Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

truth of Tom Cuthbert's last statement. In retrospect the old man on his deathbed seemed so positive, so free from delirious fancy, and he had been so reluctant to confess his own dishonesty if Patricia could be saved in any other way.

Mrs. Delarue roused Dr. Hugh to some consciousness of his present surroundings by leaning weakly up against him, as if she needed physical and moral support in an emotional crisis. Marie had come forward to the opening in the grating. She was dressed as a bride in some soft, white stuff; her face was pale but radiant, her voice calm and even. Mrs. Delarue shook with excitement. It would have been difficult for the good lady to analyze her own feelings. One moment she seemed to experience a saintly ecstacy in sacrificing her only child; the next she was rebellious and angry with Marie for choosing such a life.

At that solemn part of the ceremony, when the young postulant is covered with a black pall, to signify her death to the world, a strange thing happened.

Patricia, who had been sitting motionless at her harp, intent upon the interesting spectacle before her, let her fingers stray mechanically over the strings, and suddenly from the little organ loft there seemed to come the wailing cry of a despairing soul seeking to express itself in a passionate melody.

The priest halted for a moment, the nun at the organ, who had accompanied Patricia during the Mass, was lost in admiring wonder-she had never heard such music-and she was too bewildered to protest. Old Father Chatard, kneeling within the sanctuary, guessed the truth. It was Patricia's confession. He buried his head in his hands and almost prayed aloud in the intensity of his purpose. Hugh could understand but one thing, Patricia was suffering-but, why? And why in this holy place should she improvise music so full of misery and hopelessness? Was she trying to express her sense of loss of Marie's presence. But the strains were wild, tempestuous, there was something more personal-depths that he could not fath

om

The music stopped more abruptly than it had begun. Patricia leaned over and touched the wide sleeve of the little sister on the organ bench. "I did not know what I was doing," she said by way of apology.

During the rest of the ceremony she sat white and inert,

and as soon as the priest left the altar she hurried down the narrow steps to Hugh's side.

"You must come home with me," she whispered hoarsely. Mrs. Delarue, whose emotions had filtered down to a wet pocket handkerchief wiped her eyes and murmured: "Won't you wait to see Marie ?"

"I cannot-not now, I cannot. Come-please come at once."

"You are ill?" he questioned tenderly.

"No; oh, no; but I must see you at once. Please come." She passed through the long corridor that led to the street door, Hugh followed anxiously; the few friends, who had been present in the chapel, stared after them in some amazement. Some of them nodded knowingly, as if they comprehended the romantic situation, others looked offended. Miss Cuthbert was a personage whose acquaintanceship they valued-she had never ignored them before.

A big touring car was drawn up to the curbing. Patricia stepped in and motioned Hugh to follow.

"It will be but a moment before we are home, and then-" "Then, Patricia-"

She interrupted him. "Don't say it. Oh, please don't. I cannot bear it."

"But, Patricia dear, I have waited so long to see you; I have something to say-"

"Don't," she said, huddling into the furthest corner of the car. "Don't say it. Oh, I wonder how long I could have kept up the deception-it has been a year of torture."

"Torture," he repeated in bewilderment.

"Life is so short, so terribly short," she went on, clasping and unclasping her hands nervously. "It is what you Catholics all believe; you have it preached to you, read to you, talked to you. It fills you with a horror of sin, or it makes it seem not worth while, and I think-oh, I think it makes some of you intolerant with sinners."

His bewilderment was apparent now. talking wildly to keep me from saying-"

"Patricia, you are

"You must not," she cried, "you must not-it will only make it harder for both of us."

They had reached the house; she again hurried away from him-up the wide steps, into the shadowy hall; he followed

her, with growing wonder. She appeared more baffling than even he had ever dreamed she would become. She led him into the library, and, going up to the gloomy Daubigny that he remembered so well, she pushed it aside with such force that the picture fell to the floor, but she gave no heed.

"Open the little door for me," she said, "my hands tremble so-oh, you do not know the combination-now, therethere is your inheritance."

She stood motionless before him, leaning against the paneled wall for support; her large black hat and black furs added to the whiteness of her face. "I have robbed you," she said, "my father robbed you before me; but, oh, you must believe one thing-it was because of him-because I could not have him called a thief-that I bought the papers and hid them-you helped me. You remember putting them here? The Larimee mine is yours-your father bought it, and my father leased it from him, and then kept it. Everything I have is yours."

He looked at her for a moment, made speechless by her revelation; then he took the papers from the safe and threw them in the fire.

"Oh, you must not"; she cried, making an effort to save them.

He caught her in his arms. 'They are burning," he said, "the proof of my inheritance is gone. There is only one way to share it Patricia-one way."

She was trembling now. All her bravado was gone. "And -and you care for that way?"

"Listen-your father told me this story a year ago." "And you did not tell me."

"I could not, for I found that I loved you. Now, will you believe that I love you?"

She looked up at him, surrender in her eyes.

(THE END.)

SAINT "BERTRAM" OF ILAM.

BY LOUISE IMOGEN GUINEY.

LAM, in Dovedale, is one of the sweetest spots in England. It is in Staffordshire, just across the border of Derbyshire, cradled among the two ranges of hills which hem in a most romantic valley: the very high bleak tors, all stone, with the merest powdering of turf upon their gray flanks, and that thick plume of woods which hangs far up, and crowds low down, on the south. And in the fields below Ilam two exquisite rivers, the Dove and the Manifold, run together, flashing and singing. The soil, thanks to the deposits of these waters, which in spring become great torrents, and thanks to the abundant wells on every side, is most fertile and fragrant: a very playground for wild flowers and the flowers of cottage gardens. Many are the bridges, as is natural in a land of streams; they are all of stone, all arched, all picturesque.

Ilam is no huddled village, but spacious exceedingly. Most of the little houses are set rather shyly apart, well gabled, porched, bowered in roses, and with a distinct and real grace of privacy. Strange to say, there is hardly any visible antiquity about, such as delights the eye often in the adjacent countryside. The "restorings" and re-buildings, in Victorian Gothic, have been unobtrusive, however; and what more can one expect? The Tractarian note, so to speak, is struck at the very entrance of the village, near its second bridge, by the great Cross, like one of Queen Eleanor's, erected in 1840 to the memory of Mrs. Jesse Watts-Russell. Very near it are the gates of the Hall, just now tenantless: a magnificent modern Elizabethan manor on the site of an older one, with a wide range of oriel windows, open cloisters, and battlemented roof, set in a slope of close-cut lawn; the latter, while looking illimitable as to size, is beyond all the velvets of Lyons in compact smooth beauty of summer greenness. The Hall hangs on a knoll, just above the rocky, winding bank of the silver river.

*Accent on the first syllable, and long i.

[Oct., There are terraces, there are vast dark isolated trees, besides coppices and sociable groves of them, and yonder, caught in among leaves, like a conical nest, is the Saxon saddle-back tower of the charming church. The house and the church stand open across the greensward, each to the other, in the sweet misty sunshine: the churchyard has no wall, and the sleepers within it lie beneath ornate crosses of stone, all copied from their local prototypes, those wonderfully lovely monuments of the far Catholic past such as abound in no country except northern England and her sister isles. The sounds which break this Sabbath stillness are in themselves an enchantment. A whole colony of bees is humming where they find uncut clover; a swarm of white doves is wheeling around the mower, as he moves with horse and dog, pleasantly clicking up and down; and the river rushes over its two little weirs, making the most glad-hearted Laudate Dominum in the world. It is all so ideal, such an unbelievable vision of peace! The vast yew, and the everywhere-climbing roses, the broken sun-dial, the trailing feathery clouds, the strange immemorial erect pillars near the church, fretted all over with braided or knotted ornaments-all these breathe upon the Catholic stranger who comes alone among them a sort of magic to make his feet unsteady, and "run up his thoughts upon the Ancient of Days." Very especially magical are the pillared stones, for they may be a saint's own work, set up, after a fashion old even in that old time, as his own memorial. Towards Bunster, nearer the channel of the Dove, is yet to be seen "St. Bertram's well"; and what was called "St. Bertram's ash" was examined and described by Dr. Plot sometime before the year 1686, when he published his Natural History of Staffordshire. It was evidently aged even then, and had particularly sharp-pointed leaves. According to the village superstition, it was highly unlucky to break a twig of it. This accounts for the assurance, in 1730, that it was "taken great care of" (Lysons' Magna Britannia, Vol. V., p. 118). In Nightingale's Beauties of England and Wales, 1813 (Vol. XIII., Part II., p. 975), Ilam is said to be noted for the tomb, the well, and the ash of St. Bertram, the latter objects having been "formerly much venerated"; but that "little, however, is now thought of the saint!" The great tree, flourishing as late as 1813, must have perished been that and 1844, as Harwood, editing Erdeswick's History

« AnteriorContinuar »