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But just then there was a tremble in the air with the first movement of the matin bells, and, without compromising his dignity or showing his ignorance, old Pick made good his escape. He went home in anything but an amiable state of mind, and went straight to the kitchen, where Mrs. Purcell was busy, as was natural at this time of the day, putting all in order and arranging for the Signor's dinner. The luncheon Mary Anne was quite equal to, but some one was coming to dinner, for whom Mrs. Purcell intended to exercise all her powers. Pick went in with a fierce glow of indignant animation, with his roll of commissions fulfilled and unfulfilled.
" There's no sweetbreads to be had,” he said, “ till Saturday; they'll save you a pair on Saturday, if you send the order with the man when he comes; but they'll be six-and-six, if you think that too dear. (Dear! I should think it was dear. How much o' that goes to the veal, I wonder, and the man as fed it?) And as for game! you might as well go a-shooting on the Slopes; and what there is bringing its weight in gold. I wouldn't give in, if I was you, to that fashion about grouse. It's all a fashion. Nobody ever thought of grouse
my young days, and coming after they've eat everything as they can set their face to. What should they want with it? I've brought you the lemons. Many a man wouldn't be seen carrying a bag o’lemons all the way up the hill; and everything's kep' from me, just because I'm too humble-minded, and don't make no stand, nor mind what I do."
"What's been kep' from you, Pick ?” said Mrs. Purcell, pausing in her work to look at him. Then she added, “ There's been a deal of talking in the study. I've picked up a word or two about some woman, for they were going on about She; and She—but whether it's that Miss Despard, or who it is, John's never said a word to me.”
"It don't need a witch to tell that it's a woman,” said Pick; but he was relieved. “ That fellow Rowley's been at me, and one of the ladies round the corner; but they both had so much to say that I got off, and neither the one nor the other found out as I hadn't a notion what they were talking about,” the old man added with a chuckle. new voice, as far as I can make out, as master has got hold of for the Abbey : and quite right too. Tommy Rowley's got a pretty little bit of a voice, and he's only twelve; but some voices goes sooner than others. The ladies thought as it was a woman; but that's impossible. They were quite in a way. They said it was uneck—somethin or other-Dissenting-like, as I took it up—and that the Signor ought to be ashamed of hisself
“ Master ?” said Mrs. Purcell, opening her eyes wide ; "but I hope you didn't stand there and hear them say any harm of the Signor ?”
"They told me as I was to give him good advice," said Pick, still chuckling ; " but all the same, ma'am, I don't think as Mr. John should keep a thing from his mother. Where's the young man as owes as much to his mother as that young man owes to you ?”
6 It's some
“Not to me, to his own deservings; he's been a lad that has done credit to everyone as has been kind to him, Pick, and never forgets nobody as has been kind to him; but he's not the young man he was. He's lost all his smiles and his fun since he had that disappointment. I don't wish Miss Despard no harm, but I wish she had been a hundred miles from here, and my John had never seen her. Young women have a great deal to answer for,” said Mrs. Purcell, with a sigh.
“Young women haven't much to answer for, so far as I'm concerned ; nor master neither, so far as I can see,” said Pick, going rff to his work with a comfortable consciousness that, this being the cuse, it did not matter so much about Mr. John.
But, if the community was thus stirred in general, words cannot tell the excitement that this strange incident created in the organ-loft. The Signor told Purcell after, that he could not tell what it was that made him go on when he had come to an end of the Pastoral Symphony, and play " There were Shepherds.” He had not meant to do it. He had intended to make the other the finale of his performance. There was such a feeling of night in it, the Signor said, the grass growing in the dark, and the stars shining, and the dew coming down. He meant to end there; he knew Mr. Ridsdale was a modern man and an opera man, and did not care so very much for Handel. Still he had meant to end with that; but when it came to the last chords he was not his own master, and he went on.
As for Purcell, there was no need for anyone to tell him whose that voice was. Though he was at the moment helping to “blow," he nearly compromised the whole performance by darting to the other side of the organ-loft and gazing down into the darkness to see her. Happily the other man who was there, the professional blower, was taken by no such vagaries and kept on steadily. “And I saw her," Purcell said, “standing in the moonlight with all the colours of the rainbow about her, like the nimbus round the heads in Mr. Clayton's new window.” The young fellow was quite struck by this sight. He thought it must mean something : he thought even she must be relenting towards himself, and had taken this strange way of showing it. The Signor was greatly moved too, but he did not take that view of the subject. He was a true artist himself, and he knew that there are impulses which get the better of people who are of this race. He patted his assistant on the arm and told him not to build on it. But what then could it mean, young Purcell said ? and it was difficult to answer. They both of them came down from their lofty gallery afterwards in great excitement, and the Signor, confused, received the enthusiastic thanks of his audience. “What a pleasure you have given us !” they said ; "you have been better than your word. What exquisite playing, and what an exquisite voice! You don't mean to say that was a boy, Signor ?”—They asked the question, but they all believed, of course, that it was a boy. To think that little Rowley, because it was dark and nobody saw him, should have been able to sing like that! No one suspected the truth except Rollo Ridsdale,
who came up to the musician in the dark nave and gripped him by the arm, so that he hurt the sensitive Italian-Englishman whose nerves were all on the surface. you
do it on purpose
?” Rollo cried excited too ~"I shall give up the opera and take to oratorios—did you do it on purpose ?” “Did you do it on purpose ?” said the Signor, who up to this moment had supposed in his excitement that Ridsdale's coming must have had something to do with it. But after that question, which Rollo did not distinctly hear, the Signor changed his tone and hid his own astonishment, and accepted the applauses addressed to him on the admirable device by which he had given his hearers a double pleasure. And Purcell and he went home with their heads full of a hundred conjectures. Who had brought her in? how did she know of it even? Old Wykeham had kept his own counsel—he did not know whether he might not be supposed to have taken too much upon him had it been known; and, though he heard the two musicians talking of this miracle, he threw no light upon it, which he might have done so easily. Who could have told her? who could have brought her in ? Purcell could not but think that her coming was a sign of relenting, that she was thus making a kind of celestial intimation that all was not over.
This raised him into a very ecstasy of hope.
The Signor had other thoughts. He thought of nothing else all night; the sympathy and comprehension of an artist filling his mind and driving away the almost dislike with which, after her rejection of his protégé, he had been disposed to regard Lottie. Whatever might happen to Purcell, here was something which had never happened to himself in his life before. No doubt it had been a sudden impulse, like that which had made her fly trembling and pale with excitement, from himself and them all, in the drawing-room of the Deanery. This time the impulse had been the other way, and she had obeyed it. He had subjugated her by waiting her time, and, by what was much more pleasant to think of, the spell of his music, which had gone to her heart.' Let it not be supposed that any
sentiment about Lottie had begun to creep into the Signor's heart. Young women, as Pick said, had little to answer for as far as he was concerned. He was all artist, and not much else; but, with a glow through his being which answered, let us suppose, to the high throb of satisfaction which goes through persons who talk about their hearts, he said to himself, “she shall not escape me this time !” He knew more of Lottie than Rollo Ridsdale did. And he knew that he could make more of her than Rollo could make of her. He could make of her much more than was dreamed of in Rollo's philosophy. He knew what she needed, and he could give it to her. In his hands, the Signor thought, this simple English girl might rise to the level of the Malibrans, of the Pastas. There should be no one able to stand before her. It is to be feared he was thinking of this more than of the music as he played through King in F, wbich was the service for that morning. And he left Purcell to play the voluntary and stole out unobserved, though it was indecorous, before the congregration had dispersed. He threaded through the dim aisles and the cloisters, before Wykeham had time to call attention to him by hobbling after him with his jangling keys. He, like Lottie, had resolved to give himself no time to think of it, to do it at once. Ridsdale !—What a vain fool he was, talking about giving up opera
and taking to oratorios ! What could he do with her, if he had got her? His manager had rejected Lottie, and gone off after that voice at Milan. What fools they all were ! and what would be the advantage to Ridsdale of having this voice untrained on his hands? What could he do with her? but there was nothing she might not do under the guidance of the Signor.
It was still early when he reached the little house : Lottie had not attempted to go out this morning to sce the Signor, she was too much shaken by her escapade of last night. How could she have done it? She, who had loathed the idea of becoming a singer! She had made a singer of herself by her own act and deed, and she felt the full meaning of what she had done. She had got up early, unable in her excitement to sleep, and tingling still with the consequences of this strange, unpremeditated, unintended self-betrayal. What was it that had made her do it? She had got her work, and she had placed herself near the window—not so near as to be seen, yet near enough to be able to glance out and see anyone who might be coming that way. There were things to be done in the house, domestic operations of more importance than the needlework. But Lottie said to herself that they could wait-oh, they could wait! In the meantime what was best was, that she should be ready in case anyone called, ready to see anybody that might come over the road, across the sunshine, in the morning quiet. “Good night; but only till. to-morrow"_what was it that had conveyed to her the consciousness that he was there ! The Abbey had been dark-she had not been thinking of him-certainly she had not known that he was looked for; and yet, what but the sense that he was there would have made her do what she had done? She had sung unwillingly, unwittingly, in spite of herself, because he was there. It all seemed quite plain to Lottie. He it was (she thought) who had first made her aware that this gift of hers was anything worth thinking of; he it was who had first given her the supreme pleasure of consciousness, who had shown to her the happiness she could bestow. Her voice (as sbe thought), if after all it was really worth anything, if it was the thing he thought it, the thing it sounded like last night-belonged to him. It was his spiritually; he had discovered it, and revealed it to herself. She had not been aware what she was doing; but unconsciously it was to him she was singing, when her voice escaped from her : it was a welcome to him—and he had accepted it as his welcome. Lottie gave a glance from her window, and thought she saw some one coming across the broad sunshine in the Dean's Walk. Her heart gave a louder beat; -he was coming. She made no mystery now about it, the preliminaries were all over. He came for her—who else? he bad never concealed it; he had come for her long ago, She could not tell how long ago it was since he had first caught a glimpse of her at the window. Always since then it had been for her that he came : content at first to watch outside her window; then, with a lover's ingenuity, finding out ways of meeting her ; then venturing, bold yet tinid, always reverential, to her home-and now at length what was coming ? He was coming. And she had withdrawn the veil from her heart, and seen and acknowledged what was there. It was for him she sang : without knowing it, her heart had been aware of his presence; and now he was coming. Lottie drew back in the shade of the great leaves which garlanded her window. The next moment he would be here
But it was only the Signor.
THE Fool's PARADISE.
The Signor came in with some suppressed excitement about him, which he concealed under an air of perfect calm, but which betrayed itself in the gleam of his eyes and the rapidity of his movements. He saw in a moment that he had bitterly disappointed Lottie, whose countenance changed as she saw him-changed from glowing expectation to that sudden pallor and sickness of departing hope which seems to carry all the life out of a face. He saw it and he understood; he had the quickness of perception which belonged to his Italian origin, and he had, as we have said, a great deal that was feminine in him—this among the rest, that he could divine and read the meanings of a face. He saw at once what it was. She had expected, not him, but another. The Signor was very sorry for Lottie. He had been angry, almost spitefully angry, about her rejection of his favourite pupil; but she had made her peace with him last night, and all her offences had been condoned. He was very sorry for her. She had been looking for Ridsdale, and Ridsdale had not come. The Signor felt that he himself was a much safer and better visitor for her, but all the same he was sorry for Lottie. He bowed with a depth of respect which indeed he showed to all ladies. He was more of an Italian than an Englishman in this point; he was always ceremonious and stately to women, bowing to the ground, taking the hand offered to him reverentially, as if he meant to kiss it. This ceremony gave Lottie a little time to recover herself, and after all it was very early. The voluntary was still sounding from the Abbey (how had the Signor got away so soon ?), and though he had not appeared yet, that was not to say that he was not coming. She took her seat again with the colour coming back. "I do not know how to speak to you,” he said ;
“ how to thank you for last night" "Oh! so long as you do not think me very presumptuous --very