Dinah Maria Mulock Craik.

King Arthur. Not a love story online

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THIS book is founded on facts, which happened a good
many years ago in America ; the adopting parents were
American ; the child died young. I have re-told the
story, with necessary artistic variations, because it
teaches truths not always recognized. The world, volu-
ble enough on the duties of children to parents, is
strangely silent en the far more momentous ones of
parents to children. This simple, and in the main point
true tale, may suggest to some thoughtless readers what
the Heavenly Father means when He sends to earthly
fathers and mothers the blessing, and responsibility of
a child.




FULLY twenty years before the great St. Gothard tun-
nel was made or thought of, when Andennatt was still
the favorite resting-place of travelers passing from
Switzerland into Italy, and vice versa, a group of half a
dozen persons sat round the table d'hote of the principal
hotel there, eating their rather meagre dinner. For it
was early in June, and the stream of regular tourists had
not yet begun to flow.

Not at any season do travelers pause long here, the
valley of Uri being considered by pleasure-seekers in
general a rather dull place. Perhaps ; and yet it has its
charms. It is a high level plateau, solemn and still, in
the heart of the Alps. Through it comes pouring down
the wild river Reuss, and up from it climb three desolate
mountain roads, leading to three well-known passes the
St. Gothard, the Furca, and the Oberalp.

The valley itself is smooth and green, though too
high above the level of the sea to be very fertile. Little
corn is grown there, and the trees are few and small, but
the pasturage during the brief summer only three


months is abundant, and extending far up tlie mountain
sides. Every yard of available land is cultivated, and
the ground is "parseme" (to use a French word for
which there is no English equivalent), with that mass of
wild flowers which makes Switzerland in June a perfect
garden wherever you turn your eyes.

But these and all other beauties of the place were in-
visible to the travelers, for a dense white mist had sud-
denly come down and blotted out everything.

" To-day would have been worse even than yesterday
for those young fellows to have crossed the St. Gothard
from Italy, as they told me they did," said one of the
three quiet English-speaking guests at the head of the
table, looking across at the three voluble Italians at the
foot of it.

"Scarcely more detestable weather than when we
crossed, doctor. My wife has taken all these five days
to get over it ; and is hardly well yet."

" Oh yes, dear," said the lady the only lady at table
small and ordinary in appearance, but with a soft
voice and sweet eyes, which continually sought her hus-
band's. He was tall, thin, and serious: in fact, had
taken the head of the table and said grace in unmistak-
able clerical fashion. He looked the very picture of an
English clergyman, and she of a clergyman's wife. One
seemed about forty, the other fifty years old.

The third traveler, addressed as " Doctor/' was not
English, though he spoke our language with a far better
pronunciation than most of us do. But he spoke it with
a slight nasal twang, said to be inevitable, in conse-
quence of climate, with our Transatlantic cousins. Also


lie had a gaunt, lean, dried-up appearance ; but his long
bony limbs were agile and strong, and his brown face
was both shrewd and kindly ; full of humor, yet at the
same time full of tenderness, with no small amount of
capacity as well.

" My dear Mrs. Trevena, I guess we had the devil's
own weather, (begging your pardon !) that day we crossed
from Italy. When the snows begin to melt the Pass is
worse and more dangerous than in the middle of winter.
And in addition, we had that soaking rain. I am sure I
was drenched to the skin for eight mortal hours. Med-
ically speaking, I wonder any one of us, especially the
women, came through the journey alive. But you say
you're all right now, ma'am ? "

" Oh yes," answered Mrs. Trevena, smiling. She
seemed a person so accustomed to be " not strong," that
she preferred to smile at illness, and make as light of it
as possible. " I only hope the other two women the
only women who were in the sledges besides myself
came off as easily. I suppose they went on at once, for
I have not seen them in the hotel since. Have you, Dr.
Franklin ? "

" Yes," said the doctor. He was not a man of many

" Are they here still, do you know ? "

"Yes," he answered again, with still greater abrupt-
ness and brevity.

" I wish I had known it, and I would have inquired
how they were. I felt so sorry for the lady she was
certainly a lady, though she was shabbily dressed, and so

muffled up, it was almost impossible to see her face.


The old mulatto woman, who seemed her maid, was very
anxious over her. They had not half wraps enough
yet when I offered her a rug she refused it with a mere
shake of the head. She couldn't be English, or, hearing
me speak, she would surely have spoken."

"No not English."

" What was she then ? German ? "

"American. My dear lady, you will not find two
mouthfuls on that poulet. It looks more like an over-
grown sparrow ; really, the food here is abominable."

" No wonder," said the clergyman mildly. " I be-
lieve they have to carry up nearly everything from the
valleys below several thousand feet. Nothing will grow
here not even the chickens. What a place Andermatt
must be to live at in winter ! "

" Yet they do live here. Madame told me to-day
so far as I could understand her English I wish I spoke
better French, Austin ! that they keep the hotel open
all winter. Her elder children go to school at Lucerne,
but the two little boys learn from the pasteur here.
They go to him every day in a sledge, drawn by Juno, the
huge St. Bernard who is always lying at the hotel door."

" Listen to her ! " said the grave clergyman, turning
upon the little sweet-faced woman an affectionate look.
" I do believe if my wife were dropped down in the wilds
of Africa, within three days she would have made friends
with all the blackamoors, big and little especially the
little ones have found out all their affairs, and been
made the confidante of all their sorrows."

" In the language of signs as now," laughed Mrs.


u Never mind, ma'am ; you manage somehow. Ma-
dame's poor little boy with, the broken leg and his
German bonne look out for your daily visit with great ex-
citement. I guess they'll miss you when you go away."

" And I shall miss Andermatt. I like the place ; it
is so quiet so utterly out of the world. And the hotel-
people are so simple and good ; I seem to know all
about everybody."

" Do you, ma'am ? " said the doctor, with a sharp
questioning look, which fell harmless on the innocent
face ; then, apparently satisfied, he added, " How valu-
able your wife must be in your parish at home, Mr.

" Invaluable except that it is so small a parish. But
we hope for a better living by and by. "We have been
hoping all our lives," added he, with a slight sigh.

" But we do sometimes get what we hope for, Austin,"
said his wife. "You cannot think, Dr. Franklin, how
he has enjoyed his three months' chaplaincy at the
Italian lakes such a lovely spring ! and we are going
back to a second spring or rather summer in England.
"We live in the country in Cornwall."

" A region which very likely Dr. Franklin never heard
of; but we think a great deal of it, being both of us
Cornish-born," said Mr. Trevena. He w r as a little slow
in speech and formal in manner this old-fashioned
English gentleman; and the quick, keen, energetic
American regarded him with the interest of a student of
human nature, who had discovered a new phase thereof.
They were very different ; but both being rarely honest
and good men, they had fallen into a sort of liking ; and


during the six days they had been weather-bound at
Andermatt, had become tolerably intimate.

Their not too luxurious meal over, the three English-
speaking inmates of the hotel still sat on at the table
d'hote; comparatively silent at least when contrasted
with the voluble young Italians below.

"What can they be talking about, so fast and furious'
almost as if they were going to fight ? " said Mrs.
Trevena, somewhat amused, while her husband looked
annoyed as a Briton often does at anything foreign
which he does not understand. But the more cosmop-
olite American only laughed. He had traveled through
many lands on both sides the ocean ; he spoke at least
three Continental tongues, and had been a great help in
that and other ways to the English parson, who knew
no modern language but his own.

" "Why cannot people converse without gesticulating
like savages and looking as if they were about to tear
one another to pieces," observed he, in some irritation.

"Not at all ! " laughed the Kentuckian. " They are
the best of friends. Two of them belong to the Teatro
at Milan, sent in pursuit of a singer there, who has
broken her engagement, and gone off, it is supposed, to
London or Paris in search of a better one. They don't
think her flight implies anything worse than love of
money; they say the Signora had no lovers only a
husband, and perhaps a bad one."

" Poor lady ! " said Mrs. Trevena. "But if she were
a real lady she would never be an opera-singer. What a
dreadful life it must be ! "

The doctor laughed in his dry way he was more of a


laughing than a weeping philosopher, and of practical
rather than sentimental mind then looked at his watch.
"Excuse me; I have a visit to pay this evening."

" Is it to Madame's little boy with the broken leg ?
Then I will go first, just for a minute, and leave some
pictures to amuse him poor little patient soul ! "

" That is just like my wife," said Mr. Trevena, look-
ing after her with a smile that ended in a sigh.

"Mrs. Trevena seems uncommonly fond of children.
Perhaps she has left some behind her at home? I'm a
family-man myself; and after two years in Europe I
shan't be sorry to see those ten little shavers of mine in

" Ten, have you ? We have none. We had one but
it only lived a few hours. My wife has never quite got
over the disappointment ; and it was to give her a total
change for mind and body that I accepted the chaplaincy
abroad. We have only been married three years, though
we waited for fifteen," added the good man with the
faintest shade of a blush on his calm middle-aged
face. "I was a Fellow of my College, and at last I
got a College living rather a poor one. But we are
very happy my wife and I. We shall at least end our
days together."

" Phew ! " said the American, repressing a low whistle,
while his kindly eyes took a curiously soft expression as
they rested on his companion. lie had had a fairly
happy life himself, and his "ten little shavers" were
obviously very dear to him. " She's a good woman
your wife," continued he bluntly. "So is mine. I'd
lay you a dollar against ten cents, you'll not find such a


mother anywhere as Mrs. Franklin. I wish all women
were like our two, sir."

" I hope many women are," answered the mild clergy-
man adding anxiously, " Do not speak to Mrs. Trevena
of what I told you her lost child. It is a sore place in
her heart still ; never likely to be healed. But we have
made up our minds to be content : and we are content.
God knows best."

"I suppose so."

" I am sure so ; and I am a much older man than you.
Isn't it strange," continued the clergyman, laying his
hand kindly on the doctor's arm, " that you and I should
have talked of this and many other things we who never
met before, and in all probability shall never meet again ? "

" Perhaps for that very reason ; I have often found it so.
People tell me things that they wouldn't tell their most
intimate friends. You have no idea the odd secrets and
odd people that I have come across during my life. By
Jove what a bother it is sometimes ! But I beg your
pardon I was thinking of something else something
not too agreeable. And now I must go to my patient
who is not, as your wife imagined, the little broken-
legged boy. However, in our profession we learn one
good thing to hold our tongues. Good-night, sir."

" Good-night, doctor. You'll drive up to Hospenthal
with us, as my wife wishes, if it is a fine day to-morrow,
and your patient can spare you ? "

"Oh yes yes. She " Here Dr. Franklin set

his lips together and clenched his fist, as if to beat him-
self for nearly letting a cat jump out of the bag. " Cer-
tainly certainly ! Good-evening."


He left the room by one door just as Mrs. Trevena
entered by another. Her husband greeted her with a
smile the welcoming smile of those who have been
necessary to one another for years, who never weary of
each other's company, because it scarcely is company
the two having so grown together in all their tastes and
habits that they feel like one. If the little life that had
come, and then

" Unto stillness passed again
And left a blank, unknown before "

had been a loss to them, it had undoubtedly but
" Made them love the more."

That is, if more were possible. But the more or the less
with regard to love is a question that chiefly troubles
younger folk. The old accept it only too thankfully
and cease to investigate it, or to weigh and measure it,
any more than their daily sunshine or the air they

" The mist has lifted, Austin, and there is promise of
a good sunset as much as the mountains will let us see
of it ; and a full moon will soon be creeping over those
white peaks opposite. Hark! there are the bells of
the cattle coming home. Are you ready for a walk,

" Quite ready, Susannah."

" Shall we go to the Devil's Bridge or up towards
Hospenthal ? No, for we shall be driving that way to-
morrow. I should like to get as far up as the Hospice,
and be close under the eternal snows once again see


them in sunshine and calm, instead of such a deluge of
rain as the day we crossed from Airolo."

" I wonder it did not give you your death of cold, my
poor wife."

" Those other two women the old and the young one
were worse off than I, for they had nobody to take care
of them " and she patted softly her husband's shoulder.
" I felt so sorry for them. I have often thought of them

" You think of everybody, Susannah except your-
self. Come along ! and as we go you can tell me what
you think about one thing our getting back as fast as
we can to England."

" Very well, dear."

Somehow, though she was mild-faced, quiet, and
small, and he was big and hale even young-looking for
his years it was evident the good clergyman leant upon
his wife not a little. And there was that in Mrs.
Trevena's sweet composure which implied, not the per-
petual acquiescence, feeble and flaccid, which some men
think would be so delightful to have until they get it ;
but an amount of dormant force, invaluable in the mis-
tress of a household. She is no "perfect woman" who
is not at the same time

' ' Nobly planned
To warn, to comfort, and command ; "

and gentle as Mrs. Trevena looked, a keen observer
could detect in her firm little mouth and quiet, silent
ways, indications of strength and decision, which doubt-
less would prove the greatest possible blessing to the


Kevererid Austin. Not that " the gray mare was the
better horse ! " for he looked and was the most
excellent of men, and clergymen ; but it was in many
things the more useful horse, which fact often makes a
pair run all the safer together. Austin Treveua, a
student and a bookworm all his days, would have been
practically "nowhere" in the busy world, but for his
wife ; who loved him perhaps all the dearer for his very
weaknesses. His strength which lay in his brains, and
in a moral nature of such high chivalric honor that he
would have gone to the stake without a murmur or a
doubt she more than loved she worshiped. It had
cost her some pangs, and a good many long lonely years,
but she worshiped it still.

Enough, however, of these two, who had been such a
deep interest to Dr. Franklin, in his capacity of student
of human nature, that he had stayed on at Andermatt
chiefly because they stayed. Also for another reason
which with the reticence due his profession he did not
name. When they met him going out, and asked him
to accompany them in their evening saunter to the
Devil's Bridge, he shook his head.

" I've got a Devil's Bridge of my own to cross and I
wish to heaven I knew how to manage it," said he.
" Good-evening I'll see you at breakfast to-morrow."

" And go with us up to the Hospice ? "

" If I can. Au revoir"

"He looks anxious and troubled about something,"
observed Mrs. Trevena, when the placid pair went on
their way; stopping sometimes to watch the twilight
colors on the mountains, and listen to the tinkle of the


cattle-bells, as, one after the other, whole herds of ihe
lovely little Swiss cows crept musically home.

" I suspect, my dear, that like another person I know,
the good doctor often troubles himself with the troubles
of other people. He told me he had a patient here
not your little sick boy possibly some case of serious

" I never heard of any, and I think I should have
heard. Madame and I have grown to be very good

"But Madame is a shrewd woman, who probably
knows how to keep her own counsel, and not drive away
her very few customers by rumors of sickness or death
in the house."

" Death in the house ? You don't think that, Austin ?
If I could be of any use "

" You are of most use to me, Susannah, by not wear-
ing yourself out over other folk ; so don't put on that
poor little anxious face, but let us enjoy our walk. We,
thank heaven ! have nobody but our two selves to be
anxious over."

"JNo," answered his wife softly. But whether she
thanked heaven heaven only knew. It was one of
those unconscious stabs which even the dearest some-
" mes give ; and which heaven only can heal.

So they strolled on, sometimes talking, sometimes
silent, in that happy companionship -just " one and one "
without need of a " shadowy third," which is the
solace of many childless couples, and which, so long as it
steers clear of that fatal dual selfishness which is the bane
of conjugal life, is a most enviable and desirable thing.


They saw the sun set, the moou rise at least by
reflection, for the actual sunset and moon rise were of
course invisible behind the mountains; and then they
watched the stars come out like jewels in the great blue
arch which seemed to rest on the high peaks of the St.
Gothard range, white with eternal snow. When they
returned, night had already fallen ; a glimmering light
up at Hospenthal, and another which burnt steadily on
till morning in the Andermatt Hotel below, alone testi-
fied to the presence of any human existence in the silent

JSText day, at the table d'hote breakfast, the English
and American travelers alone remained ; the Italians had
vanished. Mr. and Mrs. Trevena looked placid and
wholesome as usual in mind and body; but Dr.
Franklin seemed tired and worried ; or, as he expressed
it, " seedy " ; as if he had been up all night which he
owned he had.

" But why ? " asked Mrs. Trevena, and then drew back
and blushed for the intrusive question.

" "Work, my dear lady a doctor's work never ends.
But now I mean to take a few hours' play. What time
shall we start ? We can drive up as far as the eternal
snow, and down again, before dark."


" All right then. I'm your man. Off we go. I'll
halve the carriage with you."

" Certainly not ; we shall be glad of your company,"

said the English clergyman, with stately dignity, and

despite his wife's rather pathetic look which convinced

the honest, warm-hearted American that " halving the



carriage " was a matter of importance to them, Mr.
Trevena held to his point, and Dr. Franklin was obliged
to yield.

They started. It was one of those gorgeous days all
blueness and whiteness, and flooded with dazzling,
cloudless sunshine which in Switzerland come as such
a strange contrast to the days of mist and storm. The
three friends, so lately strangers, found themselves
ascending cheerily the mountain, past the tiny village of
Hospenthal and the glacier of St. Anna ; crossing the
wild river Reuss, which came pouring down the desolate
valley ; and watching how the vegetation, at first bright
as the colors of a kaleidoscope with masses of lovely
unknown flowers, gradually dwindled ceased ; until the
gray of the huge boulders, the intense blue of the sky,
and the dazzling whiteness of the mountain slopes, were
the only colors left. The road became steeper and
steeper, and occasionally was fenced on either side by
huge walls of unmelted, and apparently never-to-be-
melted snow.

" You had better put on your blue veil, Mrs. Trevena,
and here is a pair of blue spectacles for your husband I
wouldn't sacrifice my eyes for the grandest snow-land-
scape in the world. !N"or my meals ; but I see you have
provided against mountain-hunger. Is that another fine,
fat sparrow \ "

She laughed, as people do whose hearts are full, then
said, with the tears in her eyes, " How beautiful all is I
My whole life through I have longed to come here, and
now I am here we are here together, Austin. We
should be very thankful."


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Online LibraryDinah Maria Mulock CraikKing Arthur. Not a love story → online text (page 1 of 15)