Allowing myself no time to think or feel, swallowing tears as if they had been wine, I passed to madame’s sitting-room to pay the necessary visit of ceremony and respect. She received me with perfectly well- acted cordiality—was even demonstrative, though brief, in her welcome. In ten minutes I was dismissed. From the salle à manger I proceeded to the refectory, where pupils and teachers were now assembled for evening study. Again I had a welcome, and one not, I think, quite hollow. That over, I was free to repair to the dormitory.

“And will Graham really write?” I questioned, as I sank tired on the edge of the bed.

Reason, coming stealthily up to me through the twilight of that long, dim chamber, whispered sedately,—

“He may write once. So kind is his nature, it may stimulate him for once to make the effort. But it cannot be continued—it may not be repeated. Great were that folly which should build on such a promise, insane that credulity which should mistake the transitory rain-pool, holding in its hollow one draught, for the perennial spring yielding the supply of seasons.”

I bent my head; I sat thinking an hour longer. Reason still whispered me, laying on my shoulder a withered hand, and frostily touching my ear with the chill blue lips of eld.

“If,” muttered she—“if he should write, what then? Do you meditate pleasure in replying? Ah, fool, I warn you! Brief be your answer. Hope no delight of heart, no indulgence of intellect; grant no expansion to feeling; give holiday to no single faculty; dally with no friendly exchange; foster no genial intercommunion.”

“But I have talked to Graham, and you did not chide,” I pleaded.

“No,” said she, “I needed not. Talk for you is good discipline. You converse imperfectly. While you speak, there can be no oblivion of inferiority, no encouragement to delusion. Pain, privation, penury stamp your language——”

“But,” I again broke in, “where the bodily presence is weak and the speech contemptible, surely there cannot be error in making written language the medium of better utterance than faltering lips can achieve?”

Reason only answered, “At your peril you cherish that idea, or suffer its influence to animate any writing of yours!”

“But if I feel, may I never express?”

Never!” declared Reason.

I groaned under her bitter sternness. Never—never—oh, hard word! This hag, this Reason, would not let me look up, or smile, or hope; she could not rest unless I were altogether crushed, cowed, broken in, and broken down. According to her, I was born only to work for a piece of bread, to await the pains of death, and steadily through all life to despond. Reason might be right; yet no wonder we are glad at times to defy her, to rush from under her rod and give a truant hour to Imagination, her soft, bright foe, our sweet Help, our divine Hope. We shall and must break bounds at intervals, despite the terrible revenge that awaits our return. Reason is vindictive as a devil; for me she was always envenomed as a stepmother. If I have obeyed her it has chiefly been with the obedience of fear, not of love. Long ago I should have died of her ill-usage—her stint, her chill, her barren board, her icy bed, her savage ceaseless blows—but for that kinder power who holds my secret and sworn allegiance. Often has Reason turned me out by night, in mid-winter, on cold snow, flinging for sustenance the gnawed bone dogs had forsaken; sternly has she vowed her stores held nothing more for me, harshly denied my right to ask better things. Then, looking up, have I seen in the sky a head amidst circling stars, of which the midmost and the brightest lent a ray sympathetic and attent. A spirit, softer and better than Human Reason, has descended with quiet flight to the waste, bringing all around her a sphere of air borrowed of eternal summer, bringing perfume of flowers which cannot fade, fragrance of trees whose fruit is life, bringing breezes pure from a

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.