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"I HAVE brought home Gower to spend the evening," Harold said, one day, soon after our return home. "I thought you would like it. He is fond of music and poetry, and all that sort of thing; so I thought you would get on well together."
I thought Harold showed a bitter remembrance of those words of mine-I had never forgotten them-in this speech.
"I do not want-"I began; but Mr. Gower was now in the room; it was necessary to receive him civilly.
I observed how, first, the waters on one side gathered themselves together and came rolling on, swift, and fell as fate, only to be met, scattered and broken, by the great army of waters tumbling on from the other side. What a pigmy I felt standing there! Yet I would not, for much, have missed the experience of the hour I spent there. The sky was almost as wild as the sea, only along the horizon there was a line of gleamy, watery light, and between sky and sea I was shut in!"
Some fascination made me raise my eyes from my work to Mr. Gower's kindled face; but I dropped them immediately, and did not speak.
"Do not want any interruption to your tête-a-tête evenings, Mrs. Warden? But you must be generous. Remember how long it is "Did you get home safe?" Harold asked. since I have had the pleasure of seeing you," From the Devil's Tongue; people someor my friend, Harold. Since the evening times-" when you surprised us all so brilliantly, you "Pass into Hell's Throat. Excuse my interhave been invisible. I hope," he continued, ruption, I was afraid you might mar by more you will give me credit for having been sin- genteelly expressing the idea of the nature cerely sorry to hear of your subsequent ill- of the transition. That boiling, surging world ness. I trust sea-air has quite restored of waters gave birth to the idea in my mind. you." Yet, I got home safe, but not without a little further experience; when I turned and descended from my slight elevation, I saw water before me still; the tide had come up and covered the narrow and lower neck of land along which I had approached the end. I tried it cautiously, and was nearly washed away. I had no desire unhousel'd, disappointed, unanel'd, and with all my imperfections on my head, to lose sight of known life to try some unknown, perchance greater ill, so I gave up the attempt to traverse that wave-washed strip of land."
"I am very well now, thank you," I replied. Of course, Mr. Gower could not know the pain his words gave me.
"We have been staying at Seawash," Harold said. "Do you know it at all, Gower? It is very pleasant there. My wife fell quite in love with it, so we shall often go down there, again, I think."
It has a very broken coast, has it not? the sea running up into many small bays, and lashing itself furiously against rocky points? I know it well. One autumn some years ago, I was there alone. You know the Devil's Tongue, as they call the longest, sharpest point, I dare say, Mrs. Warden?"
Yes, I do."
"What did you do?" Harold asked.
"Do, man! Just nothing. I went back to my former station, wrapped myself up tight in my cloak, and waited. Waiting is a famous cure for the ills of this life, Mrs. Warden."
"Did you know that you were safe there on the point?"
I was returning from a long ramble late one wild evening, and saw the sea-it was very rough,-breaking magnificently on the rock at the end. I went down, although it was growing dusk, and mounted to the top of "When it was full moon ane the sea roughthe little peak. I was not much above the ened by a sou'-wester, that point was somewater, I could see no land; it was awfully times washed over, an old boatman had told beautiful to see from that wild point of view me, as we rowed past it the day before. I the heaving and breaking, meeting and dash- don't pretend to say but that I waited and Someing of the great, foamy, angry waves. I am watched the waters in great anxiety. a man of tolerable nerve and courage, but I times a slight lull in the storm came, and felt an icy thrill pass through me; it was some every wave reached less high than the former time before my heart returned to its regular, had done. Then, with a howl and a scream, quiet beating. Each wave shat came whelm- the wind rushed across the water, and huge ing the rock at my feet, seemed as if it might billows would leap, and well, and gurgle up, swell up and wash me from my little pin- sometimes over my feet, always drenching me nacle, and as if it hungered to do so. One reads of angry, foamy, troubled seas, but no words that I know can express the fearful excitement roused within one, standing in the midst of such wild commotion. There was an order in the wild going of the waves, too.
"Well! chacun à son gout! You call that. experience which you would not have missed for the world? I cannot understand that. Can you imagine the feeling, Annie?"
I worked away diligently with a quivering
hand, and answered absently, without looking rather a bungling fashion, I am afraid, but I up, "I do not know." think my melodies suit their meaning."
"Don't praise yourself, Gower, but let us hear and judge."
"Capital fish you get at that same place," Harold went on. "It is not like most fishingplaces, where you can't get fish. Dinner "Read the words, then, first," Mr. Gower ready? Very well. Gower, give my wife said, putting the book into my husband's your arm; I must follow disconsolately for hand. once."
"Yes, that is pretty enough," Harold said, Mr. Gower's narrative, the voice in which returning it, suppressing a slight yawn. it was told, and the gestures accompanying it," Could it not have been said more straighthad excited me painfully. The hand laid on forwardly and comprehensibly in plain prose, his arm still trembled, but I stilled it by a though? Don't transfix me with your indiggreat effort, yet not soon enough. He glanced nant glances, but let us hear your music." at me significantly and said, "I think you did know, Mrs. Warden."
"We must have some music after you have given us a cup of coffee, Annie," Harold said, when he and Mr. Gower returned to the drawing-room after dinner.
I did not answer. I had secretly determined I would not play. I had not touched my piano since that dreadful evening. The thought of perhaps having to do so to-night had already given me a nervous headache, of which I thought I would, if need were, avail myself, as an excuse.
Harold stretched his great length on the sofa, composing himself to listen. The coffee apparatus was cleared away, and the lamp brought; and I sat down with my idle work to listen too.
Mr. Gower amused himself at the piano some time-coquetting with his memory. Then he began.
He had a fine voice, powerful, and under great control. The first song was set to wild and passionate music. When he filled the room with the greatest possible power of his voice, I cowered back into the depths of my Mr. Gower was wandering about the draw-easy-chair, dropping my work, turning my ing-room abstractedly, opening and turning over my books.
"Oh! you have this true Poet's book," he suddenly exclaimed. He came up to me, book in hand. "Is it not splendid? I am sure you like it, though I know very few ladies who do. I know the writer. 1 can introduce him to you, if you have any care to see the external features of the poet. Have you?"
"I think not," I answered.
head away from the musician. I looked at Harold. "Noise enough!" he muttered rather drowsily, in answer to my look, and closed his eyes.
I had just turned to observe Mr. Gower. I was curious to know if his own music woke any emotion in him. Yes; his voice died away trembling; yet he turned abruptly round to look at me.
He sang song after song, and Harold went to sleep. Harold had had one or two very "Ah! Right, right! It is a very vulgar hard days' work lately, and had kept late curiosity that, concerning lions; and often its hours. "No wonder he is tired, poor fellow!" gratification-which proves no gratification-I said to myself; and I tried to subdue the shivers a thousand beautiful imaginings to great troublous heart-swellings that
atoms. Does it not?"
"I don't know. I have had no experience."
"But you do know and have read this book. Ah! here's a leaf of fern put in at one of the most beautiful passages. That is your mark?"
strong, passionate singing produced in me. Mr. Gower went on singing or playing. It was a pleasure to touch such a magnificent instrument, he said, and since I would not play-for I had refused-he must.
At last I stole to my husband's side, and woke him softly. I thought Mr. Gower did "Is it the book you read to me on that luck-not know he had been asleep; but poor Haless morning?" asked Harold, laughingly. rold gave such yawns that he quite betrayed I blushed deeply as I said "Yes." I do not know exactly why. Mr. Gower looked inqui- "I shall weary you as well as your husband sitive. 66 Little as you care for poetry, I am if I go on longer," Mr. Gower said at last, rissure you admired this so read, Warden; did ing from the piano, and coming towards us. you not?" I am afraid I have done so, already, Mr. Warden," he continued, "you look a-weary, a-weary!"
"So much, that, soothed by the soft sweet voice of the reader, I went to sleep," laughed Harold.
"To sleep!" Mr. Gower gave an expressive shrug. "I have set one or two of these songs to music," he continued to me, "after
It is rather late," I said. "I have a headache. We have kept bad hours since we returned from the sea-side. Harold has been hard-worked, and, of course, I sit up for
"So you must forgive our having been again, on the threshold of consciousness - the rather bad company," Harold said. "I have knowledge that I was not happy. not learnt to do without sleep, as you seem to have done."
"Five hours is enough for any man, when he is once used to it," Mr. Gower said.
"To exist, but not thrive upon," said Harold, glancing at Mr. Gower's very thin, worn form and face.
Now that we are settled at home again, things soon went back into the old miserable way. What was there to prevent their doing so? I had no new power of ruling myself, no new hope for which to live, no new light by which to walk. I loved my husband. Yes! but I know, now, that one poor weak human love will avail nothing when it stands alone, based on nothing, looking up to nothing.
"Other things than want of sleep have made the ravages you see," Mr. Gower answered laughingly, and yet with a latent Harold, seeing me look ill and unhappy, melancholy in the smile that died away very urged me to cultivate the acquaintance of some slowly from his face. "It is very well for of the many people with whom we had exyou, Warden, and for prosperous, easy-going changed visits, to try and make friends, but fellows like you, whom fortune favors, and when I told him I wanted only him and no whose life-paths are smooth and plain, to other friend that he was enough for me enjoy your eight or nine hours' sleep. But he smiled and looked pleased, and said no sleep is too expensive a luxury for us poor more. fellows, who struggle and strive with the So I fought on alone, my soul never satisfied, world, and follow an exacting mistress, ever ready to avail herself of the slightest excuse for deserting us."
"Yet you would not change with me. Give up your glorious uncertainties-hopes of fame and dreams of ambition-for my common-place and inglorious certainties? Now would you?"
"No!" Mr. Gower answered slowly, sending his eyes out on some far journey, and bringing them back radiant with a strange light. "No!" he answered, more assuredly, "I would not change. I would rather fight and battle on till death, than know the respectable composure, the dignified composure, of a man good friends with the world. For me there would be no rest in your life. I fancy I have not known what rest is, since I was a child. But Mrs. Warden's tired pale face reminds me to say good-night-so good-night."
Harold went down-stairs with him.
Harold, do not ask Mr. Gower here again please," I said, when he returned.
"Why, dear? I thought I had given you a pleasant evening."
"I do not think Mr. Gower is a good man. I do not think we shall either of us be the happier for having him here. No wife ought to find pleasure in the society of a man who shows no respect for her husband. I don't mind his coming when other people are here, but please don't ask him again when we are alone."
Very well, Annie. I think I can see what you mean. I am sure you are right; thank you, love. But I am afraid that poor head is very bad again?"
my heart never at rest, and every now and
I HAD been three years a wife before I became a mother. My first baby came to me with the early summer flowers. I date best by them, because afterwards many things over laid such blessed anniversaries, and made it difficult for me to endeavor, and hard for me to dare, to remember when, in what hour, at what season, this or that happened. And yet I can even now bring present to my senses the delicious fragrance and delicate loveliness of the flowers my husband brought to me so often at that time.
After the birth of my darling, there was a long interval during which I thought I was at peace: physical weakness made quiet and stillness grateful, and the new great joy seemed to fill and satisfy my soul.
Again I smiled to myself as I had smiledhow long ago it seemed!-looking out on the lovely summer beauty of the land round Ilton.
I lay still, with meek-folded hands, and smiled struck by the opening door; he fell, and cut into the face of my fair-pictured future, my his forehead against the sharp corner of a table. beautiful new life, through this, my own child. The blood flowed, and I was terribly frightened. I fancied that all the struggle and pain and I caught him in my arms; he had turned sick perplexity of existence were past; I looked and quiet with the pain; but when I took back upon all past misery as one waking to him, he called out: "Papa! papa! papa, take some blissful reality looks back upon an ugly me!" I could not pacify him, so laid him in dream of the black night. I had found some- my husband's arms. thing so sweet, so pure, so delightfully dependent to live for, that I thought I now grasped Peace, had detained her with my poor weak hands till she had touched with her holy healing my brow and breast.
Yes! peace has come to me," I whispered softly to myself, raising the tiny baby-hand to my lips, while happy tears filled my eyes.
I ran for water, sponges, and cloths; when I returned, my boy was sitting on his father's knee, leaning his little head back against his shoulder, and smiling faintly at some funny story Harold was telling him, while he held his handkerchief to the wound. The child let me wash and bathe and plaster up the cut: but all the while he clung to his father's arm, My husband was infinitely glad, and kind and persisted in saying that mamma had hurt and tender. He showed to such advantage in him. He would not come to me, nor kiss me, my sick-room! I raised up my happy eyes but soon fell asleep in my husband's arms. proudly to him, it was so beautiful to see him Harold carried him up to the nursery, and subduing his strength to our weakness-my waited to see him quietly sleeping in bed. baby's and mine- or exerting it only for us; I should have done that, should I not? Was I bending his handsome head down so low, yet not his mother? This was not the first time then almost fearing to kiss the tiny baby-cheek; my heart had been so wounded. When my looking so concerned if the child uttered a cry, husband left the room with our boy, I threw so amused and happy if he woke a doubtful myself on the floor, and gave way to a wild smile in its queer little face! I thought this passion of grief: I wailed, and lamented — peace would last. I loved my baby so intensely. almost raved. Even my child, my own child, He loved it dearly, and me anew through it. did not love me; it engrossed my husband's I thought my deep love all that was needful to tenderness, and rendered me no love in remake me a good mother. I gave up everything turn. My passion, indulged, grew uncontrollato my child, and Harold thought me a paragon, ble. Jealousy gained sole possession of me. a perfect example of self-denying love. And Was I to be nothing now? nothing to father for a long time we lived, O, so quietly and hap- or child?
py together!- we three my husband, my- By the time Harold came down, I had lost self, and our child. all command over myself. He took me up and
Our child was a boy; he grew into a dark-laid me on the sofa; he knelt beside me, haired, blue-eyed, noble little fellow - a tiny ging and praying that I would be calm - would Harold. I turned God's free-given blessing in- at least tell him what was the matter. I turned to a bane. How should I, undisciplined, unable my face away, and, burying it in the pillows, to rule myself, be able rightly to educate an- which I clenched between my aimless fingers, other life? My husband, with his clear, simple, I shook the couch with the strength of my ago practical notions, and his decided judgment be- ny. Poor Harold! what could he do? pained tween right and wrong, was a far more judicious and perplexed as he was. He sent for our medand wise parent than I. The child felt it. Iical man, but he was long coming. When he worshipped, idolized him; and he would turn arrived, my passion had raved itself out: I was from my wild love to meet his father's calm weak as a child, and suffering from extreme tenderness. The older he grew, the more exhaustion. But my state revealed to Dr. Ryplainly he showed this preference. ton the violence of the paroxysm just past; I believe it was after seeing me that day, that he began first to entertain the opinion that sometimes I was insane. . .
"You hurt me, mamma, -let me go; papa is coming," the boy exclaimed one day. I had been showing him pictures, telling him stories, lying on the ground beside him; he had been listening with tranced attention, his great blue eyes fixed full on mine; he heard his father's step in the hall, and directly he struggled to get free from my arms.
It is no use. I cannot write calmly and slowly. I must hurry over all that is to come. When I again became the mother of a living child, baby was once more for a little while an angel of peace in the house. I thought that this "Papa will come; stay with poor mamma, child, at least, a girl-with my brow and eyes, darling! Do you not love mamnia ?" they said should be wholly mine. My hus"No," the boy answered boldly; he strug- band might engross the affection of our noble gled himself free, pushed me away, and tramp-boy, if only this little fragile white blossom, this led over me with his little eager feet. I ran lily of mine, might rest solely and always on after him, but could not catch him in time; my bosom. I did not like to have my husband Harold came in, and my child's head was kiss, I hardly liked that he should see, this
A WIFE'S STORY.
baby; I never let him take it in his arms. ed at me with a severely scrutinizing expresThe first time it smiled brightly at him, and sion in his gray eyes, as he sat down close. with its little hands clutched at the dark hair by, fronting me. of his bent bead, acute pain shot through my as if he expected I should say more, then anheart. Do what I could, I was not able to pre-swered:He waited for a moment, vent the child from knowing and loving its father. Soon, very soon, I had the agonizing, though self-induced, torture to bear, of seeing it turn from my fierce love, to hold out its tiny hands appealingly, it seemed to me-to my husband. It lisped Papa before ever it had once said Mamma.
almost said to wish to think you so. "You have taught us to think you sowas a very gentle name to give your malady; it was conferred in all kindness, in all charity." "Kindness" 1 echoed. leave my own children in my charge; and you my husband so to mistrust me that he fears to "You have taught talk of kindness!"
Harold's manner to his children reminded me of what it had been to me in the days of our courtship. There was the same protecting, beautifully sweet, yet manly tenderness. Some-when I was last sent for to attend you? Do times I longed to be a child, to share the ca- you mean to confess that that humiliating wild"Mrs. Warden, reflect! Do you remember resses my boy and girl received. My husband ness of passion was voluntarily indulged?" had left off almost all demonstrations of affec- I felt the blood rush across my face, but I
tion for me, but only because I had often mani-answered as steadily as he asked:
"Must I, papa!" the little girl would ask. "I don't want to get down."
A few words in a loud voice, and then a little soft mouth would be pressed up to my face. Sometimes I pretended to have fallen asleep, and not to feel the touch that thrilled my whole being through; then the play would cease, and my husband would draw the children into
My husband was much at home during that miserable time. I thought it was to keep watch over his children, and I resented this bitterly. Could he not trust them with me, their mother? Of what was he afraid?
Sometimes the indulgent, pitying, curious tenderness with which my husband began again to treat me, soothed me, and I could lie for hours in child-like quiet, with my head resting on his bosom. But this was not the love and sympathy for which I thirsted, and often my spirit rose up in arms, repelling this condescending affection, which mocked the love I craved. It was through the carelessness or maliciousness of a servant that I first heard how my husband was pitied as the poor gentleman who had a mad wife.
"Mad! they think me mad!" I repeated to myself.
I sent for Dr. Ryton. I cared nothing for what he might think of me. madness seemed to my proud, wrong-judging The idea of spirit, to be attended with a humiliation I would not bear. They might think me anything but mad.
"You think me mad, and have taught my usband to believe me so," I said, in a cold, alm voice, when Dr. Ryton came. He look
would have given me terrible pain. Certainly. At the beginning I could have checked and controlled myself. not worth while; it is a miserable relief to me To do so to give way. After the storm comes a calm. In the weakness that follows after my vioheart quieter. Life is fainter, its pain more lence, my head is cooler and clearer, and my endurable."
ton said. and wickedness of all this? "You speak calmly enough now," Dr. Rysee that, if indeed you are a responsible per"Can you not see the selfishness son-and in that light you wish me to consider Can you not you-you are sinning most heinously: destroypiness of your nobly good husband; alienating your children's affections from you; ing the peace of a home: wrecking the hapruining your own soul! By Heaven! madam, you had better wish yourself the maddest er and destroyer you wish me to pronounce you!" I paused and thought; he sitting there, poor soul in Bedlam than the voluntary abusstooping forward, bent his cold eyes on me steadily. A book lay on the sofa by me. took it in my hand, longing to throw it in my enemy's face, that at least for a moment he might start and his gaze waver. it very important then to restrain myself. 1 only played awhile with the leaves, and then But I thought put the book down. Doing so, I looked up, and saw a kind of smile gleaming on the gray face opposite to me.
in you," Dr. Ryton said.
Nature! yes, you are right there," I re
neglected to control, all the faults of which