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Hirell laid clown and slept for some hours; and in the afternoon, though quiet and peaceful, was too ill to bear the blind ap, or to see any of the hay-making in the Cross-path fields.
She passed a good night, and found no letter among her flowers to disturb her at her breakfast. She read a chapter in her little Bible without much pain to her eyes, for the first time for many days. She lay half sleeping, with a smile on her lips, and the book open in her feeble hands, when her nurse came in with a letter, which she said Clutterbuck's boy from the 'Hop Pole' had just brought, and to which answer was to be waited for. It bore the writing she expected, but sorrowed to see.
'Hirel, I will not receive this from you. Rather than destroy the paper. on which your fingers have traced your thoughts, I would tear my own flesh off my body, but I have torn up that which you have now sent me. When shall I see you? Choose your own time. I can wait.
'JOHN CUNLIFF.' Whon Mrs. Chamberlayne was brought in to pay her usual morning visit, she found, to her surprise, Hireil sitting up, pale as hor night-dress, and with bright, excited eyes, writing å lottor,
llirell, this is very wrong-really it is wilful,' she said. Plonso forgive me,' answered Hirell, “but I am doing that which I must not leave undone. I will rest and do all you wish me, but do not hinder me—my head is strange, and I
"Don't distress yourself, my child. I will leave you, but esert yourself no more than you are positively obliged.'
left to horsoll, she wrote on–her old dangerous fever-red creeping back into her cheek, and making the tears scorch her, as tow and then in the pauses of her thoughts they stole slowly down.
St. she wrote, again and again in the darkness of my tors black tught, when a little space of sense came to me, I felt steh bitterness of sorrow that I was glad to go back unin eren tv that shelter-if only to forget.
Always it was the same—the cry of my heart against
sit ibiel I could not help but begin to pour out, till my thoughts stitted me, and there was a blank once more.
“You will not, you say, heed the one last dear wish of my soul, that we should part in peace. O God forgive you for the wrong you do, for the suffering you inflict !
“What I was when you found me, you know. Sad often, when I dreamed of that great world without, and compared it with my own narrow gloomy home, but happy in the love of my father, and all in my house; and if I was too conscious how they exalted me, I never forgot that it was they, not myself, to whom my seeming elevation was due.
“There you found me. You were in great trouble, sir, and what woman's heart could help doing what mine did—trying to comfort you, even while I sought to keep such things unknown.
There you saw me day by day, hour by hour-saw my father, and what I was to him—saw my ignorance, my every defect. You knew me—I dare to say it--as truly as it was in your nature to know me, had the years we passed together been more in number than the weeks of our real acquaintance.
"You loved me, you said. How I trusted you in return I need not speak of. But I would have given you more, a thousand-thousand times more, had that been possible, than I did give. How often have I not prayed to God to enrich my heart, to enlighten my soul, to make me worthy of being given to one so full of all that stamps honour and nobleness on the name of man ! I do not think any poor creature ever knelt in secret with more boundless, swelling gratitude, or with more sense of the glory of life and of the world than I did, for the wondrous chance of knowing and being loved by you. It was a secret I knew not how sufficiently to keep. I have cried often when, unawares, words, looks, or accidents of any kind, made me think I had been unmaidenly in not concealing both the delight and pride I felt.
' And once loving you, from that time I could have borne any disappointment, however bitter, if only it did not come
“You told me at Ewyn y Rhaiadr you had intended to leave me, and then made me confess my love. I thought of it afterwards, and while my heart was in its joyfulness and pride, found great pleasure in the remembrance. I thought of it on the evening of that dreadful day, and felt I could have been reconciled by the remembrance to the worst, could have forgiven your thoughtlessness in committing me to such a hope.
less future, had you simply told me in a fitting manner you could not marry me.
'I tremble and shiver when I think of myself on that day, and of what might have been had not a higher hand protected me-overwhelmed in darkness from which there seemed no escaping but by a cry to you, who watched and waited, seeking if there were but one spot in the poor soul through which evil powers might steal, with you to follow them in triumph.
Oh, sir! Oh, sir! you have wrung this from me, as you might by a like inhuman violence squeeze the blood out of this weak body. I wanted to spare you this. I yearned to be permitted to think you would be sorry for all this when we had separated, and that then I, like so many more, might watch your good works, and desire all else to be forgotten. This, too, is only another dream. Well, I shall dream never, never more!
'I am ill—very ill. If you try me much more you will kill me.
'I do forgive, in spite of all I have said-only, let me rest. I entreat you, let me rest, and may the peace that passeth all understanding be yours is still the prayer of
· HIRELL MORGAN.'
DARK DAYS. HIRELL continued to recover slowly, but Mrs. Chamberlayne was not mistaken in saying that the excitement of her correspondence with Sir John Cunliff had taken all the spring from her recovery
She became well enough to join her aunt in the pleasant old parlour, to change the flowers in the Chinese vases for her, to go on with her lessons in Welsh stockingknitting ; but Mrs Chamberlayne saw, under the true eagerness to please, an apathy and a listlessness that the girl spent all her little strength in trying to conceal.
'Do you think you can never like Nytimber, Hirell, dear?' she asked once, as she saw her grand-niece standing in the window and looking as usual, not down along the alleys of the garden, but up at the white clouds.
Hirell could not answer—her throat seemed to tighten. She still looked up at the sky as long as she could see for the upwelling tears, and that moment felt a loathing for the bright blooming country about her, that smothered the gentle and grateful reply she would fain have given. She thought of her own home as of something cold and soulless, out of which all the life and joy had passed for ever; but it was as a mother thinks of her dead child—feeling it to be far dearer in its coldness and soullessness than any strange one,
The lovely yellow laburnums were all in their glory, shining here and there among the old trees of the garden like sunshine, that both bloomed and burned. And Hirell was conscious of them as a bereaved mother is of the tossing golden locks of some strange fair child. She withdrew her eyes, and answered her aunt with an inward shiver:
'It is very pretty.' Mrs. Chamberlayne did not try to draw from her a more direct answer to her question, but in her own mind began to fear the understanding and healing of this strange, suffering heart was beyond her skill.
She was better-yes—she could move about, only feeling a little tired; but she began to think she should never have her old health and light-heartedness again, she should never care for life any more. Living would be like climbing a toilsome hill to look upon a prospect that she had seen, by some magician's aid, to be barren and dreary ; it would be like watching the unfolding of a rose at whose heart she knew a canker to be lying. It was in vain she told herself that health and happiness would come again; the most alarming thing to her was the certainty, the sharp reality, of her heart's suffering and despair. When Mrs. Chamberlayne prepared little surprises for her, which she often did-a new dress, or bonnet, or something that she thought would please her-Hirell would thank her with expressions of pleasure and gratitude which she thought must be sincere, till a choking feeling at her throat and a hot mist at her eyes made her say to herself,
Miserable hypocrite, you know you have no more gratitude than a stone for these things.'
When she prayed, a half-smiling, half-cynical face came between her and the glory and power she had once been used to feel through her inmost soul, when she knelt at Bod Elian, in the chapel of her people. It seemed to waylay her most
passionate sentences of prayer, and smile over and reason with her about them-half in mirth and half in earnestness and wisdom. She knew it was the recollection of things Cunliff had said at different times, in the same bantering manner in which this haunting voice spoke to her.
Her own fate was a great mystery to her. Why should it have come upon her ?—this peculiar trouble. Why should her peace have been broken in upon, and her faith in life, and the world, and heaven itself, been so cruelly shaken. She asked things of her own heart and in her prayers piteously, but not impatiently, though day after day dragged on and left her unenlightened, and her weariness and hopelessness increased.
Late one evening Mrs. Chamberlayne was carried to her room, and in her gentle way gave her unwelcome news. She brought her another letter. She did not wish to give it, she told Hirell, knowing how much she had been disturbed by others from the same writer; but Robert had given his word to Sir John Cunliff, who had appealed to him, that it should be placed in Hirell's hands that night.
When her aunt had left her, Hirell held her hands clasped in her lap a moment, looking at the letter as it lay on the table before her, with something of her father's sternness in
It remained there when she opened it, and while she read it through.
'Hirell, your letter is horrible—but I do not wonder at it. As soon as I can forget the smart, I shall only see in it new evidence of what you are. That I already know,
“This is sent to say that if ever man was ashamed, I am. • What can you need more? 'I must, in spite of all
, keep some self-respect, or be worthless alike to myself and others. Do not ask further abase-, ment.
• This is a black spot in my life, which I will wash out.
'I have again read your painful letter-inexpressibly pain.. ful! I have brought myself to receive it, as I am sure it was in your own secret, tender, and loving soul meant to be received, as the inevitable overflow of a wronged love towards its wronger. I lay it to my heart. I will read it again and again, till I have drawn out of it, if possible, every bit of