« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
“False a friend!" I echoed feebly; "what can you mean?”.
"Oh, don't pretend you don't know," she said. “I am only wondering what poor Minnie Watson will think when she sees her own personal, private story told in print with your name at the end."
"But I never even knew she had a story," I protested.
"Nonsense!” said Louisa; "all the neighborhood knew that she was heartbroken when Major Cunlifre married Madge Westbrook."
"I did not," I said.
“That's what comes of being a bookworm,” said Louisa. “You are dreamy that the world might tumble to pieces under your very nose and you would never notice it. But it makes no difference. Every one will think you knew, and it will bring all the family into bad odium just the same."
Now, as a matter of fact if any one bad had a fancy for Major Cunliffe I should have said it was Louisa herself -not that I thought of her any more than of Minnie Watson in writing the story, which really was planned before either of them had met Major Cunliffe at all.
“Yes, that's just it,” said Adelaide, chiming in with Louisa's last remark. "It is what the county will say of us that I cannot forget. We shall all be talked about and looked upon as so peculiar."
“No one has ever called us that before,” said Dolly, who had now joined us, and who always went with the majority in any discussion; "and now it will always be said that one of writes. Sophie Mortimer told me a story about some one she knew who knew some one who wrote, and one day a man came to the house, a very nice man, good family, lots of money and everything, I believe, and Sophie happened to mention that they were expecting a woman who had written a
book, and he said at once, 'Then I'm off,' and he went.”
“What a solemn warning," I could not help saying. “I see that you are afraid of the effects of my scribbling on the matrimonial prospects of the family."
"Really,” cried Adelaide,“ you might at least spare us your vulgarity.”
“I am sorry if I am vulgar," I retorted; "but does it never strike you that it is a little dull to be always exactly like every one else?"
“Surely," said Marianne, "one must. be a lady before anything else."
“Even before a nice woman, I suppose," I said.
"Why, certainly," she said; "one's cook may be that."
"You are very flippant,” replied Adelaide. “I wish you would try to remember your family."
If by remembering was meant not forgetting, there was not much chance I should not.
The next afternoon my Aunts Sarah and Ellen appeared, and I could see at a glance that they too had read the story. After a few frigid remarks, Aunt Sarah plunged into the subject.
"Dora,” she said coldly, "is it indeed true that you have allowed your full name, your family name, to appear in this month's Morris's ?”
"It is my family name, of course," I said. “You see I have not any other."
"It is then, indeed, true that the name, which was also that of your sainted grandmother, and which can be seen any day on our family tomb, actually appears after a story in a magazine."
"I fear it is," I said.
“Well, all I can remark is, that I blush to think that any niece of mine should have come to this," she replied.
Here my Aunt Ellen's soft cooing voice chimed in.
“We should not mind it so much-at least, I think not, should we?” she said
with a deprecating glance at her sister, “if the story were rather different-how shall I say? rather different in tone-and-yes, not quite so unmaidenlywas not unmaidenly the word you used when speaking of it, Sarah?"
"I believe it was,” said Aunt Sarah; "and I must confess that, in addition to every other consideration, there was a touch of immodesty about it which pained me very much as coming from so near a relative. In my young days it would have been considered a shock. ing thing for any young lady to give away her heart unasked.”
From this statement I felt sure I might conclude that Aunt Sarah had never given her own.
"It was indeed," she continued, “considered bold and forward for the idea of love even to occur to a young lady until an actual proposal had been made. But your heroine, Dora, gives her affec. tion when the man has not even asked her father's consent to paying her his addresses. I cannot think where you can have come across such an idea. Certainly any tendency in that direction is not inherited from the Gwenlion side of the family."
It may not seem strange after this if I mention that the Gwenlion family has always been noted for the number of its unmarried women.
So much for the Aunts; but I knew the worst would not be over until I had faced my father. This, however, was not so bad as I anticipated. His lauguage, as usual, was forcible, but, at the same time, it was brief. Our conversation on the subject was as follows:
"So I hear you have been writing a story, eh?"
"Well, I am afraid my own name has appeared."
"Well, mind this, if I hear of any more of this folly, I shall pack you off
to your Aunt Sophia for a six months visit.
Aunt Sophia was my father's only married sister, and a visit to her was amongst the most painful of our duties, and never, as he knew, extended beyond the regulation fortnight if we could possibly help it. After this interview with my father, I began to breathe more freely; but I found even more trying experiences were in store for me. The next day a great friend of ours, named " Laura Charteris, called, and after chatting pleasantly for some time, managed to make an excuse to get me to herself in the garden.
“Dear old Dora!” she cried, “how I feel for you!"
“Feel for me!" I said in bewilderment.
“Oh, yes," she said. "I have read your story, and I assure you it went to my heart.
Other people may not see beneath the surface, but it has that touch about it that I, as your friend cannot mistake. I know it is your own inner experiences that you relate."
In vain I tried to assure her thilt she was mistaken. She only shook her head and smiled.
"It is no use, dear, trying to have concealments from me," she said. "I knew as I read the story that ii canie straight from your own heart. How you must have suffered, and I nerer knew!"
Hardly had Laura left me when an. other intimate friend, Geraldine Burton, called.
"Dora,” she said almost at once, in her blunt way, “we have read your story, and think it very clever and all that, but at the same time I must tell you that we are very angry with the way you have made use of that unfortunate experience of Sydney's. It is very unjust, and he never encouraged the girl a bit, as your horrid hero does!"
"I don't know what you mean," I
said. "I never knew that Sydney had an experience.”
“But you must have done,” said Geraldine, “or how could you have described it?"
After such logic as this I felt powerless to say more.
The climax to my literary experiences
however reached the next day when Adelaide came to me in great excitement.
"I have just been to see Cousin Susan," she said with what I could not help thinking an air of rather malicious triumph. “She is very angry about the portrait of herself in your story, and Temple Bar.
says you are an impudent minx, and that you shall not have a penny of the hundred pounds she was going to leave to you in her will."
When I added up the results of my story, I found I had gained much reproach, some misplaced sympathy, seyeral enemies, and five pounds. Against this I had lost the hundred pounds left me by Cousin Susan. I came to the conclusion that it was hardly good enough.
This was how I didn't become an Author.
EVENING SONG OF THE BRETON FISHERMAN.
A singing breeze in the yellow sail,
Crisp white foam on the summer sea;
On yonder haven, where I would be.
The bells are ringing the vesper chime
In buried cities beneath the sea;
Has wrought its peace on the world and me.
The lighthouse flashes the beacon high,
A golden path on the dark’ning sea;
And faint lights glimmer along the quay.
E. E. Ohlson. Chamhers's Journal.
THE SOUL OF THE ASSASSIN.
What quarrel had Angelo Bresci quite certain; but their imitators, with against Humbert of Savoy, that his ulterior designs less clearly expressed treacherous act should have hurried and, perhaps, never clearly conceived, another European sovereign, “un- have in a few years undeniably created housel'd, disappointed, unaneal'd,” into a consciousness of personal and unithe darkness? Simply this; the victim versal insecurity throughout Europe. was a King, and the other is called an The attempts at indiscriminate deanarchist. The crime, it seems, is one struction which were almost frequent of a series already long enough to form not so long ago are lately grown out of a category apart, and the type of regi- favor with militant Anarchism. The cide to which the assassin of Monza fatal effects were rarely on a par with professes to belong may be distin- the nefarious design, for both the opguished from the regicides of history portunity and the efficacy of the instruby certain common features.
ment depended far more on accident There is nothing new in the assassi- than is the case when the victim is nation of princes; but the familiar ex- single and the weapon a poignard or a amples, if we except those of quite re- firearm. Other reasons occur readily. cent date, were either the wild and im- Anarchists are men, and the slaughter probable outrages of casual lunacy, or of an uncertain number of nameless inwere so far rational that an immediate nocent people may have seemed an outobject might be guessed in the choice rage too inhuman to be executed even of their victims, marked out to die by in vindication of theories that imply an private vengeance, the discontent of a utter contempt for human society. It faction, or the interest of a rival or an is natural to suppose, also, that they heir. Caserio, Luccheni, Sipido, Bresci, have found the process of universal inhad it is believed, no such motive. Like timidation tedious and uncertain. Even Ravachol and Vaillant, and other au- if every plot succeeded, there is no thors of murderous outrages aimed at logical conclusion from the panic of no particular personage, they looked be- whole populations to the deliberate yond their victims, and sought, by the abandonment of all systems of control. suddenness and audacity of the deed, It is inconceivable-wars of exterminato strike terror into the hearts of the tion apart-that government should die survivors. The method, before it was for want of subjects; but it is not inused by men at war with every form conceivable that monarchy should die of government existing, was known in for want of kings, or republics for Europe as the last abominable weapon want of magistrates willing to run the of desperate patriots and reformers. risk of assassination. But it is above The Irish Fenians and the Russian all with the Anarchist's imagination Nihilists served causes which could en- we must reckon, as in a clumsy fashion list the sympathies of moderate men; he reckons doubtless with ours. Intheir hopes were definite, and the field finitely more terrible as is the menace of their infernal activity was limited. of wholesale incalculable massacre, the Whether they succeeded to any extent violent death of a ruler-inviolable, inin extorting by murder what they had accessible, the symbol of national failed to win by lawful means is not power and security-makes more noise
in the world than the explosion of an whom the gallows will deter or as a infernal machine in the centre of a homicidal maniac such as may be met crowded city. And for the enemy of with anywhere, at any moment. The society the mildest figurehead that materials of knowledge are scanty; but wears a crown is an arch-tyrant, and it is plain at any rate that in most the name of regicide has a glorious cases the perpetrators of these insound. He sees himself a single-handed famous crimes are young men, by no hero, assailing the master of legions,
conspicuously "degenerate." over-matching the vigilance of the They are rarely thieves, drunkards, or breastplated myrmidons of sovereignty turbulent. They are excitable, howwith his obscurity, his cold enthusiasm, ever, capable of enthusiasm, courageous and his carelessness of death. We call and over-educated for their mental him by tradition cowardly. It is a use- capacity. They are filled to the point ful opprobrium where we want words of obsession with the idea of their perto mark our detestation of such cruel sonal mission, and vain of the part they murders as those of President Carnot, play. They have read books, pam. of the Empress Elizabeth, and of King phlets and journals which describe a Humbert. The assassins however are state of perfect happiness for all men, rarely men who value their lives; their attainable by a resolute assault upon business is with those who do. Death the whole social fabric, recall the inor worse is for these malefactors not justice possible under every system of a risk, but a certainty. Even the child government, and draw the inference Sipido must have expected the utmost that all systems are evil in themselves. penalty if he had been successful. If in some cases the Anarchist propaThis is the most appalling considera- ganda may be discovered to have a tion we have to face when we devise definite positive side, and to preach perfect protecton and effective punish- collectivism as a social panacea, it is ment. A man who is determined to naturally to the work of destruction kill another man, and has no fear for that the young “companion" is urged to himself, is almost sure to accomplish devote himself. his purpose. The assassin ought to be Perhaps these young men are the destroyed or caged like a dangerous dupes of men less single-hearted and wild beast; but deterrents there can be less courageous than themselves. At none; and it is vain to talk of making least it is difficult to believe that the an example.
militant Anarchist or his passive in. The remedy, if a remedy exists, must spirers have ever anything to gain. Dis. be other. If more were known of An- count the element of imitation, the itch archical doctrines, the secret of their for notoriety, and we have still to exattraction and the manner of their plore, to account for and to combat a propagation, if more were known about vague, but, apparently, an attractive the character of the culprits and the doctrine, disseminated among the lowcomplex influences which cause the
er classes of many cities, and a type of murderous idea to germinate in their impressible subject which it would be brains, there would be something to go
possible to contemplate with less horon. But nobody takes Anarchism seri- ror if it diverged more obviously from ously; and public opinion, periodically
a normal standard of intelligence and startled, persists in treating the mill
character. tant Anarchist as an ordinary criminal