Page images

Soon the narcissus flowers and dies, but slow
The tree whose blossoms shall mature to fruit.
Grace is a moment's happy feeling, Power
A life's slow growth; and we for many an hour
Must strain and toil, and wait and weep, if we
The perfect fruit of all we are would see.

Therefore I wait. Within my earnest thought
For years upon this picture I have wrought,
Yet still it is not ripe ; I dare not paint
Till all is ordered and matured within.
Hand-work and head-work have an earthly taint,
But when the soul commands I shall begin.
On themes like these I should not dare to dwell
With our good Prior—they to him would be
Mere nonsense ; he must touch and taste and see;
And facts, he says, are never mystical.
Now, the fact is, our worthy Prior says,
The convent is annoyed by my delays ;
Nor can he see why I for hours and days
Should muse and dream and idle here around.
I have not made a face he has not found
Quite good enough before it was half-done.
"Don't bother more,” he says, “ let it alone.”
What can one say to such a connoisseur ?
How could a Prior and a critic err ?


But, not to be more tedious, I confess
I am disturbed to think I so distress
The worthy Prior. Yet 'twere wholly vain
To him an artist's feelings to explain ;
But, Signor Duca, you will understand,
And so I treat on higher themes with you.
The work you order I shall strive to do
With all my soul, not merely with my hand.



as if


“Now, Mr Wodehouse,” said theory, nor in our own opinion. Jack Wentworth, “it appears that The fact accordingly is, my friend, you and I have a word to say to each that you must choose between us other.” They had all risen when and those respectable meannesses the other gentlemen followed Mr of yours. By Jove! the fellow Morgan out of the room, and those ought to have been a shopkeeper, who remained stood in a group and as honest as–Diogenes,” said surrounding the unhappy culprit, Jack. He stood looking at his and renewing his impression of wretched associate with the overpersonal danger. When he heard whelming impertinence of a perhimself thus addressed, he backed fectly well-bred man, no way conagainst the wall, and instinctively cealing the contemptuous inspectook one of the chairs and placed tion with which his cool eyes trait before him. His furtive eye velled over the disconcerted figure sought the door and the window, from top to toe, seeing and exaginvestigating the chances of escape. gerating all its tremors and clumsy When he saw that there was none, guiltiness. The chances are, had he withdrew still a step farther Jack Wentworth been in Wodeback, and stood at bay.

house's place, he would have been “ By Jove! I ain't going to stand master of the position as much as all this,” said Wodehouse ;

He was not shocked nor inevery fellow had a right to bully me dignant like his brothers. He was -it's more than flesh and blood simply contemptuous, disdainful, can put up with. I don't care for not so much of the wickedness as that old fogie that's gone up-stairs; of the clumsy and shabby fashion but, by Jove! I won't stand any in which it had been accomplished. more from men that eat my din. As for the offender, who had been ners, and win my money, and- defiant in his sulky fashion up to

Jack Wentworth made half a this moment, his courage oozed out step forward with a superb smile at his finger-ends under Jack Went“My good fellow, you should never worth's eye. reproach a man with his good ac- “I am my own master,” he stamtions,” he said ; " but at the same mered, “nowadays. I ain't to be time, having eaten your dinner, as dictated to—and I shan't be, by

— you describe, I have a certain claim Jove! As for Jack Wentworth, he's on your gratitude. We have had well known to be neither more

a— business connectionfor some years. I don't say you “ Than what, Mr Wodehouse ?" have reason to be actually grateful said the serene and splendid Jack. for that; but, at least, it brought “Don't interest yourself on my acyou now and then into the society count, Frank. This is my

business of gentlemen. A man who robs a at present. If you have any prayerset of women, and leaves the poor meetings in hand we can spare you creature he has ruined destitute, -and don't forget our respectable is a sort of cur we have nothing to friend in your supplications. Fasay to," said the heir of the Went- vour us with your definition of worths, contemptuously. “We do Jack Wentworth, Mr Wodehouse. not pretend to be saints, but we are He is neither more nor less?" not blackguards; that is to say,' “By Jove! I ain't going to stand said Jack, with a perfectly calm it,” cried Wodehouse; “if a fellow's and harmonious smile, not in to be driven mad, and insulted,



nor less


and have his money won from him, have the means of escape. Go now and made game of — not to say and leave them,” said the man who tossed about as I've been among was a priest by nature. The light 'em, and made a drudge of and set returned to his eye while he spoke; to do the dirty work," said the un- he was no longer passive, contemfortunate subordinate, with a touch plating his own moral death; his of pathos in his hoarse voice ;—“I natural office had come back to don't mean to say I've been what I him unawares. He stretched his ought; but, by Jove! to be put arm towards the door, thinking of upon as I've been, and knocked nothing but the escape of the sinabout; and at the last they haven't “Go," said Gerald.

“Refuse the pluck to stand by a fellow, by their approbation; shun their soJove !" muttered Mr Wodehouse's ciety. For Christ's sake, and not unlucky heir.

What further ex- for theirs, make amends to those asperation his smiling superior was you have wronged. Jack, I comabout to heap upon him, nobody mand you to let him go.” could tell; for just as Jack Went- Jack, who had been startled at worth was about to speak, and just first, had recovered himself long as Wodehouse had again faced before his brother ceased to speak. towards him, half-cowed, half-re- “Let him go, by all means," he sisting, Gerald, who had been said, and stood superbly indifferent looking on in silence, came for- by Gerald's side, whistling under ward out of the shadow. He had his breath a tripping lively air. seen all and heard all, from that “ No occasion for solemnity. The moral deathbed of his, where no per- sooner he goes the better," said sonal cares could again disturb him; Jack. “ In short, I see no reason and though he had resigned his why any of us should stay, now the office, he could not belie his nature. business is accomplished. I wonder He came in by instinct to cherish would his reverence ever forgive me the dawn of compunction which if I lighted my cigar ?" He took appeared, as he thought, in the out his case as he spoke, and began sinner's words.

to look over its contents. There “ The best thing that can happen was one in the room, however, who to you,” said Gerald, at the sound was better acquainted with the inof whose voice everybody started, dications of Jack Wentworth's face “is to find out that the wages of than either of his brothers. This sin are bitter. Don't expect any unfortunate, who was hanging in sympathy or consolation from those an agony of uncertainty over the who have helped you to do wrong. chair he had placed before him, My brother tries to induce you to watched every movement of his leaddo a right act from an unworthyer's face with the anxious gaze of a motive. He says your former as- lover, hoping to see a little corresociates will not acknowledge you. sponding anxiety in it, but watched My advice to you is to forsake your in vain. Wodehouse had been going former associates. My brother," through a fever of doubt and dividsaid Gerald, turning aside to look ed impulses. The shabby fellow at him," would do himself honour open to good impressions, if he forsook them also—but for though he was not much in the you, here is your opportunity. You way of practising them, and Gerhave no temptation of poverty now. ald's address, which, in the first Take the first step, and forsake place, filled him with awe, moved them. I have no motive in advis- him afterwards with passing thrills ing you—except, indeed, that I am of compunction, mingled with a Jack Wentworth's brother. He kind of delight at the idea of getand you are different,” said Gerald, ting free. When his admonitor said involuntarily glancing from one to • Go,” Wodehouse made a step tothe other. And at present you wards the door, and for an instant


Hold your


felt the exhilaration of enfranchise- pended on it, and took no notice of ment. But the next moment his the stealthy glances thrown at him. eye sought Jack Wentworth's face, “ I'll get a light in the hall,” said which was so superbly careless, so in- Jack; “good evening to you,” and different to him and his intentions, he was actually going away. and the vagabond's soul succumbed Look here," said Wodehouse, with a canine fidelity to his master. hastily, in his beard ; “I ain't a Had Jack shown any interest, any man to forsake old friends. If excitement in the matter, his sway Jack Wentworth does not mean might have been doubtful; but in anything unreasonable or against a proportion to the sense of his own fellow's honourinsignificance and unimportance tongue, Waters; by Jove! I know Wodehouse's allegiance confirmed my friends. I know you would itself. He looked wistfully towards never have been one of them but the hero of his imagination, as that for Jack Wentworth. He's not the skilful personage selected his cigar. common sort, I can tell you. He's He would rather have been kicked the greatest swell going, by Jove!” again than left alone, and left to cried Jack's admiring follower, "and himself. After all, it was very true through thick and thin he's stood what Jack Wentworth said. They by me. I ain't going to forsake might be a bad lot, but they were him now—that is, if he don't want gentlemen (according to Wode : anything that goes against a fellow's house's understanding of the word) honour," said the repentant prodiwith whom he had been associ- gal, again sinking the voice which ated; and beatific visions of peers he had raised for a moment. As he and baronets and honourables, spoke he looked more wistfully than among whom his own shabby per- ever towards his leader, who said son had figured, without feeling "Pshaw!" with an impatient ges

“ much below the common level, ture, and put back his cigar. crossed his mind with all the sweet- “ This room is too hot for anyness which belongs a past state thing,” said Jack; “but don't open of affairs. Yet it was still in his the window, I entreat of you. I power to recall these vanishing hate to assist at the suicide of a glories. Now that he was rich, and set of insane insects. For heaven's could “cut a figure

sake, Frank, mind what you're doobjects of his admiration, was that ing. As for Mr Wodehouse's rebrilliant world to be closed upon mark,” said Jack, lightly, "I trust him for ever by his own obstinacy? I never could suggest anything As these thoughts rushed through which would wound his keen sense his mind, little Rosa's beauty and of honour. I advise you to marry natural grace came suddenly to his and settle, as I am in the habit of recollection Nobody need know advising young men; and if I were how he had got his pretty wife, and to add that it would be seemly a pretty wife she would be—a crea- to make some provision for your ture whom nobody could help ad- sistersmiring. Wodehouse looked wist- Stop there !” said the Curate, fully at Jack Wentworth, who took who had taken no part in the scene no notice of him as he chose his up to this moment. He had stood cigar. Jack was not only the ideal behind rather contemptuously, deof the clumsier rogue, but he was termined to have nothing to do with the doorkeeper of that paradise of his ungrateful and ungenerous prodisreputable nobles and ruined gen- tégé. But now an unreasonable tlemen which was Wodehouse's idea impulse forced him into the disof good society; and from all this cussion. “The less that is said on was he about to be banished ? Jack that part of the subject the better, Wentworth selected his cigar with he said, with some natural heat. as much care as if his happiness de- “I object to the mixing up of


among the







names which—which no one here night, parson, I don't owe much to has any right to bandy about- you," and hastened out close upon

“That is very true," said Mr the heels of his patron and leader. Proctor ; “but still they have their All the authorities of Carlingford, rights,” the late Rector added after the virtuous people who conferred a pause.

“ We have no right to station and respectability by a look, stand in the way of their-their sank into utter insignificance in interest, you know.” It occurred presence of Jack. His admiring to Mr Proctor, indeed, that the sug- follower went after him with a gestion was on the whole a sensible swell of pride. He was a poor

“Even if they were to—to enough rogue himself, hustled and marry, you know, they might still abused by everybody, an unsuccessbe left unprovided for," said the ful and shabby vagabond, notwithlate Rector. “I think it is quite standing his new fortune; but Jack just that some provision should be was the glorified impersonation of made for that.

cleverness and wickedness and triAnd then there. was a pause. umph to Wodehouse. He grew in- · Frank Wentworth was sufficiently solent when he was permitted to aware after his first start of indig- put his arm through that of his nation that he had no right to in- hero, and went off with him trying terfere, as Mr Proctor said, between to copy, in swagger and insolence, the Miss Wodehouses and their his careless step and well-bred interest. He had no means of pro

Perhaps Jack Wentworth viding for them, of setting them felt a little ashamed of himself as above the chances of fortune. He he emerged from the gate of the - reflected bitterly that it was not in Rectory with his shabby and dishis power to offer a home to Lucy, reputable companion. He shrugged and through her to her sister. What his shoulders slightly as he looked he had to do was to stand by back and saw Gerald and Frank silently, to suffer other people to coming slowly out together. “ Codiscuss what was to be done for the raggio !” said Jack to himself, " it woman whom he loved, and whose is I who am the true philanthropist. name was sacred to him. This was Let us do evil that good may come.” a stretch of patience of which he Notwithstanding, he was very thankwas not capable. “I can only say ful not to be seen by his father, who again," said the Curate, “that I had wished to consult him as a man think this discussion has gone of the world, and had shown cerfar enough. Whatever matters of tain yearnings towards him, which, business there may be that re- to Jack's infinite surprise, awakquire arrangement had better be ened responsive feelings in his own settled between Mr Brown and Mrunaccustomed bosom. He was half Waters. So far as private feeling ashamed of this secret movement goes

of natural affection, which, cerNever fear, I'll manage it," tainly, nobody else suspected; but said Jack Wentworth, “as well as it was with a sensation of relief a dozen lawyers. Private feeling that he closed the Rectory gate behas nothing to do with it. Have hind him, without having encouna cigar, Wodehouse? We'll talk it tered the keen, inquiring, suspicious over as we walk home," said the glances of the Squire. The others condescending potentate. These dispersed according to their pleawords dispersed the assembly which sure—Mr Waters joining the party

no longer had any object. As Jack up-stairs, while Mr Proctor followed Wentworth sauntered out, his faith- Jack Wentworth and Wodehouse ful follower pressed through the to the door with naïve natural curiothers to join him. Wodehouse osity. When the excellent man was himself again. He gave a sulky recollected that he was listening to nod to the Curate, and said,“ Good- private conversation, and met Wode

[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »