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just returning to my native shores,-and saying they always knew that, with two such different persons, something would. go wrong. I had been hearing a lot of good talk in France and Italy; I had thrown over my adventurer; I felt very sophisticated and cynical and bored. So, with the firm determination to keep out of the mess, I listened to the eager, innocent babblings of the bridge-playing, motoring crowd into which my own young set had developed. I had had enough psychology for a decade; besides, I liked Richard Waring quite as much as I liked Adela. He was not so out-and-out good, but he had a more coherent personality. No outsider ever knows the whole history of any marriage relation, and unless one is frankly partizan, he had better keep his hands off. So I refused Adela's pretty invitations to stay with them.
For two years they had been living at Dalkeith all the year round. You know Dalkeith in summer: high bluffs garlanded with white cottages, for all the world like a chain of gardenias blooming against the thick green of the pines and oaks. The gardens at Dalkeith are hewn out of the woods, and often the white house has only a narrow vista to the sea. It is a bleak place for winter. I could not see why the Warings chose to stay there, charming as I remembered it to be in August. Unless they carried eternal summer in their hearts, it seemed foolish. Adela had apparently given the excuse that Richard could work better without distraction; but, considering the situations of his earlier studios, that was a little too absurd. I could not find any one who had been down there to see them. The general attitude was one of patient attendance on their folly's fit. Every one thought something was the matter, but no one knew what; and though Betty Carruthers did suggest to me that Richard might be jealous of Clement Place, that was obviously absurd. Betty's divorce has Betty's divorce has given her the most lurid ideas, and no one pays any attention to her, I least of all. Imagine being Richard Waring and being jealous of Clement Place! If I were a man, I think it would be physically impossible for me to be jealous of a poet. Clement Place was handsome, and he was pecuniarily independent of his very genuine lyric gift; but, in homely parlance, he
could not hold a candle to Richard Waring. I did not believe, either, that he would make love to another man's wife. He would confine himself to sonnet sequences. I scolded Betty sharply-all the more sharply because I was afraid, from the rumblings on the horizon and the "feel" in the air, that something was coming.
I saw Richard once or twice that spring when he ran up to town, and I questioned him lightly, as a woman sometimes may when her own heart is irreclaimably elsewhere. Once he broke out a little irri
"Adela 's such a dear,-you can't think what a dear she is, but she saw herself in a mirror once, and it did for her. She's been trying ever since to live up to her coloring and to make her mind like her figure. She can't see that it 's enough to look like that, without being like it. And she is n't like it. Why don't you come down and talk to her, Alice?"
"Heaven forbid!" I said. "Bring her up to town, and we 'll shake her out of it."
"She won't come." He shook his head. "She has a notion that I must n't be distracted from my work, and I 've never been able to do any work in my life unless I was being mercilessly distracted from it all the time. I can get more out of Broadway in ten minutes than I can get out of that monotonous ocean in ten months."
"Are you painting her?"
"I have painted her six distinct and separate times. No, I'm not painting her." He lingered a little as he was taking his leave. "You won't come, Alice?"
"No, I can't." I could tell from the nervous manner that suited him so badly how bothered he really was; but I was sure I ought to keep my hands off.
"Oh, well," he said as he turned to go, "we shall be very gay by the end of June." Then, with a change of tone, "You really won't?" I shook my head. "Heaven forgive you, Alice!" He was
The more I pondered over the matter, -and no one could have helped interfering in spirit at least, with Betty Carruthers croaking and chirping in one's ear,the surer I felt that I had done right not to go to Dalkeith. Adela was so good that in the end her heart would be sure
to tell her the right thing to do. There is a deal of wit in sheer goodness, though often, I admit, it arrives on the scene too late to be of any use. I was not at all sure that Richard's thirst for town would move Adela if she were convinced that for his work's sake his thirst should not be assuaged. But I did bank a good deal on Adela's waking up some morning and finding that she herself could not put it through any longer.
Apparently, however, her fortitude matched her beauty, for she never left Dalkeith at all. Richard might vanish and return, but she remained to guard the sacred fire. At least that was my guess at the situation.
There came a time, however, when I had to go to Dalkeith. The critics have not ceased to lament the early taking-off of Richard Waring; if they do not praise one manner, they praise another, and no one has a word to say against him—yet. There was irony, too, in the manner of his going. Almost any death, I suppose, if you go back far enough in the chain of things, seems unnecessary, something that could have been prevented, if some very little fact had only seemed at the time as important as it really was. But this was a death that was ironic on the face of it.
Richard had gone canoeing one afternoon on the bay, and had paddled as far as South Dalkeith. He had called on an unfashionable artist acquaintance in that unfashionable resort,-South Dalkeith being, as is well known, a "poor relation" of Dalkeith proper, possessed of some of the family features, but of none of the family jewels, -and had offered to take. the artist acquaintance's younger sister out in the canoe. It was smooth enough when they started, but they never got to Dalkeith. Whether it was a sudden wind or the roll from the wake of a launch, Miss Vance did not know. The canoe had overturned; Richard, knowing that she could swim, had given her a paddle to keep herself afloat. He tried to right the canoe. In the course of his endeavors, cramp or fatigue overcame him, and he went down. Aid came too late to save him alive. She survived. The less valuable person outlasted the more precious creature. When Death has a chance to choose between two, I have noticed that he often shows the same good taste.
They buried Richard at Dalkeith,Adela insisted on that, and after the racking business was over, I took Adela back to town with me. With her wavering figure, her flaming hair, the concentrated shadows of her mourning, she was like a splendid funeral-torch. I remember that I rather pitied her for it; it seemed to me that in her place I should have longed to look vaguer, duller, more effaced. I realized that her broken heart probably neither knew nor cared.
Both the Warings had been singularly unblessed with close kin, and Clement Place and I did most of the things that some one has to rise and do. I housed Adela and looked after her clothes; he took her steamer passage and saw all kinds of irrelevant persons, who sprang out of the earth overnight, as they always do after a disaster-people who begin and end in a single detail. I liked him; he was very devoted and very sorry and extremely useful. He did not ask to see her in those few days, though he obviously longed to assure himself of-what? Hardly her happiness. Her health, possibly, or perhaps simply her continued existence in this unworthy world. He was at that point of adoration. He really thought only of her, and of how, unobtrusively, he could serve her. What lyric wings might have stirred in the silences I do not know, of course.
"Just to be about, you know. Not so many thousand miles away in case she should need some one."
"She would n't let me go with her," I said. "I think she wants to be alone. But if it would comfort you to be on the same continent, I can't see why you should n't. Only you understand that I 'm not speaking for her, and on this subject I won't speak to her. She's going to the country in Belgium," I reflected; "to the same nuns who taught her when she was a child in France. I really can't see how your being in London or Paris could annoy her. But neither," I finished. frankly, "do I see how it could do either of you the slightest good." "Then I may go?"
I shrugged my shoulders a little impatiently perhaps. I was thinking far more of Richard Waring than I was of his widow, and young Place's sweet persistency annoyed me. It seemed irrelevant to the point of indecorum. Of course that was unfair. He was living, no doubt, in a bath of fine feelings and subtle silences; he was not saying anything out of the way; and he would have been greatly shocked if he had suspected Betty Carruthers's suspicions. His attitude was purely medieval. He was a young fool, all the same. Yet-my sense of humor returned to me-how like Adela it was to be so busy, in the midst of her own tragedy, unconsciously mounting another! I believe that Adela Waring, as a plain woman, would have been nothing short of a saint-a saint in the Protestant sense, I mean, with sturdy clothes and a good rany pampered children. Wholesome plainness and a poor match, those perfect collaborators in the field of virtue, would have polished her qualities and dulled her defects incalculably. It was her beauty It was her beauty that had given her a false start. Though if it has come to calling Richard Waring a false start for any woman, I must pull up and stop psychologizing.
Clement Place did go on the next steamer, and he did not see Adela for many months. She stayed in her convent, and never went farther than the quiet meadows that surrounded the convent wall. She wrote me one or two letters, very calm and concentrated and full of her sorrow, which she objectified with a naïveté that I fancy the nuns had taught her. Adela is very suggestible, though in the end she takes to her own. I expected her to become a Catholic, but she did not, and later I saw that I had been stupid to think of it. None of Rossetti's women ever were real Catholics. There is something immutably pagan in the turn of their throats, and Adela had the Preraphaelite throat.
Then her final letter came. She was ailing; I was to meet her at the steamer and to go straight to Dalkeith with her; I was to make the necessary arrangements; I was positively to give her the whole summer. She was simple and insistent. gave in. It was unnatural for Adela to stay so long away from people; she would certainly need people after two years.
She nearly took my breath away when I did see her, she was so beautiful. There had always been moments when one suspected her of not being authentic-of having been done not by Rossetti himself, but by Du Maurier after Rossetti, perhaps in "Punch." When, after the rush of things, I had time to face her at Dalkeith, I apologized inwardly. This Adela was, beyond the shadow of a doubt, authentic.
Before long she began to explain to me, not so much in deliberate, arranged accounts as in casual sentences dropped here and there. Bit by bit she had reconstructed her romance, so that there was not a break in the pattern. Everything had been perfect; above all, Richard had loved her perfectly. Certainly I never had hinted that he had not, and I wondered whether she was aware of Betty Carruthers.
"It was strained-it seemed strained— the last months," she said; "but I know now that it was n't, really. I was stupid sometimes, and his wit got beyond me; but I am sure that he never wavered. It has all been made clear to me. I wish I had n't been stupid; I wish there had n't been those strange months when things got bad. He used to go away and see other people,-I used to think it was because I had ceased to suffice to him,—but I see now that he merely wanted to give me time to make it out. The silences help. Always we came back to each other with the real understanding, with the old beautiful flame. We never said unkind things to each other, we could n't have, but there were times when the kind things sounded dull and forced. Of course we felt them always.
"I used to be afraid sometimes that we ought to go back to town. Now I'm glad we did n't. It would have been a confession of failure-a confession that we needed something besides each other. I think those moments when everything got tense, and Richard used to dash away -they were simply what one has to pay before one is made free, for all time, of the perfect relation. the perfect relation. You can't, all at first, get used to the rarefied atmosphere. It takes years; of that I'm sure. You shut your eyes and drop down for a moment, and then you go on to the next height.
"I know people talked about our stay
ing here all the year. They could n't see what we were trying for. Most people know nothing about love. I don't blame those other women-the women who chatter. I've chattered a great deal myself in my time. But I was made for a different thing from them. I'm very I'm very old-fashioned, and so was Richard, in spite of his surface."
I heard more of this; always more of it. Her talk was not up to her looks. I wanted to gasp out, "But did it never occur to you that he might be bored, my dear child?" Then I smote myself for so much as thinking it. The great heroines have had no more sense of humor than Adela, and I do not believe they bored their lovers. Perhaps Adela was right. Perhaps Richard merely did have to stop and rest. Perhaps, in the end, his lungs would have become refined to the upper air. But I would have given a good deal to know how much Adela had unconsciously invented after the fact. There never was a love-affair yet that the two lovers did not eventually believe had begun before the flood.
At all events, Adela, it seemed, was fixed for all time at her altitude. She had taken her sorrow up into the high places; she had redeemed it from the valleys and the market-place. Though her emotion at times seemed to be by William Morris out of Wagner, she ended by convincing me. Nothing, however, could prevent me from seeing that it was really Richard's ritual that she was performing-for him. It was Richard's love, to which she had not, during his life, done complete justice. None the less, it must have been a deep conviction that could gather and fuse the scattering ideas of that beautiful creature. So I oscillated. In any case, she had builded a romance "to wrench the stars apart." Underneath it all was a faint minor note of remorse. She had been stupid, she had not understood; but now, oh, now for all time she would understand better and better every day.
It seemed clear that Clement Place had no chance. He wrote, he even came, and Adela spent a long afternoon in the garden with him. The salt air and the scent of flowers mingle strangely in the Dalkeith gardens. To add to them unachievable beauty seemed to me hard on any man. I was sorry for Clement Place that
afternoon, and I did not blame him for not coming in to say good-by to me. I saw him go; Adela did not come back to the house with him. She sat gazing out over the maleficent waters of the bay. I felt sure she had talked to Clement' very beautifully about Richard.
Adela said nothing to me that night about Clement Place, and I had no opportunity of telling her how sorry I was for him. She was "wonderful" all the evening. Once or twice I caught myself wishing that Richard could paint her in his latest manner. It would have taken Richard's latest manner to do adequately the remarkable creature that she had become. Her sorrow had improved her in all sorts of subtle ways. He would not have refused to paint her a seventh time, if he could have seen her. Richard Waring never went in for symbolic figures of the old naïve kind; but Adela's beauty was tempered enough then to lend itself even to the intense modernity of his implications.
The next morning I noticed for the first time in her hands a vellum-covered volume that had evidently been Clement Place's pretext for appearing the day before in Dalkeith. Adela thrust it into my hand.
"He asked me months ago whether he might dedicate it to me. I could n't say 'No,' could I? Richard would n't have minded. He liked Clement very much, and of course he knows that, except for dedications, I can't count-for him. I've always been quite honest. Not that he has intruded," she added; "but of course I am not blind. He has been perfect."
"May I read them?"
"Why, of course. They're in public print. He merely had this copy bound for me. I really wish you would read them, Alice. Some of them seem to me like big poetry; but of course I 'm not literary. I only think that if you have the sense for beauty at all, you can always feel it, if it's there. But you do know about books. I should so much like your critical opinion, and I know that he would."
So I sat in the big loggia with Clement Place's ex-voto, trying to make up my mind to read it. Because I was there, the maid came direct to me when a shabby little cab drew up to the door.
"Will Mrs. Waring see her?”
I looked at the card. "Miss Judith Vance" was engraved on it rather badly. I became aware of a figure in deep mourning. If Adela were on the heights, I thought, as I rose, this dark and drooping person never could pull her down. "Tell Mrs. Waring," I said to Jeannette. Then I introduced myself, and we sat down. Miss Vance obviously did not think that she needed introducing. Nor did she. When a light like Richard Waring's goes out, one does not forget the breath that blew it. This was the girl who had survived.
I had hardly more than time to realize in a shocked, stunned way that her survival was indeed one of the most ironic things that ever had happened when Adela appeared. Evidently she had had no hesitations. So the three of us met; and probably the others braced themselves, as I did.
In a moment I found my hostility to the sacrificer of Richard Waring curiously neutralized by pity. The girl's cheap prettiness showed up very ill, face to face with Adela's flawless looks. She was pretty, after the fashion of the heroines of paper-covered novels: very large dark eyes (I thought of them instinctively as "orbs"); a small, slack mouth, with "cherry" lips; a pallor heightened rather patchily by artificial means; "raven-black" hair that was drawn loosely over her ears; no modeling at all. She had an excellent figure, and her dull-silk dress, though dreadfully designed and trimmed, had been fashioned to suggest every curve of it; there was no esthetic limpness of draperies, such as Adela affected. She had drawn up her crape veil, and was appraising us both in a shy, but competent, way. Despite my sense of humor, I wished myself elsewhere.
Adela began kindly, with a vague little gesture toward her visitor's black attire: "You, too, have suffered a loss?" Miss Vance stared at her.
"I? Oh, yes. It 's for him.”
'Him?" Adela hardly more than murmured it.
"Mr. Waring. Oh, Mrs. Oh, Mrs. Waring, I've felt it so!"
Adela flushed a little proudly. One could not wonder at it.
"My husband? He would have been very sorry that you should suffer. He did
only what any gentleman would have. done for any woman. The tragedy of it is for those of us who loved him."
Miss Vance fingered her black sunshade nervously.
"Oh, I know it 's you who have all the right, Mrs. Waring; but don't you see it is n't, for me, quite as if he had died saving any one else? That gives me a right to mourn openly. And I think-I think he would have liked to know that I wanted to do it. As you say, he would n't have wanted any one to suffer. But if any one did suffer, he would have believed in her showing it. It 's-" her ready tears began to come- "my only compensation. If he had lived, I could n't have done anything to show that I cared, could I?"
. She was evidently quite sincere; and I remember thinking what a pity it was that even such a lovely thing as sincerity does not make common people any less
When I glanced at Adela, it was to see her rigid, staring with the eyes of a statue. "You-cared?"
Miss Vance blushed slightly, but returned Adela's straight glance.
"I cared. Of course he did n't know it."
I could not help reflecting that there were probably other women than Miss Vance who regretted Richard Waring passionately. I had often thought, since his death, of those unlicensed mourners. Adela never had given them a thought, probably,-why should she?-though she must have known that other hearts had been shivered by the wind of his passing. It was enough, in all conscience, to be the only woman he loved; even Adela, I felt, could not have expected to be the only woman who loved him. None the less, I resented bitterly, for Adela, this futile invasion of her sorrow.
"I-I am sorry." Adela was evidently desirous to do the right thing, but was unprovided with a reply.
Miss Vance smiled sadly.
"Ah, please don't be sorry, Mrs. Waring!" She turned her head away for a moment, then continued: "I'm not sure he did n't know, he came to us so often that last year. But I mean, of course, I never told him. I kept it back. We were just good comrades-such good comrades!