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respect, and Mrs. Wiltby seemed anx- sirable, but I was obliged to be, at once, ious to imitate them in this laudable ac- not only husband and lover, but lady also; tion. But Miss Watridge had apparently for Francesca gave me no help in this no such ideas, and she showed this most regard, except, perchance, an occasional objectionably by imagining that she had look of entreaty, which might as well as much right to the baby as I had. Of mean that she would like a bottle of course she could not understand how mat- milk as that she yearned for food comters stood, -nobody but myself could munion of the soul. When I addressed understand that; but she had not the na- her as my developed ideal I imagined tive delicacy of perception of my sisters her answers, and so continued the gentle and Jane Wiltby. She could not know conversation ; but, although she always in how many ways she interfered with spoke as I would wish, there were ab my desires and purposes. My morning sent from our converse certain desirable walks were, in a manner, broken up; for elements which might have been looked sometimes the new-comer actually insist- for from the presence of a second ined upon carrying the baby herself, in tellect. Another source of dissatisfacwhich case I retired, and sought some tion was that in many of our interviews other promenade. But after a few days Francesca acted in a manner which I found that the indulgence of any re- was not only disturbing, but indecorous. sentment of this sort not only made me Frequently, when I was speaking with the object of remark, but promised to her on such subjects as foreign travel, entirely break up my plans in regard to when we two would wander amid the Francesca. I wished to create in my misty purples of Caprian sunsets, or mind while here such an image of her, stand together in vast palaces of hoardmatured and perfected according to my ed art, she would struggle so convulsiveown ideas, that I could live and com- ly, and throw upward with such viomune with her during the absences, lence her small blue socks, that, for the more or less protracted, which must in time, I wished she was swaddled and tervene before the day when I should bound in the manner of the Della Robtake her wholly to myself. As I could bia babies on the front of the Foundling not expect to stay
here very much lon- Asylum in Florence. ger, I must not lose what opportunities A plan of relieving myself from the I had, and so concluded to resume my obvious disadvantages of my present walks with Francesca, even if Miss method of intercourse with an intellect, Watridge should sometimes intrude her- a soul, and a person, which to be suitable self upon us.
for my companionship must necessarily I must admit, however, that this she be projected into the future, now sug. did not do, considering the matter with gested itself to me. If Miss Watridge strict regard to fact. She generally persisted in forcing herself upon Franpossessed herself of the baby, and if I cesca, she might at least make herself wished its company I was obliged to in- useful by taking the place of that young trude myself upon her. The plan 1 person so far as regarded a part in the now adopted was, I think, somewhat in- conversation.
conversation. Her entity occupied a genious. As is my wont, I endeavored position in respect to growth and develto shape to my advantage this obstacle opment which was about the same as which I now found in my way. My in- that to which I was in the habit of tercourse with Francesca had not been projecting Francesca. Her answers to altogether satisfactory. For one thing, my remarks would be analogous, if not there had been too much unity about it. similar, to those which might be ex: A certain degree of this was, indeed, de- pected from the baby when she arrived at maturity. Thus, in a manner, I could tivated as I had formerly supposed it to talk to Francesca, and receive her an- be; having then little upon which to base swers from the lips of Miss Kitty. This my judgment, except the general imwould be as truly love-making by proxy pression which her personality had made as when the too believing Lanciotto sent upon me. That impression having been from Rimini his younger brother to bear entirely effaced, I was enabled with to him Ravenna's pearl. But here was clearer vision and sounder judgment to no guile, no dishonesty ; the messenger, determine the value of her mental exthe vehicle, the interpreter, in this case, bibit. I found that she had read with knew nothing of the feelings now in ac- some discrimination, and with a tendency tion, or to be set in action, of the prin- to independent thought she united a becipals in the affair. She did not know, coming respect for the opinions of those indeed, that there were two principals. who, by reason of superior years, expeAs far as she herself was concerned, she rience, and sex, might be supposed to had, and could have, no interest in the move on a psychological plane somematter. She was engaged to be married what higher than her own. These were to Mr. Glade, which, in my eyes, was the dispositions the development of which same thing as being already married to I hoped to assist in the young Franceshim; and any thoughts or mental emo- ca, and it may be imagined that I was tions that she might have relating to af- much gratified to find my model so closefectionate interest in one of the oppo- ly resembling that personality which I site sex would of course be centred in wished, in a manner, to create. Mr. Glade. With Francesca and my- Thus, up and down, daily, would we self she would have nothing to do but stroll and talk. With the real Francesunconsciously to assist in the transmis- ca on my arm, sometimes sleeping, and sion of sentiment. Had Paolo been en- sometimes indulging in disturbing musgaged to marry a suitable young person cular exercises, which I gently endeavbefore he started for Ravenna, it is prob- ored to restrain, I addressed myself to able that the limited partnership which my ideal Francesca, an aerial maiden, Dante noticed in the Inferno would pev- garbed in simple robes of white touched er have been formed.
by a soft suggestion of Italian glow, and It was by slow degrees, and with a ever with tender eyes upturned to mine; good deal of caution, that I began my while from her proxy, walking by my new course of action. Taking the child side, came to me the thoughts and sentiin my arms, I invited Miss Watridge to ments of her fresh young heart. accompany us in our walk. Thus, to- It was quite natural that I should be gether, we slowly strolled along the gar- more interested in a conversation of this den avenue, shaded by the fresh green- kind than in one in which I was obliged ness of June foliage, and flecked here to supply the remarks on either side. and there by patches of sunlight, which To be sure, in the latter case, there was moved upon the gravel in unison with a unison of thought between myself and the gentle breeze. Our conversation,
Our conversation, the ideal Francesca that was very satisat first relating to simple and every-day factory, but which lacked the piquancy matters, was soon directed by me into a given by unexpectedness of reply and channel in which I could perceive wheth- the interest consequent upon gentle arer or not I should succeed in this project gument. of representative rejoinder. It was not It so happened that the morning oclong before I was pleased to discover cupations of Mrs. Wilthy and my sisthat the mind of the young lady was of ters were those in which Miss Watridge as good natural quality and as well cul- did not care to join, and thus she was commonly left free to make one of the coming in so quietly that at first it was company of four which took its morn- scarcely noticeable. The dependence of ing walks upon the garden avenue. I man upon man was discussed, not only imagine that she supposed it was gener- for material good, but for intellectual ally thought that she was taking care of support and comfort. Then, following the baby and affording it advantages of a course not exactly in accordance with out-door air, in the performance of which that of nature, but which suited my purpleasing duty my presence was so un- poses, we spoke of social ties, — of the necessary that the probability of it was friendships which spring up here and not even considered. Thus it was that there from these ; of the natural affecupon every fair day -- and all those days tions of the family; and, finally, the were fair
our morning strolls were subject arising in consistent sequence, of prolonged for an hour or more, generally that congruent intermental action of the terminated only by the culminating re- intellect of two persons, generally male solve of Francesca to attract to herself and female, who frequently, without so much attention that a return to the family ties of any kind and but little house was necessary. It may be sup- previous acquaintanceship, find, each posed that it would have been better to in the other, an adaptiveness of entity have eliminated the element of the actu- which is mutually satisfactory. al being from the female side of our lit- The vicarious replies of Francesca tle company. But that side, several as were, in alınost every instance, all that it was in its component personages, rep- I could have wished. Sometimes there resented to me the one Francesca; and were symptoms of hesitancy or reluchad I not held and felt the presence of tance in the enunciation of what was, the actual living creature, who was to be obviously, the suitable reply to some of and to say all that my mind saw and my my remarks in regard to the deeper senear heard, I could not have spoken as I timents; but, on the whole, had the ideal wished to speak to the ideality who was lady of my love spoken to me, her words to be my wife when it became a reality. could not have better aroused my every The conjunction seemed to me a per sentiment of warm regard. fect one, and under the circumstances I Sometimes I wondered, as thus we could wish for nothing better.
walked and talked, what Mr. Glade As our acquaintance ripened and mel would think about it if he could see lowed in the pleasant summer days, I us so much together, and listen to our was enabled to see more clearly into the
But this thought I put aside soul and heart of the Francesca that was as unworthy of me. It was an into be, looking at them through the trans- sult to myself as an honorable man ; it parent mind of Miss Kitty Watridge. was an uncalled-for aspersion on Miss According to the pursuance of my plan, Watridge, and a stain upon my idealisI gradually, and as far as possible im- tic intercourse with Francesca. If Mr. perceptibly, changed the nature of our Glade was coarse and vulgar enough to converse. From talking of the material interject his personality into this perworld, and those objects in it which had fectly working system of intellectual pleased our vision or excited reflection, action, from which the individuality of we passed to the consideration, very cur- Miss Watridge was entirely eliminated, sory at first, of those sentiments which her part in it being merely to repreappear to emanate from ourselves with- sent another, I could not help it. It out the aid of extraneous agency. Then, was this consciousness of rectitude, this by slow degrees, the extraneous agency probity of purpose, which raised our litwas allowed to enter upon the scene, tle drama so far above the level of the
old story of the wedded Guelph and vision of pure young womanhood that Ghibelline.
my soul could call before me. But, notWith my mind satisfied on this sub- withstanding this, there was something ject, I did not hesitate, when the proper wanting. I longed for the upturned time seemed to have arrived, to allow eyes, ever fixed upon my own, of the myself to imagine Francesca at the age Francesca of the stage. I longed for of nineteen. I could not much longer the fair white hands clasped and tremremain in this place, as we had now bling as I spoke. I longed for that inoverstayed the original limit of our tensity of soul-merge in which the loved visit ; and there was danger, too, that one breathes and lives only that she Miss Watridge might be called away. I may hear the words I speak, and watch wished, while the opportunity continued, the thoughts that fashion in my face. to develop the imaginary life of Fran- Without all this I could never take cesca into perfect womanhood, so that I away with me the image of the true could carry away with me an image of Francesca. Without this there would my future wife, which I could set upon be wanting, in the fair conception, that the throne of my affection, there to be artistic roundness, that completeness of revered, cherished, and guarded, until outline and purpose, which would satisfy the time came when the real Francesca the exigencies of my nature. I could should claim the seat. Of course, under not consent to carry with me for years these circumstances, a certain fervor of an ideal existence, incomplete, imperthought and expression was not only fected, - a statue devoid of those last necessary, but excusable, and I did not touches of the master which 'make it scruple to allow it to myself. Always seem to live. with the real Francesca in my arms, in Therefore I sought, with much earorder that even my own superconscien- nestness and fixity of intention, to call tiousness might not take me to task, I the last element needed to complete delivered my sentiments without draw- that lovely creation which was to be ing the veil of precautionary expression my companion through the years of over their amatory significance. It was waiting for the real Francesca. It was at this stage of our intercourse that I a great comfort and support to me to asked Miss Watridge to allow me to reflect that I could do this with such call her Francesca ; for it was only by safety, with such unusual advantages. I so doing that I could fully identify her addressed myself to no being in existvoice with that of the visionary creature
Even the little creature on my who was now exciting the stirring im- arm, who had fallen into a habit of dozpulses of my heart. When she asked ing when not noticed, and to whom beme why I wished to call her by this longed, in fact, my every gift and legacy name, I could only tell her that it was of love, was not of age to come into her for ideal purposes ; and without making fortune, nor could her infantile mind further inquiries, she consented that I be injured by its contemplation. And should use it — for the present. As it as for Miss Watridge, she, as I continwas only for the present that I thought ually repeated to myself, was acting of so doing, this much of acquiescence simply as the representative of another, was sufficient, and I called her by the and her real self was not concerned in name I loved.
the little drama, in which she did not The softly-spoken, well-considered re- even take a part; merely assuming, as plies, the gentle ejaculations, and the in a rehearsal, a character which another demure but 'earnest attention which my actor, not able then to be present, would speech elicited well befitted the fairest play in the actual performance.
at my left.
It was on the loveliest morning of all clinging arms about my neck, of tears the summer that I made my supreme upon my face that were not mine, of effort. At the very bottom of the gar- words of love that I spoke not; and it den was a little arbor of honeysuckles. came to me like a flash that she who No crimson stage-light shone in upon clung to me, and around whom my arm it, but the sunbeams pushed their way was passed, was Kitty Watridge, and here and there through the screen of not a visionary Ghibelline. leaves, and brightened the interior with In the midst of my varying emotions points of light. It was a secluded spot, I clasped closer to me the real Franto which I had never yet led my com- cesca, who thereupon gave vent to her panions, for the period had not before feelings by parting wide her toothless arrived for such sequesterment. But gums, and filling the summer air with now we sat down here upon a little a long yell. At this rude interruption, bench : I at one end, the young Fran- the arms fell from my neck, and the cesca on my knee, and Miss Watridge face was quickly withdrawn from mine.
In the place where this Now came hurrying steps upon the lady sat also sat the ideal Francesca, oc- gravel walk, and my sister Bertha ran cupying the same space, and endowed, in upon us. " What on earth are you for the time, with the same form and doing to that baby ?” she cried. She features. It was to this being that I now spatched the child from me, and then addressed my fervid words ; low-burn- stood astonished, gazing first at me and ing, it is true, but alive with all the heat then at Kitty, who had started to her and glow that precedes blaze. I told feet, with sparkling tears still in her a tale ; not reading from pages of me- eyes and a sunset glow upon her face. diæval script the legend of the love of Without a word, the wicked Bertha Launcelot and Queen Guinevere, as does laughed a little laugh, and, folding the Paolo in the play, but relating a story
child within her arms, she ran away. which was a true one, for it was my own. I sat speechless for a moment, and I spoke as I expected to speak some then I turned to Kitty ; but she, too, had day to the little creature on my knee. gone, having fled in another direction. Taking with my disengaged hand that I was left alone : gone was the real of the lady by my side, I said that which Francesca ; gone was the fair ideal ; raised a lovely countenance to mine, gone was Kitty. I stood bewildered, that showed me the beauty of her up- and, in a manner, dazed. I felt as if I turned eyes ; and as I looked and spoke had fallen from the fourteenth century I felt that the very pulses of her soul into the nineteenth, and that the shock were throbbing in accord with mine. had hurt me. I felt, too, a sense of Here was enacting in very truth the culpability, as if I had been somewhere scene I had viewed upon the stage, and where I had no right to be ; as if I had which so often since had risen before been a trespasser, a poacher, an intruder my fancy. Possessed by the spirit of upon the times or on the rights of oththis scene, carried onward by that same The fact that I was a strictly hontide of passional emotion the gradual rise orąble man, scorning perfidy in its every of which it had portrayed, I gave myself form, made my feelings the more poignup to its influences, and acted it out unto ant. A little reflection helped me to its very culmination. I stooped, and, in understand it all. I had carried out my the words of the Arthurian legend, “I plan so carefully, with such regard to kissed her full upon the mouth.” its gradual development, that by degrees
Swift as the sudden fall of summer Miss Watridge had grown into the ideal rain, I felt the wild abandonment of Francesca, and had to all intents and