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so much as a eye upon her.
been growing to know each other more are that blind.
and more, they were drifting apart. And then the letter proceeded in Alan was every day more sombre, the usual strain of accusation and li- colder, more of a schoolmaster, and bel Of course Alan was ashamed of less of a lover. Alma every day more reading these things; and still more silent, less prodigal of her smiles, more ashamed of being annoyed by them. reserved, and—a thing patent to her The philosopher, we know, would fiancé and of very unpleasing omennever be annoyed even by anonymous
more sullen. post-cards, which reflected upon the morals of his female relations and were read by the delighted inhabitants of his kitchen before he received
CHAPTER XXXIII. them. The philosopher would rejoice, perhaps, at the thought that cook, • There's nought in this bad world like sympathy : housemaid, parlour-maid, and nursery- 'Tis so becoming to the soul and face ;
Sets to soft music the harmonious sigh, maid have read these libels, believe in And robes sweet friendship in a Brussels lace.' them, will repeat them joyfully, and will exaggerate them.
EANTIME, there seemed, to
МЕ Alan was probably not a philoso
Desdemona's observant eyes, pher, because the constant arrival of to be growing up in the Abbey a kind these letters did not make his counte- of restlessness. Unquiet betokens Dance more cheerful when he went up change. Was it, she asked, that the to see Alma in the evening.
Monks and Sisters were tired of the His gloom communicated itself to Abbey or of each other? No; she Miranda. She found it hard any lon- made inquiries, and found that the ger to believe in a girl who could not general feeling was quite in the concultivate enthusiasm for Alan. She trary direction. The place appeared was dejected and unhappy. She went to them still a most delightful haven. little to the Abbey during these Yet there was a certain sadness preweeks ; she lost interest in the place valent. Could this melancholy be a wherein she was wont to delight. Her contagious disorder taken from one or cheek grew pale and her eyes heavy. two afflicted members ? Nelly, for She was kind to Alma, but she ceased instance, had obviously been pale of her endeavours to interest her in the face and sad of aspect for some time things which her husband would look past. She seemed to take a comparafor. Alma, for her part, became sul- tively feeble interest in the matter of len and silent, restless in the house, dress; she was known on more than and restless in the garden, where she one occasion to shut herself up alone walked for hours. She did not go in her own cell for hours; her delight again to the farm, and when her mo- in riding, dancing, talking, acting, ther came, received her with a cold- singing, lawn-tennis, and all the pleaness which was worse than any of her sures in which she was once foremost, ancient insubordination. Desdemona no longer what it had been. alone preserved a demeanour of cheer- Doubtless, in her case, the cause was. fulness, even beyond that to which in some way to be attributed to Tom her friends were accustomed to see Caledon. They must have quarrelled ; in her.
otherwise, why did they avoid each Therefore, during these three weeks other? Why did they look at each when the banns were being published, other guiltily, as people do who have and while the man and the woman a secret between them? To be sure, about to take upon themselves indis- Desdemona could not know the nature soluble and lifelong vows should have of the admonition which Tom pro
nounced after the Court of Love. * And I,' said Miranda the straightAnd that was all their secret.
forward, 'am sad for Alan's sake." As for Tom Caledon himself, he too; * But you, Mr. Rondelet '_Desdewas grown melancholy. In these bad mona turned to the Thinker, whom days he mooned-he who had been she loved at all times to bring outthe most companionable of men, who 'you, too, are melancholy. You neglect had ever fled from the solitude of self your monastic vows; you seldom apas eagerly as any murderer of ancient pear at the refectory; you contribute story—he who was formerly never out nothing to the general happiness; you of spirits, never tired of laughing with are visible at times, walking by yourthose who laughed, and singing, me- self, with knitted brows. Is this to be taphorically, with those who sang, was I explained ?' grown as melancholy as Jacques in Paul Rondelet lifted bis white brow the Forest of Arden.
and played with his eye-glass, and * Perhaps,' said Desdemona-she sighed. Then he gazed for a moment was sitting in her own capacious cell, at Miranda. and Miranda was with her ; Mr. Paul Had he told the exact truth, he Rondelet was also with them—he was would have confessed that his debts seen a good deal with Miranda during worried him, that his anxiety about these days— Perhaps, Miranda, the the future was very great. In fact, presence of two perpetually wet blan- that he was entirely absorbed in the kets, such as Tom and Nelly, has im- worry of his duns and the trouble of perceptibly saddened our refectory having no income at all in the immedand drawing-room. Blankets which late future. But he did not tell the will not dry, however long you hang truth. When facts are vulgar, truththem out, would sadden even the seekers like Paul Rondelet avoid them. Laundry of Momus.
I • The conduct of life,' he said grandPaul Rondelet was leaning against ly, “is a problem so vast, so momentthe mantelshelf, a position which he ous, that there is not always room for affected because—he was no more free pleasant frivolities, even for those of from personal vanity than yourself, this little society. These are the trifles my readers, although so advanced in of a vacation. When serious thoughts thought-it showed to advantage his obtrude themselvesslender figure, and allowed the folds of I see,' said Desdemona, interruptthe tightly buttoned frock which he ing ruthlessly. Why not write them always wore to fall gracefully. He down, and have done with them ?' looked up languidly, and began to Paul Rondelet shook his head. stroke his smooth cheek with great
"You are accustomed to interpret sadness, while he let fall from an over- men's thoughts,' he said, 'you can give charged soul the following utterance :
life and action to words ; but you do * Momus is the only one of the gods not know by what mental effortswho is distinctly vulgar. How de- what agonies of travail— those words pressing is mirth! How degrading it were produced.' is to watch a laughing audience-a • Perhaps not,' said Desdemona most mere mob with uncontrolled facial unfeelingly.. I suppose small men muscles! Momus is the god of music- suffer in their attempt to say things halls.'
well. Shakespeare, Shelley and Byron, • Cheerfulness is not mirth,' said do not seem to have endured these Miranda quietly ; but you are sad throes.' yourself, Desdemona.'
Small men ! Oh, this fatal lack of 'I am,' she replied, clasping her appreciation. hands, “I am. It is quite true; I am There was a cloud upon the whole encumbered with my Third Act.' Abbey. The sadness was not con
fined to the three or four named above ; it was, with one exception, general. While Nelly lingered alone in her cell, while Tom Caledon rode or walked moodily in the lanes, while Mr. Paul Rondelet was seen to go alone with agitated steps, so that those who beheld thought that he was grappling with some new and brilliant thing in verse, the whole fraternity seemed drifting into a constrained self-consciousness most foreign to the character of the Order. Nobody now went off in happy solitude to lecture an empty hall; the three journals of the Abbey appeared at more irregular intervals; Cecilia gave no concerts ; nobody translated a new play ; nobody invented a new amusement. Instead of general conversation, there was a marked tendency to go about in pairs. And when there was any singing at all, which was not every evening, as of old, it generally took the form of a duet.
What had befallen the Abbey ?
There was, as I have said, one exception : Brother Peregrine alone was cheerful. Nothing ever interfered with a cheerfulness which, at this juncture, was unsympathetic ; neither rainy weather, nor the general depression of the Brethren, nor even the sadness of Nelly, whom he continued to follow like a shadow. though he was always with her, though the Sisters wondered whether Nelly had accepted him, and while she wondered why he was silent, Brother Peregrine had not spoken the expected words.
To the rest it seemed as if the Court of Love, the judgment of Paris, and all their niasques, sports, dances, and entertainments, were become part and parcel of a happy past which would never return again. Brother Peregrine alone was the same as he had always been. He alone was unconscious of the general discontent. This was due to his eminently unsympathetic character. He came to the Abbey with the purely selfish de
sign of getting as much pleasure out of so novel a society as possible. He got a great deal. When he told stories, or did Indian tricks, or performed feats on horseback, which he had learned in India, the Sisters of the Order laughed and applauded; it was he who devised pageants, suggested things to Desdemona, and improved on her ideas. Thus the Judgment of Paris was his doing, and he acted, as we know, as Sister Rosalind's counsel in the Court of Love. While he could bask in the sunlight of fair eyes, delight in the music of girls' laughter, drink good wine, sit at feasts, listen to music, and be himself an active part in the promotion of all modern forms of conviviality, he was happy. He was exactly like the illustrious Panurge, in one respect, in being entirely without sympathy. You knew him, therefore, as well the first day as the fiftieth ; there was nothing to be got out of him except what he offered at first. Had he put his creed into words, it would have been something like this: Everybody wants to enjoy life. I mean to, whether other people do or not; I take whatever good the gods send, and mean to use it for myself; if people wrong me, or annoy me by suffering, pain, or complaint, I go away, or else I take no notice of them.'
The Abbey was an excellent place for such a man, because in no other place were the ways of life so smooth. And a man of such a temperament would be very long in discovering what Desdemona, with her quick sympathies, felt as soon as it beganthe growing constraint.
For, of course, the Brethren and the Sisters were not going to sit down and cry or sulk, as is the wont of the outer world. There
neither growling nor grumbling in the Abbey, unless it were in each member's cell. Brother Peregrine noted nothing, because there was no outward change. If Nelly's cheek was pale, she listened to him still, and he followed her as
before. If the Order, generally, was wonderful absence of any app reciation depressed, there was still the func- of the situation. Under any circumtions-guest night, choral night, stances, if Brother Peregrine himself theatre, concert, dancing, all were : had no personal care he would have duly celebrated. The Lady Abbess looked equally happy. presided at the refectory, Desdemona Desdemona contemplated him with performed her duties as directress of a little wonder. Was the man perceremonies, and the only difference fectly self-contained ? Even Paul was that the sparkle had gone out of Rondelet's philosophy of separation the wine—it was gone flat. This did not rise to these heights of blindthey all perceived, except Brother ness. Peregrine, who still thought the gob- * If you are perfectly happy,' said let as mousseux and as brilliant as Desdemona, sharply, ' you are not before. The climax was reached when monastically happy. Perhaps, on the they attempted one of their old cos- other hand, you deserve to be pitied.' tume balls, which had been a sort of • Let us invent something,' said spécialité of the Abbey. They got as Peregrine cheerfully, as if a fillip of many guests to fill the rooms as they that kind would restore happiness, could bring together ; but, it was not just as certain ladies fly to little suppossible to disguise the truth-it fell pers with something hot in order to Hat. The guests went away early; soothe the wounded spirit. “Has there was little spirit in the dancing; everybody lectured?' He looked round and the chief actors, who ought to i radiantly, conveying his belief that a have thrown life into it-the Monks lecture was the one thing wanting. and Sisters--were languid.
No one would hear of lectures. Next evening, after dinner, when 'I have learned a new conjuring they were all collected in the drawing- i trick,' he went on. . Would you like room, Desdemona lifted up her voice, to see that?' and asked, tearfully :
“I think,' said Desdemona, “that • What is it, children? Is the wine ' the present situation will not be imof life already run down to the lees!' proved by tricks.'
No one answered, but the Sisters • When the knights and ladies of the gathered round her as if they looked middle ages,' Brother Peregrine went to her for help.
on, nothing daunted, ' were shut up in · Are there no more cakes and ale?' their castles for the winter, they used she went on. “Everything fails. Can to amuse themselves--the Abbey-our Abbey of Thelema- Moult tristement,' said Desdemona. be a failure ?'
Sometimes they No—no,' they declared unani- played hot coekles, the laws of which mously.
I dare say we could recover if we • Are you happy here, my dears?' tried ; or blind man's buff, which you she asked the Sisters.
would perhaps rather not play ; or They looked at one another, blushed touch me last, which I can fancy with one consent for some reason of might be made as graceful a pastime their own unexplained, and then mur. ' as lawn-tennis. Then there was the mured that they had never been so game of gabe, at which everybody happy before, and never could be tried to out-brag every body else ; and happier in the future.
the favourite game of le roy ne ment Brother Peregrine remarked that pas, at which everybody had to answer he himself felt perfectly, monastically
truthfully whatever questions were happy. Indeed, he looked it, stand- asked. There were to be no reservaing before them all, with his thin tions ; the answers were to be absolufigure, his complacent smile, and his ! tely truthful.'
· With games.
I should think,' said Desdemona, most he disliked. Here he found Mr. that your games must have been al. Pater's volume on the Renaissance, most maddening in their stupidity. I with which, while the following scene vould as soon suggest to the Abbey was enacted, he refreshed his soul. that we should amuse ourselves at * As for Peregrine,' said Desdemona bouts rimes. Will you play something, to herself, looking at his perfectly happy Cecilia ?'
and perfectly unsympathetic face, that She went to the piano and began to man may have escaped from some play some melancholy yearning music, great unhappiness, such as a convict's such as might fall upon sad souls with prison, or something as bad, so that a sympathetic strain. Desdemona everything else seems joy ; or he may listened and reflected. All this dejec- be a perfectly selfish person, incapable tion and constraint could not arise of seeing beyond the outward forms, from disgust at Brother Hamlet's or—which I hope is not the case
se—he madness, or from
from sympathy with may have secured Nelly, and so chuckTom Caledon. Sympathy. there was, les easily over his own future.' no doubt. Everybody liked Tom. Then she looked at the other man. Disgust, there was, no doubt. Every- Either Mr. Pater had made some rehody was indignant with Alan. But mark, which displeased Paul Rondethat all the springs of joy should be let, or he was thinking of something devoured by the disappointment of unpleasant, unconnected with that one Brother, and the crochets of an- author. As for that man,' thought other, seemed absurd.
Desdemona, “there is something wrong And suddenly a thought came into with him. To be sure, he never ought her mind. Desdemona caught it and to have been a Monk at all. He has siniled. Then she looked round the an anxious look. Perhaps he is in room and smiled again. Cecilia was debt. It requires a man of a much playing her melancholy music : the higher stamp than that poor fellow to Sisters were listening, pensive; the bear up against debt. Or some one Brothers stood or sat about among may
have derided his poetry.' them in silence. Tom Caledon was in It will be seen that Desdemona was one window, looking gloomily upon not very far wrong in any of her conthe twilight garden ; Nelly was in jectures. But then she was a witch, a another, pulling a rose to pieces. On the faces of all, except of two, there • As for the rest,' she continued to was in different degrees a similar ex. herself, “they are all afflicted with the pression, one of constraint, perhaps of same malady. It is not ennui, it is impatience, and perhaps of hope. not boredom, it is not anxiety. What
Of course the two exceptions were can it be but one thing?' Brother Peregrine and Paul Rondelet. And, as before, the sweetest and When the former, who had no taste most gratified of smiles played about for music, was cut short by Desde- her comely face. mona, he retreated to a table at the Of course, she said aloud, so that other end of the long room, where,
all started, 'I knew it would come, with a perfectly happy face, he found sooner or later. At least, I ought to a book of burlesques, and read it with have known, but did not think, being appreciation. Paul Rondelet entered quite a stupid old woman.
And now the drawing room just as Cecilia began it has come. to play. He, too, having no real ear • What do you mean, dear Desdefor music, though he talked much of mona?' asked Cecilia, stopping her the Higher Music, and held Wagner music. among his gods, retired to the same My dear,' said Desdemona, 'be part of the room as the Brother whom good enough to stop that melancholy