Two EveningsSeventh. Yes, I will hope! To-night, I heard Grimsby and Hattersley grumbling together, about the inhospitality of their host. They did not know I was near, for I happened to be standing behind the curtain, in the bow of the window, watching the moon rising over the clump of tall, dark elm-trees below the lawn and wondering why Arthur was so sentimental as to stand without, leaning against the outer pillar of the portico, apparently watching it too.
`So, I suppose we've seen the last of our merry carousals in this house,' said Mr. Hattersley, `I thought his good-fellowship wouldn't last long.--But,' added he, laughing, `I didn't expect it would meet its end this way. I rather thought our pretty hostess would be setting up her porcupine quills, and threatening to turn us out of the house, if we didn't mind our manners.'
`You didn't foresee this, then?' answered Grimsby with a guttural chuckle. `But he'll change again when he's sick of her. If we come here a year or two hence, we shall have all our own way, you'll see.'
`I don't know,' replied the other: `she's not the style of woman you soon tire of--but be that as it may, it's devilish provoking now, that we can't be jolly, because he chooses to be on his good behaviour.'
`It's all these cursed women!' muttered Grimsby. `They're the very bane of the world! They bring trouble and discomfort wherever they come, with their false, fair faces and their d--d deceitful tongues.'
At this juncture, I issued from my retreat, and smiling on Mr. Grimsby as I passed, left the room and went out in search of Arthur. Having seen him bend his course towards the shrubbery, I followed him thither, and found him just entering the shadowy walk. I was so light of heart, so overflowing with affection, that I sprang upon him and clasped him in my arms. This startling conduct had a singular effect upon him: first, he murmured, `Bless you darling!' and returned my close embrace with a fervour like old times, and then he started, and in a tone of absolute terror, exclaimed
`Helen!--What the devil is this!' and I saw, by the faint light gleaming through the overshadowing tree, that he was positively pale with the shock.
How strange that the instinctive impulse of affection should come first, and then the shock of the surprise! It shows at least that the affection is genuine: he is not sick of me yet.
`I startled you, Arthur,' said I, laughing in my glee. `How nervous you are!'
`What the deuce did you do it for?' cried he, quite testily, extricating himself from my arms, and wiping his forehead with his handkerchief. `Go back, Helen--go back directly! You'll get your death of cold!'
`I won't--till I've told you what I came for. They are blaming you, Arthur, for your temperance and sobriety, and I'm come to thank you for it. They say it is all "these cursed women," and that we are the bane of the world; but don't let them laugh, or grumble you out of your good resolutions, or your affection for me.'
He laughed. I squeezed him in my arms again, and cried in tearful earnest--
`Duo persevere!--and I'll love you better than ever I did before!'
`Well, well, I will!' said he, hastily kissing me. `There now, go.--You mad creature, how could you come out in your light evening dress, this chill autumn night?'
`It is a glorious night,' said I.
`It is a night that will give you your death, in another minute. Run away, do!'
`Do you see my death among those trees, Arthur?' said I, for he was gazing intently at the shrubs, as if he saw it coming, and I was reluctant to leave him, in my new-found happiness and revival of hope and love. But he grew angry at my delay, so I kissed him and ran back to the house.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|