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been the terms, heretofore, on which perfect health.
The disease was deReginald and Beatrice had stood, they veloped in Reginald almost simultanecould find nothing in past experience ously, but by what seemed a miracle at all like their present intimacy. They he was saved. took frequent walks and horseback During those five years before Jurides together; sometimes he would lian's death, Mrs. Ross had often spend a whole morning in reading watched with singular interest what aloud to her. Mrs. Ross had noticed, close bonds of mutual similarity, both too, certain unmistakable symptoms in nature and in temperament, bound of contentment in Reginald's bearing the two little brothers together. The while he was with Beatrice (if no more way in which outward objects or new emphatic term should be applied), ideas impressed them; their respecwhich seemed like the happiest sort of tive tendencies of affection or prejuaugury.
dice toward certain people; their triBut in Beatrice's manner, as days vial likes and dislikes in matters of lapsed along, she could read nothing. amusement, food, and the commoner Nothing, too, in the girl's composed impulses of sense ; their susceptibility and power-suggesting face, over whose to the forces of humour, compassion, broad-moulded forehead the low-grow- anger, disgust; all these, and many ing hair, somewhat coarse of texture, more embryo or full-developed charmade full black ripples. It was a face acteristics bore, each with each, an whose every feature she had learned element of resemblance startlingly dearly to love, but most of all its lim- salient. Persons before whom she pid gray eyes, energetic, sympathetic, mentioned, however, what seemed to intellectual. More than once had a her questions of such curious import, steadfast gaze into those eyes made laughed at her wonder and assured Mrs. Ross tell herself that here was her that every pair of twins was thus the woman of women whom it would
reciprocally constituted. But as time delight her to have her son Reginald passed she became fonder of her illumarry.
sion, and used to tell herself that in • Reginald is not a weak man,' she some strange way one soul had behad once told Beatrice. • Instead of come divided between two bodies. this he is a sort of maimed, half-inca- Nor did this illusion, with Mrs. pable giant. In numberless ways he Ross, possess a single morbid touch, a battles analysis, because every trait, single shadow of discomfort. She with him, takes its force from a frag- never watched the children when they mentary spring of action--what his played together without a secret gladmental life needs is its missing half- ness at their charming interchangehe is like a tall, perfect tree snapped able traits. She sometimes used to in the middle. Does this seem wild wonder whether between their very fancy ?'
physical motions there was not a subNaturally Beatrice had been mys- tle concordance, and repeatedly she tified at the time these strange words had assured herself were uttered; but an explanation had thoughts occurred to both of them at followed them which astonished her one and the same moment. deeply. She learned from Mrs. Ross pearance they were so alike that she, that Reginald had been the eldest of their own mother, even up to the time twin brothers. The two boys were of Julian's death, would often omit to five years old when the younger bro- make use of the few slight signs by ther, Julian, was seized with scarlet
which she told them apart. And, as fever in its most malignant form, and previously has been said, her strange died after an illness of a few hours, idea regarding them dealt her no pain. having been till now in a condition of Even if for a moment she calmly ad
mitted its grotesque, fantastic truth, the thought of two lives thus indissolubly twined, brought with it not a pang of anxiety or dread. Indeed, whenever it took the serious colours of an actual thought and ceased to tioat like a bodiless influence through the atmosphere of feeling only, she would ask herself whether the future of these two boys, if thus peculiarly viewed, did not teem with beautiful suggestion, did not differ from ordinary living with a rich positiveness of Fariation ; and whether, at the same time, their case might not as definitely place itself outside the uncanny limits of nature's caprices, as the lowergraded example of two fruits mellowing to maturity on the same twig.
But when Julian's death occurred, and the terrible threat failed to fulfil itself under which Reginald's life seemed for days to quiver, then this poor lady found that her grief-stricken soul and her shattered nerves were eager to turn what had once been a pleasant, poetic vagary into a distressingly dole ful fear. Since she had lost Julian, must not Reginald soon follow him? Would their living apart be a possibility ? Ought she not to expect with certainty the crushing stroke of a second blow, now that the first had fallen. But as months passed, making themselves into a year, the sword over Reginald's head seemed to gain much stouter means of suspension. By degrees Mrs. Ross's wretched disquietude died a natural death ; the hoy continued healthful and vigorous. If the old fancy visited her now and then, it was summoned by something in Reginald's conduct, for whose singularity this visionary explanation sometimes offered its imaginative aid. Later on in her son's life she had incessantly caught herself clinging to that old dogma of mysticism, and interpreting his oddest actions by its convenient, insubstantial kind of glossary.
'I think that you and Beatrice have never been better friends than
just now,' Mrs. Ross made bold enough to say, on a special afternoon when Reginald, having learned that he must take a solitary horseback ride because his usual companion had a prostrating headache, manifested some wholly unconcealed disappointment.
"I don't know of any particular reason for such change,' he rather lightly answered, provided it really has taken place.
Unless it is because we are thrown more than usual upon each other's mutual resources of entertainment,' he added, in a less careless tone, and after a slightly reflective look.
This reply disappointed his mother, but the remark which had called it forth dwelt with Reginald some time after he had begun his solitary ride. It seemed to the man as if every fibre of his spiritual being tingled with pleasant self-gratification while he told himself that he was indeed better friends with Beatrice Sedgwick now than ever before. She had always seemed to him, in comparison with the other women whom he had met and known, intellectually to overtop them all ; but he silently admitted this afternoon (while riding his free-gaited fiveyear-old along country whose rich greeneries of meadow and foliage had been brightly freshened by recent rains), that Beatrice blended in a marvellous degree logic and intuition, sympathy and pure reason, poetry and sober sense. It is doubtful, indeed, whether plain admiration of man toward woman ever goes noticeably beyond the limits of Reginald's present feeling; the sort of admiration, let it be added, whose least and greatest thrill emanates from no such emotional vagueness that we cannot satisfactorily name for ourselves its exact source. He could look back over the past fortnight through the most accurate and unblurred glasses of retrospect. He could account to himself, with a kind of arithmetical tenderness, for each separate occasion when he had felt what a potent attraction
her presence exerted.
He even as
of hostship, it was only to smile at the sured his own thought, with some- recollection of a nightmare which, at thing like creditable success, that a the present hour, seemed as incapable regard which thus yielded to the of molesting him by any grim assault analytic attempts of him who enter- as the very landscape through which tained it, must be a regard based upon he journeyed, green in its soft, leafy the most lasting, safe and efficient splendour, seemed inviolate against foundations.
winter's disfeaturing rigours. There was something, too, in the Beatrice, on this same afternoon, wholesome breeziness of the afternoon had complained of a sad headache. that presented to him, through the Mrs. Ross had mildly insisted upon permedium of sense, a clearly-realized fect retirement, and at least an atanalogy between its own bracing tempt to secure slumber. No slumforce or cheering radiance, and the ber came for a long time, but the atmosphere of vigorous mental hardi
headache began to beat surely yet sure hood, healthful womanly judgment, retreat before the powers of silence and and fresh, large-souled charity sur- repose. It was about six o'clock when rounding his present estimate of Bea- Mrs. Ross softly stole into the chamtrice's character. Not unnaturally at ber for a fourth time, and seated hersuch a moment, moreover, he recalled self at the bedside with a book. Beathis mother's evident and often-hinted rice at last had fallen into a peaceful longing. Reginald was by instinct and even-breathed sleep, and Mrs. what his biographer owes him the jus- Ross watched her clear, strong profile tice of naming-a dutiful son, and to against the whiter background of the reflect upon the almost sacred import- pillow, with that radical satisfaction ance of so marked a maternal wish, felt when those whom we love are at was an act that now linked itself in length delivered from physical pain. admirably proper sequence to the con- If any deity of sleep had occupied a victions which had just preceded it. place in Mrs. Ross's theology, there
The most radiant mood has its solar is no doubt that more than one dospots of gloom ; but if Reginald was mestic tripod would now have been so troubled this afternoon, while he gratefully set smoking. These being spurred his good-blooded animal
the lady's feelings, it is not strange briskly down more than one agreeable that an expression, almost like one of slope of road, the gloom took its dark- anger should have filled her face, when ness from reminiscence rather than
her maid suddenly burst into the room actuality. He had been, during his
with the loud voiced and seemingly eight-and-twenty years of lifetime, the pointless observation : occasional prey to a certain sinister
Oh, Mrs. Ross, are you here, spasm of feeling which far rather ma'am ? merited the name of a nervous sensa- Stern thoughts of giving her maid tion than even to be placed on the list summary discharge held brief sway in of half-reasonable impressions. It was even this gentle mistress's bosom. The a monster, informe, ingens, to which
rare sparkle of indignation was in the his imagination occasionally opened a mild darkness of her eyes, as Beatrice, door of sardonic mental hospitality ; roused by the rude tones, lifted her and the guest would now and then
head with a great nervous start from resist every method of ejection except, the pillow. perhaps, that of the stoutest exorcis
Oh, ma'am, Mr. Reginald'themaid ing cudgel which common sense pos- now said, in whimpering tones . . . 'I'm sesses within her armory. If heremem
afraid he's hurt very bad . . . they're bered, just now, the uncomfortable bringing him into the house now hours passed in this aggravating sort The maid went on with her distress
ing intelligence, and of the two ladies who heard it, Mrs. Ross, doubtless, only took into consciousness, after this, a stray word here and there, such as · horse,' or .fainted away; while Beatrice, on the other hand, clearly comprehending the full sense of the intelligence, very soon had fast hold of both her friend's hands and was saying rapidly, yet with excellent composure:
· Don't be so alarmed until you know just what it is. Perhaps, after all, the accident may not prove a serious one.'
Nearly fainting with fright, Mrs. Ross presently stood at her son's side, where they had laid him on a lounge, in one of the lower rooms. Reginald's eyes were closed and he was extremely pale ; but be soon gave signs of not having swooned, opening his eyes for a moment and pointing with a suppressed groan toward his right leg. The real truth was that excessive pain in the ankle of this limb had temporarily nullified all the man's nervous energy. As soon as the locality of his injury had been discovered, the ankle was bared, and already its bluish swollen look gave serious import of future trouble. Meanwhile Beatrice had despatched one servant for a doctor, and learned from the head-gardener, Haslitt, who was an eye-witness of the accident, just howappallingly narrow an escape Reginald had sustained. Haslitt was himself near one of the main lawn-gates at the moment that a bulky-looking peddler's waggon was about to enterit. At the same moment his master appeared near the gate, riding briskly. Reginald's horse, terrified by the uncouth vehicle, reared unmanageably once, and his rider, as though irritated by such an unforeseen procedure, then promptly spurred him forward. But rearing a second time, the horse lost his balance and fell backward. “I don't know whatever saved Mr. Reginald from bein’ crushed,' Haslitt proceeded, when that thing happened. The fence hid him, Miss, an' I says to myself, “he's killed," says I, “sure.” But when I got through the gate, there was the horse,
scamperin' like mad down the road, and Mr. Reginald lyin'white asa sheet, with his right leg a doubled up straight under him. I knew quick enough, Miss, he'd somehow got clear o the horse, but I'm afraid o' my life his ankle's broke, and very bad broke, too.
Medical authority, however, when it arrived soon afterward, gave scientific disproof of Haslitt's theory. Reginald was suffering from a violent and rather complicated sprain of the right ankle, but beyond the unavoidable discomforts of tedious recovery he had no reason for future anxiety. During all the period between her first appearance at the sufferer's side and the subsequent arrival of the doctor, an interval, which intensified sensation on at least her own and Mrs. Ross's part, must have made twice its actual length. Beatrice's self-possession, tranquillity, and knowledge of soothative if not curative applications, brought to bear upon the whole group surrounding poor agonized Reginald something like the commandant, distributive capability which is to be found in judicious generalship. Once or twice, even amid the excitement preceding the doctor's appearance, Mrs. Ross felt a dreary pang of realization break through her anxiety, as she observed Beatrice's unruffled presence of mind. Admirable though it might be under the given circumstances, a demeanour so collected spoke ill for her own newly-roused hopes. For where, in this courageous benignity, was there one gleam of any. thing like actual passion.
Those same hopes, however, were fed with a fresh force during the after days of Reginald's illness. Never was a tenderer, more considerate or more accomplished nurse than Beatrice now proved herself.
A vigorous young fellow of active temperament is not always dowered with the sort of endurance which makes him murmurless under a martyrdom like this of Reginald's; but it is certain that the effect of Beatrice's continual attend
ance, her unfailing interest, and her in accordance with the tranquil ease softly genial manner presented pow- of his surroundings. Yes, at the next erful inducements toward resignation. opportunity-which would doubtless
A fortnight of absolute inability to occur that same afternoon, when Beawalk left Reginald, at its end, equal trice had promised to renew her readto occasional hobbling peregrinations ing—he would end all further needabout the house, with the aid of a less delay. It even occurred to him stout cane. And what, now,
that a certain graceful relativity and his feelings toward the
sequence might be made to surround whose many kind offices had so les- the words which he contemplated sened the acuteness of past pain and speaking, if he should suggest that she the tedium of enforced inaction? It ! read from the latter passages of the would have been scarcely possible for Princess, where, though small rehis esteem of her character by any semblance exists between the position noteworthy degree to deepen ; but in of Ida toward her wounded lover and so far as concerned his less rational that of Beatrice toward himself, there and reflective valuation of her excel- would still be an almost exquisite fund lences, he was very willing to assure of suggestiveness in those lovely lines himself that a marked change had which describe how two wedded souls, taken place. Nothing is more diffi- each with its separate yet similar lofty cult to trace with accurate precision aim, each with its reciprocal tribute than are the shadowy boundaries be- of respect, affection and trust, may in tween an excess of devout spiritual the end reach that sweet triumph of respect, as in a case like Reginald's, and that warmer unreasonable state "The single pure and perfect animal, of sexual attraction which dispenses
The two-cell'd heart beating, with one full stroke, with self-inquiry and lapses away into the bland heedlessn
ssness of rosy senti- Shortly after this dilettante piece of ment. Reginald felt sure that he had meditation, Reginald fell into a pleaspassed these boundaries, and was re- ant doze. His ankle had rather murpeatedly on the verge of telling Bea- dered sleep on the previous evening, trice so, in appropriately ardent words. and doubtless for this reason his nap Indeed, it happened, on a certain was a somewhat sound one. Awakmorning, that, after Beatrice had read ing about a half-hour later, he was aloud for more than an hour from straightway conscious of having been Browning's Men and Women,' and roused from sleep by some sharply then left him upon the lounge in the disturbing agency. His lounge was sitting-room, the man took himself
close against one of the side windows of severely to task for useless procrasti- the room. Loud cries, as though from a nation.
terrified child, were sounding someIt was about mid-day, and the win- where near, and he soon discovered that dows were shaded coolly from the they seemed to emanate from a portion somewhat fierce July sunshine out- ! of the lawn just beyond this window. side ; a dreamy veil of dusk covered With but slight effort he was able to the lightly elegant appointments of throw back the blinds. There was no the room—its pale matting; its soft- | piazza against this portion of the blue rugs, scattered over the floor ; its house, and a green sweep of sunlit slender bamboo furniture, and its lawn was immediately brought to view. many tasteful ornaments of statuette At a distance of perhaps fifty yards or book-rack or flower-filled vase. Re- away, he perceived two figures, one ginald's self-reproaches, vehement for that of a little girl, the daughter of a slight while, soon took the form of the head gardener, Haslitt, while the a gently comfortable resolution, much other figure was plainly that of Bea