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lips, any power in the world can ?" cried mourning dress that her companions saw the philosopher, whose emotion again how pale and thin she had grown. got beyond his control. He got up Alice was not speculative, nor fanciful, again, and resumed his melancholy march nor addicted to undue exercise of the up and down the room. “It's an awfu' faculties of her own mind in any way. marvel, beyond my reach,” he said, She was a dutiful woman, young and “when a word of communication would simple, and accepting God's will without make a' the difference, why it's no per- inquiry or remonstrance. Though she mitted, if it were but to keep a heart had struggled long against the thought from breaking here and there."
of Arthur's death, now that he was “ Perhaps it is our own fault,” said dead she recognised and submitted to the Colin; “perhaps flesh and blood shrinks event which it was no longer possible to more than we are aware of from such a avert or change, with a tender and possibility; and perhaps—" here the sweet resignation of which some women young man paused a little, “indeed, it are capable. A more forlorn and desolate is not perhaps. Does not God Himself creature than Alice Meredith did not choose to be our comforter?" said the exist on the earth, to all ordinary appearyouthful pre-destined priest; upon which ance, at this moment; but, as she was the older and sadder man once more not at all thinking of herself, that aspect composed himself with a groan.
of the case did not occur to her. She “Ay," said Lauderdale, “I can say came out of her room very softly, with nothing against that argument. I'm no a faint smile on her face, holding some denying it's the last and the greatest. Prayer-books in her hands. Up to this I speak the voice of a man's yearning— sad day it had been their custom to read but I've no intention of contravening prayers together on the Sundays, being the truth. He's gone like many a one too far off Rome to make it practicable before him. You and me must bide our even for the stronger members of the time. I'll say no more of Arthur. The party to go to church. Alice came up best thing you can do is to read a chapter to Colin with her books in her handsIf we canna hear of him direct, which is she said to him in a wistful whisper, no to be hoped for, we can take as good “You will take his place,” and pointed a grip as possible of the Friend that out to him silently the marks she had stands between us. It's little use trying placed at the lessons and psalms. Then to forget-or trying no to think and she knelt down between the two awed inquire and question. There is but one and astonished men, to say the familiar thing in the world, so far as I can see, prayers which only a week ago Arthur that a man can feel a kind of sure of. himself had read with his dying voice. Callant, read a chapter," said the phi- Though at times articulation was almost losopher, with a long sigh. He threw impossible to Colin, and Lauderdale himself back as he spoke in the nearest breathed out of his deep chest an chair, and Colin took his Bible dutifully Amen which sounded like a groan, Alice to obey. The contrast between this did not falter in her profound and request, expressed as any Scotch peasant still devotions. She went over the wellwould have expressed it, and the spe- known prayers word by word, with eye culations which preceded it, did not and voice steadfast and rapt in the duty startle Colin, and he had opened the which was at the same time a consolabook by instinct in the latter part of St. tion. There are women of such sweet John's Gospel, when he was disturbed loyalty and submission of spirit, but by the entrance of Alice, who came in neither Lauderdale nor Colin had met softly from her room without any warn- with them before. Perhaps a certain ing. Her long attendance on her brother passiveness of intellect had to do with had withdrawn the colour from her it, as well as Alice's steady English cheeks and the fulness from her figure training and custom of self-suppression ; so gradually, that it was only now in her but it made a wonderful impression
upon the two who were now the sole “Come, Colin," said Lauderdale, companions and guardians of the friend. “she shall have her pleasure done less young woman, and gave her indeed this day, at least, whatsoever she comfor the moment an absolute empire over mands. If there was onything within them, of which Alice was altogether my power or his-" said the philosopher, unconscious, and of which, even had with a strange discord that sounded like she known it, she could have made no tears in his voice; but Alice stopped him further use. When the Morning Prayer short. was almost concluded it was she who “Oh yes,” she said, softly, “it is very indicated to Colin another mark in the good of you to do it because I ask you. Prayer-book, at the prayer for Christ's Mr. Campbell, you did not read the Church militant on earth, and they right lesson,” she added, turning her could even hear the whisper of her voice worn face to Colin with a slight rebroken by an irrestrainable sob at the proach. thanksgiving for all “Thy servant de- “I read what I thought was better for parted this life in Thy faith and fear,” us all, mourning as we are,” said Colin, which Colin read with agitation and startled ; upon which the sad little faltering. When they all rose from representative of law and order did her their knees, she turned from one to the best to smile. other with her countenance for the first “I have always heard it said how time disturbed. “ You were very very wonderful it was how the lesson for good to him," she said, softly. “God the day always suited everybody's case,” will bless you for it,” and so sank into said Alice. “Arthur never would make sobbing and tears, which were not to any change for circumstances. He--he be subdued any longer, yet were not said it was as if God could ever be passionate nor out of accordance with wanting," the faithful sister said, her docile looks. After that, Alice through her sobs; and then, again, recovered her calm, and began to put force upon herself :-“I shall be occupy herself with them as if she had here when you come back," she said, been their mother. “Have you been with her faint smile ; and so, like a out ?” she said. “You must not stay little princess, sent them away. The in and make yourself ill.” This was two men went their way up the slope addressed specially to Colin. “Please and through the little town, in their go out and take a walk; it will do you a black coats, casting two tall, sombre great deal of good. If it had not been shadows into the sunshine and gaiety a great festa it would not have been so of the bright piazza. There had been bad; but, if you go up to the Villa a procession that morning, and the Conti, you will find nobody there. Go rough pavement was strewed with up behind the terrace, into the alleys sprigs of myrtle and box, and the air where it is shady. There is one on the still retained à flavour of the candles, way to the Aldobrandini ; you know not quite obliterated by the whiff of it, Mr. Campbell. Oh go, please; it is incense which came from the open such a beautiful day, it will do you doors of the Cathedral, where even good.”
the heavy leathern curtain, generally “And you ?” said Colin, who felt in suspended across the entrance, had his heart an inclination to kneel to her been removed by reason of the crowd. as if she had been a queen.
People were kneeling even on the steps; “I will stay at home to-day,” said peasants in their laced buskins, and Alice. “I could not go out to-day ; but Frascati women, made into countesses I shall do very well. Sora Antonia will or duchesses, at the least, by the long come in from mass presently. Oh, go white veil which streamed to their feet. out, please, and take a walk. Mr. The windows were all hung with brilLauderdale, he will go if you tell him to liant draperies in honour of the morning's go—you are both looking so pale.” procession and the afternoon's Tombola. It was one of the very chief of Italian for," said the philosopher somewhat holydays, a festal Sunday in May, the morosely. “She's like none of the month of Mary. No wonder the two sad women you and me ken. I'm doubtful Protestant Scotchmen, with mourning in in my own mind whether that dutiful their dress and in their hearts, felt and obedient spirit has ever been our themselves grow sick and faint as they ideal in our country. Intellect's a grand went dutifully to the gardens of the Villa gift, callant, baith to man and woman ; Conti, as they had been commanded. but you'll no fly in my face and assert They did not so much as exchange a that it's more than second-best.” word with each other till they had passed “I am not up to argument to-day," through all that sunshine and reached said Colin ; and they walked back again the identical alley, a close arcade, over the whole length of the avenue in arched and shut in by the dense foliage silence. Perhaps a certain irritability, of ilex-trees, to which their little born of their mutual grief, was at the sovereign had directed them. There bottom of this momentary difference ; was not a soul there as she had prophe- but somehow, in the stillness, in the sied. A tunnel scooped out of the damp, subdued leafy shade, which at first sight dewy soil would scarcely have been more had been so congenial to his feelings, absolutely shut in from the sunshine, an indescribable shadow stole over scarcely could have been stiller or cooler, Colin's mind—a kind of indistinct fear or more withdrawn from the blazing and reluctance, which took no definite noonday, with its noises and rejoicings, shape, but only crept over hini like a than this narrow sombre avenue. They mist over the face of the sun. His strayed down its entire length, from one heart was profoundly touched at once blue arch of daylight to the other, before by the grief, and by the self-command they spoke ; and then it was Lauderdale of Alice, and by her utter helplessness who broke the silence, as if his thoughts, and dependence upon himself and his generally so busy and so vagrant, had friend. Never before had he been so never got beyond Alice Meredith's last attracted towards her, nor felt so much words.
that dangerous softening sentiment of “Another time, Colin," said the phi- pity and admiration, which leads to losopher, “ you'll no make ony changes love. And yet, the two walked back in the lesson for the day. Whiles it's silently under the dark ilex-trees, and awfu' hard to put up with the con- across the piazza, which was now ditions o' a leemited intellect; but thronged with a gay and many-coloured whiles they're half divine. I'm no pre- crowd. The brighter the scene grew tending to be reasonable. She kens around them, the more they shut themno more about reason than—the angels, selves up in their own silence and maybe—no that I have ony personal sorrow, as was natural; and Colin at acquaintance with their modes o' argu length began to recognise a new element, ment. I admit it's a new development which filled him with vague uneasiness to me; but a woman like yon, callant, --an element not in the least new to would keep a man awfu' steady in the the perplexed cogitations of his guardian course of his life.”
and anxious friend. “Yes,” said Colin ; and then with a strange premonition, for which he himself could not account, he added—“She
CHAPTER XXXV. would keep a man steady, as you say ; but he would find little response in When they entered the salone on their her—not that I regard her less respect- return, the first object which met their fully, less reverentially than you do, eyes was the stately figure of Sora Lauderdale," he went on, hurriedly, Antonia in full holiday costume, lately “but”
returned from mass. She had still her “It wasna your opinion I was asking fan and her rosary depending from her wrist-adjuncts almost equally necessary table had been already arranged for to devotion, as that is understood at dinner, and this was the last day in the Frascati—and was still arrayed in the world on which the strangers were full splendours of the veil, which, fas- likely to desire society. Sora Antonia tened over her hair, fell almost to her took matters with a high hand, and in feet behind, and gave grace and dignity case of opposition secured for herself at to her tall and stately person. Sora least the first word. Antonia was a dependent of the family “ Pardon, caro Signore mio," she Savvelli ; scarcely a servant, though she said, “you are surprised to find me had once belonged to the prince's house- here. Very well; I am sorry to incomhold. She had charge of the palace at mode the gentlemen, but I have to do Frascati, which was never occupied except my duty. The Signorina is very young, by a solitary ecclesiastic, the prince's and she has no one to take care of her. brother, for whom the first floor was kept The Signori are very good, very excellent, sacred. Even this sanctity, however, and kind. Ah yes, I know it-never was sometimes invaded when a good was there such devotion to the poor chance offered of letting the piano nobile sick friend ;-nevertheless, the Signori to some rich foreigner, which was the are but men, senza complimenti, and I fate of all the other apartments in the am a woman who has been married and house. Sora Antonia had charge of all had children of my own, and know my the interests of the Savvelli in their de- duty. Until some proper person comes serted mansion. When the tenants did to take charge of the poor dear young any damage she made careful note of it, lady, the Signori will pardon me, but I and did not in any respect neglect the must remain here." interests of her master; nor was she in- “Does the Signorina wish it ?" asked considerate of her own, but regarded it Colin, with wondering looks, for the idea as a natural duty, when it proved ex- of another protector for Alice confounded pedient, to make a little money out of him, he scarcely knew why. the Forestieri. “They give one trouble - The Signorina is not much more enough, the blessed Madonna knows," than a child,” said Sora Antonia, loftily. the good woman said piously. But, not- “ Besides, she has not been brought up withstanding these prudent cares, Sora like an Italian young lady, to know what Antonia was not only a very sensible is proper. Poverina ! she does not woman according to her lights, but had understand anything about it; but the a heart, and understood her duty to her Signori will excuse me I know my neighbours. She made her salutations duty, and that is enough." to the two friends when they entered . "Oh yes, certainly,” said Colin, “but with equal suavity, but addressed her then, in England, as you say, we have explanations to Colin, who was not different ideas, and if the Signorina does only her favourite in right of his youth not wish and good looks, but who could under- Here, however, he was interrupted by stand her best. Colin, whose Italian Lauderdale, who, having tardily apprewas limited, called the excellent house- hended the purport of Sora Antonia's keeper Madama, a courtesy which natu- communication, took it upon himself to rally gained her heart; and she on her make instant response in the best Italian part appropriated to his use the title he could muster. “Avete molto bruono, of Signorino, which was not quite so molto buono !” cried Lauderdale, intendflattering—for Colin was still young ing to say that she was very kind, enough to object to being called young and that he highly approved, though To-day, however, her address was more a chronic confusion in his mind, as to dignified, for the crisis was an important which was which of the auxiliary verbs, one. Before she began to speak the visitor made his meaning cloudy. “Grazie, gat down, which in itself was an act Abbiamo contento! Grazie," he added. requiring explanation, especially as the with a little excitement and enthusiasm. Though he had used the wrong verb, heavy gold ear-rings and coral necklace Sora Antonia graciously comprehended which completed and enriched the dress. his meaning. She was used to such She sat apart and contemplated, if not little eccentricities of diction on the the “ Garden of the Soul," at least the part of the Forestieri. She bowed her little pictures in borders of lace-paper stately head to him with a look of ap- which were placed thickly between the probation, and it would be vain to deny leaves, while the melancholy meal was that the sense of having thus expressed eaten at the table for Sora Antonia himself clearly and eloquently in a had educazione, and had not come to foreign language conveyed a certain intrude upon the privacy of her lodgers. satisfaction to the mind of the philoso, Alice, for her part, made no remark upon pher.
the presence of this new guardian ; she “Bravo! The Signore will speak accepted it as she accepted everything very well if he perseveres,” said Sora else, as a matter of course, without even Antonia, graciously; “not to say that showing any painful sense of the cirhis Excellency is a man of experience, cumstances which in Sora Antonia's and perceives the justice of what I pro- opinion made this last precaution necespose. No doubt, it will occupy a great sary. Her two companions, the only deal of my time, but the other Fores- friends she seemed to have in the world, tieri have not arrived yet, and how can bore vicariously on her account the pain one expect the Madonna Santissima and of this visible reminder that she was the blessed St. Antonio to take so much here in a false position and had no legitrouble in one's concerns if one will not timate protector ; but Alice had not yet exert one's self a little for one's fellow- awaked to any such sense on her own creatures ? As the Signorina has not behalf. She took her place at the table left her room yet, I will take away and tried to swallow a morsel, and the inconvenience 1 for a few minutes, interested herself in the appetite of the Scusa Signori,” said Sora Antonia, others as if she had been their mother. and she went away with stately bearing “Try to eat something; it will make and firm steps which resounded through you ill if you do not,” poor Alice said, in the house, to take off her veil and put the abstraction and dead calm of her aside her rosary. She had seated herself grief. Her own feeling was that she again in her indoor aspect, with the had been lifted far away from them into “Garden of the Soul” in her hand, an atmosphere of age and distance and a before Alice came into the room ; and, kind of sad superiority, and to minister to without doubt, she made a striking some one was the grand condition under addition to the party. She was a Fras- which Alice Meredith lived. As to the cati woman born, and her costume, con personal suffering, which was confined sequently, was perfect-a costume less to herself, that did not so much matter; imposing than the scarlet Albano jacket, she had not been used to much symbut not less calculated to do justice to pathy, and it did not occur to her to the ample bust and stately head of the look for it. Consequently, the only Roman peasant. The dress itself, the natural business which remained to her actual gown, in this as in other Italian was to take a motherly charge of her costumes, was an indifferent matter. two companions, and urge them to eat. The important particulars were the long “ You are not to mind mo," she said, and delicate apron of embroidered with an attempt at a smile, after dinner. muslin, the busto made of rich brocade “This is Sunday, to be sure ; but, after and shaped to the exact Frascati model, to-day, you are just to go on as you used and the large, soft, snowy kerchief with to do, and never mind. Thank you, embroidered corners, which covered her I should like it better. I shall always full shoulders—not to speak of the long be here, you know, when you come back 1 “Levo l'incomodo,” a homely expression
from Rome, or wherever you wish to go. of Italian politeness on leaving a room, But you must not mind for me.”