"And this woman says, 'My days were sunless, and my
Parched the pleasant April herbage, and the lark's heart outbreak
If you loved me not!' And I who (ah, for words of flame!) adore
Who am mad to lay my spirit prostrate palpably before her ―"
was delighted with this letter; not only for its freshness and
keenness of appreciation, but for the loving steadfastness it
expressed for him. He declared to himself that Tiny was like a
pemmican, or jelly, or anything which contains a lot of strength,
but is little in size; and it seemed to him that the good qualities
of six or eight ordinary good women were boiled down to make her
what she was, and that was why she was not bigger!
Had the letter been answered that day, Wilfred felt he must
have given vent to all the loving feelings of his heart, and
therefore he put it in his pocket and resolved on allowing a week to
pass before he trusted himself to write to "his little sunshine," as
he often called Tiny. But he only found each day made him more
hungry, and it sometimes seemed impossible to repress his passionate
love. Nothing but the conviction that this complete sacrifice
best proved his true affection, enabled him to resist the desire of
telling her how entirely his life was bound up in hers.
Sometimes the craving was so strong that he was forced to yield, but
the letters written in these moments were never posted.
This was the answer sent to Tiny.
"If I am afraid of your mother, I am not going to be terrified by
you, and shall therefore continue to give you cause to scold me to
your heart's content ― for the present ― waiting, however, a
fitting opportunity to punish you for your evil deeds. If that
day ever comes you will cry aloud and in vain for mercy.
"Instead of all these reproaches your letters ought to be
written in a strain of continual thanksgiving for the pleasures I
have been benevolent enough to procure you this winter.
"Think of the lovely climate with which you are enraptured,
and then fancy my mistaking a lamp-post for a man on my way to the
office this morning ― a wrong conclusion, which brought speedy
retribution in the shape of a sudden collision of a remarkably
"See what a wise old cousin you have; wise as well as
"I knew Rome would enchant and fill you with happy, beautiful
thoughts; but I hardly ever expected you would enable me to share
them so completely by sending such gloriously vivid descriptions of
all you see and hear. I feel as if I had seen Raphael's
Fiddler now, but I don't quite see that 'to be and to do
are incompatible,' even in relation to outward beauty and artistic
work, and I am sure, my dear little coz, it isn't so with regard to
other things, inasmuch as the being must come before the
"But you must be content with shabby answers; for I have
nothing beautiful to write about. I can only tell you of the
books I am reading, one of which you would enjoy immensely. A
certain Dr. Carl Vogt, who has written on 'Man and his Place in
Creation,' believes that, as animals have brains, they have
intellects; and his book abounds in stories of religious dogs, just
cats, bears and apes, with notions of dignity and decorum. In
the way of novels, I have been skimming 'Emily Chester,' which works
out the theory that God gives to every creature the exact discipline
which best tends to promote its final development. With those
to whom happiness is the one possible means of expansion ― their
characters requiring moral sunshine, just as some flowers need the
physical ― it almost seems as if 'an angel had charge concerning
them, lest they dashed their foot against a stone;' while to others,
pain and suffering seem to be their positive nutriment ― fire their
"How glad I am you are going on with your readings from
Ruskin and the Brownings. To me there is an intense life in
'Aurora Leigh;' it is certainly a great poem, notwithstanding a want
of finish which suggests masculine rudeness of power, rather than
feminine delicacy of touch.
"I saw a very good thing in a criticism on Robert Browning
the other day. The writer, in speaking of his obscurity, says,
by way of example, that one of his poems contains only two
intelligible lines, and that these two are not true. The first
'Who will, may hear Sordello's story told.'
with which the poem commences, and the other is the one with which
'Who would, has heard Sordello's story told,'
I believe this is the poem of which Browning's father exclaimed, 'I
spent the whole morning over it, but I could only make out that
there was a woman in it.'
"And now I must leave off writing, but I shall not leave off
longing for your next letter until I have received it. Give my
love to Charlotte and Madeline, and an appropriate message to your
Power, glory, strength, and beauty, all are aisled
In this eternal ark of worship undefiled."
had not very long to wait, although it appeared long enough to him,
before his eyes were gladdened by the sight which had now become so
precious to him, of a yellow envelope, bearing the Roman postmark.
Breaking the seal, he read:
"You cruel Wilfred, to mount such
a pedestal when I have become dependent upon your kind words.
I feel every thought of the future so bound up in your strengthening
love that I long for its expression even on a miserable sheet of
paper. And you must give it, for I am so lonely, and should
feel quite another person if I could only have a hopeful loving
letter from you. Oh, Wil, it is such an age since that horrid
steamer took me away from the figure on the Folkestone pier.
One's cheerfulness is beginning to be a melancholy failure, such a
skull-like grin! I had a great fright too, yesterday. I
looked down at my arm and saw I had lost your dear locket off my
bracelet. Fancy my concern! I hunted everywhere, and so
did every one else, till at last I went to bed in despair, hardly
able to sleep for the thought of it. In the morning Smith
brought it in, saying she had found it in the passage the night
"The other day two of the Leighs called and asked us to go
with them to see the fox hounds meet, so I went with Madeline.
It was a splendid morning, and we had such a pretty drive, the views
of the mountains with their tops all covered with snow, and quite
pink in the morning light, were lovely. Lady Emily Cavendish
was first and foremost, with red hair, red tie, gold spangled net,
bright blue habit, and on a gray horse. She looks well on
horseback, however, rides capitally, and won the fox's brush on
Monday. One of the best riders and most constant lady hunters
in Rome is the bright vivacious Harriet Hosmer, the famous American
"And now I must tell you about our Christmas Eve.
"We went with the Somervilles and Dunmores, in three
carriages, through the deserted streets; there are only patrols in
two streets in Rome, the rest, they say, are infested by brigands,
who attack you at every possible turn. We crossed the St.
Angelo bridge, with its great renaissance statues by Bernini, black
and rugged outlines against the clear, star-lit, bright sky, up to
the marvellous piazza before St. Peter's. The beautiful
colonnade which encircles with its arms the immense space of the
piazza, the gentle noise made by the falling fountains, a clear
sound, only to be heard when everything else is still ― seemed so
mysterious in the strange starlight!
"When we got out of the carriage, we had to mount the Bernini
staircase, with hundreds of steps, flanked by immense pillars.
You cannot imagine what a wonderful, weird-looking place it seemed
in that light, with groups of tall men ― the Swiss guard
― in dresses which rejoiced my heart, invented and designed by
Michael Angelo. At the bottom of the court were the Papal
Guards, with flaming cloaks and splendid helmets, also men mounted
on very fine horses.
"At the top of the staircase we entered a room with frescos
on the walls and ceilings.
"You put aside the huge curtain hung over the entrance door,
to get into the Sistine Chapel, which is simple but gorgeous, if you
can imagine the combination.
"The wonderful roof, by Michael Angelo, and his fresco of the
Last Judgment, which covers the end of the chapel (except where the
barbarians cut out a piece for the high altar), half gleams through
the blaze of light, not so as to be enjoyed as a picture, but
seeming, in a way, to say it was too grand, and well worth being
looked at, to be seen through the medium of wax candles.
"The only way to know anything of these frescos is to do as I
did the next day. I extended myself at full length on one of
the cushioned seats, and, with a powerful opera-glass, enjoyed them
at my leisure. I could not leave them for hours, and the
consequence is my eyes have ached ever since.
"The screen which divides the chapel is very open, and
through it no woman is allowed to pass. Beyond was a perfect
blaze of the gold and lace dresses of the different grades of
priests, but the chapel has no other ornament than its painted walls
and roofs, and massive gold candlesticks.
"I should like to have looked at the whole scene from above,
for we must have improved it contrary to the custom of most masses
of ladies; we were all obliged to be dressed in black, with long
veils instead of bonnets. It is astonishing how well this mass
of black figures (divided from the gentlemen) looked against all the
gorgeousness of the chapel and the splendid dresses of the Guards.
"And then the music! Such curious sounds; they seemed,
somehow, to come straight from the Middle Ages.
"Only vocal music is allowed in the presence of the 'Holy
Father,' so you hear nothing but these unusually lovely voices
singing difficult and quaint compositions in a marvellous way, as
true as if each note were a musical instrument.
"We stayed some time, and then went down the ghostly
staircase, with the beautifully dressed men on it, and drove away
through the narrow streets to the front of a small cafe, out of
which they brought us cups of chocolate.
"Then we went on to St. Luigi Francese, which much
disappointed us ― a regular ball-room illumination on
the high altar ― the most monotonous vespers with organ
obligatos, and a tremendous crowd of English sight-seers. It
gave me a curious and melancholy feeling of pity for the dull lives
of these poor priests, who don't believe half the absurd stories
with which they delude the Roman peasantry.
"I must tell you, too, about the wonderful exhibition of the
famous Bambino, a little wooden figure, supposed to be blessed with
the power of curing any illness ― in fact, to be Christ as a baby.
This Bambino is a very great personage, and when the Republic was
going on they gave it the Pope's grand carriage to go about in and
do its miracles with, but when the Pope came back they took away the
grand carriage and gave it an ugly old worn-out one instead.
We went to see the Bambino at the Ara Cśli. It is put into the
middle of a scene like a theatre scene, with the Virgin adoring; a
landscape, and in the distance the Magi arriving on horseback, a
heavenly host above in the clouds ― all lighted up very prettily,
and all adoring the Bambino. Opposite this little arrangement
is a raised platform, where small children stand, and argue points
of religion and declaim little set speeches. It was the most
absurd spectacle I ever saw; they act and they spout the most
high-flown spread-eagle sentences, and gesticulate to any extent.
This, however, was their kind of argument:
" 'Why was not the Bambino born in the
Vatican, as it is such a beautiful place?'
" 'He might if he liked,' said the other.
" 'Well, why didn't he?'
" 'Because he was born in a manger to teach us the
beautiful virtue of humility.'
"They don't mention the little
fact of the Vatican not having been built at that time.
"Some of the figures are made as large as life, and the
Christ is said to be cut out of wood from Mount Lebanon. Mr. Howard
was in the church when they were arranging the scene, and one man, I
suppose a monk, with an eye for arranging tableaux, stood a little
way off, saying, 'move that goat' ― 'put that goat's
tail further that way,' etc.
"Our party to see the Vatican by torchlight was a very
successful one; it was a private illumination got up by Mr. Howard
and ourselves. We walked about, a ghostly mass, with our
torch-bearers in front of us, for two hours among all the wonderful
galleries ― full of wonders, of which we could only see one or two
in each. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in
"The Apollo (except the horrid, modern hands they have stuck
on his beautiful arms) is quite enough to take your breath away; all
the Venuses in the world sink into insignificance by comparison with
him, and my respect for men has most strangely risen since I have
seen what they might be, if they were only more like the Apollo.
But it would take ten letters of ecstatic rapture to give you an
idea of all we saw that night in the Vatican.
"When we came back your little possession drank four cups of
tea, and over-ate herself with cake and bread and butter. I
should like to return home to you as plump as a little pigeon, and
with life enough in me to scatter into another world all your horrid
bÍtes noires respecting my want of strength of mind, or body,
for a life with a limited income.
"Mr. Sedley is in Rome; do you remember taking me to his
studio in London?
"I like so to meet people I first saw with you.
"Oh, darling Wil, what a glorious life we shall have together
in the future! It seems too good to look forward to, lest it
never should be realized. We are enough and sufficient for
ourselves, are we not, Wil, and not the faintest breath of harm can
touch us from any one but each other. As for society and the
world ― I should like you to see the inside of my heart for once,
and you would see how callous and indifferent I am, and how I laugh
at the world.
"And now, my own Wil, what wishes can I offer you for the New
Year? Only that we may be allowed to end it together in the
enjoyment of the peace and great happiness we can make for each
other. I hated so to think of you alone on Christmas Day, and
I wondered if you were thinking as I was of sweet days to come.
"Ever your loving
"Limit your wants: the Must is hard, and
yet solely by this Must can we show how it is with us in
our inner man. To live according to caprice
requires no peculiar powers."
reading this letter it was natural for Wilfred Lane to believe that
Tiny's heart was all his own, and that any sacrifice she would have
to make as his wife would be fully recompensed by his devoted
affection and their perfect spiritual and intellectual union.
Rank and wealth without this would be destitute of all that seemed
as necessary to her as the very air she breathed. Such a
position would be worse than absolute poverty.
A small house and the difficulty of "keeping down the weekly
bills" might, and probably often would, prove distasteful to Tiny;
but a marriage which was incomplete and insufficient would be little
less than dangerous to a girl of her temperament. Combined
with the many good points in Tiny's nature there were evil
tendencies of no common strength, and, under such circumstances,
these would most assuredly assert themselves.
The thought that, by present rigid economy, some of Tiny's
difficulties in their future home might be diminished, afforded
precisely the stimulus Wilfred Lane's own character required.
He was not an idle man, and whilst he keenly appreciated
physical ease and all the outward refinements of life, he was very
far removed from being a mere pleasure-seeker.
His indifference to money amounted almost to a positive
fault, and his carelessness as to his expenditure had on one
occasion placed him in a position which he did not scruple to
condemn as dishonest as well as dishonourable. It was true
that he had not wilfully lived beyond his income like many men, who,
for the sake of luxuries they cannot afford, draw bills they know
they can never meet, content when the day of reckoning comes to fall
back upon ''the governor," or to diminish without remorse the
slender resources of some indulgent mother, who has to deny herself
absolute necessaries in order to pay for extravagance, if not vice.
This Wilfred would have scorned to do.
His humiliation was almost excessive when he found what his
easy way of taking things had entailed, and it quite aroused him
from indolent but refined enjoyment.
Hitherto his intellectual life had been more dreamy than
practical; now he determined to turn it to better account. It
would, however, have taken him some time to extricate himself from a
state he regarded with nothing less than abhorrence, but for an
unexpected legacy from an old lady to whom his father had rendered
an important service. This enabled him to pay off everything
without telling his family of his difficulties; though Lady Harewood
often wondered what Wilfred had done with the money, and remarked
that he seemed more careful after he had received the thousand
pounds than he was before, and never resumed his stall at the Opera,
which up to that season he had seldom been without.
All this happened nearly three years before Wilfred fell in
love with Tiny; and though he had somewhat relaxed his literary
efforts, he had kept up his reputation as the hardest working man in
the War Office.
On his return from Folkestone he had resolved on a winter of
real work, during which he would spend as little and earn as much as
he possibly could. So he hunted up the editors who had
previously employed him; and being more than usually fortunate, soon
found himself in the full swing of work.
He began to feel a very miser; and when he placed out the
money he earned in profitable speculations, he thought of that
wonderful story of Silas Marner counting up his heaps of gold; and
felt strangely moved at the remembrance of the old man's despair at
losing his money-bags, and his tender, pathetic love for the
golden-haired child who strayed into his cottage and reminded him of
his lost guineas.
Wilfred said nothing to Tiny about his extra work, and
although this incessant occupation certainly helped him to adhere to
his plan of writing short letters to Rome, he never put it forward
as a reason. He knew very well that he would have written
often enough, but for feeling that his restraint better enabled him
to keep to the spirit of his sacrifice, and also gave Tiny a fairer
opportunity of testing her attachment, than if he fanned the flame
already kindled by the constant expressions of his love.
Accordingly nearly a fortnight passed before he allowed himself to
answer Tiny's last epistle; and the very day on which he meant to
write, he received while at breakfast another Roman letter, and
during the morning an intimation from Sir Thomas Slade, which would
have been a sufficient excuse for writing to Tiny, even if he had
posted one the night before.
But we must follow these two events as they happened to Mr.
"Life is good; but not life in itself.
So is youth, so is beauty.
"Are all these for Love's usance? To live it is
well; but it is
"Well too, to be fair, to be young; but what good is in
"If the lovely and young are no surer than they that are
"Young nor lovely, of being beloved? O my love, if
lovest not me,
"Shall I love my own life?"
APPLE OF LIFE.
"Thy soul hath snatched up mine, all
faint and weak.
And placed it by thee on a golden throne."
SONNETS FROM THE
"MY OWN WILL,
"I am getting so impatient of this 'eternal city' in spite of
all its beauties, that unless you will let me write to you nearly
every day, I am sure I shall soon be very ill. I am quite worn
out by this continual struggle with the 'interfering atmosphere' we
talked about. Not that I am weaker in practice or in feeling;
but it is so wearing to force one's self back into one's self, when
there are so many influences pulling other ways.
"I daresay you will tell me that it is good for me, and ought
to teach me what no one can teach another ― how to lead my own
life. If I am so weak as to succumb to surrounding influences,
there can be no real good in me; and I often think of what you used
to say of the amiable weakness which lets people pull you into
hourly diversions, and puts an effectual barrier between you and any
steady kind of life.
"I feel the want of some hours every day entirely to myself
― it seems so necessary and yet so impossible here. It
is no joke, this beginning to alter at my time of life; you may
laugh, sir, but it is true. All these years in a frivolous
worldly atmosphere make a change for the better no quick or easy
"Darling Wil, I don't know what benumbing influence has come
over me, but I can enjoy nothing, and can hardly take an interest in
" 'An 'orrible tale' best expresses my condition, 'hypercondriacal,
very,' ― 'the flesh warring against the spirit,' is not a bad
quotative description, although not taken from the same original.
If I am profane I can't help it. I shall soon be bilious
enough to be absolved from all moral responsibility.
"It is not sunrise, but the cocks are crowing so. I
love the dicky birds in the garden here, better than anything else
in Rome, and the great watchdog that wags its tail at me. But
the best wagging comes, however, by the post, though your letters
are so cold that they make me ― savagely longing ― especially when I
think that we might have avoided this separation altogether.
"Still, I do think it will be all for the best, if I only use
it rightly. Surely no such pain was ever sent for nothing!
And it would be utterly unfortunate, if, instead of letting it work
its own good ends, I grew hard and miserable, thinking of the
density and hardness of others. So don't believe that when I
am good I blame you for sending me to Rome.
"Remember my crack about acquiring experience. I feel
such a satisfaction when the pain of anything turns to an acquired
piece of experience ― a greater knowledge of human nature; it more
than recompenses me for all the suffering. Perhaps I am less
sensitive than others, or more sanguine; but I have no regrets.
If I were a painter, I would use up my feelings in my pictures ― so
much pain to so much canvas!
"It sometimes comes upon me with a rush of intense feeling,
that I have really got you in the world. The being with you is
not all. There is something in the possession of such a love,
and such a hold in life, however distant! One is apt to forget
the sweetness of this in the wish for the entire satisfaction of
being with you; and when some sign of affection in others, or any
little thing of that sort, recalls that I, too, have a true heart to
depend and lean on ― how I wish the feeling would stop
there, but it never does ― directly after comes the yearning and
longing, with the dismal dread lest any misfortunes should prevent
these longings from being eventually fulfilled.
"I think of all kinds of dreadful things, and I fear them
"Yesterday we drove to St. Paolo, about three miles from
here, all through the city, out through the furthest gate into the
country. Such a strange drive, through filthy places no one
can imagine who has not been to Rome. The narrow streets
crowded with peasants, who come in for the festa ― very
picturesque, but very dirty; consistent, very, with the streets,
where, at every turn, through the comical squalid shops and houses,
peep out exquisite pieces of old wall, an old gateway, or an old
bridge across an alley.
"There is a perfect piece of building left of the theatre of
Marcellus, the arch below being filled with cheeses, and bunches of
carrots hanging down under the beautiful sculptured stone-work of
"The Church of St. Paolo is the most perfect thing in or
about Rome. It is hardly yet completed, after about fifty
years' hard labour. All the Catholic monarchs in Europe have
sent enormous sums and presents for it. Such pillars I never
saw in my life. Nothing but one mass of marble ―
floor, pillars, and ornaments ― very simple, but
baffling all description.
"Imagine yourself in the highest building you ever saw, with
vistas of beautiful marble pillars going off into perspective till
they appear quite tiny, being really so high and massive that human
figures look like insects by them, and all this reflected in the
beautiful expanse of marble floor. Such marble, too!
Algerian marble pillars ― then porphyry pillars ― malachite in
quantities, given by the Emperor of Russia ― and lapis lazuli in
such immense slabs that one can hardly keep up one's respect for it;
but the balustrades of white Carrara marble took my fancy most, with
slabs of beautiful dark-grained porphyry introduced between.
"But all this on paper will not give you the faintest idea of
the simple huge magnificence of the place, which outside is the most
hideous granary-looking building you can conceive.
"To-day we have been to see an antique statue in gilded
bronze, just discovered under a palace. The man who found it,
and to whom it belonged, thought he would send it to England and
exhibit it at a guinea a head. He was dissuaded from this, and
told that English people do not care for such things, though they
make a great fuss about them when they come out here. He then
offered it to the Pope, who said he would much like to have it for
the Vatican, but had not a penny he could call his own to pay for
it. So the man magnanimously gave it to the Vatican; and the
Pope made him a marquis, and has given him the monopoly of fish or
salt for two years, and taken all the mortgages off his property.
Don't they do things absurdly here?
"And to see the statue! It is twelve or fourteen feet
high, in bronze, covered with gold which is quite bright. It
is a Hercules, and very handsome; but they have not raised him upon
his stumps yet (he has not got any feet, at least not on ―
one is in a corner of the room and the other is in his lion's skin),
so he is left lying flat on his back. But the room they have
put him in is positively ridiculous. It is all decked out in
pink tarlatan, edged with gold tinsel, red cotton velvet ― with
stars over the walls, and the whole is decorated with the shabbiest
of theatre tinsel. I should like you to see the chaste taste
of these modern Romans: such an appropriate room for an antique, and
all made on purpose!
"We have just had a delicious walk in the Borghese Gardens.
This place is a combination of everything that is most delightful in
the world. Old statues, lovely fountains, ilex groves, and
distant hills. These beautiful things would gladden your eyes
and soul; and I think that of all the delights with which Rome is
filled, the Borghese Gardens have hitherto enchanted me the most.
But in everything one sees there is one great dissatisfaction ― such
a feeling of what they would all be, if one could only live in and
with them ― an appreciation of what they would be then, much
more than the actual pleasure they give one now. Of
course this doesn't affect the pictures or statues so much as the
buildings, ruins, and country. I hate all incomplete
experience ― it leaves me with such a savage craving!
"I should like to end our days together in Rome, when you
have done grinding at that miserable old War Office; and, indeed, I
often think you might do many things better for you even now.
My money would go a long way in Rome, if we lived quietly, and you
might be made Special Correspondent to The Times, and all
sorts of things. I am sure this lovely place would fill you
with such fresh and beautiful thoughts that you would write about
them, and gladden the hearts of those poor souls in dreary, foggy
"The very sense of living out here is delicious, and I am
sure you would be a different person if I could only get you away
from the damp climate and keen winds at home. Yet, to some
people, Rome is very trying; last week we had a good deal of rain,
with a sirocco wind, and the warm, dry atmosphere the sirocco brings
with it. As a rule, however, they say the winter here is
bright, clear, and coldish. Certainly, whenever we have the
good fortune to get rid of the sirocco, the weather is perfect, and
the air is so fresh and crisp that it acts like a tonic.
"And now I must tell you about our presentation to the Santa
Padre, by whom we were blessed. He is a charming old man, such
an inducement to turn Catholic! We all went dressed in black,
with black lace over our heads. We sat with some ladies in a
long sort of gallery; then the Pope came round and spoke to us all,
and we knelt down and kissed his hand. He gave us a little
address, while we continued kneeling; told us how much he desired
our welfare, and that of our families and friends, and how earnestly
he hoped we would attend to the affairs of our souls. Then he
blessed us, and a number of rosaries and other things people had
brought, after which he toddled away. His manner was too
"The Howards came back with us, and Mr. Howard told us such a
capital story about Captain ―――. Queen Victoria honoured him
with an invitation to Osborne Castle on his return to England after
his search for Sir John Franklin in Polar regions, and he told Lady
Franklin afterwards that he sat by the Princess Royal, and thought
her very odd, for she laughed at nearly every sentence he uttered.
It turned out that Captain ――― had given her good cause to laugh.
Not accustomed to Courts, he had gone to Osborne, oppressed with the
terrible conviction that whenever he spoke to a royal personage, he
must use some formal title; and, in his absent way, whenever he
spoke to the Princess Royal, he called her 'Your Holiness.' I
think this was enough to upset any one's gravity. But they say
the Queen was very angry with the Princess for laughing at the poor
"I like Alice Howard extremely; she is a true-hearted, nice
girl ― thoroughly Catholic. I think all English Catholics have
a peculiar manner; simple, gentle, and rather up in the clouds,
without being dreamy. There is nothing after all influences
people so much as their religion. Don't you think so?
"To-morrow we go to the Palazzo Doria. Sight-seeing is
our principal occupation; and there is too much variety here in that
line, for the others ever to tire of it, or even to get through it
all in one winter.
"As to society, we know several people now in Rome, and are
constantly seeing them, at our hotel, or forming parties to visit
the churches, picture-galleries, etc., together in a friendly
sociable way; but I have refused to go to any of the large
receptions. I have too much to do, and feel too tired to make
any efforts to increase my acquaintance; and the gossiping stories
one hears on all sides, from those who go about a great deal and
make society their principal business, do not give me a very
inviting idea of Roman society, but make me all the more anxious to
keep out of the way of it. Madeline and Charlotte are going to
two dances in succession early next week; one at the French Embassy,
and the other at the Ashcrofts, who have one of the pleasantest
houses here, and receive every Sunday evening.
"Your pretty little friend, Mrs. Willoughby, is here.
She has been seriously ill with inflammation of the lungs, but is
getting up her strength again now. She is going with us on
Saturday for a delightful excursion into the mountains.
"The thing I like best about Rome is getting out of it; it is
cheerful even to play at going away. Oh, Wil, you would not
doubt about the future if you could only see into my heart, and find
how full it is of you, and know how constantly I long for the
presence of the sweet love I want so much. You might well
indeed be content. Never have I recognized more than to-day
the necessity of your love to make my life complete. I did not
know how essential you were to me till I felt what every day
increases ― the longing for just that one thing which makes life
perfect, come what may from the outer world.
"Yes, you dear self-contained old Wil. I don't think
you would hesitate to claim your little girl, if you could see for
one half minute into her heart of hearts ― which is all
''Good-by, my own! Remember a yearning, lonely,
wretched, little being, who longs, and longs, and prays, and loves,
and does all in fact that such tormented little halved creatures
generally do, and all to no purpose.
"Your own, and yours forever,
"P. S. ― I send you some little ties which you must wear
and fancy yourself at Rome."
"Let us be content, in work,
To do the thing we can, and not presume
To fret because it's little."
Wilfred read the last sentence in Tiny's letter he was unpleasantly
aroused to a sense of the flight of time, by the peculiarly loud and
unmusical sound of his landlady's staircase clock; so, hurriedly
thrusting his arms into his coat, he made his way, regardless of
appearances, past Buckingham Palace, through St. James's Square into
Wilfred had hardly settled down to his work before he
received a summons to his chief's private room.
When he entered. Sir Thomas Slade was finishing a letter, and
looking up hastily, said in a courteous tone, "Good morning, Mr.
Lane; I shall be disengaged in a few minutes."
Wilfred sat down by a table on which lay The Times;
and, after glancing at the latest telegrams he began to speculate in
an unusually curious way upon Sir Thomas Slade's motive for sending
There was nothing very remarkable in the circumstance after
all; but, somehow or other, Wilfred Lane felt his attendance that
morning had not been required in the mere ordinary course of
business. Knowing how little Mr. Chamberlain (Sir Thomas'
Private Secretary) had been at the office during the last week,
owing to his rapidly failing health, Wilfred began to think Sir
Thomas Slade was about to ask him to do some of Chamberlain's work,
while the latter took a month's rest at Pau or Mentone ― a plan of
which he had often talked.
"I sent for you, Mr. Lane," at last began Sir Thomas, laying
down his pen, "because I regret to say Mr. Chamberlain is obliged to
give up his work altogether. As the gentleman to whom my
secretaryship was promised is unable from private reasons to accept
it now, I have much pleasure in offering it to you, having noticed
that you are the most careful and accurate man in the office."
"I shall be very glad to accept it, sir," said Wilfred, who
was greatly surprised at this stroke of good fortune, "and I feel
very grateful for the kind opinion you have expressed, which I hope
I may always deserve."
"You must be prepared to enter upon your new duties at once,
in fact, this very day;" and, as he spoke, Sir Thomas pushed a
bundle of letters across the table to Wilfred. "The truth is,
poor Chamberlain was not fit for much last week, and these papers
have accumulated in consequence. You will find my notes on the
back of each; be good enough to carry out my instructions, and, when
you observe a cross at the end of my memoranda, you may know I wish
to sign the letter myself, it must therefore be written accordingly.
I daresay for the next day or two you will meet with several signs
which will puzzle you; get through the work which is plain, and then
come to me with any requiring explanation. I shall expect a
little extra interruption at first."
After a few more directions, Sir Thomas desired Mr. Lane to
take possession of Mr. Chamberlain's room, and informed him that his
additional salary would commence from that day.
When Wilfred found himself fairly installed in Mr.
Chamberlain's place, it was contrary to human nature to expect he
should think of another man's misfortunes, rather than of the good
which they had been the means of bringing him.
Here, indeed, was a sudden rise, and an utterly unexpected
His work would of course be considerably heavier, and far
more onerous; but an extra salary of £250 a year made the former
sink into insignificance, and the latter he contemplated with
unmitigated satisfaction. Now, he thought, he should have an
opportunity of proving his real value, and this secretaryship might,
perhaps, lead to some ultimate advancement.
Wilfred Lane knew his own powers, and felt they could be much
better employed in the public service, in positions of greater trust
than the one he had previously occupied. Possessing an evenly
balanced mind, without any tendency to conceit or self-assertion, he
was able to estimate his own capabilities, without over-rating or
unduly depreciating them.
It is quite as impossible for a man of real power to be
unconscious of it, as it is for a woman to be ignorant of her beauty
and personal attractions.
A thoroughly educated man, in the fullest sense of the word,
Wilfred knew what faculties he possessed, and the uses to which he
could best apply them ― the first step to enable an individual to
act wisely in any station of life. But he had also realized
one of the last ― the significance of almost every act of a man's
daily life, in its ultimate operation on himself and others; and,
having naturally a very strongly marked character, his gentleness
and modesty shone out with an unusual grace, for these qualities
were in keeping, as they always must be, with the largeness of his
apprehension and his perception of the infiniteness of the things he
could never know.
The first day's work in his new position did not prove a
light one. It was, indeed, true that, owing to Mr.
Chamberlain's illness and irregular attendance, all the less
pressing letters had been laid aside until they had accumulated into
a very formidable heap. Wilfred was busy over them, when he
was surprised by a kind letter from Mr. Chamberlain, saying how glad
he was to hear that Lane was his successor. Had he been able
to leave home he should have looked in, to explain the way in which
he left Sir Thomas Slade's papers. Should Lane, however,
require any information, and think it worth his while to call, he
knew where to find him.
Wilfred was pleased with Mr. Chamberlain's letter, which gave
him the opportunity of calling as soon as he left the War Office.
But he could not wait till then, and lose a day's post, before he
despatched a note to Rome to tell Tiny of his appointment. If
he had hitherto restrained his feelings when he wrote, in accordance
with his resolution, there was no reason to deprive her of the
pleasure of hearing, as soon as possible, of a promotion which
would, at any rate, make their marriage a degree less difficult than
it seemed after that fearful talk with Lady Hare wood, when his
''miserable prospects" and ''uncertain health" were so vividly
brought before him.
As Wilfred recalled that afternoon he could not help feeling
heartily glad that he owed his present appointment, not to private
interest, but to the reasons assigned by Sir Thomas Slade.
Above all, he congratulated himself that he was by no means indebted
to his aunt for it. Lady Harewood had made him sensible of
former obligations in a manner which did a great deal towards
lessening the gratitude he would otherwise have felt, and raising in
its place a devout hope that she would in future refrain from
bestowing any favour upon him.
So a few lines were scribbled off to Tiny, to convey the good
news, and assure her that her descriptions of Rome were glorious,
and the sight of her yellow envelopes the only things which gave him
any real pleasure. He hoped soon to see another; and promised
to answer one and all in a way which would thoroughly satisfy her
when she returned home; but at present she must take for granted all
her own heart disposed her to wish for. She could not take
more than he was ready to give. During the next few days
Wilfred had enough to do. He was anxious not to get in arrears
with his literary work. He knew, when once he had mastered the
accumulated papers, his official employment would not interfere with
the engagements he had made in other directions; and he was bent on
leaving no stone unturned, both to make and save money enough to
furnish a comfortable little home for Tiny, so that, when Lady
Harewood gave her consent, they would be in a position to make a
clear start upon their mutual income.
With the money inherited from his mother, his increased
salary at the War Office, and the proceeds of his writings, Wilfred
Lane already possessed an income of eight hundred pounds a year.
It was true that his secretaryship was not a permanent one,
and there were chances which might curtail the income derived from
other sources, but he was in a very hopeful mood, and, in the face
of his present good fortune, not disposed to take a melancholy view
of affairs in general, or his pecuniary concerns in particular.
Tiny was ill in bed when the letter containing the news of
Wilfred's appointment reached her. The coming illness upon
which she had fathered her melancholy tendency to "profanity" had
already arrived, not however as a bilious attack, but in the shape
of a severe cold. Indeed, poor Tiny had not left her room
since the day on which she posted her last letter.
Her delight at hearing of the secretaryship was as great as
if Wilfred had been made Governor General of India. She knew
the addition to his salary would be nothing in Lady Harewood's eyes;
and that it would take a very different kind of appointment to
reconcile her to the proposed marriage; but she resolved to act as
if she thought her mother would offer no opposition, if Wilfred
possessed anything like a respectable income. Although Tiny
was unable to include the result of Wilfred's literary work (for the
simple reason that she knew nothing about it), she considered his
present salary, joined to her income, sufficient to begin with, and
to provide a modest establishment with the "bare necessaries of
Not that Tiny Harewood's ideas upon the subject of money had
any sound basis. She knew, indeed, that she could not keep her
own expenses within bounds, but often borrowed from her sisters, to
help her on to the next quarter; even at the present moment she had
two advances to repay, as well as several outstanding bills.
This, however, only presented to Tiny's mind a temporary difficulty,
which would never occur in the future. She was even now
"economizing" (according to her sense of the word) to pay off these
sums; and, as they had been spent in luxuries she ceased to value
with their possession, she felt it would be easy to avoid ever again
placing herself in a similar position.
But Tiny's views upon expenditure were so exceedingly vague,
that as far as any executive faculty was concerned, she was (with
the best intentions) utterly unfit to be a poor man's wife.
Large sums of money would disappear before she was conscious of it;
for acute, clever, and observant as Tiny was in most things, pounds,
shillings, and pence had no power to make a mental impression upon
her. Certainly, she had never yet tried to cultivate a better
understanding between her purse and her expenditure, but habitually
fell back upon her sisters' good-natured practice of keeping not
only her accounts, but her quarterly money; the latter was never
confided to Tiny until a good number of bills from the various
dressmakers, jewellers, and dry-goods stores patronized by the
little spendthrift were systematically collected and paid by
Madeline for the credit of the family.
Even then this wilful little individual refused to inspect
the several items; and, while she laughingly complained of any
reduction in the money she expected to receive, she resolutely
declined to believe in the sum total of the paid-up accounts.
All this, however, and a great deal more, Tiny intended to
alter when she married. As Mrs. Wilfred Lane she had unbounded
faith in her power of looking through the unpleasant red and blue
books containing butchers', bakers', and grocers' weekly accounts;
and she determined to commence her duties by purchasing a complete
set of housekeeping books, which she had seen in a shop in Bond
Street, handsomely bound in green morocco with gold clasps, and
standing in an appropriately expensive case.
"Life treads on life, and heart on heart,
We press too close in church and mart
To keep a dream or grave apart."
A VISION OF
first person to whom Tiny communicated the news of Wilfred's
appointment, was Madehne; she was always sure of a certain amount of
sympathy from her sister Madeline; whose sweetness of disposition
and natural goodness of heart made it easy for her to enter into the
feelings of others, and rendered it quite impossible for her to
banish all interest in her cousin, because she objected to his
marriage with Tiny, though of course she wished Wilfred had not
fallen in love with her sister, and would have esteemed him more
highly had he yielded at once to family opposition.
Besides a strong personal liking for Wilfred, which had grown
up during childhood (much of which had been spent together), and, in
addition to many points of sympathy, Madeline had another link with
her cousin. Wilfred had often been accompanied by his friend,
Captain Grahame, in his visits to the Harewoods; and, though no
definite words of love had ever passed his lips, a secret
understanding existed between Arthur Grahame and Madeline; she knew
that she was loved, and gave him her heart in return.
When Arthur Grahame's regiment was ordered to the Crimea,
Madeline was with some friends in the North of Ireland; but a
message, sent in the farewell letter he wrote to Lane from
Portsmouth, fortunately betrayed his secret to Wilfred; and it was
due to her cousin's thoughtful tenderness, that the sad news that
Arthur Grahame had been one of the first to fall at the storming of
the Redan, was broken to her at a time when her sorrow could find
free vent. Although Madeline had never openly acknowledged to
Wilfred how much she loved his friend, his exquisite tact and
delicacy enabled her to talk freely of Arthur; and she received from
him a silent sympathy, which, perhaps, possessed greater healing
power than any spoken words.
Time had done its work in restoring Madeline to serenity and
cheerfulness; but sometimes her sorrow still asserted itself; and
then the remembrance of what Wilfred Lane had been to her in the
hour of need came back with such force that she felt herself a
traitor in opposing his marriage, and sometimes almost determined to
desert her mother and Charlotte, and to go over openly to the enemy.
But, if she wavered in giving Wilfred and Tiny a steady
outward adherence, she certainly could not refrain from rejoicing in
her heart at any good fortune which tended to promote the fulfilment
of their wishes; and accordingly she was as much pleased as even the
exacting Tiny could desire, at hearing of her cousin's appointment.
While they were talking over the matter, Lady Harewood's near
approach was announced by the peculiar rustling of her stiff silk
dress; and, as the door slowly opened, the very air itself seemed to
lose its light and pleasant qualities and to become charged with
Lady Harewood's entrance always acted as a spell upon her
daughters; the tone of their voices was not only lowered, as she
touched the outer handle of the door, but the conversation entirely
ceased, and was seldom resumed until after her exit, and then
generally in a different spirit, and in another key.
Yet it was scarcely poor Lady Harewood's fault. She was
not exactly unkind to her children. She was naturally a
fretful woman, with irritable nerves; and her daughters' earnestness
and animation probably grated as much upon her sensibilities as her
own die-away lachrymose manners annoyed and crisped them. But,
whatever may have been the cause, the fact remained the same; and a
want of sympathy existed between them, which doubtless produced bad
effects upon them all, and deprived the domestic circle of that
cordiality and freedom which alone entitles a household to the
sacred name of home.
The polite inquiries which Lady Harewood made respecting
Tiny's health were chilling in themselves, from a mother's lips.
After they were satisfactorily answered, Tiny (who was
generally in the extreme of either leaving her mother altogether in
the dark about her concerns, or else doing battle over them in a
somewhat too vigorous style) commenced the remark she intended to
make at the first opportunity:
"I have just had a letter from Wilfred. Sir Thomas
Slade has made him his secretary, which gives him another £250 a
year, so now we have plenty to marry upon."
Lady Harewood expressed herself duly interested in hearing
the news, and showed by sundry signs and innuendoes that she was
even prepared to read her nephew's letter; but, gathering from
Tiny's manner that this unwonted exertion would be denied her, she
refrained from directly asking for the epistle.
"It cannot be a permanent appointment," was her freezing
remark; ''and as the Ministry is nearly sure to go out early in the
spring, you had better advise Wilfred to make hay while the sun
shines, for it will not last very long."
"I don't see that at all," rejoined Tiny; "and anyhow it will
probably lead to something better. People like Sir Thomas
Slade are fortunately able to appreciate something out of the common
way when they have the good luck to meet with it."
" I dare say your cousin is a very clever young man,"
rejoined her mother, "but he is exceedingly opinionated; and I
cannot say I think as highly of him as I did."
"Then I am sorry for you, Mamma," said Tiny, raising herself
up in her bed, her face flushing with excitement. "It is a
pity that Wilfred ever made such a noble sacrifice of his own
wishes, if you are incapable of appreciating it. I always told
him it would do no good."
"I don't understand what you mean about 'sacrifice:' if I
chose to come to Rome with your sisters, it was neither possible for
you to remain behind, nor for Wilfred to accompany us. It was
a great mistake ever to allow that young man to make himself so
completely at home in my house."
"Why, mamma," exclaimed Tiny, "it was Wilfred himself who
proposed your bringing me to Rome; and as for his coming to our
house, he is the best man who ever entered it since poor papa died."
Lady Harewood was exceedingly glad that the latter part of
Tiny's speech gave her an opportunity of evading any further
discussion upon Wilfred's share in the visit to Rome. She
therefore contented herself with rebuking Tiny for comparing any one
to her revered father; and condemned the allusion to Sir Henry as
undutiful, disrespectful, and wanting in all proper feeling towards
herself. Seeing that Tiny was fast losing all
self-control, and anticipating an angry scene, Lady Harewood veered
towards the door; and had almost left the room before she concluded
her sentence. She saw by the kindling fire in Tiny's eye, and
the nervous movement of her hands, that she stood small chance of
the last word, unless content to drop her assumed manners ― exert
her voice to an unwonted pitch ― and to exchange her usually languid
tone for something more natural though less polite.
Relieved of her mother's presence, Tiny began to cry.
She felt ill, wretched, and hated these contests. She had no
intention of saying anything disrespectful to anybody when she began
talking; and she was sure that she had said nothing wrong about her
father, for whose memory her reverence was extreme.
But her conscience did not feel so clear about her mother;
and the sense of the indignation with which she regarded her at that
moment, grated against the finer chords of Tiny's character, until
the whole seemed to strike a discord.
These were some of the moments when Tiny longed most for
Wilfred. She would tell him all the little perplexities and
fights which went on in her own mind; and while he never scrupled to
blame her for want of self-control, he always soothed and entered
into the intense provocation produced on a girl of Tiny's
temperament by contact with a nature like her mother's ― a
provocation which Tiny would have felt had Lady Harewood only been a
person in whose society she was thrown; but which was roused to an
unendurable pitch by the very fact of their close relationship.
After these scenes Tiny was occasionally like a little mad
creature; her nerves seemed all unstrung, her physical condition
thoroughly disordered, and she appeared unable to subdue any
sentiment which came first to the surface.
On the present occasion the discussion was fortunately cut so
short that a few moments sufficed to restore her to calmness; and
she determined to soothe her ruffled plumes by inditing a letter of
congratulation to Wilfred.
"In the ardour of passion they deceive themselves ;
how then can we help being deceived by them?"
"Your letter has just arrived, and it is the nicest I have
ever received from you, although it only contains fifty-one words,
for I have counted them twice over!
"I am so delighted with dear old Sir Thomas Slade; I could
hug him, and I would, too, if he would only give you an order to
write a long letter to me at least once a week, as the first and
most important duty of your new appointment. I am sure he
would be horrified if he knew how badly you treat me. I don't
believe you care a straw for me now, or you could not help saying
something loving and kind in your letters. I daresay you
pretend that your feelings are too tender for paper. Remember
'les extremes se touchent.' I shall be thinking the
unfeeling 'extreme' is the cause of your silence, if something
pretty does not come soon. I want a great deal, and much which
I cannot have till I get home. When I think of getting back to
you my heart and head get dizzy with delight, for I am so lonely.
"I have just had a scene with mamma, which makes me long more
and more to be with you, in the little home we pictured together,
that happy afternoon in the Square gardens. I feel so drearily
weary of this solitude; and the contrast of the quietness, without
the solitude, strikes one vividly. Such a home would fill life
with sweet hours ― hours which would give me strength for any amount
of work and goodness.
"Miss Barclay has just been here. She came up and
stayed an hour with me. First, she talked about Mrs. Browning,
whom she knew intimately; and ranks next to Shakespeare, and above
Tennyson ― far. She told me she considered it
something in her life to have known such a person; that while you
were with her, it was impossible to have a low or worldly thought;
she lived in a higher, purer atmosphere than most people; and was,
altogether, even out of her poetry, the most wonderful creature Miss
Barclay ever knew. After saying much more than I can write,
she read from Mrs. Browning's last volume 'Bianca and the
Nightingales;' and then took up our favourite Sonnets from the
Portuguese, and read them through from beginning to end. To
say she reads perfectly is poor praise compared to what she
"When she came to ours ― do you remember it? (if not, look at
your book and the mark I have added to your old date) ― it seemed so
wrong for any lips but yours to read to me ― 'How do I love thee,
let me count the ways!'
"Yes, darling Wil, I can't stand this much longer. I
shall become really sick if I stay out here. I feel utterly
miserable now. The air is so sweet that it is desperately
melancholy work to feel ill and weary in such a place. To
complete my unhappy state, there is a harmony flute playing
melancholy Verdi through the soft sunny spring air. You
strong-nerved old Wil, do you think that nonsense?
"I have been to sleep, and I think I feel better! My
little bow-wow Tip is on his arm-chair close beside me; he tells me
to say that he would like to bite you for not writing longer letters
to me, and is much surprised that you have never inquired after him.
"Here goes over all the ink! That's a judgment on me,
either for repeating Tip's impertinence, or for quarrelling with
Mamma. Wil, in spite of the ink, I really think things look a
little brighter for my sleep. Madeline says Mamma will be sure
to leave Rome after the Carnival; and if she does not go to Naples
(which is every day getting more and more likely), we shall come
"I think I must belong in some measure to the Salamandrine
type, or I should not have had such a cruel trial as this sent me;
but, having you for a support, I should be wicked if I let it harden
"No, we are given the materials for making our own moral
sunshine, and make it we will! This must be the end of our
troubles. No more suffering, save what we bring on ourselves,
or what comes direct from the hand of God.
"How delicious to think of your new appointment. With
this extra two hundred and fifty pounds we shall have plenty of
"Madeline tells me to finish this directly, or I shall lose
the post. I wish I had gone on writing to you, instead of
going to sleep, spilling the ink, and listening to Miss Barclay's
"Good-bye, my own Wil, I shall make haste and learn how to
become a good little wifie.
" 'I will not be proud of my youth or my
Since both of them wither and fade,
But gain a good name by well doing my duty:
This will scent like a rose when I'm dead.'
"A little effusion from Dr. Watts, the effect of trying to
strengthen my memory!
Inside the envelope was a little note, which Madeline had
slipped in unknown to her sister, not only to congratulate Wilfred
upon his good fortune, but to ask him to do his best to cheer up
Tiny. "She wants moral tone," wrote Madeline, "and ought to be
made to feel that another month's separation is not a lifetime.
I know enough of low spirits, myself, to feel very much for the dear
child, and to wish her to be gently dealt with; but don't let her
spoil her visit to Rome with pining, and making herself ill, if you
can help it."
Wilfred felt very anxious when he read this note. He
feared Tiny must indeed be depressed, before Madeline would so far
acknowledge his position, as to apply for his influence.
Under these circumstances he thought himself entitled to
write a loving letter. He could not bear the idea that he was
withholding what Tiny so sorely needed. It was bad enough to
have sent her away at all; and he felt strongly tempted to break
through his resolutions, to write fully and freely from the depth of
his heart, and to pour forth all the love he had been storing up
during these dreary weeks.
So he wrote, and urged Tiny to keep well and strong for his
sake; to remember her promise of coming back as "plump as a pigeon;
"and threatened to break down in his new work, unless speedily
assured of her convalescence. He spoke of having got through
the worst part of the time, and said he hoped she would scarcely be
able to write another letter without telling him something definite
about her return home; and then he could not refrain from adding:
"Would to God I could tell you in
words one half I feel for you. You little know how I long for
the time when my darling will be indeed, and in very truth, my own.
Your little moans for my love are painfully precious to me.
God hasten the day, sweet one, after which you shall never look in
vain for it. Your weary lonely feeling will be, I trust,
forever satisfied when I have my own 'little sunshine' in arms which
long to enclose her. The future holds but one thing in it to
"Better trust all, and be deceived,
And weep that trust, and that deceiving;
Than doubt one heart, that, if believed,
Had blessed one's life with true believing.
"Oh, in this mocking world, too fast
The doubting fiend o'ertakes our youth!
Better be cheated to the last,
Than lose the blessed hope of truth."
Tiny received this letter she jumped about for very joy.
Knowing Wilfred's determination of character, and his
resolution to say nothing in his letters but what a cousin might
write, she felt his love for her must indeed be deep and strong, for
this expression of it to have escaped him. Of course she did
not know that Madeline had written; for Wilfred gathered from his
cousin's way of wording her note, that he was not to mention finding
it in Tiny's envelope.
She sent this answer by the same day's post.
"I am so glad I have hunted you down from your pedestal, and
made you say one lover-like thing at the last gasp!
"The others have all gone to the Vatican; and I was staying
at home by myself, when your dear letter was brought in.
When I read it, I was so glad I was alone.
"I wish you would always write to me what passes in that
great heart of yours; for I cannot help thinking our future
happiness depends on our being one, as much as possible, during this
horrible separation. My letters would be altogether filled
with what concerns you and me, only you told me to tell you of all I
do and see. But, though life is so full, and there is so much
going on around me, when the day is over, with its astonishingly
beautiful sights, I feel the awful want of my own true love to
soothe me, and to gloss over everything in life with his tenderness.
Your absence is more a want at the root of life than an absolute
"I went to a French service yesterday in a Lutheran chapel,
and liked the sermon very much, because it reminded me of what you
had been to me. The text was from that chapter where Elijah
goes into the desert in a state of despondency, and says, 'It is
enough, O Lord; now take away my life, for I am no better than my
"The sermon was on the moments of despondency which come to
every one, almost ― either from great moral pain, or from emptiness
in life, and the feeling of self-detestation, or from the higher
impulses never being satisfied ― being contradicted, in fact, by our
habits. And how all this dissatisfaction encrusts life with a
melancholy in the soul, which brings at last all who live in and for
the world to the state when death seems the only outlet for their
misery. He described most wonderfully the feeling which the
suppression of all high motives to action produces. I could
not help thinking of last year, when I was so miserable, and prayed
for an influence strong enough to take me out of the melancholy of
an excited, vapid life; and how you, my own strong Wil, effected
what no saint, angel, or anything else good and human, could have
''I wonder whether I shall ever be able to tell you all that
passes in my little person? If you were Father Confessor to
me, as well as the many other things you are, it might be well!
I cannot help thinking it would be good to recognize in words, and
to another ― such another as you are to me ― all the shortcomings of
''Oh, Wil, the world is a funny place ― and it is made so
strange by these queer hearts of ours.
"There are certain faults which are scarcely recognizable,
and yet they eat into the very character; and, more or less, this
makes the world at core a very lying, deceptive one. There are
few if any saints in it after all! There are many passionless,
feelingless, otherwise good people who pass for such; but who knows
what calm lives have been allotted them? I don't know why I am
writing this homily to you. But I feel very stupid. What
does it matter? my old Wil must have me ― stupid or otherwise ― just
as he finds me. He has promised to take me, for better for
worse, and he can't alter, however idiotic I become!
There was something in the tone of this letter which Wilfred
could not understand, and which he did not altogether like.
Was it possible that Tiny, who appeared so frank and open, and who
seemed as if she could not keep the smallest secret to herself ― was
it possible that she would hide thoughts and feelings which she knew
would cause him pain, and perhaps displeasure? Wilfred
dismissed this idea as ridiculous. Did he not know Tiny from
beginning to end ― had she not often told him that no one in the
world understood her but himself?
What could Tiny have to hide from him? Nothing surely
but feelings which, as a wife, she would gladly confide to him; but
which, divided as they were, it was only natural she should retain
in her own bosom. He ought to be satisfied, and he was
satisfied with the frank and free expression she now gave to her
affection for him. The rest would all come in the happy
future, which Wilfred so often pictured, as he walked back from his
office; and he sighed for the time when, instead of going to his
chambers, he should hasten towards a real home, and be greeted by a
fair young wife who promised to bring him such peace and happiness
in the future.
Had Wilfred been less occupied, he might have dwelt upon
Tiny's expressions more than he did: but life was very full to him,
and, though his whole heart was centred in her, other interests
claimed so much of his time that he was prevented from following out
the train of thought which this letter at first suggested.
"Till I press thee against my heart ― my wife ―
(Come thou wilt, tho' I know not when)
While I bide my time, thus I'll live my life,
Aye, my love I will keep till then."
HAREWOOD was at
last fairly tired of Rome; and, having spent a great deal more money
than she intended, did not care to go to Naples.
After all, she had been away from England for four months.
It was not to be supposed she should inconvenience herself for the
sake of keeping Wilfred and Tiny apart for the exact time suggested.
Besides which, an earlier return would enable her to take up a
position for which her nephew would be unprepared, and of which she
determined to say nothing till she reached Grosvenor Crescent.
When Tiny heard that they were going direct to London, her
delight knew no bounds. She regarded the visit to Rome as the
term of her separation from Wilfred: and, being innocent of Lady
Harewood's further plot against their happiness, she believed the
barrier to their union would now be removed. So, a few days
after Wilfred had received the letter, which caused him the
speculations already recorded, the long-expected tidings of Tiny's
speedy return gladdened his eyes.
"Oh, Wilfred, I could sing with joy! What a blessing it
is that everybody isn't like you. Had you come to Rome instead
of remaining in London, I suppose nothing on earth would have
induced such a precise old monster to leave it a moment before the
cruel six months had expired; you obstinate, hard-hearted man!
"At last I have something 'definite' to tell you of our
return. Mamma has determined on going straight to London; and
has ordered us to get our heavy luggage ready for forwarding, as
soon as ever we can. So now I will go on to tell you of the
proceedings of a no longer dreary little person; but of one who is
filled with delight at the thought of being able soon to extort all
you have promised to give in answer to letters, which have been
received with a coolness and want of thankfulness for which you
shall most certainly be called to account.
"Well, our expedition to Frascati was delightful. It
was a great success, and we did it in all completeness. The
views were quite beyond description beautiful, in their own line.
We drove all day in two vehicles, one a large open omnibus, and the
other an ordinary carriage.
"We lunched all together on a green, sunny corner of a
vineyard, and came home from Albano by train, reaching this at
half-past eight o'clock.
"The sunset over the Campagna was something too exquisite.
My own Wil; we must come and wander among these mountains together;
they are so beautiful.
"But I can't write. I can only think of seeing dear old
London again, with its ugly houses and dull streets and squares.
"I have been trying to read Ruskin, but even that I could not
do ― for a dear face and its wicked brown eyes would come between me
and the pages. I did enjoy though, immensely, a little bit of
his about the pines. Do you remember it? And then about
the flowers; how and why the greatest masters didn't paint much for
the sake of flowers, explaining what I have often felt about them ―
the limited definite feeling they leave. They want the closest
attention; but when you have given that you know all ― there is no
"Flowers, he says, seem intended for the solace of ordinary
humanity. Children love them; quiet, tender, contented,
ordinary people love them as they grow; luxurious people rejoice in
them gathered. Passionate or religious minds contemplate them
with fond, feverish intensity; the affection is seen severely calm
in the works of many old religious painters. To the child and
the girl, the peasant and the manufacturing operative, to the
grisette and the nun, the lover and the monk, they are always
precious. But to the men of supreme power and thoughtfulness,
precious only at times; symbolically and pathetically often to the
poets, but rarely for their own sake. They fall forgotten from
the great workmen's and soldiers' hands. Such men will take in
thankfulness crowns of leaves or crowns of thorns ― not crowns of
flowers. And then he tells a lovely story of his friend who
went with him into the Tyrol one early spring and saw a strange
mountain in the distance, belted, he thought, about its breast with
a zone of blue, which turned out to be a belt of gentians, which, as
they approached, expanded into a richer breadth and heavenlier blue.
"It is such a strange effect reading Ruskin with the window
open ― a lovely, balmy, spring feeling in the air ― and the sounds
of all this idiotic Carnival going on in the distance ― guns firing
for the races, and the noise of a crowd all over the place. We
had a number of friends in our balcony this morning, throwing
sugar-plums at the people in the street below; I think the Carnival
stupid beyond description; and how men can make such fools of
themselves, for ten of God's whole days, baffles my comprehension.
"Now that this separation is nearly over, I almost feel able
to say that I am glad I came. What you are to me I should
never have known without it; and this shows me how utterly I belong
to your life ― our life ― our sweet life, out of the world, all to
ourselves. It is a future to live for! But I shan't feel
safe till I am really with you. The slightest thing amiss, and
I directly think of the dear, strong arm which makes everything so
easy to bear. I broke a looking-glass the other day, and that
is so dreadfully unlucky! I hope nothing will happen; and
assuredly it well might, for the delight of leaving here so soon is
too much for me.
"It is so delicious to think I may begin to say, with some
idea of its being true, 'to-day is the last Monday in Rome.'
"At the Vespers, yesterday, I pitied all the poor old priests
and monks, who will go on sitting in their places for ever so long,
without any Wil (or its equivalent) to go to. But I am getting
"I have splendid plans for the future, and intend to lead
such a regular life. It shall be a religion to get up early;
my physical strength, will be devoted to those things you have
taught me to love; and my moral strength to make you happy. So
you see Rome is very little to me now, one way or another. I
am only thinking of this day fortnight. Good-bye, my own Wil;
prepare yourself for no end of torment from yours, now and forever,
After this Wilfred heard no more until he received a little
hurried scrap, dated Hotel Westmister, Paris which told him
that the Harewoods expected to arrive at the Charing Cross station
on the following Thursday night, at twenty-five minutes to eleven
o'clock, if trains and steamers did their duty, and brought them as
quickly as Tiny wished to come.
"Expecting joy is a happy pain."
clock was striking half-past ten as Wilfred Lane walked into the
Charing Cross station. Making his way at once to the platform,
he awaited the arrival of the tidal train from Folkestone.
Of course, it was late that night; and as Wilfred impatiently
paced up and down, the idea of seeing Tiny again began to feel like
a dream. It almost seemed a trick of his imagination; and he
half expected, when the train disgorged its occupants, that no Tiny
Harewood would be found among the travellers. As he took her
note out of his pocket to reassure himself, Lady Harewood's carriage
drove into the station, in evident anticipation of what was to come.
In a few minutes the railway officials began to collect, and
the approach of the train was so clearly indicated that Wilfred
thought by the time he had taken one walk down the length of the
platform, his waiting would be over.
He had nearly reached the furthest end, when he heard a quick
step behind him, and the familiar voice of Lady Harewood's footman
accosted him with the pleasant sound ―
"The train is just coming in, sir."
As the man spoke, it slowly steamed into the station, with a
puff, puff, puff, which sounded very differently in Wilfred's ears
to that horrible grating sound the steamer had made at the
Folkestone pier four months ago.
Tiny Harewood was eagerly looking out of the window, and
caught sight of Wilfred long before the train stopped. The
carriage which contained this precious treasure passed him, though
he had rapidly walked to the other end of the platform; but it was
scarcely this which made his heart beat loud and fast.
By the time he reached Tiny's carriage a porter had already
opened the door, and before Wilfred knew what was going to happen,
regardless of the crowd around her, or the presence of her mother
and sisters, Tiny sprang into his arms, and gave him an embrace,
which not only took him completely by surprise, but knocked his hat
off, much to the annoyance of an irascible old gentleman who
immediately put his foot through it, and considered himself the
As Wilfred Lane handed Lady Harewood into what her daughters
always called the "family hearse," he felt somewhat discomposed, for
he was averse to public exhibitions of affection. The meeting
had been so sudden, and the unfortunate hat had taken such a
prominent part in it, that he found it impossible to exchange a word
with Tiny. Now he must say "Good-night," for John and the maid
had discovered the luggage, and there was nothing more to detain his
"I am very glad to see you back again," said Wilfred,
speaking to Lady Harewood, but holding Tiny's hand firmly in his; "I
hope you will let me look in to-morrow at five o'clock, aunt?"
"Certainly," she replied, in a formal tone, which augured ill
for the future happiness of the young lovers; "what I have to say to
you, Wilfred, might just as well be said at once."
"Good-night, Wil," said Tiny; "I am so happy. To-morrow
at five o'clock! Don't be late," she added; and the carriage
drove off before Wilfred had time to reply save by an extra pressure
of the little hand he had held captive during this conversation.
John disappeared with his mistress, and Mr. Lane found the
maid still struggling with the luggage, which had yet to be put on
her cab. She was very grateful for his assistance, and the
porters seemed much more willing and brisk now they had a gentleman
to look after them and the hope of a "tip" at the end of their
Mrs. Smith was not only fatigued with the journey, and
incensed with John, who ought, in her opinion, to have kept Lady
Harewood waiting till he saw the luggage on the cab, but she was
smarting under the sense of a deeper wrong.
It was, in her opinion, a great deal too bad of Lady Harewood
to have parted with her courier in Paris. She felt personally
aggrieved by being obliged to travel "such a distance alone, with so
many changes, and some, too, amongst foreign tongues; "it was a
position which she considered unbecoming to her ladyship and most
derogatory to herself. Being left by John before the cab was
ready to start was the "last drop in her cup," and she determined to
speak very frankly on the subject to Mr. Watson, as soon as ever she
found herself in the housekeeper's room in Grosvenor Crescent.
"If gentlefolks wished to keep up to their station," she
intended to remark, "they should behave different before a whole
train load of people, not to reckon the steamer, who might any day
turn out to be the nobility of their own circle."
"Law, Mr. Lane, excuse me, sir," said Mrs. Smith, when she
found herself comfortably settled in the cab, with the luggage piled
up over her head, and the seats crammed with the small bags and
wraps which had all been left by the offending John; "but what has
happened to your hat? You can never walk through the streets
with it, sir."
"Well, I don't think many people will notice it at this time
of night," said Mr. Lane, laughing, as he told the cabman where to
drive, and, with a friendly good-night to Smith, whom he envied from
the bottom of his heart when he thought how soon she would see Tiny,
while he had to wait till five o'clock to-morrow afternoon, he
watched the cab rattle out of the station, and walked thoughtfully
back to his own chambers.
There was something unpleasant in the ring of Lady Harewood's
voice, he thought, and the manner in which she answered his request
for leave to call on the following day. Was it possible that
she meant to oppose him still? Had Tiny been right in her
conjecture that her mother avoided a distinct promise with a view to
If so, what could he do ― what ought he to do? He could
no longer doubt Tiny's love. She had stood the test of a long
separation, and the greeting she had given him at the station was
assurance enough that he had her whole heart, and that she did not
mind who knew it. Wilfred Lane had been quite unprepared for
such a demonstration, and would certainly have preferred a less
public embrace. Still, as a proof of Tiny's thorough devotion
to him, the remembrance of it was very precious.
But when he reached his lodgings he was obliged to dismiss
anxious as well as sweet thoughts, for he had some work which he
knew must be done that night. Exchanging his coat for a loose
dressing-gown, he banked up his fire, lighted his pipe, and
spreading out his papers on the table before him, worked away for
Although not a strong man, Wilfred Lane had a wonderful
capacity for being able to do with very little sleep. After a
night's work (and sometimes a night's illness) which would have sent
many a stronger man to his office with a headache and pale face, he
would look as bright as usual after his morning bath and breakfast.
This constant want of sufficient rest was beginning to make him seem
older than he really was, and perhaps added to the already
deeply-marked lines on his brow, but otherwise it did not appear to
tell upon him. His general health had certainly rather
improved of late, and his heart attacks had been far less frequent
Over and above the delight of knowing that every hour's
labour would contribute to Tiny Harewood's future ease and comfort,
Wilfred Lane loved his work for its own sake. He was
passionately devoted to subjects of thought out of the beaten line
of the day; and he had naturally an ardent impulse for seeking the
genuine truth on all matters, and the gift of finding and
recognizing it when found. The impulse for seeking truth is
perhaps more common than we think ― the gift of finding it much
But his line of activity was in "the war for the liberation
of humanity," as Goethe calls it. To help forward by unceasing
efforts all schemes connected with education, all things likely to
promote a wider belief and a fuller service, Wilfred regarded as
little short of a positive duty. He desired, above all things,
to protest against the vain and foolish cry after more knowledge,
without respect to the work each man has to do and the material of
which he is made. He thought both men and women ought to be
better educated, but he wished them to have an education of purpose,
directed to make them happy, satisfied, and effective in their
It was not the good taste and varied and accurate knowledge
evinced in Wilfred's writings which made them come home to the
hearts of his readers, so much as the ready and frank appreciation
of all human endeavour, and the deep sympathy with all human misery
and weakness, which shone through them.
The quick way to popularity, however, is to mirror back to
the age, in vivid colouring, its own thoughts in sharper outline,
for distrust of novelty is one of the most marked national
characteristics of our English people; but Wilfred Lane deserved,
and ultimately won, a popularity which is of a slower growth.
He did not simply reflect the thought of the day, but brought to it
new thought and food. His theology, too, was anything but the
theology of the so-called religious world, for he was as original as
every man must be who has a strong conviction. His intense
naturalism was fatal to all routine thinking. He put the
standard of right and wrong, once and for all, inside every man
instead of outside him. He felt that every one who wished his
influence to be a marked one must work from within outwards, and
bring to light his own individuality. He held that ''whatever
happens to a man is for the interest of the universe," and that "the
whole contains nothing which is not for its advantage" ― a theory
which enabled him to bear, with cheerful composure, circumstances in
his own life which would otherwise have been intolerable; and
believing that the ruling part of man can make a material for itself
out of that which opposes it, as fire lays hold of what falls into
it, and rises higher by means of this very material, he persevered
until he had made things his own; and what luxury is to those who
enjoy pleasure, so to him was the doing of things comfortable to his
He learnt to hold firmly to this and to be content with it.
At the same time Wilfred Lane was naturally inclined to
regard the world in its divisions and subdivisions; and, under the
aspect of individual cares and sorrows, was unduly impressed with
the "night side of life." He had not yet fully realized life
and light as synonymous, or, viewing existence in its entirety, seen
the complete harmony of the whole.