DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS
By George Meredith
XXXVI. IS CONCLUSIVE AS TO THE HEARTLESSNESS OF WOMEN WITH BRAINS
XXXVII. AN EXHIBITION OF SOME CHAMPIONS OF THE STRICKEN LADY
XXXVIII. CONVALESCENCE OF A HEALTHY MIND DISTRAUGHT
XXXIX. OF NATURE WITH ONE OF HER CULTIVATED DAUGHTERS AND A SHORT
EXCURSION IN ANTI-CLIMAX
XL. IN WHICH WE SEE NATURE MAKING OF A WOMAN A MAID AGAIN, AND A
XLI. CONTAINS A REVELATION OF THE ORIGIN OF THE TIGRESS IN DIANA
XLII. THE PENULTIMATE : SHOWING A FINAL STRUGGLE FOR LIBERTY AND RUN
XLIII. NUPTIAL CHAPTER: AND OF HOW A BARELY WILLING WOMAN WAS LED TO
BLOOM WITH NUPTIAL SENTIMENT
IS CONCLUSIVE AS TO THE HEARTLESSNESS OF WOMEN WITH BRAINS
Hymenaeal rumours are those which might be backed to run a victorious
race with the tale of evil fortune; and clearly for the reason that man's
livelier half is ever alert to speed them. They travel with an
astonishing celerity over the land, like flames of the dry beacon-faggots
of old time in announcement of the invader or a conquest, gathering as
they go: wherein, to say nothing of their vastly wider range, they
surpass the electric wires. Man's nuptial half is kindlingly concerned
in the launch of a new couple; it is the business of the fair sex: and
man himself (very strangely, but nature quickens him still) lends a not
unfavouring eye to the preparations of the matrimonial vessel for its
oily descent into the tides, where billows will soon be rising, captain
and mate soon discussing the fateful question of who is commander. We
consent, it appears, to hope again for mankind; here is another chance!
Or else, assuming the happiness of the pair, that pomp of ceremonial,
contrasted with the little wind-blown candle they carry between them,
catches at our weaker fibres.
After so many ships have foundered, some keel up, like poisoned fish, at
the first drink of water, it is a gallant spectacle, let us avow; and
either the world perpetuating it is heroical or nature incorrigible in
the species. Marriages are unceasing. Friends do it, and enemies; the
unknown contractors of this engagement, or armistice, inspire an
interest. It certainly is both exciting and comforting to hear that man
and woman are ready to join in a mutual affirmative, say Yes together
again. It sounds like the end of the war.
The proclamation of the proximate marriage of a young Minister of State
and the greatest heiress of her day; notoriously 'The young Minister of
State' of a famous book written by the beautiful, now writhing, woman
madly enamoured of him—and the heiress whose dowry could purchase a
Duchy; this was a note to make the gossips of England leap from their
beds at the midnight hour and wag tongues in the market-place. It did
away with the political hubbub over the Tonans article, and let it noise
abroad like nonsense. The Hon. Percy Dacier espouses Miss Asper; and she
rescues him from the snares of a siren, he her from the toils of the
Papists. She would have gone over to them, she was going when, luckily
for the Protestant Faith, Percy Dacier intervened with his proposal.
Town and country buzzed the news; and while that dreary League trumpeted
about the business of the nation, a people suddenly become Oriental
chattered of nothing but the blissful union to be celebrated in princely
state, with every musical accessory, short of Operatic.
Lady Wathin was an active agent in this excitement. The excellent woman
enjoyed marriages of High Life: which, as there is presumably wealth to
support them, are manifestly under sanction: and a marriage that she
could consider one of her own contrivance, had a delicate flavour of a
marriage in the family; not quite equal to the seeing a dear daughter of
her numerous progeny conducted to the altar, but excelling it in the pomp
that bids the heavens open. She and no other spread the tidings of Miss
Asper's debating upon the step to Rome at the very instant of Percy
Dacier's declaration of his love; and it was a beautiful struggle, that
of the half-dedicated nun and her deep-rooted earthly passion, love
prevailing! She sent word to Lady Dunstane: 'You know the interest I
have always taken in dear Constance Aspen' etc.; inviting her to come on
a visit a week before the end of the month, that she might join in the
ceremony of a wedding 'likely to be the grandest of our time.' Pitiful
though it was, to think of the bridal pair having but eight or ten days
at the outside, for a honeymoon, the beauty of their 'mutual devotion to
duty' was urged by Lady Wathin upon all hearers.
Lady Dunstane declined the invitation. She waited to hear from her
friend, and the days went by; she could only sorrow for her poor Tony,
divining her state. However little of wrong in the circumstances, they
imposed a silence on her decent mind, and no conceivable shape of writing
would transmit condolences. She waited, with a dull heartache: by no
means grieving at Dacier's engagement to the heiress; until Redworth
animated her, as the bearer of rather startling intelligence, indirectly
relating to the soul she loved. An accident in the street had befallen
Mr. Warwick. Redworth wanted to know whether Diana should be told of it,
though he had no particulars to give; and somewhat to his disappointment,
Lady Dunstane said she would write. She delayed, thinking the accident
might not be serious; and the information of it to Diana surely would be
so. Next day at noon her visitor was Lady Wathin, evidently perturbed
and anxious to say more than she dared: but she received no assistance.
After beating the air in every direction, especially dwelling on the fond
reciprocal affection of the two devoted lovers, to be united within three
days' time, Lady Wathin said at last: 'And is it not shocking! I talk of
a marriage and am appalled by a death. That poor man died last night in
the hospital. I mean poor Mr. Warwick. He was recovering, getting
strong and well, and he was knocked down at a street-crossing and died
last night. It is a warning to us!'
'Mr. Redworth happened to hear of it at his Club, near which the accident
occurred, and he called at the hospital. Mr. Warwick was then alive,'
said Lady Dunstane; adding: 'Well, if prevention is better than cure, as
we hear! Accidents are the specific for averting the maladies of age,
which are a certain crop!'
Lady Wathin's eyelids worked and her lips shut fast at the cold-hearted
remark void of meaning.
She sighed. 'So ends a life of misery, my dear!'
'You are compassionate.'
'I hope so. But . . . Indeed I must speak, if you will let me. I
think of the living.'
Lady Dunstane widened her eyes. 'Of Mrs. Warwick?'
'She has now the freedom she desired. I think of others. Forgive me,
but Constance Asper is to me as a daughter. I have perhaps no grounds
for any apprehension. Love so ardent, so sincere, was never shown by
bridegroom elect: and it is not extraordinary to those acquainted with
dear Constance. But—one may be a worshipped saint and experience
defection. The terrible stories one hears of a power of fascination
almost . . . !' Lady Wathin hung for the word.
'Infernal,' said Lady Dunstane, whose brows had been bent inquiringly.
'Have no fear. The freedom you allude to will not be used to interfere
with any entertainment in prospect. It was freedom my friend desired.
Now that her jewel is restored to her, she is not the person to throw it
away, be sure. And pray, drop the subject.'
'One may rely . . . you think?'
'This release coming just before the wedding . . . !'
'I should hardly suppose the man to be the puppet you depict, or
'It is because men—so many—are not puppets that one is conscious of
'Your previous remark,' said Lady Dunstane, 'sounded superstitious. Your
present one has an antipodal basis. But, as for your alarm, check it:
and spare me further. My friend has acknowledged powers. Considering
that, she does not use them, you should learn to respect her.'
Lady Wathin bowed stiffly. She refused to partake of lunch, having, she
said, satisfied her conscience by the performance of a duty and arranged
with her flyman to catch a train. Her cousin Lady Dunstane smiled
loftily at everything she uttered, and she felt that if a woman like this
Mrs. Warwick could put division between blood-relatives, she could do
worse, and was to be dreaded up to the hour of the nuptials.
'I meant no harm in coming,' she said, at the shaking of hands.
'No, no; I understand,' said her hostess: 'you are hen-hearted over your
adopted brood. The situation is perceptible and your intention
As one of the good women of the world, Lady Wathin in departing was
indignant at the tone and dialect of a younger woman not modestly
concealing her possession of the larger brain. Brains in women she both
dreaded and detested; she believed them to be devilish. Here were
instances:—they had driven poor Sir Lukin to evil courses, and that poor
Mr. Warwick straight under the wheels of a cab. Sir Lukin's name was
trotting in public with a naughty Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett's: Mrs. Warwick
might still trim her arts to baffle the marriage. Women with brains,
moreover, are all heartless: they have no pity for distress, no horror of
catastrophes, no joy in the happiness of the deserving. Brains in men
advance a household to station; but brains in women divide it and are the
wrecking of society. Fortunately Lady Wathin knew she could rally a
powerful moral contingent, the aptitude of which for a one-minded
cohesion enabled it to crush those fractional daughters of mischief.
She was a really good woman of the world, heading a multitude; the same
whom you are accustomed to hear exalted; lucky in having had a guided
girlhood, a thick-curtained prudence; and in having stock in the moral
funds, shares in the sentimental tramways. Wherever the world laid its
hoards or ran its lines, she was found, and forcible enough to be
eminent; though at fixed hours of the day, even as she washed her hands,
she abjured worldliness: a performance that cleansed her. If she did not
make morality appear loveable to the objects of her dislike, it was owing
to her want of brains to see the origin, nature and right ends of
morality. But a world yet more deficient than she, esteemed her
cordially for being a bulwark of the present edifice; which looks a
solid structure when the microscope is not applied to its components.
Supposing Percy Dacier a dishonourable tattler as well as an icy lover,
and that Lady Wathin, through his bride, had become privy to the secret
between him and Diana? There is reason to think that she would have held
it in terror over the baneful woman, but not have persecuted her: for she
was by no means the active malignant of theatrical plots. No, she would
have charged it upon the possession of brains by women, and have had a
further motive for inciting the potent dignitary her husband to employ
his authority to repress the sex's exercise of those fell weapons,
hurtful alike to them and all coming near them.
So extreme was her dread of Mrs. Warwick, that she drove from the London
railway station to see Constance and be reassured by her tranquil aspect.
Sweet Constance and her betrothed Percy were together, examining a
Lady Dunstane despatched a few words of the facts to Diana. She hoped to
hear from her; rather hoped, for the moment, not to see her. No answer
came. The great day of the nuptials came and passed. She counted on her
husband's appearance the next morning, as the good gentleman made a point
of visiting her, to entertain the wife he adored, whenever he had a
wallet of gossip that would overlay the blank of his absence. He had
been to the church of the wedding—he did not say with whom: all the
world was there; and he rapturously described the ceremony, stating
that it set women weeping and caused him to behave like a fool.
'You are impressionable,' said his wife.
He murmured something in praise of the institution of marriage—when
celebrated impressively, it seemed.
'Tony calls the social world "the theatre of appetites," as we have it at
present,' she said; 'and the world at a wedding is, one may reckon, in
the second act of the hungry tragicomedy.'
'Yes, there's the breakfast,' Sir Lukin assented. Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett was
much more intelligible to him: in fact, quite so, as to her speech.
Emma's heart now yearned to her Tony: Consulting her strength, she
thought she might journey to London, and on the third morning after the
Dacier-Asper marriage, she started.
Diana's door was open to Arthur Rhodes when Emma reached it.
'Have you seen her?' she asked him.
His head shook dolefully. 'Mrs. Warwick is unwell; she has been working
'You also, I'm afraid.'
'No.' He could deny that, whatever the look of him.
'Come to me at Copsley soon,' said she, entering to Danvers in the
'My mistress is upstairs, my lady,' said Danvers. 'She is lying on her
'She is ill?'
'She has been lying on her bed ever since.'
'Since what?' Lady Dunstane spoke sharply.
Danvers retrieved her indiscretion. 'Since she heard of the accident, my
'Take my name to her. Or no: I can venture.'
'I am not allowed to go in and speak to her. You will find the room
quite dark, my lady, and very cold. It is her command. My mistress will
not let me light the fire; and she has not eaten or drunk of anything
since . . . . She will die, if you do not persuade her to take
nourishment: a little, for a beginning. It wants the beginning.'
Emma went upstairs, thinking of the enigmatical maid, that she must be a
good soul after all. Diana's bedroom door was opened slowly.
'You will not be able to see at first, my lady,' Danvers whispered. 'The
bed is to the left, and a chair. I would bring in a candle, but it hurts
her eyes. She forbids it.'
Emma stepped in. The chill thick air of the unlighted London room was
cavernous. She almost forgot the beloved of her heart in the thought
that a living woman had been lying here more than two days and nights,
fasting. The proof of an uttermost misery revived the circumstances
within her to render her friend's presence in this desert of darkness
credible. She found the bed by touch, silently, and distinguished a dark
heap on the bed; she heard no breathing. She sat and listened; then she
stretched out her hand and met her Tony's. It lay open. It was the hand
of a drowned woman.
Shutters and curtains and the fireless grate gave the room an appalling
likeness to the vaults.
So like to the home of death it seemed, that in a few minutes the watcher
had lost count of time and kept but a wormy memory of the daylight. She
dared not speak, for some fear of startling; for the worse fear of never
getting answer. Tony's hand was lifeless. Her clasp of it struck no
She stung herself with bitter reproaches for having let common mundane
sentiments, worthy of a Lady Wathin, bar her instant offer of her bosom
to the beloved who suffered in this depth of mortal agony. Tony's love
of a man, as she should have known, would be wrought of the elements of
our being: when other women named Happiness, she said Life; in division,
Death. Her body lying still upon the bed here was a soul borne onward by
the river of Death.
The darkness gave sight after a while, like a curtain lifting on a veil:
the dead light of the underworld. Tony lay with her face up, her
underlip dropped; straight from head to feet. The outline of her face,
without hue of it, could be seen: sign of the hapless women that have
souls in love. Hateful love of men! Emma thought, and was; moved to
feel at the wrist for her darling's pulse. He has, killed her! the
thought flashed, as, with pangs chilling her frame, the pressure at the
wrist continued insensible of the faintest beat. She clasped it,
trembling, in pain to stop an outcry.
'It is Emmy,' said the voice.
Emma's heart sprang to heaven on a rush of thanks.
'My Tony,' she breathed softly.
She hung for a further proof of life in the motionless body. 'Tony!' she
The answer was at her hand, a thread-like return of her clasp.
'It is Emmy come to stay with you, never to leave you.'
The thin still answer was at her hand a moment; the fingers fell away.
A deep breath was taken twice to say:
'Don't talk to me.'
Emma retained the hand. She was warned not to press it by the deadness
following its effort to reply.
But Tony lived; she had given proof of life. Over this little wavering
taper in the vaults Emma cowered, cherishing the hand, silently hoping
for the voice.
It came: 'Winter.'
'It is a cold winter, Tony.'
'My dear will be cold.'
'I will light the fire.'
Emma lost no time in deciding to seek the match-box. The fire was lit
and it flamed; it seemed a revival in the room. Coming back to the
bedside, she discerned her Tony's lacklustre large dark eyes and her
hollow cheeks: her mouth open to air as to the drawing-in of a sword;
rather as to the releaser than the sustainer. Her feet were on the rug
her maid had placed to cover them. Emma leaned across the bed to put
them to her breast, beneath her fur mantle, and held them there despite
the half-animate tug of the limbs and the shaft of iciness they sent to
her very heart. When she had restored them to some warmth, she threw
aside her bonnet and lying beside Tony, took her in her arms, heaving now
and then a deep sigh.
She kissed her cheek.
'It is Emmy.'
'I have no strength.'
Emma laid her face on the lips. They were cold; even the breath between
'Has Emmy been long . . .?'
'Here, dear? I think so. I am with my darling.'
Tony moaned. The warmth and the love were bringing back her anguish.
She said: 'I have been happy. It is not hard to go.'
Emma strained to her. 'Tony will wait for her soul's own soul to go, the
There was a faint convulsion in the body. 'If I cry, I shall go in
'You are in Emmy's arms, my beloved.'
Tony's eyes closed for forgetfulness under that sensation. A tear ran
down from her, but the pain was lag and neighboured sleep, like the
So passed the short winter day, little spoken.
Then Emma bethought her of a way of leading Tony to take food, and she
said: 'I shall stay with you; I shall send for clothes; I am rather
hungry. Don't stir, dear. I will be mistress of the house.'
She went below to the kitchen, where a few words in the ear of a
Frenchwoman were sufficient to waken immediate comprehension of what was
wanted, and smart service: within ten minutes an appetizing bouillon sent
its odour over the bedroom. Tony, days back, had said her last to the
act of eating; but Emma sipping at the spoon and expressing satisfaction,
was a pleasant picture. The bouillon smelt pleasantly.
'Your servants love you,' Emma said.
'Ah, poor good souls.'
'They crowded up to me to hear of you. Madame of course at the first
word was off to her pots. And we English have the habit of calling
ourselves the practical people!—This bouillon is consummate.—However,
we have the virtues of barbarians; we can love and serve for love. I
never tasted anything so good. I could become a glutton.'
'Do,' said Tony.
'I should be ashamed to "drain the bowl" all to myself: a solitary toper
is a horrid creature, unless he makes a song of it.'
'Emmy makes a song of it to me.'
'But "pledge me" is a noble saying, when you think of humanity's original
hunger for the whole. It is there that our civilizing commenced, and I
am particularly fond of hearing the call. It is grandly historic. So
pledge me, Tony. We two can feed from one spoon; it is a closer, bond
than the loving cup. I want you just to taste it and excuse my
Tony murmured, 'No.' The spoon was put to her mouth. She sighed to
resist. The stronger will compelled her to move her lips. Emma fed her
as a child, and nature sucked for life.
The first effect was a gush of tears.
Emma lay with her that night, when the patient was, the better sleeper.
But during the night at intervals she had the happiness of feeling Tony's
hand travelling to make sure of her.
AN EXHIBITION OF SOME CHAMPIONS OF THE STRICKEN LADY
Close upon the hour of ten every morning the fortuitous meeting of two
gentlemen at Mrs. Warwick's housedoor was a signal for punctiliously
stately greetings, the salutation of the raised hat and a bow of the head
from a position of military erectness, followed by the remark: 'I trust
you are well, sir': to which the reply: 'I am very well, sir, and trust
you are the same,' was deemed a complimentary fulfilment of their mutual
obligation in presence. Mr. Sullivan Smith's initiative imparted this
exercise of formal manners to Mr. Arthur Rhodes, whose renewed
appearance, at the minute of his own arrival, he viewed, as he did not
conceal, with a disappointed and a reproving eye. The inquiry after the
state of Mrs. Warwick's health having received its tolerably comforting
answer from the footman, they left their cards in turn, then descended
the doorsteps, faced for the performance of the salute, and departed
their contrary ways.
The pleasing intelligence refreshed them one morning, that they would.
be welcomed by Lady Dunstane. Thereupon Mr. Sullivan Smith wheeled about
to Mr. Arthur Rhodes and observed to him: 'Sir, I might claim, by right
of seniority, to be the foremost of us two in offering my respects to the
lady, but the way is open to you.'
'Sir,' said Mr. Arthur Rhodes, 'permit me to defer to your many superior
titles to that distinction.'
'The honour, sir, lies rather in the bestowing than in the taking.'
'I venture to think, sir, that though I cannot speak pure Castilian, I
require no lesson from a Grandee of Spain in acknowledging the dues of my
'I will avow myself conquered, sir, by your overpowering condescension;'
said Mr. Sullivan Smith; 'and I entreat you—to ascribe my acceptance of
your brief retirement to the urgent character of the business I have at
He laid his fingers on the panting spot, and bowed.
Mr. Arthur Rhodes, likewise bowing, deferentially fell to rearward.
'If I mistake not,' said the Irish gentleman, 'I am indebted to Mr.
Rhodes; and we have been joint participators in the hospitality of Mrs.
The English gentleman replied: 'It was there that I first had the
pleasure of an acquaintance which is graven on my memory, as the words of
the wise king on tablets of gold and silver.'
Mr. Sullivan Smith gravely smiled at the unwonted match he had found in
ceremonious humour, in Saxonland, and saying: 'I shall not long detain
you, Mr. Rhodes,' he passed through the doorway.
Arthur waited for him, pacing up and down, for a quarter of an hour,
when a totally different man reappeared in the same person, and was the
Sullivan Smith of the rosy beaming features and princely heartiness. He
was accosted: 'Now, my dear boy, it's your turn to try if you have a
chance, and good luck go with ye. I've said what I could on your behalf,
for you're one of ten thousand in this country, you are.'
Mr. Sullivan Smith had solemnified himself to proffer a sober petition
within the walls of the newly widowed lady's house; namely, for nothing
less than that sweet lady's now unfettered hand: and it had therefore
been perfectly natural to him, until his performance ended with the
destruction of his hopes, to deliver himself in the high Castilian
manner. Quite unexpected, however, was the reciprocal loftiness of
tone spontaneously adopted by the young English squire, for whom, in
consequence, he conceived a cordial relish; and as he paced in the
footsteps of Arthur, anxious to quiet his curiosity by hearing how it
had fared with one whom he had to suppose the second applicant, he kept
ejaculating: 'Not a bit! The fellow can't be Saxon! And she had a
liking for him. She's nigh coming of the age when a woman takes to the
chicks. Better he than another, if it's to be any one. For he's got fun
in him; he carries his own condiments, instead of borrowing from the
popular castors, as is their way over here. But I might have known there
's always sure to be salt and savour in the man she covers with her wing.
Excepting, if you please, my dear lady, a bad shot you made at a rascal
cur, no more worthy of you than Beelzebub of Paradise. No matter! The
daughters' of Erin must share the fate of their mother Isle, that their
tears may shine in the burst of sun to follow. For personal and
patriotic motives, I would have cheered her and been like a wild ass
combed and groomed and tamed by the adorable creature. But her friend
says there 's not a whisk of a chance for me, and I must roam the desert,
kicking up, and worshipping the star I hail brightest. They know me not,
who think I can't worship. Why, what were I without my star? At best a
Sullivan Smith became aware of a ravishing melodiousness in the
soliloquy, as well as a clean resemblance in the simile. He would
certainly have proceeded to improvize impassioned verse, if he had not
seen Arthur Rhodes on the pavement. 'So, here's the boy. Query, the
face he wears.'
'How kind of you to wait,' said Arthur.
'We'll call it sympathy, for convenience,' rejoined Sullivan Smith.
'Well, and what next?'
'You know as much as I do. Thank heaven, she is recovering.'
'Is that all?'
'Why, what more?'
Arthur was jealously, inspected.
'You look open-hearted, my dear boy.' Sullivan Smith blew the sound of a
reflected ahem. 'Excuse me for cornemusing in your company,' he said.
'But seriously, there was only one thing to pardon your hurrying to the
lady's door at such a season, when the wind tells tales to the world.
She's down with a cold, you know.'
'An influenza,' said Arthur.
The simplicity of the acquiescence was vexatious to a champion desirous
of hostilities, to vindicate the lady, in addition to his anxiety to
cloak her sad plight.
'She caught it from contact with one of the inhabitants of this country.
'Tis the fate of us Irish, and we're condemned to it for the sin of
getting tired of our own. I begin to sneeze when I land at Holyhead.
Unbutton a waistcoat here, in the hope of meeting a heart, and you're
lucky in escaping a pulmonary attack of no common severity, while the dog
that infected you scampers off, to celebrate his honeymoon mayhap. Ah,
but call at her house in shoals, the world 'll soon be saying it's worse
than a coughing cold. If you came to lead her out of it in triumph, the
laugh 'd be with you, and the lady well covered. D' ye understand?'
The allusion to the dog's honeymoon had put Arthur Rhodes on the track of
the darting cracker-metaphor.
'I think I do,' he said. 'She will soon be at Copsley—Lady Dunstane's
house, on the hills—and there we can see her.'
'And that's next to the happiness of consoling—if only it had been
granted! She's not an ordinary widow, to be caught when the tear of
lamentation has opened a practicable path or water-way to the poor
nightcapped jewel within. So, and you're a candid admirer, Mr. Rhodes!
Well, and I'll be one with you; for there's not a star in the firmament
more deserving of homage than that lady.'
'Let's walk in the park and talk of her,' said Arthur. 'There's no
sweeter subject to me.'
His boyish frankness rejoiced Sullivan Smith. 'As long as you like!—nor
to me!' he exclaimed. 'And that ever since I first beheld her on the
night of a Ball in Dublin: before I had listened to a word of her
speaking: and she bore her father's Irish name:—none of your Warwicks
and your . . . But let the cur go barking. He can't tell what he's
lost; perhaps he doesn't care. And after inflicting his hydrophobia on
her tender fame! Pooh, sir; you call it a civilized country, where you
and I and dozens of others are ready to start up as brothers of the lady,
to defend her, and are paralyzed by the Law. 'Tis a law they've
instituted for the protection of dirty dogs—their majority!'
'I owe more to Mrs. Warwick than to any soul I know,' said Arthur.
' Let 's hear,' quoth Sullivan Smith; proceeding: 'She's the Arabian
Nights in person, that's sure; and Shakespeare's Plays, tragic and comic;
and the Book of Celtic History; and Erin incarnate—down with a cold,
no matter where; but we know where it was caught. So there's a pretty
library for who's to own her now she's enfranchized by circumstances; and
a poetical figure too!'
He subsided for his companion to rhapsodize.
Arthur was overcharged with feeling, and could say only: 'It would be
another world to me if I lost her.'
'True; but what of the lady?'
'No praise of mine could do her justice.'
'That may be, but it's negative of yourself, and not a portrait of the
object. Hasn't she the brain of Socrates—or better, say Minerva, on the
bust of Venus, and the remainder of her finished off to an exact
resemblance of her patronymic Goddess of the bow and quiver?'
'She has a wise head and is beautiful.'
Arthur reddened: he was prepared to maintain it, could not speak it.
'She is to us in this London, what the run of water was to Theocritus in
Sicily: the nearest to the visibly divine,' he said, and was applauded.
'Good, and on you go. Top me a few superlatives on that, and I 'm your
echo, my friend. Isn't the seeing and listening to her like sitting
under the silvery canopy of a fountain in high Summer?'
'All the comparisons are yours,' Arthur said enviously.
'Mr. Rhodes, you are a poet, I believe, and all you require to loosen
your tongue is a drop of Bacchus, so if you will do me the extreme honour
to dine with me at my Club this evening, we'll resume the toast that
should never be uttered dry. You reprove me justly, my friend.'
Arthur laughed and accepted. The Club was named, and the hour, and some
items of the little dinner: the birds and the year of the wines.
It surprised him to meet Mr. Redworth at the table of his host. A
greater surprise was the partial thaw in Redworth's bearing toward him.
But, as it was partial, and he a youth and poor, not even the genial
influences of Bacchus could lift him to loosen his tongue under the
repressing presence of the man he knew to be his censor, though Sullivan
Smith encouraged him with praises and opportunities. He thought of the
many occasions when Mrs. Warwick's art of management had produced a tacit
harmony between them. She had no peer. The dinner failed of the
pleasure he had expected from it. Redworth's bluntness killed the flying
metaphors, and at the end of the entertainment he and Sullivan Smith were
drumming upon politics.
'Fancies he has the key of the Irish difficulty!' said the latter,
clapping hand on his shoulder, by way of blessing, as they parted at the
Redworth asked Arthur Rhodes the way he was going, and walked beside him.
'I suppose you take exercise; don't get colds and that kind of thing,' he
remarked in the old bullying fashion; and changed it abruptly. 'I am
glad to have met you this evening. I hope you'll dine with me one day
next week. Have you seen Mrs. Warwick lately?'
'She is unwell; she has been working too hard,' said Arthur.
'Seriously unwell, do you mean?'
'Lady Dunstane is at her house, and speaks of her recovering.'
'Ah. You've not seen her?'
Redworth left him, and only when moved by gratitude to the lad for his
mention of Mrs. Warwick's 'working too hard,' as the cause of her
illness, recollected the promised dinner and the need for having his
He had met Sullivan Smith accidentally in the morning and accepted the
invitation to meet young Rhodes, because these two, of all men living,
were for the moment dearest to him, as Diana Warwick's true and simple
champions; and he had intended a perfect cordiality toward them both; the
end being a semi-wrangle with the patriot, and a patronizing bluntness
with the boy; who, by the way, would hardly think him sincere in the
offer of a seat at his table. He owned himself incomplete. He never
could do the thing he meant, in the small matters not leading to fortune.
But they led to happiness! Redworth was guilty of a sigh: for now Diana
Warwick stood free; doubly free, he was reduced to reflect in a wavering
dubiousness. Her more than inclination for Dacier, witnessed by him, and
the shot of the world, flying randomly on the subject, had struck this
cuirassier, making light of his armour, without causing any change of his
habitual fresh countenance. As for the scandal, it had never shaken his
faith in her nature. He thought of the passion. His heart struck at
Diana's, and whatever might by chance be true in the scandal affected him
little, if but her heart were at liberty. That was the prize he coveted,
having long read the nature of the woman and wedded his spirit to it.
She would complete him.
Of course, infatuated men argue likewise, and scandal does not move them.
At a glance, the lower instincts and the higher spirit appear equally to
have the philosophy of overlooking blemishes. The difference between
appetite and love is shown when a man, after years of service, can hear
and see, and admit the possible, and still desire in worship; knowing
that we of earth are begrimed and must be cleansed for presentation daily
on our passage through the miry ways, but that our souls, if flame of a
soul shall have come of the agony of flesh, are beyond the baser
mischances: partaking of them indeed, but sublimely. Now Redworth
believed in the soul of Diana. For him it burned, and it was a celestial
radiance about her, unquenched by her shifting fortunes, her wilfulnesses
and, it might be, errors. She was a woman and weak; that is, not trained
for strength. She was a soul; therefore perpetually pointing to growth
in purification. He felt it, and even discerned it of her, if he could
not have phrased it. The something sovereignty characteristic that
aspired in Diana enchained him. With her, or rather with his thought of
her soul, he understood the right union of women and men, from the roots
to the flowering heights of that rare graft. She gave him comprehension
of the meaning of love: a word in many mouths, not often explained. With
her, wound in his idea of her, he perceived it to signify a new start in
our existence, a finer shoot of the tree stoutly planted in good gross
earth; the senses running their live sap, and the minds companioned, and
the spirits made one by the whole-natured conjunction. In Booth, a happy
prospect for the sons and daughters of Earth, divinely indicating more
than happiness: the speeding of us, compact of what we are, between the
ascetic rocks and the sensual whirlpools, to the creation of certain
nobler races, now very dimly imagined.
Singularly enough, the man of these feelings was far from being a social
rebel. His Diana conjured them forth in relation to her, but was not on
his bosom to enlighten him generally. His notions of citizenship
tolerated the female Pharisees, as ladies offering us an excellent social
concrete where quicksands abound, and without quite justifying the Lady
Wathins and Constance Aspers of the world, whose virtues he could set
down to accident or to acid blood, he considered them supportable and
estimable where the Mrs. Fryar-Gunnetts were innumerable, threatening to
become a majority; as they will constantly do while the sisterhood of the
chaste are wattled in formalism and throned in sourness.
Thoughts of Diana made phantoms of the reputable and their reverse alike.
He could not choose but think of her. She was free; and he too; and they
were as distant as the horizon sail and the aft-floating castaway. Her
passion for Dacier might have burnt out her heart. And at present he had
no claim to visit her, dared not intrude. He would have nothing to say,
if he went, save to answer questions upon points of business: as to
which, Lady Dunstane would certainly summon him when he was wanted.
Riding in the park on a frosty morning, he came upon Sir Lukin, who
looked gloomy and inquired for news of Diana Warwick, saying that his
wife had forbidden him to call at her house just yet. 'She's got a cold,
you know,' said Sir Lukin; adding, 'confoundedly hard on women!—eh?
Obliged to keep up a show. And I'd swear, by all that's holy, Diana
Warwick hasn't a spot, not a spot, to reproach herself with. I fancy
I ought to know women by this time. And look here, Redworth, last night
—that is, I mean yesterday evening, I broke with a woman—a lady of my
acquaintance, you know, because she would go on scandal-mongering about
Diana Warwick. I broke with her. I told her I'd have out any man who
abused Diana Warwick, and I broke with her. By Jove! Redworth, those
women can prove spitfires. They've bags of venom under their tongues,
barley-sugar though they look—and that's her colour. But I broke with
her for good. I doubt if I shall ever call on her again. And in point
of fact, I won't.'
Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett was described in the colouring of the lady.
Sir Lukin, after some further remarks, rode on, and Redworth mused on a
moral world that allows a woman of Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett's like to hang on
to it, and to cast a stone at Diana; forgetful, in his championship, that
Diana was not disallowed a similar licence.
When he saw Emma Dunstane, some days later, she was in her carriage
driving, as she said, to Lawyerland, for an interview with old Mr.
Braddock, on her friend's affairs. He took a seat beside her. 'No, Tony
is not well,' she replied to his question, under the veil of candour.
'She is recovering, but she—you can understand—suffered a shock. She
is not able to attend to business, and certain things have to be done.'
'I used to be her man of business,' Redworth observed.
'She speaks of your kind services. This is mere matter for lawyers.'
'She is recovering?'
'You may see her at Copsley next week. You can come down on Wednesdays
'Any day. Tell her I want her opinion upon the state of things.'
'It will please her; but you will have to describe the state of things.'
Emma feared she had said too much. She tried candour again for
concealment. 'My poor Tony has been struck down low. I suppose it is
like losing a diseased limb:—she has her freedom, at the cost of a blow
to the system.'
'She may be trusted for having strength,' said Redworth.'
'Yes.' Emma's mild monosyllable was presently followed by an
exclamation: 'One has to experience the irony of Fate to comprehend how
cruel it is!' Then she remembered that such language was peculiarly
abhorrent to him.
'Irony of Fate!' he echoed her. 'I thought you were above that literary
'And I thought I was: or thought it would be put in a dialect practically
explicable,' she answered, smiling at the lion roused.
'Upon my word,' he burst out, 'I should like to write a book of Fables,
showing how donkeys get into grinding harness, and dogs lose their bones,
and fools have their sconces cracked, and all run jabbering of the irony
of Fate, to escape the annoyance of tracing the causes. And what are
they? nine times out of ten, plain want of patience, or some debt for
indulgence. There's a subject:—let some one write, Fables in
illustration of the irony of Fate: and I'll undertake to tack-on my
grandmother's maxims for a moral to teach of 'em. We prate of that irony
when we slink away from the lesson—the rod we conjure. And you to talk
of Fate! It's the seed we sow, individually or collectively. I'm bound-
up in the prosperity of the country, and if the ship is wrecked, it ruins
my fortune, but not me, unless I'm bound-up in myself. At least I hope
that's my case.'
He apologized for intruding Mr. Thomas Redworth.
His hearer looked at him, thinking he required a more finely pointed gift
of speech for the ironical tongue, but relishing the tonic directness of
his faculty of reason while she considered that the application of the
phrase might be brought home to him so as to render 'my Grandmother's
moral' a conclusion less comfortingly, if quite intelligibly, summary.
And then she thought of Tony's piteous instance; and thinking with her
heart, the tears insisted on that bitter irony of the heavens, which
bestowed the long-withheld and coveted boon when it was empty of value
or was but as a handful of spices to a shroud.
Perceiving the moisture in her look, Redworth understood that it was
foolish to talk rationally. But on her return to her beloved, the real
quality of the man had overcome her opposing state of sentiment, and she
spoke of him with an iteration and throb in the voice that set a singular
query whirring round Diana's ears. Her senses were too heavy for a
CONVALESCENCE OF A HEALTHY MIND DISTRAUGHT
From an abandonment that had the last pleasure of life in a willingness
to yield it up, Diana rose with her friend's help in some state of
fortitude, resembling the effort of her feet to bear the weight of her
body. She plucked her courage out of the dust to which her heart had
been scattered, and tasked herself to walk as the world does. But she
was indisposed to compassionate herself in the manner of the burdened
world. She lashed the creature who could not raise a head like others,
and made the endurance of torture a support, such as the pride of being
is to men. She would not have seen any similarity to pride in it; would
have deemed it the reverse. It was in fact the painful gathering of the
atoms composing pride. For she had not only suffered; she had done
wrongly: and when that was acknowledged, by the light of her sufferings
the wrong-doing appeared gigantic, chorussing eulogies of the man she had
thought her lover: and who was her lover once, before the crime against
him. In the opening of her bosom to Emma, he was painted a noble figure;
one of those that Romance delights to harass for the sake of ultimately
the more exquisitely rewarding. He hated treachery: she had been guilty
of doing what he most hated. She glorified him for the incapacity to
forgive; it was to her mind godlike. And her excuses of herself?
At the first confession, she said she had none, and sullenly maintained
that there was none to exonerate. Little by little her story was
related—her version of the story: for not even as woman to woman, friend
to great-hearted friend, pure soul to soul, could Diana tell of the state
of shivering abjection in which Dacier had left her on the fatal night;
of the many causes conducing to it, and of the chief. That was an
unutterable secret, bound by all the laws of feminine civilization not to
be betrayed. Her excessive self-abasement and exaltation of him who had
struck her down, rendered it difficult to be understood; and not till
Emma had revolved it and let it ripen in the mind some days could she
perceive with any clearness her Tony's motives, or mania. The very word
Money thickened the riddle: for Tony knew that her friend's purse was her
own to dip in at her pleasure; yet she, to escape so small an obligation,
had committed the enormity for which she held the man blameless in
'You see what I am, Emmy,' Diana said.
'What I do not see, is that he had grounds for striking so cruelly.'
'I proved myself unworthy of him.'
But does a man pretending to love a woman cut at one blow, for such a
cause, the ties uniting her to him? Unworthiness of that kind, is not
commonly the capital offence in love. Tony's deep prostration and her
resplendent picture of her judge and executioner, kept Emma questioning
within herself. Gradually she became enlightened enough to distinguish
in the man a known, if not common, type of the externally soft and
polished, internally hard and relentless, who are equal to the trials of
love only as long as favouring circumstances and seemings nurse the fair
object of their courtship.
Her thoughts recurred to the madness driving Tony to betray the secret;
and the ascent unhelped to get a survey of it and her and the conditions,
was mountainous. She toiled up but to enter the regions of cloud; sure
nevertheless that the obscurity was penetrable and excuses to be
discovered somewhere. Having never wanted money herself, she was unable
perfectly to realize the urgency of the need: she began however to
comprehend that the very eminent gentleman, before whom all human
creatures were to bow in humility, had for an extended term considerably
added to the expenses of Tony's household, by inciting her to give those
little dinners to his political supporters, and bringing comrades
perpetually to supper-parties, careless of how it might affect her
character and her purse. Surely an honourable man was bound to her in
honour? Tony's remark: 'I have the reptile in me, dear,' her exaggeration
of the act, in her resigned despair,—was surely no justification for his
breaking from her, even though he had discovered a vestige of the common
'reptile,' to leave her with a stain on her name?—There would not have
been a question about it if Tony had not exalted him so loftily,
refusing, in visible pain, to hear him blamed.
Danvers had dressed a bed for Lady Dunstane in her mistress's chamber,
where often during the night Emma caught a sound of stifled weeping or
the long falling breath of wakeful grief. One night she asked whether
Tony would like to have her by her side.
'No, dear,' was the answer in the dark; 'but you know my old pensioners,
the blind fifer and his wife; I've been thinking of them.'
'They were paid as they passed down the street yesterday, my love.'
'Yes, dear, I hope so. But he flourishes his tune so absurdly. I've
been thinking, that is the part I have played, instead of doing the
female's duty of handing round the tin-cup for pennies. I won't cry any
She sighed and turned to sleep, leaving Emma to disburden her heart in
For it seemed to her that Tony's intellect was weakened. She not merely
abased herself and exalted Dacier preposterously, she had sunk her
intelligence in her sensations: a state that she used to decry as the sin
of mankind, the origin of error and blood.
Strangely too, the proposal came from her, or the suggestion of it,
notwithstanding her subjectedness to the nerves, that she should show
her face in public. She said: 'I shall have to run about, Emmy, when I
can fancy I am able to rattle up to the old mark. At present, I feel
like a wrestler who has had a fall. As soon as the stiffness is over,
it's best to make an appearance, for the sake of one's backers, though I
shall never be in the wrestling ring again.'
'That is a good decision—when you feel quite yourself, dear Tony,' Emma
'I dare say I have disgraced my sex, but not as they suppose. I feel my
new self already, and can make the poor brute go through fire on behalf
of the old. What is the task?—merely to drive a face!'
'It is not known.'
'It will be known.'
'But this is a sealed secret.'
'Nothing is a secret that has been spoken. It 's in the air, and I have
to breathe to live by it. And I would rather it were out. "She betrayed
him." Rather that, than have them think—anything! They will exclaim,
How could she! I have been unable to answer it to you—my own heart.
How? Oh! our weakness is the swiftest dog to hunt us; we cannot escape
it. But I have the answer for them, that I trust with my whole soul none
of them would have done the like.'
'None, my Tony, would have taken it to the soul as you do.'
'I talk, dear. If I took it honestly, I should be dumb, soon dust.
The moment we begin to speak, the guilty creature is running for cover.
She could not otherwise exist. I am sensible of evasion when I open my
'But Tony has told me all.'
'I think I have. But if you excuse my conduct, I am certain I have not.'
'Dear girl, accounting for it, is not the same as excusing.'
'Who can account for it! I was caught in a whirl—Oh! nothing
supernatural: my weakness; which it pleases me to call a madness—shift
the ninety-ninth! When I drove down that night to Mr. Tonans, I am
certain I had my clear wits, but I felt like a bolt. I saw things,
but at too swift a rate for the conscience of them. Ah! let never
Necessity draw the bow of our weakness: it is the soul that is winged to
its perdition. I remember I was writing a story, named THE MAN OF TWO
MINDS. I shall sign it, By the Woman of Two Natures. If ever it is
finished. Capacity for thinking should precede the act of writing. It
should; I do not say that it does. Capacity for assimilating the public
taste and reproducing it, is the commonest. The stuff is perishable, but
it pays us for our labour, and in so doing saves us from becoming
tricksters. Now I can see that Mr. Redworth had it in that big head of
his—the authoress outliving her income!'
'He dared not speak.'
'Why did he not dare?'
'Would it have checked you?'
'I was a shot out of a gun, and I am glad he did not stand in my way.
What power charged the gun, is another question. Dada used to say, that
it is the devil's masterstroke to get us to accuse him. "So fare ye
well, old Nickie Ben." My dear, I am a black sheep; a creature with a
spotted reputation; I must wash and wash; and not with water—with
sulphur-flames.' She sighed. 'I am down there where they burn. You
should have let me lie and die. You were not kind. I was going
'My love!' cried Emma, overborne by a despair that she traced to the
woman's concealment of her bleeding heart, 'you live for me. Do set your
mind on that. Think of what you are bearing, as your debt to Emma. Will
Tony bowed her head mechanically.
'But I am in love with King Death, and must confess it,' she said. 'That
hideous eating you forced on me, snatched me from him. And I feel that
if I had gone, I should have been mercifully forgiven by everybody.'
'Except by me,' said Emma, embracing her. 'Tony would have left her
friend for her last voyage in mourning. And my dearest will live to know
'I have no more belief in it, Emmy.'
'The mistake of the world is to think happiness possible to the senses.'
'Yes; we distil that fine essence through the senses; and the act is
called the pain of life. It is the death of them. So much I understand
of what our existence must be. But I may grieve for having done so
'That is the sound grief, with hope at the core—not in love with itself
and wretchedly mortal, as we find self is under every shape it takes;
especially the chief one.'
'It is best named Amor.'
There was a writhing in the frame of the hearer, for she did want Love to
be respected; not shadowed by her misfortune. Her still-flushed senses
protested on behalf of the eternalness of the passion, and she was
obliged to think Emma's cold condemnatory intellect came of the no
knowledge of it.
A letter from Mr. Tonans, containing an enclosure, was a sharp trial of
Diana's endurance of the irony of Fate. She had spoken of the irony in
allusion to her freedom. Now that, according to a communication from her
lawyers, she was independent of the task of writing, the letter which
paid the price of her misery bruised her heavily.
'Read it and tear it all to strips,' she said in an abhorrence to Emma,
who rejoined: 'Shall I go at once and see him?'
'Can it serve any end? But throw it into the fire. Oh! no simulation of
virtue. There was not, I think, a stipulated return for what I did. But
I perceive clearly—I can read only by events—that there was an
understanding. You behold it. I went to him to sell it. He thanks me,
says I served the good cause well. I have not that consolation. If I
had thought of the cause—of anything high, it would have arrested me.
On the fire with it!'
The letter and square slip were consumed. Diana watched the blackening
So they cease their sinning, Emmy; and as long as I am in torment, I may
hope for grace. We talked of the irony. It means, the pain of fire.'
'I spoke of the irony to Redworth,' said Emma; 'incidentally, of course.'
'And he fumed?'
'He is really not altogether the Mr. Cuthbert Dering of your caricature.
He is never less than acceptably rational. I won't repeat his truisms;
but he said, or I deduced from what he said, that a grandmother's maxims
would expound the enigma.'
'Probably the simple is the deep, in relation to the mysteries of life,'
said Diana, whose wits had been pricked to a momentary activity by the
letter. 'He behaves wisely; so perhaps we are bound to take his words
for wisdom. Much nonsense is talked and written, and he is one of the
world's reserves, who need no more than enrolling, to make a sturdy
phalanx of common sense. It's a pity they are not enlisted and drilled
to express themselves.' She relapsed. 'But neither he nor any of them
could understand my case.'
'He puts the idea of an irony down to the guilt of impatience, Tony.'
'Could there be a keener irony than that? A friend of Dada's waited
patiently for a small fortune, and when it arrived, he was a worn-out
man, just assisted to go decently to his grave.'
'But he may have gained in spirit by his patient waiting.'
'Oh! true. We are warmer if we travel on foot sunward, but it is a
discovery that we are colder if we take to ballooning upward. The
material good reverses its benefits the more nearly we clasp it. All
life is a lesson that we live to enjoy but in the spirit. I will brood
on your saying.'
'It is your own saying, silly Tony, as the only things worth saying
always, are!' exclaimed Emma, as she smiled happily to see her friend's
mind reviving, though it was faintly and in the dark.
OF NATURE WITH ONE OF HER CULTIVATED DAUGHTERS AND A SHORT EXCURSION IN
A mind that after a long season of oblivion in pain returns to
wakefulness without a keen edge for the world, is much in danger of
souring permanently. Diana's love of nature saved her from the dire
mischance during a two months' residence at Copsley, by stupefying her
senses to a state like the barely conscious breathing on the verge of
sleep. February blew South-west for the pairing of the birds. A broad
warm wind rolled clouds of every ambiguity of form in magnitude over
peeping azure, or skimming upon lakes of blue and lightest green, or
piling the amphitheatre for majestic sunset. Or sometimes those
daughters of the wind flew linked and low, semi-purple, threatening the
shower they retained and teaching gloom to rouse a songful nest in the
bosom of the viewer. Sometimes they were April, variable to soar with
rain-skirts and sink with sunshafts. Or they drenched wood and field for
a day and opened on the high South-western star. Daughters of the wind,
but shifty daughters of this wind of the dropping sun, they have to be
watched to be loved in their transformations.
Diana had Arthur Rhodes and her faithful Leander for walking companions.
If Arthur said: 'Such a day would be considered melancholy by London
people,' she thanked him in her heart, as a benefactor who had revealed
to her things of the deepest. The simplest were her food. Thus does
Nature restore us, by drugging the brain and making her creature
confidingly animal for its new growth. She imagined herself to have lost
the power to think; certainly she had not the striving or the wish.
Exercise of her limbs to reach a point of prospect, and of her ears and
eyes to note what bird had piped, what flower was out on the banks, and
the leaf of what tree it was that lay beneath the budding, satiated her
daily desires. She gathered unknowingly a sheaf of landscapes, images,
keys of dreamed horizons, that opened a world to her at any chance
breath altering shape or hue: a different world from the one of her
old ambition. Her fall had brought her renovatingly to earth, and the
saving naturalness of the woman recreated her childlike, with shrouded
recollections of her strange taste of life behind her; with a tempered
fresh blood to enjoy aimlessly, and what would erewhile have been a
barrenness to her sensibilities.
In time the craving was evolved for positive knowledge, and shells and
stones and weeds were deposited on the library-table at Copsley,
botanical and geological books comparingly examined, Emma Dunstane always
eager to assist; for the samples wafted her into the heart of the woods.
Poor Sir Lukin tried three days of their society, and was driven away
headlong to Club-life. He sent down Redworth, with whom the walks of the
zealous inquirers were profitable, though Diana, in acknowledging it to
herself, reserved a decided preference for her foregone ethereal mood,
larger, and untroubled by the presence of a man. The suspicion Emma had
sown was not excited to an alarming activity; but she began to question:
could the best of men be simply—a woman's friend?—was not long service
rather less than a proof of friendship? She could be blind when her
heart was on fire for another. Her passion for her liberty, however,
received no ominous warning to look to the defences. He was the same
blunt speaker, and knotted his brows as queerly as ever at Arthur, in a
transparent calculation of how this fellow meant to gain his livelihood.
She wilfully put it to the credit of Arthur's tact that his elder was
amiable, without denying her debt to the good man for leaving her illness
and her appearance unmentioned. He forbore even to scan her features.
Diana's wan contemplativeness, in which the sparkle of meaning slowly
rose to flash, as we see a bubble rising from the deeps of crystal
waters, caught at his heart while he talked his matter-of-fact. But her
instinct of a present safety was true. She and Arthur discovered—and it
set her first meditating whether she did know the man so very accurately
—that he had printed, for private circulation, when at Harrow School, a
little book, a record of his observations in nature. Lady Dunstane was
the casual betrayer. He shrugged at the nonsense of a boy's publishing;
anybody's publishing he held for a doubtful proof of sanity. His excuse
was, that he had not published opinions. Let us observe, and assist in
our small sphere; not come mouthing to the footlights!
'We retire,' Diana said, for herself and Arthur.
'The wise thing, is to avoid the position that enforces publishing,' said
he, to the discomposure of his raw junior.
In the fields he was genially helpful; commending them to the study of
the South-west wind, if they wanted to forecast the weather and
understand the climate of our country. 'We have no Seasons, or only a
shuffle of them. Old calendars give seven months of the year to the
Southwest, and that's about the average. Count on it, you may generally
reckon what to expect. When you don't have the excess for a year or two,
you are drenched the year following.' He knew every bird by its flight
and its pipe, habits, tricks, hints of sagacity homely with the original
human; and his remarks on the sensitive life of trees and herbs were a
spell to his thirsty hearers. Something of astronomy he knew; but in
relation to that science, he sank his voice, touchingly to Diana, who
felt drawn to kinship with him when he had a pupil's tone. An allusion
by Arthur to the poetical work of Aratus, led to a memorably pleasant
evening's discourse upon the long reading of the stars by these our
mortal eyes. Altogether the mind of the practical man became
distinguishable to them as that of a plain brother of the poetic. Diana
said of him to Arthur: 'He does not supply me with similes; he points to
the source of them.' Arthur, with envy of the man of positive knowledge,
disguised an unstrung heart in agreeing.
Redworth alluded passingly to the condition of public affairs. Neither
of them replied. Diana was wondering how one who perused the eternal of
nature should lend a thought to the dusty temporary of the world.
Subsequently she reflected that she was asking him to confine his great
male appetite to the nibble of bread which nourished her immediate sense
of life. Her reflections were thin as mist, coming and going like the
mist, with no direction upon her brain, if they sprang from it. When he
had gone, welcome though Arthur had seen him to be, she rebounded to a
broader and cheerfuller liveliness. Arthur was flattered by an idea of
her casting off incubus—a most worthy gentleman, and a not perfectly
sympathetic associate. Her eyes had their lost light in them, her step
was brisker; she challenged him to former games of conversation,
excursions in blank verse here and there, as the mood dictated. They
amused themselves, and Emma too. She revelled in seeing Tony's younger
face and hearing some of her natural outbursts. That Dacier never could
have been the man for her, would have compressed and subjected her, and
inflicted a further taste of bondage in marriage, she was assured. She
hoped for the day when Tony would know it, and haply that another, whom
she little comprehended, was her rightful mate.
March continued South-westerly and grew rainier, as Redworth had
foretold, bidding them look for gales and storm, and then the change of
wind. It came, after wettings of a couple scorning the refuge of dainty
townsfolk under umbrellas, and proud of their likeness to dripping
wayside wildflowers. Arthur stayed at Copsley for a week of the crisp
North-easter; and what was it, when he had taken his leave, that brought
Tony home from her solitary walk in dejection? It could not be her
seriously regretting the absence of the youthful companion she had parted
with gaily, appointing a time for another meeting on the heights, and
recommending him to repair idle hours with strenuous work. The fit
passed and was not explained. The winds are sharp with memory. The hard
shrill wind crowed to her senses of an hour on the bleak sands of the
French coast; the beginning of the curtained misery, inscribed as her
happiness. She was next day prepared for her term in London with Emma,
who promised her to make an expedition at the end of it by way of
holiday, to see The Crossways, which Mr. Redworth said was not tenanted.
'You won't go through it like a captive?' said Emma.
'I don't like it, dear,' Diana put up a comic mouth. 'The debts we owe
ourselves are the hardest to pay. That is the discovery of advancing
age: and I used to imagine it was quite the other way. But they are the
debts of honour, imperative. I shall go through it grandly, you will
see. If I am stopped at my first recreancy and turned directly the
contrary way, I think I have courage.'
'You will not fear to meet . . . any one?' said Emma.
'The world and all it contains! I am robust, eager for the fray, an
Amazon, a brazen-faced hussy. Fear and I have parted. I shall not do
you discredit. Besides you intend to have me back here with you? And
besides again, I burn to make a last brave appearance. I have not
outraged the world, dear Emmy, whatever certain creatures in it may
She had come out of her dejectedness with a shrewder view of Dacier;
equally painful, for it killed her romance, and changed the garden of
their companionship in imagination to a waste. Her clearing intellect
prompted it, whilst her nature protested, and reviled her to uplift him.
He had loved her. 'I shall die knowing that a man did love me once,' she
said to her widowed heart, and set herself blushing and blanching. But
the thought grew inveterate: 'He could not bear much.' And in her quick
brain it shot up a crop of similitudes for the quality of that man's
love. She shuddered, as at a swift cleaving of cold steel. He had not
given her a chance; he had not replied to her letter written with the pen
dipped in her heart's blood; he must have gone straight away to the woman
he married. This after almost justifying the scandalous world:—after
. . . She realized her sensations of that night when the house-door
had closed on him; her feeling of lost sovereignty, degradation, feminine
danger, friendliness: and she was unaware, and never knew, nor did the
world ever know, what cunning had inspired the frosty Cupid to return to
her and be warmed by striking a bargain for his weighty secret. She knew
too well that she was not of the snows which do not melt, however high
her conceit of herself might place her. Happily she now stood out of the
sun, in a bracing temperature, Polar; and her compassion for women was
deeply sisterly in tenderness and understanding. She spoke of it to Emma
as her gain.
'I have not seen that you required to suffer to be considerate,' Emma
'It is on my conscience that I neglected Mary Paynham, among others—and
because you did not take to her, Emmy.'
'The reading of it appears to me, that she has neglected you.'
'She was not in my confidence, and so I construe it as delicacy. One
never loses by believing the best.'
'If one is not duped.'
'Expectations dupe us, not trust. The light of every soul burns upward.
Of course, most of them are candles in the wind. Let us allow for
atmospheric disturbance. Now I thank you, dear, for bringing me back to
life. I see that I was really a selfish suicide, because I feel I have
power to do some good, and belong to the army. When we are beginning to
reflect, as I do now, on a recovered basis of pure health, we have the
world at the dawn and know we are young in it, with great riches, great
things gained and greater to achieve. Personally I behold a queer little
wriggling worm for myself; but as one, of the active world I stand high
and shapely; and the very thought of doing work, is like a draught of the
desert-springs to me. Instead of which, I have once more to go about
presenting my face to vindicate my character. Mr. Redworth would admit
no irony in that! At all events, it is anti-climax.'
'I forgot to tell you, Tony, you have been proposed for,' said Emma; and
there was a rush of savage colour over Tony's cheeks.
Her apparent apprehensions were relieved by hearing the name of Mr.
'My poor dear countryman! And he thought me worthy, did he? Some day,
when we are past his repeating it, I'll thank him.'
The fact of her smiling happily at the narration of Sullivan Smith's
absurd proposal by mediatrix, proved to Emma how much her nature thirsted
for the smallest support in her self-esteem.
The second campaign of London was of bad augury at the commencement,
owing to the ridiculous intervention of a street-organ, that ground its
pipes in a sprawling roar of one of the Puritani marches, just as the
carriage was landing them at the door of her house. The notes were
harsh, dissonant, drunken, interlocked and horribly torn asunder,
intolerable to ears not keen to extract the tune through dreadful
memories. Diana sat startled and paralyzed. The melody crashed a
revival of her days with Dacier, as in gibes; and yet it reached to her
heart. She imagined a Providence that was trying her on the threshold,
striking at her feebleness. She had to lock herself in her room for an
hour of deadly abandonment to misery, resembling the run of poison
through her blood, before she could bear to lift eyes on her friend; to
whom subsequently she said: 'Emmy, there are wounds that cut sharp as the
enchanter's sword, and we don't know we are in halves till some rough old
intimate claps us on the back, merely to ask us how we are! I have to
join myself together again, as well as I can. It's done, dear; but don't
notice the cement.'
'You will be brave,' Emma petitioned.
'I long to show you I will.'
The meeting with those who could guess a portion of her story, did not
disconcert her. To Lady Pennon and Lady Singleby, she was the brilliant
Diana of her nominal luminary issuing from cloud. Face and tongue, she
was the same; and once in the stream, she soon gathered its current
topics and scattered her arrowy phrases. Lady Pennon ran about with
them, declaring that the beautiful speaker, if ever down, was up, and up
to her finest mark. Mrs. Fryar-Gannett had then become the blazing
regnant antisocial star; a distresser of domesticity, the magnetic
attraction in the spirituous flames of that wild snapdragon bowl, called
the Upper class; and she was angelically blonde, a straw-coloured Beauty.
'A lovely wheat sheaf, if the head were ripe,' Diana said of her.
'Threshed, says her fame, my dear,' Lady Pennon replied, otherwise
'A wheatsheaf of contention for the bread of wind,' said Diana, thinking
of foolish Sir Lukin; thoughtless of talking to a gossip.
She would have shot a lighter dart, had she meant it to fly and fix.
Proclaim, ye classics, what minor Goddess, or primal, Iris or Ate, sped
straight away on wing to the empty wheatsheaf-ears of the golden-visaged
Amabel Fryar-Gunnett, daughter of Demeter in the field to behold, of
Aphrodite in her rosy incendiarism for the many of men; filling that
pearly concave with a perversion of the uttered speech, such as never
lady could have repeated, nor man, if less than a reaping harvester:
which verily for women to hear, is to stamp a substantial damnatory
verification upon the delivery of the saying:—
'Mrs. Warwick says of you, that you're a bundle of straws for everybody
and bread for nobody.'
Or, stranger speculation, through what, and what number of conduits,
curious, and variously colouring, did it reach the fair Amabel of the
infant-in-cradle smile, in that deformation of the original utterance!
To pursue the thing, would be to enter the subter-sensual perfumed
caverns of a Romance of Fashionable Life, with no hope of coming back to
light, other than by tail of lynx, like the great Arabian seaman, at the
last page of the final chapter. A prospectively popular narrative
indeed! and coin to reward it, and applause. But I am reminded that a
story properly closed on the marriage of the heroine Constance and her
young Minister of State, has no time for conjuring chemists' bouquet of
aristocracy to lure the native taste. When we have satisfied English
sentiment, our task is done, in every branch of art, I hear: and it will
account to posterity for the condition of the branches. Those yet
wakeful eccentrics interested in such a person as Diana, to the extent of
remaining attentive till the curtain falls, demand of me to gather-up the
threads concerning her: which my gardener sweeping his pile of dead
leaves before the storm and night, advises me to do speedily. But it
happens that her resemblance to her sex and species of a civilized period
plants the main threads in her bosom. Rogues and a policeman, or a
hurried change of front of all the actors, are not a part of our slow
Nor is she to show herself to advantage. Only those who read her woman's
blood and character with the head, will care for Diana of the Crossways
now that the knot of her history has been unravelled. Some little love
they must have for her likewise: and how it can be quickened on behalf of
a woman who never sentimentalizes publicly, and has no dolly-dolly
compliance, and muses on actual life, and fatigues with the exercise of
brains, and is in sooth an alien: a princess of her kind and time, but a
foreign one, speaking a language distinct from the mercantile,
trafficking in ideas:—this is the problem. For to be true to her, one
cannot attempt at propitiation. She said worse things of the world than
that which was conveyed to the boxed ears of Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett.
Accepting the war declared against her a second time, she performed the
common mental trick in adversity of setting her personally known
innocence to lessen her generally unknown error—but anticipating that
this might become known, and the other not; and feeling that the motives
of the acknowledged error had served to guard her from being the culprit
of the charge she writhed under, she rushed out of a meditation
compounded of mind and nerves, with derision of the world's notion of
innocence and estimate of error. It was a mood lasting through her stay
in London, and longer, to the discomfort of one among her friends; and it
was worthy of The Anti-climax Expedition, as she called it.
For the rest, her demeanour to the old monster world exacting the
servility of her, in repayment for its tolerating countenance, was
faultless. Emma beheld the introduction to Mrs. Warwick of his bride,
by Mr. Percy Dacier. She had watched their approach up the Ball-room,
thinking, how differently would Redworth and Tony have looked.
Differently, had it been Tony and Dacier: but Emma could not persuade
herself of a possible harmony between them, save at the cost of Tony's
expiation of the sin of the greater heart in a performance equivalent to
Suttee. Perfectly an English gentleman of the higher order, he seemed
the effigy of a tombstone one, fixed upright, and civilly proud of his
effigy bride. So far, Emma considered them fitted. She perceived his
quick eye on her corner of the room; necessarily, for a man of his
breeding, without a change of expression. An emblem pertaining to her
creed was on the heroine's neck; also dependant at her waist. She was
white from head to foot; a symbol of purity. Her frail smile appeared
deeply studied in purity. Judging from her look and her reputation,
Emma divined that the man was justly mated with a devious filmy
sentimentalist, likely to 'fiddle harmonics on the sensual strings' for
him at a mad rate in the years to come. Such fiddling is indeed the
peculiar diversion of the opulent of a fatly prosperous people; who take
it, one may concede to them, for an inspired elimination of the higher
notes of life: the very highest. That saying of Tony's ripened with full
significance to Emma now. Not sensualism, but sham spiritualism, was the
meaning; and however fine the notes, they come skilfully evoked of the
under-brute in us. Reasoning it so, she thought it a saying for the
penetration of the most polished and deceptive of the later human masks.
She had besides, be it owned, a triumph in conjuring a sentence of her
friend's, like a sword's edge, to meet them; for she was boiling angrily
at the ironical destiny which had given to those Two a beclouding of her
beloved, whom she could have rebuked in turn for her insane caprice of
But when her beloved stood-up to greet Mrs. Percy Dacier, all idea save
tremulous admiration of the valiant woman, who had been wounded nigh to
death, passed from Emma's mind. Diana tempered her queenliness to
address the favoured lady with smiles and phrases of gentle warmth, of
goodness of nature; and it became a halo rather than a personal eclipse
that she cast.
Emma looked at Dacier. He wore the prescribed conventional air, subject
in half a minute to a rapid blinking of the eyelids. His wife could have
been inimically imagined fascinated and dwindling. A spot of colour came
to her cheeks. She likewise began to blink.
The happy couple bowed, proceeding; and Emma had Dacier's back for a
study. We score on that flat slate of man, unattractive as it is to
hostile observations, and unprotected, the device we choose. Her
harshest, was the positive thought that he had taken the woman best
suited to him. Doubtless, he was a man to prize the altar-candle
above the lamp of day. She fancied the back-view of him shrunken and
straitened: perhaps a mere hostile fancy: though it was conceivable that
he should desire as little of these meetings as possible. Eclipses are
The specially womanly exultation of Emma Dunstane in her friend's noble
attitude, seeing how their sex had been struck to the dust for a trifling
error, easily to be overlooked by a manful lover, and had asserted its
dignity in physical and moral splendour, in self-mastery and benignness,
was unshared by Diana. As soon as the business of the expedition was
over, her orders were issued for the sale of the lease of her house and
all it contained. 'I would sell Danvers too,' she said, 'but the
creature declines to be treated as merchandize. It seems I have a
faithful servant; very much like my life, not quite to my taste; the one
thing out of the wreck!—with my dog!'
Before quitting her house for the return to Copsley, she had to grant Mr.
Alexander Hepburn, post-haste from his Caledonia, a private interview.
She came out of it noticeably shattered. Nothing was related to Emma,
beyond the remark: 'I never knew till this morning the force of No in
earnest.' The weighty little word—woman's native watchdog and guardian,
if she calls it to her aid in earnest—had encountered and withstood a
fiery ancient host, astonished at its novel power of resistance.
Emma contented herself with the result. 'Were you much supplicated?'
'An Operatic Fourth-Act,' said Diana, by no means; feeling so flippantly
as she spoke.
She received, while under the impression of this man's, honest, if
primitive, ardour of courtship, or effort to capture, a characteristic
letter from Westlake, choicely phrased, containing presumeably an
application for her hand, in the generous offer of his own. Her reply to
a pursuer of that sort was easy. Comedy, after the barbaric attack,
refreshed her wits and reliance on her natural fencing weapons. To
Westlake, the unwritten No was conveyed in a series of kindly ironic
subterfuges, that, played it like an impish flea across the pages, just
giving the bloom of the word; and rich smiles come to Emma's life in
reading the dexterous composition: which, however, proved so thoroughly
to Westlake's taste, that a second and a third exercise in the comedy of
the negative had to be despatched to him from Copsley.
IN WHICH WE SEE NATURE MAKING OF A WOMAN A MAID AGAIN, AND A THRICE
On their way from London, after leaving the station, the drive through
the valley led them past a field, where cricketers were at work bowling
and batting under a vertical sun: not a very comprehensible sight to
ladies, whose practical tendencies, as observers of the other sex,
incline them to question the gain of such an expenditure of energy.
The dispersal of the alphabet over a printed page is not less perplexing
to the illiterate. As soon as Emma Dunstane discovered the Copsley head-
gamekeeper at one wicket, and, actually, Thomas Redworth facing him, bat
in hand, she sat up, greatly interested. Sir Lukin stopped the carriage
at the gate, and reminded his wife that it was the day of the year for
the men of his estate to encounter a valley Eleven. Redworth, like the
good fellow he was, had come down by appointment in the morning out of
London, to fill the number required, Copsley being weak this year. Eight
of their wickets had fallen for a lament able figure of twenty-nine runs;
himself clean-bowled the first ball. But Tom Redworth had got fast hold
of his wicket, and already scored fifty to his bat. 'There! grand hit!'
Sir Lukin cried, the ball flying hard at the rails. 'Once a cricketer,
always a cricketer, if you've legs to fetch the runs. And Pullen's not
doing badly. His business is to stick. We shall mark them a hundred
yet. I do hate a score on our side without the two 00's.' He accounted
for Redworth's mixed colours by telling the ladies he had lent him his
flannel jacket; which, against black trousers, looked odd but not ill.
Gradually the enthusiasm of the booth and bystanders converted the flying
of a leather ball into a subject of honourable excitement.
'And why are you doing nothing?' Sir Lukin was asked; and he explained:
'My stumps are down: I'm married.' He took his wife's hand prettily.
Diana had a malicious prompting. She smothered the wasp, and said:
'Oh! look at that!'
'Grand hit again! Oh! good! good!' cried Sir Lukin, clapping to it,
while the long-hit-off ran spinning his legs into one for an impossible
catch; and the batsmen were running and stretching bats, and the ball
flying away, flying back, and others after it, and still the batsmen
running, till it seemed that the ball had escaped control and was leading
the fielders on a coltish innings of its own, defiant of bowlers.
Diana said merrily: 'Bravo our side!'
'Bravo, old Tom Redworth'; rejoined Sir Lukin. 'Four, and a three! And
capital weather, haven't we: Hope we shall have same sort day next month
—return match, my ground. I've seen Tom Redworth score—old days—over
two hundred t' his bat. And he used to bowl too. But bowling wants
practice. And, Emmy, look at the old fellows lining the booth, pipe in
mouth and cheering. They do enjoy a day like this. We'll have a supper
for fifty at Copsley's:—it's fun. By Jove! we must have reached up to
near the hundred.'
He commissioned a neighbouring boy to hie to the booth for the latest
figures, and his emissary taught lightning a lesson.
Diana praised the little fellow.
'Yes, he's a real English boy,' said Emma.
'We 've thousands of 'em, thousands, ready to your hand,' exclaimed Sir
Lukin, 'and a confounded Radicalized country . . .' he murmured
gloomily of 'lets us be kicked! . . . any amount of insult, meek as
gruel! . . . making of the finest army the world has ever seen! You saw
the papers this morning? Good heaven! how a nation with an atom of
self-respect can go on standing that sort of bullying from foreigners!
We do. We're insulted and we're threatened, and we call for a hymn!—
Now then, my man, what is it?'
The boy had flown back. 'Ninety-two marked, sir; ninety-nine runs; one
more for the hundred.'
'Well reckoned; and mind you're up at Copsley for the return match.—
And Tom Redworth says, they may bite their thumbs to the bone—they don't
hurt us. I tell him, he has no sense of national pride. He says, we're
not prepared for war: We never are! And whose the fault? Says, we're a
peaceful people, but 'ware who touches us! He doesn't feel a kick.—Oh!
clever snick! Hurrah for the hundred!—Two-three. No, don't force the
running, you fools!—though they 're wild with the ball: ha!—no?—all
right!' The wicket stood. Hurrah!
The heat of the noonday sun compelled the ladies to drive on.
'Enthusiasm has the privilege of not knowing monotony,' said Emma. 'He
looks well in flannels.'
'Yes, he does,' Diana replied, aware of the reddening despite her having
spoken so simply. 'I think the chief advantage men have over us is in
'That is the better word.' Diana fanned her cheeks and said she was
warm. 'I mean, the permanent advantage. For you see that age does not
'Tom Redworth is not a patriarch, my dear.'
'Well, he is what would be called mature.'
'He can't be more than thirty-two or three; and that, for a man of his
constitution, means youth.'
'Well, I can imagine him a patriarch playing cricket.'
'I should imagine you imagine the possible chances. He is the father who
would play with his boys.'
'And lock up his girls in the nursery.' Diana murmured of the
Emma begged her to remember her heterodox views of the education for
'He bats admirably,' said Diana. 'I wish I could bat half as well.'
'Your batting is with the tongue.'
'Not so good. And a solid bat, or bludgeon, to defend the poor stumps,
is surer. But there is the difference of cricket:—when your stumps are
down, you are idle, at leisure; not a miserable prisoner.'
'Supposing all marriages miserable.'
'To the mind of me,' said Diana, and observed Emma's rather saddened
eyelids for a proof that schemes to rob her of dear liberty were
They conversed of expeditions to Redworth's Berkshire mansion, and to The
Crossways, untenanted at the moment, as he had informed Emma, who fancied
it would please Tony to pass a night in the house she loved; but as he
was to be of the party she coldly acquiesced.
The woman of flesh refuses pliancy when we want it of her, and will not,
until it is her good pleasure, be bent to the development called a
climax, as the puppet-woman, mother of Fiction and darling of the
multitude! ever amiably does, at a hint of the Nuptial Chapter. Diana in
addition sustained the weight of brains. Neither with waxen optics nor
with subservient jointings did she go through her pathways of the world.
Her direct individuality rejected the performance of simpleton, and her
lively blood, the warmer for its containment quickened her to penetrate
things and natures; and if as yet, in justness to the loyal male friend,
she forbore to name him conspirator, she read both him and Emma, whose
inner bosom was revealed to her, without an effort to see. But her
characteristic chasteness of mind, not coldness of the 'blood,—which had
supported an arduous conflict, past all existing rights closely to
depict, and which barbed her to pierce to the wishes threatening her
freedom, deceived her now to think her flaming blushes came of her
relentless divination on behalf of her recovered treasure: whereby the
clear reading of others distracted the view of herself. For one may be
the cleverest alive, and still hoodwinked while blood is young and warm.
The perpetuity of the contrast presented to her reflections, of
Redworth's healthy, open, practical, cheering life, and her own
freakishly interwinding, darkly penetrative, simulacrum of a life,
cheerless as well as useless, forced her humiliated consciousness by
degrees, in spite of pride, to the knowledge that she was engaged in a
struggle with him; and that he was the stronger;—it might be, the
worthier: she thought him the handsomer. He throve to the light of day,
and she spun a silly web that meshed her in her intricacies. Her
intuition of Emma's wishes led to this; he was constantly before her.
She tried to laugh at the image of the concrete cricketer, half-
flannelled, and red of face: the 'lucky calculator,' as she named him to
Emma, who shook her head, and sighed. The abstract, healthful and
powerful man, able to play besides profitably working, defied those poor
efforts. Consequently, at once she sent up a bubble to the skies, where
it became a spheral realm, of far too fine an atmosphere for men to
breathe in it; and thither she transported herself at will, whenever the
contrast, with its accompanying menace of a tyrannic subjugation,
overshadowed her. In the above, the kingdom composed of her shattered
romance of life and her present aspirings, she was free and safe.
Nothing touched her there—nothing that Redworth did. She could not have
admitted there her ideal of a hero. It was the sublimation of a virgin's
conception of life, better fortified against the enemy. She peopled it
with souls of the great and pure, gave it illimitable horizons, dreamy
nooks, ravishing landscapes, melodies of the poets of music. Higher and
more-celestial than the Salvatore, it was likewise, now she could assure
herself serenely, independent of the horrid blood-emotions. Living up
there, she had not a feeling.
The natural result of this habit of ascending to a superlunary home,
was the loss of an exact sense of how she was behaving below. At the
Berkshire mansion, she wore a supercilious air, almost as icy as she
accused the place of being. Emma knew she must have seen in the library
a row of her literary ventures, exquisitely bound; but there was no
allusion to the books. Mary Paynham's portrait of Mrs. Warwick hung
staring over the fireplace, and was criticized, as though its occupancy
of that position had no significance.
'He thinks she has a streak of genius,' Diana said to Emma.
'It may be shown in time,' Emma replied, for a comment on the work. 'He
should know, for the Spanish pictures are noble acquisitions.'
'They are, doubtless, good investments.'
He had been foolish enough to say, in Diana's hearing, that he considered
the purchase of the Berkshire estate a good investment. It had not yet a
name. She suggested various titles for Emma to propose: 'The Funds'; or
'Capital Towers'; or 'Dividend Manor'; or 'Railholm'; blind to the
evidence of inflicting pain. Emma, from what she had guess concerning
the purchaser of The Crossways, apprehended a discovery there which might
make Tony's treatment of him unkinder, seeing that she appeared actuated
contrariously; and only her invalid's new happiness in the small
excursions she was capable of taking to a definite spot, of some homely
attractiveness, moved her to follow her own proposal for the journey.
Diana pleaded urgently, childishly in tone, to have Arthur Rhodes with
them, 'so as to be sure of a sympathetic companion for a walk on the
Downs.' At The Crossways, they were soon aware that Mr. Redworth's
domestics were in attendance to serve them. Manifestly the house was his
property, and not much of an investment! The principal bed-room, her
father's once, and her own, devoted now to Emma's use, appalled her with
a resemblance to her London room. She had noticed some of her furniture
at 'Dividend Manor,' and chosen to consider it in the light of a bargain
from a purchase at the sale of her goods. Here was her bed, her writing-
table, her chair of authorship, desks, books, ornaments, water-colour
sketches. And the drawing-room was fitted with her brackets and
etageres, holding every knickknack she had possessed and scattered, small
bronzes, antiques, ivory junks, quaint ivory figures Chinese and
Japanese, bits of porcelain, silver incense-urns, dozens of dainty
sundries. She had a shamed curiosity to spy for an omission of one of
them; all were there. The Crossways had been turned into a trap.
Her reply to this blunt wooing, conspired, she felt justifled in
thinking, between him and Emma, was emphatic in muteness. She treated it
as if unobserved. At night, in bed, the scene of his mission from Emma
to her under this roof, barred her customary ascent to her planetary
kingdom. Next day she took Arthur after breakfast for a walk on the
Downs and remained absent till ten minutes before the hour of dinner.
As to that young gentleman, he was near to being caressed in public.
Arthur's opinions, his good sayings, were quoted; his excellent
companionship on really poetical walks, and perfect sympathy, praised to
his face. Challenged by her initiative to a kind of language that threw
Redworth out, he declaimed: 'We pace with some who make young morning
'Oh! stale as peel of fruit long since consumed,' she chimed.
And go they proceeded; and they laughed, Emma smiled a little, Redworth
did the same beneath one of his questioning frowns—a sort of fatherly
A suspicion that this man, when infatuated, was able to practise the
absurdest benevolence, the burlesque of chivalry, as a man-admiring sex
esteems it, stirred very naughty depths of the woman in Diana, labouring
under her perverted mood. She put him to proof, for the chance of arming
her wickedest to despise him. Arthur was petted, consulted, cited,
flattered all round; all but caressed. She played, with a reserve, the
maturish young woman smitten by an adorable youth; and enjoyed doing it
because she hoped for a visible effect—more paternal benevolence—and
could do it so dispassionately. Coquettry, Emma thought, was most
unworthily shown; and it was of the worst description. Innocent of
conspiracy, she had seen the array of Tony's lost household treasures
she wondered at a heartlessness that would not even utter common thanks
to the friendly man for the compliment of prizing her portrait and the
things she had owned; and there seemed an effort to wound him.
The invalided woman, charitable with allowances for her erratic husband,
could offer none for the woman of a long widowhood, that had become a
trebly sensitive maidenhood; abashed by her knowledge of the world,
animated by her abounding blood; cherishing her new freedom, dreading the
menacer; feeling that though she held the citadel, she was daily less
sure of its foundations, and that her hope of some last romance in life
was going; for in him shone not a glimpse. He appeared to Diana as a
fatal power, attracting her without sympathy, benevolently overcoming:
one of those good men, strong men, who subdue and do not kindle. The
enthralment revolted a nature capable of accepting subjection only by
burning. In return for his moral excellence, she gave him the moral
sentiments: esteem, gratitude, abstract admiration, perfect faith. But
the man? She could not now say she had never been loved; and a flood
of tenderness rose in her bosom, swelling from springs that she had
previously reproved with a desperate severity: the unhappy, unsatisfied
yearning to be more than loved, to love. It was alive, out of the wreck
of its first trial. This, the secret of her natural frailty, was bitter
to her pride: chastely-minded as she was, it whelmed her. And then her
comic imagination pictured Redworth dramatically making love. And to a
widow! It proved him to be senseless of romance. Poetic men take aim at
maidens. His devotedness to a widow was charged against him by the
widow's shudder at antecedents distasteful to her soul, a discolouration
of her life. She wished to look entirely forward, as upon a world washed
clear of night, not to be cast back on her antecedents by practical
wooings or words of love; to live spiritually; free of the shower at her
eyelids attendant on any idea of her loving. The woman who talked of the
sentimentalist's 'fiddling harmonics,' herself stressed the material
chords, in her attempt to escape out of herself and away from her
Meanwhile she was as little conscious of what she was doing as of how she
appeared. Arthur went about with the moony air of surcharged sweetness,
and a speculation on it, alternately tiptoe and prostrate. More of her
intoxicating wine was administered to him, in utter thoughtlessness of
consequences to one who was but a boy and a friend, almost of her own
rearing. She told Emma, when leaving The Crossways, that she had no
desire to look on the place again: she wondered at Mr. Redworth's liking
such a solitude. In truth, the look back on it let her perceive that her
husband haunted it, and disfigured the man, of real generosity, as her
heart confessed, but whom she accused of a lack of prescient delicacy,
for not knowing she would and must be haunted there. Blaming him, her
fountain of colour shot up, at a murmur of her unjustness and the poor
A week later, the youth she publicly named 'her Arthur' came down to
Copsley with news of his having been recommended by Mr. Redworth for the
post of secretary to an old Whig nobleman famous for his patronage of men
of letters. And besides, he expected to inherit, he said, and gazed in a
way to sharpen her instincts. The wine he had drunk of late from her
flowing vintage was in his eyes. They were on their usual rambles out
along the heights. 'Accept, by all means, and thank Mr. Redworth,' said
she, speeding her tongue to intercept him. 'Literature is a good stick
and a bad horse. Indeed, I ought to know. You can always write; I hope
She stepped fast, hearing: 'Mrs. Warwick—Diana! May I take your hand?'
This was her pretty piece of work! 'Why should you? If you speak my
Christian name, no: you forfeit any pretext. And pray, don't loiter.
We are going at the pace of the firm of Potter and Dawdle, and you know
they never got their shutters down till it was time to put them up
Nimble-footed as she was, she pressed ahead too fleetly for amorous
eloquence to have a chance. She heard 'Diana!' twice, through the
rattling of her discourse and flapping of her dress.
'Christian names are coin that seem to have an indifferent valuation of
the property they claim,' she said in the Copsley garden; 'and as for
hands, at meeting and parting, here is the friendliest you could have.
Only don't look rueful. My dear Arthur, spare me that, or I shall blame
His chance had gone, and he composed his face. No hope in speaking had
nerved him; merely the passion to speak. Diana understood the state, and
pitied the naturally modest young fellow, and chafed at herself as a
senseless incendiary, who did mischief right and left, from seeking to
shun the apparently inevitable. A sidethought intruded, that he would
have done his wooing poetically—not in the burly storm, or bull-Saxon,
she apprehended. Supposing it imperative with her to choose? She looked
up, and the bird of broader wing darkened the whole sky, bidding her know
that she had no choice.
Emma was requested to make Mr. Redworth acquainted with her story, all of
it:—'So that this exalted friendship of his may be shaken to a common
level. He has an unbearably high estimate of me, and it hurts me. Tell
him all; and more than even you have known:—but for his coming to me,
on the eve of your passing under the surgeon's hands, I should have gone
—flung the world my glove! A matter of minutes. Ten minutes later!
The train was to start for France at eight, and I was awaited. I have to
thank heaven that the man was one of those who can strike icily. Tell
Mr. Redworth what I say. You two converse upon every subject. One may
be too loftily respected—in my case. By and by—for he is a tolerant
reader of life and women, I think—we shall be humdrum friends of the
Emma's cheeks were as red as Diana's. 'I fancy Tom Redworth has not much
to learn concerning any person he cares for,' she said. 'You like him?
I have lost touch of you, my dear, and ask.'
'I like him: that I can say. He is everything I am not. But now I am
free, the sense of being undeservedly over-esteemed imposes fetters,
and I don't like them. I have been called a Beauty. Rightly or other,
I have had a Beauty's career; and a curious caged beast's life I have
found it. Will you promise me to speak to him? And also, thank him for
helping Arthur Rhodes to a situation.'
At this, the tears fell from her. And so enigmatical had she grown to
Emma, that her bosom friend took them for a confessed attachment to the
Diana's wretched emotion shamed her from putting any inquiries whether
Redworth had been told. He came repeatedly, and showed no change of
face, always continuing in the form of huge hovering griffin; until an
idea, instead of the monster bird, struck her. Might she not, after all,
be cowering under imagination? The very maidenly idea wakened her
womanliness—to reproach her remainder of pride, not to see more
accurately. It was the reason why she resolved, against Emma's extreme
entreaties, to take lodgings in the South valley below the heights, where
she could be independent of fancies and perpetual visitors, but near her
beloved at any summons of urgency; which Emma would not habitually send
because of the coming of a particular gentleman. Dresses were left at
Copsley for dining and sleeping there upon occasion, and poor Danvers,
despairing over the riddle of her mistress, was condemned to the
'It's my belief,' she confided to Lady Dunstane's maid Bartlett, 'she'll
hate men all her life after that Mr. Dacier.'
If women were deceived, and the riddle deceived herself, there is excuse
for a plain man like Redworth in not having the slightest clue to the
daily shifting feminine maze he beheld. The strange thing was, that
during her maiden time she had never been shifty or flighty, invariably
limpid and direct.
CONTAINS A REVELATION OF THE ORIGIN OF THE TIGRESS IN DIANA
An afternoon of high summer blazed over London through the City's awning
of smoke, and the three classes of the population, relaxed by the
weariful engagement with what to them was a fruitless heat, were
severally bathing their ideas in dreams of the contrast possible to
embrace: breezy seas or moors, aerial Alps, cool beer. The latter, if
confessedly the lower comfort, is the readier at command; and Thomas
Redworth, whose perspiring frame was directing his inward vision to fly
for solace to a trim new yacht, built on his lines, beckoning from
Southampton Water, had some of the amusement proper to things plucked off
the levels, in the conversation of a couple of journeymen close ahead of
him, as he made his way from a quiet street of brokers' offices to a City
Bank. One asked the other if he had ever tried any of that cold stuff
they were now selling out of barrows, with cream. His companion
answered, that he had not got much opinion of stuff of the sort; and what
was it like?
'Well, it's cheap, it ain't bad; it's cooling. But it ain't refreshing.'
'Just what I reckoned all that newfangle rubbish.'
Without a consultation, the conservatives in beverage filed with a smart
turn about, worthy of veterans at parade on the drill-ground, into a
public-house; and a dialogue chiefly remarkable for absence of point,
furnished matter to the politician's head of the hearer. Provided that
their beer was unadulterated! Beer they would have; and why not, in
weather like this? But how to make the publican honest! And he was not
the only trickster preying on the multitudinous poor copper crowd,
rightly to be protected by the silver and the golden. Revelations of the
arts practised to plump them with raw-earth and minerals in the guise of
nourishment, had recently knocked at the door of the general conscience
and obtained a civil reply from the footman. Repulsive as the thought
was to one still holding to Whiggish Liberalism, though flying various
Radical kites, he was caught by the decisive ultratorrent, and whirled
to amid the necessity for the interference of the State, to stop
the poisoning of the poor. Upper classes have never legislated
systematically in their interests; and quid . . . rabidae tradis ovile
lupae? says one of the multitude. We may be seeing fangs of wolves
where fleeces waxed. The State that makes it a vital principle to
concern itself with the helpless poor, meets instead of waiting for
Democracy; which is a perilous flood but when it is dammed. Or else, in
course of time, luxurious yachting, my friend, will encounter other reefs
and breakers than briny ocean's! Capital, whereat Diana Warwick aimed
her superbest sneer, has its instant duties. She theorized on the side
of poverty, and might do so: he had no right to be theorizing on the side
of riches. Across St. George's Channel, the cry for humanity in Capital
was an agony. He ought to be there, doing, not cogitating. The post of
Irish Secretary must be won by real service founded on absolute local
knowledge. Yes, and sympathy, if you like; but sympathy is for proving,
not prating . . . .
These were the meditations of a man in love; veins, arteries, headpiece
in love, and constantly brooding at a solitary height over the beautiful
coveted object; only too bewildered by her multifarious evanescent
feminine evasions, as of colours on a ruffle water, to think of pouncing
for he could do nothing to soften, nothing that seemed to please her: and
all the while, the motive of her mind impelled him in reflection beyond
practicable limits: even pointing him to apt quotations! Either he
thought within her thoughts, or his own were at her disposal. Nor was it
sufficient for him to be sensible of her influence, to restrain the
impetus he took from her. He had already wedded her morally, and much
that he did, as well as whatever he debated, came of Diana; more than if
they had been coupled, when his downright practical good sense could have
spoken. She held him suspended, swaying him in that posture; and he was
not a whit ashamed of it. The beloved woman was throned on the very
highest of the man.
Furthermore, not being encouraged, he had his peculiar reason for delay,
though now he could offer her wealth. She had once in his hearing
derided the unpleasant hiss of the ungainly English matron's title of
Mrs. There was no harm in the accustomed title, to his taste; but she
disliking it, he did the same, on her special behalf; and the prospect,
funereally draped, of a title sweeter-sounding to her ears, was above his
horizon. Bear in mind, that he underwent the reverse of encouragement.
Any small thing to please her was magnified, and the anticipation of it
nerved the modest hopes of one who deemed himself and any man alive
deeply her inferior.
Such was the mood of the lover condemned to hear another malignant
scandal defiling the name of the woman he worshipped. Sir Lukin
Dunstane, extremely hurried, bumped him on the lower step of the busy
Bank, and said:
'Pardon!' and 'Ha! Redwarth! making money?'
'Why, what are you up to down here?' he was asked, and he answered:
'Down to the Tower, to an officer quartered there. Not bad quarters,
but an infernal distance. Business.'
Having cloaked his expedition to the distance with the comprehensive
word, he repeated it; by which he feared he had rendered it too
significant, and he said: 'No, no; nothing particular'; and that caused
the secret he contained to swell in his breast rebelliously, informing
the candid creature of the fact of his hating to lie: whereupon thus he
poured himself out, in the quieter bustle of an alley, off the main
thoroughfare. 'You're a friend of hers. I 'm sure you care for her
reputation; you 're an old friend of hers, and she's my wife's dearest
friend; and I'm fond of her too; and I ought to be, and ought to know,
and do know:—pure? Strike off my fist if there's a spot on her
character! And a scoundrel like that fellow Wroxeter! Damnedest rage
I ever was in!—Swears . . . down at Lockton . . . when she was a
girl. Why, Redworth, I can tell you, when Diana Warwick was a girl!'
Redworth stopped him. 'Did he say it in your presence?'
Sir Lukin was drawn-up by the harsh question. 'Well, no; not exactly.'
He tried to hesitate, but he was in the hot vein of a confidence and he
wanted advice. 'The cur said it to a woman—hang the woman! And she
hates Diana Warwick: I can't tell why—a regular snake's hate. By Jove!
how women carp hate!'
'Who is the woman?' said Redworth.
Sir Lukin complained of the mob at his elbows. 'I don't like mentioning
A convenient open door of offices invited him to drag his receptacle, and
possible counsellor, into the passage, where immediately he bethought him
of a postponement of the distinct communication; but the vein was too
hot. 'I say, Redworth, I wish you'd dine with me. Let's drive up to my
Club.—Very well, two words. And I warn you, I shall call him out, and
make it appear it 's about another woman, who'll like nothing so much, if
I know the Jezebel. Some women are hussies, let 'em be handsome as
houris. And she's a fire-ship; by heaven, she is! Come, you're a friend
of my wife's, but you're a man of the world and my friend, and you know
how fellows are tempted, Tom Redworth.—Cur though he is, he's likely to
step out and receive a lesson.—Well, he's the favoured cavalier for the
present . . . h'm . . . Fryar-Gannett. Swears he told her,
circumstantially; and it was down at Lockton, when Diana Warwick was a
girl. Swears she'll spit her venom at her, so that Diana Warwick shan't
hold her head up in London Society, what with that cur Wroxeter, Old
Dannisburgh, and Dacier. And it does count a list, doesn't it? confound
the handsome hag! She's jealous of a dark rival. I've been down to
Colonel Hartswood at the Tower, and he thinks Wroxeter deserves
horsewhipping, and we may manage it. I know you 're dead against
duelling; and so am I, on my honour. But you see there are cases where
a lady must be protected; and anything new, left to circulate against a
lady who has been talked of twice—Oh, by Jove! it must be stopped. If
she has a male friend on earth, it must be stopped on the spot.'
Redworth eyed Sir Lukin curiously through his wrath.
'We'll drive up to your Club,' he said.
'Hartswood dines with me this evening, to confer,' rejoined Sir Lukin.
'Will you meet him?'
'I can't,' said Redworth, 'I have to see a lady, whose affairs I have
been attending to in the City; and I 'm engaged for the evening. You
perceive, my good fellow,' he resumed, as they rolled along, 'this is a
delicate business. You have to consider your wife. Mrs. Warwick's, name
won't come up, but another woman's will.'
'I meet Wroxeter at a gambling-house he frequents, and publicly call him
cheat—slap his face, if need be.'
'Sure to!' repeated Redworth. 'No stupid pretext will quash the woman's
name. Now, such a thing as a duel would give pain enough.'
'Of course; I understand,' Sir Lukin nodded his clear comprehension.
'But what is it you advise, to trounce the scoundrel, and silence him?'
'Leave it to me for a day. Let me have your word that you won't take a
step: positively—neither you nor Colonel Hartswood. I'll see you by
appointment at your Club.' Redworth looked up over the chimneys.
'We 're going to have a storm and a gale, I can tell you.'
'Gale and storm!' cried Sir Lukin; 'what has that got to do with it?'
'Think of something else for, a time.'
'And that brute of a woman—deuced handsome she is!—if you care for fair
women, Redworth:—she's a Venus, jumped slap out of the waves, and the
Devil for sire—that you learn: running about, sowing her lies. She's a
yellow witch. Oh! but she's a shameless minx. And a black-leg cur like
Wroxeter! Any woman intimate with a fellow like that, stamps herself.
I loathe her. Sort of woman who swears in the morning you're the only
man on earth; and next day—that evening-engaged!—fee to Polly Hopkins
—and it's a gentleman, a nobleman, my lord!—been going on behind your
back half the season!—and she isn't hissed when she abuses a lady, a
saint in comparison! You know the world, old fellow:—Brighton,
Richmond, visits to a friend as deep in the bog. How Fryar-Gunnett—
a man, after all—can stand it! And drives of an afternoon for an
airing-by heaven! You're out of that mess, Redworth: not much taste for
the sex; and you're right, you're lucky. Upon my word, the corruption of
society in the present day is awful; it's appalling.—I rattled at her:
and oh! dear me, perks on her hind heels and defies me to prove: and
she's no pretender, but hopes she's as good as any of my "chaste Dianas."
My dear old friend, it's when you come upon women of that kind you have a
sickener. And I'm bound by the best there is in a man-honour, gratitude,
all the' list—to defend Diana Warwick.'
'So, you see, for your wife's sake, your name can't be hung on a woman of
that kind,' said Redworth. 'I'll call here the day after to-morrow at
Sir Lukin descended and vainly pressed Redworth to run up into his Club
for refreshment. Said he roguishly:
'Who 's the lady?'
The tone threw Redworth on his frankness.
'The lady I 've been doing business for in the City, is Miss Paynham.'
'I saw her once at Copsley; good-looking. Cleverish?'
'She has ability.'
Entering his Club, Sir Lukin was accosted in the reading-room by a
cavalry officer, a Colonel Launay, an old Harrovian, who stood at the
window and asked him whether it was not Tom Redworth in the cab.
Another, of the same School, standing squared before a sheet of one of
the evening newspapers, heard the name and joined them, saying: 'Tom
Redworth is going to be married, some fellow told me.'
'He'll make a deuced good husband to any woman—if it's true,' said Sir
Lukin, with Miss Paynham ringing in his head. 'He's a cold-blooded old
boy, and likes women for their intellects.'
Colonel Launay hummed in meditative emphasis. He stared at vacancy with
a tranced eye, and turning a similar gaze on Sir Lukin, as if through
him, burst out: 'Oh, by George, I say, what a hugging that woman 'll
The cocking of ears and queries of Sir Lukin put him to the test of his
right to the remark; for it sounded of occult acquaintance with
interesting subterranean facts; and there was a communication, in brief
syllables and the dot language, crudely masculine. Immensely surprised,
Sir Lukin exclaimed: 'Of course! when fellows live quietly and are
careful of themselves. Ah! you may think you know a man for years, and
you don't: you don't know more than an inch or two of him. Why, of
course, Tom Redworth would be uxorious—the very man! And tell us what
has become of the Firefly now? One never sees her. Didn't complain?'
'Very much the contrary.'
Both gentlemen were grave, believing their knowledge in the subterranean
world of a wealthy city to give them a positive cognizance of female
humanity; and the substance of Colonel Launay's communication had its
impressiveness for them.
'Well, it's a turn right-about-face for me,' said Sir Lukin. 'What a
world we live in! I fancy I've hit on the woman he means to marry;—had
an idea of another woman once; but he's one of your friendly fellows with
women. That's how it was I took him for a fish. Great mistake, I admit.
But Tom Redworth 's a man of morals after all; and when those men do
break loose for a plunge—ha! Have you ever boxed with him? Well, he
keeps himself in training, I can tell you.'
Sir Lukin's round of visits drew him at night to Lady Singleby's, where
he sighted the identical young lady of his thoughts, Miss Paynham,
temporarily a guest of the house; and he talked to her of Redworth,
and had the satisfaction to spy a blush, a rageing blush: which avowal
presented her to his view as an exceedingly good-looking girl; so that
he began mentally to praise Redworth for a manly superiority to small
trifles and the world's tattle.
'You saw him to-day,' he said.
She answered: 'Yes. He goes down to Copsley tomorrow.'
'I think not,' said Sir Lukin.'
'I have it from him.' She closed her eyelids in speaking.
'He and I have some rather serious business in town.'
'Don't be alarmed: not concerning him.'
'Whom, then? You have told me so much—I have a right to know.'
'Not an atom of danger, I assure you?'
'It concerns Mrs. Warwick!' said she.
Sir Lukin thought the guess extraordinary. He preserved an impenetrable
air. But he had spoken enough to set that giddy head spinning.
Nowhere during the night was Mrs. Fryar-Gannett visible. Earlier than
usual, she was riding next day in the Row, alone for perhaps two minutes,
and Sir Lukin passed her, formally saluting. He could not help the look
behind him, she sat so bewitchingly on horseback! He looked, and behold,
her riding-whip was raised erect from the elbow. It was his horse that
wheeled; compulsorily he was borne at a short canter to her side.
The handsome Amabel threw him a sombre glance from the corners of her
uplifted eyelids; and snakish he felt it; but her colour and the line of
her face went well with sullenness; and, her arts of fascination cast
aside, she fascinated him more in seeming homelier, girlish. If the
trial of her beauty of a woman in a temper can bear the strain, she has
attractive lures indeed; irresistible to the amorous idler: and when, in
addition, being the guilty person, she plays the injured, her show of
temper on the taking face pitches him into perplexity with his own
emotions, creating a desire to strike and be stricken, howl and set
howling, which is of the happiest augury for tender reconcilement,
on the terms of the gentleman on his kneecap.
'You've been doing a pretty thing!' she said, and briefly she named her
house and half an hour, and flew. Sir Lukin was left to admire the
figure of the horsewoman. Really, her figure had an air of vindicating
her successfully, except for the poison she spat at Diana Warwick. And
what pretty thing had he been doing? He reviewed dozens of speculations
until the impossibility of seizing one determined him to go to Mrs.
Fryar-Gunnett at the end of the half-hour—'Just to see what these women
have to say for themselves.'
Some big advance drops of Redworth's thunderstorm drawing gloomily
overhead, warned him to be quick and get his horse into stables.
Dismounted, the sensational man was irresolute, suspecting a female trap.
But curiosity, combined with the instinctive turning of his nose in the
direction of the lady's house, led him thither, to an accompaniment of
celestial growls, which impressed him, judging by that naughty-girl face
of hers and the woman's tongue she had, as a likely prelude to the scene
to come below.
THE PENULTIMATE: SHOWING A FINAL STRUGGLE FOR LIBERTY AND RUN INTO
The prophet of the storm had forgotten his prediction; which, however,
was of small concern to him, apart from the ducking he received midway
between the valley and the heights of Copsley; whither he was bound,
on a mission so serious that, according to his custom in such instances,
he chose to take counsel of his active legs: an adviseable course when
the brain wants clearing and the heart fortifying. Diana's face was
clearly before him through the deluge; now in ogle features, the dimple
running from her mouth, the dark bright eyes and cut of eyelids, and
nostrils alive under their lightning; now inkier whole radiant smile, or
musefully listening, nursing a thought. Or she was obscured, and he felt
the face. The individuality of it had him by the heart, beyond his
powers of visioning. On his arrival, he stood in the hall, adrip like
one of the trees of the lawn, laughing at Lady Dunstane's anxious
exclamations. His portmanteau had come and he was expected; she hurried
out at the first ringing of the bell, to greet and reproach him for
walking in such weather.
'Diana has left me,' she said, when he reappeared in dry clothing.
'We are neighbours; she has taken cottage-lodgings at Selshall, about an
hour's walk:—one of her wild dreams of independence. Are you
'I am,' Redworth confessed.
Emma coloured. 'She requires an immense deal of humouring at present.
The fit will wear off; only we must wait for it. Any menace to her
precious liberty makes her prickly. She is passing the day with the
Pettigrews, who have taken a place near her village for a month. She
promised to dine and sleep here, if she returned in time. What is your
'Nothing; the world wags on.'
'You have nothing special to tell her?'
'Nothing'; he hummed; 'nothing, I fancy, that she does not know.'
'You said you were disappointed.'
'It's always a pleasure to see her.'
'Even in her worst moods, I find it so.'
'Oh! moods!' quoth Redworth.
'My friend, they are to be reckoned, with women.'
'Certainly; what I meant was, that I don't count them against women.'
'Good: but my meaning was . . . I think I remember your once comparing
them and the weather; and you spoke of the "one point more variable in
women." You may forestall your storms. There is no calculating the
effect of a few little words at a wrong season.'
'With women! I suppose not. I have no pretension to a knowledge of the
Emma imagined she had spoken plainly enough, if he had immediate designs;
and she was not sure of that, and wished rather to shun his confidences
while Tony was in her young widowhood, revelling in her joy of liberty.
By and by, was her thought: perhaps next year. She dreaded Tony's
refusal of the yoke, and her iron-hardness to the dearest of men
proposing it; and moreover, her further to be apprehended holding to the
refusal, for the sake of consistency, if it was once uttered. For her
own sake, she shrank from hearing intentions, that distressing the good
man, she would have to discountenance. His candour in confessing
disappointment, and his open face, his excellent sense too, gave her some
assurance of his not being foolishly impetuous. After he had read to her
for an hour, as his habit was on evenings and wet days, their discussion
of this and that in the book lulled any doubts she had of his prudence,
enough to render it even a dubious point whether she might be speculating
upon a wealthy bachelor in the old-fashioned ultra-feminine manner; the
which she so abhorred that she rejected the idea. Consequently,
Redworth's proposal to walk down to the valley for Diana, and bring her
back, struck her as natural when a shaft of western sunshine from a
whitened edge of raincloud struck her windows. She let him go without an
intimated monition or a thought of one; thinking simply that her Tony
would be more likely to come, having him for escort. Those are silly
women who are always imagining designs and intrigues and future
palpitations in the commonest actions of either sex. Emma Dunstane
leaned to the contrast between herself and them.
Danvers was at the house about sunset, reporting her mistress to be
on her way, with Mr. Redworth. The maid's tale of the dreadful state of
the lanes, accounted for their tardiness; and besides the sunset had been
magnificent. Diana knocked at Emma's bedroom door, to say, outside,
hurriedly in passing, how splendid the sunset had been, and beg for an
extra five minutes. Taking full fifteen, she swam into the drawing-room,
lively with kisses on Emma's cheeks, and excuses, referring her
misconduct in being late to the seductions of 'Sol' in his glory.
Redworth said he had rarely seen so wonderful a sunset. The result of
their unanimity stirred Emma's bosom to match-making regrets; and the
walk of the pair together, alone under the propitious laming heavens,
appeared to her now as an opportunity lost. From sisterly sympathy, she
fancied she could understand Tony's liberty-loving reluctance: she had no
comprehension of the backwardness of the man beholding the dear woman
handsomer than in her maiden or her married time: and sprightlier as
well. She chatted deliciously, and drew Redworth to talk his best on his
choicer subjects, playing over them like a fide-wisp, determined at once
to flounder him and to make him shine. Her tender esteem for the man was
transparent through it all; and Emma, whose evening had gone happily
between them, said to her, in their privacy, before parting: 'You seemed
to have been inspired by "Sol," my dear. You do like him, don't you?'
Diana vowed she adored him; and with a face of laughter in rosy
suffusion, put Sol for Redworth, Redworth for Sol; but, watchful of
Emma's visage, said finally: 'If you mean the mortal man, I think him up
to almost all your hyperboles—as far as men go; and he departed to his
night's rest, which I hope will be good, like a king. Not to admire him,
would argue me senseless, heartless. I do; I have reason to.'
'And you make him the butt of your ridicule, Tony.'
'No; I said "like a king"; and he is one. He has, to me, morally the
grandeur of your Sol sinking, Caesar stabbed, Cato on the sword-point.
He is Roman, Spartan, Imperial; English, if you like, the pick, of the
land. It is an honour to call him friend, and I do trust he will choose
the pick among us, to make her a happy woman—if she's for running in
harness. There, I can't say more.'
Emma had to be satisfied with it, for the present.
They were astonished at breakfast by seeing Sir Lukin ride past the
windows. He entered with the veritable appetite of a cavalier who had
ridden from London fasting; and why he had come at that early hour, he
was too hungry to explain. The ladies retired to read their letters by
the morning's post; whereupon Sir Lukin called to Redworth; 'I met that
woman in the park yesterday, and had to stand a volley. I went beating
about London for you all the afternoon and evening. She swears you rated
her like a scullery wench, and threatened to ruin Wroxeter. Did you see
him? She says, the story's true in one particular, that he did snatch a
kiss, and got mauled. Not so much to pay for it! But what a ruffian—
'I saw him,' said Redworth. 'He 's one of the new set of noblemen who
take bribes to serve as baits for transactions in the City. They help to
the ruin of their order, or are signs of its decay. We won't judge it by
him. He favoured me with his "word of honour" that the thing you heard
was entirely a misstatement, and so forth:—apologized, I suppose. He
'A thorough cur!'
'He professed his readiness to fight, if either of us was not contented.'
'He spoke to the wrong man. I've half a mind to ride back and have him
out for that rascal "osculation" and the lady unwilling!—and she a young
one, a girl, under the protection of the house! By Jove! Redworth, when
you come to consider the scoundrels men can be, it stirs a fellow's bile.
There's a deal of that sort of villany going—and succeeding sometimes!
He deserves the whip or a bullet.'
'A sermon from Lukin Dunstane might punish him.'
'Oh! I'm a sinner, I know. But, go and tell one woman of another woman,
and that a lie! That's beyond me.'
'The gradations of the deeps are perhaps measurable to those who are in
'The sermon's at me—pop!' said Sir Lukin. 'By the way, I'm coming round
to think Diana Warwick was right when she used to jibe at me for throwing
up my commission. Idleness is the devil—or mother of him. I manage my
estates; but the truth is, it doesn't occupy my mind.'
'My mind, I say.'
'Whichever you please.'
'You're crusty to-day, Redworth. Let me tell you, I think—and hard too,
when the fit's on me. However, you did right in stopping—I'll own—a
piece of folly, and shutting the mouths of those two; though it caused me
to come in for a regular drencher. But a pretty woman in a right-down
termagant passion is good theatre; because it can't last, at that pace;
and you're sure of your agreeable tableau. Not that I trust her ten
minutes out of sight—or any woman, except one or two; my wife and Diana
Warwick. Trust those you've tried, old boy. Diana Warwick ought to be
taught to thank you; though I don't know how it's to be done.'
'The fact of it is,' Redworth frowned and rose, 'I've done mischief.
I had no right to mix myself in it. I'm seldom caught off my feet by
an impulse; but I was. I took the fever from you.'
He squared his figure at the window, and looked up on a driving sky.
'Come, let's play open cards, Tom Redworth,' said Sir Lukin, leaving the
table and joining his friend by the window. 'You moral men are doomed to
be marrying men, always; and quite right. Not that one doesn't hear a
roundabout thing or two about you: no harm. Very much the contrary:—
as the world goes. But you're the man to marry a wife; and if I guess
the lady, she's a sensible girl and won't be jealous. I 'd swear she
only waits for asking.'
'Then you don't guess the lady,' said Redworth.
The desperate half-laugh greeting the name convinced more than a dozen
Sir Lukin kept edging round for a full view of the friend who shunned
inspection. 'But is it? . . . can it be? it must be, after all!
. . . why, of course it is! But the thing staring us in the face is
just what we never see. Just the husband for her!—and she's the wife!
Why, Diana Warwick 's the very woman, of course! I remember I used to
think so before she was free to wed.'
'She is not of that opinion.' Redworth blew a heavy breath; and it
should be chronicled as a sigh; but it was hugely masculine.
'Because you didn't attack, the moment she was free; that 's what upset
my calculations,' the sagacious gentleman continued, for a vindication of
his acuteness: then seizing the reply: 'Refuses? you don't mean to say
you're the man to take a refusal? and from a green widow in the blush?
Did you see her cheeks when she was peeping at the letter in her hand?
She colours at half a word—takes the lift of a finger for Hymen coming.
And lots of fellows are after her; I know it from Emmy. But you're not
the man to be refused. You're her friend—her champion. That woman
Fryar-Gunnett would have it you were the favoured lover, and sneered at
my talk of old friendship. Women are always down dead on the facts;
can't put them off a scent!'
'There's the mischief!' Redworth blew again. 'I had no right to be
championing Mrs. Warwick's name. Or the world won't give it, at all
events. I'm a blundering donkey. Yes, she wishes to keep her liberty.
And, upon my soul, I'm in love with everything she wishes! I've got the
'Habit be hanged!' cried Sir Lukin. 'You're in love with the woman.
I know a little more of you now, Mr. Tom. You're a fellow in earnest
about what you do. You're feeling it now, on the rack, by heaven!
though you keep a bold face. Did she speak positively?—sort of feminine
of "you're the monster, not the man"? or measured little doctor's dose
of pity?—worse sign.' You 're not going?'
'If you'll drive me down in half an hour,' said Redworth.
'Give me an hour,' Sir Lukin replied, and went straight to his wife's
Diana was roused from a meditation on a letter she held, by the entrance
of Emma in her bed-chamber, to whom she said: 'I have here the very
craziest bit of writing!—but what is disturbing you, dear?'
Emma sat beside her, panting and composing her lips to speak. 'Do you,
love me? I throw policy to the winds, if only, I can batter at you for
your heart and find it! Tony, do you love me? But don't answer: give me
your hand. You have rejected him!'
'He has told you?'
'No. He is not the man to cry out for a wound. He heard in London—
Lukin has had the courage to tell me, after his fashion:—Tom Redworth
heard an old story, coming from one of the baser kind of women: grossly
false, he knew. I mention only Lord Wroxeter and Lockton. He went to
man and woman both, and had it refuted, and stopped their tongues, on
peril; as he of all men is able to do when he wills it.'
Observing the quick change in Tony's eyes, Emma exclaimed: 'How you
looked disdain when you asked whether he had told me! But why are you
the handsome tigress to him, of all men living! The dear fellow, dear
to me at least! since the day he first saw you, has worshipped you and
striven to serve you:—and harder than any Scriptural service to have the
beloved woman to wife. I know nothing to compare with it, for he is a
man of warmth. He is one of those rare men of honour who can command
their passion; who venerate when they love: and those are the men that
women select for punishment! Yes, you! It is to the woman he loves that
he cannot show himself as he is, because he is at her feet. You have
managed to stamp your spirit on him; and as a consequence, he defends
you now, for flinging him off. And now his chief regret is, that he has
caused his name to be coupled with yours. I suppose he had some poor
hope, seeing you free. Or else the impulse to protect the woman of his
heart and soul was too strong. I have seen what he suffered, years back,
at the news of your engagement.'
'Oh, for God's sake, don't,' cried Tony, tears running over, and her
dream of freedom, her visions of romance, drowning.
'It was like the snapping of the branch of an oak, when the trunk stands
firm,' Emma resumed, in her desire to scourge as well as to soften. 'But
similes applied to him will strike you as incongruous.' Tony swayed her
body, for a negative, very girlishly and consciously. 'He probably did
not woo you in a poetic style, or the courtly by prescription.' Again
Tony swayed; she had to hug herself under the stripes, and felt as if
alone at sea, with her dear heavens pelting. 'You have sneered at him
for his calculating—to his face: and it was when he was comparatively
poor that he calculated—to his cost! that he dared not ask you to marry
a man who could not offer you a tithe of what he considered fit for the
peerless woman. Peerless, I admit. There he was not wrong. But if he
had valued you half a grain less, he might have won you. You talk much
of chivalry; you conceive a superhuman ideal, to which you fit a very
indifferent wooden model, while the man of all the world the most
chivalrous! . . . He is a man quite other from what you think him:
anything but a "Cuthbert Dering" or a "Man of Two Minds." He was in the
drawing-room below, on the day I received your last maiden letter from
The Crossways—now his property, in the hope of making it yours.'
'I behaved abominably there!' interposed Tony, with a gasp.
'Let it pass. At any rate, that was the prick of a needle, not the blow
of a sword.'
'But marriage, dear Emmy! marriage! Is marriage to be the end of me?'
'What amazing apotheosis have you in prospect? And are you steering so
particularly well by yourself?'
'Miserably! But I can dream. And the thought of a husband cuts me from
any dreaming. It's all dead flat earth at once!'
'Would, you lave rejected him when you were a girl?'
'I think so.'
'The superior merits of another . . .?'
'Oh, no, no, no, no! I might have accepted him: and I might not have
made him happy. I wanted a hero, and the jewelled garb and the feather
did not suit him.'
'No; he is not that description of lay-figure. You have dressed it, and
gemmed it, and—made your discovery. Here is a true man; and if you can
find me any of your heroes to match him, I will thank you. He came on
the day I speak of, to consult me as to whether, with the income he then
had . . . Well, I had to tell him you were engaged. The man has never
wavered in his love of you since that day. He has had to bear
This was an electrical bolt into Tony's bosom, shaking her from self-pity
and shame to remorseful pity of the suffering lover; and the tears ran in
streams, as she said:
'He bore it, Emmy, he bore it.' She sobbed out: 'And he went on building
a fortune and batting! Whatever he undertakes he does perfectly-approve
of the pattern or not. Oh! I have no doubt he had his nest of wish
piping to him all the while: only it seems quaint, dear, quaint, and
against everything we've been reading of lovers! Love was his bread and
butter!' Her dark eyes showered. 'And to tell you what you do not know
of him, his way of making love is really,' she sobbed, 'pretty. It . . .
it took me by surprise; I was expecting a bellow and an assault of horns;
and if, dear:—you will say, what boarding-school girl have you got with
you! and I feel myself getting childish:—if Sol in his glory had not
been so m . . . majestically m . . . magnificent, nor seemed to
show me the king . . . kingdom of my dreams, I might have stammered
the opposite word to the one he heard. Last night, when he took my hand
kindly before going to bed I had a fit for dropping on my knees to him.
I saw him bleed, and he held himself right royally. I told you he did;
—Sol in his moral grandeur! How infinitely above the physical monarch—
is he not, Emmy? What one dislikes, is the devotion of all that grandeur
to win a widow. It should be a maiden princess. You feel it so, I am
sure. And here am I, as if a maiden princess were I, demanding romantic
accessories of rubious vapour in the man condescending to implore the
widow to wed him. But, tell me, does he know everything of his widow—
everything? I shall not have to go through the frightful chapter?'
'He is a man with his eyes awake; he knows as much as any husband could
require to know,' said Emma; adding: 'My darling! he trusts you. It is
the soul of the man that loves you, as it is mine. You will not tease
him? Promise me. Give yourself frankly. You see it clearly before
'I see compulsion, my dear. What I see, is a regiment of Proverbs,
bearing placards instead of guns, and each one a taunt at women,
especially at widows. They march; they form square; they enclose me in
the middle, and I have their inscriptions to digest. Read that crazy
letter from Mary Paynham while I am putting on my bonnet. I perceive I
have been crying like a raw creature in her teens. I don't know myself.
An advantage of the darker complexions is our speedier concealment of the
Emma read Miss Paynham's letter, and returned it with the comment:
'Utterly crazy.' Tony said: 'Is it not? I am to "Pause before I trifle
with a noble heart too long." She is to "have her happiness in the
constant prayer for ours"; and she is "warned by one of those
intimations never failing her, that he runs a serious danger." It reads
like a Wizard's Almanack. And here "Homogeneity of sentiment the most
perfect, is unable to contend with the fatal charm, which exercised by an
indifferent person, must be ascribed to original predestination." She
should be under the wing of Lady Wathin. There is the mother for such
chicks! But I'll own to you, Emmy, that after the perusal, I did ask
myself a question as to my likeness of late to the writer. I have
drivelled . . . I was shuddering over it when you came in. I have
sentimentalized up to thin smoke. And she tells a truth when she says I
am not to "count social cleverness"—she means volubility—" as a warrant
for domineering a capacious intelligence": because of the gentleman's
modesty. Agreed: I have done it; I am contrite. I am going into slavery
to make amends for presumption. Banality, thy name is marriage!'
'Your business is to accept life as we have it,' said Emma; and Tony
shrugged. She was precipitate in going forth to her commonplace fate,
and scarcely looked at the man requested by Emma to escort her to her
cottage. After their departure, Emma fell into laughter at the last
words with the kiss of her cheeks: 'Here goes old Ireland!' But, from her
look and from what she had said upstairs, Emma could believe that the
singular sprite of girlishness invading and governing her latterly, had
yielded place to the woman she loved.
NUPTIAL CHAPTER; AND OF HOW A BARELY WILLING WOMAN WAS LED TO BLOOM WITH
THE NUPTIAL SENTIMENT
Emma watched them on their way through the park, till they rounded the
beechwood, talking, it could be surmised, of ordinary matters; the face
of the gentleman turning at times to his companion's, which steadily
fronted the gale. She left the ensuing to a prayer for their good
direction, with a chuckle at Tony's evident feeling of a ludicrous
posture, and the desperate rush of her agile limbs to have it over.
But her prayer throbbed almost to a supplication that the wrong done
to her beloved by Dacier—the wound to her own sisterly pride rankling as
an injury to her sex, might be cancelled through the union of the woman
noble in the sight of God with a more manlike man.
Meanwhile the feet of the couple were going faster than their heads to
the end of the journey. Diana knew she would have to hoist the signal-
and how? The prospect was dumb-foundering. She had to think of
appeasing her Emma. Redworth, for his part; actually supposed she had
accepted his escorting in proof of the plain friendship offered him
'What do your "birds" do in weather like this?' she said.
'Cling to their perches and wait patiently. It's the bad time with them
when you don't hear them chirp.'
'Of course you foretold the gale.'
'Oh, well, it did not require a shepherd or a skipper for that.'
'Your grand gift will be useful to a yachtsman.'
'You like yachting. When I have tried my new schooner in the Channel,
she is at your command for as long as you and Lady Dunstane please.'
'So you acknowledge that birds—things of nature—have their bad time?'
'They profit ultimately by the deluge and the wreck. Nothing on earth is
"tucked-up" in perpetuity.'
'Except the dead. But why should the schooner be at our command?'
'I shall be in Ireland.'
He could not have said sweeter to her ears or more touching.
'We shall hardly feel safe without the weatherwise on board.'
'You may count on my man Barnes; I have proved him. He is up to his work
even when he's bilious: only, in that case, occurring about once a
fortnight, you must leave him to fight it out with the elements.'
'I rather like men of action to have a temper.'
'I can't say much for a bilious temper.'
The weather to-day really seemed of that kind, she remarked. He
assented, in the shrug manner—not to dissent: she might say what she
would. He helped nowhere to a lead; and so quick are the changes of mood
at such moments that she was now far from him under the failure of an
effort to come near. But thoughts of Emma pressed.
'The name of the new schooner? Her name is her picture to me.'
'I wanted you to christen her.'
'Launched without a name?'
'I took a liberty.'
Needless to ask, but she did. 'With whom?'
'I named her Diana.'
'May the Goddess of the silver bow and crescent protect her! To me the
name is ominous of mischance.'
'I would commit my fortunes and life . . . !' He checked his tongue,
She had veered straight away from her romantic aspirations to the blunt
extreme of thinking that a widow should be wooed in unornamented matter-
of-fact, as she is wedded, with a 'wilt thou,' and 'I will,' and no
decorative illusions. Downright, for the unpoetic creature, if you
please! So she rejected the accompaniment of the silver Goddess and high
seas for an introduction of the crisis.
'This would be a thunderer on our coasts. I had a trial of my sailing
powers in the Mediterranean.'
As she said it, her musings on him then, with the contract of her
position toward him now, fierily brushed her cheeks; and she wished him
the man to make one snatch at her poor lost small butterfly bit of
freedom, so that she might suddenly feel in haven, at peace with her
expectant Emma. He could have seen the inviting consciousness, but he
was absurdly watchful lest the flying sprays of border trees should
strike her. He mentioned his fear, and it became an excuse for her
seeking protection of her veil. 'It is our natural guardian,' she said.
'Not much against timber,' said he.
The worthy creature's anxiety was of the pattern of cavaliers escorting
dames—an exaggeration of honest zeal; a present example of clownish
goodness, it might seem; until entering the larch and firwood along the
beaten heights, there was a rocking and straining of the shallow-rooted
trees in a tremendous gust that quite pardoned him for curving his arm in
a hoop about her and holding a shoulder in front. The veil did her
He was honourably scrupulous not to presume. A right good unimpulsive
gentleman: the same that she had always taken him for and liked.
'These firs are not taproots,' he observed, by way of apology.
Her dress volumed and her ribands rattled and chirruped on the verge of
the slope. 'I will take your arm here,' she said.
Redworth received the little hand, saying: 'Lean to me.'
They descended upon great surges of wind piping and driving every light
surface-atom as foam; and they blinked and shook; even the man was
shaken. But their arms were interlinked and they grappled; the battering
enemy made them one. It might mean nothing, or everything: to him it
meant the sheer blissful instant.
At the foot of the hill, he said: 'It's harder to keep to, the terms of
'What were they?' said she, and took his breath more than the fury of the
storm had done.
'Raise the veil, I beg.'
'Widows do not wear it.'
The look revealed to him was a fugitive of the wilds, no longer the
glittering shooter of arrows.
'Have you . . .?' changed to me, was the signification understood.
'Can you?—for life'. Do you think you can?'
His poverty in the pleading language melted her.
'What I cannot do, my best of friends, is to submit to be seated on a
throne, with you petitioning. Yes, as far as concerns this hand of mine,
if you hold it worthy of you. We will speak of that. Now tell me the
name of the weed trailing along the hedge there!
He knew it well; a common hedgerow weed; but the placid diversion baffled
him. It was clematis, he said.
'It drags in the dust when it has no firm arm to cling to. I passed it
beside you yesterday with a flaunting mind and not a suspicion of a
likeness. How foolish I was! I could volubly sermonize; only it should
be a young maid to listen. Forgive me the yesterday.'
'You have never to ask. You withdraw your hand—was I rough?'
'No,' she smiled demurely; 'it must get used to the shackles: but my
cottage is in sight. I have a growing love for the place. We will enter
it like plain people—if you think of coming in.'
As she said it she had a slight shock of cowering under eyes tolerably
hawkish in their male glitter; but her coolness was not disturbed; and
without any apprehensions she reflected on what has been written of the
silly division and war of the sexes:—which two might surely enter on an
engagement to live together amiably, unvexed by that barbarous old fowl
and falcon interlude. Cool herself, she imagined the same of him, having
good grounds for the delusion; so they passed through the cottage-garden
and beneath the low porchway, into her little sitting-room, where she was
proceeding to speak composedly of her preference for cottages, while
untying her bonnet-strings:—'If I had begun my life in a cottage!'—when
really a big storm-wave caught her from shore and whirled her to mid-sea,
out of every sensibility but the swimming one of her loss of self in the
'You would not have been here!' was all he said. She was up at his
heart, fast-locked, undergoing a change greater than the sea works; her
thoughts one blush, her brain a fire-fount. This was not like being
seated on a throne.
'There,' said he, loosening his hug, 'now you belong to me! I know you
from head to foot. After that, my darling, I could leave you for years,
and call you wife, and be sure of you. I could swear it for you—my life
on it! That 's what I think of you. Don't wonder that I took my chance
—the first:—I have waited!'
Truer word was never uttered, she owned, coming into some harmony with
man's kiss on her mouth: the man violently metamorphozed to a stranger,
acting on rights she had given him. And who was she to dream of denying
them? Not an idea in her head! Bound verily to be thankful for such
love, on hearing that it dated from the night in Ireland . . . .
'So in love with you that, on my soul, your happiness was my marrow—
whatever you wished; anything you chose. It's reckoned a fool's part.
No, it's love: the love of a woman—the one woman! I was like the hand
of a clock to the springs. I taught this old watch-dog of a heart to
keep guard and bury the bones you tossed him.'
'Ignorantly, admit,' said she, and could have bitten her tongue for the
empty words that provoked: 'Would you have flung him nothing?' and caused
a lowering of her eyelids and shamed glimpses of recollections. 'I hear
you have again been defending me. I told you, I think, I wished I had
begun my girl's life in a cottage. All that I have had to endure! . .
or so it seems to me: it may be my way of excusing myself:—I know my
cunning in that peculiar art. I would take my chance of mixing among the
highest and the brightest.'
'It brings you to me.'
'Through a muddy channel.'
'Your husband has full faith in you, my own.'
'The faith has to be summoned and is buffeted, as we were just now on the
hill. I wish he had taken me from a cottage.'
'You pushed for the best society, like a fish to its native sea.'
'Pray say, a salmon to the riverheads.'
'Better,' Redworth laughed joyfully, between admiration of the tongue
that always outflew him, and of the face he reddened.
By degrees her apter and neater terms of speech helped her to a notion of
regaining some steps of her sunken ascendancy, under the weight of the
novel masculine pressure on her throbbing blood; and when he bent to her
to take her lord's farewell of her, after agreeing to go and delight Emma
with a message, her submission and her personal pride were not so much at
variance: perhaps because her buzzing head had no ideas. 'Tell Emma you
have undertaken to wash the blackamoor as white as she can be,' she said
perversely, in her spite at herself for not coming, as it were, out of
the dawn to the man she could consent to wed: and he replied: 'I shall
tell her my dark girl pleads for a fortnight's grace before she and I set
sail for the West coast of Ireland': conjuring a picture that checked any
protest against the shortness of time:—and Emma would surely be his
They talked of the Dublin Ball: painfully to some of her thoughts.
But Redworth kissed that distant brilliant night as freshly as if no
belabouring years rolled in the chasm: which led her to conceive partly,
and wonderingly, the nature of a strong man's passion; and it subjugated
the woman knowing of a contrast. The smart of the blow dealt her by him
who had fired the passion in her became a burning regret for the loss of
that fair fame she had sacrificed to him, and could not bring to her
truer lover: though it was but the outer view of herself—the world's
view; only she was generous and of honest conscience, and but for the
sake of her truer lover, she would mentally have allowed the world to
lash and abuse her, without a plea of material purity. Could it be
named? The naming of it in her clear mind lessened it to accidental:—
By good fortune, she was no worse!—She said to Redworth, when finally
dismissing him; 'I bring no real disgrace to you, my friend.'—To have
had this sharp spiritual battle at such a time, was proof of honest
conscience, rarer among women, as the world has fashioned them yet, than
the purity demanded of them.—His answer: 'You are my wife!' rang in her
When she sat alone at last, she was incapable, despite her nature's
imaginative leap to brightness, of choosing any single period, auspicious
or luminous or flattering, since the hour of her first meeting this man,
rather than the grey light he cast on her, promising helpfulness, and
inspiring a belief in her capacity to help. Not the Salvatore high
raptures nor the nights of social applause could appear preferable: she
strained her shattered wits to try them. As for her superlunary sphere,
it was in fragments; and she mused on the singularity, considering that
she was not deeply enamoured. Was she so at all? The question drove her
to embrace the dignity of being reasonable—under Emmy's guidance. For
she did not stand firmly alone; her story confessed it. Marriage might
be the archway to the road of good service, even as our passage through
the flesh may lead to the better state. She had thoughts of the kind,
and had them while encouraging herself to deplore the adieu to her little
musk-scented sitting-room, where a modest freedom breathed, and her
individuality had seemed pointing to a straighter growth.
She nodded subsequently to the truth of her happy Emma's remark: 'You
were created for the world, Tony.' A woman of blood and imagination in
the warring world, without a mate whom she can revere, subscribes to a
likeness with those independent minor realms between greedy mighty
neighbours, which conspire and undermine when they do not openly threaten
to devour. So, then, this union, the return to the wedding yoke,
received sanction of grey-toned reason. She was not enamoured she could
say it to herself. She had, however, been surprised, both by the man and
her unprotesting submission; surprised and warmed, unaccountably warmed.
Clearness of mind in the woman chaste by nature, however little ignorant
it allowed her to be in the general review of herself, could not compass
the immediately personal, with its acknowledgement of her subserviency to
touch and pressure—and more, stranger, her readiness to kindle. She
left it unexplained. Unconsciously the image of Dacier was effaced.
Looking backward, her heart was moved to her long-constant lover with
most pitying tender wonderment—stormy man, as her threatened senses told
her that he was. Looking at him, she had to mask her being abashed and
mastered. And looking forward, her soul fell in prayer for this true
man's never repenting of his choice. Sure of her now, Mr. Thomas
Redworth had returned to the station of the courtier, and her feminine
sovereignty was not ruffled to make her feel too feminine. Another
revelation was his playful talk when they were more closely intimate.
He had his humour as well as his hearty relish of hers.
'If all Englishmen were like him!' she chimed with Emma Dunstane's
eulogies, under the influence.
'My dear,' the latter replied, 'we should simply march over the Four
Quarters and be blessed by the nations! Only, avoid your trick of
dashing headlong to the other extreme. He has his faults.'
'Tell me of them,' Diana cooed for an answer. 'Do. I want the flavour.
A girl would be satisfied with superhuman excellence. A widow asks for
'To my thinking, the case is, that if it is a widow who sees the
superhuman excellence in a man, she may be very well contented to cross
the bridge with him,' rejoined Emma. . . .
'Suppose the bridge to break, and for her to fall into the water, he
rescuing her—then perhaps!'
'But it has been happening!'
'But piecemeal, in extension, so slowly. I go to him a derelict, bearing
a story of the sea; empty of ideas. I remember sailing out of harbour
passably well freighted for commerce.'
'When Tom Redworth has had command of the "derelict" a week, I should
like to see her!'
The mention of that positive captaincy drowned Diana in morning colours.
She was dominated, physically and morally, submissively too. What she
craved, in the absence of the public whiteness which could have caused
her to rejoice in herself as a noble gift, was the spring of enthusiasm.
Emma touched a quivering chord of pride with her hint at the good augury,
and foreshadowing of the larger Union, in the Irishwoman's bestowal of
her hand on the open-minded Englishman she had learned to trust. The
aureole glimmered transiently: she could neither think highly of the
woman about to be wedded, nor poetically of the man; nor, therefore,
rosily of the ceremony, nor other than vacuously of life. And yet, as
she avowed to Emma, she had gathered the three rarest good things of
life: a faithful friend, a faithful lover, a faithful servant: the two
latter exposing an unimagined quality of emotion. Danvers, on the night
of the great day for Redworth, had undressed her with trembling fingers,
and her mistress was led to the knowledge that the maid had always been
all eye; and on reflection to admit that it came of a sympathy she did
But when Celtic brains are reflective on their emotional vessel they
shoot direct as the arrow of logic. Diana's glance at the years behind
lighted every moving figure to a shrewd transparency, herself among them.
She was driven to the conclusion that the granting of any of her heart's
wild wishes in those days would have lowered her—or frozen. Dacier was
a coldly luminous image; still a tolling name; no longer conceivably her
mate. Recollection rocked, not she. The politician and citizen was
admired: she read the man;—more to her own discredit than to his, but
she read him, and if that is done by the one of two lovers who was true
to love, it is the God of the passion pronouncing a final release from
the shadow of his chains.
Three days antecedent to her marriage, she went down the hill over her
cottage chimneys with Redworth, after hearing him praise and cite to Emma
Dunstane sentences of a morning's report of a speech delivered by Dacier
to his constituents. She alluded to it, that she might air her power of
speaking of the man coolly to him, or else for the sake of stirring
afresh some sentiment he had roused; and he repeated his high opinion of
the orator's political wisdom: whereby was revived in her memory a
certain reprehensible view, belonging to her period of mock-girlish
naughtiness—too vile!—as to his paternal benevolence, now to clear
vision the loftiest manliness. What did she do? She was Irish;
therefore intuitively decorous in amatory challenges and interchanges.
But she was an impulsive woman, and foliage was thick around, only a few
small birds and heaven seeing; and penitence and admiration sprang the
impulse. It had to be this or a burst of weeping:—she put a kiss upon
She had omitted to think that she was dealing with a lover a man of
smothered fire, who would be electrically alive to the act through a
coat-sleeve. Redworth had his impulse. He kept it under,—she felt the
big breath he drew in. Imagination began busily building a nest for him,
and enthusiasm was not sluggish to make a home of it. The impulse of
each had wedded; in expression and repression; her sensibility told her
of the stronger.
She rose on the morning of her marriage day with his favourite Planxty
Kelly at her lips, a natural bubble of the notes. Emma drove down to the
cottage to breakfast and superintend her bride's adornment, as to which,
Diana had spoken slightingly; as well as of the ceremony, and the
institution, and this life itself:—she would be married out of her
cottage, a widow, a cottager, a woman under a cloud; yes, a sober person
taking at last a right practical step, to please her two best friends.
The change was marked. She wished to hide it, wished to confide it.
Emma was asked: 'How is he this morning?' and at the answer, describing
his fresh and spirited looks, and his kind ways with Arthur Rhodes, and
his fun with Sullivan Smith, and the satisfaction with the bridegroom
declared by Lord Larrian (invalided from his Rock and unexpectingly
informed of the wedding), Diana forgot that she had kissed her, and this
time pressed her lips, in a manner to convey the secret bridally.
'He has a lovely day.'
'And bride,' said Emma.
'If you two think so! I should like to agree with my dear old lord and
bless him for the prize he takes, though it feels itself at present
rather like a Christmas bon-bon—a piece of sugar in the wrap of a rhymed
motto. He is kind to Arthur, you say?'
'Like a cordial elder brother.'
'Dear love, I have it at heart that I was harsh upon Mary Paynham for her
letter. She meant well—and I fear she suffers. And it may have been a
bit my fault. Blind that I was! When you say "cordial elder brother,"
you make him appear beautiful to me. The worst of that is, one becomes
aware of the inability to match him.'
'Read with his eyes when you meet him this morning, my Tony.'
The secret was being clearly perceived by Emma, whose pride in assisting
to dress the beautiful creature for her marriage—with the man of men had
a tinge from the hymenaeal brand, exulting over Dacier, and in the
compensation coming to her beloved for her first luckless footing on this
'How does he go down to the church?' said Diana.
'He walks down. Lukin and his Chief drive. He walks, with your Arthur
and Mr. Sullivan Smith. He is on his way now.'
Diana looked through the window in the direction of the hill. 'That is
so like him, to walk to his wedding!'
Emma took the place of Danvers in the office of the robing, for the maid,
as her mistress managed to hint, was too steeped 'in the colour of the
occasion' to be exactly tasteful, and had the art, no doubt through
sympathy, of charging permissible common words with explosive meanings:—
she was in an amorous palpitation, of the reflected state. After several
knockings and enterings of the bedchamber-door, she came hurriedly to
say: 'And your pillow, ma'am? I had almost forgotten it!' A question
that caused her mistress to drop the gaze of a moan on Emma, with
patience trembling. Diana preferred a hard pillow, and usually carried
her own about. 'Take it,' she had to reply.
The friends embraced before descending to step into the fateful carriage.
'And tell me,' Emma said, 'are not your views of life brighter to-day?'
'Too dazzled to know! It may be a lamp close to the eyes or a radiance
of sun. I hope they are.'
'You are beginning to think hopefully again?'
'Who can really think, and not think hopefully? You were in my mind last
night, and you brought a little boat to sail me past despondency of life
and the fear of extinction. When we despair or discolour things, it is
our senses in revolt, and they have made the sovereign brain their
drudge. I heard you whisper; with your very breath in my ear: "There is
nothing the body suffers that the soul may not profit by." That is
Emma's history. With that I sail into the dark; it is my promise of the
immortal: teaches me to see immortality for us. It comes from you, my
If not a great saying, it was in the heart of deep thoughts: proof to
Emma that her Tony's mind had resumed its old clear high-aiming activity;
therefore that her nature was working sanely, and that she accepted her
happiness, and bore love for a dower to her husband. No blushing
confession of the woman's love of the man would have told her so much as
the return to mental harmony with the laws of life shown in her darling's
pellucid little sentence.
She revolved it long after the day of the wedding. To Emma, constantly
on the dark decline of the unillumined verge, between the two worlds,
those words were a radiance and a nourishment. Had they waned she would
have trimmed them to feed her during her soul-sister's absence. They
shone to her of their vitality. She was lying along her sofa, facing her
South-western window, one afternoon of late November, expecting Tony from
her lengthened honeymoon trip, while a sunset in the van of frost, not
without celestial musical reminders of Tony's husband, began to deepen;
and as her friend was coming, she mused on the scenes of her friend's
departure, and how Tony, issuing from her cottage porch had betrayed her
feelings in the language of her sex by stooping to lift above her head
and kiss the smallest of her landlady's children ranged up the garden-
path to bid her farewell over their strewing of flowers;—and of her
murmur to Tony, entering the churchyard, among the grave-mounds: 'Old
Ireland won't repent it!' and Tony's rejoinder, at the sight of the
bridegroom advancing, beaming: 'A singular transformation of Old
England!'—and how, having numberless ready sources of laughter and tears
down the run of their heart-in-heart intimacy, all spouting up for a word
in the happy tremour of the moment, they had both bitten their lips and
blinked on a moisture of the eyelids. Now the dear woman was really
wedded, wedded and mated. Her letters breathed, in their own lively or
thoughtful flow, of the perfect mating. Emma gazed into the depths of
the waves of crimson, where brilliancy of colour came out of central
heaven preternaturally near on earth, till one shade less brilliant
seemed an ebbing away to boundless remoteness. Angelical and mortal
mixed, making the glory overhead a sign of the close union of our human
conditions with the ethereal and psychically divined. Thence it grew
that one thought in her breast became a desire for such extension of days
as would give her the blessedness to clasp in her lap—if those kind
heavens would grant it!—a child of the marriage of the two noblest of
human souls, one the dearest; and so have proof at heart that her country
and our earth are fruitful in the good, for a glowing future. She was
deeply a woman, dumbly a poet. True poets and true women have the native
sense of the divineness of what the world deems gross material substance.
Emma's exaltation in fervour had not subsided when she held her beloved
in her arms under the dusk of the withdrawing redness. They sat
embraced, with hands locked, in the unlighted room, and Tony spoke of the
splendid sky. 'You watched it knowing I was on my way to you?'
'That I might live long enough to be a godmother.'
There was no reply: there was an involuntary little twitch of Tony's