witticism?"

"At his expense?  Decidedly not.  Though his office compels him to
introduce this measure, he was by no means in its favour when it was
discussed in the Cabinet; and though, as you say, he is dull, it is
precisely that sort of dulness which is essential to the formation of
every respectable Cabinet.  Joke at him, indeed!  Learn that gentle
dulness never loves a joke--at its own expense.  Vain man! seize the
occasion which your blame of his measure affords you to secure his
praise of yourself; compliment him.  Enough of politics.  It never
does to think too much over what one has already decided to say.
Brooding over it, one may become too much in earnest, and commit an
indiscretion.  So Kenelm has come back?"

"Yes.  I heard that news last night, at White's, from Travers.  Sir
Peter had called on Travers."

"Travers still favours your suit to the heiress?"

"More, I think, than ever.  Success in Parliament has great effect on
a man who has success in fashion and respects the opinion of clubs.
But last night he was unusually cordial.  Between you and me, I think
he is a little afraid that Kenelm may yet be my rival.  I gathered
that from a hint he let fall of the unwelcome nature of Sir Peter's
talk to him."

"Why has Travers conceived a dislike to poor Kenelm?  He seemed
partial enough to him once."

"Ay, but not as a son-in-law, even before I had a chance of becoming
so.  And when, after Kenelm appeared at Exmundham, while Travers was
staying there, Travers learned, I suppose from Lady Chillingly, that
Kenelm had fallen in love with and wanted to marry some other girl,
who it seems rejected him; and still more when he heard that Kenelm
had been subsequently travelling on the Continent in company with a
low-lived fellow, the drunken, riotous son of a farrier, you may well
conceive how so polished and sensible a man as Leopold Travers would
dislike the idea of giving his daughter to one so little likely to
make an agreeable son-in-law.  Bah!  I have no fear of Kenelm.  By the
way, did Sir Peter say if Kenelm had quite recovered his health?  He
was at death's door some eighteen months ago, when Sir Peter and Lady
Chillingly were summoned to town by the doctors."

"My dear Gordon, I fear there is no chance of your succession to
Exmundham.  Sir Peter says that his wandering Hercules is as stalwart
as ever, and more equable in temperament, more taciturn and grave,--in
short, less odd.  But when you say you have no fear of Kenelm's
rivalry, do you mean only as to Cecilia Travers?"

"Neither as to that nor as to anything in life; and as to the
succession to Exmundham, it is his to leave as he pleases, and I have
cause to think he would never leave it to me.  More likely to Parson
John or the parson's son,--or why not to yourself?  I often think that
for the prizes immediately set before my ambition I am better off
without land: land is a great obfuscator."

"Humph, there is some truth in that.  Yet the fear of land and
obfuscation does not seem to operate against your suit to Cecilia
Travers?"

"Her father is likely enough to live till I maybe contented to 'rest
and be thankful' in the Upper House; and I should not like to be a
landless peer."

"You are right there; but I should tell you that, now Kenelm has come
back, Sir Peter has set his heart on his son's being your rival."

"For Cecilia?"

"Perhaps; but certainly for Parliamentary reputation.  The senior
member for the county means to retire, and Sir Peter has been urged to
allow his son to be brought forward,--from what I hear, with the
certainty of success."

"What! in spite of that wonderful speech of his on coming of age?"

"Pooh! that is now understood to have been but a bad joke on the new
ideas, and their organs, including 'The Londoner.' But if Kenelm does
come into the House, it will not be on your side of the question; and
unless I greatly overrate his abilities--which very likely I do--he
will not be a rival to despise.  Except, indeed, that he may have one
fault which in the present day would be enough to unfit him for public
life."

"And what is that fault?"

"Treason to the blood of the Chillinglys.  This is the age, in
England, when one cannot be too much of a Chillingly.  I fear that if
Kenelm does become bewildered by a political abstraction,--call it, no
matter what, say, 'love of his country,' or some such old-fashioned
crotchet,--I fear, I greatly fear, that he may be--in earnest."



CHAPTER THE LAST.

IT was a field night in the House of Commons,--an adjourned debate,
opened by George Belvoir, who had been, the last two years, very
slowly creeping on in the favour, or rather the indulgence of the
House, and more than justifying Kenelm's prediction of his career.
Heir to a noble name and vast estates, extremely hard-working, very
well informed, it was impossible that he should not creep on.  That
night he spoke sensibly enough, assisting his memory by frequent
references to his notes; listened to courteously, and greeted with a
faint "Hear, hear!" of relief when he had done.

Then the House gradually thinned till nine o'clock, at which hour it
became very rapidly crowded.  A Cabinet minister had solemnly risen,
deposited on the table before him a formidable array of printed
papers, including a corpulent blue-book.  Leaning his arm on the red
box, he commenced with this awe-compelling sentence,--

"Sir, I join issue with the right honourable gentleman opposite.  He
says this is not raised as a party question.  I deny it.  Her
Majesty's Government are put upon their trial."

Here there were cheers, so loudly, and so rarely greeting a speech
from that Cabinet minister, that he was put out, and had much to "hum"
and to "ha," before he could recover the thread of his speech.  Then
he went on, with unbroken but lethargic fluency; read long extracts
from the public papers, inflicted a whole page from the blue-book,
wound up with a peroration of respectable platitudes, glanced at the
clock, saw that he had completed the hour which a Cabinet minister who
does not profess to be oratorical is expected to speak, but not to
exceed; and sat down.

Up rose a crowd of eager faces, from which the Speaker, as previously
arranged with the party whips, selected one,--a young face, hardy,
intelligent, emotionless.

I need not say that it was the face of Chillingly Gordon.  His
position that night was one that required dexterous management and
delicate tact.  He habitually supported the Government; his speeches
had been hitherto in their favour.  On this occasion he differed from
the Government.  The difference was known to the chiefs of the
Opposition, and hence the arrangement of the whips, that he should
speak for the first time after ten o'clock, and for the first time in
reply to a Cabinet minister.  It is a position in which a young party
man makes or mars his future.  Chillingly Gordon spoke from the third
row behind the Government; he had been duly cautioned by Mivers not to
affect a conceited independence, or an adhesion to "violence" in
ultra-liberal opinions, by seating himself below the gangway.
Speaking thus, amid the rank and file of the Ministerial supporters,
any opinion at variance with the mouthpieces of the Treasury Bench
would be sure to produce a more effective sensation than if delivered
from the ranks of the mutinous Bashi Bazouks divided by the gangway
from better disciplined forces.  His first brief sentences enthralled
the House, conciliated the Ministerial side, kept the Opposition side
in suspense.  The whole speech was, indeed, felicitously adroit, and
especially in this, that, while in opposition to the Government as a
whole, it expressed the opinions of a powerful section of the Cabinet,
which, though at present a minority, yet being the most enamoured of a
New Idea, the progress of the age would probably render a safe
investment for the confidence which honest Gordon reposed in its
chance of beating its colleagues.

It was not, however, till Gordon had concluded that the cheers of his
audience--impulsive and hearty as are the cheers of that assembly when
the evidence of intellect is unmistakable--made manifest to the
gallery and the reporters the full effect of the speech he had
delivered.  The chief of the Opposition whispered to his next
neighbour, "I wish we could get that man."  The Cabinet minister whom
Gordon had answered--more pleased with a personal compliment to
himself than displeased with an attack on the measure his office
compelled him to advocate--whispered to his chief, "That is a man we
must not lose."

Two gentlemen in the Speaker's gallery, who had sat there from the
opening of the debate, now quitted their places.  Coming into the
lobby, they found themselves commingled with a crowd of members who
had also quitted their seats, after Gordon's speech, in order to
discuss its merits, as they gathered round the refreshment table for
oranges or soda-water.  Among them was George Belvoir, who, on sight
of the younger of the two gentlemen issuing from the Speaker's
gallery, accosted him with friendly greeting,--

"Ha!  Chillingly, how are you?  Did not know you were in town.  Been
here all the evening?  Yes; very good debate.  How did you like
Gordon's speech?"

"I liked yours much better."

"Mine!" cried George, very much flattered and very much surprised.
"Oh, mine was a mere humdrum affair, a plain statement of the reasons
for the vote I should give.  And Gordon's was anything but that.  You
did not like his opinions?"

"I don't know what his opinions are.  But I did not like his ideas."

"I don't quite understand you.  What ideas?"

"The new ones; by which it is shown how rapidly a great state can be
made small."

Here Mr. Belvoir was taken aside by a brother member, on an important
matter to be brought before the committee on salmon fisheries, on
which they both served; and Kenelm, with his companion, Sir Peter,
threaded his way through the crowded lobby and disappeared.  Emerging
into the broad space, with its lofty clock-tower, Sir Peter halted,
and pointing towards the old Abbey, half in shadow, half in light,
under the tranquil moonbeams, said,--

"It tells much for the duration of a people when it accords with the
instinct of immortality in a man; when an honoured tomb is deemed
recompense for the toils and dangers of a noble life.  How much of the
history of England Nelson summed up in the simple words,--'Victory or
Westminster Abbey.'"

"Admirably expressed, my dear father," said Kenelm, briefly.

"I agree with your remark, which I overheard, on Gordon's speech,"
resumed Sir Peter.  "It was wonderfully clever; yet I should have been
sorry to hear you speak it.  It is not by such sentiments that Nelsons
become great.  If such sentiments should ever be national, the cry
will not be 'Victory or Westminster Abbey!' but 'Defeat and the Three
per Cents!'"

Pleased with his own unwonted animation, and with the sympathizing
half-smile on his son's taciturn lips, Sir Peter then proceeded more
immediately to the subjects which pressed upon his heart.  Gordon's
success in Parliament, Gordon's suit to Cecilia Travers, favoured, as
Sir Peter had learned, by her father, rejected as yet by herself, were
somehow inseparably mixed up in Sir Peter's mind and his words, as he
sought to kindle his son's emulation.  He dwelt on the obligations
which a country imposed on its citizens, especially on the young and
vigorous generation to which the destinies of those to follow were
intrusted; and with these stern obligations he combined all the
cheering and tender associations which an English public man connects
with an English home: the wife with a smile to soothe the cares, and a
mind to share the aspirations, of a life that must go through labour
to achieve renown; thus, in all he said, binding together, as if they
could not be disparted, Ambition and Cecilia.

His son did not interrupt him by a word, Sir Peter in his eagerness
not noticing that Kenelm had drawn him aside from the direct
thoroughfare, and had now made halt in the middle of Westminster
bridge, bending over the massive parapet and gazing abstractedly upon
the waves of the starlit river.  On the right the stately length of
the people's legislative palace, so new in its date, so elaborately in
each detail ancient in its form, stretching on towards the lowly and
jagged roofs of penury and crime.  Well might these be so near to the
halls of a people's legislative palace: near to the heart of every
legislator for a people must be the mighty problem how to increase a
people's splendour and its virtue, and how to diminish its penury and
its crime.

"How strange it is," said Kenelm, still bending over the parapet,
"that throughout all my desultory wanderings I have ever been
attracted towards the sight and the sound of running waters, even
those of the humblest rill!  Of what thoughts, of what dreams, of what
memories, colouring the history of my past, the waves of the humblest
rill could speak, were the waves themselves not such supreme
philosophers,--roused indeed on their surface, vexed by a check to
their own course, but so indifferent to all that makes gloom or death
to the mortals who think and dream and feel beside their banks."

"Bless me," said Peter to himself, "the boy has got back to his old
vein of humours and melancholies.  He has not heard a word I have been
saying.  Travers is right.  He will never do anything in life.  Why
did I christen him Kenelm? he might as well have been christened
Peter."  Still, loth to own that his eloquence had been expended in
vain and that the wish of his heart was doomed to expire disappointed,
Sir Peter said aloud, "You have not listened to what I said; Kenelm,
you grieve me."

"Grieve you! you! do not say that, Father, dear Father.  Listen to
you!  Every word you have said has sunk into the deepest deep of my
heart.  Pardon my foolish, purposeless snatch of talk to myself: it is
but my way, only my way, dear Father!"

"Boy, boy," cried Sir Peter, with tears in his voice, "if you could
get out of those odd ways of yours I should be so thankful.  But if
you cannot, nothing you can do shall grieve me.  Only, let me say
this; running waters have had a great charm for you.  With a humble
rill you associate thoughts, dreams, memories in your past.  But now
you halt by the stream of the mighty river: before you the senate of
an empire wider than Alexander's; behind you the market of a commerce
to which that of Tyre was a pitiful trade.  Look farther down, those
squalid hovels, how much there to redeem or to remedy; and out of
sight, but not very distant, the nation's Walhalla, 'Victory or
Westminster Abbey!'  The humble rill has witnessed your past.  Has the
mighty river no effect on your future?  The rill keeps no record of
your past: shall the river keep no record of your future?  Ah, boy,
boy, I see you are dreaming still,--no use talking.  Let us go home."

"I was not dreaming, I was telling myself that the time had come to
replace the old Kenelm with the new ideas, by a new Kenelm with the
Ideas of Old.  Ah! perhaps we must,--at whatever cost to
ourselves,--we must go through the romance of life before we clearly
detect what is grand in its realities.  I can no longer lament that I
stand estranged from the objects and pursuits of my race.  I have
learned how much I have with them in common.  I have known love; I
have known sorrow."

Kenelm paused a moment, only a moment, then lifted the head which,
during that pause, had drooped, and stood erect at the full height of
his stature, startling his father by the change that had passed over
his face; lip, eye, his whole aspect, eloquent with a resolute
enthusiasm, too grave to be the flash of a passing moment.

"Ay, ay," he said, "Victory or Westminster Abbey!  The world is a
battle-field in which the worst wounded are the deserters, stricken as
they seek to fly, and hushing the groans that would betray the secret
of their inglorious hiding-place.  The pain of wounds received in the
thick of the fight is scarcely felt in the joy of service to some
honoured cause, and is amply atoned by the reverence for noble scars.
My choice is made.  Not that of deserter, that of soldier in the
ranks."

"It will not be long before you rise from the ranks, my boy, if you
hold fast to the Idea of Old, symbolized in the English battle-cry,
'Victory or Westminster Abbey.'"

So saying, Sir Peter took his son's arm, leaning on it proudly; and
so, into the crowded thoroughfares, from the halting-place on the
modern bridge that spans the legendary river, passes the Man of the
Young Generation to fates beyond the verge of the horizon to which the
eyes of my generation must limit their wistful gaze.



THE END.





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