We looked out the topography of Middleshire in a county-guide, which spok_ighly, as the phrase is, of Lackley Park, and took up our abode, our journe_nded, at a wayside inn where, in the days of leisure, the coach must hav_topped for luncheon and burnished pewters of rustic ale been handed up a_traight as possible to outsiders athirst with the sense of speed. We stoppe_ere for mere gaping joy of its steep-thatched roof, its latticed windows, it_ospitable porch, and allowed a couple of days to elapse in vague undirecte_trolls and sweet sentimental observance of the land before approaching th_articular business that had drawn us on. The region I allude to is _ompendium of the general physiognomy of England. The noble friendliness o_he scenery, its latent old-friendliness, the way we scarcely knew whether w_ere looking at it for the first or the last time, made it arrest us at ever_tep. The countryside, in the full warm rains of the last of April, had burs_nto sudden perfect spring. The dark walls of the hedgerows had turned int_looming screens, the sodden verdure of lawn and meadow been washed over wit_ lighter brush. We went forth without loss of time for a long walk on th_reat grassy hills, smooth arrested central billows of some primitiv_pheaval, from the summits of which you find half England unrolled at you_eet. A dozen broad counties, within the scope of your vision, commingle thei_reen exhalations. Closely beneath us lay the dark rich hedgy flats and th_opse-chequered slopes, white with the blossom of apples. At widely opposit_oints of the expanse two great towers of cathedrals rose sharply out of _eddish blur of habitation, taking the mild English light.
We gave an irrepressible attention to this same solar reserve, and found in i_nly a refinement of art. The sky never was empty and never idle; the cloud_ere continually at play for our benefit. Over against us, from our station o_he hills, we saw them piled and dissolved, condensed and shifted, blottin_he blue with sullen rain-spots, stretching, breeze-fretted, into dapple_ields of grey, bursting into an explosion of light or melting into a drizzl_f silver. We made our way along the rounded ridge of the downs and reached, by a descent, through slanting angular fields, green to cottage-doors, _usset village that beckoned us from the heart of the maze in which the hedge_rapped it up. Close beside it, I admit, the roaring train bounces out of _ole in the hills; yet there broods upon this charming hamlet an old-tim_uietude that makes a violation of confidence of naming it so far away. W_truck through a narrow lane, a green lane, dim with its barriers of hawthorn; it led us to a superb old farmhouse, now rather rudely jostled by th_ultiplied roads and by-ways that have reduced its ancient appanage. It stand_here in stubborn picturesqueness, doggedly submitting to be pointed out an_ketched. It is a wonderful image of the domiciliary conditions of th_ast—cruelly complete; with bended beams and joists, beneath the burden o_ables, that seem to ache and groan with memories and regrets. The short lo_indows, where lead and glass combine equally to create an inward gloom, retain their opacity as a part of the primitive idea of defence. Such an ol_ouse provokes on the part of an American a luxury of respect. So propped an_atched, so tinkered with clumsy tenderness, clustered so richly about it_entral English sturdiness, its oaken vertebrations, so humanised with ages o_se and touches of beneficent affection, it seemed to offer to our gratefu_yes a small rude symbol of the great English social order. Passing out upo_he highroad, we came to the common browsing-patch, the "village-green" of th_ales of our youth. Nothing was absent: the shaggy mouse-coloured donkey, nosing the turf with his mild and huge proboscis, the geese, the old woman—TH_ld woman, in person, with her red cloak and her black bonnet, frilled abou_he face and double-frilled beside her decent placid cheeks—the towerin_loughman with his white smock-frock puckered on chest and back, his shor_orduroys, his mighty calves, his big red rural face. We greeted these thing_s children greet the loved pictures in a storybook lost and mourned and foun_gain. We recognised them as one recognises the handwriting on letter-backs.
Beside the road we saw a ploughboy straddle whistling on a stile, and he ha_he merit of being not only a ploughboy but a Gainsborough. Beyond the stile, across the level velvet of a meadow, a footpath wandered like a streak draw_y a finger over a surface of fine plush. We followed it from field to fiel_nd from stile to stile; it was all adorably the way to church. At the churc_e finally arrived, lost in its rook-haunted churchyard, hidden from th_orkday world by the broad stillness of pastures—a grey, grey tower, a hug_lack yew, a cluster of village-graves with crooked headstones and protrusion_hat had settled and sunk. The place seemed so to ache with consecration tha_y sensitive companion gave way to the force of it.
"You must bury me here, you know"—he caught at my arm. "It's the first plac_f worship I've seen in my life. How it makes a Sunday where it stands!"
It took the Church, we agreed, to make churches, but we had the sense the nex_ay of seeing still better why. We walked over some seven miles, to the neare_f the two neighbouring seats of that lesson; and all through such a mist o_ocal colour that we felt ourselves a pair of Smollett's pedestrian heroe_aring tavernward for a night of adventures. As we neared the provincial cit_e saw the steepled mass of the cathedral, long and high, rise far into th_loud-freckled blue; and as we got closer stopped on a bridge and looked dow_t the reflexion of the solid minster in a yellow stream. Going further yet w_ntered the russet town—where surely Miss Austen's heroines, in chariots an_urricles, must often have come a-shopping for their sandals and mittens; w_ounged in the grassed and gravelled precinct and gazed insatiably at tha_ost soul-soothing sight, the waning wasting afternoon light, the visibl_ther that feels the voices of the chimes cling far aloft to the quiet side_f the cathedral-tower; saw it linger and nestle and abide, as it loves to d_n all perpendicular spaces, converting them irresistibly into registers an_ials; tasted too, as deeply, of the peculiar stillness of this place o_riests; saw a rosy English lad come forth and lock the door of the ol_oundation-school that dovetailed with cloister and choir, and carry his bi_esponsible key into one of the quiet canonical houses: and then stood musin_ogether on the effect on one's mind of having in one's boyhood gone and com_hrough cathedral-shades as a King's scholar, and yet kept ruddy with muc_ricket in misty river meadows. On the third morning we betook ourselves t_ackley, having learned that parts of the "grounds" were open to visitors, an_hat indeed on application the house was sometimes shown.
Within the range of these numerous acres the declining spurs of the hill_ontinued to undulate and subside. A long avenue wound and circled from th_utermost gate through an untrimmed woodland, whence you glanced at furthe_lopes and glades and copses and bosky recesses—at everything except th_imits of the place. It was as free and untended as I had found a few of th_arge loose villas of old Italy, and I was still never to see the angular fac_f English landlordism muffle itself in so many concessions. The weather ha_ust become perfect; it was one of the dozen exquisite days of the Englis_ear—days stamped with a purity unknown in climates where fine weather i_heap. It was as if the mellow brightness, as tender as that of the primrose_hich starred the dark waysides like petals wind-scattered over beds of moss, had been meted out to us by the cubic foot— distilled from an alchemist'_rucible. From this pastoral abundance we moved upon the more composed scene, the park proper —passed through a second lodge-gate, with weather-worn gildin_n its twisted bars, to the smooth slopes where the great trees stood singl_nd the tame deer browsed along the bed of a woodland stream. Here before u_ose the gabled grey front of the Tudor-time, developed and terraced an_ardened to some later loss, as we were afterwards to know, of type.
"Here you can wander all day," I said to Searle, "like an exiled prince wh_as come back on tiptoe and hovers about the dominion of the usurper."
"To think of 'others' having hugged this all these years!" he answered. "_now what I am, but what might I have been? What do such places make of _an?"
"I dare say he gets stupidly used to them," I said. "But I dare say too, eve_hen, that when you scratch the mere owner you find the perfect lover."
"What a perfect scene and background it forms!" my friend, however, ha_eanwhile gone on. "What legends, what histories it knows! My heart reall_reaks with all I seem to guess. There's Tennyson's Talking Oak! What summe_ays one could spend here! How I could lounge the rest of my life away on thi_urf of the middle ages! Haven't I some maiden-cousin in that old hall, o_range, or court—what in the name of enchantment do you call the thing?—wh_ould give me kind leave?" And then he turned almost fiercely upon me. "Wh_id you bring me here? Why did you drag me into this distraction of vai_egrets?"
At this moment there passed within call a decent lad who had emerged from th_ardens and who might have been an underling in the stables. I hailed him an_ut the question of our possible admittance to the house. He answered that th_aster was away from home, but that he thought it probable the housekeepe_ould consent to do the honours. I passed my arm into Searle's. "Come," _aid; "drain the cup, bitter-sweet though it be. We must go in." We hastene_lowly and approached the fine front. The house was one of the happiest fruit_f its freshly-feeling era, a multitudinous cluster of fair gables an_ntricate chimneys, brave projections and quiet recesses, brown old surface_eathered to silver and mottled roofs that testified not to seasons but t_enturies. Two broad terraces commanded the wooded horizon. Our appeal wa_nswered by a butler who condescended to our weakness. He renewed th_ssertion that Mr. Searle was away from home, but he would himself lay ou_ase before the housekeeper. We would be so good, however, as to give him ou_ards. This request, following so directly on the assertion that Mr. Searl_as absent, was rather resented by my companion. "Surely not for th_ousekeeper."
The butler gave a diplomatic cough. "Miss Searle is at home, sir."
"Yours alone will have to serve," said my friend. I took out a card and penci_nd wrote beneath my name NEW YORK. As I stood with the pencil poised _emptation entered into it. Without in the least considering proprieties o_esults I let my implement yield—I added above my name that of Mr. Clemen_earle. What would come of it?
Before many minutes the housekeeper waited upon us—a fresh rosy little ol_oman in a clean dowdy cap and a scanty sprigged gown; a quaint carefu_erson, but accessible to the tribute of our pleasure, to say nothing of an_ther. She had the accent of the country, but the manners of the house. Unde_er guidance we passed through a dozen apartments, duly stocked with ol_ictures, old tapestry, old carvings, old armour, with a hundred ornaments an_reasures. The pictures were especially valuable. The two Vandykes, the tri_f rosy Rubenses, the sole and sombre Rembrandt, glowed with consciou_uthenticity. A Claude, a Murillo, a Greuze, a couple of Gainsboroughs, hun_here with high complacency. Searle strolled about, scarcely speaking, pal_nd grave, with bloodshot eyes and lips compressed. He uttered no comment o_hat we saw—he asked but a question or two. Missing him at last from my side _etraced my steps and found him in a room we had just left, on a faded ol_ttoman and with his elbows on his knees and his face buried in his hands.
Before him, ranged on a great credence, was a magnificent collection of ol_talian majolica; plates of every shape, with their glaze of happy colour, jugs and vases nobly bellied and embossed. There seemed to rise before me, a_ looked, a sudden vision of the young English gentleman who, eighty year_go, had travelled by slow stages to Italy and been waited on at his inn b_ersuasive toymen. "What is it, my dear man?" I asked. "Are you unwell?"
He uncovered his haggard face and showed me the flush of a consciousnes_harper, I think, to myself than to him. "A memory of the past! There come_ack to me a china vase that used to stand on the parlour mantel-shelf when _as a boy, with a portrait of General Jackson painted on one side and a bunc_f flowers on the other. How long do you suppose that majolica has been in th_amily?"
"A long time probably. It was brought hither in the last century, into old, old England, out of old, old Italy, by some contemporary dandy with a tast_or foreign gimcracks. Here it has stood for a hundred years, keeping it_lear firm hues in this quiet light that has never sought to advertise it."
Searle sprang to his feet. "I say, for mercy's sake, take me away! I can'_tand this sort of thing. Before I know it I shall do something scandalous. _hall steal some of their infernal crockery. I shall proclaim my identity an_ssert my rights. I shall go blubbering to Miss Searle and ask her in pity'_ame to 'put me up.'"
If he could ever have been said to threaten complications he rather visibl_id so now. I began to regret my officious presentation of his name an_repared without delay to lead him out of the house. We overtook th_ousekeeper in the last room of the series, a small unused boudoir over whos_himney-piece hung a portrait of a young man in a powdered wig and a brocade_aistcoat. I was struck with his resemblance to my companion while our guid_ntroduced him. "This is Mr. Clement Searle, Mr. Searle's great-uncle, by Si_oshua Reynolds. He died young, poor gentleman; he perished at sea, going t_merica."
"He was the young buck who brought the majolica out of Italy," I supplemented.
"Indeed, sir, I believe he did," said the housekeeper without wonder.
"He's the image of you, my dear Searle," I further observed.
"He's remarkably like the gentleman, saving his presence," said th_ousekeeper.
My friend stood staring. "Clement Searle—at sea—going to America—?" he brok_ut. Then with some sharpness to our old woman: "Why the devil did he go t_merica?"
"Why indeed, sir? You may well ask. I believe he had kinsfolk there. It wa_or them to come to him."
Searle broke into a laugh. "It was for them to come to him! Well, well," h_aid, fixing his eyes on our guide, "they've come to him at last!"
She blushed like a wrinkled rose-leaf. "Indeed, sir, I verily believe you'r_ne of US!"
"My name's the name of that beautiful youth," Searle went on. "Dear kinsma_'m happy to meet you! And what do you think of this?" he pursued as h_rasped me by the arm. "I have an idea. He perished at sea. His spirit cam_shore and wandered about in misery till it got another incarnation—in thi_oor trunk!" And he tapped his hollow chest. "Here it has rattled about thes_orty years, beating its wings against its rickety cage, begging to be take_ome again. And I never knew what was the matter with me! Now at last th_ruised spirit can escape!"
Our old lady gaped at a breadth of appreciation—if not at the disclosure of _onnexion—beyond her. The scene was really embarrassing, and my confusio_ncreased as we became aware of another presence. A lady had appeared in th_oorway and the housekeeper dropped just audibly: "Miss Searle!" My firs_mpression of Miss Searle was that she was neither young nor beautiful. Sh_tood without confidence on the threshold, pale, trying to smile and twirlin_y card in her fingers. I immediately bowed. Searle stared at her as if one o_he pictures had stepped out of its frame.
"If I'm not mistaken one of you gentlemen is Mr. Clement Searle," the lad_dventured.
"My friend's Mr. Clement Searle," I took upon myself to reply. "Allow me t_dd that I alone am responsible for your having received his name."
"I should have been sorry not to—not to see him," said Miss Searle, beginnin_o blush. "Your being from America has led me— perhaps to intrude!"
"The intrusion, madam, has been on our part. And with just that excuse—that w_ome from so far away."
Miss Searle, while I spoke, had fixed her eyes on my friend as he stood silen_eneath Sir Joshua's portrait. The housekeeper, agitated and mystified, fairl_et herself go. "Heaven preserve us, Miss! It's your great-uncle's pictur_ome to life."
"I'm not mistaken then," said Miss Searle—"we must be distantly related." Sh_ad the air of the shyest of women, for whom it was almost anguish to make a_dvance without help. Searle eyed her with gentle wonder from head to foot, and I could easily read his thoughts. This then was his maiden-cousin, prospective mistress of these hereditary treasures. She was of some thirty- five years of age, taller than was then common and perhaps stouter than is no_njoined. She had small kind grey eyes, a considerable quantity of very light- brown hair and a smiling well-formed mouth. She was dressed in a lustreles_lack satin gown with a short train. Disposed about her neck was a blu_andkerchief, and over this handkerchief, in many convolutions, a string o_mber beads. Her appearance was singular; she was large yet somehow vague, mature yet undeveloped. Her manner of addressing us spoke of all sorts of dee_iffidences. Searle, I think, had prefigured to himself some proud cold beaut_f five-and-twenty; he was relieved at finding the lady timid and no_btrusively fair. He at once had an excellent tone.
"We're distant cousins, I believe. I'm happy to claim a relationship whic_ou're so good as to remember. I hadn't counted on your knowing anything abou_e."
"Perhaps I've done wrong." And Miss Searle blushed and smiled anew. "But I'v_lways known of there being people of our blood in America, and have ofte_ondered and asked about them—without ever learning much. To-day, when thi_ard was brought me and I understood a Clement Searle to be under our roof a_ stranger, I felt I ought to do something. But, you know, I hardly knew what.
My brother's in London. I've done what I think he would have done. Welcome a_ cousin." And with a resolution that ceased to be awkward she put out he_and.
"I'm welcome indeed if he would have done it half so graciously!" Agai_earle, taking her hand, acquitted himself beautifully.
"You've seen what there is, I think," Miss Searle went on. "Perhaps now you'l_ave luncheon." We followed her into a small breakfast-room where a deep ba_indow opened on the mossy flags of a terrace. Here, for some moments, sh_emained dumb and abashed, as if resting from a measurable effort. Searle to_ad ceased to overflow, so that I had to relieve the silence. It was of cours_asy to descant on the beauties of park and mansion, and as I did so _bserved our hostess. She had no arts, no impulses nor graces—scarce even an_anners; she was queerly, almost frowsily dressed; yet she pleased me well.
She had an antique sweetness, a homely fragrance of old traditions. To be s_imple, among those complicated treasures, so pampered and yet so fresh, s_odest and yet so placid, told of just the spacious leisure in which Searl_nd I had imagined human life to be steeped in such places as that. Thi_igure was to the Sleeping Beauty in the Wood what a fact is to a fairy-tale, an interpretation to a myth. We, on our side, were to our hostess subjects o_ curiosity not cunningly veiled.
"I should like so to go abroad!" she exclaimed suddenly, as if she meant us t_ake the speech for an expression of interest in ourselves.
"Have you never been?" one of us asked.
"Only once. Three years ago my brother took me to Switzerland. We thought i_xtremely beautiful. Except for that journey I've always lived here. I wa_orn in this house. It's a dear old place indeed, and I know it well.
Sometimes one wants a change." And on my asking her how she spent her time an_hat society she saw, "Of course it's very quiet," she went on, proceeding b_hort steps and simple statements, in the manner of a person called upon fo_he first time to analyse to that extent her situation. "We see very fe_eople. I don't think there are many nice ones hereabouts. At least we don'_now them. Our own family's very small. My brother cares for nothing bu_iding and books. He had a great sorrow ten years ago. He lost his wife an_is only son, a dear little boy, who of course would have had everything. D_ou know that that makes me the heir, as they've done something—I don't quit_now what—to the entail? Poor old me! Since his loss my brother has preferre_o be quite alone. I'm sorry he's away. But you must wait till he comes back.
I expect him in a day or two." She talked more and more, as if our ver_trangeness led her on, about her circumstances, her solitude, her bad eyes, so that she couldn't read, her flowers, her ferns, her dogs, and the vicar, recently presented to the living by her brother and warranted quite safe, wh_ad lately begun to light his altar candles; pausing every now and then t_asp in self-surprise, yet, in the quaintest way in the world, keeping up he_tory as if it were a slow rather awkward old-time dance, a difficult pas seu_n which she would have been better with more practice, but of which she mus_omplete the figure. Of all the old things I had seen in England thi_xhibited mind of Miss Searle's seemed to me the oldest, the most handed dow_nd taken for granted; fenced and protected as it was by convention an_recedent and usage, thoroughly acquainted with its subordinate place. I fel_s if I were talking with the heroine of a last-century novel. As she talke_he rested her dull eyes on her kinsman with wondering kindness. At last sh_ut it to him: "Did you mean to go away without asking for us?"
"I had thought it over, Miss Searle, and had determined not to trouble you.
You've shown me how unfriendly I should have been."
"But you knew of the place being ours, and of our relationship?"
"Just so. It was because of these things that I came down here— because o_hem almost that I came to England. I've always liked to think of them," sai_y companion.
"You merely wished to look then? We don't pretend to be much to look at."
He waited; her words were too strange. "You don't know what you are, Mis_earle."
"You like the old place then?"
Searle looked at her again in silence. "If I could only tell you!" he said a_ast.
"Do tell me. You must come and stay with us."
It moved him to an oddity of mirth. "Take care, take care—I should surpris_ou! I'm afraid I should bore you. I should never leave you."
"Oh you'd get homesick—for your real home!"
At this he was still more amused. "By the way, tell Miss Searle about our rea_ome," he said to me. And he stepped, through the window, out upon th_errace, followed by two beautiful dogs, a setter and a young stag-hound wh_rom the moment we came in had established the fondest relation with him. Mis_earle looked at him, while he went, as if she vaguely yearned over him; i_egan to be plain that she was interested in her exotic cousin. I suddenl_ecalled the last words I had heard spoken by my friend's adviser in Londo_nd which, in a very crude form, had reference to his making a match with thi_ady. If only Miss Searle could be induced to think of that, and if one ha_ut the tact to put it in a light to her! Something assured me that her hear_as virgin-soil, that the flower of romantic affection had never bloome_here. If I might just sow the seed! There seemed to shape itself within he_he perfect image of one of the patient wives of old.
"He has lost his heart to England," I said. "He ought to have been born here."
"And yet he doesn't look in the least an Englishman," she still rathe_uardedly prosed.
"Oh it isn't his looks, poor fellow."
"Of course looks aren't everything. I never talked with a foreigner before; but he talks as I have fancied foreigners."
"Yes, he's foreign enough."
"Is he married?"
"His wife's dead and he's all alone in the world."
"Has he much property?"
"None to speak of."
"But he has means to travel."
I meditated. "He has not expected to travel far," I said at last. "You know, he's in very poor health."
"Poor gentleman! So I supposed."
"But there's more of him to go on with than he thinks. He came here because h_anted to see your place before he dies."
"Dear me—kind man!" And I imagined in the quiet eyes the hint of a possibl_ear. "And he was going away without my seeing him?"
"He's very modest, you see."
"He's very much the gentleman."
I couldn't but smile. "He's ALL—"
At this moment we heard on the terrace a loud harsh cry. "It's the grea_eacock!" said Miss Searle, stepping to the window and passing out while _ollowed her. Below us, leaning on the parapet, stood our appreciative frien_ith his arm round the neck of the setter. Before him on the grand wal_trutted the familiar fowl of gardens—a splendid specimen—with ruffled nec_nd expanded tail. The other dog had apparently indulged in a momentar_ttempt to abash the gorgeous biped, but at Searle's summons had bounded bac_o the terrace and leaped upon the ledge, where he now stood licking his ne_riend's face. The scene had a beautiful old-time air: the peacock flauntin_n the foreground like the genius of stately places; the broad terrace, whic_lattered an innate taste of mine for all deserted walks where people may hav_at after heavy dinners to drink coffee in old Sevres and where the stif_rocade of women's dresses may have rustled over grass or gravel; and fa_round us, with one leafy circle melting into another, the timbered acres o_he park. "The very beasts have made him welcome," I noted as we rejoined ou_ompanion.
"The peacock has done for you, Mr. Searle," said his cousin, "what he doe_nly for very great people. A year ago there came here a great person—a gran_ld lady—to see my brother. I don't think that since then he has spread hi_ail as wide for any one else—not by a dozen feathers."
"It's not alone the peacock," said Searle. "Just now there came slippin_cross my path a little green lizard, the first I ever saw, the lizard o_iterature! And if you've a ghost, broad daylight though it be, I expect t_ee him here. Do you know the annals of your house, Miss Searle?"
"Oh dear, no! You must ask my brother for all those things."
"You ought to have a collection of legends and traditions. You ought to hav_oves and murders and mysteries by the roomful. I shall be ashamed of you i_ou haven't."
"Oh Mr. Searle! We've always been a very well-behaved family," she quit_eriously pleaded. "Nothing out of the way has ever happened, I think."
"Nothing out of the way? Oh that won't do! We've managed better than that i_merica. Why I myself!"—and he looked at her ruefully enough, but enjoying to_is idea that he might embody the social scandal or point to the darkest dram_f the Searles. "Suppose I should turn out a better Searle than you—bette_han you nursed here in romance and extravagance? Come, don't disappoint me.
You've some history among you all, you've some poetry, you've som_ccumulation of legend. I've been famished all my days for these things. Don'_ou understand? Ah you can't understand! Tell me," he rambled on, "somethin_remendous. When I think of what must have happened here; of the lovers wh_ust have strolled on this terrace and wandered under the beeches, of all th_igures and passions and purposes that must have haunted these walls! When _hink of the births and deaths, the joys and sufferings, the young hopes an_he old regrets, the rich experience of life—!" He faltered a moment with th_ncrease of his agitation. His humour of dismay at a threat of the commonplac_n the history he felt about him had turned to a deeper reaction. I began t_ear however that he was really losing his head. He went on with a wilde_lay. "To see it all called up there before me, if the Devil alone could do i_'d make a bargain with the Devil! Ah Miss Searle," he cried, "I'm a mos_nhappy man!"
"Oh dear, oh dear!" she almost wailed while I turned half away.
"Look at that window, that dear little window!" I turned back to see him poin_o a small protruding oriel, above us, relieved against the purple brickwork, framed in chiselled stone and curtained with ivy.
"It's my little room," she said.
"Of course it's a woman's room. Think of all the dear faces—all of them s_ild and yet so proud—that have looked out of that lattice, and of all th_ld-time women's lives whose principal view of the world has been this quie_ark! Every one of them was a cousin of mine. And you, dear lady, you're on_f them yet." With which he marched toward her and took her large white hand.
She surrendered it, blushing to her eyes and pressing her other hand to he_reast. "You're a woman of the past. You're nobly simple. It has been _omance to see you. It doesn't matter what I say to you. You didn't know m_esterday, you'll not know me to-morrow. Let me to-day do a mad sweet thing.
Let me imagine in you the spirit of all the dead women who have trod th_errace- flags that lie here like sepulchral tablets in the pavement of _hurch. Let me say I delight in you!"—he raised her hand to his lips. Sh_ently withdrew it and for a moment averted her face. Meeting her eyes th_ext instant I saw the tears had come. The Sleeping Beauty was awake.
There followed an embarrassed pause. An issue was suddenly presented by th_ppearance of the butler bearing a letter. "A telegram, Miss," he announced.
"Oh what shall I do?" cried Miss Searle. "I can't open a telegram. Cousin, help me."
Searle took the missive, opened it and read aloud: "I shall be home to dinner.