Зображення сторінки

“This is nonsense,” said Gervase ; “if Paul Annesley didn't die, why in the world should he disappear?”

“He was tired of his life," Edward replied.

“He thought,” Alice was explaining, “ to make atonement to the friend he had injured ".

“ Alice,” interrupted Edward, “that is our secret, remember, between us two and Mr. Gervase Rickman."

“It will soon be no secret,” she replied; " that is why Paul is coming to England; as he tells me in his letter.”

“ The whole story is incredible,” said Gervase impatiently. “Do you mean to say that Paul Annesley is a monk ? He will have some difficulty in proving his identity here. No one who knew him would believe anything so preposterous. Paul, of all men in the world, to turn monk, indeed! Some monk is humbugging you, Annesley, for the sake of getting the property. Besides,” he added, “no religious order would receive a man without a pension.” “He was not without money,” Edward explained.

6 The diamonds we saw at Neufchâtel were in his possession. Altogether he had about a thousand pounds, as well as professional knowledge, which would be useful to a friar.”

Yet Rickman believed the story. A letter from Paul alone and nothing that Edward could have told her, accounted for Alice's strange behavior to himself. The superscription of the letter was shown him, and he admitted that it was a good imitation of Paul Annesley's handwriting.

He then left the room ostensibly to tell the news to his father, who was happily absorbed in his favorite studies and ignorant of all that was passing.

Edward had yet to break the intelligence to Mrs. Walter Annesley, for she had refused to admit him when he called that afternoon. He hoped to get an interview in the evening, and was hurrying off for the purpose of making another trial.

“I broke my news too roughly,” he said in wishing Alice good-night, for his hard manner to her vanished after her stormy reception of Gervase. “It was not a pleasant duty, and that spoils the temper,” he explained.

Alice looked down, then she looked up with her eyes clouded with tears. “I owe it to you,” she faltered, “ to tell


all how I came to misjudge you. But not now.”

“Some day,” he replied with increasing gentleness, “ you shall tell me.

When you feel inclined."

“ Alice,” Sibyl asked when he was gone, “what led you to misjudge him? There is some mystery behind this."

Alice took Sibyl's bright face in her hands and kissed it with a tenderness that almost surprised her.

“Never ask, Sibyl,” she replied; “let me as well as others have the benefit of your loyal trust. You are the best friend I ever had or ever shall have.”

A few minutes later Alice was in the hall, pacing restlessly to and fro, and trying to collect the fragments of her shattered world, when Gervase issued from his father's study, closing the door behind him, and approaching her.

“ I shall return to town at once,” he said, thus relieving her from a great embarrassment; “I have told my father that I found a telegram awaiting me here."

“ It is plain that we cannot be under the same roof again," she replied.

“ You will never forgive me,” he added gloomily. “ Jacob was never forgiven for stealing his blessing, though he got the blessing nevertheless. You asked me why I deceived you, Alice,” he added, his voice deepening and touching her in spite of the loathing with which his perfidy inspired her. “It was because I loved you

with such a love as men seldom feel. I cannot tell when it began — years before either of the Annesleys thought of you; it never faltered — never. You never had and you never will have a more constant and devoted lover"

"Oh, hush, Gervase !" she sobbed, “ do you think I am made of stone? Were you not my only brother and best. friend? Are you not your mother's son? Can you not think what a bitter thing it is to have to think ill of you, to know of your cruel falseness?

** No,” he interrupted quickly, “I cannot; you are stone in comparison with me. You can never even picture such a passion as mine to yourself, cold, hard, immaculate woman that you


“ Gervase!"

“Listen, Alice,” he said, collecting himself and curbing the fierce passion in his voice. “ You have three lovers, and, woman-like, will probably choose the worst. Of these three, one attempted murder for the love of you; one lied for your sake, though not for your sake alone, for Sibyl's happiness was at stake; and one - here he smiled a sarcastic smile

“he who saw and loved you the latest did not think it worth while

so much as to clear himself from a dreadful imputation for your sake. Which of these three, think you, loved you the best ?”

“He who loved honor and loyalty more," replied Alice proudly, and without hesitation.

“ And he proved it when he offered himself to another woman who had the good sense to reject the cold blooded" —

“Hush, Gervase! things are bitter enough already,” Alice broke in; “ do not imbitter them more by idle words. Let us part in peace.”

“Peace!” echoed Gervase with a scornful laugh. And he looked at the hearth fire in silence a while.

When he spoke again his mood was altered.
“ Alice,” he said gently, “ do not let Sibyl despise me.”

“I will tell her nothing that I can avoid, to your discredit, Gervase,” she replied.

“ I have said nothing of breaking off our engagement yet. Put it as you please, but do not break with them, if you can help it. I hope you will not leave them; my father ages visibly. We might part with a mutual conviction that we were unsuited to each other,” he added with a sardonic smile.

So they agreed, and then Rickman's carriage drove up, and Mr. Rickman and Sibyl came into the hall to see him off.

Good-by, Alice,” he said in his usual quiet manner, when he had parted with his father and sister.

“Good-by,” she replied in a faint, far-off voice.

She stood on the steps and watched the carriage till its lights diminished to points, and were finally swallowed up in the dense, dark night; while Gervase looked back at the graceful figure standing in the fan-shaped light streaming from the open hall, till the bend of the road swept it from him, and his heart ached with a heavy despair.

Ambition, wealth, success, power — all was now nothing without Alice.


GRAY, THOMAS, an eminent English poet; born in London, December 26, 1716; died July 30, 1771. Gray was educated at Eton, where his maternal uncle was master. From Eton he went to Cambridge. He formed a close intimacy with Horace Walpole, son of the Prime Minister, who induced him to accompany him on a tour in France and Italy (1739–41). Gray returned to Cambridge, and took the degree of Bachelor of Civil Law, though he never entered upon practice, but continued to reside at the University until 1759, and afterward for two or three years in London. In 1758 he received the appointment of Professor of Modern History at Cambridge. He died of an attack of gout in the stomach, and was buried in the churchyard of Stoke-Pogis, the scene of his “Elegy written in a Country Churchyard.” Gray was one of the most accomplished men of his time. His knowledge of the classics was wide and accurate. He was versed in every department of history; was a good botanist, zoologist, and entomologist; he was an expert antiquarian and heraldist. He had excellent taste in music, painting, and architecture. His fame rests upon a few poems, none of them of any considerable length. The “Ode to Adversity," “ The Bard,” and “Progress of Poesy," contain many noble passages. The “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College," written at the age of twenty-six, is, upon the whole, superior to either of these. The "Elegy," however, is Gray's masterpiece. It was finished in 1749, although commenced seven years earlier.

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day;

The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea;
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,

And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,

And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning Aight,

And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds :




« НазадПродовжити »