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The Galaxy, Volume 23, No. 2, February, 1877
Author: Various
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Now she was about to leave the place and open of her own accord a new chapter in life. She had to escape at once from the dislike of some and the still less endurable liking of others. She was determined to go, and yet as she looked around upon the place, and all its dear sweet memories filled her, it is no wonder if she envied the calmness of the face that symbolized eternal rest. At last she broke down, and covered her face with her hands, and gave herself up to tears.

Her quick ears, however, heard sounds which she knew were not those of the rustling woods. She started to her feet and dried her eyes hastily. Straight before her now there lay the long broad path through the trees which led up to the gate of the mausoleum. The air was so exquisitely pure and still that the footfall of a person approaching could be distinctly heard by the girl, although the newcomer was yet far away. She could see him, however, and recognized him, and she had no doubt that he had seen her. A thought of escape at first occurred to her; but she gave it up in a moment, for she knew that the person approaching had come to seek her, and must have seen her before she saw him. So she sat down again defiantly and waited. She did not look his way, although he raised his hat to her more than once.

As he comes near we can see that he is a handsome, rather stiff looking man, with full formal dark whiskers, clearly cut face, and white teeth. His hat is very shiny. He wears a black frock coat buttoned across the chest, and dark trowsers, and dainty little boots, and gray gloves, and has a diamond pin in his necktie. He is Mr. Augustus Sheppard, a very considerable person indeed in the town. Dukes-Keeton, it should be said, had three classes or estates. The noble owners of the park and the guests whom they used to bring to visit them in their hospitable days made one estate. The upper class of the town made another estate; and the working people and the poor generally made the third. These three classes (there were at present only two of them represented in Keeton) were divided by barriers which it never occurred to any imagination to think of getting over. Mr. Augustus Sheppard was a leading man among the townspeople. His father was a solicitor and land agent of old standing, and Mr. Augustus followed his father's profession, and now did by far the greater part of its work. He was a member of the Church of England of course, but he made it part of his duty to be on the best terms with the Dissenters, for Keeton was growing to be very strong in dissent of late years. Mr. Augustus Sheppard had done a great deal for the mental and other improvement of the town. It was he who got up the Mutual Improvement Society, and made himself responsible for the rent of the hall in which the winter course of lectures, organized by him, used to take place; and he always gave a lecture himself every season, and he took the chair very often and introduced other lecturers. He always worked most cordially with the Rev. Mr. Saulsbury in trying to restrict the number of public houses, and he was one of the few persons whom Mrs. Saulsbury cordially admired. He had a word of formal kindness for every one, and was never heard to say an ill-natured thing of any one behind his or her back. He was vaguely believed to be ambitious of worldly success, but only in a proper and becoming way, and far-seeing people looked forward to finding him one day in the House of Commons.

As he came near the mausoleum he raised his hat again, and then the girl acknowledged his salute and stood up.

"A very lovely evening, Miss Grey."

"Yes," said Miss Grey, and no more.

"I have been at your house, Miss Grey, and saw your people; and I heard that possibly you were in the park. I thought perhaps you would have been at home. When I saw you last night you seemed to believe that you would be at home all the day." This was said in a gentle tone of implied reproach.

"You spoke then of walking in the park, Mr. Sheppard."

"And I have kept my word, you see," Mr. Sheppard said, not observing the implied reason for her change of purpose.

"Yes, I see it now," she answered, as one who should say, "I did not count upon it then."

Of all men else, Minola Grey would have avoided him. She knew only too well what he had come for. She would perhaps have disliked him for that in any case, but she certainly disliked him on his own account. His formal and heavy manners impressed her disagreeably, and she liked to say things that puzzled and startled him. It was a pleasure to her to throw some paradox or odd saying at him, and watch his awkward attempts to catch it, and then while he was just on the point of getting at some idea of it to bewilder him with some new enigma. To her he seemed to be what he was not, simply a sham, a heavy piece of hypocrisy. Formalism and ostentatious piety she recognized as part of the business of a Nonconformist minister, in whom they were excusable, as his grave garb would be, but they seemed insufferably out of place when adopted by a layman and a man of the world, who was still young.

"I am glad to have found you at last," Mr. Sheppard said, with a grave smile.

"You might have found me at first," Minola said, quoting from Artemus Ward, "if you had come a little sooner, Mr. Sheppard. I have only lately escaped here."

"I wish I had known, and I would have come a great deal sooner. May I take the liberty of sitting beside you?"

"I am going to stand, Mr. Sheppard. But that need not prevent you from sitting."

"I should not think of sitting unless you do. Shall we walk a little among the trees? This is a gloomy spot for a young lady."

"I prefer to stand here for a little, Mr. Sheppard, but don't let me keep you from enjoying a walk."

"Enjoying a walk?" he said, with a grave smile and solemn emphasis. "Enjoying a walk, Miss Grey—and without you?"

She deliberately avoided meeting the glance with which he was endeavoring to give additional meaning to this polite speech. She knew that he had come to make love to her; and though she was longing to have the whole thing done with, as it must be settled one way or the other, she detested and dreaded the ordeal, and would have put it off if she could. So she did not give any sign of having understood or even heard his words, and the opportunity for going on with his purpose, which he had hoped to extract, was lost for the moment. In truth, Mr. Sheppard was afraid of this girl, and she knew it, and liked him none the more for it.

"I have been studying something with great interest, Mr. Sheppard," she began, as if determined to cut him off from his chance for the present. "I have made a discovery."

"Indeed, Miss Grey? Yes—I saw that you were in deep contemplation as I came along, and I wondered within myself what could have been the subject of your thoughts."

She colored a little and looked suddenly at him, asking herself whether he could have seen her tears. His face, however, gave no explanation, and she felt assured that he had not seen them.

"I have found, Mr. Sheppard, that some of the weaknesses of men are alive in the insect world."

"Indeed, Miss Grey? Some of the affections of men do indeed live, we are told, in the insect world. So beautifully ordained is everything——"

"The affectations I meant, not the affections of men, Mr. Sheppard. Could you ever have believed that an insect would be capable of a deliberate attempt at imposture?"

"I should certainly not have looked for anything of the kind, Miss Grey. But there is unfortunately so much of evil mixed up with all——"

"So there is. I was going to tell you that as I came here and passed through the garden, my attention was directed—is not that the proper way to put it?"

"To put it, Miss Grey?"

"Yes; my attention was directed to a large, heavy, respectable blue-bottle fly. He kept flying from flower to flower, and burying his stupid head in every one in turn, and making a ridiculous noise. I watched his movements for a long time. It was evident to the meanest understanding that he was trying to attract attention and was hoping the eyes of the world were on him. You should have seen his pretence at enjoying the flowers and drinking in sweetness from them—and he stayed longest on the wrong flowers!"

"Dear me! Now why did he do that?"

"Because he didn't know any better, and he was trying to make us think he did."

"But, Miss Grey—a fly—a blue-bottle! Now really—how did you know what he was thinking of?"

"I watched him closely—and I found him out at last. Have you not guessed what the meaning of the whole thing was?"

"Well, Miss Grey, I can't say that I quite understand it just yet; but I am sure I shall be greatly interested on hearing the explanation."

"It was simply the imposture of a blue-bottle trying to pass himself off as a bee! It was man's affectation put under the microscope!"

Mr. Sheppard looked up at her in the hope of catching from her face some clear intimation as to whether she was in jest or earnest, and demeaning himself accordingly. But her eyes were cast down and he could not make out the riddle. Driven by desperation, he dashed in, to prevent the possible propounding of another before he had time to come to his point.

"All the professions of men are not affectations, Miss Grey! Oh, no: far from it indeed. There are some feelings in our breasts which are only too real!"

She saw that the declaration was coming now and must be confronted.

"I have long wished for an opportunity of revealing to you some of my feelings, Miss Grey, and I hope the chance has now arrived. May I speak?"

"I can't prevent you from speaking, Mr. Sheppard."

"You will hear me?"

He was in such fear of her and so awkward about the terms of his declaration of love that he kept clutching at every little straw that seemed to give him something to hold on to for a moment's rest and respite.

"I had better hear you, I suppose," she said with an air of profound depression, "if you will go on, Mr. Sheppard. But if you would please me, you would stop where you are and say no more."

"You know what I am going to say, Miss Grey—you must have known it this long time. I have asked your natural guardians and advisers, and they encourage me to speak. Oh, Miss Grey—I love you. May I hope that I may look forward to the happiness of one day making you my wife?"

It was all out now, and she was glad. The rest would be easy. He looked even then so prosaic and formal that she did not believe in any of his professed emotions, and she was therefore herself unmoved.

"No, Mr. Sheppard," she said, looking calmly at him straight in the face. "Such a day will never come. Nothing that I have seen in life makes me particularly anxious to be married; and I could not marry you."

He had expected evasion, but not bluntness. He knew well enough that the girl did not love him, but he had believed that he could persuade her to marry him. Now her pointblank refusal completely staggered him.

"Why not, Miss Grey?" was all he could say at first.

"Because, Mr. Sheppard, I really much prefer not to marry you."

"There is not any one else?" he asked, his face for the first time showing emotion and anger.

The faint light of a melancholy smile crossed Minola's face. He grew more angry.

"Miss Grey—now, you must tell me that! I have a right to ask—yes: and your people would expect me to ask. You must tell me that."

"Well," she said, "if you force me to it, and if you will have an answer, I must give you one, Mr. Sheppard. I have a lover already, and I mean to keep him."

Mr. Sheppard was positively shocked by the suddenness and coolness of this revelation. He recovered himself, however, and took refuge in unbelief.

"Miss Grey, you don't mean it, I know—I can't believe it. Why, I have known you and seen you grow up since you were a child. Mrs. Saulsbury couldn't but know——"

"Mrs. Saulsbury knows nothing of me: we know nothing of each other. I have a lover, Mr. Sheppard, for all that. Do you want to know his name?"

"I should like to know his name, certainly," the breathless Sheppard stammered out.

"His name is Alceste——"

"A Frenchman!" Sheppard was aghast.

"A Frenchman truly—a French gentleman—a man of truth and courage and spirit and honor and everything good. A man who wouldn't tell a lie or do a mean thing, or flatter a silly woman, or persecute a very unhappy girl—no, not to save his soul, Mr. Sheppard. Do you happen to know any such man?"

"No such man lives in Keeton." He was surprised into simple earnestness. "At least I don't know of any such man."

"No; you and he are not likely to come together and be very familiar. Well, Mr. Sheppard, that is the man to whom I am engaged, and I mean to keep my engagement. You can tell Mrs. Saulsbury if you like."

"But you haven't told me his other name."

"Oh—I don't know his other name."

"Miss Grey! Don't know his other name?"

"No: and I don't think he has any other name. He has but the one name for me, and I don't want any second."

"Where does he live, then—may I ask?"

"Oh, yes—I may as well tell you all now, since I have told you so much. He only lives in a book, Mr. Sheppard; in what you would call a play," she added with contemptuous expression.

"Oh, come now—I thought you were only amusing yourself." A smile of reviving satisfaction stole over his face. "I'm not much afraid of a rival like that, Miss Grey—if he is my only rival."

"I don't know why you talk of a rival," the young woman answered, with a scornful glance at him; "but I can assure you he would be the most dangerous rival a living man could have. When I find a man like him, Mr. Sheppard, I hope he will ask me to marry him; indeed, when I find such a man I'll ask him to marry me—and if he be the man I take him for, he'll refuse me. I have told you all the truth now, Mr. Sheppard, and I hope you will think I need not say any more."

"Still, I'm not quite without hope that something may be done," Mr. Sheppard said. "How if I were to study your hero's ways and try to be like him, Miss Grey?"

A great brown heavy velvety bee at the moment came booming along, his ponderous flight almost level with the ground and not far above it. He sailed in and out among the trees and branches, now burying himself for a few seconds in some hollow part of a trunk, and then plodding through air again.

"Do you think it would be of any use, Mr. Sheppard," she calmly asked, "if that honest bee were to study the ways of the eagle?"

"You are not complimentary, Miss Grey," he said, reddening.

"No: I don't believe in compliments: I very much prefer truth."

"Still there are ways of conveying the truth—and of course I never professed to be anything very great and heroic——"

He was decidedly hurt now.

"Mr. Sheppard," she said, in a softer and more appealing tone, "I don't want to quarrel with you or with anybody, and please don't drive me on to make myself out any worse than I am. I don't care about you, and I never could. We never could get on together. I don't care for any man—I don't like men at all. I wouldn't marry you if you were an emperor. But I don't say anything against you; at least I wouldn't if you would only let me alone. I am very unhappy sometimes—almost always now; but at least I mean to make no one unhappy but myself."

"That's what comes of books and poetry and solitary walks and nonsense! Why can't you listen to the advice of those who love you?"

She turned upon him angrily again.

"Well, I am not speaking of myself now, but of your—your people, who only desire your good. Mr. Saulsbury, Mrs. Saulsbury——"

"Once for all, Mr. Sheppard, I shall not take their advice; and if you would have me think of you with any kindness at all, any memory not disagreeable and—and detestable, you will not talk to me of their advice. Even if I had been inclined to care for you, Mr. Sheppard, you took a wrong way when you came in their name and talked of their authority. Next time you ask a girl to marry you, Mr. Sheppard, do it in your own name."

He caught eagerly at the kind of negative hope that seemed to be held out to him.

"If that's an objection," he began, "I assure you that I came quite of my own motion, and I am the last man in the world to endeavor to bring any unfair means to bear. Of course it is not as if they were your own parents, and I can quite understand how a young lady must feel——"

"I don't know much of how young ladies feel," Minola said quietly, "but I know how I feel, Mr. Sheppard, and you know it too. Take my last word. I'll never marry you. You only waste your time, and perhaps the time of somebody else as well—some good girl, Mr. Sheppard, who would be glad to marry you and whom you will be quite ready to make love to the day after to-morrow."

Her heart was hardened against him now, for she thought him mean and craven and unmanly. Perhaps, according to her familiar creed, she ought rather to have thought him manly, meanness being in that sense one of the attributes of man. She did not believe in the genuineness of his love, and in any case no thought was more odious to her than that of a man pressing a girl to marry him if she did not love him and was not ready to meet him half way.

There was a curious contrast between these two figures as they stood on the steps of that great empty tomb. The contrast was all the more singular and even the more striking because the two might easily have been described in such terms as would seem to suggest no contrast. If they were described as a handsome young man (for he was scarcely more than thirty) and a handsome young woman, the description would be correct. He was rather tall, she was rather tall; but he was formal, severe, respectable, and absolutely unpicturesque—she was picturesque in every motion. His well-made clothes sat stiffly on him, and the first idea he conveyed was that he was carefully dressed. Even a woman would not have thought, at the first glance at least, of how she was dressed. She only impressed one with a sense of the presence of graceful and especially emotional womanhood. The longer one looked at the two the deeper the contrast seemed to become. Both, for example, had rather thin lips; but his were rigid, precise, and seeming to part with a certain deliberation and even difficulty. Hers appeared, even when she was silent, to be tremulous with expression. After a while it would have seemed to an observer, if any observing eye were there, that no power on earth could have brought these two into companionship.

"I won't take this as your final answer," he said, after one or two unsuccessful efforts to speak. "You will consider this again, and give it some serious reflection."

She only shook her head, and once more seated herself on the steps of the monument as if to suggest that now the interview was over.

"You are not walking homeward?" he asked.

"I am staying here for awhile."

He bade her good morning and walked slowly away. A rejected lover looks to great disadvantage when he has to walk away. He ought to leap on the back of a horse, and spur him fiercely and gallop off; or the curtain ought to fall and so finish up with him. Otherwise, even the most heroic figure has something of the look of one sneaking off like a dog told imperatively to "go home." Mr. Sheppard felt very uncomfortable at the thought that he probably did not seem dignified in the eyes of Miss Grey. He once glanced back uneasily, but perhaps it was not a relief to find that she was not looking in his direction.

CHAPTER II.

THE EVE OF LIBERTY.

Miss Grey remained in the park until the sun had gone down and the stars, with their faint light, seemed as she moved homeward to be like bright sparkles entangled among the high branches of the trees. She had a great deal to think of, and she troubled herself little about the mental depression of her rejected lover. All the purpose of her life was now summed up in a resolve to get away from Keeton and to bury herself in London.

She knew that any opposition to her proposal on the part of those who were still supposed to be her guardians would only be founded on an objection to it as something unwomanly, venturous, and revolutionary, and not by any means the result of any grief for her going away. Ever since her mother's death and her father's second marriage she had only chafed at existence, and found those around her disagreeable, and no doubt made herself disagreeable to them. She had ceased to feel any respect for her father when he married again, and he knew it and became cold and constrained with her. Only just before his death had there been anything like a revival of their affection for each other. He had been a man of some substance and authority in his town, had built houses, and got together property, and he left his daughter a not inconsiderable annuity as a charge upon his property, and placed her under the guardianship of the elderly and respectable Nonconformist minister, who, as luck would have it, afterward married his young widow. Minola had seen so many marriages during her short experience, and had disliked two at least of them so thoroughly, that she was much inclined to say with one of her heroes that there should be no more of them. For a long time she had made up her mind that when she came of age she would go to London and live there. She still wanted a few months of the time of independence, but the manner in which Mr. Augustus Sheppard was pressed upon her by himself and others made her resolve to anticipate the course of the seasons a little, and go away at once. In London she made up her mind that she would lead a life of enchantment: of delightful and semi-savage solitude, in the midst of the crowd; of wild independence and scorn of all the ways of men, with books at her command, with the art galleries and museums, of which she had read so much, always within easy reach, and the streets which were alive for her with such sweet and dear associations all around her.

Miss Grey knew London well. She had never yet set foot in it, or been anywhere out of her native town; but she had studied London as a general may study the map of some country which he expects one day to invade. Many and many a night, when all in the house but she were fast asleep, she had had the map of London spread out before her, and had puzzled her way through the endless intricacies of its streets. Few women of her age, or of any age, actually living in the metropolis, had anything like the knowledge of its districts and its principal streets that she had. She felt in anticipation the pride and delight of being able to go whither she would about London without having to ask her way of any one. Some particular association identified every place in her mind. The living and the dead, the romantic and the real, history and fiction, all combined to supply her with labels of association, which she might mentally put upon every quarter and district, and almost upon every street which had a name worth knowing. As we all know Venice before we have seen it, and when we get there can recognize everything we want to see without need of guide to name it for us, so Minola Grey knew London. It is no wonder now that her mind was in a perturbed condition. She was going to leave the place in which so far all her life literally had been passed. She was going to live in that other place which had for years been her dream, her study, her self-appointed destiny. She was going to pass away for ever from uncongenial and odious companionship, and to live a life of sweet, proud, lonely independence.

The loneliness, however, was not to be literal and absolute. In all romantic adventures there is companionship. The knight has his squire, Rosalind has her Celia. Minola Grey was to have her companion in her great enterprise. It had not indeed occurred to her to think about the inconvenience or oddness of a girl living absolutely alone in London, but the kindly destinies had provided her with a comrade. Having lingered long in the park and turned back again and again for another view of some favorite spot, having gathered many a leaf and flower for remembrance, and having looked up many times with throbbing heart at the white, trembling stars that would shine upon her soon in London, Miss Grey at last made up her mind and passed resolutely out at the great gate and went to seek this companion. She was glad to leave the park now in any case, for in the fine evenings of summer and autumn it was the custom of Keeton people to make it their promenade. All the engaged couples of the place would soon be there under the trees. When a lad and lass were seen to walk boldly and openly together of evenings in that park, and to pass and repass their neighbors without effort at avoiding such encounters, it was as well known that they were engaged as though the fact had been proclaimed by the town-crier. A jury of Keeton folk would have assumed a promise of marriage and proceeded to award damages for its breach if it were proved that a young man had walked openly for any three evenings in the park with a girl whom he afterward declined to make his wife. Minola did not care to meet any of the joyous couples or their friends, and even already the twitter of voices and the titter of feminine laughter were beginning to make themselves heard among the darkling paths and across the broad green lanes of the park.

From the gates of the park one passed, as has been said already, almost directly into the town. The town itself was divided in twain by a river, the river spanned by a bridge which had a certain fame from the fact of its having been the scene of a brave stand and a terrible slaughter during the civil wars after Charles I. had set up his standard at Nottingham. To be sure there was not much left of the genuine old bridge on which the fight was fought, nor did the broad, flat, handsome, and altogether modern structure bear much resemblance to the sort of bridge which might have crossed a river in the days of the Cavaliers. Residents of Keeton always, however, boasted of the fact that one of the arches of the bridge was just the same underneath as it had always been, and insisted on bringing the stranger down by devious and grassy paths to the river's edge in order that he might see for himself the old stones still holding together which had perhaps been shaken by the tramp of Rupert's troopers. On the park side of the bridge lay the genteeler and more pretentious houses, the semi-detached villas and lodges and crescents of Keeton; and there too were the humbler cottages. On the other side of the bridge were the business streets and the clustering shops, most of them old-fashioned and dark, with low, beetling fronts and narrow panes in the windows, and only here and there a showy and modern establishment, with its stucco front and its plate glass. The streets were all so narrow that they seemed as if they must be only passages leading to broader thoroughfares. The stranger walked on and on, thinking he was coming to the actual town of Dukes-Keeton, until he walked out at the other side and found he had left it behind him.

Minola Grey crossed the bridge, although her own home lay on the side nearest the park, and made her way through the narrow streets. She glanced with a shudder at one formal official looking house of dark brick which she had to pass, and the door of which bore a huge brass plate with the words "Sheppard & Sheppard, Solicitors and Land Agents." Another expression of dislike or pain crossed her handsome, pale, and emotional face when she passed a little lane, closed at the further end by the heavy, sombre front of a chapel, for it was there that she had even still to pass some trying, unsympathetic hours of the Sunday listening to a preacher whose eloquence was rather too familiar to her all the week. At length she passed the front of a large building of light-colored stone, with a Greek portico and row of pillars and high flight of steps, and which to the eye of any intelligent mortal had "Court House" written on its very face. Miss Grey went on and passed its front entrance, then turning down a narrow street, of which the building itself formed one side, she came to a little open door, went in, ran lightly up a flight of stone steps, and found herself in dun and dimly lighted corridors of stone.

A ray or two of the evening light still flickered through the small windows of the roof. But for this all would seemingly have been dark. Minola's footfall echoed through the passages. The place appeared ghostly and sad, and the presence of youth, grace, and energetic womanhood was strangely out of keeping with all around. The whole expression and manner of Miss Grey brightened, however, as she passed along these gaunt and echoing corridors. In the sunlight of the park there seemed something melancholy in the face of the girl which was not in accord with her years, her figure, and her deep, soft eyes. Now, in this dismal old passage of damp resounding stone, she seemed so joyous that her passing along might have been that of another Pippa. The place was not very unlike a prison, and an observer might have been pleased to think that, as the light step of the girl passed the door of each cell, and the flutter of her garments was faintly heard, some little gleam of hope, some gentle memory, some breath of forgotten woods and fields, some softening inspiration of human love, was borne in to every imprisoned heart. But this was no prison; only the courthouse where prisoners were tried; and its rooms, occupied in the day by judges, lawyers, policemen, public, suitors, and culprits, were now locked, empty, and silent.

Minola went on, singing to herself as she went, her song growing louder and bolder until at last it thrilled finely up to the stone roofs of the grim halls and corridors. For Minola was of that temperament to which resolve of any kind soon brings the excitement of high spirits, and she sang now out of sheer courage and purpose.

Presently she stopped at a low, dark, oaken door which looked as if it might admit to some dingy lumber-room or closet; and this door opened instantly and she was in presence of a pretty and cheerful little picture. The side of the building where the room was set looked upon the broadest and clearest space in the town, and through the open window could be seen distinctly the glassy gray of the quiet river and even the trees of the park, a dark mass beneath the pale summer sky. Although the room was lit only by the twilight, in which the latest lingering reflection of the sunset still lived, it looked bright to the girl who had come from the heavy dusk and gloom of the corridors with their roof-windows and their rows of grim doors. A room ought to look bright, too, when the visitor on just appearing on its threshold is rushed upon and clasped and kissed and greeted as "You dear, dear darling." Such a welcome met Miss Grey, and then she was instantly drawn into the room, the door of which was closed behind her.

The occupant of the room who thus welcomed Minola was a woman not far short probably of forty years of age. She was short, she was decidedly growing fat, she had a face which ought from its outlines and its color to be rather humorous and mirthful than otherwise, and a pair of very fine, deep, and consequently somewhat melancholy eyes. These eyes were the only beauty of Miss Mary Blanchet's face. She had not good sight, for all their brightness. When any one talked with her at some little distance across a room, or even across a broad table, he could easily see by the irresponsive look of the eyes—the eyes which never quite found a common focus with his even during the most animated interchange of thought—that Miss Blanchet had short sight. But Miss Blanchet always frankly and firmly declined to put on spectacles. "I have only my eyes to boast of, my dear," she said to all her female advisers, "and I am not going to cover them with ugly spectacles, you may be sure." Hers was a life of the simplest vanity, the most innocent affectation. Her eyes had driven her into poetry, love, and disappointment. She was understood to have loved very deeply and to have been deserted. None of her friends could quite remember the lover, but every one said that no doubt there must have been such a person. Miss Blanchet never actually spoke of him, but she somehow suggested his memory.

Miss Blanchet was a poetess. She had published by subscription a volume of verses, which was favorably noticed in the local newspapers and of which she sent a copy to the Queen, whereof Her Majesty had been kindly pleased to accept. Thus the poetess became a celebrity and a sort of public character in Dukes-Keeton, and when her father died it was felt that the town ought to do something for one who had done so much for it. It made her custodian of the courthouse, entrusted with the charge of seeing that it was kept clean, ventilated, water-besprinkled; that when assizes came on, the judges' rooms were fittingly adorned and that bouquets of flowers were placed every morning on the bench on which they sat. This place Miss Blanchet had held for many years. The rising generation had forgotten all about her poetry, and indeed, as she seldom went out of her own little domain, had for the most part forgotten her existence.

When Minola Grey was a little girl her mother was one of Miss Mary Blanchet's chiefest patronesses. It was in great measure by the influence of Minola's father that Miss Blanchet obtained her place in the courthouse. Little Minola thought her a great poetess and a remarkably beautiful woman, and accepted somehow the impression that she had a romantic and mysterious love history. It was a rare delight for her to be taken to spend an evening with Miss Blanchet, to drink tea in her pretty and well kept little room, to walk with her through the stone passages of the courthouse, and hear her repeat her poems. As Minola grew she outgrew the poems, but the affection survived; and after her mother's death she found no congenial or sympathetic friend anywhere in Keeton but Mary Blanchet. The relationship between the two curiously changed. The tall girl of twenty became the leader, the heroine, the queen; and Mary Blanchet, sensible little woman enough in many ways, would have turned African explorer or joined in a rebellion of women against men if Miss Grey had given her the word of command.

"I know your mind is made up, dear, now that you have come," Miss Blanchet said when the first rapture of greeting was over.

Minola took off her hat and threw it on the little sofa with the air of one who feels thoroughly at home. It may be remarked as characteristic of this young woman that in going toward the sofa she had to pass the chimney-piece with its mirror, and that she did not even cast a glance at her own image in the glass.

"Mary," she asked gravely, "am I a man and a brother, that you expect me to change my mind? You are not repenting, I hope?"

"Oh, no, my dear. I have all the advantages, you know. I am so tired of this place and the work—dear me!"

"And I hate to see you at such work. You might almost as well be a servant. Years ago I made up my mind to take you out of this wretched place as soon as I should be of age and my own mistress."

"Well, I have sent in my resignation, and I am free. But I am a little afraid about you. You have been used to every luxury—and the carriage—and all that."

"One of my ambitions is to drive in a hansom cab. Another is to have a latch-key. Both will soon be gratified. I am only sorry for one thing."

"What is that, dear?"

"That we can't be Rosalind and Celia; that I can't put on man's clothes and liberty."

"But you don't like men—you always want to avoid them."

Miss Grey said nothing in defence of her own consistency. She was thinking that if she had been a man, she would have been spared the vexation of having to listen to Mr. Augustus Sheppard's proposals.

"I suspect," Miss Blanchet said, "that people will say we are more like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza."

"Which of us is the Sancho?"

"Oh, I of course; I am the faithful follower."

"You—poor little poetess, full of dreams, and hopes, and unselfishness! Why, I shall have to see that you get something to eat at tolerably regular intervals."

"How happy we shall be! And I shall be able to complete my poem! Do you know, Minola," she said confidentially, "I do believe I shall be able to make a career in London. I do indeed! The miserable details of daily life here pressed me down, down," and she pressed her own hand upon her forehead to illustrate the idea. "There, in freedom and quiet, I do think I shall be able to prove to the world that I am worth a hearing!"

This was a tender subject with Miss Grey. She could not bear to disturb by a word the harmless illusion of her friend, and yet the almost fierce truthfulness of her nature would not allow her to murmur a sentence of unmeaning flattery.

"One word, Mary," she said; "if you grow famous, no marrying—mind!"

Little Miss Blanchet laughed and then grew sad, and cast her eyes down.

"Who would ask me to marry, my dearest? And even if they did, the buried past would come out of the grave—and——"

She slightly raised both hands in deprecation of this mournful resurrection.

"Well, I have all to go through with my people yet."

"They won't prevent you?" Miss Blanchet asked anxiously.

"They can't. In a few months I should be my own mistress; and what is the use of waiting? Besides, they don't really care—except for the sake of showing authority and proving to girls that they ought to be contented slaves. They know now that I am no slave. I do believe my esteemed step-father—or step-stepfather, if there is such a word—would consent to emancipate me if he could do so with the proper ceremonial—the slap on the cheek."

The allusion was lost on Miss Blanchet.

"Mr. Saulsbury is a stern man indeed," she said, "but very good; that we must admit."

"All good men, it seems, are hard, and all soft men are bad."

"What of Mr. Augustus Sheppard?" Miss Blanchet asked softly. "How will he take your going away?"

"I have not asked him, Mary. But I can tell you if you care to know. He will take it with perfect composure. He has about as much capacity for foolish affection as your hearth-broom there."

"I think you are mistaken, Minola—I do indeed. I think that man is really——"

"Well. Is really what?"

"You won't be angry if I say it?"

Minola seemed as if she were going to be angry, but she looked into the little poetess's kindly, wistful eyes, and broke into a laugh.

"I couldn't be angry with you, Mary, if I had ten times my capacity for anger—and that would be a goodly quantity! Well, what is Mr. Sheppard really, as you were going to say?"

"Really in love with you, dear."

"You kind and believing little poetess—full of faith in simple true love and all the rest of it! Mr. Sheppard likes what he considers a respectable connection in Keeton. Failing in one chance he will find another, and there is an end of that."

"I don't think so," Miss Blanchet said gravely. "Well, we shall see."

"We shall not see him any more. We shall live a glorious, lonely, independent life. I shall study humanity from some lofty garret window among the stars. London shall be my bark and my bride, as the old songs about the Rovers used to say. All the weaknesses of humanity shall reveal themselves to me in the people next door to us and over the way. I'll study in the British Museum! I'll spend hours in the National Gallery! I'll lie under the trees in Epping Forest! I think I'll go to the gallery of a theatre! Liberte, liberte, cherie!" And Miss Grey proceeded to chant from the "Marseillaise" with splendid energy as she walked up and down the room with clasped hands of mock heroic passion.

"You said something about a man and a brother just now, dear," Miss Blanchet gently interposed. "I have something to tell you about a man and a brother. My brother is back again in London."

Miss Blanchet made this communication in the tone of one who is trying to seem as if it would be welcome.

"Your brother? He has come back?" Miss Grey did not like to add, "I am so sorry," but that was exactly what she would have said if she had spoken her mind.

"Yes, my dear—quite reformed and as steady as can be, and going to make a great name in London. Oh, you may trust him to this time—you may indeed."

Miss Grey's handsome and only too expressive features showed signs of profound dissatisfaction.

"I couldn't help telling him that we were going to live in London—one's brother, you know."

"Yes, one's brother," Miss Grey said with sarcastic emphasis. "They are an affectionate race, these brothers! Then he knows all about our expedition? Has he been here, Mary?"

"Oh, no, dear; but he wrote to me—such beautiful letters! Perhaps you would like to read them?"

Miss Grey was silent, and was evidently fighting some battle with herself. At last she said:

"Well, Mary dear, it can't be helped, and I dare say he won't trouble to come very often to see us. But I hope he will come as often as you like, for you might be terribly lonely. I don't care to know anybody. I mean to study human nature, not to know people."

"But you have some friends in London, and you are going to see them."

"Oh—Lucy Money; yes. She was at school with us, and we used to be fond of each other. I think of calling to see her, but she may be changed ever so much, and perhaps we shan't get on together at all. Her father has become a sort of great man in London, I believe—I don't know how. They won't trouble us much, I dare say."

The friends then sat and talked for a short time about their project. It is curious to observe that though they were such devoted friends they looked on their joint purpose with very different eyes. The young woman, with her beauty, her spirit, and her talents, was absolutely sincere and single-minded, and was going to London with the sole purpose of living a free, secluded life, without ambition, without thought of any manner of success. The poor little old maid had her head already filled with wild dreams of fame to be found in London, of a distinguished brother, a bright career, publishers seeking for everything she wrote, and her name often in the papers. Devoted as she was to Miss Grey, or perhaps because she was so devoted to her, she had already been forming vague but delightful hopes about the reformed brother which she would not now for all the world have ventured to hint to her friend.

CHAPTER III.

THE MAN WITH A GRIEVANCE.

Late that same night a young man stepped from a window in one of the rooms on the third floor in the Hotel du Louvre in Paris, and stood in the balcony. It was a balcony in that side of the hotel which looks on the Rue de Rivoli. The young man smoked a cigar and leaned over the balcony.

It was a soft moonlight night. The hour was late and the streets were nearly silent. The latest omnibus had gone its way, and only now and then a rare and lingering voiture clicked and clattered along, to disappear round the corner of the place in front of the Palais Royal. The long line of gas lamps, looking a faint yellow beneath the hotel and the Louvre Palace across the way, seemed to deepen and deepen into redder sparks the further the eye followed them to the right as they stretched on to the Place de la Concorde and the Champs Elysees. To the left the young man, leaning from the balcony, could see the tower of St. Jacques standing darkly out against the faint, pale blue of the moonlighted sky. The street was a line of silver or snow in the moonlight.

The young man was tall, thin, dark, and handsome. He was unmistakably English, although he had an excitable and nervous way about him which did not savor of British coolness and composure. He seemed a person not to take anything easily. Even the moonlight, and the solitude, and the indescribably soothing and philosophic influence of the contemplation of a silent city from the serene heights of a balcony, did not prevail to take him out of himself into the upper ether of mental repose. He pulled his long moustaches now and then, until they met like a kind of strap beneath his chin, and again he twisted their ends up as if he desired to appear fierce as a champion duellist of the Bonapartist group. He sometimes took his cigar from his lips and held it between his fingers until it went out, and when he put it into his mouth again he took several long puffs before he quite realized the fact that he was puffing at what one might term dry stubble. Then he pulled out a box of fusees and lighted his cigar in an irritated way, as if he were protesting that really the fates were bearing down upon him rather too heavily, and that he was entitled to complain at last.

"Good evening, sir," said a strong, full British voice that sounded just at his elbow.

The young man, looking round, saw that his next-door neighbor in the hotel had likewise opened his window and stepped out on his balcony. The two had met before, or at least seen each other before, once or twice. The young man had seen the elder with some ladies at breakfast in the hotel, and that evening he and his neighbor had taken coffee side by side on the boulevards and smoked and exchanged a few words.

The elder man's strong, rather under-sized figure showed very clearly in the moonlight. He had thick, almost shaggy hair, of an indefinable dark brownish color—hair that was not curly, that was not straight, that did not stand up, and yet could evidently never be kept down. He had a rough complexioned face, with heavy eyebrows and stubby British whiskers. His hands were large and reddish-brown and coarse. He was dressed carelessly—that is, his clothes were evidently garments that had cost money, but he did not seem to care how he wore them. Any garment must fall readily into shapelessness and give up trying to fit well on that unheeding figure. The Briton did not seem exactly what one would at once assume to be a gentleman. Yet he was not vulgar, and he was evidently quite at his ease with himself. He looked somehow like a man who had money or power of some kind, and who did not care whether people knew it or did not know it. Our younger Briton had at the first glance taken him for the ordinary English father of a family, travelling with his womankind. But he had not seen him for two minutes at the breakfast table before he observed that the supposed heavy father was never in a fuss, had a way of having all his orders obeyed without trouble or misunderstanding, and for all his strong British accent talked French with entire ease and a sort of resolute grammatical accuracy.

"Staying in Paris?" the elder man said—he too was smoking—when the younger had replied to his salutation.

"No; I am going home—I mean I am going to England—to-morrow."

"Ay, ay? I almost wish I were too. I'm taking my wife and daughters for a holiday. I don't much care for holidays myself. I hadn't time for enjoyment of such things when I could enjoy them, and of course when you get out of the way of enjoying yourself you never get into it again; it's a sort of groove, I suppose. Anyhow, we don't ever enjoy much, our people. You are English, I suppose?"

"Yes, I am English."

"Wish you weren't? I see."

Indeed, the tone in which the young man answered the question seemed to warrant this interpretation.

"Excuse me; I didn't say that," the young man said, a little sharply.

"No, no; I only thought you meant it. We are not bound, you know, to keep rattling up the Rule Britannia always among ourselves."

"I can assure you I am not at all inclined to rattle the Rule Britannia too loudly," the young man said, tossing the end of his cigar away and looking determinedly into the street with his hands dug deeply into his pockets.

The elder man smoked for a few seconds in silence, and looked up and down the long straight line of street.

"Odd," he said abruptly. "I always think of Balzac when I look into the streets of Paris, and when I give myself time to think. Balzac sums up Paris to me."

"Yes," said the younger man, talking for the first time with an appearance of genuine interest in the conversation; "but things must be greatly changed since that time even in Paris, you know."

"Changed? Not a bit of it. The outsides of course. The Louvre was half a ruin the other day, and now it's getting all right again. That's change, if you like to call it so. But the heart of things is just the same. Balzac stands for Paris, believe you me."

"I don't believe a word of it—not a word! I mean—excuse me—that I don't agree with you."

"Yes, yes: I understand what you mean. I'm not offended. Well?"

"Well—I don't believe a bit that men and women ever were like that. You mean to tell me that people were made without hearts in Paris or anywhere else? Do you believe in a place peopled by cads and sneaks and curs—and the women half again as bad as the men?"

The young man grew warm, and the elder drew him out, and they discussed Balzac as they stood in the balcony and looked down on silent moonlighted Paris. The elder man smoked and smiled and shrugged his shoulders good-humoredly. The younger was as full of gesture and animation as if his life depended on the controversy.

"All right," the elder said at last. "I like to hear you talk, but Paris is Balzac to me still. Going to be in London some time?"

"I suppose so: yes," in a tone of sudden depression and discontent.

"I wish we might meet. I live in London, and I wish you would come and see me when we get back from our—holiday we'll call it."

The young man turned half away and leaned on the balcony as if he were looking very earnestly for something in the direction of the Champs Elysees. Then he faced his companion suddenly and said,

"I think you had much better not have anything to do with me: I should only prove a bore to you, or to anybody."

"How is that?"

"Well—in short, I'm a man with a grievance."

"Ay, ay? What's your grievance? Whom has it to do with?"

The young man looked up quickly, as if he did not quite understand the brusque ways of his new acquaintance, who put his questions so directly. But the new acquaintance seemed good-humored and quite at his ease, and evidently had not the least idea of being rude or over-inquisitive. He had only the way of one apparently used to ordering people about.

"My grievance is against the Government," the young man said with a grave politeness, almost like self-assertion.

"Government here: in France?"

"No, no: our own Government."

"Ay, ay? What have they been doing? You haven't invented anything—new cannon—flying machine—that sort of thing?"

"No: nothing of the kind—I wish I had—but how did you know?"

"How did I know what?"

"That I hadn't invented anything?"

"Why, I knew it by looking at you. Do you think I shouldn't know an inventor? You might as well ask me how I know a man has been in the army. Well, about this grievance of yours?"

"I dare say you will know my name," the young man said with a sort of reluctant modesty, which contrasted a little oddly with the quick movements and rapid talk which usually belonged to him. Then his manner suddenly changed, and he spoke in a tone of something like irritation, as if he had better have the whole thing out at once and be done with it—"My name is Heron—Victor Heron."

"Heron—Heron?" said the other, turning over the name in his memory. "Well, I don't know I'm sure—I may have heard it—one hears all sorts of names. But I don't remember just at the moment."

Mr. Heron seemed a little surprised that his revelation had produced no effect. He had made up his mind somehow that his new friend was mixed up with politics and public affairs.

"You'll remember Victor Heron of the St. Xavier's Settlements?" he said decisively.

"Heron of the St. Xavier's Settlements? Ah, yes, yes. To be sure. Yes, I begin to remember now. Of course, of course. You're the fellow who got us into the row with the Portuguese or the Dutch, or who was it? About the slave trade, or something? I remember it in the House."

"I am the fool," Mr. Heron went on volubly—"the blockhead, the idiot, that thought England had principles, and honor, and a policy, and all the rest of it! I haven't lived in England very much. I'm the son of a colonist—the Herons are an old colonial family—and you can't think, you people always in England, how romantic and enthusiastic we get about England, we silly colonists, with our old-fashioned ways. When I got that confounded appointment—it was given in return for some old services of my father's—I believe I thought I was going to be another sort of Raleigh, or something of the kind."

"Just so; and of course you were ready to tumble into any sort of scrape. You are hauled over the coals—snubbed for your pains?"

"Yes—I was snubbed."

"Of course: they'll soon work the enthusiasm out of you. But that's a couple of years ago—and you weren't recalled?"

"No. I wasn't recalled."

"Well, what's your grievance then?"

"Why—don't you see?—my time is out—and they've dropped me down. My whole career is closed—I'm quietly thrown over—and I'm only twenty-nine!" The young man caught at his moustache with nervous hands and kicked with one foot against the rails of the balcony. He gazed into the street, and his eyes sparkled and twinkled as if there were tears in them. Perhaps there were, for Mr. Heron was evidently a young man of quicker emotions than young men generally show in our days. He made haste to say something, apparently as if to escape from himself.

"I am leaving Paris in the morning."

"Then why don't you go to bed and have a sleep?"

"Well, I don't feel like sleeping just yet."

"You young fellows never know the blessing of sleep. I can sleep whenever I want to—it's a great thing. I make it a rule though to do all my sleeping at night, whenever I can. You leave Paris in the morning? Now that's a thing I don't like to do. Paris should never be seen early in the morning. London shows to the best advantage early; but Paris—no!"

"Why not?" Mr. Heron asked, stimulated to a little curiosity.

"Paris is a beauty, you know, a little on the wane, and wanting to be elaborately made up and curled and powdered and painted, and all that. She's a little of a slattern underneath the surface, you know, and doesn't bear to be taken unawares—mustn't be seen for at least an hour or two after she has got out of bed. All the more like Balzac's women."

Perhaps the elder man had observed Mr. Heron's sensitiveness more closely and clearly than Heron fancied, and was talking on only to give him time to recover his composure. Certainly he talked much more volubly and continuously than appeared at first to be his way. After a while he said, in his usual style of blunt but not unkind inquiry—

"Any of your people living in London?"

"No—in fact, I haven't any people in England—few relations now left anywhere."

"Like Melchisedek, eh? Well, I don't know that he was the most to be pitied of men. You have friends enough, I suppose?"

"Not friends exactly—acquaintances enough, I dare say—people to call on, people who remember one's name and who ask one to dinner. But I don't know that I shall have much time for cultivating acquaintanceships in the way of society."

"Why so? What are you going to London to do?"

"To get a hearing, of course. To make the whole thing known. To show that I was in the right, and that I only did what the honor of England demanded. I trust to England."

"What's England got to do with it? England is only so many men and women and children all concerned in their own affairs, and not caring twopence about you and me and our wrongs. Besides, who has accused you? Who has found fault with you? Your time is out, and there's an end."

"But they have dropped me down—they think to crush me."

"If they do, it will be by severely letting you alone; and what can you do against that? You can't quarrel with a man merely because he ceases to invite you to dinner, and that's about the way of it."

"I'll fight this out for all that."

"You'll soon get tired of it. It's beating the air, you know. Of course, if you want to annoy the Government, you could easily get some of us to take up your case—no difficulty about that—and make you the hero of a grievance and a debate, and so on."

"I want nothing of the kind! I don't want any one to trouble himself about me, and I don't care to be taken in hand by any one. If Englishmen will not listen to a plain statement of right, why then——But I know they will."

The conviction itself was expressed in the tone of one who by its very assertion protests against a rising doubt and tries to stifle it.

"Very good," said the other. "Try it on. We shall soon see. I have a sort of interest in the matter, for I had a grievance myself, and I have still, only I went about things in a different way—looking for redress, I mean."

"What did you do?"

"It's a longish story, and quite a different line from yours, and it would bore you to hear, even if you understood it. I got into the House and made myself a nuisance. I put money in my purse; it came in somehow. I watch the department that I once belonged to with the eye of a lynx. Well, I shall look out for you and give you a hand if I can, always supposing it would annoy the Government—any Government—I don't care what."

Mr. Heron looked at him with wonder and incredulity.

"Terrible lack of principle, you think? Not a bit of it; I'm a strong politician; I stick to my side through thick and thin. But in their management of departments, you know—contracts, and all that—governments are all the same; the natural enemies of man. Well, I hope to see you. I am going to have a sleep. Let me give you my address—though in any case I think we are certain to meet."

They parted with blunt expression of friendly inclination on the one side and a doubtful, half-reluctant acknowledgment on the other. Heron remained standing in his balcony looking at the changes of the moonlight on the silent streets and thinking of his career and his grievance.

The nearer he came to England the colder his hopes seemed to grow. Now upon the threshold of the country he had so longed to reach, he was inclined to linger and loiter and to put off his entrance. Everything that was so easy and clear a few thousand miles off began to show itself perplexed and difficult. "When shall I be there?" he used to ask himself on his homeward journey. "What have I come for?" he began to ask himself now.

Times had indeed changed very suddenly with Victor Heron. He had come into the active world perhaps rather prematurely. When very young, under the guidance of an energetic and able father who had been an administrator of some distinction in England's service among her dependencies, he had made himself somewhat conspicuous in one of the colonies; and when an opportunity occurred, after his father's death, of offering him a considerable position, the Government appointed him to the administration of a new settlement. It is hardly necessary for us to go any deeper into the story of his grievance than he has already gone himself in a few words. Except as an illustration of his character, we have not much to do with the story of his career as an administrator. It was a very small business altogether; a quarrel in a far off, lately appropriated, and almost wholly insignificant scrap of England's domains. Probably Mr. Heron was in the wrong, for he had been stimulated wholly by a chivalrous enthusiasm for the honor of England's principles and a keen sense of what he considered justice. The Government had dealt very kindly with him in consideration of his youth and of his father's services, and had merely dropped him down.

This to a young man like Heron was simply killing with kindness. He could have stood up stoutly against impeachment, trial, punishment, any manner of exciting ordeal, and commanded his brave heart to bear it. But to be quietly allowed to go his way was intolerable, and, being accused of nothing, he was rushing back to England to insist on being accused of something. A chief of any kind in a small dependency is a person of overwhelming greatness and importance in his own sphere. Every eye there is literally on him. He diffuses even a sort of impression as if he were a good deal too large for his sphere, like the helmet of such portentous size in the courtyard of Otranto. To come down all at once to be an ordinary passenger to England, an ordinary "No. 257, au 3me" at the Hotel du Louvre in Paris, an obscure personage getting out at the Charing Cross station and calling a hansom, nobody caring whence he has come, or capable, even after elaborate reminder, of calling to memory his story, his grievance, or his identity—this is something to try the soul of a patient man. Mr. Heron was not patient.

He was a young Quixote out of time and place. He never could let anything alone. He could not see a grievance without trying to set it right. The impression that anybody was being wronged or cheated affected and tormented him as keenly as a discordant note or an inharmonious arrangement of colors might disturb persons of loftier artistic soul. In the colonies queer old ideas survive long after they have died out of England, and the traveller from the parent country comes often on some ancient abstraction there as he might upon some old-fashioned garment. Heron started into life with a full faith in the living reality of divers abstractions which people in England have long since dissected, analyzed, and thrown away. He believed in and spoke of progress, and humanity, and brotherhood, and such like vaguenesses as if they were real things to work for and love. People who regard abstractions as realities are just the very persons who turn solid and commonplace realities into shining and splendid abstractions. Young Heron regarded England not as an island with a bad climate, where some millions of florid men made money or worked for it, but as a sort of divine influence inspiring youth to noble deeds and patriotic devotion. He was of course the very man to get into a muddle when he had anything to do with the administration of a new settlement. If the muddle had not lain in his way, he would assuredly have found it.

He had so much to do now on his further way home in helping elderly ladies on that side who could not speak French, and on this side who could not speak English; in seeing that persons whom he had never set eyes on before were not neglected at buffets, left behind by trains, or overcharged by waiters; in giving and asking information about everything, that he had not much time to think about the St. Xavier's settlements and his personal grievance. When the suburbs of London came in sight, with their trim rows of stucco-fronted villas and cottages, and their front gardens ornamented with the inevitable evergreens, a thrill of enthusiasm came up in Heron's breast, and he became feverish with anxiety to be in the heart of the great capital once again. Now he began to see familiar spires, and domes, and towers, and then again huge, unfamiliar roofs and buildings that were not there when he was in London last, and that puzzled him with their presence. Then the train crossed the river, and he had glimpses of the Thames, and Westminster Palace, and the embankment with its bright garden patches and its little trees, and he wondered at the ungenial creatures who see in London nothing but ugliness. To him everything looked smiling, beautiful, alive with hope and good omen.

Certainly a railway station, an arrival, a hurried transaction, however slight and formal, with a customs officer, are a damper on enthusiasm of any kind. Heron began to feel dispirited. London looked hard and prosaic. His grievance began to show signs of breaking out again amid the hustling, the crowd, the luggage, and the exertion, as an old wound might under similar circumstances, if one in his haste and eagerness were to strain its hardly closed edges.

It was when he was in a hansom driving to his hotel that Heron, putting his hand in his waistcoat pocket, drew out a crumpled card which he had thrust in there hastily and forgotten. The card bore the name of

"MR. CROWDER E. MONEY, Victoria street, Westminster."

Heron remembered his friend of Paris. "An odd name," he thought. "I have heard it before somewhere. I like him. He seems a manly sort of fellow."

Then he found himself wondering what Mr. Money's daughters were like, and wishing he had observed them more closely in Paris, and asking whether it was possible that girls could be pretty and interesting with such an odd name.



DRIFT-WOOD.

THE SPINNING OF LITERATURE.

"Of making many books there is no end," sighed a preacher in times when industrious readers might presumably have kept the run of current literature. Our advantage over Solomon is the utter hopelessness of reading the new works, not to speak of standard acres in the libraries. In this holiday season, chief hatching-time of books, it is pleasant to see them flocking out in numbers so vast. "Germany published 11,315 works of all classes in 1873, 12,070 in 1874, 12,516 in 1875." We rub our hands over statistics like these, because they check any mad ambition to master German contemporary literature; and besides, there are "1,622 newspapers and periodical publications in the German empire." As for the new works in our own tongue, the only way of getting through them would obviously be to do as legislators do with the laws they pass—"read them by title."

Earlier ages, that had not reached this happy hopelessness, produced great bookworms. When the old monks had devoured their convent libraries, they were fain to pay vast sums occasionally for extra reading, as St. Jerome did for the works of Origen; whereas now a reviewer can only glance at his "complimentary copies" of new books, so numerous are they. Bacon argued against abridgements, as if the body of literature could be compassed in his day. A century or two ago there were prodigious Porsons and Johnsons; but such gluttons are now rare. It is true that Mill, between his fourth and eighth years, read in the original all Herodotus and a good part of Xenophon, Lucian, Isocrates, Diogenes Laertius, Plato, and the Annual Register, besides Hume, Gibbon, Robertson, Miller, Mosheim, and other historians; while before the age of thirteen he had mastered the whole of Homer, Virgil, Horace, Sallust, Thucydides, Aristotle's Rhetoric and Logic, Tacitus, Juvenal, Quinctilian, parts of Ovid, Terence, Nepos, Caesar, Livy, Lucretius, Cicero, Polybius, and many other authors, besides learning geometry, algebra, and the differential calculus. But that lad was crammed scientifically like a Strasbourg goose; our ordinary modern writers are not walking cyclopaedias, and are rarely prodigious readers. It is no longer a reproach even for a man not to know all the literature of his specialty; while, as for general reading, when the "Publisher's Circular" tells us that the different books that mankind have made are numbered by millions, we sit down in a most comfortable despair, and pick to our liking.

Thanks to modern fecundity, critics rarely molest authors with demands for the raison d'etre of a new book. The reviewer's question used to be, "Why did the man publish? What need was there? What is he trying to show?" One pontiff is said to have suggested burning up all the different books in the world, except six thousand, so that the rest might be read. There used to be pleas for condensations, as if people were still fondly hoping to compass the realm of literature and science, the blessed era of hopelessness having not yet dawned. But it is idle to plead against diffuseness now, when writers are paid by the page or line. "I want," said the editor of "La Situation" to Dumas, "a story from you, entitled 'Terreur Prussienne a Francfort'—60 feuilletons of 400 lines each; total, 84,000 lines." "And if it makes only 58?" responded Dumas. "I require 60, of 400 lines each, averaging 31 letters each line—744,000 letters." At noon of the day agreed upon, the manuscript was in the hands of M. Hollander. If Sir Critic ever came with foot-rule and condensing-pump to gravely detect diffusiveness in the "Terreur Prussienne," it must have diverted the high contracting parties.

It is said that a dialogue of Dumas the elder created a revolution in the French mode of paying romance literature. Dumas, who was reckoned by the line, one day introduced, they say, into his feuilleton this thrilling passage:

My son! My mother! Listen! Speak! Seest thou? What? This poniard! It is stained— With blood! Whose? Thy father's. Ah!!!

After that Dumas was paid by the letter. To say sooth, the same incident, with a different catastrophe, is related of Ponson Du Terrail, who, one day, in his "Resurrection de Rocambole," filled about a column with dialogue of this character:

Who? I. You? Yes. He shuddered.

Accordingly, as the story goes, the author being summoned before the editor of the "Petit Journal," was notified that if this monosyllabic chat went on, he would be paid by the word. "Very well," replied the obliging novelist, "I will change my style;" and next day, M. Millaud was astounded to find the feuilleton introducing a pair of stammerers talking in this agreeable fashion:

"Wou-wou-would you de-de-de-deceive me, you wr-wr-wretch?" said the old corsair in a tone of thunder.

"I ne-ne-ne-never de-de-de-deceived an-an-an-anybody," exclaimed Baccarat, imitating the other's defect in pronunciation.

"Wh-wh-wh-where is Ro-ro-rocam-bo-bole?"

"You ne-ne-never will kn-know."

"He will make all his characters stutter soon," said Millaud. "We had better pay him by the line." Of course this is a story faite a plaisir, as is also the one that as soon as Dumas made his first contract by the line, enchanted with the arrangement, he invented dear old Grimaud, who only opened his mouth to utter "yes," "no," "what?" "ah!" "bah!" and other monosyllables; but when the editor, who knew the cash price of "peuh" and "oh," declared he would only pay for lines half full, Grimaud was slaughtered the next morning. However, these yarns show that the French can satirize their jerky, staccato style of feuilleton, with each sentence staked off in a paragraph by itself, like some grimacing clown, who expects each particular joke or handspring to be observed individually, and to be greeted with separate applause. Across the channel we of course find the English journals going to the other extreme, in insular pride, and packing distinct subjects into the same paragraph.

Greek and Roman Tuppers used, no doubt, to "reel off a couple of hundred lines, standing on one foot;" but the veneering of a thin layer of ideas upon a thick layer of words is naturally the special trait of our age of cheap ink and paper, of steam printing, and of paying for writing by long measure. The "Country Parson" is a favorite writer of this sort, whose excellence is in "the art of putting things," rather than in having many things to put. The essays of the "Spectator," "Guardian," "Tatler," "Rambler," rarely gave only a pennyworth of wit to an intolerable deal of words; but our modern periodical essay achieves success by taking some such assertion as "Old maids are agreeable," or "Old maids are disagreeable," and wire-drawing it into sundry yards of readable matter. Macbeth's

The Devil damn thee black, thou cream-fac'd loon! Where got'st thou that goose-look?

would supply a modern playwright with a square foot of gold-beaten invective. "True poems," said Irving, "are caskets which enclose in a small compass the wealth of the language—its family jewels." But when poems are paid by the line, bards are pardonable for diffuseness. And then, besides diffuseness, our age has wonderful literary fecundity. Few people know how much painters paint, and how much great writers write; for the bards of a single poem, as Mr. Stedman shows, are exceptional, and rich quantity as well as rich quality is the usual rule for greatness, whether of novelist, poet, essayist, metaphysician, or historian. So here we come upon another source of the accumulated floods of literature. The other day I was looking through a prodigious list of the works of Alexandre Dumas, pere. There were 127 of them, mostly novels—"Monte Christo," "Three Musketeers," "Bragelonne," and the rest that we used to read. They made 244 volumes; but the plays were not included, and many slighter miscellanies did not seem to be there; and the posthumous work on cookery was certainly not there; and of course there was no effort to collect everything from "Le Mois," "La Liberte," and the half dozen other journals he edited or wrote in; so that I doubt not the writings of this illustrious man, if ever brought together in a complete edition, would make at least 150 works of 300 or 400 stout volumes. And in English literature we have many Salas and Southworths. I remember an announcement in the "Lancet" that "Mr. G. A. Sala is completely restored to health, and in the full discharge of his professional duties." An expressive term, that "full discharge"!

Again, some popular authors employ apprentices to do the bulk of their work, only touching it up with mannerisms, and so turn out much more than if they wrought it all. The world, too, has now accumulated a myriad handbooks of facts and compilations of statistics, which enable writers with a fondness for theory, like Buckle, to have all their material ready to spin into generalization. Then there is a popular education toward prolixity in the telegraphic part of newspapers. The associated press writers from Washington seem to be selected for their inability to be terse and pithy, and dribble out the simplest fact with pitiful iteration. The special news-writers, being often at their wits' end for their dole of day's work, can hardly be asked to be laconic. The special messages which the ocean wires bring, doubtless with exquisite terseness and picturesqueness, are most carefully interwritten and diluted; so that, for example, the words "Thiers spoke at Coulmiers" become "M. Adolphe Thiers, president of the French Republic before the accession of the present Chief Executive, Marshal MacMahon, delivered an address, or rather made some remarks partly in the nature of an oration or speech on subjects connected with matters of interest at the present time, at the town of Coulmiers, which is situated"—and here follow a dozen lines from the Cyclopaedia, but dated at Paris, giving the geography, history, and commerce of Coulmiers. One can fancy in the "Atlantic cable" columns of the "Morning Meteor" the tokens of a standing prescription to dilute foreign facts with nine parts domestic verbiage; and this kind of "editing" educates mankind to padding and patching with superfluous material.

It is harder for French writers to be prolix. The French writer is inevitably epigrammatic first, and, if diffusive afterward, it is with malice aforethought. If we compare, for example, publicists like Guizot and Gladstone, while each has that perfect command of his material, instead of letting the material command him, which marks the skilful writer, yet the Englishman sometimes seems to require two or three consecutive sentences to bring out his thought, whereas M. Guizot packs it into one. But Guizot deliberately goes on to put the identical statement into two or three paraphrased forms. For example, in the "History of Civilization in Europe" there is usually a terse sentence or two in each paragraph which contain the whole of it, packed into briefest compass; were these key sentences repeated on the side of the page as marginal notes, the reader could master the book by mastering the margins. When an English writer is diffuse, he cannot help it; when a French writer is diffuse, he effects it by sheer effort at repetition.

And we humble hack scribblers, who confidingly slip our daily, and weekly, and monthly mites into the vast mass of current reading turned out for an omnivorous public—let us hope that the world's maw may long remain unsated and the market unglutted.

GROWTH OF AMERICAN TASTE FOR ART.

While to many it has seemed a pity that the Johnston gallery should be broken up, yet this distribution of its treasures scatters the seeds of art education. Besides, the prices obtained at the sale must impress many wealthy men with a conviction valuable to the interests of art; namely, that pictures, like diamonds, are a safe investment, as well as a source of enjoyment and fame. Considering that the times are hard, and that pictures are luxuries, the sum thus paid for art treasures, so soon after the centennial purchases, is a proof of the number of good patrons that can be counted on when works of value are for sale. But the works must be of value. At a former auction in New York "old masters" brought these prices: Madonna Del Correggio, $30; two Murrillos, $160 and $90; a landscape of Salvator Rosa, $55; a Tintoretto, $115; a Guido, $35; "St. John," by Sir Joshua Reynolds, $15—and so on. Every few months we find a so-called Titian or Raphael going for the price of the frame. Such auctions tell a story as emphatic as that of the Johnston gallery.

When the German painters were considering whether they should send canvases to the Centennial Exposition the "Allgemeine Zeitung" reminded them "that their works bring twice as much in America as in Germany." But each successive sale here shows that most buyers now know what is worth getting and what is not, though naturally some painters are the rage who will be forgotten fifty years hence. Still, the cynics are wrong in decrying the eagerness to buy painters who are in fashion. What harm in a millionaire's ordering a picture d'ameublement, to suit a particular room or panel, or in his ordering from the bookseller a hundred volumes of current novels? If the picture be good, whether bought by the foot for furnishing or whether painted under the microscope, its sale may aid the profession of art.

Comparing the Johnston sale with some of the famous auctions of the past four years at the hotel Drouot, we find that in the Paturle collection twenty-eight canvases bought $90,000, being all works of masters. The general prices were not higher than the Johnston prices, but Ary Scheffer's Marguerites brought 40,000 and 35,000 francs; a Troyon, 63,000; and Leopold Robert's admirable "Fishers of the Adriatic," 83,000 francs. The gallery of the Pereires brought 1,785,586 francs, which was rather higher than the Johnston total, but I believe there were more masterpieces. A head by Greuze brought 32,500 francs. The highest prices seemed to be carried off by the Dutch painters, who were in force, and three works by Hobbema, a country residence, a forest scene, and a windmill, brought respectively 50,000, 81,000, and 30,000 francs.

The prices for good pictures, taking into account agreeableness of subject and state of preservation, seem to be much the same in New York and Paris, though French newspapers fancy American taste for art to be at barbarian pitch. They should learn otherwise from the American painting and sculpture in Paris, London, Vienna, Florence, and Rome; they might learn otherwise from the discriminating appreciation of their own artists at such sales as Mr. Johnston's. The worst statuary as well as by far the best at Philadelphia last year was Italian, and some of the worst painting as well as the best was Spanish. There is some monstrous governmental art, no doubt, with us, but as for popular taste, there is nothing in America so vulgar as the cheap glass necklaces, tin spangles, and painted trinkets on the sacred images in the churches of Southern Europe. American travellers speak of the contrast between the beautiful cathedral and its hideous painted images bedizened with trash to which dollar-store jewels are gems of art; and the approaches to a splendid church or castle are very likely bedecked with clumsy, unvolatile angels, most terrestrial and unlovely. It is true that the decoration of temples and the adoration of images, whether under heathen or Christian auspices, has always fostered art; but American popular taste, low as it is supposed to be, would hardly set up in churches statues of painted wood only fit for tobacco shops. In Rome, where American taste is looked down upon, they have annual shows of painted wooden figures of saints and angels, in all hues, each uglier than the other, to be sold for putting upon the altars as votive offerings. In fact, wherever the "Latin race" is, the popular taste runs to blocks of the Virgin and Child resembling the lay figures in a tailor's shop.

The leading thought on this subject is that art has made greater strides in the United States within the past twenty years than for the century preceding. Twenty years ago there was comparatively no art public at all. There were not a quarter part as many foreign pictures here as to-day; there were not a fourth part as many American artists. The department of American water colors has been substantially created within ten years. The facilities for art education have been quadrupled within the same period, and the wealthy who form galleries have multiplied in like proportion. American progress in science and mechanism, though so great, falls short of American progress in taste and American productivity in the fine arts.

PHILIP QUILIBET.



SCIENTIFIC MISCELLANY.

PROTECTION FROM LIGHTNING.

Prof. Clerk Maxwell says that the ordinary lightning rod is a great mistake. It acts to discharge electricity from the clouds at all possible opportunities, but these discharges are smaller than would occur without the rod. The true method is to encase the building in a network of rods, when it will take its charge quietly like a Leyden jar. Taking the case of a powder mill, it would be sufficient to surround it with a conducting material, to sheathe its roof, walls, and ground-floor with thick sheet copper, and then no electrical effect could occur within it on account of any thunderstorm outside. There would be no need of any earth connection. We might even place a layer of asphalte between the copper floor and the ground, so as to insulate the building. If the mill were then struck with lightning, it would remain charged for some time, and a person standing on the ground outside and touching the wall might receive a shock, but no electrical effect would be perceived inside, even on the most delicate electrometer.

This sheathing with sheet copper is not necessary. It is quite sufficient to enclose the building with a network of a good conducting substance. For instance, if a copper wire, say No. 4, B. W. G. (0.238 inches diameter), were carried round the foundation of the house, up each of the corners and gables, and along the ridges, this would probably be a sufficient protection for an ordinary building against any thunderstorm in this climate. The copper wire may be built into the wall to prevent theft, but should be connected to any outside metal, such as lead or zinc on the roof, and to metal rain-water pipes. In the case of a powder-mill it might be advisable to make the network closer by carrying one or two additional wires over the roof and down the walls to the wires at the foundations. If there are water or gas pipes which enter the building from without, these must be connected with the system of conducting wires; but if there are no such metallic connections with distant points, it is not necessary to take any pains to facilitate the escape of the electricity into the earth. But it is not advisable to put up a tail pointed conductor.

STEAM MACHINERY AND PRIVATEERING.

Mr. Barnaby, a prominent English naval constructor, has written a memorandum on the British mercantile marine as an adjunct to the navy in time of war. He points out that privateering has been made obsolete, not merely by popular feeling, but also by the progress of the arts. A privateer, he thinks, must be prepared to meet regular ships of war of about the same strength. This the introduction of steam machinery has made impossible. War ships are built for security, merchant steamers for economical work, and the different objects have necessitated different arrangements. In a word, the machinery of war ships is carefully disposed below the water line, that of marine vessels is usually above the water line. The latter would therefore be much more subject to injury from shot than the other. This state of things excludes from service as privateers all but the swiftest vessels, and Mr. Barnaby thinks that the use of the merchant marine "would be confined to ships that could save themselves by their speed if they met a ship of war, whether armored or not," and that only those which can steam eleven and a half or twelve knots an hour can be considered serviceable for privateering. This limits the number of vessels available for this service to 400 or 500, and the common idea that England can, in case of war, "cover the sea" with her ships is proved to be untrue. Even these vessels could not be used as privateers except against certain nations. The Government would be compelled to buy them, and this would cost, he estimates, a hundred to a hundred and fifty million dollars. This addition to the regular fleet he thinks would enable England to "close up every hostile port, and the slow steamers and the helpless sailing ships might cross the seas in such security (privateering not being admissible) that merchandise would be as safe in the English ship as in the neutral." The fault in all this reasoning is that a ship of inferior speed is certain to meet with a swifter antagonist, and therefore become a capture. Our experience with the Confederate cruisers was that the efforts of a very large navy may be eluded and defied for years, without regard to the sailing qualities on either side.

MAN AND ANIMALS.

The influence upon animals of their association with man formed the subject of an interesting discussion in the British Association meeting. Mr. Shaw read a paper "On the Mental Progress of Animals During the Human Period," and Dr. Grierson mentioned an instance of intelligence which had come under his own notice. Five years ago a barrel was put up in his garden at the top of a high pole. The barrel was perforated with holes and divided in the centre. In the course of two days two starlings visited the barrel, and returned on the following day, and in about a week afterward two pairs of starlings came and occupied it, and brought up their young. They were very wild starlings, and readily took flight when any person went near the barrel. In the second year four pairs of starlings occupied the barrel, and they were much tamer than the previous ones, and this last year there were a number of pairs of starlings so tame that they would almost allow him to take hold of them. They had now changed their mode of speaking, for the starlings in his garden frequently articulated words.

THE LIMBS OF WHALES.

Whales have rudimentary limbs, and Prof. Struthers concludes that such muscles existed in the whale-bone whales, but in ordinary teethed whales they were merely represented by fibrous tissue. These muscles existing in the true bottle-nosed whale had a special interest, as the teeth in that whale were rudimentary and functionless. He had found these muscles in the forearms of whales largely mixed with fibrous tissue, so the transition was easy. Prof. MacAlister of Dublin thinks that whales were not of very ancient origin, for the existence of the rudimentary limbs tends to show that a sufficient length of time has not elapsed since the use of the limb was essential to the earlier animal to produce its complete obliteration.

OUR EDUCATIONAL STANDING.

The advance which this country has made in educational facilities of all grades within its hundred years of life was summarized as follows by Prof. Phelps, President of the National Educational Association:

"Prior to 1776 but nine colleges had been established, and not more than five were really efficient. Now there are more than 400 colleges and universities, with nearly 57,000 students, and 3,700 professors and teachers. Then little was done for the higher education of women. Now there are 209 female seminaries, 23,445 students, and 2,285 teachers. There are also 322 professional schools of various classes, excluding 23,280 students and 2,490 instructors. Then normal schools had no existence. Now there are 124, with 24,405 students and 966 instructors. There were then no commercial colleges. Now 127 are in operation, with 25,892 students and 577 teachers. Then secondary and preparatory schools had scarcely a name by which to live. Now 1,122 are said to exist, affording instruction to 100,593 pupils, and giving employment to 6,163 teachers. The kindergarten is a very recent importation. In 1874 we were blessed with 55 of these human nurseries, with 1,636 pupils and 125 teachers. Now 37 States and 11 Territories report an aggregate of more than 13,000,000 school population, or more than four times the total population of the country in 1776. Then the school enrollment was of course unknown. Now it amounts to the respectable figure of about 8,500,000. Then the schools were scattered and their number correspondingly restricted. Now they are estimated at 150,000, employing 250,000 teachers. The total income of the public schools is given at $82,000,000, their expenditures at $75,000,000, and the value of their property at $165,000,000. The number of illiterates by the census of 1870 above the age of ten years, in round numbers, was 5,500,000. Of these more than 2,000,000 were adults, upward of 2,000,000 more were from fifteen to twenty-one years of age, and 1,000,000 were between ten and fifteen years. Of the number between fifteen and twenty-one years it is estimated that about one-half have passed the opportunity for education."

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