A Reed Shaken with the Wind (2).

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CHAPTER X.


"And this woman says, 'My days were sunless, and my nights were
         moonless,
 Parched the pleasant April herbage, and the lark's heart outbreak
         tuneless,
 If you loved me not!' And I who (ah, for words of flame!) adore
         her!
 Who am mad to lay my spirit prostrate palpably before her ―"

ROBERT BROWNING.


    WILFRED was delighted with this letter; not only for its freshness and keenness of appreciation, but for the loving steadfastness it expressed for him.  He declared to himself that Tiny was like a pemmican, or jelly, or anything which contains a lot of strength, but is little in size; and it seemed to him that the good qualities of six or eight ordinary good women were boiled down to make her what she was, and that was why she was not bigger!

    Had the letter been answered that day, Wilfred felt he must have given vent to all the loving feelings of his heart, and therefore he put it in his pocket and resolved on allowing a week to pass before he trusted himself to write to "his little sunshine," as he often called Tiny.  But he only found each day made him more hungry, and it sometimes seemed impossible to repress his passionate love.  Nothing but the conviction that this complete sacrifice best proved his true affection, enabled him to resist the desire of telling her how entirely his life was bound up in hers.  Sometimes the craving was so strong that he was forced to yield, but the letters written in these moments were never posted.

    This was the answer sent to Tiny.


''MY DEAR LITTLE SPRITE:

"If I am afraid of your mother, I am not going to be terrified by you, and shall therefore continue to give you cause to scold me to your heart's content ― for the present ―  waiting, however, a fitting opportunity to punish you for your evil deeds.  If that day ever comes you will cry aloud and in vain for mercy.

    "Instead of all these reproaches your letters ought to be written in a strain of continual thanksgiving for the pleasures I have been benevolent enough to procure you this winter.

    "Think of the lovely climate with which you are enraptured, and then fancy my mistaking a lamp-post for a man on my way to the office this morning ― a wrong conclusion, which brought speedy retribution in the shape of a sudden collision of a remarkably severe nature.

    "See what a wise old cousin you have; wise as well as benevolent!

    "I knew Rome would enchant and fill you with happy, beautiful thoughts; but I hardly ever expected you would enable me to share them so completely by sending such gloriously vivid descriptions of all you see and hear.  I feel as if I had seen Raphael's Fiddler now, but I don't quite see that 'to be and to do are incompatible,' even in relation to outward beauty and artistic work, and I am sure, my dear little coz, it isn't so with regard to other things, inasmuch as the being must come before the doing.  Eh?

    "But you must be content with shabby answers; for I have nothing beautiful to write about.  I can only tell you of the books I am reading, one of which you would enjoy immensely.  A certain Dr. Carl Vogt, who has written on 'Man and his Place in Creation,' believes that, as animals have brains, they have intellects; and his book abounds in stories of religious dogs, just cats, bears and apes, with notions of dignity and decorum.  In the way of novels, I have been skimming 'Emily Chester,' which works out the theory that God gives to every creature the exact discipline which best tends to promote its final development.  With those to whom happiness is the one possible means of expansion ― their characters requiring moral sunshine, just as some flowers need the physical ― it almost seems as if 'an angel had charge concerning them, lest they dashed their foot against a stone;' while to others, pain and suffering seem to be their positive nutriment ― fire their native element.

    "How glad I am you are going on with your readings from Ruskin and the Brownings.  To me there is an intense life in 'Aurora Leigh;' it is certainly a great poem, notwithstanding a want of finish which suggests masculine rudeness of power, rather than feminine delicacy of touch.

    "I saw a very good thing in a criticism on Robert Browning the other day.  The writer, in speaking of his obscurity, says, by way of example, that one of his poems contains only two intelligible lines, and that these two are not true.  The first line is


'Who will, may hear Sordello's story told.'


with which the poem commences, and the other is the one with which it concludes,


'Who would, has heard Sordello's story told,'


I believe this is the poem of which Browning's father exclaimed, 'I spent the whole morning over it, but I could only make out that there was a woman in it.'

    "And now I must leave off writing, but I shall not leave off longing for your next letter until I have received it.  Give my love to Charlotte and Madeline, and an appropriate message to your mother.

                                                              ''Ever yours,                                         "W. L."


 
CHAPTER XI.


                                                  "Majesty,
Power, glory, strength, and beauty, all are aisled
In this eternal ark of worship undefiled."

LORD BYRON.


    WILFRED had not very long to wait, although it appeared long enough to him, before his eyes were gladdened by the sight which had now become so precious to him, of a yellow envelope, bearing the Roman postmark.

    Breaking the seal, he read:


    "You cruel Wilfred, to mount such a pedestal when I have become dependent upon your kind words.  I feel every thought of the future so bound up in your strengthening love that I long for its expression even on a miserable sheet of paper.  And you must give it, for I am so lonely, and should feel quite another person if I could only have a hopeful loving letter from you.  Oh, Wil, it is such an age since that horrid steamer took me away from the figure on the Folkestone pier.  One's cheerfulness is beginning to be a melancholy failure, such a skull-like grin!  I had a great fright too, yesterday.  I looked down at my arm and saw I had lost your dear locket off my bracelet.  Fancy my concern!  I hunted everywhere, and so did every one else, till at last I went to bed in despair, hardly able to sleep for the thought of it.  In the morning Smith brought it in, saying she had found it in the passage the night before.

    "The other day two of the Leighs called and asked us to go with them to see the fox hounds meet, so I went with Madeline.  It was a splendid morning, and we had such a pretty drive, the views of the mountains with their tops all covered with snow, and quite pink in the morning light, were lovely.  Lady Emily Cavendish was first and foremost, with red hair, red tie, gold spangled net, bright blue habit, and on a gray horse.  She looks well on horseback, however, rides capitally, and won the fox's brush on Monday.  One of the best riders and most constant lady hunters in Rome is the bright vivacious Harriet Hosmer, the famous American sculptress.

    "And now I must tell you about our Christmas Eve.

    "We went with the Somervilles and Dunmores, in three carriages, through the deserted streets; there are only patrols in two streets in Rome, the rest, they say, are infested by brigands, who attack you at every possible turn.  We crossed the St. Angelo bridge, with its great renaissance statues by Bernini, black and rugged outlines against the clear, star-lit, bright sky, up to the marvellous piazza before St. Peter's.  The beautiful colonnade which encircles with its arms the immense space of the piazza, the gentle noise made by the falling fountains, a clear sound, only to be heard when everything else is still ― seemed so mysterious in the strange starlight!

    "When we got out of the carriage, we had to mount the Bernini staircase, with hundreds of steps, flanked by immense pillars.  You cannot imagine what a wonderful, weird-looking place it seemed in that light, with groups of tall men  ―  the Swiss guard  ―  in dresses which rejoiced my heart, invented and designed by Michael Angelo.  At the bottom of the court were the Papal Guards, with flaming cloaks and splendid helmets, also men mounted on very fine horses.

    "At the top of the staircase we entered a room with frescos on the walls and ceilings.

    "You put aside the huge curtain hung over the entrance door, to get into the Sistine Chapel, which is simple but gorgeous, if you can imagine the combination.

    "The wonderful roof, by Michael Angelo, and his fresco of the Last Judgment, which covers the end of the chapel (except where the barbarians cut out a piece for the high altar), half gleams through the blaze of light, not so as to be enjoyed as a picture, but seeming, in a way, to say it was too grand, and well worth being looked at, to be seen through the medium of wax candles.

    "The only way to know anything of these frescos is to do as I did the next day.  I extended myself at full length on one of the cushioned seats, and, with a powerful opera-glass, enjoyed them at my leisure.  I could not leave them for hours, and the consequence is my eyes have ached ever since.

    "The screen which divides the chapel is very open, and through it no woman is allowed to pass.  Beyond was a perfect blaze of the gold and lace dresses of the different grades of priests, but the chapel has no other ornament than its painted walls and roofs, and massive gold candlesticks.

    "I should like to have looked at the whole scene from above, for we must have improved it contrary to the custom of most masses of ladies; we were all obliged to be dressed in black, with long veils instead of bonnets.  It is astonishing how well this mass of black figures (divided from the gentlemen) looked against all the gorgeousness of the chapel and the splendid dresses of the Guards.

    "And then the music!  Such curious sounds; they seemed, somehow, to come straight from the Middle Ages.

    "Only vocal music is allowed in the presence of the 'Holy Father,' so you hear nothing but these unusually lovely voices singing difficult and quaint compositions in a marvellous way, as true as if each note were a musical instrument.

    "We stayed some time, and then went down the ghostly staircase, with the beautifully dressed men on it, and drove away through the narrow streets to the front of a small cafe, out of which they brought us cups of chocolate.

    "Then we went on to St. Luigi Francese, which much disappointed us  ―  a regular ball-room illumination on the high altar  ―  the most monotonous vespers with organ obligatos, and a tremendous crowd of English sight-seers.  It gave me a curious and melancholy feeling of pity for the dull lives of these poor priests, who don't believe half the absurd stories with which they delude the Roman peasantry.

    "I must tell you, too, about the wonderful exhibition of the famous Bambino, a little wooden figure, supposed to be blessed with the power of curing any illness ― in fact, to be Christ as a baby.  This Bambino is a very great personage, and when the Republic was going on they gave it the Pope's grand carriage to go about in and do its miracles with, but when the Pope came back they took away the grand carriage and gave it an ugly old worn-out one instead.  We went to see the Bambino at the Ara Cśli.  It is put into the middle of a scene like a theatre scene, with the Virgin adoring; a landscape, and in the distance the Magi arriving on horseback, a heavenly host above in the clouds ― all lighted up very prettily, and all adoring the Bambino.  Opposite this little arrangement is a raised platform, where small children stand, and argue points of religion and declaim little set speeches.  It was the most absurd spectacle I ever saw; they act and they spout the most high-flown spread-eagle sentences, and gesticulate to any extent.  This, however, was their kind of argument:


" 'Why was not the Bambino born in the Vatican, as it is such a beautiful place?'

" 'He might if he liked,' said the other.

" 'Well, why didn't he?'

" 'Because he was born in a manger to teach us the beautiful virtue of humility.'


    "They don't mention the little fact of the Vatican not having been built at that time.

    "Some of the figures are made as large as life, and the Christ is said to be cut out of wood from Mount Lebanon. Mr. Howard was in the church when they were arranging the scene, and one man, I suppose a monk, with an eye for arranging tableaux, stood a little way off, saying, 'move that goat'  ―  'put that goat's tail further that way,' etc.

    "Our party to see the Vatican by torchlight was a very successful one; it was a private illumination got up by Mr. Howard and ourselves.  We walked about, a ghostly mass, with our torch-bearers in front of us, for two hours among all the wonderful galleries ― full of wonders, of which we could only see one or two in each.  It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life.

    "The Apollo (except the horrid, modern hands they have stuck on his beautiful arms) is quite enough to take your breath away; all the Venuses in the world sink into insignificance by comparison with him, and my respect for men has most strangely risen since I have seen what they might be, if they were only more like the Apollo.  But it would take ten letters of ecstatic rapture to give you an idea of all we saw that night in the Vatican.

    "When we came back your little possession drank four cups of tea, and over-ate herself with cake and bread and butter.  I should like to return home to you as plump as a little pigeon, and with life enough in me to scatter into another world all your horrid bÍtes noires respecting my want of strength of mind, or body, for a life with a limited income.

    "Mr. Sedley is in Rome; do you remember taking me to his studio in London?

    "I like so to meet people I first saw with you.

    "Oh, darling Wil, what a glorious life we shall have together in the future!  It seems too good to look forward to, lest it never should be realized.  We are enough and sufficient for ourselves, are we not, Wil, and not the faintest breath of harm can touch us from any one but each other.  As for society and the world ― I should like you to see the inside of my heart for once, and you would see how callous and indifferent I am, and how I laugh at the world.

    "And now, my own Wil, what wishes can I offer you for the New Year?  Only that we may be allowed to end it together in the enjoyment of the peace and great happiness we can make for each other.  I hated so to think of you alone on Christmas Day, and I wondered if you were thinking as I was of sweet days to come.


"Ever your loving


                            "T
INY."


 
CHAPTER XII.


"Limit your wants: the Must is hard, and yet solely by this Must can we show how it is with us in our inner man.  To live according to caprice requires no peculiar powers."

GOETHE.


    AFTER reading this letter it was natural for Wilfred Lane to believe that Tiny's heart was all his own, and that any sacrifice she would have to make as his wife would be fully recompensed by his devoted affection and their perfect spiritual and intellectual union.  Rank and wealth without this would be destitute of all that seemed as necessary to her as the very air she breathed.  Such a position would be worse than absolute poverty.

    A small house and the difficulty of "keeping down the weekly bills" might, and probably often would, prove distasteful to Tiny; but a marriage which was incomplete and insufficient would be little less than dangerous to a girl of her temperament.  Combined with the many good points in Tiny's nature there were evil tendencies of no common strength, and, under such circumstances, these would most assuredly assert themselves.

    The thought that, by present rigid economy, some of Tiny's difficulties in their future home might be diminished, afforded precisely the stimulus Wilfred Lane's own character required.

    He was not an idle man, and whilst he keenly appreciated physical ease and all the outward refinements of life, he was very far removed from being a mere pleasure-seeker.

    His indifference to money amounted almost to a positive fault, and his carelessness as to his expenditure had on one occasion placed him in a position which he did not scruple to condemn as dishonest as well as dishonourable.  It was true that he had not wilfully lived beyond his income like many men, who, for the sake of luxuries they cannot afford, draw bills they know they can never meet, content when the day of reckoning comes to fall back upon ''the governor," or to diminish without remorse the slender resources of some indulgent mother, who has to deny herself absolute necessaries in order to pay for extravagance, if not vice.

    This Wilfred would have scorned to do.

    His humiliation was almost excessive when he found what his easy way of taking things had entailed, and it quite aroused him from indolent but refined enjoyment.

    Hitherto his intellectual life had been more dreamy than practical; now he determined to turn it to better account.  It would, however, have taken him some time to extricate himself from a state he regarded with nothing less than abhorrence, but for an unexpected legacy from an old lady to whom his father had rendered an important service.  This enabled him to pay off everything without telling his family of his difficulties; though Lady Harewood often wondered what Wilfred had done with the money, and remarked that he seemed more careful after he had received the thousand pounds than he was before, and never resumed his stall at the Opera, which up to that season he had seldom been without.

    All this happened nearly three years before Wilfred fell in love with Tiny; and though he had somewhat relaxed his literary efforts, he had kept up his reputation as the hardest working man in the War Office.

    On his return from Folkestone he had resolved on a winter of real work, during which he would spend as little and earn as much as he possibly could.  So he hunted up the editors who had previously employed him; and being more than usually fortunate, soon found himself in the full swing of work.

    He began to feel a very miser; and when he placed out the money he earned in profitable speculations, he thought of that wonderful story of Silas Marner counting up his heaps of gold; and felt strangely moved at the remembrance of the old man's despair at losing his money-bags, and his tender, pathetic love for the golden-haired child who strayed into his cottage and reminded him of his lost guineas.

    Wilfred said nothing to Tiny about his extra work, and although this incessant occupation certainly helped him to adhere to his plan of writing short letters to Rome, he never put it forward as a reason.  He knew very well that he would have written often enough, but for feeling that his restraint better enabled him to keep to the spirit of his sacrifice, and also gave Tiny a fairer opportunity of testing her attachment, than if he fanned the flame already kindled by the constant expressions of his love.  Accordingly nearly a fortnight passed before he allowed himself to answer Tiny's last epistle; and the very day on which he meant to write, he received while at breakfast another Roman letter, and during the morning an intimation from Sir Thomas Slade, which would have been a sufficient excuse for writing to Tiny, even if he had posted one the night before.

    But we must follow these two events as they happened to Mr. Lane.


 
CHAPTER XIII.


"Life is good; but not life in itself.  So is youth, so is beauty.
         Mere stuff,
"Are all these for Love's usance?  To live it is well; but it is
         not enough.
"Well too, to be fair, to be young; but what good is in beauty
         and youth,
"If the lovely and young are no surer than they that are neither,
         forsooth,
"Young nor lovely, of being beloved?  O my love, if thou
         lovest not me,
"Shall I love my own life?"

THE APPLE OF LIFE.


"Thy soul hath snatched up mine, all faint and weak.
 And placed it by thee on a golden throne."

SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE.


"MY OWN WILL,

    "I am getting so impatient of this 'eternal city' in spite of all its beauties, that unless you will let me write to you nearly every day, I am sure I shall soon be very ill.  I am quite worn out by this continual struggle with the 'interfering atmosphere' we talked about.  Not that I am weaker in practice or in feeling; but it is so wearing to force one's self back into one's self, when there are so many influences pulling other ways.

    "I daresay you will tell me that it is good for me, and ought to teach me what no one can teach another ―  how to lead my own life.  If I am so weak as to succumb to surrounding influences, there can be no real good in me; and I often think of what you used to say of the amiable weakness which lets people pull you into hourly diversions, and puts an effectual barrier between you and any steady kind of life.

    "I feel the want of some hours every day entirely to myself  ―  it seems so necessary and yet so impossible here.  It is no joke, this beginning to alter at my time of life; you may laugh, sir, but it is true.  All these years in a frivolous worldly atmosphere make a change for the better no quick or easy process.

    "Darling Wil, I don't know what benumbing influence has come over me, but I can enjoy nothing, and can hardly take an interest in anything.

    " 'An 'orrible tale' best expresses my condition, 'hypercondriacal, very,' ― 'the flesh warring against the spirit,' is not a bad quotative description, although not taken from the same original.  If I am profane I can't help it.  I shall soon be bilious enough to be absolved from all moral responsibility.

    "It is not sunrise, but the cocks are crowing so.  I love the dicky birds in the garden here, better than anything else in Rome, and the great watchdog that wags its tail at me.  But the best wagging comes, however, by the post, though your letters are so cold that they make me ― savagely longing ― especially when I think that we might have avoided this separation altogether.

    "Still, I do think it will be all for the best, if I only use it rightly.  Surely no such pain was ever sent for nothing!  And it would be utterly unfortunate, if, instead of letting it work its own good ends, I grew hard and miserable, thinking of the density and hardness of others.  So don't believe that when I am good I blame you for sending me to Rome.

    "Remember my crack about acquiring experience.  I feel such a satisfaction when the pain of anything turns to an acquired piece of experience ― a greater knowledge of human nature; it more than recompenses me for all the suffering.  Perhaps I am less sensitive than others, or more sanguine; but I have no regrets.  If I were a painter, I would use up my feelings in my pictures ― so much pain to so much canvas!

    "It sometimes comes upon me with a rush of intense feeling, that I have really got you in the world.  The being with you is not all.  There is something in the possession of such a love, and such a hold in life, however distant!  One is apt to forget the sweetness of this in the wish for the entire satisfaction of being with you; and when some sign of affection in others, or any little thing of that sort, recalls that I, too, have a true heart to depend and lean on  ―  how I wish the feeling would stop there, but it never does ― directly after comes the yearning and longing, with the dismal dread lest any misfortunes should prevent these longings from being eventually fulfilled.

    "I think of all kinds of dreadful things, and I fear them all.
              .                        .                        .                        .                        .                        .

    "Yesterday we drove to St. Paolo, about three miles from here, all through the city, out through the furthest gate into the country.  Such a strange drive, through filthy places no one can imagine who has not been to Rome.  The narrow streets crowded with peasants, who come in for the festa ― very picturesque, but very dirty; consistent, very, with the streets, where, at every turn, through the comical squalid shops and houses, peep out exquisite pieces of old wall, an old gateway, or an old bridge across an alley.

    "There is a perfect piece of building left of the theatre of Marcellus, the arch below being filled with cheeses, and bunches of carrots hanging down under the beautiful sculptured stone-work of the ruin.

    "The Church of St. Paolo is the most perfect thing in or about Rome.  It is hardly yet completed, after about fifty years' hard labour.  All the Catholic monarchs in Europe have sent enormous sums and presents for it.  Such pillars I never saw in my life.  Nothing but one mass of marble  ―  floor, pillars, and ornaments  ―  very simple, but baffling all description.

    "Imagine yourself in the highest building you ever saw, with vistas of beautiful marble pillars going off into perspective till they appear quite tiny, being really so high and massive that human figures look like insects by them, and all this reflected in the beautiful expanse of marble floor.  Such marble, too!  Algerian marble pillars ― then porphyry pillars ― malachite in quantities, given by the Emperor of Russia ― and lapis lazuli in such immense slabs that one can hardly keep up one's respect for it; but the balustrades of white Carrara marble took my fancy most, with slabs of beautiful dark-grained porphyry introduced between.

    "But all this on paper will not give you the faintest idea of the simple huge magnificence of the place, which outside is the most hideous granary-looking building you can conceive.

    "To-day we have been to see an antique statue in gilded bronze, just discovered under a palace.  The man who found it, and to whom it belonged, thought he would send it to England and exhibit it at a guinea a head.  He was dissuaded from this, and told that English people do not care for such things, though they make a great fuss about them when they come out here.  He then offered it to the Pope, who said he would much like to have it for the Vatican, but had not a penny he could call his own to pay for it.  So the man magnanimously gave it to the Vatican; and the Pope made him a marquis, and has given him the monopoly of fish or salt for two years, and taken all the mortgages off his property.  Don't they do things absurdly here?

    "And to see the statue!  It is twelve or fourteen feet high, in bronze, covered with gold which is quite bright.  It is a Hercules, and very handsome; but they have not raised him upon his stumps yet (he has not got any feet, at least not on  ―  one is in a corner of the room and the other is in his lion's skin), so he is left lying flat on his back.  But the room they have put him in is positively ridiculous.  It is all decked out in pink tarlatan, edged with gold tinsel, red cotton velvet ― with stars over the walls, and the whole is decorated with the shabbiest of theatre tinsel.  I should like you to see the chaste taste of these modern Romans: such an appropriate room for an antique, and all made on purpose!

              .                        .                        .                        .                        .                        .

"T
HURSDAY.

    "We have just had a delicious walk in the Borghese Gardens.  This place is a combination of everything that is most delightful in the world.  Old statues, lovely fountains, ilex groves, and distant hills.  These beautiful things would gladden your eyes and soul; and I think that of all the delights with which Rome is filled, the Borghese Gardens have hitherto enchanted me the most.  But in everything one sees there is one great dissatisfaction ― such a feeling of what they would all be, if one could only live in and with them ― an appreciation of what they would be then, much more than the actual pleasure they give one now.  Of course this doesn't affect the pictures or statues so much as the buildings, ruins, and country.  I hate all incomplete experience ― it leaves me with such a savage craving!

    "I should like to end our days together in Rome, when you have done grinding at that miserable old War Office; and, indeed, I often think you might do many things better for you even now.  My money would go a long way in Rome, if we lived quietly, and you might be made Special Correspondent to The Times, and all sorts of things.  I am sure this lovely place would fill you with such fresh and beautiful thoughts that you would write about them, and gladden the hearts of those poor souls in dreary, foggy England.

    "The very sense of living out here is delicious, and I am sure you would be a different person if I could only get you away from the damp climate and keen winds at home.  Yet, to some people, Rome is very trying; last week we had a good deal of rain, with a sirocco wind, and the warm, dry atmosphere the sirocco brings with it.  As a rule, however, they say the winter here is bright, clear, and coldish.  Certainly, whenever we have the good fortune to get rid of the sirocco, the weather is perfect, and the air is so fresh and crisp that it acts like a tonic.

    "And now I must tell you about our presentation to the Santa Padre, by whom we were blessed.  He is a charming old man, such an inducement to turn Catholic!  We all went dressed in black, with black lace over our heads.  We sat with some ladies in a long sort of gallery; then the Pope came round and spoke to us all, and we knelt down and kissed his hand.  He gave us a little address, while we continued kneeling; told us how much he desired our welfare, and that of our families and friends, and how earnestly he hoped we would attend to the affairs of our souls.  Then he blessed us, and a number of rosaries and other things people had brought, after which he toddled away.  His manner was too sweet!

    "The Howards came back with us, and Mr. Howard told us such a capital story about Captain ―――.  Queen Victoria honoured him with an invitation to Osborne Castle on his return to England after his search for Sir John Franklin in Polar regions, and he told Lady Franklin afterwards that he sat by the Princess Royal, and thought her very odd, for she laughed at nearly every sentence he uttered.  It turned out that Captain ――― had given her good cause to laugh.  Not accustomed to Courts, he had gone to Osborne, oppressed with the terrible conviction that whenever he spoke to a royal personage, he must use some formal title; and, in his absent way, whenever he spoke to the Princess Royal, he called her 'Your Holiness.'  I think this was enough to upset any one's gravity.  But they say the Queen was very angry with the Princess for laughing at the poor man.

    "I like Alice Howard extremely; she is a true-hearted, nice girl ― thoroughly Catholic.  I think all English Catholics have a peculiar manner; simple, gentle, and rather up in the clouds, without being dreamy.  There is nothing after all influences people so much as their religion.  Don't you think so?

    "To-morrow we go to the Palazzo Doria.  Sight-seeing is our principal occupation; and there is too much variety here in that line, for the others ever to tire of it, or even to get through it all in one winter.

    "As to society, we know several people now in Rome, and are constantly seeing them, at our hotel, or forming parties to visit the churches, picture-galleries, etc., together in a friendly sociable way; but I have refused to go to any of the large receptions.  I have too much to do, and feel too tired to make any efforts to increase my acquaintance; and the gossiping stories one hears on all sides, from those who go about a great deal and make society their principal business, do not give me a very inviting idea of Roman society, but make me all the more anxious to keep out of the way of it.  Madeline and Charlotte are going to two dances in succession early next week; one at the French Embassy, and the other at the Ashcrofts, who have one of the pleasantest houses here, and receive every Sunday evening.

    "Your pretty little friend, Mrs. Willoughby, is here.  She has been seriously ill with inflammation of the lungs, but is getting up her strength again now.  She is going with us on Saturday for a delightful excursion into the mountains.

    "The thing I like best about Rome is getting out of it; it is cheerful even to play at going away.  Oh, Wil, you would not doubt about the future if you could only see into my heart, and find how full it is of you, and know how constantly I long for the presence of the sweet love I want so much.  You might well indeed be content.  Never have I recognized more than to-day the necessity of your love to make my life complete.  I did not know how essential you were to me till I felt what every day increases ― the longing for just that one thing which makes life perfect, come what may from the outer world.

    "Yes, you dear self-contained old Wil.  I don't think you would hesitate to claim your little girl, if you could see for one half minute into her heart of hearts ― which is all yours.

    ''Good-by, my own!  Remember a yearning, lonely, wretched, little being, who longs, and longs, and prays, and loves, and does all in fact that such tormented little halved creatures generally do, and all to no purpose.


"Your own, and yours forever,

                                                             "TINY.


"P. S.  ―  I send you some little ties which you must wear and fancy yourself at Rome."


 
CHAPTER XIV.


"Let us be content, in work,
 To do the thing we can, and not presume
 To fret because it's little."

AURORA LEIGH.


    AS Wilfred read the last sentence in Tiny's letter he was unpleasantly aroused to a sense of the flight of time, by the peculiarly loud and unmusical sound of his landlady's staircase clock; so, hurriedly thrusting his arms into his coat, he made his way, regardless of appearances, past Buckingham Palace, through St. James's Square into Pall Mall.

    Wilfred had hardly settled down to his work before he received a summons to his chief's private room.

    When he entered. Sir Thomas Slade was finishing a letter, and looking up hastily, said in a courteous tone, "Good morning, Mr. Lane; I shall be disengaged in a few minutes."

    Wilfred sat down by a table on which lay The Times; and, after glancing at the latest telegrams he began to speculate in an unusually curious way upon Sir Thomas Slade's motive for sending for him.

    There was nothing very remarkable in the circumstance after all; but, somehow or other, Wilfred Lane felt his attendance that morning had not been required in the mere ordinary course of business.  Knowing how little Mr. Chamberlain (Sir Thomas' Private Secretary) had been at the office during the last week, owing to his rapidly failing health, Wilfred began to think Sir Thomas Slade was about to ask him to do some of Chamberlain's work, while the latter took a month's rest at Pau or Mentone ― a plan of which he had often talked.

    "I sent for you, Mr. Lane," at last began Sir Thomas, laying down his pen, "because I regret to say Mr. Chamberlain is obliged to give up his work altogether.  As the gentleman to whom my secretaryship was promised is unable from private reasons to accept it now, I have much pleasure in offering it to you, having noticed that you are the most careful and accurate man in the office."

    "I shall be very glad to accept it, sir," said Wilfred, who was greatly surprised at this stroke of good fortune, "and I feel very grateful for the kind opinion you have expressed, which I hope I may always deserve."

    "You must be prepared to enter upon your new duties at once, in fact, this very day;" and, as he spoke, Sir Thomas pushed a bundle of letters across the table to Wilfred.  "The truth is, poor Chamberlain was not fit for much last week, and these papers have accumulated in consequence.  You will find my notes on the back of each; be good enough to carry out my instructions, and, when you observe a cross at the end of my memoranda, you may know I wish to sign the letter myself, it must therefore be written accordingly.  I daresay for the next day or two you will meet with several signs which will puzzle you; get through the work which is plain, and then come to me with any requiring explanation.  I shall expect a little extra interruption at first."

    After a few more directions, Sir Thomas desired Mr. Lane to take possession of Mr. Chamberlain's room, and informed him that his additional salary would commence from that day.

    When Wilfred found himself fairly installed in Mr. Chamberlain's place, it was contrary to human nature to expect he should think of another man's misfortunes, rather than of the good which they had been the means of bringing him.

    Here, indeed, was a sudden rise, and an utterly unexpected one.

    His work would of course be considerably heavier, and far more onerous; but an extra salary of £250 a year made the former sink into insignificance, and the latter he contemplated with unmitigated satisfaction.  Now, he thought, he should have an opportunity of proving his real value, and this secretaryship might, perhaps, lead to some ultimate advancement.

    Wilfred Lane knew his own powers, and felt they could be much better employed in the public service, in positions of greater trust than the one he had previously occupied.  Possessing an evenly balanced mind, without any tendency to conceit or self-assertion, he was able to estimate his own capabilities, without over-rating or unduly depreciating them.

    It is quite as impossible for a man of real power to be unconscious of it, as it is for a woman to be ignorant of her beauty and personal attractions.

    A thoroughly educated man, in the fullest sense of the word, Wilfred knew what faculties he possessed, and the uses to which he could best apply them ― the first step to enable an individual to act wisely in any station of life.  But he had also realized one of the last ― the significance of almost every act of a man's daily life, in its ultimate operation on himself and others; and, having naturally a very strongly marked character, his gentleness and modesty shone out with an unusual grace, for these qualities were in keeping, as they always must be, with the largeness of his apprehension and his perception of the infiniteness of the things he could never know.

    The first day's work in his new position did not prove a light one.  It was, indeed, true that, owing to Mr. Chamberlain's illness and irregular attendance, all the less pressing letters had been laid aside until they had accumulated into a very formidable heap.  Wilfred was busy over them, when he was surprised by a kind letter from Mr. Chamberlain, saying how glad he was to hear that Lane was his successor.  Had he been able to leave home he should have looked in, to explain the way in which he left Sir Thomas Slade's papers.  Should Lane, however, require any information, and think it worth his while to call, he knew where to find him.

    Wilfred was pleased with Mr. Chamberlain's letter, which gave him the opportunity of calling as soon as he left the War Office.  But he could not wait till then, and lose a day's post, before he despatched a note to Rome to tell Tiny of his appointment.  If he had hitherto restrained his feelings when he wrote, in accordance with his resolution, there was no reason to deprive her of the pleasure of hearing, as soon as possible, of a promotion which would, at any rate, make their marriage a degree less difficult than it seemed after that fearful talk with Lady Hare wood, when his ''miserable prospects" and ''uncertain health" were so vividly brought before him.

    As Wilfred recalled that afternoon he could not help feeling heartily glad that he owed his present appointment, not to private interest, but to the reasons assigned by Sir Thomas Slade.  Above all, he congratulated himself that he was by no means indebted to his aunt for it.  Lady Harewood had made him sensible of former obligations in a manner which did a great deal towards lessening the gratitude he would otherwise have felt, and raising in its place a devout hope that she would in future refrain from bestowing any favour upon him.

    So a few lines were scribbled off to Tiny, to convey the good news, and assure her that her descriptions of Rome were glorious, and the sight of her yellow envelopes the only things which gave him any real pleasure.  He hoped soon to see another; and promised to answer one and all in a way which would thoroughly satisfy her when she returned home; but at present she must take for granted all her own heart disposed her to wish for.  She could not take more than he was ready to give.  During the next few days Wilfred had enough to do.  He was anxious not to get in arrears with his literary work.  He knew, when once he had mastered the accumulated papers, his official employment would not interfere with the engagements he had made in other directions; and he was bent on leaving no stone unturned, both to make and save money enough to furnish a comfortable little home for Tiny, so that, when Lady Harewood gave her consent, they would be in a position to make a clear start upon their mutual income.

    With the money inherited from his mother, his increased salary at the War Office, and the proceeds of his writings, Wilfred Lane already possessed an income of eight hundred pounds a year.

    It was true that his secretaryship was not a permanent one, and there were chances which might curtail the income derived from other sources, but he was in a very hopeful mood, and, in the face of his present good fortune, not disposed to take a melancholy view of affairs in general, or his pecuniary concerns in particular.

    Tiny was ill in bed when the letter containing the news of Wilfred's appointment reached her.  The coming illness upon which she had fathered her melancholy tendency to "profanity" had already arrived, not however as a bilious attack, but in the shape of a severe cold.  Indeed, poor Tiny had not left her room since the day on which she posted her last letter.

    Her delight at hearing of the secretaryship was as great as if Wilfred had been made Governor General of India.  She knew the addition to his salary would be nothing in Lady Harewood's eyes; and that it would take a very different kind of appointment to reconcile her to the proposed marriage; but she resolved to act as if she thought her mother would offer no opposition, if Wilfred possessed anything like a respectable income.  Although Tiny was unable to include the result of Wilfred's literary work (for the simple reason that she knew nothing about it), she considered his present salary, joined to her income, sufficient to begin with, and to provide a modest establishment with the "bare necessaries of life."

    Not that Tiny Harewood's ideas upon the subject of money had any sound basis.  She knew, indeed, that she could not keep her own expenses within bounds, but often borrowed from her sisters, to help her on to the next quarter; even at the present moment she had two advances to repay, as well as several outstanding bills.  This, however, only presented to Tiny's mind a temporary difficulty, which would never occur in the future.  She was even now "economizing" (according to her sense of the word) to pay off these sums; and, as they had been spent in luxuries she ceased to value with their possession, she felt it would be easy to avoid ever again placing herself in a similar position.

    But Tiny's views upon expenditure were so exceedingly vague, that as far as any executive faculty was concerned, she was (with the best intentions) utterly unfit to be a poor man's wife.  Large sums of money would disappear before she was conscious of it; for acute, clever, and observant as Tiny was in most things, pounds, shillings, and pence had no power to make a mental impression upon her.  Certainly, she had never yet tried to cultivate a better understanding between her purse and her expenditure, but habitually fell back upon her sisters' good-natured practice of keeping not only her accounts, but her quarterly money; the latter was never confided to Tiny until a good number of bills from the various dressmakers, jewellers, and dry-goods stores patronized by the little spendthrift were systematically collected and paid by Madeline for the credit of the family.

    Even then this wilful little individual refused to inspect the several items; and, while she laughingly complained of any reduction in the money she expected to receive, she resolutely declined to believe in the sum total of the paid-up accounts.

    All this, however, and a great deal more, Tiny intended to alter when she married.  As Mrs. Wilfred Lane she had unbounded faith in her power of looking through the unpleasant red and blue books containing butchers', bakers', and grocers' weekly accounts; and she determined to commence her duties by purchasing a complete set of housekeeping books, which she had seen in a shop in Bond Street, handsomely bound in green morocco with gold clasps, and standing in an appropriately expensive case.


 
CHAPTER XV.


          "Life treads on life, and heart on heart,
 We press too close in church and mart
 To keep a dream or grave apart."

 A VISION OF POETS.


    THE first person to whom Tiny communicated the news of Wilfred's appointment, was Madehne; she was always sure of a certain amount of sympathy from her sister Madeline; whose sweetness of disposition and natural goodness of heart made it easy for her to enter into the feelings of others, and rendered it quite impossible for her to banish all interest in her cousin, because she objected to his marriage with Tiny, though of course she wished Wilfred had not fallen in love with her sister, and would have esteemed him more highly had he yielded at once to family opposition.

    Besides a strong personal liking for Wilfred, which had grown up during childhood (much of which had been spent together), and, in addition to many points of sympathy, Madeline had another link with her cousin.  Wilfred had often been accompanied by his friend, Captain Grahame, in his visits to the Harewoods; and, though no definite words of love had ever passed his lips, a secret understanding existed between Arthur Grahame and Madeline; she knew that she was loved, and gave him her heart in return.

    When Arthur Grahame's regiment was ordered to the Crimea, Madeline was with some friends in the North of Ireland; but a message, sent in the farewell letter he wrote to Lane from Portsmouth, fortunately betrayed his secret to Wilfred; and it was due to her cousin's thoughtful tenderness, that the sad news that Arthur Grahame had been one of the first to fall at the storming of the Redan, was broken to her at a time when her sorrow could find free vent.  Although Madeline had never openly acknowledged to Wilfred how much she loved his friend, his exquisite tact and delicacy enabled her to talk freely of Arthur; and she received from him a silent sympathy, which, perhaps, possessed greater healing power than any spoken words.

    Time had done its work in restoring Madeline to serenity and cheerfulness; but sometimes her sorrow still asserted itself; and then the remembrance of what Wilfred Lane had been to her in the hour of need came back with such force that she felt herself a traitor in opposing his marriage, and sometimes almost determined to desert her mother and Charlotte, and to go over openly to the enemy.

    But, if she wavered in giving Wilfred and Tiny a steady outward adherence, she certainly could not refrain from rejoicing in her heart at any good fortune which tended to promote the fulfilment of their wishes; and accordingly she was as much pleased as even the exacting Tiny could desire, at hearing of her cousin's appointment.

    While they were talking over the matter, Lady Harewood's near approach was announced by the peculiar rustling of her stiff silk dress; and, as the door slowly opened, the very air itself seemed to lose its light and pleasant qualities and to become charged with explosive elements.

    Lady Harewood's entrance always acted as a spell upon her daughters; the tone of their voices was not only lowered, as she touched the outer handle of the door, but the conversation entirely ceased, and was seldom resumed until after her exit, and then generally in a different spirit, and in another key.

    Yet it was scarcely poor Lady Harewood's fault.  She was not exactly unkind to her children.  She was naturally a fretful woman, with irritable nerves; and her daughters' earnestness and animation probably grated as much upon her sensibilities as her own die-away lachrymose manners annoyed and crisped them.  But, whatever may have been the cause, the fact remained the same; and a want of sympathy existed between them, which doubtless produced bad effects upon them all, and deprived the domestic circle of that cordiality and freedom which alone entitles a household to the sacred name of home.

    The polite inquiries which Lady Harewood made respecting Tiny's health were chilling in themselves, from a mother's lips.

    After they were satisfactorily answered, Tiny (who was generally in the extreme of either leaving her mother altogether in the dark about her concerns, or else doing battle over them in a somewhat too vigorous style) commenced the remark she intended to make at the first opportunity:

    "I have just had a letter from Wilfred.  Sir Thomas Slade has made him his secretary, which gives him another £250 a year, so now we have plenty to marry upon."

    Lady Harewood expressed herself duly interested in hearing the news, and showed by sundry signs and innuendoes that she was even prepared to read her nephew's letter; but, gathering from Tiny's manner that this unwonted exertion would be denied her, she refrained from directly asking for the epistle.

    "It cannot be a permanent appointment," was her freezing remark; ''and as the Ministry is nearly sure to go out early in the spring, you had better advise Wilfred to make hay while the sun shines, for it will not last very long."

    "I don't see that at all," rejoined Tiny; "and anyhow it will probably lead to something better.  People like Sir Thomas Slade are fortunately able to appreciate something out of the common way when they have the good luck to meet with it."

    " I dare say your cousin is a very clever young man," rejoined her mother, "but he is exceedingly opinionated; and I cannot say I think as highly of him as I did."

    "Then I am sorry for you, Mamma," said Tiny, raising herself up in her bed, her face flushing with excitement.  "It is a pity that Wilfred ever made such a noble sacrifice of his own wishes, if you are incapable of appreciating it.  I always told him it would do no good."

    "I don't understand what you mean about 'sacrifice:' if I chose to come to Rome with your sisters, it was neither possible for you to remain behind, nor for Wilfred to accompany us.  It was a great mistake ever to allow that young man to make himself so completely at home in my house."

    "Why, mamma," exclaimed Tiny, "it was Wilfred himself who proposed your bringing me to Rome; and as for his coming to our house, he is the best man who ever entered it since poor papa died."

    Lady Harewood was exceedingly glad that the latter part of Tiny's speech gave her an opportunity of evading any further discussion upon Wilfred's share in the visit to Rome.  She therefore contented herself with rebuking Tiny for comparing any one to her revered father; and condemned the allusion to Sir Henry as undutiful, disrespectful, and wanting in all proper feeling towards herself.   Seeing that Tiny was fast losing all self-control, and anticipating an angry scene, Lady Harewood veered towards the door; and had almost left the room before she concluded her sentence.  She saw by the kindling fire in Tiny's eye, and the nervous movement of her hands, that she stood small chance of the last word, unless content to drop her assumed manners ― exert her voice to an unwonted pitch ― and to exchange her usually languid tone for something more natural though less polite.

    Relieved of her mother's presence, Tiny began to cry.  She felt ill, wretched, and hated these contests.  She had no intention of saying anything disrespectful to anybody when she began talking; and she was sure that she had said nothing wrong about her father, for whose memory her reverence was extreme.

    But her conscience did not feel so clear about her mother; and the sense of the indignation with which she regarded her at that moment, grated against the finer chords of Tiny's character, until the whole seemed to strike a discord.

    These were some of the moments when Tiny longed most for Wilfred.  She would tell him all the little perplexities and fights which went on in her own mind; and while he never scrupled to blame her for want of self-control, he always soothed and entered into the intense provocation produced on a girl of Tiny's temperament by contact with a nature like her mother's ― a provocation which Tiny would have felt had Lady Harewood only been a person in whose society she was thrown; but which was roused to an unendurable pitch by the very fact of their close relationship.

    After these scenes Tiny was occasionally like a little mad creature; her nerves seemed all unstrung, her physical condition thoroughly disordered, and she appeared unable to subdue any sentiment which came first to the surface.

    On the present occasion the discussion was fortunately cut so short that a few moments sufficed to restore her to calmness; and she determined to soothe her ruffled plumes by inditing a letter of congratulation to Wilfred.


 
CHAPTER XVI.


"In the ardour of passion they deceive themselves ; how then can we help being deceived by them?"

GOETHE.


"MY DEAREST WILFRED,

    "Your letter has just arrived, and it is the nicest I have ever received from you, although it only contains fifty-one words, for I have counted them twice over!

    "I am so delighted with dear old Sir Thomas Slade; I could hug him, and I would, too, if he would only give you an order to write a long letter to me at least once a week, as the first and most important duty of your new appointment.  I am sure he would be horrified if he knew how badly you treat me.  I don't believe you care a straw for me now, or you could not help saying something loving and kind in your letters.  I daresay you pretend that your feelings are too tender for paper.  Remember 'les extremes se touchent.'  I shall be thinking the unfeeling 'extreme' is the cause of your silence, if something pretty does not come soon.  I want a great deal, and much which I cannot have till I get home.  When I think of getting back to you my heart and head get dizzy with delight, for I am so lonely.

    "I have just had a scene with mamma, which makes me long more and more to be with you, in the little home we pictured together, that happy afternoon in the Square gardens.  I feel so drearily weary of this solitude; and the contrast of the quietness, without the solitude, strikes one vividly.  Such a home would fill life with sweet hours ― hours which would give me strength for any amount of work and goodness.

            .                        .                        .                        .                        .                        .

    "Miss Barclay has just been here.  She came up and stayed an hour with me.  First, she talked about Mrs. Browning, whom she knew intimately; and ranks next to Shakespeare, and above Tennyson  ―  far.  She told me she considered it something in her life to have known such a person; that while you were with her, it was impossible to have a low or worldly thought; she lived in a higher, purer atmosphere than most people; and was, altogether, even out of her poetry, the most wonderful creature Miss Barclay ever knew.  After saying much more than I can write, she read from Mrs. Browning's last volume 'Bianca and the Nightingales;' and then took up our favourite Sonnets from the Portuguese, and read them through from beginning to end.  To say she reads perfectly is poor praise compared to what she deserves.

    "When she came to ours ― do you remember it? (if not, look at your book and the mark I have added to your old date) ― it seemed so wrong for any lips but yours to read to me ― 'How do I love thee, let me count the ways!'

    "Yes, darling Wil, I can't stand this much longer.  I shall become really sick if I stay out here.  I feel utterly miserable now.  The air is so sweet that it is desperately melancholy work to feel ill and weary in such a place.  To complete my unhappy state, there is a harmony flute playing melancholy Verdi through the soft sunny spring air.  You strong-nerved old Wil, do you think that nonsense?

    "I have been to sleep, and I think I feel better!  My little bow-wow Tip is on his arm-chair close beside me; he tells me to say that he would like to bite you for not writing longer letters to me, and is much surprised that you have never inquired after him.

            .                        .                        .                        .                        .                        .

    "Here goes over all the ink!  That's a judgment on me, either for repeating Tip's impertinence, or for quarrelling with Mamma.  Wil, in spite of the ink, I really think things look a little brighter for my sleep.  Madeline says Mamma will be sure to leave Rome after the Carnival; and if she does not go to Naples (which is every day getting more and more likely), we shall come straight home.

    "I think I must belong in some measure to the Salamandrine type, or I should not have had such a cruel trial as this sent me; but, having you for a support, I should be wicked if I let it harden me.

    "No, we are given the materials for making our own moral sunshine, and make it we will!  This must be the end of our troubles.  No more suffering, save what we bring on ourselves, or what comes direct from the hand of God.

    "How delicious to think of your new appointment.  With this extra two hundred and fifty pounds we shall have plenty of money.

    "Madeline tells me to finish this directly, or I shall lose the post.  I wish I had gone on writing to you, instead of going to sleep, spilling the ink, and listening to Miss Barclay's reading.

    "Good-bye, my own Wil, I shall make haste and learn how to become a good little wifie.


" 'I will not be proud of my youth or my beauty.
  Since both of them wither and fade,
  But gain a good name by well doing my duty:
  This will scent like a rose when I'm dead.'


    "A little effusion from Dr. Watts, the effect of trying to strengthen my memory!


"Your loving
                               "T
INY."


    Inside the envelope was a little note, which Madeline had slipped in unknown to her sister, not only to congratulate Wilfred upon his good fortune, but to ask him to do his best to cheer up Tiny.  "She wants moral tone," wrote Madeline, "and ought to be made to feel that another month's separation is not a lifetime.  I know enough of low spirits, myself, to feel very much for the dear child, and to wish her to be gently dealt with; but don't let her spoil her visit to Rome with pining, and making herself ill, if you can help it."

    Wilfred felt very anxious when he read this note.  He feared Tiny must indeed be depressed, before Madeline would so far acknowledge his position, as to apply for his influence.

    Under these circumstances he thought himself entitled to write a loving letter.  He could not bear the idea that he was withholding what Tiny so sorely needed.  It was bad enough to have sent her away at all; and he felt strongly tempted to break through his resolutions, to write fully and freely from the depth of his heart, and to pour forth all the love he had been storing up during these dreary weeks.

    So he wrote, and urged Tiny to keep well and strong for his sake; to remember her promise of coming back as "plump as a pigeon; "and threatened to break down in his new work, unless speedily assured of her convalescence.  He spoke of having got through the worst part of the time, and said he hoped she would scarcely be able to write another letter without telling him something definite about her return home; and then he could not refrain from adding:


    "Would to God I could tell you in words one half I feel for you.  You little know how I long for the time when my darling will be indeed, and in very truth, my own.  Your little moans for my love are painfully precious to me.  God hasten the day, sweet one, after which you shall never look in vain for it.  Your weary lonely feeling will be, I trust, forever satisfied when I have my own 'little sunshine' in arms which long to enclose her. The future holds but one thing in it to


"Yours ever,
                                 "W
ILFRED LANE."


 
CHAPTER XVII.


"Better trust all, and be deceived,
 And weep that trust, and that deceiving;
 Than doubt one heart, that, if believed,
 Had blessed one's life with true believing.
"Oh, in this mocking world, too fast
 The doubting fiend o'ertakes our youth!
 Better be cheated to the last,
 Than lose the blessed hope of truth."

FRANCES A. KEMBLE.


    WHEN Tiny received this letter she jumped about for very joy.

    Knowing Wilfred's determination of character, and his resolution to say nothing in his letters but what a cousin might write, she felt his love for her must indeed be deep and strong, for this expression of it to have escaped him.  Of course she did not know that Madeline had written; for Wilfred gathered from his cousin's way of wording her note, that he was not to mention finding it in Tiny's envelope.

    She sent this answer by the same day's post.


"OH! YOU DEAREST OLD BOY,

    "I am so glad I have hunted you down from your pedestal, and made you say one lover-like thing at the last gasp!

    "The others have all gone to the Vatican; and I was staying at home by myself, when your dear letter was brought in.   When I read it, I was so glad I was alone.

    "I wish you would always write to me what passes in that great heart of yours; for I cannot help thinking our future happiness depends on our being one, as much as possible, during this horrible separation.  My letters would be altogether filled with what concerns you and me, only you told me to tell you of all I do and see.  But, though life is so full, and there is so much going on around me, when the day is over, with its astonishingly beautiful sights, I feel the awful want of my own true love to soothe me, and to gloss over everything in life with his tenderness.  Your absence is more a want at the root of life than an absolute active pain.

    "I went to a French service yesterday in a Lutheran chapel, and liked the sermon very much, because it reminded me of what you had been to me.  The text was from that chapter where Elijah goes into the desert in a state of despondency, and says, 'It is enough, O Lord; now take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.'

    "The sermon was on the moments of despondency which come to every one, almost ― either from great moral pain, or from emptiness in life, and the feeling of self-detestation, or from the higher impulses never being satisfied ― being contradicted, in fact, by our habits.  And how all this dissatisfaction encrusts life with a melancholy in the soul, which brings at last all who live in and for the world to the state when death seems the only outlet for their misery.  He described most wonderfully the feeling which the suppression of all high motives to action produces.  I could not help thinking of last year, when I was so miserable, and prayed for an influence strong enough to take me out of the melancholy of an excited, vapid life; and how you, my own strong Wil, effected what no saint, angel, or anything else good and human, could have done.

    ''I wonder whether I shall ever be able to tell you all that passes in my little person?  If you were Father Confessor to me, as well as the many other things you are, it might be well!  I cannot help thinking it would be good to recognize in words, and to another ― such another as you are to me ― all the shortcomings of one's thoughts.

    ''Oh, Wil, the world is a funny place ― and it is made so strange by these queer hearts of ours.

    "There are certain faults which are scarcely recognizable, and yet they eat into the very character; and, more or less, this makes the world at core a very lying, deceptive one.  There are few if any saints in it after all!  There are many passionless, feelingless, otherwise good people who pass for such; but who knows what calm lives have been allotted them?  I don't know why I am writing this homily to you.  But I feel very stupid.  What does it matter? my old Wil must have me ― stupid or otherwise ― just as he finds me.  He has promised to take me, for better for worse, and he can't alter, however idiotic I become!

"Your loving
                                    "T
INY."


    There was something in the tone of this letter which Wilfred could not understand, and which he did not altogether like.  Was it possible that Tiny, who appeared so frank and open, and who seemed as if she could not keep the smallest secret to herself ― was it possible that she would hide thoughts and feelings which she knew would cause him pain, and perhaps displeasure?  Wilfred dismissed this idea as ridiculous.  Did he not know Tiny from beginning to end ― had she not often told him that no one in the world understood her but himself?

    What could Tiny have to hide from him?  Nothing surely but feelings which, as a wife, she would gladly confide to him; but which, divided as they were, it was only natural she should retain in her own bosom.  He ought to be satisfied, and he was satisfied with the frank and free expression she now gave to her affection for him.  The rest would all come in the happy future, which Wilfred so often pictured, as he walked back from his office; and he sighed for the time when, instead of going to his chambers, he should hasten towards a real home, and be greeted by a fair young wife who promised to bring him such peace and happiness in the future.

    Had Wilfred been less occupied, he might have dwelt upon Tiny's expressions more than he did: but life was very full to him, and, though his whole heart was centred in her, other interests claimed so much of his time that he was prevented from following out the train of thought which this letter at first suggested.


 
CHAPTER XVIII.


"Till I press thee against my heart ― my wife ―
 (Come thou wilt, tho' I know not when)
 While I bide my time, thus I'll live my life,
 Aye, my love I will keep till then."

SEMPER FIDELIS.


    LADY HAREWOOD was at last fairly tired of Rome; and, having spent a great deal more money than she intended, did not care to go to Naples.

    After all, she had been away from England for four months.  It was not to be supposed she should inconvenience herself for the sake of keeping Wilfred and Tiny apart for the exact time suggested.  Besides which, an earlier return would enable her to take up a position for which her nephew would be unprepared, and of which she determined to say nothing till she reached Grosvenor Crescent.

    When Tiny heard that they were going direct to London, her delight knew no bounds.  She regarded the visit to Rome as the term of her separation from Wilfred: and, being innocent of Lady Harewood's further plot against their happiness, she believed the barrier to their union would now be removed.  So, a few days after Wilfred had received the letter, which caused him the speculations already recorded, the long-expected tidings of Tiny's speedy return gladdened his eyes.


"ROME.


    "Oh, Wilfred, I could sing with joy!  What a blessing it is that everybody isn't like you.  Had you come to Rome instead of remaining in London, I suppose nothing on earth would have induced such a precise old monster to leave it a moment before the cruel six months had expired; you obstinate, hard-hearted man!

    "At last I have something 'definite' to tell you of our return.  Mamma has determined on going straight to London; and has ordered us to get our heavy luggage ready for forwarding, as soon as ever we can.  So now I will go on to tell you of the proceedings of a no longer dreary little person; but of one who is filled with delight at the thought of being able soon to extort all you have promised to give in answer to letters, which have been received with a coolness and want of thankfulness for which you shall most certainly be called to account.

    "Well, our expedition to Frascati was delightful.  It was a great success, and we did it in all completeness.  The views were quite beyond description beautiful, in their own line.  We drove all day in two vehicles, one a large open omnibus, and the other an ordinary carriage.

    "We lunched all together on a green, sunny corner of a vineyard, and came home from Albano by train, reaching this at half-past eight o'clock.

    "The sunset over the Campagna was something too exquisite.  My own Wil; we must come and wander among these mountains together; they are so beautiful.

    "But I can't write.  I can only think of seeing dear old London again, with its ugly houses and dull streets and squares.

    "I have been trying to read Ruskin, but even that I could not do ― for a dear face and its wicked brown eyes would come between me and the pages.  I did enjoy though, immensely, a little bit of his about the pines.  Do you remember it?  And then about the flowers; how and why the greatest masters didn't paint much for the sake of flowers, explaining what I have often felt about them ― the limited definite feeling they leave.  They want the closest attention; but when you have given that you know all ― there is no further mystery.

    "Flowers, he says, seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.  Children love them; quiet, tender, contented, ordinary people love them as they grow; luxurious people rejoice in them gathered.  Passionate or religious minds contemplate them with fond, feverish intensity; the affection is seen severely calm in the works of many old religious painters.  To the child and the girl, the peasant and the manufacturing operative, to the grisette and the nun, the lover and the monk, they are always precious.  But to the men of supreme power and thoughtfulness, precious only at times; symbolically and pathetically often to the poets, but rarely for their own sake.  They fall forgotten from the great workmen's and soldiers' hands.  Such men will take in thankfulness crowns of leaves or crowns of thorns ― not crowns of flowers.  And then he tells a lovely story of his friend who went with him into the Tyrol one early spring and saw a strange mountain in the distance, belted, he thought, about its breast with a zone of blue, which turned out to be a belt of gentians, which, as they approached, expanded into a richer breadth and heavenlier blue.

    "It is such a strange effect reading Ruskin with the window open ― a lovely, balmy, spring feeling in the air ― and the sounds of all this idiotic Carnival going on in the distance ― guns firing for the races, and the noise of a crowd all over the place.  We had a number of friends in our balcony this morning, throwing sugar-plums at the people in the street below; I think the Carnival stupid beyond description; and how men can make such fools of themselves, for ten of God's whole days, baffles my comprehension.

    "Now that this separation is nearly over, I almost feel able to say that I am glad I came.  What you are to me I should never have known without it; and this shows me how utterly I belong to your life ― our life ― our sweet life, out of the world, all to ourselves.  It is a future to live for!  But I shan't feel safe till I am really with you.  The slightest thing amiss, and I directly think of the dear, strong arm which makes everything so easy to bear.  I broke a looking-glass the other day, and that is so dreadfully unlucky!  I hope nothing will happen; and assuredly it well might, for the delight of leaving here so soon is too much for me.

    "It is so delicious to think I may begin to say, with some idea of its being true, 'to-day is the last Monday in Rome.'

    "At the Vespers, yesterday, I pitied all the poor old priests and monks, who will go on sitting in their places for ever so long, without any Wil (or its equivalent) to go to.  But I am getting maudlin!

    "I have splendid plans for the future, and intend to lead such a regular life.  It shall be a religion to get up early; my physical strength, will be devoted to those things you have taught me to love; and my moral strength to make you happy.  So you see Rome is very little to me now, one way or another.  I am only thinking of this day fortnight.  Good-bye, my own Wil; prepare yourself for no end of torment from yours, now and forever,

"TINY."


    After this Wilfred heard no more until he received a little hurried scrap, dated Hotel Westmister, Paris which told him that the Harewoods expected to arrive at the Charing Cross station on the following Thursday night, at twenty-five minutes to eleven o'clock, if trains and steamers did their duty, and brought them as quickly as Tiny wished to come.


 
CHAPTER XIX.


"Expecting joy is a happy pain."

ADELAIDE A. PROCTER.


    THE clock was striking half-past ten as Wilfred Lane walked into the Charing Cross station.  Making his way at once to the platform, he awaited the arrival of the tidal train from Folkestone.

    Of course, it was late that night; and as Wilfred impatiently paced up and down, the idea of seeing Tiny again began to feel like a dream.  It almost seemed a trick of his imagination; and he half expected, when the train disgorged its occupants, that no Tiny Harewood would be found among the travellers.  As he took her note out of his pocket to reassure himself, Lady Harewood's carriage drove into the station, in evident anticipation of what was to come.

    In a few minutes the railway officials began to collect, and the approach of the train was so clearly indicated that Wilfred thought by the time he had taken one walk down the length of the platform, his waiting would be over.

    He had nearly reached the furthest end, when he heard a quick step behind him, and the familiar voice of Lady Harewood's footman accosted him with the pleasant sound ―

    "The train is just coming in, sir."

    As the man spoke, it slowly steamed into the station, with a puff, puff, puff, which sounded very differently in Wilfred's ears to that horrible grating sound the steamer had made at the Folkestone pier four months ago.

    Tiny Harewood was eagerly looking out of the window, and caught sight of Wilfred long before the train stopped.  The carriage which contained this precious treasure passed him, though he had rapidly walked to the other end of the platform; but it was scarcely this which made his heart beat loud and fast.

    By the time he reached Tiny's carriage a porter had already opened the door, and before Wilfred knew what was going to happen, regardless of the crowd around her, or the presence of her mother and sisters, Tiny sprang into his arms, and gave him an embrace, which not only took him completely by surprise, but knocked his hat off, much to the annoyance of an irascible old gentleman who immediately put his foot through it, and considered himself the aggrieved party.

    As Wilfred Lane handed Lady Harewood into what her daughters always called the "family hearse," he felt somewhat discomposed, for he was averse to public exhibitions of affection.  The meeting had been so sudden, and the unfortunate hat had taken such a prominent part in it, that he found it impossible to exchange a word with Tiny.  Now he must say "Good-night," for John and the maid had discovered the luggage, and there was nothing more to detain his aunt.

    "I am very glad to see you back again," said Wilfred, speaking to Lady Harewood, but holding Tiny's hand firmly in his; "I hope you will let me look in to-morrow at five o'clock, aunt?"

    "Certainly," she replied, in a formal tone, which augured ill for the future happiness of the young lovers; "what I have to say to you, Wilfred, might just as well be said at once."

    "Good-night, Wil," said Tiny; "I am so happy.  To-morrow at five o'clock!  Don't be late," she added; and the carriage drove off before Wilfred had time to reply save by an extra pressure of the little hand he had held captive during this conversation.

    John disappeared with his mistress, and Mr. Lane found the maid still struggling with the luggage, which had yet to be put on her cab.  She was very grateful for his assistance, and the porters seemed much more willing and brisk now they had a gentleman to look after them and the hope of a "tip" at the end of their labours.

    Mrs. Smith was not only fatigued with the journey, and incensed with John, who ought, in her opinion, to have kept Lady Harewood waiting till he saw the luggage on the cab, but she was smarting under the sense of a deeper wrong.

    It was, in her opinion, a great deal too bad of Lady Harewood to have parted with her courier in Paris.  She felt personally aggrieved by being obliged to travel "such a distance alone, with so many changes, and some, too, amongst foreign tongues; "it was a position which she considered unbecoming to her ladyship and most derogatory to herself.  Being left by John before the cab was ready to start was the "last drop in her cup," and she determined to speak very frankly on the subject to Mr. Watson, as soon as ever she found herself in the housekeeper's room in Grosvenor Crescent.

    "If gentlefolks wished to keep up to their station," she intended to remark, "they should behave different before a whole train load of people, not to reckon the steamer, who might any day turn out to be the nobility of their own circle."

    "Law, Mr. Lane, excuse me, sir," said Mrs. Smith, when she found herself comfortably settled in the cab, with the luggage piled up over her head, and the seats crammed with the small bags and wraps which had all been left by the offending John; "but what has happened to your hat?  You can never walk through the streets with it, sir."

    "Well, I don't think many people will notice it at this time of night," said Mr. Lane, laughing, as he told the cabman where to drive, and, with a friendly good-night to Smith, whom he envied from the bottom of his heart when he thought how soon she would see Tiny, while he had to wait till five o'clock to-morrow afternoon, he watched the cab rattle out of the station, and walked thoughtfully back to his own chambers.

    There was something unpleasant in the ring of Lady Harewood's voice, he thought, and the manner in which she answered his request for leave to call on the following day.  Was it possible that she meant to oppose him still?  Had Tiny been right in her conjecture that her mother avoided a distinct promise with a view to this?

    If so, what could he do ― what ought he to do?  He could no longer doubt Tiny's love.  She had stood the test of a long separation, and the greeting she had given him at the station was assurance enough that he had her whole heart, and that she did not mind who knew it.  Wilfred Lane had been quite unprepared for such a demonstration, and would certainly have preferred a less public embrace.  Still, as a proof of Tiny's thorough devotion to him, the remembrance of it was very precious.

    But when he reached his lodgings he was obliged to dismiss anxious as well as sweet thoughts, for he had some work which he knew must be done that night.  Exchanging his coat for a loose dressing-gown, he banked up his fire, lighted his pipe, and spreading out his papers on the table before him, worked away for some hours.

    Although not a strong man, Wilfred Lane had a wonderful capacity for being able to do with very little sleep.  After a night's work (and sometimes a night's illness) which would have sent many a stronger man to his office with a headache and pale face, he would look as bright as usual after his morning bath and breakfast.  This constant want of sufficient rest was beginning to make him seem older than he really was, and perhaps added to the already deeply-marked lines on his brow, but otherwise it did not appear to tell upon him.  His general health had certainly rather improved of late, and his heart attacks had been far less frequent and severe.

    Over and above the delight of knowing that every hour's labour would contribute to Tiny Harewood's future ease and comfort, Wilfred Lane loved his work for its own sake.  He was passionately devoted to subjects of thought out of the beaten line of the day; and he had naturally an ardent impulse for seeking the genuine truth on all matters, and the gift of finding and recognizing it when found.  The impulse for seeking truth is perhaps more common than we think ― the gift of finding it much rarer.

    But his line of activity was in "the war for the liberation of humanity," as Goethe calls it.  To help forward by unceasing efforts all schemes connected with education, all things likely to promote a wider belief and a fuller service, Wilfred regarded as little short of a positive duty.  He desired, above all things, to protest against the vain and foolish cry after more knowledge, without respect to the work each man has to do and the material of which he is made.  He thought both men and women ought to be better educated, but he wished them to have an education of purpose, directed to make them happy, satisfied, and effective in their individual circumstances.

    It was not the good taste and varied and accurate knowledge evinced in Wilfred's writings which made them come home to the hearts of his readers, so much as the ready and frank appreciation of all human endeavour, and the deep sympathy with all human misery and weakness, which shone through them.

    The quick way to popularity, however, is to mirror back to the age, in vivid colouring, its own thoughts in sharper outline, for distrust of novelty is one of the most marked national characteristics of our English people; but Wilfred Lane deserved, and ultimately won, a popularity which is of a slower growth.  He did not simply reflect the thought of the day, but brought to it new thought and food.  His theology, too, was anything but the theology of the so-called religious world, for he was as original as every man must be who has a strong conviction.  His intense naturalism was fatal to all routine thinking.  He put the standard of right and wrong, once and for all, inside every man instead of outside him.  He felt that every one who wished his influence to be a marked one must work from within outwards, and bring to light his own individuality.  He held that ''whatever happens to a man is for the interest of the universe," and that "the whole contains nothing which is not for its advantage" ― a theory which enabled him to bear, with cheerful composure, circumstances in his own life which would otherwise have been intolerable; and believing that the ruling part of man can make a material for itself out of that which opposes it, as fire lays hold of what falls into it, and rises higher by means of this very material, he persevered until he had made things his own; and what luxury is to those who enjoy pleasure, so to him was the doing of things comfortable to his nature.

    He learnt to hold firmly to this and to be content with it.

    At the same time Wilfred Lane was naturally inclined to regard the world in its divisions and subdivisions; and, under the aspect of individual cares and sorrows, was unduly impressed with the "night side of life."  He had not yet fully realized life and light as synonymous, or, viewing existence in its entirety, seen the complete harmony of the whole.



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