Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

sion to talk on this subject in absolute of dolorous experience. She is acquaintunconsciousness, giving him blow after ed with actual life. When it so happens blow. “I don't mean to take

up

the that in the course of conversation we cudgels for that sort of people,” he touch on such subjects I find she always said, at last; “but they are not al- leans to the darker side.” He paused ways stupid, you know.” To this pro- for a moment, adding abruptly, “ And test, however, his companion gave no then there is her boy.” heed.

“Oh,” said Dick, “ has she a boy?” “She was no more than a child when “ That's what I'm going to town she was married,” said Warrender, with about. She is very anxious for a tutor excitement, “ a little girl out of the nur- for this boy. My opinion is that he is sery. How was she to know ? She had a great deal too much for her. And never seen anybody, and to expect her who can tell what he may turn out? to be able to judge at sixteen

She has been brought to see that he “ That is always bad,” said Dick, wants a man to look after him.” musing. He was like the other, full “ She should send him to school. of his own thoughts. “ Yet some girls with a child who has been a pet at are very much developed at sixteen. I home, that is the best way.” knew a fellow once who — And she “ Did I say he had been a pet at went entirely to the bad.”

home? She is a great deal too wise for “ What are you talking of ?” cried that. Still, the boy is too much for her: Warrender, almost roughly. “She was and if I could hear of a tutor Cavenlike a little angel herself, and knew noth- dish, you are just the sort of fellow to ing different; and when that fellow - know. I have not told her what I am who had been a handsome fellow they going to do, but I think if I find some say — fell in love with her, and would one who would answer, I have influence not leave her alone for a moment, I, for enough” - Warrender said this with one, forgive her for being deceived. I a sudden glow of color to his face, and admire her for it,” he went on. “ She a conscious glance; a glance which dared was as innocent as a flower. Was it pos- the other to form any conclusions from sible she could suspect what sort of a what he said, yet in a moment avowed man he was? It has given her such a and justified them. Dick was very full blow in her ideal that I doubt if she will of his own thoughts, and yet at sight of ever recover. It seems as if she could this he could not help but smile. His not believe again in genuine, unselfish heart was touched by the sight of the love."

young passion, which had no intention “ Perhaps it is too early to talk to her of disclosing itself, yet could think of about such subjects.”

nothing and talk of nothing but the “ Too early! Do you think I talk person beloved. to her about such subjects ? But one “I don't know how you feel about it, cannot talk of the greatest subjects as Warrender,” he said, “ but if I had a we do without touching on them. Lady friend whom I prized so much, I should Markland is very fond of conversation. not introduce another fellow to be near She lets me talk to her, which is great her constantly, and probably to — win condescension, for she is — much more her confidence, you know; for a lady in thoughtful, has far more insight and these circumstances must stand greatly mental power, than I.”

in need of some one to — to consult with, “ And more experience,” said Dick. and to take little things off her hands,

“ What do you mean? Well, yes ; no and save her trouble, and — and all doubt her marriage has given her a sort that.”

as

" That is just what I am trying to sympathy, Cavendish.” He added, after do,” said Warrender. " As for her a moment, “ It is doubly good of you to grief, you know, - which is n't so much enter into my difficulties, everything grief as a dreadful shock to her nerves, being so easy-going in your own life.” and the constitution of her mind, and Cavendish looked at his companion many things we need n't mention, with eyes that twinkled with a sort of for that, no one can meddle. But just tragic laughter. It was natural for the to make her feel that there is some one young one to feel himself in a grand and to whom nothing is a trouble, who will unique position, as a very young man go anywhere, or do anything" - seized by a grande passion is so apt to

“Well, that's what the tutor will get do; but Theo's fine superiority and coninto doing, if you don't mind. I'll tell viction that he was not as other men gave you, Warrender, what I would do if I a grim amusement to the man who was were you. I'd be the tutor myself.” so easy-going, whose life was all plain

" I am glad I spoke to you," said the sailing in the other's sight.“ All the young man. “ It is very pleasant to more reason,” he said, with a laugh, “be meet with a mind that is sympathetic. ing safe myself, that I should take an You perceive what I mean. I must ”

interest in you." He laughed again, so think it all over. I do not know if I that for the moment Warrender, with can do what you say, but if it could be momentary rage, believed himself the managed, certainly — Anyhow, I am object of his friend's derision.

. But a very much obliged to you for the ad- glance at Cavendish dispelled this fear. vice.”

Presently each retired into his corner, “Oh, that is nothing,” said Dick; where they sat opposite to each other “ but I think I can enter into your feel- saying nothing, while the long levels of

the green country flew past them, and “ And so few do,” said Warrender ; the clang of the going swept every oth“either it is made the subject of injuri- er sound away. They were alone in ous remarks, — remarks which, if they their compartment, each buried in his came to her ears, would

thoughts : the one in all the absorption sion of feeble jokes more odious still, of a sudden and overwhelming passion, or suggestions that it would be better pot without a certain pride in it and in for me to look after my own business. himself, although consciously thinking I am not neglecting my own business of nothing but of her, going over and that I am aware of ; a few trees to cut over their last interviews, and forming down, a few farms to look after, are not visions to himself of the next; while the so important. I hope now,” he added, other, he who was so easy-going, the “ you are no longer astonished that the cheerful companion, unexpectedly found small interests of the University don't to be so sympathetic, but otherwise tell for very much in comparison." somewhat compassionately regarded as

“I beg you a thousand pardons, superficial and commonplace by the Warrender. I had forgotten all about youth newly plunged into life, — the the University.”

other went back into those recollections “ It does not matter,” he said, waving which were his, which had been confided his hand ; “ it does not make the least to. none, which he had thought laid to difference to me. It would not change rest and half forgotten, but which had my determination in any way, whatever suddenly surged up again with so extraormight depend upon it ; and nothing real- dinary a revival of pain. The presence ly depends upon it. I can't tell you of Warrender opposite to him, and the how much obliged I am to you for your unconscious revelation he had made of

ings.”

or a succes

the condition of his own mind and no one knew how heavily laden and thoughts, had transported Dick back handicapped in the struggle of life. again for a moment into what seemed an age, a century past, the time when he had been as his friend was, in the

XVI. ecstasy of a youthful passion. He remembered that ; then with quick scorn By this time London was on the eve and disdain turned from the thought, of its periodical moment of desertion : and plunged into the deep abysses of the fashionable people all gone or going; possibility which he now saw opening at legislators weary and worn, blaspheming his feet. He had said to himself that the hot, late July days, and everything the past was altogether past, and that grown shabby with dust and sunshine ; he could begin in his own country, far the trees and the grass in the parks no from the associations of his brief and un- longer green, but brown ; the flowers in happy meddling with fate, a new exist- the balconies overgrown ; the atmosence, one natural to him, among his own phere all used up and exhausted ; and people, in the occupations he understood. the great town, on the eve of holiday, He had not understood either himself grown impatient of itself. Although or life in that strange, extravagant essay the world of fashion is but so small a at living which he had made and ended, part of the myriads of London, it is asas he had thought, and of which nobody tonishing how its habits affect the genknew anything. How could he tell, he

How could he tell, he eral living, and how many, diversely asked himself vow, how much or how and afar off, form a certain law to themlittle was known ? Was anything ever selves of its dictates, though untouched ended until death had put the finis to by its tide. mortal history?

Warrender had never known anything These young men were two excellent about London. His habits were entirely examples of the well-boru and well-bred distinct from those of the young men, young Englishman, admirably dressed, high and low, who find their paradise with that indifference to and ease in in its haunts and crowds. When he left their well-fitting garments, that satisfied Cavendish, on their arrival, not withand careful simplicity, which only the out a suggestion on Dick's part of after Anglo-Saxon seems able to attain to in meeting, which the other did not accept, such apparel; Warrender, indeed, with for no reason but because in his present something of that dreamy look about the condition it was pleasanter to him to be eyes which betrays the abstraction of alone, — Warrender, who did not know the mind in a realm of imagination, but where to go, or what to do in order to nothing besides which could have sug- carry out the commission which he had gested to any spectator the presence of 80 vaguely taken upon him, walked either mystery in the past or danger in vaguely along, carrying about him the the future, beyond the dangers of flood same mist of dreams which made other or field. They were both above the scenes dim. Where was he to find a reach of need, yet both with that whole- tutor in the streets of London ? He some necessity for doing which is in turned to the Park by habit, as that was English blood, and all the world before the direction in which, half mechanically, them, public duty and private happiness, he was in the habit of finding himself the inheritance of the class to which they when he went to town. But he was belonged. Yet to one care had come still less likely to find a tutor for Lady in the guise of passion ; and the other Markland's boy in the lessened ranks was setting out upon a second beginning, of the loungers in Rotten Row than he was in the streets. He walked among creatures on so many fine horses canterthem with his head in the clouds, thiuking ing past, and even, what was more wonof what she had said when last he saw derful, Bronson, that inevitable compether; inquiring into every word she had itor, the substance of solid success to uttered; finding out, with a sudden flash Warrender's romance of shadowy glory, of delight, a new meaning which might walking along with his arm in that of perchance lurk in a phrase of hers, and another scholar, and pointing to the man which could be construed into the in- of dreams who saw them not. “ He is toxicating belief that she had thought of working out that passage in the Politics him in his absence. This was far more that your tutor makes such a potter interesting than

any of the vague pro- about,” said the other. “ Not a bit of cessional effects that glided half seen it,” cried Bronson, “for that would pay!” before his eyes ; the streams of people. But they gave him credit, at all events, with no apparent meaning in them, who for some classic theme, and not for the were going and coming, flowing this way discoveries he was making in that other and the other, on their commonplace subject, which is not classic, though unibusiness. The phantasmagoria of mov- versal ; whereas the only text that ening forms and faces went past and past, tered into bis dreams was that past as he thought, altogether insignificant, tense, opening up so many vistas of meaning nothing. She had said, “I won- thought which he had not realized bedered if you remarked ” — something fore. Was there ever a broken sentence that bad happened when they were of Aristotle that moved so much the apart from each other; a sunset it was, scholar to whom a new reading has sudnow he remembered, of wonderful splen- denly appeared ? There is no limiting dor, which she had spoken of next day. that power of human emotion which can “I wondered if you remarked :” not " I flow in almost any channel, but enthuwonder,” which would have meant that siastic indeed must be the son of learnat that moment she was in the act of ing in whose bosom the difference of wondering, but I wondered, in the past the past and the present would raise so tense; as if, when the glorious crimsons great a ferment. “I wondered if you and purples struck her imagination, and remarked.” It lit up heaven and earth gave her that high delight which nature with new lights to Warrender. He wantalways gives to the lofty mind (the ad- ed nothing more to raise his musings jectives too were his, poor boy), she had into ecstasy. He pictured her standing thought of him, perhaps, as the one of looking out upon the changing sky, feel. all her friends who was most likely to ing perhaps a loneliness about her, wantfeel as she was feeling. Poor Warrender ing to say her word, but with no one was conscious, with bitter shame and in- near whose ear was fit to receive it. dignation against himself, that at that “ I wondered - and he all the while moment he was buried in his father's unconscious, like a dolt, like a clod, gloomy library, in the shadow of those with his dim windows already full of trees which he had no longer leisure to twilight, his heavy old trees hanging think of cutting, and was not so much as over him, his back turned, even could aware that there was a sunset ; and this it have penetrated through dead walls he had been obliged to confess, with pas- and heavy shade, to the glow in the sionate regret (since she had seen it, and west! While he thought of it his coungiven it thus an interest beyond sun- tenance, too, glowed with shame. He settings), but with tempestuous sudden said to himself that never, should he live joy and misery. In the middle of Rot- a hundred years, would he again be thus ten Row! with still so many pretty insensible to that great and splendid

[ocr errors]

ceremonial which ends the day. For to become Warrender's place, — that of that moment she had wanted him, she referee and executor of the troublesome had need of him; and not even in spirit trifles, adviser at least in small affairs. had he been at hand, as her knight and He began to reflect then that in all probservant ought to be.

ability a tutor in the house would be And all this, as we have said, in the a trouble and embarrassment to Lady middle of Rotten Row! He remembered Markland: one who could come for a the spot afterwards, the very place where few hours every day (and was there that revelation had been made to him, not one who would be too happy of the but never was aware that he had met

excuse to wait upon his mistress daily ?); Bronson, who was passing through Lon- one who could engage Geoff with work don on his way to join a reading party, to be done, so that the mother might be and was in the mean time, in passing, free; one, indeed, who would thus supmaking use of all the diversions that plant the offices already held, and became in his way, in the end of the sea- come indispensable where now he was son, as so reasonable and practical a per- only precariously necessary, capable of son naturally would do.

being superseded. It is very possible Warrender went long and far in the that in any case, even had he not asked strength of this marvelous supply of the valuable advice of Dick Cavendish, spiritual food, and wanted no other ; but his journey to London would have come at last, a long time after, when it was to nothing ; for he was in the condition nearly time to go back to his train, be- to which a practical proceeding of such thought himself that it would be better a kind is in harmonious, and in which all to lunch somewhere, for the sake of the action is somewhat against the grain. questions which would certainly be put But with the support of Dick's advice to him when he got home. In the mean his reluctance was justified to himself, time he had occupied himself by look- and he returned to Underwood with a ing out and buying certain new books, consciousness of having given up his which he had either heard her inquire first plan for a better one, and of havabout or thought she would like to see; ing found by much thought an expedient and had remembered one or two trifles calculated to answer all needs. she had mentioned which she wanted Meanwhile he carried with him everyfrom town, and even laid in a stock where the delight of that discovery of amusements for little Geoff, — boys' which he had made. To say over the books, suited rather to his years than words was enough, - I wondered if you to his precocity. About the other and remarked. Had Cavendish been with more serious part of his self-consti- him on the return journey, or had any tuted mission Warrender, however, had stranger addressed him on the way, this done nothing. He had passed one of was the phrase which he would have those "Scholastic Agencies,” which it used in reply. He watched the sunset had been his (vague) intention to in- eagerly as he walked home from the quire at, had paused and passed it by. station, laden with his parcel of books. There was truth, he reflected, in what It was not this time a remarkable sunCavendish said. How could he tell set. It was even a little pale, as if it who might be recommended to him as might possibly rain to-morrow; but still tutor to Geoff ? Perhaps some man he watched it, with an eye to all the who would be his own superior, to whom changes of color. Perhaps nature had she might talk of the sunset or even of not hitherto called him with a very other matters, who might worm his way strong voice ; but there came a great into the place which had already begun many scraps of poetry floating into his

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »