Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

was

martyr in Marie's eyes; she knew that to “Look here, 'Melie,” she said, with a be dangerous and stupid.

frown, “I've got to meet him this after"Stanley came here," she went on, noon at the station, and I don't know “two or three years ago at harvest-time. how to arrange it." He wanted work, so I took him on to “What is there to arrange? We'll help in the fields. He did n't do well at · just go out for a walk and not say where it, but I saw at once that he was un- we 're going." suited—most unsuited for any such Marie was rather annoyed at having work. I had a talk with him, and he told the path of her intrigue made so smooth; me a great deal about himself. He said she agreed, however, and said no more.. he was a poet, and that he went tramp- They dressed with great care, Amelia in ing about from place to place, all over the white, Marie in a plain brown linen that world, doing any work he could find. I showed every angularity of her lank took a deep interest in the young man. young form. They disputed over the I should never have have refused any parasol; Marie objected to it as too reasonable request of his if he had not “dressed up," and a bore to carry, and, proved—untrustworthy on more than as usual, won her point. one occasion. I am very sorry to say it, Another dispute arose directly they very. He was not quite-frank. And closed the garden gate behind them. he is undoubtedly a very careless and ex- “This is what you must do, Amelia,” travagant young man.

He has ap- said Marie. “You can come with me to pealed to me several times, but he has the station and see him, and then you never-reimbursed me, as he promised." must say you have an errand, and start

She found it difficult to speak harshly slowly home, and I'll catch up with of her old favorite despite a little quite you." justifiable resentment; but she

Amelia objected very strongly. rather dismayed to see on the faces of "I don't see why you should have him both her nieces the most eager curiosity. alone,” she protested. "He's a married They passed over his moral shortcomings

man, you know." as negligible; they wanted to know his “Can't you see that he 'll want to talk age, his family, all scrts of personal de- to me privately? He must n't know tails. She could not tell them, because that you know anything about the she did not know. His talk had been

money. Do have a little tact, Amelia!" almost invariably about his poems and Again Amelia yielded. what the good old lady called his “feel- He was waiting on the platform of the ings.” At least she knew how he re- little station, and when he saw them, he garded the universe.

came forward, his head bared, his soft, Amelia certainly expected a long and melancholy eyes fixed upon Marie, only explicit account from Marie of her con- Marie, with no interest at all in Amelia's versation with this interesting young prettiness. man the night before, but she was dis- Even in the glaring sunshine and the appointed. Marie was gruff and taciturn, dust his rare charm remained. In a avoided Amelia as much as possible, and dark suit that fitted closely to his slender very reluctantly gave the barest outline body, with a low collar and a soft bow of the amazing interview. At last, pur- tie, he looked every inch a poet and a sued by questions, she offered to weed hero. And his gentle voice, his innothe flower garden, and from the window cent and mild manner, his courtesy, Amelia caught tantalizing glimpses of profoundly affected Amelia. She linher, working doggedly, in an old straw gered, walked with them along the road, garden hat and a faded cotton frock, engrossed in observing them until Marie keeping, as Amelia put it, her secret removed her. locked in her breast.

“Amelia has an errand," she said, with She came in at noon, hot and tired and an inexorable glance at her sister. “We unsmiling. Amelia was dusting their can stroll up the road a bit, and meet her crowded bureau-top when she entered; later at the cross-roads." and flung herself down on the window- Poor Amelia, unable to devise any seat.

sort of errand, sat patiently on a grassy

[graphic][subsumed]

“And after I 've gone,' he went on, 'you 'll come here and never think of me."

bank by the cross-roads for a long, long “This really must be the last time,” time. The sun had begun to sink when she had said; “otherwise I 'll have to tell Marie came running along the road. auntie. It really is n't right, and you She was in a very good humor and in- know it. A married man! And where's clined to be confidential, which was rare, his wife all this time? Do you mean to and to be encouraged.

say that he never talks about her?"I'm sorry I kept you waiting so long, No, he does n't, and I'm not going to old 'Melie,” she said, "but we were bring up the subject. It would look as having such a nice talk!"

if I were trying to remind him of the “Let 's hear about it.”

money. I suppose she's gone out West." "Oh, he began about hating to take “Your fifty dollars would n't take her the money and all that, and I told him far,” said Amelia. not to be silly. And then-oh, we told “I don't know and I don't care. I each other about our lives—just the in- only know I 'm awfully sorry for him. teresting parts, you know. He 's been He 's lonely and wretched. No one everywhere; it 's wonderful to hear him. takes any interest in his work except me. O’Melie, just the sort of life I 'd like! I love to hear him read his poems aloud.” He fought in the Boer War, he's been in “So should I.” revolutions in South America, he 's "Well, you can't. He's too shy." hunted tigers in India. One day he 'll Amelia had had a certain experience have plenty of money, and the next day with affairs of the heart, enough, anynot a penny. No one to think of but way, to warn and alarm her. She argued himself; not a tie on earth--"

and reasoned all the way home, because "But, Marie, his wife!"

she saw very clearly that this thing was Marie stopped short, and looked at not at an end. her sister.

“If you won't promise not to see him “Do you know, 'Melie, we both for- again, I 'll tell auntie,” she said sternly. got all about her! Never mentioned Marie looked at her with scorn. her!

“Tell her,” she said, “and see what “He should n't,” Amelia answered happens." sagely. "It was horrid. But, still, he's After that poor Amelia dared not say probably awfully unhappy with her. a word. She knew her sister to be capaPoets make such awful mistakes about ble of anything and everything. She marrying."

tried pleading, weeping, exhorting. Amelia, while a model of propriety, "I 'm going to meet him again tohad an incurable softness for handsome morrow,” said Marie. “Tell auntie if young men. So much so that, after de

you like. It won't stop me.” cent protest, she consented to go with "This once more, then," Amelia agreed, Marie again the next day to say good-by drying her eyes. "O Marie, you 're to Stanley. This time she provided her- such a terribly difficult girl!" self with a book, and sat comfortably Pride forbade Amelia to countenance under a tree while her sister and the poet this meeting; she started out with her wandered off into the woods.

sister, but as soon as they were out of She held out a friendly hand to him sight of the house, she stopped. when they returned.

Go on alone,” she said; “I don't want “Good-by,” she said. “Good luck!" to see that man again.”

He took her hand, but said nothing, Triumphant and radiant, Marie hasand looked into her face with his soft, tened along the road; her sister watched

her with forlorn tears in her eyes. Marie “I want,” he said at last-"I really running toward her destiny! must see your sister once more before I Her poet was waiting for her, standing, go!"

somber and patient, under a tree. But He looked so miserable that Amelia no sooner did he see her face than his found no courage to rebuke him, and somberness left him. She was so lovely, the next day, against her scruples, she so flushed, sparkling, irresistible! Their went once more to the meeting-place. hands met in a fervent clasp, and a long She had talked it all over with Marie. one.

black eyes.

“I'm going to show you a new place only means-oh, an awful lot of unto-day,” she told him, "a place 'Melie pleasantness, rows, you know, and cryand I discovered years ago."

ing. I do hate that sort of thing so.” She went on before him, along a little "But you 'd come just the same?" he path that led down hill through a glade asked. “You'd defy them—just for me?”' of silver birches. Ferns lined the way, Something in his tone grated on Marie. and fragile little flowers; it was a sweet “Not 'defy,' exactly,” she said, with a solitude, dim, cool, and fragrant. At quick frown, “and it is n't especially for last Marie stopped. They had come to you. It's simply that I won't be intera steep decline, where the path ended in fered with ever.a great boulder.

He looked at her with a more respect“The rest is a scramble,” she said, ful admiration. Here was a girl able to "but it 's worth it. Look! Is n't it hold her own with the most exacting, the lovely?

most spoiled poet that ever lived. He climbed on to the boulder beside "Marie," he said seriously, "I don't her, and with her looked down upon a want you to endure any sort of unpleaslittle pool, like a steel mirror, darkly antness on my account. I'm not worth clear, image of austere tranquillity, a a minute's discomfort to you. I have n't place of unaccountable fascination. any claim, any merit, except that I love

"I wish you'd never been here before,” you so, my dear sweetheart.” said Stanley; “I wish no one had ever She melted at once, and smiled at seen this place before to-day.” He had him. But he remained grave. jumped down, and stood below her, at “I love you so much that 1-don't the foot of the boulder. “And after I've think I can go on this way. Why should gone,” he went on, "you 'll come here we, anyway, Marie? If we love each and never think of me."

other-only, are you quite sure, absoShe did n't answer, but looked down lutely sure, Marie, that you do love me?'' at him, her eyes soft and luminous. Her eyes met his, candidly and nobly. Passion kindled in his. She gave a little "No," she said, "not absolutely sure. sob, stretched out her arms, and slipped But sure enough to—to risk everything down into his embrace. They clung to for it." each other with throbbing hearts.

"But I don't understand, my darling “Darling Marie!” he whispered, “I girl—' love you so!"

Her dusky cheeks turned slowly scar“And I love you,” she answered. Her let, but she would not lower her eyes. arms tightened about his neck, and she “I mean,” she said, “that you re buried her head in his coat, sobbing. right about not going on this way. I

“Don't cry, my love!” he entreated. think—it ought to be either not meet“Look up, won't you, my sweetheart? ing at all, or-or-going away together. Don't cry; there 's nothing to make you No! Please don't kiss me! Don't touch sad, surely.”

me at all! It disturbs me. I want to “I'm not sad,” she answered, but the make up my mind.” tears would not stop, though she smiled “Whether you love me?" at him. “It's only-I can't explain.” “No; I know that. Whether I 'll go

He kissed her again, straining her with you or not. I thought I made up against him, looking down at her dark my mind last night that it would have and ardent face. He was waiting no to be settled one way or the other. But doubt for ardent words; but, drying her I have n't been able yet—" eyes, she spoke in a voice suddenly be- "But if you know that you love me, come matter-of-fact.

sweetheart, is n't that enough?"It won't do to have my eyes red. "No," she replied sternly, “it 's not. 'Melie would be sure to notice. There 'll No, Stanley, I want-just another day. be an awful row, anyway. She 's going I 'll meet you here on Sunday, and I 'll to tell auntie about my meeting you." tell you then. I 'll know.

“But, Marie, does that mean we can't “Marie," he said, “I'd like to go on meet again?"

my knees to you. You 're the finest, “Oh, no. They can't stop me. It bravest--'

man.

She cut him short with a vigorous, And while she tried to deliberate this boyish sort of hand-clasp.

tremendous question, there was life go“Good-by," she cried.

“See you on ing on as usual. She got up at the usual Sunday. Don't come with me; I 'd time, dull and wretched; there was no rather go back alone.” She scrambled opportunity to adjust herself, not a quiet up the hillside, as awkward and swift as moment alone; she must dress and go a young colt.

down-stairs. When she did n't eat, there She was surprised and disappointed were kindly questions and insistence; with herself because she slept that night when she became rebellious and sullen, quite as usual. She had intended to stay her aunt and her sister were ingenuously awake and think. But she waked up conciliating. They tried to relieve her, very early in the morning with a weary suggested a tonic, followed her about, and confused mind, as if she had been urging her to rest. She felt like a person thinking all night long in her sleep. who had a secret knowledge that the end Amelia lay tranquilly beside her, rosy of the world was near and who looked on and innocent. It was impossible that, at the activities of mankind with irriin similar circumstances, Amelia would table despair. hesitate for an instant, would even con- The long day wore itself away, and template the course which she con- Sunday came. They all went to church templated.

as usual in the morning, Marie driving With a leaden heart she watched the the old surrey, Amelia and the old lady awful majesty of the dawn. It was the on the back seat. She sat through the sort of sky one sees in old paintings. service like a statue, heard the solemn She had a confused, childish idea that commandment read, repeated it herself, those lofty, crimson-tinged clouds and clearly and firmly-God Himself telling the brilliant, spear-like shafts of light her she should not run off with a married from the sun were a particularly fitting background to the sudden appearance of She drove them home, but did not get an offended Jehovah. She had never out of the carriage herself. before felt so wicked or seen so clearly "My head aches," she said. "If you the depth of the abyss before her. The don't mind, Auntie, I 'll stay out in the problem presented itself to her in stark air." simplicity; she saw it like some antique “Don't be gone too long, pet," the old tragedy, a deadly struggle between love lady answered, “and keep Billy out of the and virtue. She never attempted to sun as much as you can. justify the former; she unhesitatingly So she left them at the front door and called the thing a sin. The question was, drove off down the road, sitting up stiff whether to sin or not, whether she should and straight in her Sunday dress of white give up everything for love. She was linen. The old horse trotted along, the not much of a reader. Modern fiction carriage bumped and rattled. They was unknown to her; in all the old-fash- watched her out of sight, and then went ioned novels she had read the heroines into the dim, cool house. who made this sacrifice accepted shame Dinner was ready at two o'clock, and misery as a necessary consequence,

but Marie had not come home. They acknowledged themselves sinners.

waited half an hour, an hour. The old Then there were those women whose lady grew very anxious, although on very names enthralled her-dark Fran- Amelia's account she tried to hide it. cesca in hell, Héloïse, Nicolette, Guine- “Eat a little dinner, my dear child," vere. She meditated on queens flinging she said, “and then afterward perhaps away their majesty, proud women gladly you 'd better walk over to Clifford's and humbled. She envisaged herself giv- borrow their horse and buggy. Don't ing up her college course, her inheritance worry, my dear; you know how often she from her aunt, and Amelia's companion- is late." ship, her equivalents. As much as any Amelia had her hat on, ready to start of these illustrious women, she would off on the long walk to Clifford's farm, be giving up everything, beggaring her- when the carriage flashed by the window self for love, losing her soul.

in the direction of the barn, and a few

« AnkstesnisTęsti »