A Reed Shaken with the Wind (1).

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PREFACE.
―――――


THIS story is a simple analysis of one of the most dangerous phases of female character ― a phase, alas! but too common in fashionable city life, on both sides of the Atlantic.

    I have seen with my own eyes the curious combination of intellectual power and instability of purpose portrayed in Tiny Harewood; I have watched with an aching heart the shifting weaknesses and faint struggles for redemption described in these pages; I have known women, equally and honestly critical of their own faults, who, while capable of assuming the philosophical and moral tone, occasionally adopted by my heroine, and displaying a cool acumen and penetration of ethical questions, like her, persistently "the wrong pursued."  Gifted with physical and mental attractions, although conscious of higher and nobler aspirations, some appeared unable to resist the temptation of exercising their perilous love of power, and accordingly drifted hopelessly away into the shallows and quicksands of life, extinguishing God's light in the soul by the myriad conventional crimes which are under the shelter of social, but not within the pale of moral, laws.

    If the delineation of the chameleon nature of my English heroine, and the gradual crucifixion of the higher purpose beneath the destroying influence of a frivolous butterfly existence, enables one American reader to detect in time


"That little rift within the lute
 Which by and by will make the music mute,
 And gently spreading, slowly silence all
"


the publication of this tale will not be in vain.


EMILY FAITHFULL.

BROOKLYN, N. Y., May 1, 1873.

――――♦――――


 
A REED

SHAKEN WITH THE WIND.

――――♦――――

 
CHAPTER I.


"We stand on either side the sea,
 Stretch hands, blow kisses, sigh, and lean,
 I toward you, you toward me ;
 But what hears either save the keen
 Gray sea between?"

A. C. SWINBURNE.

 

                             "Only I discern  ― 
Infinite passion, and the pain
Of finite hearts that yearn."

                                                                            ROBERT BROWNING.


    ON a bright frosty day in December, not many years ago, the Boulogne steamer started from the pier at Folkestone, containing among its passengers an English family bound for a six-months' residence in Rome.

    The leave-takings were all over; friends who had accompanied the "outward bound" to the steamer had received the last distinguishable farewell nod; all who were left behind were already tired of waving their hands, and had, one by one, with a single exception, departed from the pier.

    Wilfred Lane still lingered.  His eyes had been fixed upon a fair young face until it could no longer be distinguished.  He had watched the slight figure of a girl who was looking earnestly at the receding pier, as she leant over the side of the boat, with her hand over her eyes, shading her face from the sun.  And now the steamer itself seemed like a moving black mass on the water.

    At last the young man walked rapidly off the pier, through the town, and, mounting the steep hill beyond, turned his face once again towards the sea.

    There was the "Queen of the Isles," already looking much smaller, and ploughing her way across the Channel with cruel rapidity.  Soon she appeared like a thick black post, which Wilfred watched until it grew fainter and fainter, and at last he could discern nothing at all.

    And yet he could not bear to leave the spot.  He felt, while he stayed there, away from every other human being, and looked out upon the sea in the direction where he had last seen the steamer, that he was nearer to Tiny Harewood than he should be when he went back again into the town.

    Besides this, Wilfred Lane felt a curious choking kind of sensation in his throat, which he thought would get better if he remained in the open air alone.


 
CHAPTER II.


"Is human love the growth of human will?"

                                                                       LORD BYRON.


    THE family on board the tidal boat in which Wilfred Lane's interest was centred consisted of his aunt and three cousins; and the journey to Rome was undertaken on account of his attachment to the youngest daughter  ―  an attachment which was warmly returned by the young lady herself, but was unacceptable to the higher powers.

    For many years Wilfred Lane had been in the habit of frequenting Lady Harewood's house so constantly that he had almost grown to look upon it as his home.  He was accustomed to do for her and his cousins all those little offices which ladies without near male relations are so glad to receive from any man whom they regard in the light of a "tame cat," or a cousin who will never step beyond certain limits, or claim any other reward for his devotion than a kindly recognition of his services.  His aunt had hitherto received Wilfred's attentions as her rightful due.  Was he not the only son of her husband's young and foolish sister who, in spite of all her prudent counsels, persisted in refusing a wealthy unloved suitor in order to marry a poor country clergyman, who had not even the grace to live more than six months after Wilfred's birth, but left his widow as sole legacy a delicate little son, who must in future share with her the income which had barely sufficed for her own dress previous to this absurd love-match?  And had not Lady Harewood done her utmost to supply a mother's place, ever since that same weak silly creature cried herself into an early grave?  Did not Wilfred Lane owe his appointment in the War Office to interest exerted by her lamented husband?

    In fact, Lady Harewood considered that she was only adding one more to the many favours already bestowed in allowing her nephew the free run of her house, permitting him to escort herself and her daughters to all the fêtes and balls of the season, to call up her carriage at the opera, and to undertake those many hundred little duties which force even the stoutest champions of woman's rights to acknowledge the supremacy of man.

    Wilfred Lane on his part was nothing loth to accept the situation, although anything more opposed to his own character than that of his aunt's can scarcely be conceived.  Lady Harewood was weak and frivolous, and the worldly maxims which she occasionally uttered for the benefit of his cousins, with the small amount of earnestness of which her nature was capable, were sometimes almost more than he could endure in silence.  Placed by her marriage in a position above the rest of her family, which belonged to the trading class in the West of England, Lady Harewood appeared to live in constant dread of betraying it, and in order to disguise it she assumed what she believed to be the correct airs of a lady of fashion, and a sorry sort of figure she often made in consequence.

    The three cousins were the silver lining to Wilfred's cloud, though there were moments when Charlotte showed tendencies to devote herself to the beau monde, like her mother; but they all inherited something of their father's marvellous intellect and genial disposition, and no house could fail to be agreeable which contained the bright and fascinating presence of these girls.

    Men of all sorts clustered round them, and they made themselves agreeable to their own sex as well; still there were ladies who had hard words for the Miss Harewoods, and condemned them all three as "sad flirts."  For, long before Tiny was eighteen, a well-known officer in the Life Guards had made her conspicuous by his public attentions, and gentle Belgravian voices were not slow to whisper that by the time Tiny was as old as her sisters she would have surpassed them both in the art of coquetry.

    These insinuations, of course, never reached Wilfred's ear.  He was regarded by the world more as a brother than a cousin, and so indeed he remained, until he learnt to distinguish between the kindly pleasure with which he undertook to ride or walk with Charlotte and Madeline, and the different feelings he experienced when he found
Tiny's arm within his own.  Then he felt no longer a brother or mere cousin, for his pulse quickened and his heart throbbed with a passion unknown to such relationships.  These were dangerous times for Wilfred, but he did not shun them, or think with any distinctness of that to which they must ultimately lead.

    As for Tiny, she was so full of life and spirits that she seemed scarcely to notice any one save in a passing way; everything and everybody appeared to give her pleasure for the moment, no one had power to arrest her for longer.  The admiration of Captain Clutterbuck amused her and gratified her vanity, but it certainly never touched her heart.  And so her nineteenth year passed away, and during the following winter the Harewoods went for a month to some old friends who lived near Windsor.

    It was Tiny's first visit to The Cedars, but she soon became a great favourite with both host and hostess, and when the time came for her mother's departure, she had decided (for Tiny generally decided for herself) on accepting Mrs. Wroughton's invitation to spend the rest of the winter at Windsor.  Her motives were never much scrutinized by her mother, who was in this instance ready to agree to the plan proposed, and content to lose her child's companionship if by doing so she secured for Tiny the advantages which might accrue from visiting in "the best society in the neighbourhood."

    Though Lady Harewood had not the faintest notion how to promote them, good matches for her daughters were the end and aim of her existence.  So she said good-by to Tiny with much hope and little regret, and retired with Charlotte and Madeline to Torquay, enjoying the satisfactory reflection that two daughters were much more conveniently chaperoned than three, and that Tiny's absence might even act beneficially for her sisters' interest as well as her own.


 
CHAPTER III.


"And barren corn makes bitter bread."

                                                                       A. C. SWINBURNE.

 

" 'Tis strange to think, if we could fling aside
 The mask and mantle that love wears from pride,
 How much would be, we now so little guess,
 Deep in each heart's undreamed, unsought recess;
 The careless smile, like a gay banner borne,
 The laugh of merriment, the lip of scorn, ― 
 And, for a cloak, what is there that can be
 So difficult to pierce as gayety?
 Too dazzling to be scanned, the haughty brow
 Seems to hide something it would not avow;
 These are the bars, the curtain to the breast.
 That shuns a scrutiny."

L. E. LANDON.


    NOW if the truth must be told, the society of Mr. and Mrs. Wroughton did not constitute Tiny Harewood's attraction to Windsor. She certainly valued it as far as it went, nor was she by any means insensible to the pleasures of a large country house, or unable to appreciate an establishment containing among its most important members an "exquisite French cook."

    Tiny had a wonderful capacity for the enjoyment of all material things, but her real inducement to remain at The Cedars consisted in the presence of a certain Captain Foy, who was staying with a maiden aunt in a cottage just on the outskirts of the park.

    Captain Philip Foy had found Mr. Wroughton's society agreeable enough before the Harewoods' arrival, and since then had never lost an opportunity of coming to the house.  If he had intended to tear himself away from his invalid aunt before he made Tiny's acquaintance, he certainly never contemplated such a sacrifice afterwards.  He certainly knew of places where he could have better shooting, and many with more congenial men companions, but it pleased him better to remain at Windsor, and to see what impression he could make upon the warm, subtle, and half-perverse nature of Tiny Harewood.

    Of course Captain Foy never meant "anything serious."  To begin with, he considered himself too poor to marry, and when he did commit that fatal act he intended it to be a stepping-stone to his interests, which a marriage with a Miss Harewood was not likely, in his opinion, to afford.

    Unfortunately poor Tiny mistook Captain Foy's intentions.  His brilliant social and intellectual qualities so completely captivated her that she soon fell violently in love with him, and believed he was equally so with her.

    Tiny Harewood was no ordinary girl, and perversity was one of her chief characteristics.  Making sure that she was loved, and not feeling inclined to confess her own sentiments even to herself, she so teased, tormented, and worried the usually triumphant Captain Foy, that his love-making was often earnest enough, and once or twice he was nearly tempted to propose to her in spite of his firm resolution to keep within the limits which he had prescribed for himself.

    One week followed another so rapidly, and the time passed so quickly while every day brought with it some mutual pleasure, that Easter arrived without a word from Tiny respecting her return home.

    A summons, however, from her mother came at last, and though Captain Foy knew that Tiny's visit, like everything else in this world, had come to an end, he contented himself with being additionally tender, and even managed to kiss her in their parting interview in the shrubbery.

    Wilfred, the useful cousin Wilfred, came down for Tiny and brought her back to London, which already gave symptoms of a gay and early season, and where she found her mother and sisters prepared for another campaign.

    Tiny expected that before very long Captain Foy would contrive to call at Grosvenor Crescent.  She knew it would be perfectly easy for him to find a hundred excuses for doing so, but that brave officer had no wish to put himself again in temptation.  He felt disposed to think that while he had managed to amuse himself very pleasantly during the winter, and enjoyed drawing out all Tiny's exquisite coquetries, he had very mercifully and wonderfully been kept within proper limits, in not having positively made "a fool of himself" by a definite offer of marriage.

    Recognizing the nearness of the danger, however, he determined to avoid Miss Tiny Harewood in future, and resolved to start another vehement flirtation (for which, by the bye, he had a great reputation) directly he got to London.  He was all the more inclined to do this when he found how much he really missed Tiny's society, for he began to fear that he had not come out as scathless from this little episode as he at first fondly imagined.

    All this time poor Tiny wondered why Captain Foy never called.  Sometimes she fancied he would come on a particular afternoon, and then she would resolutely stay at home.  Once, when she did this, she found her mother and sisters had met him at the very afternoon reception to which she refused to go, because she made up her mind that the fastidious Captain Foy was sure not to go to the Westbrooks, wherever else he might be.

    At last, however, they met at Lady Howard's dance, but Captain Foy appeared so engrossed with Miss Peel that he only bowed when he first saw Tiny.  The partner she had been dancing with had just brought her back to Lady Harewood, who told her, as a pleasant piece of information which would greatly interest her, that Captain Foy was desperately in love with General Peel's daughter, and added, "it is everywhere reported that they are engaged."

    Poor Tiny!  She felt as if all the brightness in her life had gone out, and that it would be impossible for her to know another happy moment.  Her pride rebelled against the feeling that Captain Foy had only trifled with her affection, and her one comfort was in the thought that none of her home circle would ever know the deep and lasting impression which had been made upon her during her ever to be remembered visit to Windsor.

    Turning to Wilfred, who came to claim her hand for the next waltz, Tiny was soon dancing with him, apparently the gayest and most light-hearted girl in the room; and so well had she controlled her emotion, that when Captain Foy came up and spoke to her, she never even changed colour, but answered him with such perfect friendliness and ease, that he was unable to flatter himself (which gave that gallant soldier a momentary pang of disappointment) that Tiny had come out less heartwhole than he had from a flirtation for which he would most certainly have been called to account, but for Mr. Wroughton's deafness, and Mrs. Wroughton's absence from the rides and walks during which it had taken place  ―  to say nothing of the numerous casual meetings in the shrubberies and park, of which they had both been kept in complete ignorance.

    But whatever appeared on the surface, poor Tiny's heart ached enough below, and it was many a long day before it ceased to pain her.  At first she took refuge in the most violent barefaced flirtations with the numerous suitors who were only too eager to secure her notice, and she certainly seemed more than likely to fulfil the amiable prophecies of her lady friends.

    It was in vain that Lady Harewood expostulated, in her feeble fretful way, at these unseemly proceedings, or that Tiny's sisters interfered.  Tiny was determined to flirt, and Tiny did flirt, and once or twice she even passed the boundaries of flirtation and inflicted on honest hearts the pain she had herself experienced.

    But Tiny's nature was really too good long to remain satisfied with this kind of life.  Gradually her manner quieted down, and she seemed less inclined to take part in the different gayeties which were going on, but entered, with a feeling more akin to joy than anything she had felt since the Windsor visit, into her cousin Wilfred's intellectual pursuits and pleasures.

    Wilfred Lane's delight was unbounded.  Shut out by his delicate health from the hardier games and amusements of boys, books had always been the world he really lived in, and when he saw with daily increasing satisfaction that Tiny was being drawn towards him, he gladly provided anything she cared to study, or read aloud to her while she worked or drew, much to the amused amazement of her sisters, who were, however, greatly relieved by seeing Tiny's whims taking a quieter and far less conspicuous turn.

    Wilfred's greatest delight was in art, and though he never had produced anything himself, his appreciation and passionate love of painting had already gained him a considerable reputation as a critic, not only amongst his own immediate friends, but in the best literary circle.  It therefore excited no surprise in Lady Harewood's mind when she saw Tiny studying Ruskin's "Modern Painters," preparatory to frequent expeditions with her cousin to the National Gallery  ―  a place, be it remarked, strangely neglected by English people who crowd to the annual exhibitions of the Royal Academy, and profess to value good paintings, and sigh for Italy and the foreign places which contain them.

    These were happy days for Wilfred, for he had an apt scholar, and his whole heart was in his work.


 
CHAPTER IV.


"The fountains mingle with the river
 And the rivers with the ocean,
 The winds of heaven mix forever
 With a sweet emotion;
 Nothing in the world is single;
 All things by, a law divine
 In one another's being mingle  ― 
 Why not I with thine?"

                                  PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.


    TINY, perhaps, may not have felt absolutely happy, and she certainly was not exaltée, but she did feel she was living in a purer, higher atmosphere, and the worldliness of her mother and the frivolity of her sisters' pursuits began to grate upon her accordingly.  She was beginning, too, to have a stronger feeling for her cousin than she had at first thought at all possible; and when she compared Wilfred's generous, unselfish character with others, and felt the influence of the high tone of mind which he brought to bear upon everything with which he came in contact, she could not help feeling his superiority to most of the men she ever knew  ―  Captain Foy included.

    One afternoon late in the summer Wilfred and Tiny were sitting in a sheltered nook in the Belgrave Square gardens, having borrowed the key (a not unusual habit) from the Eliots.  Wilfred had been reading aloud some of Mrs. Browning's "Sonnets from the Portuguese," and when he came to xliii. he paused, for he did not think he could trust himself to read it to Tiny.  It was his favourite sonnet, and exactly expressed his feeling for his cousin.

    Tiny, however, was imperative, especially when she saw that the page was marked, and a date written on it which her cousin refused to explain.  At last he began  ― 


"How do I love thee?   Let me count the ways.
 I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
 My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
 For the ends of Being and ideal grace.
 I love thee to the level of every day's
 Most quiet need, by sun and candle light.
 I love thee freely, as men strive for Right.
 I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
 I love thee with the passion put to use
 In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
 I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
 With my dead Saints  ―  I love thee with the breath,
 Smiles, tears, of all my life!  ―  and, if God choose,
 I shall but love thee better after Death."


    As Wilfred read these lines in a voice of subdued passion, the truth which had lately been dawning upon Tiny's mind came to her in its fullest force.  She knew that she was really loved, not with the same kind of love with which Captain Foy had deceived her and amused himself, but with a love which was Wilfred's very life, and which would enable him to make any sacrifice of his own feelings rather than wound or trouble her.  She was not excited by this knowledge, but she was proud of having won Wilfred's affection; and, when he looked up, his cousin's eyes were fixed upon his face, after that strange fashion of hers which always made it difficult for him to control himself.  He lost all power to do so now:  ―  the book fell from his hand, his arm stole round her waist, and their lips met for the first time.

    As Tiny walked back to Grosvenor Crescent that afternoon she knew if she had not the full measure of love to return, she had at least obtained a heart which was hers completely.

    But Tiny said nothing of this to her cousin; she kept to herself the unhappy episode with Captain Foy, and allowed Wilfred Lane to suppose that his love had been the first to awaken her own.

    Now that Wilfred had been surprised into an avowal to Tiny, he felt he must not keep it a secret from her mother.  Gathering up all his courage he requested a few minutes' conversation with his aunt after luncheon on the following Sunday; but all the said courage seemed absolutely oozing out at his fingers' ends as he followed Lady Harewood upstairs, through the drawing-rooms into her little boudoir beyond.

    Wilfred Lane knew that, with all her apparent refinement, Lady Harewood could sometimes say and do very rude things  ―  so can every woman whose school of manners has not been an honest and true heart, but a smooth, false world.  He expected his intimation to meet with considerable opposition, but he was utterly unprepared for the uncourteous treatment he received.  His relationship, as well as his deep love for Tiny, gave him an unusually strong motive for keeping a firm hand over himself, and for passing by personalities which any other man would have felt justified in resenting, even from a lady who might, one day, become his mother-in-law.

    Lady Harewood's anger seemed only equalled by her amazement.  The idea of Wilfred's falling in love with one of his cousins had never before crossed her mind.  She would as soon have expected a proposal from him to herself.

    It was some time before she could at all seize the idea, and when she had done so, half an hour did not suffice for the expression of her wrath and disapprobation.

    Accusing him of meanness and ingratitude, she declared that, had his uncle lived, he would never have dared to seek Tiny's love in such an underhand way, and wondered at his audacity in asking her permission to take her daughter from ''the lap of luxury" to such a home as he could offer.  She proceeded to comment upon Wilfred's position and future prospects, and made allusions to his father which he felt quite unbearable, and resolved to answer when the torrent of words with which she assailed him showed symptoms of abatement.

    He was about to do so, when Tiny made her appearance; her mother's loud and angry tones reached her in the drawing-room, and excited her to such a degree that she felt she could not abide the issue of the conversation, but must go and take a share in it herself.

    With a very pale face, and a quiet, determined manner, Tiny informed her mother that she came in to put a stop to any further difficulties, for she had resolved on marrying Wilfred, and Wilfred only; in token thereof she sat down by him, and, taking his hand in hers, seemed to defy her mother to offer any objection to such a conclusive and womanly argument.

    Lady Harewood was much disconcerted by Tiny's entrance, but Wilfred felt considerably relieved.  He hoped her daughter's presence would have some effect in inducing her to control herself.  To tell the truth, he was positively alarmed at this exhibition of temper, as his aunt's delicate health and weak nerves were proverbial.  Such a paroxysm of excitement might even produce a fit, he thought  ―  a fainting, or hysterical scene, was the least evil with which he expected the afternoon to close.

    It was one thing, however, for Lady Harewood to vent her indignation upon an unprotected man, whose position as her nephew made him singularly defenceless  ―  to say nothing of the unusual amount of forbearance on which she knew she could count  ―  but with Tiny it was quite another thing.

    Having relieved herself by an outburst upon Wilfred, Lady Harewood was not going in her present exhausted condition to do battle with a young lady who was apt, under such circumstances, to get as excited as she did, and to return blow for blow.  She therefore rose to her full height, and, with as much dignity as she could muster, rang the bell, and resumed her seat in silence.

    When the old butler appeared, he was greatly surprised at receiving an immediate order for Lady Harewood's carriage.  A Sunday afternoon drive was not among his lady's usual practices, though she did not scruple occasionally to require her carriage to take her to a quiet dinner-party.  As Watson shut the door, Lady Harewood turned to Wilfred and requested him not to call before five o'clock on the following Sunday, by which he knew that he was expected to make himself scarce at once.  Without any hesitation he said good-by to his aunt.  While regretting that his wishes had met with such decided disapprobation, he hoped she would yet learn to look more favourably on his suit, and, with a pressure of Tiny's hand, which said more to her than a thousand words, he left the room.

    Before Lady Harewood effected her escape Tiny heard the hall door close after Wilfred Lane.  Then she and her mother had a sharp passage of arms, during which Tiny gave her to understand that she loved Wilfred, and was determined to marry him in spite of any opposition from the family.


 
CHAPTER V.


"Did'st thou but know the inly touch of love.
 Thou would'st as soon go kindle fire with snow
 As seek to quench the fire of love with words."

                                                                                    SHAKESPEARE.


    LADY HAREWOOD was essentially a woman.  She felt it impossible to get through the rest of the day without consulting somebody; but, ready as she was to seek advice, she was seldom inclined to follow it.

    In the present instance her thoughts turned to her husband's old friend Sir Anthony Claypole, and she resolved at once to ask his opinion on this unpleasant family difficulty.  Wilfred's relationship had given him such access to Tiny that of course by this time they thoroughly understood each other, and probably had done so for weeks before the words were spoken which obliged them to take her into their confidence.

    Although she determined not to countenance their "absurd and romantic attachment," Lady Harewood felt it by no means easy to forbid her husband's nephew the house.

    On reaching Hyde Park Gardens, Lady Harewood found her friends surrounded by their usual number of Sunday-afternoon callers.  She was prepared for this, and had left orders with the servants not to bring her carriage until half-past six o'clock.

    This would give her ample opportunity for a quiet talk with Sir Anthony when the other visitors had dispersed.  At present she must of course be content to join in the general conversation.

    She thought that tiresome old Sir George Fullar never would leave off discoursing upon the epizootic, the number of horses he had lost, and the curious ways in which the disease made its appearance on his different farms; but his departure was only the signal for Mrs. Redmarsh to commence a minute description of the fits her fourth baby had while cutting its teeth.  Lady Ashworth being announced, the conversation took a political turn, until Mr. Hargrave drew every one's attention to himself by some clever remarks upon Lady Duff Gordon's ''Letters from Egypt."  He concluded by calling Lady Duff Gordon a most affected person, because the first sentence he saw on opening her book was, "I put my head out of the window this morning and delighted in the smell of the camels."  Having lived a long time in the East, Mr. Hargrave proceeded to tell stories about camels, which tended to dispel any preconceived notions of the patience and docility of these animals, and certainly cast a serious reflection upon Lady Duff Gordon's olfactory nerves.

    The drawing-rooms, however, were cleared at last, and then Lady Harewood told her friends her urgent reasons for seeking their advice.

    It was so late when Lady Harewood returned home that there was hardly time to dress for dinner, which was more formal and uninteresting than usual.

    Charlotte and Madeline had already guessed that their mother was ruffled by something of considerable importance, and Tiny felt but little inclined to enliven them by her ordinary sallies.  It was a strange thing for Tiny to give way to depression, her spirits being in general equal to any emergency.

    When the servants left the room after serving the dessert, Lady Harewood informed her daughters of the cause of Wilfred's non-appearance, and the sisters ascertained the correctness of their conclusions respecting Tiny's silence and red eyes.

    Now, Charlotte had views of her own for Tiny.  There was a certain young baronet, with £10,000 a year, who was desperately in love with her sister; and as Charlotte had discovered, after many exertions worthy of a better cause, that he would not transfer his affections to herself, she was extremely anxious to promote his wishes, and induce Tiny to become Lady Fairfax, and mistress of Downshire Hall, which she promised herself to enliven by her own presence at seasons when the county races and hunt balls made Buckinghamshire more than usually attractive.  She did not feel in the least inclined to upset these pleasant visions for the sake of Wilfred's proposal, and accordingly came forward at once on her mother's side, and expressed herself bound to consider Tiny's real good rather than her present supposed happiness; and though Madeline was less inclined to take an active part in the opposition to her sister's wishes, especially when she saw her little pleading face, she did not feel more disposed than Charlotte to accept her cousin for a brother-in-law.

    Madeline also entertained strong opinions about the marriages of cousins, and believed that their children were always idiotic or blind, and she honestly thought the good-natured Sir Guy Fairfax, with his comfortable rent-roll, a much more suitable match.  Wilfred was already like a brother, and it certainly would be much better to strengthen the position of the family by an entirely new alliance.

    But Tiny had been too long accustomed to have her own way to yield to it on this occasion, so she startled them all with the somewhat bold announcement that she "would rather never see her mother or sisters again than be parted from Wilfred for a week."  Retiring from the antagonistic conclave she took refuge in her own room, from whence she despatched a note to her cousin assuring him of her affection, and saying that nothing would induce her to change her mind, for her whole happiness was centred in looking forward to a life spent with him as his wife.

    When Tiny left the room, Lady Harewood and her elder daughters withdrew to the library, which they generally inhabited on Sunday evenings.  She then told them of her visit to the Claypoles, and how Sir Anthony had long ago suspected Wilfred's attachment to Tiny, but had not noticed it openly, fearing that to do so might bring about the very result so deprecated by Lady Harewood.  Of course Sir Anthony felt Wilfred's prospects made it natural for Tiny's mother to object to his proposal; at the same time he observed that no friend of the family could do otherwise than rejoice at the change which had come over Tiny during the last few weeks.

    In common with many others, he had noticed her previous flirtations, and had felt considerable anxiety about her.  He was often annoyed by remarks made at his club by men who did not spare Tiny Harewood, but attributed her open and foolish transgression of the ordinary conventionalities of society to an evil and wicked disposition which would some day break loose altogether.

    Although disinclined to place much faith in Tiny's protestations of attachment to her cousin, Sir Anthony Claypole feared that direct opposition would be the very way to fan the flame.  He did not believe in the result of interference with the young lady herself, but recommended Lady Harewood to work through Wilfred, who would, he thought, see the delicacy of his aunt's position, and the injury which would be inflicted on Tiny if he persisted in holding her to an engagement of which her mother so thoroughly disapproved.

    Before Lady Harewood left Hyde Park Gardens she had (after judicious allusions to the lamented Sir Henry's opinion of his friend's judgment, and her own unprotected condition) induced Sir Anthony to promise that he would see the young man, and place the matter before him from her point of view.

    Accordingly the post which brought Wilfred Lane little Tiny's loving note, also conveyed to him an invitation to dine at Hyde Park Gardens on the following Tuesday; and, failing that, he was requested to name an early day for seeing Sir Anthony "on business of importance, undertaken at Lady Harewood's request."

    Wilfred had no particular engagement for that evening, and impatiently waited for the time to arrive when he should hear his aunt's decision.  He felt glad to think she had chosen Sir Anthony Claypole for her mouthpiece, as he knew this would give him a fair opportunity of stating his own case, and prevent a repetition of the scene which had so dismayed him on Sunday afternoon.


 
CHAPTER VI.


"Love took up the glass of Time, and turned it in his glowing
         hands;
 Every moment, lightly shaken, ran itself in golden sands.
 Love took up the harp of Life, and smote on all the chords with
         might;
 Smote the chord of Self, that, trembling, pass'd in music out of
         sight."

ALFRED TENNYSON.


"He either fears his fate too much.
     Or his deserts are small,
 Who dares not put it to the touch
     To win or lose it all."

MARQUIS OF MONTROSE.


    AS WILFRED LANE walked home that Tuesday night across the park, he was not in an enviable state of mind.

    Sir Anthony Claypole had conscientiously fulfilled his promise to his friend, and had brought before her nephew, in very decided language, every obstacle he could think of to the proposed marriage.  He did not allow that he was at all shaken by the young man's arguments, nor permit Wilfred to see he had more than half won over Lady Harewood's own advocate to his view of the case.

    Wilfred Lane was clear upon one point only.  In spite of all his shortcomings, and the errors into which, like most young men of his class, he had fallen, he felt himself not altogether unworthy of Tiny.  He could offer her a pure strong love, and believed that, notwithstanding his position, a marriage with him would really be the best thing for her.

    Wilfred was thoroughly in love, but his love did not altogether blind him to his cousin's failings.  He knew she was terribly inclined to certain faults which might lead her into grave dangers, and that, with a most impulsive nature, she was just one of those girls who will be either very good or very bad  ―  they know no medium  ―  and are generally the latter, if their better and higher tastes are unsatisfied.

    While Wilfred shrank from inducing Tiny to share with him a life of pecuniary difficulty and self-denial, he knew her well enough to feel that material ease was not over good for her, and that her character specially needed a home with a purer atmosphere than that of Grosvenor Crescent.

    While capable of feeling a distaste for the general tone of London society, Tiny was yet liable to grow flippant in her own ideas and feelings, unless encouraged to live in the deeper part of life instead of on its mere surface.  Nevertheless, she could scarcely become one of those anomalies, so often met with and yet so strange, which puzzle the moralist not by badness (which, alas! would be no anomaly at all), but by their power hanging on at such a very singular place in the scale of virtues and vices  ―  a place which entirely ignores individuality; the result, probably, of living in and for society, and of never raising the thoughts to any high ideal, or letting them sink to the real passions of inner human life; but which, by following a meek dead idea of duty, maintain, in fact, the state which the word ''respectability" best expresses.

    Tiny Harewood was not one who would remain in a class of "respectables," which is ruled by a standard of right and wrong, made for the mass rather than the individual; so that Wilfred often feared, unless helped to strive after her own highest ideal, she would free herself altogether and become utterly reckless.  He had watched her very closely of late, and though he had not the key to her wildness during the past year, it had caused him much anxiety and pain.  When she turned from the frivolity and excitement of a fashionable life, which seemed to have such a bad effect upon her, he felt bound to give her all the help he could; and when that help had developed into love, he did not think himself justified in allowing a false spirit of honour to come between them.

    It was true that, in comparison to Tiny, who inherited from her father an income of £800 a year, he was poor, and likely to remain so; and it was anything but pleasant to a man of Wilfred Lane's sensitive nature to feel that his wife's income must go towards the mutual expenses of their home, instead of being devoted to the indulgence of her personal whims and fancies.

    Then, too, he knew of Sir Guy Fairfax's attachment to Tiny, and could not shut his eyes to the advantages of such a connection to the family.  When he thought over the many kindnesses he had received from his aunt, he shrank from the very idea of acting in an apparently ungrateful manner.

    Essentially a proud man, Wilfred Lane felt almost tempted to relinquish his own happiness, and most probably would have done so but that he felt assured that Tiny had given him what she could never give to any other man  ―  the first love of a very passionate nature.  To resign this from a feeling of false honour, was to do her an injury for which no worldly advantage or position could ever atone, and Wilfred resolved never to do so.

    Sir Anthony Claypole had not been unreasonable in his arguments, nor weakly violent like Lady Harewood, and Wilfred Lane spent the greater part of that night in battling with his own passionate love for his cousin, and in trying to see the matter from an unselfish point of view.  As morning dawned, he became somewhat calmer, and, lighting a cigar, determined upon following the course of action which at last suggested itself to his mind.

    Lady Harewood had often talked of going to Rome  ―  he would himself propose that she should do so this winter.  Rome would be full of interests for Tiny  ―  interests which could not fail to be good for her.  If a marriage with him were really essential, a six-months' absence in such a place could do her no harm, and, in entirely different circumstances, she could follow more easily those pursuits and pleasures which seemed in keeping with her better nature.  If, on the other hand, Tiny's love for him was less genuine than he believed it, such a separation would be a sure test, especially as he knew that, whether in Rome or London, the Harewoods would see plenty of society, and would certainly lose no opportunity of trying to wean his cousin's affections from himself

    The more Wilfred Lane thought of the self-sacrifice such a plan entailed the more he inclined to it, and though he knew Tiny must at first share with him the pain such a separation involved, he consoled himself with the reflection that her natural vivacity and light-heartedness, and the vivid pleasure which she took in every passing occurrence, would considerably diminish any suffering on her part, to say nothing of the intense delight a visit to Rome would be certain to afford a nature like hers.

    Wilfred determined to see Sir Anthony Claypole before breakfast, for, like all lovers, his business appeared to him important enough to warrant an unusually early intrusion.  After a couple of hours' sleep, refreshed by a bath and a cup of coffee, he soon crossed the Park, and, sending up his card, requested Sir Anthony to see him, as he had something of importance to say respecting their conversation on the previous night.

    Sir Anthony Claypole thought Wilfred's proposal very reasonable  ―  to say the truth, he was rather proud of the good result of his interference, and willingly undertook to see Lady Harewood during the day.

    Wilfred wished his aunt to give him an early interview, but first to allow him to see Tiny alone.

"If," said he, "my aunt will agree to what is reasonable and fair, I will be patient; but I have determined not to sacrifice Tiny to pride on my part, or mere worldliness on hers."

    True to his promise, Sir Anthony Claypole delivered the spirit of Wilfred Lane's message, but wisely suppressed the form of it.  He advised Lady Harewood to adopt the plan suggested by her nephew, and agreed with her in thinking that such a separation would probably bring about the desired end.  If it failed to do so, Sir Anthony hoped Lady Harewood would no longer oppose the marriage.  On this point, however, Tiny's mother was silent; she was content to accept Wilfred's sacrifice, and if that did not succeed, she would try some plan of her own.

    When Tiny heard the winter was to be spent in Rome without Wilfred, she was furious.  "Nothing would induce her to go," "she would sooner be a governess," "go on the stage," "sweep a crossing"  ―  do anything, in short, rather than leave London, and it took a great many conversations (which, perhaps, Wilfred did not regret) to persuade her to yield.

    At last, however, it was settled, and Tiny's unwilling consent given, on condition that she should be free to write to and hear from Wilfred during her absence, and that no opposition should be made to their marriage on her return.

    To these conditions Sir Anthony gave his full consent; but then he was not her mother, or even her guardian.  Still he was an important ally, and he undertook to do all he could to obtain Lady Harewood's concurrence.  She, like a wise general, hastened the departure, and managed to effect it without having given any positive promise; but Wilfred quieted Tiny by his belief that her mother tacitly accepted the conditions in following out the course suggested by himself.

    The morning came for leaving London, and Wilfred Lane received a reluctant permission to accompany his aunt and cousins as far as Folkestone.  Partly because Sir Anthony had good-naturedly interceded for him, but chiefly because Lady Harewood's courier was to join her in Paris, and, as she told Charlotte, "it was very inconvenient to have only a maid to help them with their bags and dressing-cases from the railway to the pier."


 
CHAPTER VII.


"With weary steps I loiter on,
 Tho' always under alter'd skies
 The purple from the distance dies,
 My prospect and horizon gone.
 .            .            .            .            .            .
 Oh yet we trust that somehow good
 Will be the final goal of ill."

                                                                        IN MEMORIAM.


    WILFRED LANE was undergoing no ordinary struggle.  Looking across the English Channel in the direction where he last saw the Boulogne steamer, he realized in its fullest force the sacrifice he had made; and when he thought over the possible results of this separation almost regretted having insisted on Tiny's leaving him, and accused himself of allowing his pride  ―  which resented his aunt's imputation of "taking advantage of his position in the house to get Tiny completely under his personal influence"  ―  to conquer his judgment.

    Now the deed was really done he almost repented of it altogether, and there were moments when he contemplated following the Harewoods by the next boat.  He knew Tiny's fine and ardent nature needed a better direction than it was likely to receive from her mother and sisters; and when the balance is not struck between aspirations and the power which is able to realize them, a half-developed mind, no longer satisfied with common life, and to which some excitement is necessary, will seek its gratification in emotions and pleasures which are always dangerous and sometimes guilty.

    Tiny Harewood still needed the constant presence of some wise loving counsellor to induce her to accept the "better part," and Wilfred could scarcely think with calmness over the dangers of repressed capabilities and unsatisfied desires which, for want of being helped towards the good and true, too often fix themselves on the bad and false.  An incomplete development is a dangerous stage  ―  a higher horizon is discerned, but there is not sufficient strength to reach it.

    Wilfred felt but little comfort at this moment in remembering that in making his decision he had really tried to choose what appeared the best for Tiny, and that her mother considered he had succeeded in doing so.  After all Tiny was bound to be subject to her mother, and an open defiance of a parent's wishes was not what Wilfred would lightly encourage.  A compromise at present was all that could be thought of, and that entailed this Roman visit.

    Another thought also crossed his mind. If Tiny could not stand the test of a six-months' separation, was her love really deep enough to enable her to share a whole life with him, without regretting her choice when the charms of novelty and satisfied affection had given place to the difficulties which find their way into the happiest home?  If this were so, would he not be undertaking more responsibility than he ought  ―  more indeed than he was capable of?

    Walking slowly down the hill, Wilfred Lane went to the restaurant of the Pavilion Hotel, where he lunched, before returning to the station.  He had arranged to stop on the line to see an old friend, now a country parson with a wife and one or two olive branches.  He left Folkestone by the tidal express, and when the train stopped at the Red Hill Station, the Rev. Henry Frampton was waiting for him in a very unorthodox dog-cart, with the pleasing intelligence that Mrs. Frampton had presented him with a fine little son early that morning.

    So Lane had just come in time to enjoy a cosey bachelor dinner with Harry Frampton, and it must be confessed that the young Rector rejoiced in the idea of a long talk over old school-days with his class-mate, accompanied by an unlimited supply of pipes and whiskey, for which he would not be called to account by his wife.

    And a good talk they had far into the night, although Wilfred avoided the subject nearest his heart, and Frampton's conversation was somewhat altered  ―  perhaps for the better, since his college days  ―  in spite of the nursery anecdotes, for example, which now formed a new and not unimportant item, but among these he told a story for which Lane was willing to forgive the rest.  The birth of the new brother had duly been announced to little Katie Frampton by her father, and not very many minutes after he left the nursery, the child was found on her knees praying that "another little baby might be sent directly."  It was also strange, when talking over the world and its ways and settling that it was better if possible to live your own life out of it, to hear Harry Frampton assert an entire belief in his wife's opinion that "the queerness of the age was to be attributed to the introduction of the new feeding-bottles, which enabled babies six months old to feed themselves."

    The next morning Wilfred returned to London by an early train.  He had little opportunity, however, to indulge his own reflections, thanks to the pertinacy of a fellow-traveller  ―  a man with a shining countenance and a double chin  ―  who persisted in making, with a self-satisfied air, the most commonplace observations upon the appropriateness and use of all things in nature.  When this man remarked that "trees were green because green is good for the eyes," Wilfred could no longer refrain from quoting Heine's answer on a similar occasion; and, assenting to his companion's proposition, he added that "cattle were made because beef soup strengthened man, that jackasses were created to serve as comparisons, and that man existed that he might eat beef soup and realize that he was no jackass;" a quotation which freed him from further interruption, and doubtless gave the possessor of appropriate ideas sufficient food for thought during the rest of the journey.

    By a few minutes after ten o'clock Wilfred Lane was at his place in the War Office; everything belonging to his outward life was going on in the same way; people were coming in and out, the usual amount of business was being transacted, London was as full as ever, but yet to him life seemed going on with its heart out.

    He got through his work, and after dinner strolled into the Haymarket Theatre.  Feeling disinclined to read and incapable of writing, he thought while his pain was fresh it was wiser to distract his mind from his own griefs by the representation of unreal ones, than to brood over the events of the last two days and their probable effects.


 
CHAPTER VIII.


    "WILHELM VON HUMBOLDT says, 'Old letters lose their vitality.'

    "Not true.  It is because they retain their vitality that it is so dangerous to keep some letters  ―  so wicked to burn others."

MRS. JAMESON.


FIVE days after Wilfred's return from Folkestone he found a foreign letter on his breakfasttable. He opened it and read as follows:


"MARSEILLES, Wednesday,


    "I watched till I saw only one person left on the pier.  Was that you?  It isn't the pain of parting which is the worst to bear, darling Wil, it is finding out more and more the loneliness of life without the one whom I love best, and love most in the every-day commonplace hours of life, no, not commonplace when my own Wil is near, to sweeten and purify every moment.  This is eating the very hardest bread and cheese of life after the sweetest fruits of true love.

    "I slept a little in the train to Paris, and woke realizing more than I had hitherto done that the part of myself I most cared to call my own was every moment being left farther behind.  After our night's rest in Paris, Mamma determined on coming straight through to Marseilles, and we certainly managed the journey with as little fatigue as it is possible to imagine.  I slept nearly all the night, which helped to make the sixteen hours pass more quickly; we got here at half-past twelve in the morning, and, to make up for any rest we might have lost, we had fourteen hours' real sleep last night.

    "I enjoyed looking out of the windows as the sun rose  ―  such a blue sky and bright sun.  The country is very pretty between Lyons and Marseilles.  You see the Alps in the distance covered with snow, and the railway runs for some time along the Rhone, and the pink light made it all so pretty.

    "Mamma retired early, and Charlotte said such very aggravating things about you that it ended in our having a regular quarrel, after which we all went to bed.  Mamma telling me through the door that I talked so loud it made her head ache, which I thought very unfair, having said one word to Charlotte's twenty, and about the same proportion in sound.  After this little excitement I slept for thirteen hours, and then thought I would have some breakfast in bed to recover my equilibrium.  Madeline came to me afterwards and read 'Corinne' while I dressed, and then we all trotted out and went to the top of a hill, from which we had a most splendid view of the town and hill behind, and the sea and bay of Marseilles in front.  It is really a very handsome town, and I enjoyed my walk as much as I could without my own arm to lean on.

    "I suppose you are back at your work.  I hope you will repent of your cruelty in sending your unhappy little Tiny away.  If you had been me, and I you, I am sure I should never have had the heart to do it, and I don't believe you love me a bit.  But you will find it quite useless.  Being away from you only shows me how much I love you, and I will never give you up unless you find some one whom you love too well to send away to Rome for a whole winter; but you will never find any one who will love you half as much as your Tiny.

    ''P.S.  ―  If I don't find a long letter waiting for me in Rome, I shall never forgive you.  I hope we shall have a good passage, the sea seems very calm, and there is no wind at present."


    Wilfred Lane was not the man to make a half sacrifice.  If Tiny could be induced to regard him simply as a cousin, he determined never to hold her to the repeated promises she had made since that day in the Belgrave Square gardens, when he betrayed his love.  In suggesting this six-months' absence, he felt that her mother and sisters would have every opportunity to influence her ultimate decision, and that Tiny herself, after the first pain of parting, would be better able to judge of the strength of her attachment when quite out of the reach of his personal influence, which was, he knew, of a very remarkable kind.

    Wilfred was generally able, without any effort on his part, to establish a sympathy between himself and people with whom he came in contact, even if they were previously prejudiced against him.

    Without being handsome his face was decidedly attractive, with a mass of rich brown hair brushed back from a full, earnest brow.  No one with anything artistic in their composition could refrain from watching the variety of expressions which passed over his face in the course of an hour, and women, especially, felt the power of his dark expressive eyes, through which a singularly determined will made itself understood, in spite of a yielding manner.  Yet to some people Wilfred's chief fascination was in a voice, which was very remarkable for its varied intonations.  Of a medium pitch, soft, yet exceedingly clear, and capable of wonderful modulation, there was an irresistible charm in his speaking voice, which even men considered "soothing," and which gave him an unusually strong and often entirely unsought-for dominion over the other sex.

    Recognizing the power of this personal influence to a certain degree, though far from realizing its full effects, Wilfred thought that while he could never of his own free will have imposed such a test upon Tiny Harewood, he did not feel it an undesirable one, when he remembered her peculiarly impulsive, impressionable nature.

    Of course he knew that Tiny would be unhappy at first, but unless he was really essential to her life he questioned whether she would long remain so, in a place which would be full of interest.  He therefore determined on leaving her while in Rome as free as possible.  If by assuming a quiet cousinly tone he could induce her to return to their old relationship, he resolved to control himself and to conquer his own deep love.

    Nothing short of a whole-hearted effort on his part would satisfy his conscience, or justify the decided opposition he intended to offer his aunt, should Tiny remain true to the feeling she now entertained for him, and Lady Harewood still refuse her consent to their marriage.

    Accordingly the letter which greeted Tiny on her arrival in Rome quite astonished her. Instead of any regrets over her departure, or groans over his own loneliness, Wilfred simply acknowledged her letter from Marseilles. After saying that he had no London news or gossip of any description to send, he added:


    "If you care to please me you will make yourself as happy as you can in Rome, and you ought not to be miserable in such a place.  If you will throw yourself into the interests by which you are surrounded, the time will pass all the quicker, and you will not have to regret lost opportunities  ―  opportunities which will scarcely come again if you marry me.

    "Do not think me cold, for it costs me more than I dare tell you to urge what I think due to you as well as to your mother.  Remember, if at any time during this absence you can persuade yourself that your whole happiness is not bound up in our mutual love, if you can possibly free yourself from the feeling which at present binds you to me, I implore you to do so.

    "Life, with me, will be very full of material difficulties, and I could not bear to think I had put out the sweet sunshine of your life.  Do not come back to me unless you feel certain that your love for me is so strong that you could not be happy without me.  I shall not allude to this again, but remember that, if now,  ―  a little later,  ―  or even during your last week in Rome, you are able to resume your old cousinly footing with me, I will never blame you for it, but have myself invited you to do so.

    "But if, Tiny, you feel your happiness completely linked with mine, the devotion of my entire life shall be yours, and I shall never cease to thank God for a blessing so great, that every outward trial will be lost sight of in the sense of that deep joy."


    When Tiny received this letter she almost felt inclined to be angry with Wilfred.  It was absurd to suppose she should change.  She loved her cousin, and she meant to marry him, although she knew she had once had a deeper feeling for another.  When she first realized that Captain Foy had only trifled with her affection, she never intended to marry anybody, and began to take an interest in Wilfred without ever dreaming of caring for him in the same passionate way.  Gradually his love, from soothing her, became essential, and her real sympathy with his tastes and pursuits gave her a greater sense of rest and quiet than she had yet experienced.

    Even those who had put the worst construction on Tiny's flirtations in the first days of her bitter disappointment were less conscious than she was herself of the innate wildness from which they sprang  ―  a wildness which was not very far from developing into wickedness.  Once or twice she became so thoroughly reckless that even she had been positively frightened.

    In her calmer moments she longed for an influence strong enough to arrest her; her own principles were too unformed, and her impulses far too strong, ever to be controlled by the mere worldly maxims which were the standard of her home, and sufficed for less unmanageable natures.  In spite of the unusually strong physical temperament which her early education, and the kind of life she had led, developed, Tiny knew of another side which Wilfred had called into fuller existence.  To cultivate this higher part of her character was not only to satisfy her intense craving after what was really noble and pure, but she believed it to be the only safeguard against temptations to which she was strongly inclined.  Too weak to trust herself, or to stand alone, she looked upon Wilfred's love as a special Providence, from which, at first, she dared not turn, and to which she finally gladly yielded herself, believing that her feeling for Captain Foy was the first passionate love which is so seldom realized in this world, and that her affection for Wilfred was enough to satisfy her, especially as he had already elicited a much stronger response than she ever supposed she could give any one else.  That she had won the affections of a man whose character she so intensely respected, gratified her  ―  the opposition she encountered from her family aroused the perversity of her disposition, and her enforced separation kindled her imagination, until she forgot her past feeling in the longing for the daily and hourly sympathy and love she received from Wilfred, the want of which now made such a void that her life seemed worthless unless shared with him.

    It was true that her love for Captain Foy had made a lasting impression, but it was also true that at the present moment she was really in love with Wilfred Lane.  Tiny Harewood was not one of those who love once and forever; she loved with her whole nature for the time being, but it was a nature capable of "change upon change"  ―  a nature often combined with vivid imagination and intellectual power, but rarely united with the depth and earnestness possessed by Tiny.  Her character was singularly intricate, and Wilfred, fascinated by her childish grace and apparent frankness, believed in the ultimate development of the beautiful qualities which existed in rare profusion among the baser elements of this peculiarly gifted being.  The finer the nature the more flaws will it show through the clearness of it.  The best things are not often seen in their best form.  The wild grass grows well and strongly one year with another, but the wheat is, by reason of its greater nobleness, liable to the more bitter blight.

Wilfred often remembered a saying of Mrs. Jameson's, as he thought over Tiny's character:


    "Good principles derive life and strength and warmth from high and good passions; they do not give life, they only bind up life into a consistent whole.  We are not to take for granted that passions can only be bad, and are to be ignored and repressed altogether  ―  an old mischievous, monkish doctrine."


    The great thing was, not to inculcate principle, but to train Tiny's feeling, and he could not prefer a more perfect character in its narrower requirements to what appeared so much higher and nobler, though mingled with many faults.  He believed that all Tiny really wanted was wise guidance, and that the past circumstances of her life had exposed her to many dangers, especially to the pursuit of false pleasure.  He had watched her abandon her early instinctive delight in true pleasures, sacrificing her natural and pure enjoyment to her pride, and he thought she had already discovered that these were the bitterest apples of Sodom on which she could feed.

    It was very strange, but equally true, that Wilfred Lane, like many other men before him, lived day by day by the side of her he loved best, and never guessed the secret influence which acted in such a powerful way on Tiny's soul, nor the hidden life carried on within the folds of her outward existence.  Had he done so  ―  had he but known the feelings with which Tiny still regarded Captain Foy, and had glided into her present relation with him, he might have acted differently; and, instead of giving her the choice of returning to him or otherwise, he would have understood her divided heart better than she did herself, and would have shown a resolute regard for their future interests, in spite of present suffering.  He might not have blamed her, for it is the propensity of an ardent nature to love and trust notwithstanding disappointment, just as a flower throws out fresh buds again and again, only to be nipped by a killing frost; but he would never have treasured up the belief that he had been the one to excite in Tiny's heart the deepest feeling of her life, and that her nature, once roused to a sense of his love, and giving such a full and free response to it, could know no change.


 
CHAPTER IX.


                                                      "Fair Italy!
"Thou art the garden of the world, the home
 Of all Art yields, and Nature can decree;
 Even in thy desert, what is like to thee?
 Thy very weeds are beautiful, thy waste
 More rich than other climes' fertility;
 Thy wreck a glory, and thy ruin graced
 With an immaculate charm which cannot be defaced.
    .                .                .                .                .                .

                                                Chaos of ruins!
 The ocean hath his chart, the stars their map,
 And Knowledge spreads them on his ample lap;
 But Rome is as the desert  ―  where we steer
 Stumbling o'er recollections."

LORD BYRON.


    PERHAPS few women would have appreciated Wilfred Lane's letter if addressed to themselves.  They prefer to hear from their lovers how impossible life is without them, and that, in spite of parents or guardians, they will carry them off to the other end of the world rather than give up the being in whose existence their own is merged, and that, if tempted by any one to prove unfaithful, deeds of violence will ensue, for no revenge will be too great for them to take upon any one who supplants them in the heart of the "only woman who has ever had sufficient power to kindle in their own the undying flame of a deep and lifelong attachment,"  ―  and so forth!

    Anyhow, Lady Harewood was probably the only person in this instance who would have really liked Wilfred's letter, had she seen it, and even she would have thought it much more sensible if the last sentence had been omitted.

    It certainly did not please Tiny in her present state of mind, and she resolved to express her sentiments very clearly, and did so in the following manner:


"ROME.


    "You absurd, aggravating Wil, I don't know if I ought not to be very angry with you.  I shall not have any consideration for your feelings, I shall only consider my own, and come back to you and claim my right to torment you for the rest of your natural existence.  I don't care what objections you like to raise; never was your love so necessary as it feels now, though, I daresay, it is very improper and unlady-like of me to tell you so.  I think it is very unmanly of you to be afraid of Mamma and compel me to fight our battles or allow you gracefully to retire from the field.  No, Mr. Wilfred Lane, I don't intend to let you off so easily.  You often correct me for little wee faults (and by the way you have no business to see any in me, at all), and you allow yourself the most unlimited amount of the worst sin a man, woman, or child can indulge in  ―  PRIDE.  Because I am obliged to confess to you that I am very miserable without you, and don't continually brandish over you the fear of losing me, you take up a tone which I think most unbecoming.  However, I will soon do something to bring you on your knees again  ―  the right position for both of us.  I am glad you say you shall 'not allude to this again;' I make you a profound curtsey, sir, and beg you to waste no more time in writing ridiculous letters.  I suppose you wrote the last because you had nothing else to do, or wanted to cultivate a new style!  Anyhow, you only wrote it because you knew your self-denial would be received with appropriate indignation and scorn.  But, as you are always quoting Sir Peter Teazle's naughty expression about sentiment, I shall leave this subject and tell you of our journey.

    "We had an awful passage.  It was quite calm when we started; but the wind rose very soon, and we tossed about fearfully, and towards morning had to put back into the harbour of Toulon, where we remained a day and a night.  Most of the passengers were very ill.  I stayed on deck, watching such a beautiful moonlight on the water, and the mountains, which are all round the harbour, reminding one of Gibraltar ―  quite a land-locked harbour, and full of French men-of-war.  One of them sent up rockets and burnt blue lights, apparently for my edification.

    "How you would have enjoyed seeing the rippling water lit up by the moon and the lights from the ships.  Such a pretty colour it is, a tender deep blue, always shifting into golden ripples, and then the dark hills with a bright line of lights and their reflections  ―  some creeping up the sides and struggling quite high up the hills, and, beyond all this, the gray mountains rising against the clear bright sky.

    "I looked, too, at the pretty setting of the stars  ―  you gave me that idea  ―  but then what a different sky they are set in here!

    "The worst part of our passage was between Toulon and Villafranca.  We spent a miserable day  ―  trying to run along the coast, then attempting the open sea, tossing and dancing about, making no way at all.  But at last it came to an end, and here we are in Rome.

    "This is such a place!  The climate is delicious, and everything one sees surpasses one's expectations.  Not exactly that anything we have seen is beautiful, but everything is so interesting and picturesque, and has a character of its own, and a completeness of association which makes one enjoy it much more than simply beautiful buildings.  Not that I feel inclined to enjoy anything; when I think of you in that grimy, foggy, old London, I feel as if I were cut in two, and that the best half of me were there, not here.

    "The charm of this place I cannot describe, but you of all people would appreciate it.  We have a lovely garden to this hotel, which we can get to by a terrace leading from a passage outside our rooms.  It is full of fountains and flowers, lovely shrubs, and terraces, where you could smoke and enjoy yourself in the sun by day, and in the moon by night, and I could come down to my own strong Wil, when I felt I needed to be calmed and soothed.

    "I don't lead my own life a bit with the others; of course it is no fault of theirs, but one's own weakness.  So it is.  I am pulled along with the stream, theoretically wishing to go one way, but practically having all one's time, mind, and nerves used up in the family life.

    "Charlotte is just singing Schubert's 'Parting of Hector from his Wife.'  I daresay you don't know it, but you ought to.  It is, perhaps, a slightly classical parting, but it is a good downright sort of one, strong, hopeful, and wildly intoxicated with love.

    "Wilfred! if you were ever sure of anything in this world, you may be sure of the good effect of your love upon me.  When I think of what you have saved me from, I can't help thanking God for it.  You have done what no saint, or angel, or anything less human, could have effected, and given reality and form to what were only vague, occasional sentiments  ―  dreamy, unreal sort of impulses.

    "I go on with my readings of the two Brownings and Ruskin.  I think Ruskin is very like the Bible  ―  the Bible made comprehensible, just what is divine taken out, but much of the beauty and purity left in.

    "Yesterday I saw a perfect picture  ―  Raphael's Fiddler.  Such a face, Wil, rather the type of his own, but not so fair, and instead of the dreamy, loving expression of the Louvre portrait, a perfect load of Art  ―  sensitive, passionate Art  ―  the whole countenance sad, not wholly beautiful  ―  as no artist's face ought ever to be made.  To do and to be are quite incompatible, don't you think so?  I think, somehow, artists ought not to be beautiful, or their personal influence detracts from the influence of their Art, for after all there is nothing like people, and it is not fair to oppose them to any Art whatever.  But Raphael's Fiddler is so steeped in his Art, that one hardly thinks whether it is a man, a boy, or a woman.  He has no individuality but his Art.  I have been thinking of him ever since, and can't get him out of my head, with his dark face, and matted hair, cut straight along the forehead, surmounted by a little black cap.  The fur tippet he wears is something quite beyond admiration  ―  a most delightful mixture of yellow, brown, and gray  ―  over a sad green dress, and the fiddle itself a red brown.  Some dark blue flowers with rich green leaves are in his hand, and all besides is well kept in the shade.  I have gone quite wild over this picture, and can think of nothing else.

    "I send you a few of what we agreed together were favourite flowers of ours  ―  do you remember?  I got them in the Ludovici Gardens.  Such a view we had from the top of the villa!

    "A stormy day, raining a little  ―  and all the ilexes and cypresses ink-black in the foreground, and, beyond, a burning sheet of gold on the Campagna, and the piles of mountains all mixed up in the clouds; some bright peaks of snow with bronze light, the stormy, violent light that gives snow such a wonderful colour, reminding one at the same time of metal and of the softest, mellowest swan's plumage.  Then, the next mountain the fullest lapis blue, and far off in the sunshine Soracte piled up all alone, quite light cobalt in a sky of the fairest blue (like an old Francia's sky), as if it knew nothing whatever about what was going on in the dismal parts of the heavens.  The only thing that was not ink-black in the foreground was the Tiber, and Heaven only knows where it got its flaming brightness as it twisted under the black clouds on its winding way.  Yes, Rome is a wonderful place when you see all that (and a thousand things besides) up at the top of a tower, and at the bottom such statues as the Mars in repose, the Juno's head, and several others which are beyond description beautiful.

    "One of the best pictures I have seen was at a concert the other night.  A quartett of Mozart, played by Madlle.*  Julie, two violins, and a violoncello. Madlle. Julie's face  ―  as I saw its profile  ―  all full of earnest quiet music, with the load in the eyebrows which in musicians seems to me to express all the pain of Art  ―  the spirit much too strong for utterance, a bewilderment of the brain in the higher regions  ―  a quiet, sensitive mouth, a yellow skin, the same all over (no artist ever had a good complexion, I'm sure) and black unnoticeable hair.  If you have ever seen Rubenstein you will understand what I mean by the load in the eyebrows.  Then came the violins and violoncellos, and interesting clever musician-faces playing them, half hid by the pretty curves of their instruments and the stands for their music, all their black coats, and Madlle.  Julie's simple black dress without a white collar even, all more than half hid, but coming so well and seriously against the wall behind.  The wall of the theatre is painted with a full, soft drapery, with little gold touchings here and there  ―  all much hurt by time, and therefore the better for the picture.  It was altogether perfect, as the colours of the instruments  ―  yellow, red, and brown mingled  ―  and the sallow faces of the players looked perfectly delightful against the subdued green background.  But of course the music in the faces (particularly in Madlle. Julie's) made the picture. It reminded me so of George Sand's 'Consuelo,' which is full of artistic scenes; Haydn and Co.'s little musical meetings in the old musical atmosphere of the old times  ―  all old  ―  nothing of the nineteenth century about them.

    "But now I have well dosed you with my prosings, I shall only add that what Rome would be to me under favourable circumstances I cannot imagine.  You see if I am only to write occasionally I mean to send you letters you cannot read all in a minute, but which will compel you to think for at least one half hour after you receive them of the unfortunate

"little exile,


                                     "TINY HAREWOOD."

*Ed. ― mademoiselle.



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