"Why lost to the world, Mrs. Burrage?" said Lois gently. She had risen too. The other lady faced her.
"Without more knowledge of what the world is, I could hardly explain to you," she said, with cool rudeness; the sort of insolence that a fine lady can use upon occasion when it suits her. Philip's face flushed, but he would not make the rudeness more palpable by seeming to notice it.
"I hope it is the other way," he said. "I have been an idle man all my life hitherto, and have done nothing except for myself. Nobody could be of less use to the world."
"And what are you going to do now?"
"I cannot tell. I shall find out. I am going to study the question."
"And is Miss Lothrop your teacher?"
The civil sneer was too apparent again, but it did not call up a flush this time. Philip was too angry. It was Lois that answered, and pleasantly,—
"She does not even wish to be that."
"Haven't you taught him already?" asked the lady, with prompt inquisition.
"Yes," said Philip.
Lois did colour now; she could not deny the fact, nor even declare that it had been an unintentional fact; but her colour was very pretty, and so was the sort of deprecating way in which she looked at her future sister-in-law. Not disarmed, Mrs. Burrage went on.
"It is a dangerous office to take, my dear, for we women never can keep it. We may think we stand on an eminence of wisdom one day; and the next we find we have to come down to a very lowly place, and sit at somebody else's feet, and receive our orders. I find it rather hard sometimes. Well, Philip,—will you go on with the lesson I suppose I have interrupted? or will you have the complaisance to go with me to see about the Murillo?"
"I will certainly stay."
"Rather hard upon me, after promising me last night you would go."
"I made no such promise."
"Indeed you did, begging your pardon. Last night, when you came home with the horses, I told you of the sale, and asked you if you would go and see that I did not get cheated."
"I have no recollection of it."
"And you said you would with pleasure."
"That is no longer possible, Jessie. And the sale would be over before we could get to it," he added, looking at his watch.
"Shall I leave you here, then?" said the lady, with a mingling of disagreeable feelings which found indescribable expression.
"If Miss Lothrop will let me be left. You forget, it depends upon her permission."
"Miss Lothrop," said the lady, offering her hand to Lois with formal politeness, "I do not ask you the question, for my brother all his life has never been refused anything he chose to demand. Pardon me my want of attention; he is responsible for it, having upset all my ideas with his strange announcements. Good-bye!"
Lois curtseyed silently. In all this dialogue, the contrast had been striking between the two ladies; for the advantage of manner had been on the side, not of the experienced woman of the world, but of the younger and simpler and country-bred little Shampuashuh woman. It comes to this; that the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians gives one the very soul and essence of what in the world is called good breeding; the kernel and thing itself; while what is for the most part known in society is the empty shell, simulating and counterfeiting it only. Therefore he in whose heart that thirteenth chapter is a living truth, will never be ill-bred; and if he possesses besides a sensitive and refined nature, and is free of self-consciousness, and has some common sense to boot, he has all the make-up of the veriest high-breeding. Nothing could seem more unruffled, because nothing could be more unruffled, than Lois during this whole interview; she was even a little sorry for Mrs. Burrage, knowing that the lady would be very sorry herself afterwards for what she had done; and Lois meant to bury it in perfect oblivion. So her demeanour was free, simple, dignified, most graceful; and Philip was penetrated with delight and shame at once. He went with his sister to put her in her carriage, which was done with scarce any words on either part; and then returned to the room where he had left Lois. She was still standing beside her chair, having in truth her thoughts too busy to remember to sit down. Philip's action was to come straight to her and fold his arms round her. They were arms of caressing and protection at once; Lois felt both the caressing and the protecting clasp, as something her life had never known before; and a thrill went through her of happiness that was almost mingled with awe.
"My darling!"—said Philip—"will you hold me responsible? Will you charge it all upon me?—and let me make it good as best I can?"
"O Philip, there is nothing to charge!" said Lois, lifting her flushed face, "fair as the moon," to meet his anxious eyes. "Do not think of it again. It is perfectly natural, from her point of view. You know, you are very much Somebody; and I—am Nobody."
The remainder of the interview may be left unreported.
It lasted till the two ladies returned from the matinee. Mrs. Wishart immediately retained Mr. Dillwyn for luncheon, and the two girls went up-stairs together.
"How long has that man been here?" was Madge's disrespectful inquiry.
"I don't know."
"What did he come for?"
"I suppose—to see me."
"To see you! Did he come to take you sleigh-riding again?"
"He said nothing about sleigh-riding."
"The snow is all slush down in the city. What did he want to see you for, then?" said Madge, turning round upon her sister, while at the same time she was endeavouring to extricate her head from her bonnet, which was caught upon a pin.
"He had something to say to me," Lois answered, trembling with an odd sort of excitement.
"What?—Lois, not that?" cried Madge, stopping with her bonnet only half off her head. But Lois nodded; and Madge dropped herself into the nearest chair, making no further effort as regarded the bonnet.
"Lois!—What did you say to him?"
"What could I say to him?"
"Why, two or three things, I should think. If it was I, I should think so."
"There can be but one answer to such a question. It must be yes or no."
"I am sure that's two to choose from. Have you gone and said yes to that man?"
"Don't you like him?" said Lois, with a furtive smile, glancing up at her sister now from under lowered eyelids.
"Like him! I never saw the man yet, that I liked as well as my liberty."
"Yes. Have you forgotten already what that means? O Lois! have you said yes to that man? Why, I am always afraid of him, every time I see him."
"Afraid of him?"
"Yes. I get over it after he has been in the room a while; but the next time I see him it comes back. O Lois! are you going to let him have you?"
"Madge, you are talking most dreadful nonsense. You never were afraid of anybody in your life; and of him least of all."
"Fact, though," said Madge, beginning at her bonnet again. "It's the way his head is set on his shoulders, I suppose. If I had known what was happening, while I was listening to Mme. Cisco's screeching!"—
"You couldn't have helped it."
"And now, now, actually you belong to somebody else! Lois, when are you going to be married?"
"I don't know."
"Not for a great while? Not soon, at any rate?"
"I don't know. Mr. Dillwyn wishes—"
"And are you going to do everything he wishes?"
"As far as I can," said Lois, with again a rosy smile and glance.
"There's the call to luncheon!" said Madge. "People must eat, if they're ever so happy or ever so unhappy. It is one of the disgusting things about human nature. I just wish he wasn't going to be here. Well—come along!"
Madge went ahead till she reached the drawing-room door; there she suddenly paused, waved herself to one side, and let Lois go in before her. Lois was promptly wrapped in Mrs. Wishart's arms, and had to endure a most warm and heartfelt embracing and congratulating. The lady was delighted. Meanwhile Madge found herself shaking hands with Philip.
"You know all about it?" he said, looking hard at her, and holding her hand fast.
"If you mean what Lois has told me—"
"Are not you going to wish me joy?"
"There is no occasion—for anybody who has got Lois," said Madge. And then she choked, pulled her hand away, and broke down. And when Lois got free from Mrs. Wishart, she saw Madge sitting with her head in her hands, and Mr. Dillwyn bending over her. Lois came swiftly behind and put both arms softly around her sister.
"It's no use!" said Madge, sobbing and yet defiant. "He has got you, and I haven't got you any longer. Let me alone—I am not going to be a fool, but to be asked to wish him joy is too much." And she broke away and ran off.
Lois could have followed her with all her heart; but she had herself habitually under better control than Madge, and knew with fine instinct what was due to others. Her eyes glistened; nevertheless her bearing was quiet and undisturbed; and a second time to-day Mr. Dillwyn was charmed with the grace of her manner. I must add that Madge presently made her appearance again, and was soon as gay as usual; her lucubrations even going so far before the end of luncheon as to wonder where Lois would hold her wedding. Will she fetch all the folks down here? thought Madge. Or will everybody go to Shampuashuh?
With the decision, however, the reader need not be troubled.
ON THE PASS.
Only one incident more need be told. It is the last point in my story.
The intermediate days and months must be passed over, and we skip the interval to the summer and June. It is now the middle of June. Mr. Dillwyn's programme had been successfully carried out; and, after an easy and most festive journey from England, through France, he and Lois had come by gentle stages to Switzerland. A festive journey, yes; but the expression regards the mental progress rather than the apparent. Mr. Dillwyn, being an old traveller, took things with the calm habit of use and wont; and Lois, new as all was to her, made no more fussy demonstration than he did. All the more delicious to him, and satisfactory, were the sparkles in her eyes and the flushes on her cheeks, which constantly witnessed to her pure delight or interest in something. All the more happily he felt the grasp of her hand sometimes when she did not speak; or listened to the low accents of rapture when she saw something that deserved them; or to her merry soft laugh at something that touched her sense of fun. For he found Lois had a great sense of fun. She was altogether of the most buoyant, happy, and enjoying nature possible. No one could be a better traveller. She ignored discomforts (truly there had not been much in that line), and she laughed at disappointments; and travellers must meet disappointments now and then. So Mr. Dillwyn had found the journey giving him all he had promised himself; and to Lois it gave—well Lois's dreams had never promised her the quarter.
So it had come to be the middle of June, and they were in Switzerland. And this day, the sixteenth, found them in a little wayside inn near the top of a pass, snowed up. So far they had come, the last mile or two through a heavy storm; and then the snow clouds had descended so low and so thick, and gave forth their treasures of snow-flakes so confusedly and incessantly, that going on was not to be thought of. They were sheltered in the little inn; and that is nearly all you could say of it, for the accommodations were of the smallest and simplest. Travellers were not apt to stop at that little hostelry for more than a passing refreshment; and even so, it was too early in the season for many travellers to be expected. So there were Philip and his wife now, making the best of things. Mr. Dillwyn was coaxing the little fire to burn, which had been hastily made on their arrival; but Lois sat at one of the windows looking out, and every now and then proclaiming her enjoyment by the tone in which some innocent remark came from her lips.
"It is raining now, Philip."
"What do you see in the rain?"
"Nothing whatever, at this minute; but a little while ago there was a kind of drawing aside of the thick curtain of falling snow, and I had a view of some terribly grand rocks, and one glimpse of a most wonderful distance."
"Vague distance?" said Philip, laughing. "That sounds like looking off into space."
"Well, it was. Like chaos, and order struggling out of its awful beginnings."
"Don't unpractically catch cold, while you are studying natural developement."
"I am perfectly warm. I think it is great fun to be kept here over night. Such a nice little place as it is, and such a nice little hostess. Do you notice how neat everything is? O Philip!—here is somebody else coming!"
"Coming to the inn?"
"Yes. O, I'm afraid so. Here's one of these original little carriages crawling along, and it has stopped, and the people are getting out. Poor storm-stayed people, like ourselves."
"They will come to a fire, which we didn't," said Philip, leaving his post now and placing himself at the back of Lois's chair, where he too could see what was going on in front of the house. A queer little vehicle had certainly stopped there, and somebody very much muffled had got out, and was now helping a second person to alight, which second person must be a woman; and she was followed by another woman, who alighted with less difficulty and less attention, though she had two or three things to carry.
"I pity women who travel in the Alps with their maids!" said Mr. Dillwyn.
"Philip, that first one, the gentleman, had a little bit—just a little bit—the air of your friend, Mr. Caruthers. He was so muffled up, one could not tell what he was like; but somehow he reminded me of Mr. Caruthers."
"I thought Tom was your friend?"
"Friend? No. He was an acquain'tance; he was never my friend, I think."
"Then his name raises no tender associations in your mind?"
"Why, no!" said Lois, with a gay little laugh. "No, indeed. But I liked him very well at one time; and I—think—he liked me."
"Why do you say that?" Lois asked merrily. "He is not poor; he has married a Dulcimer. I never can hear her name without thinking of Nebuchadnezzar's image! He has forgotten me long ago."
"I see you have forgotten him," said Dillwyn, bending down till his face was very near Lois's.
"How should I not? But I did like him at one time, quite well. I suppose I was flattered by his attentions, which I think were rather marked. And you know, at that time I did not know you."
Lois's voice fell a little; the last sentence being given with a delicate, sweet reserve, which spoke much more than effusion. Philip's answer was mute.
"Besides," said Lois, "he is a sort of man that I never could have liked beyond a certain point. He is a weak character; do you know it, Philip?"
"I know it. I observe, that is the last fault women will forgive in a man."
"Why should they?" said Lois. "What have you, where you have not strength? It is impossible to love where you cannot respect. Or if you love, it is a poor contemptible sort of love."
Philip laughed; and just then the door opened, and the hostess of the inn appeared on the threshhold, with other figures looming dimly behind her. She came in apologizing. More storm-bound travellers had arrived—there was no other room with a fire ready—would monsieur and madame be so gracious and allow the strangers to come in and get warm and dry by their fire? Almost before she had finished her speech the two men had sprung towards each other, and "Tom!"—"Philip DilIwyn!"—had been cried in different tones of surprised greeting.
"Where did you come from?" said Tom, shaking his friend's hand. "What a chance! Here is my wife. Arabella, this is Mr. Dillwyn, whose name you have heard often enough. At the top of this pass!—"
The lady thus addressed came in behind Tom, throwing off her wrappings, and throwing each, or dropping it as it was taken off, into the hands of her attendant who followed her. She appeared now to be a slim person, of medium height, dressed very handsomely, with an insignificant face, and a quantity of light hair disposed in a mysterious manner to look like a wig. That is, it looked like nothing natural, and yet could not be resolved by the curious eye into bands or braids or any defined form of fashionable art or artifice. The face looked fretted, and returned Mr. Dillwyn's salutation discontentedly. Tom's eye meanwhile had wandered, with an unmistakeable air of apprehension, towards the fourth member of the party; and Lois came forward now, giving him a frank greeting, and holding out her hand. Tom bowed very low over it, without saying one word; and Philip noted that his eye shunned Lois's face, and that his own face was all shadowed when he raised it. Mr. Dillwyn put himself in between.
"May I present my wife, Mrs. Caruthers?"
Mrs. Caruthers gave Lois a look, swift and dissatisfied, and turned to the fire, shivering.
"Have we got to stay here?" she asked querulously.
"We couldn't go on, you know," said Tom. "We may be glad of any sort of a shelter. I am afraid we are interfering with your comfort, Philip; but really, we couldn't help it. The storm's awful outside. Mrs. Caruthers was sure we should be overtaken by an avalanche; and then she was certain there must be a crevasse somewhere. I wonder if one can get anything to eat in this place?"
"Make yourself easy; they have promised us dinner, and you shall share with us. What the dinner will be, I cannot say; but we shall not starve; and you see what a fire I have coaxed up for you. Take this chair, Mrs. Caruthers."
The lady sat down and hovered over the fire; and Tom restlessly bustled in and out. Mr. DilIwyn tended the fire, and Lois kept a little in the background. Till, after an uncomfortable interval, the hostess came in, bringing the very simple fare, which was all she had to set before them. Brown bread, and cheese, and coffee, and a common sort of red wine; with a bit of cold salted meat, the precise antecedents of which it was not so easy to divine. The lady by the fire looked on disdainfully, and Tom hastened to supplement things from their own stores. Cold game, white bread, and better wine were produced from somewhere, with hard-boiled eggs and even some fruit. Mrs. Caruthers sat by the fire and looked on; while Tom brought these articles, one after another, and Lois arranged the table. Philip watched her covertly; admired her lithe figure in its neat mountain dress, which he thought became her charmingly; admired the quiet, delicate tact of her whole manner and bearing; the grace with which she acted and spoke, as well as the pretty deftness of her ministrations about the table. She was taking the part of hostess, and doing it with simple dignity; and he was very sorry for Tom. Tom, he observed, would not see her when he could help it. But they had to all gather round the table together and face each other generally.
"This is improper luxury for the mountains," Dillwyn said.
"Mrs. Caruthers thinks it best to be always provided for occasions. These small houses, you know, they can't give you any but small fare."
"Small fare is good for you!"
"Good for you," said Tom,—"all right; but my—Arabella cannot eat things if they are too small. That cheese, now!—"
"It is quite passable."
"Where are you going, Philip?"
"Bound for the AEggischhorn, in the first place."
"You are never going up?"
"Why not?" Lois asked, with her bright smile. Tom glanced at her from under his brows, and grew as dark as a thundercloud. She was ministering to Tom's wife in the prettiest way; not assuming anything, and yet acting in a certain sort as mistress of ceremonies. And Mrs. Caruthers was coming out of her apathy every now and then, and looking at her in a curious attentive way. I dare say it struck Tom hard. For he could not but see that to all her natural sweetness Lois had added now a full measure of the ease and grace which come from the habit of society, and which Lois herself had once admired in the ladies of his family. "Ay, even they wouldn't say she was nobody now!" he said to himself bitterly. And Philip, he saw, was so accustomed to this fact, that he took it as a matter of course.
"Where are you going after the AEggischhorn?" he went on, to say something.
"We mean to work our way, by degrees, to Zermatt."
"We are going to Zermatt," Mrs. Caruthers put in blandly. "We might travel in company."
"Can you walk?" asked Philip, smiling.
"Yes. We do it on foot."
"What for? Pray, pardon me! But are you serious?"
"I am in earnest, if that is what you mean. We do not look upon it in a serious light. It's rather a jollification."
"It is far the pleasantest way, Mrs. Caruthers," Lois added.
"But do you travel without any baggage?"
"Not quite," said Lois demurely. "We generally send that on ahead, except what will go in small satchels slung over the shoulder."
"And take what you can find at the little inns?"
"O yes; and fare very well."
"I like to be comfortable!" sighed the other lady. "Try that wine, and see how much better it is."
"Thank you, no; I prefer the coffee."
"No use to ask her to take wine," growled Tom. "I know she won't. She never would. She has principles. Offer it to Mr. Dillwyn."
"You do me the honour to suppose me without principles," said Philip dryly.
"I don't suppose you hold her principles," said Tom, indicating Lois rather awkwardly by the pronoun rather than in any more definite way. "You never used."
"Quite true; I never used. But I do it now."
"Do you mean that you have given up drinking wine?"
"I have given it up?" said Philip, smiling at Tom's air, which was almost of consternation.
"Because she don't like it?"
"I hope I would give up a greater thing than that, if she did not like it," said Philip gravely. "This seems to me not a great thing. But the reason you suppose is not my reason."
"If the reason isn't a secret, I wish you'd mention it; Mrs. Caruthers will be asking me in private, by and by; and I do not like her to ask me questions I cannot answer."
"My reason is,—I think it does more harm than good."
"Wine, and its congeners."
"Take a cup of coffee, Mr. Caruthers," said Lois; "and confess it will do instead of the other thing."
Tom accepted the coffee; I don't think he could have rejected anything she held out to him; but he remarked grumly to Philip, as he took it,—
"It is easy to see where you got your principles!"
"Less easy than you think," Philip answered. "I got them from no living man or woman, though I grant you, Lois showed me the way to them. I got them from the Bible, old friend."
Tom glared at the speaker.
"Have you given up your cigars too?"
Mr. Dillwyn laughed out, and Lois said somewhat exultantly,
"Yes, Mr. Caruthers."
"I am sure I wish you would too!" said Tom's wife deploringly to her husband. "I think if anything's horrid, it's the after smell of tobacco."
"But the first taste of it is all the comfort a fellow gets in this world," said Tom.
"No fellow ought to say that," his friend returned.
"The Bible!" Tom repeated, as if it were a hard pill to swallow. "Philip Dillwyn quoting that old authority!"
"Perhaps I ought to go a little further, and say, Tom, that my quoting it is not a matter of form. I have taken service in the Christian army, since I saw you the last time. Now tell me how you and Mrs. Caruthers come to be at the top of this pass in a snow-storm on the sixteenth of June?"
"Fate!" said Tom.
"We did not expect to have a snow-storm, Mr. Dillwyn," Mrs. Caruthers added.
"But you might," said Philip. "There have been snow-storms everywhere in Switzerland this year."
"Well," said Tom, "we did not come for pleasure, anyhow. Never should dream of it, until a month later. But Mrs. Caruthers got word that a special friend of hers would be at Zermatt by a certain day, and begged to meet her; and stay was uncertain; and so we took what was said to be the shortest way from where the letter found us. And here we are."
"How is the coffee, Mr. Caruthers?" Lois asked pleasantly. Tom looked into the depths of his coffee cup, as if it were an abstraction, and then answered, that it was the best coffee he had ever had in Switzerland; and upon that he turned determinately to Mr. Dillwyn and began to talk of other things, unconnected with Switzerland or the present time. Lois was fain to entertain Tom's wife. The two women had little in common; nevertheless Mrs. Caruthers gradually warmed under the influence that shone upon her; thawed out, and began even to enjoy herself. Tom saw it all, without once turning his face that way; and he was fool enough to fancy that he was the only one. But Philip saw it too, as it were without looking; and delighted himself all the while in the gracious sweetness, and the tender tact, and the simple dignity of unconsciousness, with which Lois attended to everybody, ministered to everybody, and finally smoothed down even poor Mrs. Caruthers' ruffled plumes under her sympathizing and kindly touch.
"How soon will you be at Zermatt?" the latter asked. "I wish we could travel together! When do you expect to get there?"
"O, I do not know. We are going first, you know, to the AEggischhorn. We go where we like, and stay as long as we like; and we never know beforehand how it will be."
"But so early!—"
"Mr. Dillwyn wanted me to see the flowers. And the snow views are grand too; I am very glad not to miss them. Just before you came, I had one. The clouds swept apart for a moment, and gave me a wonderful sight of a gorge, the wildest possible, and tremendous rocks, half revealed, and a chaos of cloud and storm."
"Do you like that?"
"I like it all," said Lois, smiling. And the other woman looked, with a fascinated, uncomprehending air, at the beauty of that smile.
"But why do you walk?"
"O, that's half the fun," cried Lois. "We gain so a whole world of things that other people miss. And the walking itself is delightful."
"I wonder if I could walk?" said Mrs. Caruthers enviously. "How far can you go in a day? You must make very slow progress?"
"Not very. Now I am getting in training, we can do twenty or thirty miles a day with ease."
"Twenty or thirty miles!" Mrs. Caruthers as nearly screamed as politeness would let her do.
"We do it easily, beginning the day early."
"How early? What do you call early?"
"About four or five o'clock."
Mrs. Caruthers looked now as if she were staring at a prodigy.
"Start at four o'clock! Where do you get breakfast? Don't you have breakfast? Will the people give you breakfast so early? Why, they would have to be up by two."
Tom was listening now. He could not help it.
"O, we have breakfast," Lois said. "We carry it with us, and we stop at some nice place and take rest on the rocks, or on a soft carpet of moss, when we have walked an hour or two. Mr. Dillwyn carries our breakfast in a little knapsack."
"Is it nice?" enquired the lady, with such an expression of doubt and scruple that the risible nerves of the others could not stand it, and there was a general burst of laughter.
"Come and try once," said Lois, "and you will see."
"If you do not like such fare," Philip went on, "you can almost always stop at a house and get breakfast."
"I could not eat dry food," said the lady; "and you do not drink wine. What do you drink? Water?"
"Sometimes. Generally we manage to get milk. It is fresh and excellent."
"And without cups and saucers?" said the astonished lady. Lois's "ripple of laughter" sounded again softly.
"Not quite without cups; I am afraid we really do without saucers. We have an unlimited tablecloth, you know, of lichen and moss."
"And you really enjoy it?"
But here Lois shook her head. "There are no words to tell how much."
Mrs. Caruthers sighed. If she had spoken out her thoughts, it was too plain to Lois, she would have said, "I do not enjoy anything."
"How long are you thinking to stay on this side of the water?" Tom asked his friend now.
"Several months yet, I hope. I want to push on into Tyrol. We are not in a hurry. The old house at home is getting put into order, and till it is ready for habitation we can be nowhere better than here."
"The old house? your house, do you mean? the old house at Battersby?"
"You are not going there? for the winter at least?"
"Yes, we propose that. Why?"
"It is I that should ask 'why.' What on earth should you go to live there for?"
"It is a nice country, a very good house, and a place I am fond of, and I think Lois will like."
"But out of the world!"
"Only out of your world," his friend returned, with a smile.
"Why should you go out of our world? it is the world."
"For what good properties?"
"And it has always been your world," Tom went on, disregarding this question.
"I told you, I am changed."
"But does becoming a Christian change a man, Mr. Dillwyn?" Mrs. Caruthers asked.
"So the Bible says."
"I never saw much difference. I thought we were all Christians."
"If you were to live a while in the house with that lady," said Tom darkly, "you'd find your mistake. What in all the world do you expect to do up there at Battersby?" he went on, turning to his friend.
"Live," said Philip. "In your world you only drag along existence. And we expect to work, which you never do. There is no real living without working, man. Try it, Tom."
"Cannot you work, as you call it, in town?"
"We want more free play, and more time, than town life allows one."
"Besides, the country is so much pleasanter," Lois added.
"But such a neighbourhood! you don't know the neighbourhood—but you do, Philip. You have no society, and Battersby is nothing but a manufacturing place—"
"Battersby is three and a half miles off; too far for its noise or its smoke to reach us; and we can get society, as much as we want, and what we want; and in such a place there is always a great deal that might be done."
The talk went on for some time; Mrs. Caruthers seeming amazed and mystified, Tom dissatisfied and critical. At last, being informed that their own quarters were ready, the later comers withdrew, after agreeing that they would all sup together.
"Tom," said Mrs. Caruthers presently, "whom did Mr. Dillwyn marry?"
"Whom did he marry?"
"Yes. Who was she before she married?"
"I always heard she was nobody," Tom answered, with something between a grunt and a groan.
"Nobody! But that's nonsense. I haven't seen a woman with more style in a great while."
"Style!" echoed Tom, and his word would have had a sharp addition if he had not been speaking to his wife; but Tom was before all things a gentleman. As it was, his tone would have done honour to a grisly bear somewhat out of temper.
"Yes," repeated Mrs. Caruthers. "You may not know it, Tom, being a man; but I know what I am saying; and I tell you Mrs. Dillwyn has very distinguished manners. I hope we may see a good deal of them."
Meanwhile Lois was standing still where they had left her, in front of the fire; looking down meditatively into it. Her face was grave, and her abstraction for some minutes deep. I suppose her New England reserve was struggling with her individual frankness of nature, for she said no word, and Mr. Dillwyn, who was watching her, also stood silent. At last frankness, or affection, got the better of reserve; and, with a slow, gentle motion she turned to him, laying one hand on his shoulder, and sinking her face upon his breast.
"Lois! what is it?" he asked, folding his arms about her.
"Philip, it smites me!"
"What, my darling?" he said, almost startled. And then she lifted up her face and looked at him.
"To know myself so happy, and to see them so unhappy. Philip, they are not happy,—neither one of them!"
"I am afraid it is true. And we can do nothing to help them."
"No, I see that too."
Lois said it with a sigh, and was silent again. Philip did not choose to push the subject further, uncertain how far her perceptions went, and not wishing to give them any assistance. Lois stood silent and pondering, still within his arms, and he waited and watched her. At last she began again.
"We cannot do them any good. But I feel as if I should like to spend my life in making people happy."
"How many people?" said her husband fondly, with a kiss or two which explained his meaning. Lois laughed out.
"Philip, I do not make you happy."
"You come very near it."
"But I mean— Your happiness has something better to rest on. I should like to spend my life bringing happiness to the people who know nothing about being happy."
"Do it, sweetheart!" said he, straining her a little closer. "And let me help."
"Let you help!—when you would have to do almost the whole. But, to be sure, money is not all; and money alone will not do it, in most cases. Philip, I will tell you where I should like to begin."
"Where? I will begin there also."
"With Mrs. Barclay."
"Mrs. Barclay!" There came a sudden light into Philip's eyes.
"Do you know, she is not a happy woman?"
"I know it."
"And she seems very much alone in the world."
"She is alone in the world."
"And she has been so good to us! She has done a great deal for Madge and me."
"She has done as much for me."
"I don't know about that. I do not see how she could. In a way, I owe her almost everything. Philip, you would never have married the woman I was three years ago."
"Don't take your oath upon that," he said lightly.
"But you would not, and you ought not."
"There is a counterpart to that. I am sure you would not have married the man I was three years ago."
At that Lois laid down her face again for a moment on his breast.
"I had a pretty hard quarter of an hour in a sleigh with you once!" she said.
Philip's answer was again wordless.
"But about Mrs. Barclay?" said Lois, recovering herself.
"Are you one of the few women who can keep to the point?" said he, laughing.
"What can we do for her?"
"What would you like to do for her?"
"Oh— Make her happy!"
"And to that end—?"
Lois lifted her face and looked into Mr. Dillwyn's as if she would search out something there. The frank nobleness which belonged to it was encouraging, and yet she did not speak.
"Shall we ask her to make her home with us?"
"O Philip!" said Lois, with her face all illuminated,—"would you like it?"
"I owe her much more than you do. And, love, I like what you like."
"Would she come?"
"If she could resist you and me together, she would be harder than I think her."
"I love her very much," said Lois thoughtfully, "and I think she loves me. And if she will come—I am almost sure we can make her happy."
"We will try, darling."
"And these other people—we need not meet them at Zermatt, need we?"
"We will find it not convenient."
Neither at Zermatt nor anywhere else in Switzerland did the friends again join company. Afterwards, when both parties had returned to their own country, it was impossible but that encounters should now and then take place. But whenever and wherever they happened, Tom made them as short as his wife would let him. And as long as he lives, he will never see Mrs. Philip Dillwyn without a clouding of his face and a very evident discomposure of his gay and not specially profound nature. It has tenacity somewhere, and has received at least one thing which it will never lose.
PRINTED BY MORRISON AND GIBB LIMITED, EDINBURGH
Typographical errors silently corrected:
Chapter 5: but you see the month replaced by but you see, the month
Chapter 8: a Father unto you replaced by a father unto you
Chapter 10: want to know did you replaced by want to know, did you
Chapter 11: you see it if off replaced by you see, it is off
Chapter 18: vier augen replaced by vier Augen
Chapter 20: will come of it!' replaced by will come of it!
Chapter 21: bon gout replaced by bon gout
Chapter 21: children! replaced by children!"
Chapter 22: Aubigne replaced by Aubigne
Chapter 30: heavy eyelids." replaced by heavy eyelids.
Chapter 34: compliment, said replaced by compliment," said
Chapter 35: chapter of Matthew. replaced by chapter of Matthew."
Chapter 39: come hear and rest replaced by comes here and rest
Chapter 42: mankind is man,'" my dear; "and replaced by mankind is man,' my dear; and
Chapter 44: your hare' replaced by your hare.'
Chapter 47: not become me. replaced by not become me."
Chapter 47: might like to see. replaced by might like to see."
Chapter 48: certain gout replaced by certain gout
Chapter 48: use of money, replaced by use of money,"
Chapter 48: and so, Jessie replaced by "and so, Jessie