Algernon Charles Swinburne.

Love's cross-currents; a year's letters, by Algernon Charles Swinburne online

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set to playing together like babies. To be face
to face with such a dead and buried bit of life
as that was so quaint that stranger things even
would have fallen flat after it. However, there
was no hoisting of sentimental colours on either
side: though I suppose no story ever had a
stranger end to it than ours. To this day I
don't know why I made him or let him marry
your mother.

I told him I must see Redgie and take him
in hand by private word of mouth. He was
quite nice about it, and left the boy to me,
smiling even as he turned us over to each other ;
more benign than he ever was when I came
over to see Redgie in his school-days: a time
that seemed farther off now than the years be-
fore his birth. I can't tell you how odd it was
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A Year's Letters

to be thrown back into '52 without warning
worse than the proverbial middle of next week.
I will say for Redgie he was duly ashamed, and
never looked sillier in his boyish time than
when I took him to task. Clara, I told him,
had, as far as I knew, behaved excellently ; but
I wanted to have facts. Dismissal was legible
on him all over; but the how I was bent on
making out. So in time I got to some fair
guess at the manner of her final stroke. It was
sharp and direct. She wrote not exactly after
my dictation (which I never thought she need
do, or would), but simply in the resolute sacri-
ficial style. She forbade him to answer; re-
fused to read him, or reply if she read; would
never see him till all had blown over for good.
It seems she could not well deny that not long
since he might have carried her off her feet
which feet she had now happily regained.
Heaven knows, my dear child, what she could
or could not deny if she chose : I confess I can-
not yet make up my mind whether or no she
ever had an idea of decamping, and divorcing
with all ties ; it is not like her ; but who can be
sure? She has none now. Honestly, I do
suspect that a personal bias of liking did at
times get mixed up with her sentimental spirit
of intrigue; and that she would have done
things for Redgie which a fellow ten years
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Love's Cross-currents

older or a thought less handsome would never
have made her think of: in effect, that she was
in love with him. She is quite capable of be-
ing upset by simple beauty : if ever she were to
have a real lover now, I believe he would be a
fool and very nice-featured. It is the supreme
Platonic retribution the Nemesis of senti-
mental talent, which always clutches such run-
ners as she is before they turn the post. There
was a small grain of not dubious pathos in her
letter: she was fond enough of him to regret
what she did not quite care to fight for. What
she told him I don't know, nor how she put it:
I can guess, though. She has done for his
first love, at any rate. He knows he was a fool,
and I did not press for his opinion of her. One
may suppose she put him upon honour, and
made the best of herself. I should guess, too,
that she gave hints of what he might do in the
way of annoyance if "he were not ready to for-
give and make friends at a .distance. That
you see would prick him on the chivalrous
side, and he would obey and hold his tongue
and hand at once as he has done. Anyhow,
the thing is well killed and put under ground,
with no fear of grave-stealers ; there is not even
bone enough left of it to serve the purpose of
a moral dissection. The chief mourner (if he
did but know it) should be Ernest Radworth.
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A Year's Letters

I could cry over that wretchedest of husbands
and students when I think of the thorns in his
pillow, halters in his pew, and ratsbane in his
porridge, which a constant wife will now have
to spend her time in getting ready.

Redgie was very fair about her ; would have
no abuse and no explanation. "You see," he
said, " she tells me what she chooses to tell,, and
that one is bound to take; but I have no sort;
of business now to begin peeping and snuffing
at anything beyond. I thought once, you
know, we both had a right to ask or answer;
that was when she seemed to care about it.
One can't be such a blackguard as to try and
take it out of her for changing her mind. She
was quite right to think twice and do as she
chose ; and the best I can do now is to keep off
and not get in her way." Of course the boy
talks as if the old tender terms between them
had been broken off for centuries, and their
eyes were now meeting across a bottomless pit
of change. I shall not say another word on
the matter: all is as straight and right as it
need be, though I know that only last month
he was writing her the most insane letters.
These, one may hope, she will think fit to burn.
To him I believe she had the sense never to
write at any length or to any purpose but twice,
this last time being one. And so our little bit
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Love's Cross-currents

of comedy slips off the stage without noise, and
the curtain laps down over it. Lucky it never
turned to the tearful style, as it once threatened
to do.

I need not say that Redgie does not expect
to love seriously again. Not that he says it;
he has just enough sense of humour to keep the
assertion down; but evidently he thinks it.
Some one has put a notion into the Captain's
head about Philomene de Rochelaurier Clara
herself, perhaps, for aught I know ; she is quite
ingenious enough to have tried that touch while
the real play was still in rehearsal. Nothing
will come of that, though; I shall simply re-
conquer the boy, and hold him in hand till I
find a woman fit to have charge of him. I hope
he will turn to some good, seriously. Some of
his friends are not bad friends for him; I like
that young Audley well enough, and he seems
to believe in Redgie at a quite irrational rate.
Perhaps I do too. He must take his way, or
make it ; and we shall see.

As to the marriage matter, I have thought
lately that Armande might be given her own
way and Frank married to the girl if they are
all of one mind about it. It sounds rather Louis
Quinze to bdcler a match in this fashion, but I
don't see why it should not come to good. He
may as well marry now as later. I don't at
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A Year's Letters

all know what he will make in the professional
line ; and he can hardly throw over all thoughts
of it. I did think of proposing he should be at
the head of the estates for a time, in the capac-
ity of chief manager and overlooker ; but there
were rubs in the way of that plan. It is a nice
post, and might be made a nice sinecure or
demicure, with efficient business people under
and about one; not bad work for a cadet de
famille, and has been taken on like terms before
now. We owe him something; however, we
may look for time to pay it. I will confess to
you that if the child had been a girl I meant
to have brought you together at some future
day. You must forgive me; for the heir's
marrying the dowager would have made our
friends open their eyes and lips a little; and
things are much better as they are.

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Online LibraryAlgernon Charles SwinburneLove's cross-currents; a year's letters, by Algernon Charles Swinburne → online text (page 13 of 13)