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the privacy of her rooms, read it with quickening breath. Mrs Kame's touch was light and her imagination sympathetic; she was the most adaptable of the feminine portion of her nation, and since the demise of her husband she had lived, abroad and at home, among men and women of a world that does not dot its i's or cross its t's. Nevertheless, the letter filled Honora with a deep apprehension and a deeper resentment. Plainly and clearly stamped between its delicately worded lines was the claim of a comradeship born of Honora’s recent act. She tore the paper into strips and threw it into the flames and opened the window to the cool air of the autumn morning. She had a feeling of contamination that was intolerable.
Mrs. Kame had proposed herself-again the word “delicately” must be used for one of Honora's first houseparties. Only an acute perception could have read in the lady's praise of Hugh a masterly avoidance of that part of his career already registered on the social slate. Mrs. Kame had thought about them and their wonderful happiness in these autumn days at Grenoble; to intrude on that happiness yet awhile would be a sacrilege. Later, perhaps, they would relent and see something of their friends, and throw open again the gates of a beautiful place long closed to the world. And—without the air of having picked the single instance, but of having chosen from many—Mrs. Kame added that she had only lately seen Elsie Shorter, whose admiration for Honora was greater than ever. A sentiment, Honora reflected a little bitterly, that Mrs. Shorter herself had not taken the pains to convey. Consistency was not Elsie's jewel.
It must perhaps be added for the sake of enlightenment that since going to Newport Honora's view of the writer of this letter had changed. In other words, enlarging ideals had dwarfed her somewhat; it was strictly true that the lady was a boon companion of everybody. Her catholicism had two limitations only: that she must be amused, and that she must not-in what she deemed the vulgar sense—be shocked.
Honora made several attempts at an answer before she succeeded in saying, simply, that Hugh was too absorbed in his work of reconstruction of the estate for them to have house-parties this autumn. And even this was a concession hard for her pride to swallow. She would have preferred not to reply at all, and this slightest of references to his work, and hers seemed to degrade it. Before she folded the sheet she looked again at that word “reconstruction” and thought of eliminating it. It was too obviously allied to "redemption”; and she felt that Mrs. Kame could not understand redemption, and would ridicule it. Honora went downstairs and dropped her reply guiltily into the mail-bag. It was for Hugh's sake she was sending it, and from his eyes she was hiding it.
And, while we are dealing with letters, one, or a part of one, from Honora's aunt, may perhaps be inserted here. It was an answer to one that Honora had written a few days after her installation at Grenoble, the contents of which need not be gone into: we, who know her, would neither laugh nor weep at reading it, and its purport may be more or less accurately surmised from her aunt's reply.
“As I wrote you at the time, my dear,”—so it ran—"the shock which your sudden marriage with Mr. Chiltern caused us was great so great that I cannot express it in words. I realize that I am growing old, and perhaps the world is changing faster than I imagine. And I wrote you, too, that I would not be true to myself if I told you that what you have done was right in my eyes. I have asked myself whether my horror of divorce and re-marriage may not in some degree be due to the happiness of my life with your uncle. I am, undoubtedly, an exceptionally fortunate woman; and as I look backwards I see that the struggles and trials which we have shared together were really blessings.
“Nevertheless, dear Honora, you are, as your uncle wrote you, our child, and nothing can alter that fact in our hearts. We can only pray with all our strength that you may find happiness and peace in your new life. I try to imagine, as I think of you and what has happened to you in the few years since you have left us—how long they seem!—I try to imagine some of the temptations that have assailed you in
that world of which I know nothing. If I cannot, it is because God made us different. I know what you have suffered, and my
heart aches for you. "You say that experience has taught you much that you could not have learned in any other way. I do not doubt it. You tell me that your new life, just begun, will be a dutiful one. Let me repeat that it is my anxious prayer that you
have not builded upon sand, that regrets may not come. I cannot say more. I cannot dissemble. Perhaps I have already said too much.
“AUNT MARY.” An autumn wind was blowing, and Honora gazed out of the window at the steel-blue, ruffled waters of the lake. Un. consciously she repeated the words to herself:
“Builded upon sand!”
Containing Philosophy from Mr. Grainger
SWIFTLY came the autumn days, and swiftly went. A bewildering, ever changing, and glorious panorama presented itself, green hillsides struck first with flaming crimsons and yellows, and later mellowing into a wondrous blending of gentler, tenderer hues; lavender, and wine, and the faintest of rose colours where the bare beeches massed. Thus the slopes were spread as with priceless carpets for a festival. Sometimes Honora, watching, beheld from her window the russet dawn on the eastern ridge, and the white mists crouching in strange, ghostly shapes above the lake and the rushing river: and she saw these same mists gather again, shivering, at night-fall. In the afternoon they threaded valleys, silent save for the talk between them and the stirring of the leaves under their horses' feet.
So the Indian summer passed—that breathless season when even happiness has its premonitions and its pangs. The umber fields, all ploughed and harrowed, lay patiently awaiting the coming again of the quickening spring. Then fell the rain, the first, cold winter rain that shrouded the valley and beat down upon the defenceless, dismantled garden and made pools in the hollows of the stone seat: that Aung itself against Honora's window as though begrudging her the warmth and comfort within. Sometimes she listened to it in the night.
She was watching. How intent was that vigil, how alert and sharpened her senses, a woman who has watched
a alone may answer. Now, she felt, was the crisis at hand: the moment when her future, and his, was to hang in the balance. The work on the farms, which had hitherto left Chiltern but little time for thought, had relaxed. In these wet days had he begun to brood a little? Did he show signs of a reversion to that other personality, the Chiltern she had not known, yet glimpses of whom she had had? She recalled the third time she had seen him, the morning at the Lilacs in Newport, that had left upon her the curious sense of having looked on a superimposed portrait. That Chiltern which she called her Viking, and which, with a woman's perversity, she had perhaps loved most of all, was but one expression of the other man of days gone by. The life of that man was a closed book she had never wished to open. Was he dead, or sleeping? And if sleeping, would he awake? How softly she tread!
And in these days, with what exquisite, yet tremulous skill and courage did she bring up the subject of that other labour they were to undertake together--the life and letters of his father. In the early dusk, when they had returned from their long rides, she contrived to draw Chiltern into his study. The cheerfulness, the hopfulness, the delight with which she approached the task, the increasing enthusiasm she displayed for the character of the General as she read and sorted the letters and documents, and the traits of his she lovingly traced in Hugh, were not without their effect. It was thus she fanned, ceaselessly and with a smile, and with an art the rarest women possess, the drooping flame. And the flame responded.
How feverishly she worked, unknown to him, he never guessed; so carefully and unobtrusively planted her sug. gestions that they were born again in glory as his inspiration. The mist had lifted a little, and she beheld the next stage beyond. To reach that stage was to keep him intent on this work--and after that, to publish! Ah, if he would only have patience, or if she could keep him distracted through this winter and their night, she might save him. Love such as hers can even summon genius to its aid, and she took fire herself at the thought of a book worthy of that love, of a book-though signed by him--that would redeem them, and bring a scoffing world to its knees in praise. She spent hours in the big library preparing for Chiltern's coming, with volumes in her lap and a note-book by her side.