And somehow, after this, they had no more words to say, and Tris walked at her side under his old embarrassment of silence. Nor could Denas talk. If she tried to do so, then she raised her eyes, and then Tris' eyes looking into hers seemed to reproach her for the words she did not say. And if she kept her eyes on the shingle, she still felt Tris to be looking at her, questioning her, loving her just as he used to do—and she could not bear it—never! never! At the first opportunity she must make Tris understand that they could only be friends—friends only—and nothing, positively nothing more.
 The effect of this Cornish sentiment upon the Cornish heart is mighty, as it is past reasoning about. A Cornish friend of mine was in a silver mine among the Andes, and looking at the big, bearded men around, he suddenly called out "ONE and ALL!" In an instant four of the men had dropped their tools and were holding his hands in as brotherly fashion as if the tie of blood was between them. It is, indeed, one of those shibboleths of race which move the soul to its most ancient depths. The malign influences which destroy even the domestic affections touch not the deeper sense of race. Age only increases its intensity, and being a purely unselfish love, we may believe that it survives death and claims the heritage of eternity.
THE "DARLING DENAS."
"... Good the more Communicated, the more abundant grows." —MILTON.
"So the boat was built. Aw, they wouldn't be hoult; And every trennel and every boult The best of stuff. Aw, didn' considher The 'spense nor nothin'—not a fig! And three lugs at her—that was the rig— And raked a bit, three reg'lar scutchers, And carried her canvas like a ducherss. Chut! the trim is in the boat. Ballast away! but the trim's in the float— In the very make of her! That's the trimming!" —T. E. BROWN.
Money in the bank is all the comfort to the material life that a good conscience is to the moral life. Joan was restored to her best self by the confidence her child had given her, and John entering his cottage in the midst of a happy discussion between Denas, Tris, and his wife, felt as if the weight of twenty years suddenly dropped away from him. He thought it was Tris who brought the sunshine, and he rejoiced in it, and induced the young man to tell them about the yacht's trip and the old cities on the Mediterranean which he had visited.
Everyone sees strange places with their own mental and spiritual sight, and Tris had seen Genoa and Venice and Rome and Corinth from the standpoint of a Cornish Methodist fisherman. But apart from this partiality he had made sensible observations of the strange ways of building and living, and had come to the conviction that Cornish people held the great secret of a happy life. As for the Mediterranean itself, Tris considered it "a jade of a sea, nohow worth the praise it got."
"You may read the Cornish seas like a book, John," he said, "but this Mediterranean be this way—you have to watch it every minute. Turn your back on it for a bite or a sup, and it will get the better of you some way, and, most likely of all, with one of its dirty white squalls. Then I tell you, John, it is all hands to reef! Quick! and if a single breadth of canvas be showing, it is a rip and a roar and the death of the yacht and of every man in her."
"And what of the yacht herself, Tris? Be she good-tempered and good-mannered?"
"She do behave herself beautiful. The seas may fly over her cross-trees, but if you make her trig she comes to her bearings like a shot to its mark; shakes herself as if she was ready for a race, and then away she do go—just like a sea-gull for a fish."
So they talked the evening away, and Denas listened and watched the handsome yachtsman, kindling and laughing to the tales he told. And when he went away she felt, as others did, the sudden fall in the mental temperature and the chill and silence that follow any unnatural excitement. But Denas, as well as John and Joan, were too simple for such considerations. They only felt the change, and were sure that it was Tris who brought the sunshine, and so, when he went, took it away with him.
But after this night there was a different atmosphere in John Penelles' cottage. John's unhappiness had been mainly caused by the sight of his wife's anxiety and sorrow; and if Joan was her old self, John was not the man to let the loss of his boat and his position make him miserable. For in this little cottage the wife held the same mighty power that the wife holds in all finer homes—the power to either make her husband weak and sorrowful or to strengthen his heart for anything. When Joan smiled, then John could not only enjoy the present, but he could also bravely face the future. For when a man can trust in his wife, then he can hope in his God and all things are possible to him.
Denas also caught the trick of hoping and of being happy. She opened her school with thirty scholars and found out her vocation. No one could doubt the voice which had called her to this work; she went to it as naturally as a bird goes to build its nest. She loved the children and they loved her. At the end of the first week she found herself compelled to make her number forty. The sweet authority pleased her. The children's affection won her. Her natural power to impart what knowledge she had gave her the sense of a benefaction. Such loving allegiance! Such bigoted little adherents! Such blind disciples as Denas had! In a couple of weeks she was the idol of every child in St. Penfer by the Sea, and as mothers see through their children, she was equally popular with the children of larger growth.
One very singular incident of this popularity was the fact that every child, without special intent, without the slightest thought of offence, called their beloved teacher Denas Penelles. For a time she corrected the mistake, but the name Tresham was strange and unfamiliar. They looked at her with wide-open eyes and then went back to the old word. Denas perceived that they heard her called Penelles in their homes, and that it was useless to take offence where none was intended. Yet the inferred wrong to her dead husband wounded her and rekindled in her heart the fire of old affection.
"They want me to forget his very name," she thought angrily, and the natural result was a determination to nurse with greater fondness the memory which time and circumstances were daily doing their best to efface.
In the mean time all had been going on satisfactorily about the new fishing-smack. Tris had taken Mr. Arundel into his confidence. He wished to have his permission to make a careful selection and to attend to all matters connected with its proper transfer. And though that gentleman's own feelings did not lie upon the surface of his nature or explain themselves in childlike secrets and surprises, he could understand and almost envy the wealth of emotions and illusions that demanded such primitive expressions.
So he permitted Tris to absent himself frequently for such a laudable purpose. Indeed, Mr. Arundel had seen the death of John's boat, and this point of interest enabled him to feel something of the pleasure and importance which centred around the boat now building to take its place. For Tris had found in a yard ten miles north just the very kind of smack John had always longed for—a boat not built by mathematical measurements, but a wonderful, weatherly, flattish smack; that with a jump would burst through a sea any size you like, and keep right side up when the waves were fit to make a mouthful of her.
She was building for the pilchard season and was to be ready for the middle of June. And at length she was finished and waiting to be brought to her own harbour. If she had been a living, loving human creature, her advent could not have been more eagerly longed for. Yet there had been a short period of coolness between Tris and Denas, for Tris in some moment of enthusiasm had gone beyond the line Denas had marked out for him. And then she had been cold and silent and Tris had been miserable. Joan, also, had taken the young man rather scornfully to task.
"Tris," she said, "you be as knowing about a woman as Peter Mullet was, and he was hanged for a fool. Be you looking to sow and reap in the same month?"
"Not as I know by, but—but——"
"But you be so blind in love you could not see a hole in a ladder or tell the signs on a woman's face. Denas be 'fraid of her own self. Let her be. Let her be. If you do say a word now about your love she will run back and hide herself in an old love—that be a woman's way. See, now! As the old love quails the new love will fetch up—but time given for quailing, Tris, for all that. Denas had a sight of trouble, Tris; she may well be feared to try matrimony again."
"I would try and make her happy. I would be a good husband."
"Husbands! husbands! Tris, they be like pilchards—the bad ones are very bad and the best ones be but middling."
Then the loving fellow said with a big sigh that he would wait—but tired of waiting and going away again, and back only when God and Mr. Arundel said so.
"Aw, then," answered Joan, "a good thing. Women have to miss a man before they know they love him. Give Denas time to miss you, Tris, and when the boat is home be a bit careless like. If she do wonder and worry a little—a good thing for her. Women they be made up of contraries, but sweet as blossoms and as good as gold for all that, Tris."
On the twenty-fourth all was ready to bring home the boat. The boat had been sold to Denas Tresham, the money paid, and the deed of transfer to John Penelles ready made out. There had also been prepared a paper for the St. Penfer News, which was to appear that day, and which Lawyer Tremaine said would supply a ten-days' holiday gossip for the citizens. And no day specially made for so happy an event could have been lovelier. The sea was dimpling all over in the sunshine; there was just the right wind, and just enough of it, to let Tris reach harbour in the afternoon. John wondered at the air of excitement in his cottage. Joan was singing, Denas had her best dress on, and both had been busy making clotted cream, and junket, and pies of all kinds.
In fact, John was a little depressed by this extravagance of light hearts. He did not think the money Denas got from her school warranted it, and he was heart-sick with the terrible fear that the busy season was at hand and that he had found nothing to do. Adam Oliver's two nephews from Cardiff had come to help him, and that shut one place; and neither Trenager nor Penlow had said a word to him, and his brave old soul sank within him.
"And what be in the wind with you women I know nothing of," he said fretfully, "but you do have some unlikely old ways."
"What way be the wind, John, dear?"
"A little nor'ard, what there be of it—only a capful, though."
"Aw, then, John, look to the nor'ard, for good luck do come the way the wind blows."
"Good luck do come the way God sends it, Joan."
"And many a time and oft it do be coming and us not thinking of it."
John nodded gravely. There was little hope in his heart, but he went as usual to the pier and stood there watching the boats. Most of them were now ready for the fishing. When the men on the lookout saw the shadow of a dark cloud coming on and on over the sea, when they waved the signal-bush right and left over their heads and sweeping their feet, then they would out of harbour and shoot the seine. John was very anxious. His lips were moving, though he was silent. His body was mindful of the situation, his soul was praying.
"That be a strange boat," said Penlow after a long gossip; "well managed, though. The man at her wheel, whoever he be, knows the set of the tide round here as well as he knows his cabin. I wonder what boat that be?"
John had no heart to echo the wonder. Another strange boat, doubtless, bringing more fishers. He said it was getting tea-time, he would go along. He knew that if the fish were found and there was a seat in a boat it would be offered him. He would not give his mates the pain of refusing or of apologising. The next day he would go to St. Ives.
When he reached his cottage he saw Joan and Denas on the door-step watching the coming boat. Their smiles and interest hurt him. He walked to the hearth and began to fill his pipe. Then Denas, with a large paper in her hand, came to his side. She slipped on to his knee—she laid her cheek against his cheek—she said softly, and oh, so lovingly:
"Father! father! The boat coming—did you see her?"
"To be sure, Denas. I saw her, my dear."
"She is your boat, father—yours from masthead to keel! All yours!"
He looked at her a moment and then said:
"Speak them words again, Denas."
She spoke them again, smiling with frank delight and love into his face.
"Thank God! Now tell me about it! Joan, my old dear, come and tell me about it."
Then they sat down together and told him all, and showed him the St. Penfer News containing Lawyer Tremaine's statement regarding the property which had come of right to Denas. And John listened until the burden he had been carrying rolled quite away from his heart, and with a great sigh he stood up and said loudly, over and over again, "Thank God! Thank God! Thank God!" Then, as if a sudden hurry pressed him, he cried—"Come, Joan! Come, Denas! Let us go to the pier and welcome her home."
She was just tacking to reach harbour when they mingled with the crowd of men and women already there. And Ann Trewillow was calling out: "Why, it is Tris Penrose at her wheel!" Then as she came closer a man shouted: "It be the Darling Denas. It must be John Penelles' boat. To be sure it be John's boat!" This opinion was reached by an instant conviction, and every face was turned to John.
"It be my boat, mates. Thank God and my little girl. It be my boat, thank God!"
And then Tris was at the slip, and the anchor down and all the men were as eager about the new craft as a group of horsemen could possibly be about the points of some famous winner. Tris had to tell every particular about her builder and her building, and as the fishers were talking excitedly of these things, Joan gave a general invitation to her friends, and they followed her to the cottage, and heard the St. Penfer News read, and had a plate of junket and of clotted cream.
And they were really proud and glad of what they heard. Denas had made herself so beloved that no one had a grudging or, envious feeling. Everyone considered how she had come back to them as if she had been penniless; "and teaching our little ones too—with sixteen hundred pounds at her back! Wonderful! Wonderful!" said first one and then another of the women. Indeed, if Denas had thought out a plan to make herself honoured and popular, she could hardly have conceived of one more in unison with the simple souls she had to influence. They could not sleep for talking about it. Denas Penelles was a veritable romance to them.
"And fair she was and fair she be!" said Mary Oliver, a good woman, with not a pinch of pride in her make-up. "And if Tris Penrose win her and she win him, a proper wedding it will be—a wedding made by their guardian angel. I do think that." And the group of women present answered one and then another, "A proper wedding it will be, to be sure."
In the evening there was a great praise-meeting at John's cottage; for in St. Penfer all rejoicing and all sorrow ended in a religious meeting. And Denas and Tris sang out of the same hymn-book, and sat side by side as they listened to John's quaintly eloquent tribute to the God "who did always keep faith with His children." "I was like to lose sight of my God," he cried, "but my God never did lose sight of me. God's children be well off, He goes so neighbourly with them. He is their pilot and their home-bringer. I did weep to myself all last night; but just as His promise says, joy did come in the morning." And then John burst into song, and all his mates and neighbours with him.
And it is in such holy, exalted atmospheres that love reaches its sweetest, fairest strength and bloom. Tris had no need of words. Words would have blundered, and hampered, and darkened all he had to say. One look at Denas as they closed the book together—one look as he held her hand on the door-step, and she knew more than words could ever have said. She saw through his eyes to the bottom of his clear, honest soul, and she knew that he loved her as men love who find in one woman only the song of life, the master-key of all their being.
She expected Tris would come and see her the next day, but Ann Trewillow brought word that he had sailed with Mr. Arundel. Tris had been expecting the order, and the yacht had only been waiting for guests who had suddenly arrived. Denas was rather pleased. She was not yet ready to admit a new love. She felt that in either refusing or accepting Tris' affection she would be doing both herself and Tris an injustice. A love that does not spring into existence perfect needs cautious tending; too much sunshine, too much care, too constant watching will slay it. There must be time given for it to grow.
Without reasoning on the matter, Denas felt that absence would be a good thing. She was afraid of being driven by emotion or by circumstances into a mistaken position. And she had now an absorbing interest in her life. Her school was a delight. No consideration of money qualified her pleasure in her pupils. She was eager to teach all she knew. She was eager to learn, that she might teach more. As the weeks went by her school got a local fame; it was considered a great privilege to obtain a place in it.
Good fortune seemed to have come to St. Penfer by the Sea when Denas came back to it. Never had there been a more abundant sea-harvest than that summer. The Darling Denas brought luck to the whole fleet. She was a swift sailer, always first on the fishing-ground and always first in harbour again; and it was a great pleasure to Denas to watch her namesake leading out and leading home the brown-sailed bread-winners of the hamlet. When the time and the tide and the weather all served, Denas might now often be seen, with her mother and the rest of the fishermen's wives, standing on the wind-blown pier watching the boats out in the evening.
There had been a time when she had positively declined the loving ceremony—when she had hated the thought of any community in such feelings—when the large brown faces of the wives and mothers and the sad patience of their attitude had seemed to her only the visible signs of a poor and sorrowful life. And even yet, as she stood among them she was haunted by a rhyme she had read in some picture paper years ago—a rhyme that so pathetically glanced at love that dwelt between life and death that she never could see a group of fishermen's wives on the pier watching the boats outside without saying it to herself:
"They gazed on the boats from the pier, ah, me! Till their sails swelled in the wind, Till darkness dropped down over the sea And their eyes with tears were blind. Then home they turned, and they never spoke, These daughters and wives of the fisher-folk."
But years and experience had taught her the falsehood of extremes; she knew now that life has many intermediate colours between lamp-black and rose-pink, and that if the fisherman's wife had hours of anxious watching, she had also many hours of such rapturous love as comes sparingly to others—love that is the portion of those who come back from the very grave with the shadow of death on their face.
In the autumn Tris returned for a few days, but he was so busy that he could not leave the yacht. She was being provisioned and put in order for the long Mediterranean winter voyage, and Tris was in constant demand. But John and Joan and Denas walked over to St. Clair to bid him good-bye. And never had Tris looked so handsome and so manly. His air of authority became him. In a fishing-boat men are equal, but on this lordly pleasure-boat it was very different. Tris said to one man go and to another come, and they obeyed him with deference and alacrity. This masterful condition impressed Denas greatly. She thought of Tris with a respect which promised far more than mere admiration for his beauty or his picturesque dress.
After Tris was gone the winter came rapidly, but Denas did not dread it. Neither did John nor Joan. John looked upon his boat as a veritable godsend. What danger could come to him on a craft so blessed? All her takes were large and fortunate. The other boats thought it lucky to sail in her wake. On whatever side the Darling Denas cast her bait, they knew it was right to cast on that side also.
Joan was happy in her husband's happiness; she was happy in her unstinted housekeeping; she was now particularly happy in Denas' school. The little lads and lasses brought all their news, all their joys and sorrows to Denas; and when Denas went home every day, Joan, with her knitting in her hands, was waiting to give her a dainty meal and to chat with her over all she had heard and all she had done.
And Denas was happy. When she mentally contrasted this busy, loving winter with the sorrows of the previous one, with the hunger and cold and poverty, the anguish of death and the loneliness, she could not but be grateful for the little home-harbour which her storm-tossed heart had found again. If she had a regret, it was that she could not retain her hold upon her finished life. Every time she asked her heart after Roland, memory gave her pictures in fainter and fainter and fainter colours. Roland was drifting farther and farther away.
She could no longer weep at his name. A gentle melancholy, a half-sacred remoteness invested the years in which he had been the light of her life. For
"When the lamp is shattered, The light in the dust lies dead; When the cloud is scattered, The rainbow's glory is fled."
Mercifully, youth has this marvellous elasticity. And the children filled all the vacant places in her life. For as yet she did not think much nor at all decidedly about Tris. If Roland was slipping away from memory, Tris by no means filled her heart. Yet she was pleased when Ann Trewillow's little maid Gillian told her one morning:
"Master Arundel's yacht be come into harbour safe and sound, and Captain Tris, he be brave and hearty, and busy all to get ashore again. And my mother do say Mr. Arundel he be going to marry a fine lady, and great doings at the Abbey, no doubt. And mother do say, too, that Captain Tris will be marrying you. And I was a brave bit frightened at that news, and I up and answered mother: 'It bean't so. Miss Denas likes better teaching us boys and girls.' I said that, and wishing it so with all my heart."
And Denas, seeing that the boys and girls were looking anxiously at her for an assurance of this position, said positively:
"I am happier with you, children, than I could be with anyone else, and I do not intend to marry at all."
"Never? Say never!"
Yet there was a faint longing in her heart for love all her own. A man can love what others love, but a woman wants something or someone to love that is all her own. And she was interested enough in Tris' return to dress with more than usual care that evening. She felt sure he would come, and she put on her best black gown and did not brush the ripples out of her front hair, but let the tiny tendrils soften the austere gravity of her face and make that slight shadow behind the ears which is so womanly and becoming.
About seven o'clock she heard his footsteps on the shingle and the gay whistle to which they timed themselves. Joan went to the door to welcome him. Denas stood up as he entered, and then, meeting his ardent gaze, trembled and flushed and sat down again. He sat down beside her. He told her how much already he had heard of her gracious work in the village. He said it was worth going to France and Italy and Greece, only to come back and see how much more lovely than all other women the Cornish women were. And by and by he took from his pocket the most exquisite kerchief of Maltese lace and a finely-carved set of corals. Denas would have been less than a woman had she not been charmed with the beautiful objects. She let Tris knot the lovely silky lace around her throat, and she went to her mirror and put the carved coral comb among her fair, abundant tresses, and the rings in her ears, and the necklace and the locket round her white slender throat.
Then Tris looked at her as if he had met a goddess in a wilderness; and Joan, with her hands against her sides, congratulated and praised herself for having given to St. Penfer by the Sea a daughter so lovely and so good.
 Junket is made of fresh milk, spirits, spices, sugar; curdled with rennet and eaten with clotted cream.
"She that is loved is safe; and he that is loved is joyful." —BISHOP TAYLOR.
"No pearls, no gold, no stones, no corn, no spice, No cloth, no wine, of Love can pay the price; Divine is Love, and scorneth worldly pelf, And can be bought with nothing but itself." —HEYWOOD.
"To-morrow, Love, as to-day, Two blent hearts never astray; Two souls no power may sever; Together, O Love, for ever!" —ROSSETTI.
During the summer which followed, Tris was much at home. Mr. Arundel did not go to Norway; he was in London with the lady whom he intended to marry, until the end of the season, and afterward frequently at her country home in Devonshire. Tris had then his opportunity and he did not neglect it. But he was an impulsive young man, and very often lost the ground on Monday that he had gained on Sunday. All of love's fitful fevers and chills tormented him, and then he tormented Denas. He was jealous of every moment of her time, of every kind word and look she bestowed on others. The school offended, the children irritated his conception of his own rights. He was as thoroughly unreasonable and Denas as thoroughly contradictory as was necessary for the most tantalising of love affairs.
About the beginning of the summer, just before the pilchard season, Jacob Trenager died. He was a Pentrath man, and of course "went home" for his burying. It did not seem an event likely to affect the lives of Tris and Denas, and yet it did have a very pleasant influence upon their future. In some far-back generation a Trenager had saved the life of an Arundel, and ever since, when any adult of one family was buried an adult of the other threw the first earth upon the coffin, in token of their remembrance and of their friendship. Mr. Arundel was aware of the tradition, and he desired to perpetuate it. He was, perhaps, actuated by some religious respect for the customs and feelings of his ancestors; he was, undoubtedly, considerate of the fact that he had just bought a valuable estate in the midst of these old clannish fisher-folk, and well aware that such a trifling concession to their prejudices might in a future Parliamentary struggle be of preponderating value to him.
So, in accord with his expressed desire, Trenager's funeral was observed with all the ancient ceremonies. His mates from the numerous villages around carried him all the way on his bier to Pentrath; carried him by the sea-shore, singing hymns as they went. A great crowd of men and women were in the procession, and the old church at Pentrath was full to overflowing. Jacob's forefathers for centuries back lay in Pentrath church-yard, and there were old people living in the town who remembered Jacob casting the first earth on the present Mr. Arundel's father's coffin, and who wondered whether the son would do the same kindness for the fisherman.
The day after Jacob's death it was noticed in St. Penfer that a strange gentleman called upon Denas, and that Denas went up the cliff-breast with him and remained in the church town for the greater part of the day. And for the next two days the same thing occurred. Probably John and Joan knew the meaning of these visits, but they said nothing in response to the numerous "I wonders" of their acquaintances. However, on the day of the funeral the secret was made evident. The strange gentleman was the organist of Pentrath church, and his visit to Denas was made to induce her to sing a portion of the funeral service; and St. Penfer being nearer than Pentrath, they had gone to St. Penfer church to practise.
Nothing, however, was said of the intention, because Denas had not felt sure that at the last moment she would be able to fulfil her promise. But in the preliminary practice she quite recovered her self-possession, and the long rest had given to her voice a maturity of sweetness and power that made it a delight to exercise it. She thought with a pleasant pride of the solemn joy she was going to give; nor was she oblivious of the fact that her father and mother and Tris would have an opportunity to listen to her singing music worthy of the noblest voice to interpret.
It was a warm, sunshiny day. The church windows were all open, and the rustle of the trees in the church-yard, the hum of the bees, the songs of the birds, the murmur of the town beyond, came through them. Mr. Arundel stood at the foot of the coffin, Jacob's family at the head; the crowd of fishers filled the old pews and aisles to overflowing. Suddenly there was a burst of triumphant melody. It filled the church and lifted the souls of all present up, and up, far beyond, and far
"Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot Which men call earth."
"I know that my Redeemer liveth!"
Higher and higher the clear, strong voice rang out the joyful assurance, till every heart swelled to rapture and every eye was wet with holy tears.
"I know that my Redeemer liveth!"
And as Denas sang the blessed affirmation, the organ pealed out its noble symphony, and men and women lifted wet faces heavenward, until to the last majestic confident strain—
"Yet in my flesh shall I see God"—
the coffin was lifted and the mourners and the singer followed it to the open grave.
Never before had Denas had such joy in God's pleasant gift of a melodious voice. To look at her father's and mother's faces was a happiness sufficient. The adoration of Tris, the delight and gratitude of her friends, the conviction that she had lifted for a few moments mortal men above their mortality and made them realise that they should "yet see God," was in itself a recompense beyond anything she had ever dreamed of. Nor could she put aside the comparisons that naturally came from this effort of her power. To sing holily and loftily, to sing in—
"... Strains that might create a soul Under the ribs of death"—
How dear to heaven and earth such saintly melody! How different from the—
"Midnight song and revelry, Tipsy dance and jollity"
that had once appeared an elysium of musical ravishment to her.
Tris walked home with Denas, and this evening they came very close to each other. And then, at the close of it, Tris unfortunately said some words which showed how bitterly he regarded the years that had been stolen from him by Roland Tresham. And Denas resented the anger shown to this paling, dying shade of her memory, and the next day Tris went away with Mr. Arundel and did not return for full five weeks.
But Mr. Arundel had been so much interested in the singer as to ask from Tris all that he could tell him of the life of Denas. And Tris, like all lovers, was only too glad to talk of the girl he adored; so as they sat together at midnight on the lonely sea, with the full moon above them, they grew very confidential. Tris told all the story of his love, and Mr. Arundel told Tris about the beauty and accomplishments of the woman he was going to marry; and there was, in this way, a kind of intimacy established which resulted in a financial proposition making the question of marriage a very easy and happy one to Captain Tristram Penrose, of the yacht Spindrift.
That five weeks of lonely heartache taught Denas that Tris had become a very dear portion of her life, and when he returned he found it more easy than he had dared hope to induce her to bury for ever the strange years which a strange love had somehow slipped into her sheaf of life. And she promised Tris to let them fall from out her grasp, all the vain regrets, the vain hopes, the vain love which were garnered in them.
Then Tris told her that he had signed a contract with Mr. Arundel for five years, and that a portion of this contract was the use of the stone cottage on the hill beyond the Abbey—the pretty home covered with clematis and jasmine vines and surrounded by a lovely garden. He said if Denas would share it with him he would make it as beautiful within as it was without, and that he would love her more and more fondly to the last moment of his life. He spoke with all the simple passion of his nature and circumstances; but his heart was hot behind his words, and Denas gave herself freely to their persuasion.
They were sitting on the rocks by the sea-side as she did so; the waves were breaking at their feet; the boats were lying on the horizon; the village was as quiet as a painted village. She gave her heart and hand to Tris there; she suffered him at last to take her to his heart and kiss her; she intoxicated him with rapture by shyly kissing him in return. Then they went back to the village together. Joan was asleep in her chair. John was away with the boats. They both kissed Joan and Tris called her "mother." And Joan said she had just been dreaming of such a joy, and she blessed them and then went to the door and looked toward the Darling Denas. If she could only see her old dear upon the deck, she thought she could send a thought, a thanksgiving, that would somehow, some way, reach him.
In a few days after this happy understanding, Mr. Arundel had apparently an equally joyful surprise. Something happened, and the days of his waiting were over, and he was to be married immediately. Then it was, in Cornish phrase, "busy all" to get the yacht overhauled and well victualled. For the young couple were going to spend the winter on the Mediterranean coasts, and Tris was as much interested in the preparations as was possible to be, even though the unexpected change disarranged and postponed his own plans.
For there had absolutely been in Tris' mind a resolution to marry Denas before he went on the winter's cruise. Of course, in making this resolution he had never taken into account the contrary plans of Denas and Joan, neither of whom was disposed to make any haste about the marriage.
"Love do soon die if there be no house for him to live in," said Joan; "and I do feel to think that the furnishing of the house be the first thing. And that not to be done in a week or a month, either. Ham-sam work have no blessing or happiness with it. To be sure not. Why would it?"
Denas held the same opinions, so Tris went away and left the furnishing of the house to Denas and Joan. They would have all the winter to prepare the napery and crockery and consult about carpets and furniture. For now that he was to become a married man and a householder, Tris was quite inclined to take all the domestic and social consideration his position gave him. Mr. Arundel, in placing such a pretty home at the service of his captain, required by the very gift a suitable acceptance of it.
And no one but a mother can tell with what delightful pride Joan entered into this duty. She had never bought carpets and stuffed furniture before. The china tea-service would not let her sleep for three nights, she was so divided between the gold and white and the pink and gold. All the little niceties of the dining-room and the sitting-room—the American kitchen utensils which to Joan seemed marvellous and beautiful, the snowy curtains at every window, the white-handled knives and the plated silver—all these things held joys and surprises and never-ending interest to the happy mother.
Between these duties and her school, the long winter months passed happily away to Denas. The school, indeed, troubled her in a certain way. Who was to keep it together? John also had formed it into a Sunday-school and was greatly delighted with the work. But a really good work never falls through; there is always someone to carry it on, and one day Denas was visited among her pupils by the Wesleyan preacher from St. Penfer. He was astonished at her methods and her success, and he represented the claims of such a school with so much force to the next district meeting that they gladly appointed a teacher to fill the place of Denas. It cost her a little pang to resign her authority; but her marriage was drawing near, and it would necessarily be followed by her removal to St. Clair, and it was important that the children should be provided for.
About the end of March she had a letter from Tris. The yacht was then at Gibraltar on its return passage, and Tris might be looked for within a few days. But the house was nearly ready and all her personal preparations were made. Such as pertained to the ceremony and their future life they would make together when Tris returned home. Never had father, and mother, and daughter, been so happy and so closely one. Joan had grown young again. John sang from morning to night. Denas had the loveliness of love transfiguring the loveliness of mere physical beauty. It was busy all and happy all within the Penelles' cottage during those days of expectation.
One morning Joan was going through the whole house before the grand final preparations, and for some reason she opened a closet usually little regarded—a closet full of those odds and ends families do not like to destroy. The first thing she lifted was that picture of Denas as "Mademoiselle Denasia in Pinafore." It had been her pride and comfort in sorrowful days now overpast, and she laid it upon the table and stood looking at it. Denas entered the room while this act of tender reminiscence was going on. She did not at first perceive or understand the object of it. But when she reached her mother's side and saw the yellow, faded presentment, her face flushed crimson, and with flashing eyes she covered the picture with her hands.
"Why did you keep it? Oh, mother, how could you!"
"Aw, then, Denas, 'twas my only comfort many a day and many a time. Don't take it away—Denas! Denas!"
"I will not have it in the house—'tis a shame to me; it breaks my heart; how could you, mother?" and she drew the paper away, and walking to the fire, threw it upon the coals. It burned slowly, browning gradually from the dancing feet to the tips of the fingers meeting above the head.
With a white, sad face she watched it burn to a brown film that the upward draught of the chimney carried out of her sight. Joan also watched the immolation, and she was a little angry at it. That picture of Mademoiselle Denasia was one of Joan's secret idols. No one likes to watch the destruction of their idols, and Joan was hardly pacified by the kisses and loving words with which Denas extenuated her act. For an hour or two she had an air of injury. She had been in the habit of showing this picture with an air of serious secrecy and with many sighs to any new acquaintance or strange visitor, and its destruction really put a stop to this clandestine bit of egotism; for who would believe such an improbable story without the pictured Denasia to prove it?
Denas regarded the incident as a happy omen. As she watched the picture turn to cinder, she buried fathoms deep below the tide of her present life all the restless, profitless, half-regretful memories it represented. A word or two said by the preacher the day he visited her school had clung to her consciousness as a burr clings to wool. They were speaking of the education necessary for the class of children gathered there, and Denas, after naming the studies pursued, said: "They are sufficient for the life before them;" then, with an involuntary sigh, she added, "It is a very narrow life."
And perhaps the minister had heard something of her story, for he answered gravely: "God knows just where He wants every soul. That is the life, that is the school, for that soul, and no life is too narrow. The humblest will afford
"'The common round, the trivial task Which furnish all we ought to ask— Room to deny ourselves.'
Mrs. Tresham, that is the grand lesson we are sent here to learn; self-denial, as against self-pleasing and self-assertion."
Denas only said, "Yes, sir;" but she took the words into her heart and found herself repeating them a hundred times a day.
Tris came home just before Easter. The spring was in his heart, the spring was in his life and love. The winds, the young trees, the peeping crocus-buds, were part and parcel of Denas and of his hopes in her. What charming walks they took to their home! What suggestions and improvements and alterations they made! No two young thrushes, building their first nest, could have been more interested and more important. Mr. and Mrs. Arundel had remained in town for the Easter holidays, and Tris was very nearly lord of all his time. He rather thought Mr. Arundel had purposely left him so at this happy epoch, and the idea gave him the more pleasure in his light duties.
There was a great deal of good-natured discussion about the proper date for this wonderful wedding. Tris acted as if it was the first wedding in the world. He was sure everyone in St. Penfer and St. Clair would be disappointed beyond comfort unless they had a chance to be present. He thought, therefore, that Easter Sunday would be the day of days in this respect. All the boats would be in harbour. All the women and children would have their new gowns and bonnets on. There would be a special service in the chapel—and then, finally:
"The house be ready, mother, and I be ready, and Denas be ready, and what are we waiting for?"
And as John, and Joan, and Tris were of one mind, what could Denas do but be of the same mind? After all, the great anxiety was the weather. The restless way in which Tris queried of the winds and watched the clouds almost made John angry. "You do be enough to beckon a storm, Tris," he cried. "Let be! Let be!" Yet for all that John himself walked oftener to his door than was his custom, and looked seaward and windward in a furtive kind of way, very amusing to the women, who saw clearly through his anxiety.
But even the weather sometimes comes up to our hopes and is even better than our expectations. Easter Sunday broke in a royal mood of sunshine. There was not a breath of wind; the sea was like a sea of sapphire sprinked with incalculable diamonds; the boats lay lazily swinging on the tide-top; the undercliff was in its Easter green and white. The lark set the bride-song going, and so woke up the thrush, and the thrush called to the blackbird, and the woods soon rang with music.
The ceremony was to be in the St. Clair chapel, and at nine o'clock Tris came in the yacht's boat for his bride and her parents. The boat had been freshly painted white. The four sailors who were to row her were in snow-white duck and blue caps and kerchiefs. Tris had on his best uniform—blue broadcloth and gilt buttons. Tris was handsome enough and proud and happy enough to have set off a fisher's suit of blue flannel; but he trod like a prince and looked like a young sea-god in his splendid array.
It had been thought best for the bride to go to St. Clair by sea. There was no carriage available, and the walk to St. Clair was long and apt to be wet from the last tide. And nobody wanted the bride-dress to be soiled. Besides which, the sea-way gave the St. Penfer people an opportunity to set her off with waving kerchiefs and a thousand good wishes; and it also gave the people of St. Clair an opportunity to welcome her in the same manner. Those who did not know about such things and who were wickedly reckless concerning signs and omens—which sailor and fisher folk never are—said this seaward road to the church might have been avoided and the bride's gown kept sweetly fresh and unruffled by Denas simply dressing in her own house. But Denas knew well that it was unlucky; for the bride in her bride-dress must go into her house before she comes out of it.
The chapel was crowded up to the pulpit steps, all but John's pew, which was empty until the bride's party took possession of it. It was a sight to make men and women happy only to look at Joan Penelles' face. John tried to preserve a grave look, but Joan beamed upon every man and woman present. When the little stir of their entrance had subsided, then the Easter service went joyously on. It was known that the wedding was to be solemnized between the sermon and the benediction, and though the sermon was a very good one, all thought it a little long that morning. For there is something about a bridal, and a bride, and a bridegroom, that is perennially fresh and young.
But at length the happy moment arrived. Tris rose and offered his hand to Denas. Then Denas also rose and let her long cloak fall down, and put her bonnet off her head, and walked by Tris' side to the communion table. John and Joan proudly followed. All with curious interest watched the bride, for few then present had ever seen a bride so bride-like. And well might the handsome sailor be proud of her as she stood beside him robed in white, lustrous silk, with lilies at her breast and the gleam of scarlet corals in her fair hair and at her white throat.
Let those who have been so blessed as to live through such moments imagine them. And, alas! for those who cannot say with a smile, "I know; I know." In this marriage, the bride and bridegroom's joy was doubled by being so enthusiastically shared. It was not only the preacher who gave them the benediction; they walked through an atmosphere so full of kindness and good-will and good wishes that they could do nothing at all but smile, and smile, and smile again to the "God bless you, dears," which greeted them at every step.
Then the clerk spread open the book and the preacher put the pen into the bride's hand. She looked at her husband; she looked at her mother; she hesitated a moment, and then wrote boldly—not Denasia—but—
Neither father nor mother disputed the name. They certified it with their own names, and then passed with their children into the sunshine. The congregation were waiting outside. They parted and made a way between them for the bride and the bridegroom to take; and so standing there, watched them go hand-in-hand up the hillside to the pretty vine-covered house which was to be their future home. To mortal eyes they seemed to walk alone, but they did not. They had right welcome company, for—
"Love took them softly by the hand, Love led them through their own dear door, And showed them in the sea and land Beauty they had not known before— Never before: O Love! sweet Love!
"And now it cannot pass away; They see it wheresoe'er they go; And in their hearts by night and day Its gladness singeth to and fro, By night and day: O Love! sweet Love!"
* * * * *
Typographical inconsistencies have been changed and are listed below.
Otherwise, archaic and variable spelling is preserved, including Rosetti/Rossetti and Giberaltar. Author's punctuation style is also preserved.
Passages in italics indicated by underscores.
Passages in bold indicated by equal signs.
The following changes were made to the original text:
Page 25: Was 'wth' (She sat down in a large chair with her back to the light and shut her eyes.)
Page 93: Added double quote (Some will never come back again!'")
Page 98: Added period (with such evident enjoyment that she gave an appetite to the others.)
Page 98: Was 'Bobert' (After breakfast Robert Burrell said he would delay his visit)
Page 154: Was 'guiver' (It made his brown face blanch and his strong, stern mouth quiver with mental anguish.)
Page 174: Was 'beatiful' (her open throat, and beautiful bare arms lifted to the basket upon her head)
Page 207: Was 'indorsed' (of that brutal conservatism which makes Englishmen suspicious of everything not endorsed by centuries of use and wont.)
Page 297: Was 'ocupations' (She looked for no extraordinary thing, for no special favour to brighten their uniform occupations and simple pleasures.)
Page 308: Was 'sayng' ("La! my dear, the love in Tris' heart was a trouble to you. You were saying that often.")
Page 344: Was 'fom' (and the walk to St. Clair was long and apt to be wet from the last tide.)