Изображения страниц




called upon

ings and knew well enough what fortably; that there was skilled needless suffering is endured for nursing and good medical a tendwant of scientific nursing. His then the news began to interest in it was a thoroughly spread after the wildfire fashion in honest and earnest one; he re- which good news is apt to spread. garded the class of people who are The little rooms filled rapidly ; poor but refined

the most and Mr. Redburn and the man of to be pitied in all the ranges philanthropic crotchets were reof civilised humanity. The man warded by many

genteel of philanthropic crotchets had blessing thrown himself into it as he had It was not so easy to enlist Ernesthrown himself into a dozen other tine's sympathies as her friend exschemes for benefiting mankind. pected. Ernestine had not realised He had never been ill a day in his the miseries of refined poverty; she life, so he had not the personal did not awaken to the philanthropy sympathy with the idea which of the idea. But she went to see animated Mr. Redburn, M.P. But the hospital : found that at all he was always precipitating him- events there was plenty of work self upon something which was to to be done and experience to be be of the utmost benefit to some gained. So she engaged herself class or other of society. He to visit there for a year. carried a black bag with him

Some six months of this year, wherever he went; and when he as we have seen, were yet to run;

his friends they looked and Ernestine had long ago put askance at it, wondering what new her heart into the work. She saw prospectus might be lurking in its how bitterly it was needed, and mysterious recesses;

what new

she gave her sympathies and her programme for the reformation of

energies to the utmost. But it the world might be drawn from was hard work, for the staff thence and explained to them. was insufficient. It is not too

Mr. Redburn, who had held the much to say that it required the idea in his mind a long while, arousal of all Ernestine's peculiar meeting this gentleman one day, sense of what was right, to resist immediately seized upon him as the temptation Dr. Doldy had held the very man for his purpose. He out to her. soon succeeded in inflaming him Having resisted it, however, with it; and these two had worked she went even more vigorously until the hospital reared itself in to her work. She

inthe midst of that Lonion where vested, next morning, in a few gentlemanly poverty now walks by flowers (rashly enough, no doubt, the side of undainty and accustomed considering that her remaining pauperism.

capital was by no means large) The patients at first had not to take to a favourite patient. She been plentiful, though the charges might have taken some of Dr. were moderate enough to tempt Doldy's white blossoms which them ; but when once the unfor- made her room such a place of tunate gentlefolks who first took sweetness; but there advantage of the new charity romantic spot hidden far down in realised that all which was pro- her nature; she drank to herself mised to them would be fulfilled ; the scent from those flowers as if that each patient would have a it gave her life; she treasured clean, sweet, wholesome little every white petal. Dr. Doldy room of his own, furnished com- little thought that his love-gifts




carried their message

so intel

at, for her mind continually dwelled ligibly with them. But then he upon her last interview with him. had never realised what an un- She gradually forgot the old friended life Ernestine's had been fascination which he had exercised and how ready and open her heart over her, and learned to clench was to any real love message. her teeth with an increasing hatred

and disgust whenever her thoughts CHAPTER XII.

reverted to him.

She had had one other present LOVERS!

from Yriarte besides the bracelet While her erewhile lover was -a gold necklet with a large industriously endeavouring to make locket containing his portrait. She up for his lost anticipations, Laura had sent that to his house before herself was managing to exist, she left town. She marvelled now, notwithstanding she had lost him. as she remembered it, how she

Her boast that she could live could ever have secretly worn that without him was true enough. face upon her neck, and have felt a During their engagement he had thrill of pleasure that it was there. certainly monopolised her thoughts; She found it difficult to realise the she had been devoted to him. But state she had passed through, now when he once shewed her, as he that it was over. had done in their last interview, She was staying at a pleasant that it really was the heiress he country house which stood some cared for and not the woman, her miles inland from Brighton. There pride was up in arms at once. was a charming park around it, And her idea of exhibiting pride and beyond that the breezy Sussex was to equal him in callousness. downs. When Laura first went The pose of the deserted damsel there there was a large party in was not at all in her line. If she the house, but soon afterwards it must be deserted no one should thinned, and she would wander know it.

alone in the park and over the Moreover, Yriarte had so tho

grassy slopes, thinking more and roughly startled and disgusted her more bitterly of the insults she by his readiness to give her up, had been compelled to suffer, and after making her believe that she growing to loathe the very thought had altogether enslaved him, that of the man from whom she had a strong revulsion of feeling was suffered them. setting in. It grew stronger and Sir Charles Hayland, her host, stronger day by day, as she mixed was both squire or the neighbourin fresh society, and found that hood and rector of the little village life was really quite tolerable church which stood just outside without an enslaved lover. She was the park. He was a magistrate already beginning to rather enjoy too, so that his time was generally the sense that she had to catch full of small matters of business, somebody else, and as she lay and though the most genial and awake at night and thought over hospitable man in the world he her affairs she resolved that this generally left his guests pretty time she would look out for a much to Lady Hayland, beyond handsome man.

For now that the driving them behind a beautiful bond between herself and Yriarte pair of his pet horses whenever he was broken, she began to realise had time, and heading the dinner what an unenticing person he was, table. Lady Hayland was a But that was not to be wondered fashionable and pretty woman,


whose vocation was society, but

hall was

a favourite lounging she was extremely delicate, and place, for on the large centre table, now and then was obliged to among pots of sweet scented flowremain in her

room for

ers, were scattered all the last several days together. Thus it novels from Mudie's. But the happened that when most of the morning-room was surrounded by guests went away, leaving only a two or three shelves, close to the few rather elderly people who did floor, which were filled, along one not much interest her, Laura ac- wall, with standard and favourite quired a habit of walking about novels. alone and thinking over her affairs. Laura oscillated between a parIt was not a natural tendency of ticular corner here and a particular hers, and she rather wondered at corner in the hall when she was herself for doing it. At last she indoors : for she was one of those grew so sickened at her retrospec- women who accomplish an amount tions that she began to think of of reading which would do credit taking flight to where there might to an undergraduate, and whose be more opportunities of laying studies lie so entirely in one direcplans for the future. But Lady tion that they acquire a marvellous Ilayland persuaded her to stay on knowledge of the fictitious world a while, and as she told her that a of romance. She devoured books new relay of visitors would be in a more infatuated way than arriving in a few days, Laura ever now, for with no flirtations decided to at least see what they on hand she found it difficult to were like.

Lady Hayland was keep her mind quiet or at ease fond of her, and liked to have her unless she filled it with the rowhen her house was full ; for mances of others' lives. Laura was one of those indomitable But she had too much regard for little women who will go through her good looks to spend the whole any exertion for the sake of amuse

day thus.

She reflected that the ment, and she was always among air of the Sussex downs produces the leaders of any enterprise which anything but an unbecoming might prove exciting or interesting. effect; so every day she walked Although she was such a mistress

out upon them, or drove herself of the art of languor, when any through the lanes in Lady form of pleasure was to be ob- Hayland's little pony carriage. tained her spirits were unflagging: Certainly this did bring a de

So she stayed on and resigned licate bloom to her cheeks, but herself to a few more days of her it gave her too much opportunity own society, for Lady Hayland for reflection to be at all agreeable. was not yet well enough to come She would walk fiercely about on down, and there was no one else the downs, out of sight of every one in the house whom she cared før. but the wild birds, and would She read novels in the pretty stamp her little foot as she thought morning-room, a large room which of Yriarte and the sneering laugh separated the drawing and dining-with which he took leave of her!It was Laura's favourite

she even occupied herself with resort within the house, except the trying to think of any way in which hall. The latter was a great square she could safely annoy or humiliate room into which the hall door him, and now and again the peropened and from which the wide sonal pride which was one of her staircases ascended. But the house strongest feelings would wring a was warmed all through, and the few scalding tears of mortification from her eyes. But she would shrank with a disgust that made speedily wipe them away to find her physical frame tremble where refu ze in the intense hatred of her she lay, from taking that way. old lover which was altogether But Laura had another and more taking the place of every other highly developed side of her nature. sentiment with regard to him. She lived in the world, and she


In the midst of this state of must defend herself from the feeling she made

a discovery world. The sense of this was so which changed the whole tenor of vivid that it compelled towards her thoughts.

that way she loathed, as strongly Sitting alone in her room one and resolutely as though pressure night a new idea dawned upon were put upon her trembling her mind—a new view of her posi- woman's emotions by another tion rose before her. It struck

person. her with such alarm and horror Laura was essentially a worldly that she felt quite ill, and rising woman, and a thoroughly worldly to reach some smelling-salts which woman will sacrifice any of her were on her dressing table she softer and truer self, even though fainted dead away upon the floor. the knife cut keenly, in order to

No one came to her aid, for it keep straight with this world she was late at night. She recovered, is in. The social world is life and alone, slowly and painfully; and religion to her: she worships it and with the first rush of consciousness she must be approved by it. In came the full sense of this new and fact, it is her all—the reality of overwhelming thought.

existence. All that night she lay awake,

Driven and torn by her thoughts and in the morning, when she and her passions, Laura lay with looked in the glass, she saw hands clasped over her head, a haggardness upon her face thinking till her cheeks grew which had never appeared on it

flushed and dark. before.

At last she sprang up and “Laura Doldy,” she said to her- opening her writing desk, began self, standing there before her hurriedly to write a letter. She own reflection, wrapped in her wrote on rapidly, till in amazement pretty dressing gown, with her she paused, finding that her rage long dark hair tumbling on her had burned itself out upon two shoulders, "Laura Doldy, this will sheets of note paper. She flung never do. You will get ugly if you them aside, and walked the room are frightened. There is no diffi- exhausted by he: own vehemence. culty which a clover woman cannot

She looked more like some tragic overcome.

actress expressing

expressing rage than And with that she returned to the Laura known to her friends, her bed, where she breakfasted- for in this silent battle with herand thought.

self the fire of her untamed Thought hard, and desperately. passions was ablaze. Desperately, yes; for she could see At last-wearied out-she crept but one way out of this terrible into bed and lay there with silent difficulty which had now risen de- tears quietly passing over her face. finitely in her path. And that way This calmed and cleared her brain; was one which she loathed with her the rebellious paroxysm was over. whole soul. The whole of her real She had conquered herself. self-all her natural feelings-her After lying quietly thus a prides, her passions, her emotions, long while she again got her writing case, and wrote another horse down the avenue, and talked letter, this time so brief a one very sweetly, casting up her eyes. that a few lines contained it all. in that fascinating way she had

She put it in an envelope and acquired, every now and then. addressed it. Then, strengthened Sir Charles began to relent in his and refreshed by the sense that opinion of her and to think she she had decided on her mode of really was very charming. She action, she rose and dressed. had never cared to exercise her

She put on her out-of-door arts upon him before, as he was dress, and going down passed not quite within her sphere of quietly through the hall and out action. But to-day she would into the park. She walked over have talked to the man in the the short sweet grass by the car- moon, could a telephone have been riage drive, down to the little established. Anything to distract village. There she went to the her mind! post office, and drawing the letter They drove through a not very from her pocket, dropped it in. interesting series of lanes and It was addressed to “ Jose Yri- straight roads, but the movement arte, Esq.”

was pleasant, and to Laura the Standing there in the sunshine, life of Brighton was a charming a little undecided which way to change. Driving down the Parade, turn or what to do with herself, Sir Charles suddenly drew rein. she saw Sir Charles Hayland “How do you do, Redburn?” he riding up the village street. said to a languid, gentlemonly man

“ A pretty little minx is Laura who was pausing in his walk to Doldy," thought that gentleman look over the sea.

- What are to himself as Laura flashed her

you doing here? isn't it rather eyes up at him from under her fur

cold for you at this time of the “But I shouldn't put much faith in her.”

“ Yes," said Mr. Redburn, with Sir Charles was a florid, hearty a slight shiver, “it certainly is gentleman who liked people that cold, but it is bracing. I have looked him straight in the face. only run down for a few days'

He let his horse drop into a fresh air." walk as he approached Laura. "Come over to us for a day or

“Lady Hayland is better to- two,” said Sir Charles, with whom day," he said, " and I am to drive hospitality was a shining virtue. her over to Brighton after lunch. “Where are you staying? at the I am sure she needs fresh air, and Queen's ? I'll pick you up in halfBob and Bell want some exercise. an-hour." Will you come ?”

So Laura had a fresh companion Oh, yes, I shall be delighted,” of the male sex to make eyes at on said Laura, to whom the mildest her way home. He did not interest form of dissipation would have her much though; Mr. Redburn's been acceptable to-day. And she mind had little room in it for conenjoyed sitting behind Sir Charles's templation

templation of anything but his. pet horses, apart from the fact own ailments and hobbies. that Brighton was a change from “How is the hospital getting the park and the downs.

on ?” asked Lady Hayland; "the “ Then you must come in to last time we mot were you not lunch," said Sir Charles ; "we very interested in some hospital shall start early.”

for ladies and gentlemen ? It She walked beside Sir Charles's seemed to me, as you spoke of it.



« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »