« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
It died away.
right, and the straw was clean, so off the petty element that will Tony gladly accepted the refuge, cling to artificial conditions of life which he shared with three Murillo- in large towns at the highest pitch like shepherd boys, and who kept of culture and civilisation. their respectful distance, staring “ Take care,” cried Tony, as and grinning at him as though he a blinding flash of lightning fell were a waxwork.
at no very great distance. Presently came a rustling, a “Let me be rash for once," she quick footstep outside, and enter, entreated wilfully; "the pleasure brusquely, another refugee.
is worth the risk if there is any. “Ianthe!”
Look how the sun still clings to “Tony !"
the glacier." Of course they did not venture
The storm had the Christian names aloud. But now burst with violence; a wild from the very first they had never gale came tearing down from once thought of each other as Miss the hills, making havoc among the Lee and Mr. Sebright.
pines that crashed in the wood, This second apparition was too felling each other. much for the Murillo peasant boys. “I wonder now who understands Their eyes grew as round as saucers nature," said Ianthe, involuntarily, as they gaped stupidly at the girl, as if thinking aloud, “among all whose beauty struck even them her numerous professors." with a dim wonder and sense of “My friend Ichabod pretends admiration.
to.” “ We met; 'twas in a manger," “ Your friend Ichabod is a Philissaid Tony, laughing, as they shook tine of the Philistines,” she replied hands. Ianthe laughed too, and promptly; " but the whole host of allowed him to relieve her of her them could never win the day with wet cloak.
me, here.” " I've been playing hide and “It is grand-tremendous, in seek with the storm," said she, fact,” said Tony, as the hail came “ till it caught me. My father pelting down, making them both told me it was coming."
shiver; “ but I believe that even “And Ichabod told me," said this is not the scenery of all others Tony. “I pretended not to think that most appeals to me." so, but secretly hoped he was right. “Have you ever been in Italy?” Ah, come here and look.”
she asked suddenly, turning to him. She stood in the doorway, which “I have—” They smiled. The commanded a fine view of the rest was understood. forest and glacier.
“ Still I like to come here,” she “I like this,” said she—“ Can persisted, “and I always should ; you not see the wind swooping I think it acts like a kind of moral down from the Riffel? How mad tonic. It is like reading a page of the firs will be when it catches ancient history, stories of the them Look there !” and the world when it was younger, simpler, lightning flashed in the wood. and more straightforward than
It was Jupiter's holiday on the now." mountain. Only the poor shadows “And savage," put in Tony, and echoes of it reached the inn in laughing. the valley. Ianthe was enjoying “Yes-savage—but fine too, and it thoroughly. It is good, some- game for great things. Modern times, to see nature on wild, rude, society has set up so many hundred and grand scale--helps us to shake breakwaters, to kill one force by
another. One falls back upon the wisdom to throw at Ichabod's head, Alps, as on the legends of Greek next time he croaks to me,” said heroes and old paladins, just to Tony, rubbing his hands. recollect what strength is.”
“Do you know, I almost hate The Alps were becoming so that companion of yours.” boisterous now that even Ianthe “Oh yes, I know.
I suppose consented to retreat into the you and he are natural enemies; interior of the châlet. She and you always strike me such. Tony seated themselves
But surely you take his extravawooden trough, the little urchins
gances too seriously." still looking on intently, as at a “And you too lightly,” she said. show.
“ Perhaps I am wrong; I cannot “ Have you
from laugh at them. Whatever they England long?" she asked, pre- seem in themselves, they are not sently.
ludicrous in their effects, some“Only ten days. I saw you
times." pass, do you know, last Tuesday, “ Well, I like Ichabod, I conat Handeck."
fess," said Tony. “At Handeck ? How was that? “More than that, he seems to I saw nobody."
have a kind of fascination for “I was under the trees somewhere; ruminating over the water- “Perhaps - he is so sharpfall. I shall not forget it,” he sighted, uncompromising-not to added slowly, "nor how you broke be tossed about or worked upon up a train of rather black specu- like other men.” lations."
like him not because “Why, what melancholy could his heart is in good tune, but beyou possibly extract from that cause it is dumb." cascade ? ”
“I like him because he is a Tony replied with a little sketch of friend from whom you will always his mood, as flippant as he could hear the truth, however unpleasant make it. But Ianthe, as though she it happens to be.” had seen the original even through Nay,” said Ianthe, “ you mean the caricature, had suddenly become you will only hear it from him serious, and half saddened by when
when it happens to be her thought. “If I don't agree, it's pleasant.”. not because I don't sympathise," she Exactly, and therefore— " returned. “How to make life bear- “ Are you going to say it is able is a terrible question enough to always so ?” have to ask one's self, but then it He was, but stopped short. For must be answered. Some people he simply could not look Ianthe in live for their work, shut their eyes the face and say that all facts and and their ears to all the rest; but existences might admit of improvethat's not enough, as they find. ment. And some lay themselves out for The storm had ceased. Colour enjoyment; but that's not enough. and warmth were returning to the And some, while they have chosen landscape; sky, stream, and mounan object worth working for, have tain glittering with every conyet kept and prized their taste for ceivable shade of green and blue. such pleasures as lie by the way. Ichabod, sick of the sight of water These, only these, live, in my sense pouring forth from a wooden spout, of the word.”
the sole possible object of contem“There's a piece of practical plation from the low windows of
** Then you
the room, had walked to the front scarcely spoke to her, but took some door. Presently he heard voices pains to make himself agreeable to coming down the narrow path and Mr. Lee. Nay, in this he succeeded saw two figures approaching. Tony beyond his hopes, not to say his and Ianthe, talking eagerly. His wishes, for the old gentleman having momentary surprise was followed up entangled him in one of his faby a sudden sharp misgiving, painful vourite politico-socio-psychologicand incensing as a stab from a pen- anthropological discourses during knife. Those two had made friends, dessert, would not let him go, particular
friends it appeared. even after dinner, but carried him Well, and why not? What was off to finish the subject over a cigar there so exasperating in that? out of doors. Tony submitted
“My mercurial pupil, after all, with a respectful patience that was falling under the spell of a second very edifying, but which from him daughter of Eve! Is that not
was no more than a secret tribute enough ?"
to the father of Lanthe-it is to be Scarcely, to account for that feared. sudden heart-burning. However Ichabod, on a sudden impulse, he might lay it to this, as he said excused himself from joining them, to himself that he could, he must assigning letters as a pretext. It prevent that catastrophe.
was early still, about eight o'clock. " What on earth is the matter Mr. Lee and Tony strolled down with Ichabod ? " said Tony care- the village, which was already half lessly, as they came in sight of him asleep. Ichabod returned to the as he stood on the doorstep. “He long, cheerless, half-lighted dininglooks as
green and yellow as sitting-reading room, where they jealousy incarnate. I say, old had left Ianthe alone. He did not fellow, you've missed the most at once begin his letters, but shifted magnificent hurly-burly over there.” restlessly about the room, wonder
The pair came up with glowing ing why he could not settle. He cheeks, and hair still wet with the supposed he was waiting for Ianthe rain drops. Ichabod joined them, to go—not that he wanted her to and walked on with them to the depart, either. other hotel, where they found poor And she did not, but stood at Mr. Lee chafing in enforced the window, looking out, and taking solitude, all the other travellers, no notice of him. disgusted by the wet weather, Well, he would take no notice of having left en masse that morning. her, so he seated himself defiantly Any human creature would have at the writing-desk and began to been welcome, how much more the indite. two familiar English faces of It was odd, in a man of his Ichabod and Tony Sebright! Mr. calibre, that his will should fail to Lee greeted them both cordially, overcome such a
nervous tacitly agreeing to forget the little distraction as that caused by her fracas at the Grievance Club, and presence in the room.
But so it asked them to dinner immediately. was ;
no two consecutive words He and his daughter were leaving could he string together. Sense, the next day.
grammar, handwriting-it was all During the table d'hôte, which consisted of their party alone, the con- He glanced now and then at versation was general, but Tony, as Ianthe, fancying she was watching Ichabod observed with relief, so far him. No; her eyes and her thoughts from devoting himself to Ianthe, were far away. Over and over
a very chaos.
again he began, and in vain. Sud- despise it. It was her settled, denly he sprang up with, for him, serious, unaffected disapprobation a violent and unusual exclamation and her unconcern about concealing and gesture of impatience.
it that piqued, nay, maddened him “ What is the matter ?” she more than the most delicate play of asked in surprise.
feminine cunning could have done. “I cannot write,” said Ichabod, “I am sure I've heard you say," rufiled.
she replied, “that you consider it “No wonder ; that ink is fit for quite beneath the dignity of a nothing but to blot out with. I rational animal to give way to such discovered that this morning,” she trifling influences as those, and call returned good humouredly. "Don't people who are the sport of them attempt it.”
simply contemptible. “It is not the ink," muttered “It is possible," said Ichabod, Ichabod.
coming to a standstill opposite her Well, what is it then?"
where she sat at the long narrow “I cannot write, it appears, with table, bending over her work. She somebody--with you, at least, in would not look up. He returned the room,” he said with an awkward to the desk. laugh. “No ; don't go, that is not What ? Are you going to try what I want,” he added very spon
the ink again?" said she laughing. taneously. Ianthe seated herself “Indeed, it is hopeless; put there at the table and took up her needle- to punish tourists who stop indoors work. This gave her at once an to write letters when they ought to immense advantage over empty and be in the woods. Oh, but I forgot nervous-fingered manhood. Ichabod – Tony says you are a nature paced up and down the length of hater. ' the room, glancing at her from “Tony!" repeated Ichabod,whom time to time.
the word struck like a stone or a She was in black to-night, with slap in the face. a little cloud of lace round her "Tony Sebright," she said, throat. Into her hair, which was smiling to herself, but not particucurled up loosely round her head, larly confused by her inadvertence. . she had fancifully twisted a little No hater or lover, only a critic knot of Alpine flowers, gentians, and a judge, but as such, of course, pinks, and Parnassus
grass, beyond your sympathy. I have no gathered during her walk, and patience, I own, with the senti. already beginning to droop. mental school who go shedding
“I cannot think,” she said pre- maudlin tears over the decline of sently, “why my presence, of all the primitive virtues, and whose things, should affect you, of all childish admiration of nature people."
springs from blind ignorance, and “Why me, of all people ?" said can anly live on through a conhe.
venient suspension of judgment on Now, had Ianthe been a coquette, every question where the answer here, it would seem, was a glorious, would be harsh and unpleasant." a divine opportunity for a tour de “Yes," said Ianthe, taking him force in the art. Still, all her up with vivacity, “and because subtlety could hardly have hidden this view is a wrong view, and life from Ichabod that it was coquetry; and nature have their stern side, and, feeling that, he might have other people who have not strength shaken off her spell and cured his or courage to face or bear the own weakness the moment he could roughness revenge themselves by
heaping abuse on the whole. They the blight of Nihilism - then cannot frankly accept harsh the reaction may come—and the realities and struggle with them, goddess you disown find men and so condemn the scheme at once returning to her worship more as clumsy and wicked. This is eagerly than ever.
Don't suppose what I should call weak and I would make delight in beauty the maudlin."
object of life. But I call it a “I ask merely, what right have guiding star we lose sight of at our you to set up nature as a model, peril. Surely it is there to reconcile and then omit all her characteris. us to existence. Without it, what tics but tenderness and pretti- talisman should we have to carry ness ?"
us through moments when our “I leave out nothing. It is spirits flag, and life and fate you who leave out the last two
appear intolerable ?" features of hers and their signi- How well she looked while she ficance.”
spoke! One of Ianthe's charac“I can dispense with them, in teristics was a rare harmony of my Cosmos.
After all they are her outward with her inner self. but the luxuries, not necessaries Voice, look, manner, words, were of life; the dessert
it all equally expressive of her were.”
nature. She was a perfectly tuned “ So you think.” Ianthe had instrument that gave the true thrown down her work and turned
response to every pressure. Few to him, speaking with great anima- characters can afford to be so tion. “But that love of beauty transparent. which is born in us, and has grown Ichabod had come to a standstill up in us, I believe it is something by her side. He was most un
cannot do without. Life consciously turning over the conmay go on without it, perhaps, tents of her work-basket. They but it is sad, and scanty, and in- might have been dominoes for complete--and its best pleasures re- aught he knew. main 'might have beens.' I know Do
leave Zermatt soon?” it is the fashion to cry down the he asked. feeling, and set up others in its For once in his life he felt no place—and some have lost faith in desire to contradict or even to it. But it is not dead for that-as argue. some day we shall see, when its “To-morrow morning; for Luenemies have done their worst, cerne,
route home. And and turned town into a factory, you?” country to a market-garden, and “I am bound for Geneva." humanity to an automaton to work
with them. Then men and women will discover that life, as they have
" Of course. made it, is not worth living, and
you adopted him ?” will wonder how it could have asked Ianthe, with a spark of seemed
to those before malice. them.”
“Why do you ask?" Well,” said Ichabod.
“ Because he is not of your age, “ Well, then, perhaps, they will nor, I should fancy, of your disunderstand how the charm has position, yet you seem inseparable, been lost, and the power of the beauty of the world, and its
far ! What do you infinite variety has suffered under mean?"