« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
Mat. I understand you, sir.
Every Man in his Humour.
If anything could have reconciled Rosalie to the thought of leaving town, it was that as the spring went on little Hulda was evidently pining for what the town could not give. The hotel life to which she was now shut up by no means replaced her old life at home; and the April days were not more languid than Hulda.
• Give her a strawberry for her breakfast, and then set her on a chicken's back and let her hunt grasshoppers, was Doctor Buffem's advice. “And hark ye, Miss Rosalie, I would recommend another winged horse for yourself-only don't get thrown by endeavouring to fly away from earth altogether, as did Bellerophon.'
The one prescription was hardly more needed than the other. Rosalie knew not how the workings of the mind were refining away the body,-how the anxious watch over one and another was softening down her colour, and chiselling a little too close the fair outlines of her face; nor how very, very delicate the hand was become on which Hulda laid her weary little face for rest and refreshment. No one knew it in fact, but the person whose eye she rarely met, often as it rested on her.
• Thornton,' said Mr. Raynor one night, as they walked home together from the evening drill, ‘I wish you would ake your sister into the country.'
• Hulda do you mean ?' said Thornton, when the first ittle start of surprise had passed off. “Yes - I believe she loes look rather so-soish.'
“There is no question of that. But I meant Rosalie.'
If the progress of Thornton's mind might be measured by the ground his feet went over, it was tremendous.
“Rosalie !' he said. “And pray Mr. Raynor, what do you wish me to do with Rosalie ?'
• Take her into the country, as I said before.'
• But what-whatupon earth have you to do with the matter ?' said Thornton, whose words and ideas were knocking their heads together after the most approved fashion.
Mr. Raynor smiled a little, but waiving the question he only said,
• She is not well, Thornton,-she needs the change even more than Hulda.'
Mr. Clyde strode on as before, swinging his sword, and looking very much like a wasp in a cobweb.
* And has she requested your intercession to that effect he said.
* No- replied his companion coldly.
· Then I cannot see, I really cannot imagine what you have to do with it, Mr. Raynor.'
* Neither is that the point. My words are true. She is not the same person for strength that she was a year ago.'
“You have been observant, Mr. Raynor,' said Thornton, though the words half choked him. . • Rosalie will be glad to hear that there are such watchful eyes abroad.'
You will hardly be repaid for the trouble of telling her; but about that as you please.'
And it will be as I please about taking her into the country I presume,' said Thornton stiffly.
• There would be no question of your pleasure on the subject if you knew how ill she is looking,' said Mr. Raynor with the same grave, undeclarative manner. “But one who sees her every day becomes accustomed to the change as it
. And how far out of town would you recommend ?' said Thorton with a glance at his companion's face.
So far, that the town and that place should never be named together.'
To those woods where the belle and the wild flower met, in short,' said Thornton dryly. "Well I will think of it. But how will my sister do there without the considerate friends she has in town?'
In absolute silence Mr. Raynor walked on, the calm lines of his face not changing in the least; while Thornton at his side was inwardly working himself up to the boiling point recommended by Dr. Buffem. At last the words came—as come the first drops from the heated spout of a tea-kettle ; sputtering forth in great commotion, and almost dried up on their way.
What have you to do with this matter, sir? What concern can it possibly be of yours ?'
• I do not wish to bring a third party into our conversation unnecessarily,' was the quiet reply; therefore if you please we will leave that out. As to what concern it is of mine--- look at Rosalie yourself, Thornton, and then remember that your eyes see but half in her what mine do.'
It was no longer boiling water,— it was one of those substances which when perfectly hot become perfectly quiet. Thornton even slackened his pace; and while his eyes were outwardly measuring blue flag-stones, in reality they were following Mr. Raynor's advice and finding it to the last degree disagreeable. They walked in silence for some time.
• The man who counsels a friend to take care of his bird, is not of necessity intending to steal it himself, Thornton," said Mr. Raynor as they neared the hotel.
« That is a most unnecessary idea on the part of anybody,' was Mr. Clyde's gracious reply. “Do you mean to insinuate that my sister is in a cage, Mr. Raynor ?'
A sort of one--in this hotel.'
· The wonder is,' said Thornton breaking forth, the most astonishing thing of all is, that you don't relieve me of all responsibility in the matter.'
'Is that the most astonishing thing? Well — be it so. And yet I will not waive all right to entreat for the bird purer air-a bower of leaves to sing in instead of this one of bricks. And rest, and quiet, and sunshine.
• The bird is much obliged to you,' said Thornton haughtily, but I may waive the right if you do not. Assume the charge if you will, -only let it alone while it rests with me.'
* The dove has fed from your hand too long,' said Mr. Raynor quietly.
Nonsense !' was on Thornton's lips, but it came no further. A something rose up and stayed it there; and though he strode on more vigorously than before, his eyes saw but that one sweet vision and saw it not clearly. Those few words, the name, the image, had reached the very inner springs of his nature.
And what did the words mean? Was that shadow the truth or his own imagination ? He could not decide and he could not ask. No--if the dove would fly he would not hinder her,- he could not bid her go. And even with the thought she was enfolded to his very heart, and the heart's own bitterness' wept over her in secret.
Not another word was spoken until they paused at the steps of the hotel.
'I shall follow your advice Mr. Raynor,' Thornton said then ;~'the more because you have told me the cause of it.' His friend smiled, and gave him a parting look and clasp of the hand that were never forgotten. Thornton went up stairs more completely conquered than he had ever been in his life.
The scene there was not such as to do away the impression. Rosalie and Marion sat near the window talking earnestly, and Hulda with a hand on the lap of each was
SPRING WINDS AT PLAY.
jumping lightly from side to side; now laying her head upon Rosalie to see how Marion looked, and then leaning upon Marion to try the effect of Rosalie ; while the two gave her an occasional glance and smile, but without seeming to come back from their conversation. How completely their different characters were worn on the outside, Thornton thought, as he stopped and looked at them, the twilight and their own preoccupation keeping him unseen; for while Marion's warm quick nature excited itself for every trifle, kept head and face in earnest motion and gave the little hands many an excursion into the air when Rosalie's lay perfectly quiet,—there were times and subjects that called forth a light and energy in this one's face, before which the other sobered down, and took the listener's part with an air subdued and almost tearful. A manner to which Thornton gave both understanding and sympathy.
The window was open, and the spring wind stirred the curtains with a fitful touch ; sometimes sweeping their folds back into the room with its soft gale, and then just playing with their fringe, and softly tossing and waring the hair on the brows of the two ladies.
The twilight was falling, softly, mistily, and lights began to glimmer in heaven and on earth ; and the city din was murmuring itself to sleep. Footfalls now were individual, and wheels rolled on with monotonous distinctness; and still the air came in with freshening breath, and still the ladies sat and looked and talked. Looked with grave eyes, and talked with quiet voices. Now and then the air wafted up a strong whiff of Havana smoke; or the slamming of the hotel doors or loud footsteps in its hall broke the silence. But they hardly interrupted the murmur, which seemed to the listeners like the distant beat of the ocean of life about the cave of their own thought.
And you think, Alie,' said Marion with a tone as if she had been pondering some former words ; 'you do truly think