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whether in the character of Diana of the Ephe-
sians or of her of Poitiers. He expected her re-
turn, but the very fact of his doing so should have



236 Love Alone Is Lord

been enough to tell him that she would not return.
Any other woman would return, therefore Caro-
line Lamb would not.

He waited in vain. Perhaps she was dancing in
the quadrille. He talked more rapidly, and in
trying to conceal his uneasiness, revealed it. The
dance came to an end; there was a promenade.
A score of couples hovered about his seat. He
became impatient. Lady Westmoreland slipped
up behind him. She had her finger on her lip,
not as a signal for silence, but as a suggestion of
a coming confidence.

"No one but Caroline Lamb would have had
the courage," she whispered. "She is not a
woman, she is a meteor a feminine comet
rushing to the sun!"

"Fortunate sun!" murmured Byron. "Is she
in perihelion just now, do you fancy?"

"Just the contrary. She has run away," said
her ladyship. " Could anyone guess that her in-
tention was to hurry away ? But she is an enigma.
You saw her flying after she had behaved so
rudely."

"Rudeness may describe the act of someone
who is not Lady Caroline Lamb," said he. "A
creature so fawn-like should be judged by the
laws of the woodland."

"Yes, and then hunted for her life," said the
affronted hostess. "The idea of her leaving us
in the lurch like this! But, indeed, for myself I
always have a feeling of relief when I have seen



Love Alone Is Lord 237

the last of her for one evening. One never knows
what she will do next. I would as soon entertain
a young panther. It was Mr. Burke who called
her Pocahontas."

" The name was worthy of Mr. Burke 's imagina-
tion; she is a child of the backwoods la belle
sauvage."

"No doubt; but when she heard of the sobri-
quet nothing would do her but she must appear
at Lady Oxford's rout with her face browned, and
her hair turned into a pincushion for feathers and
a kirtle of wampum so short as to show her leg-
gings of deer skin and a pair of moccasins. She
was iiot easily got rid of. And she has two child-
ren poor little souls! "

"I will buy them a pair of bowie-knifes and
tomahawks to-morrow," said Byron. "We shall
teach them how to scalp a paleface Tory."

Lady Westmoreland laughed.

"It is very polite of your lordship to take her
conduct in regard to yourself in such good grace,"
she said. "You really never met her before?"
she added, with a quick turn of her head toward
him.

"I never met her before, indeed," he replied.
" By the way, I should like to have your ladyship's
opinion as to whether I may consider that I have
met her to-night. The question appears to me a
nice one. Perhaps it may not seem so difficult to
your ladyship."

"I think that its solution is wholly dependent



238 Love Alone Is Lord

upon the caprice of the lady," said she. "She
interprets her own parables."

"And I believe that the Calvinists believe that
the salvation of the world hangs on the correct
interpretation of a parable," said he. "Your
ladyship's dictum places me in the unfortunate
position of a Giaour."

"And pray what is a Giaour, my lord?"

"A Giaour is the Turkish word for an unbe-
liever, and his fate it is to be lacerated by the
scythe of Monkir, and then to wander for ever
around the Sacred Seat of Eblis. He belongs
neither to the Paradise nor the Inferno."

"And that is exactly the position in which you
would find yourself were you intimate with Lady
Caroline. You would never know where you
stand with such a creature of impulse."

"I shall become a Methodist without delay.
They can tell the exact moment when they find
grace."

"I shall be in the supper-room after the next
dance," said Lady Westmoreland, moving away
as the fiddles began to speak.

There was a general movement in the ballroom
when the strains of a waltz came from the min-
strels' gallery. The whole room was in motion,
for those of the company who had no mind to
dance thought it prudent to hasten towards the
doors. A quarter of an hour later Lord Holland
was making enquiries respecting Lord Byron in
order to present to him the distinguished Greek



Love Alone Is Lord 239

Movrocordato ; but no one seemed to know ex-
actly where Lord Byron was to be found. He
was not in the ballroom, nor was he in any of the
supper-rooms. Some time had passed before Lord
Westmoreland came up with the news that Lord
Byron had driven away while the waltz was being
danced.

When he did not reappear there was a good deal
of laughter and some whispering among groups
of those who had had the privilege of being present
at Lady Holland's reception some nights before.

But when Lady Westmoreland was made aware
of the news she gave a single laugh only, crying,
"A pair of them!"



CHAPTER VI

IT was the fooling of a boy and a girl. Byron
felt it when he reached his rooms that night.
He had only the satisfaction of knowing that he
had played his part in the jest as well as she had
played hers that if she had been silly he had
given a point to her silliness which it had pre-
viously lacked. Without laying their heads to-
gether they had contrived to play a jest upon
their friends which would cause them to be talked
about together for some time to come. He knew
that Lady Caroline would not mind this he had
not become so greatly interested in her as to be
unmindful of the direction which had been taken
by his first thought of her after Moore had told
him that she had left Lady Holland's reception
hard on his heels: she had aimed at getting her
name associated with his.

Well, she had succeeded, and he had, he knew,
just contributed materially to her success. He
knew that the moment he was missed from the
ballroom the whisper would rustle round the
company it would cease to be a whisper later on ;
in the supper-room it would be shrilled across the
tables by the ladies to their confidants at a dis-
tance, and the men would guffaw it from room to

240



Love Alone Is Lord 241

room. He heard Lady Westmoreland say, "A
pair of them! " as clearly as if he had been at her
ladyship's elbow.

It was the fooling of a boy and girl ; and he felt
that it was delightfully innocent in that it pointed
to guilt.

He did not care, and it was certain that she did
not care either, what people might say about them.
All his life he had led the world to believe that
he was worse than he actually was. His poem,
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, had this tendency, and
he had not shirked the responsibility which de-
volves on a man who has a reputation for wicked-
ness. He was, however, different from most men.
He had, as it were, surrounded himself with a
halo of wickedness, and the crowd were ready to
worship him on account of the mystery of the
atmosphere which he carried about with him.
The element of mystery must be associated with
every form of worship, and the mystery of wicked-
ness (of a sort) is, in the estimation of the crowd,
much more interesting than the mystery of good.

He wondered what she would think when she
would be told that he had, at Lady Westmore-
land's, followed the example which she had shown
him at Lady Holland's. He rather thought that
she would be amused; that she would recognise
in him someone who was worthy to be her partner
in in what?

In folly. Fooling can never be otherwise than
folly. He did not make any attempt to disguise

16



242 Love Alone Is Lord

this fact in considering the matter before he slept.
But it was part of his nature to appear the devotee
to folly in his life while writing poems that seemed
to come from an atmosphere of mysterious gloom.
He liked the story of the philosopher who, when
visited by an earnest disciple, was found vaulting
over chairs with children as his companions. He
liked the story of the great Marlborough sitting in
his tent making out a list of the washing, while
the army was preparing to fight a memorable
battle. He asked for nothing better than to have
his name associated with that of Caroline Lamb.
If she was a will o' the wisp and he had al-
ready begun to call her so in his own mind he
was a Robin Goodfellow. He longed to meet
her again. He wondered what new game she
would devise for the fooling of their friends.
Whatever it would be, he felt that she might
depend on his joining hands with her in carry-
ing it out.

It was certainly amusing that all the time that
people were coupling their names and people did
so with great pertinacity for some days the pair
had not exchanged a single phrase.

He paid a visit to Melbourne House in White-
hall in the course of the week following the West-
morelands' ball, and found Rogers there and half
a dozen people well known to him.

" We have been talking about you, Lord Byron,"
said Lady Melbourne. "Will you clear up this
mystery for us? Are you quite unacquainted



Love Alone Is Lord 243

with Lady Caroline Lamb, or are you her most
intimate friend?"

" Is there no intermediate position? "said Byron.

"None, so far as I can gather," replied Lady
Melbourne. " I have heard it affirmed within the
past week that you had never met her until Lady
Westmoreland presented her to you, and I have
also been informed that you have for some time
been her most intimate counsellor."

" Has her ladyship been acting with even more
than her customary discretion that people are
compelled to assume that I have been her coun-
sellor?" said Byron.

Lady Melbourne shook her head.

"Alas! she has never been otherwise than in-
discreet," she said.

"And therefore you assume that I may have
been her counsellor?"

" Seriously, have you and she been carrying out
some carnival prank together? I heard a whisper
of something to that effect."

" Seriously, dear Lady Melbourne, I have
never exchanged a sentence with the lady in
question. But is she not your daughter-in-law?
Why not ask her directly all that you wish to
learn?"

Lady Melbourne laughed, but with a note of
sorrow in her voice which Byron did not fail to
detect.

" I am the last person in whom she would con-
fide or to whom she would confess," she said.



244 Love Alone Is Lord

" Besides, I am more than a little afraid of her
that is the truth," she added in a whisper.

" I believe that I am the only one in town who
is not afraid of her," said Byron. " I feel the iso-
lation of my position in this respect. Perhaps if
I should ever be fortunate enough to become ac-
quainted with her "

"You may have the opportunity at any mo-
ment," said Rogers; "Lady Caroline has just
ridden up; she is in the act of dismounting."

"What," cried Byron; "did I boast just now
that I was not afraid of her? Now, Heaven send
that we be all alive this time to-morrow!"

The drawing-room door was flung violently open
and Lady Caroline stood on the threshold, a pic-
ture of charming dishevelment. Her hair had
come loose and its little rings curled and twisted
and writhed like a design worked in gold em-
broidery upon the blue velvet collar of her riding
habit. Her face was rosy, and she held up her
velvet skirt sufficiently high to show her tiny
riding boots covered with mud. She had a riding-
whip in her gauntletted hand.

She had begun to speak the moment that the
footman threw open the door, but the moment
she got sight of Byron she gulped down the word
that she was in the act of uttering, and stood there
silent frozen frightened, as it seemed.

The men in the room bowed to the ground.
She paid no attention to them. She continued
looking at Byron.



Love Alone Is Lord 245

" Enter, my dear Caroline ; we will excuse your
toilette de chasse" said Lady Melbourne.

"I am afraid," said Lady Caroline.

"Afraid? Afraid of what?" cried Lady Mel-
bourne.

"Afraid of spoiling your beautiful carpet,"
lisped the other. " Give me time to change my
boots and stockings. I will put on a pair of silk
ones, if you will wait for me. You will wait, Lord
Byron?"

" The allurement which you hold out is not to
be resisted, madam," said Byron.

"You promise not to run away this time?" she
said, gravely.

Byron had no answer ready, and she knew it:
before he had time to find one she had banged the
door and disappeared.

" Did he ever run away? I had no idea that he
had so much discretion," growled old Colonel Dun-
combe of the Guards.

"I am afraid that I must take my leave. I
have an engagement at three," said Moore.

"But that is not for an hour and a half," said
Rogers. "You must wait until Lady Caroline
has made her change of toilette."

"Then I shall certainly break my engagement,"
said Moore.

Before ten minutes had passed Lady Caroline
had reappeared. She was wearing a white mus-
lin frock with a flowing sash. The high waist of
the costume forced the riband almost up to the



246 Love Alone Is Lord

hollow of her arms. She led a child by each of
her hands a boy of five and a girl of three. One
would have guessed her age to be eighteen. She
was nine years older. So great was the change
made by her act of changing, it was difficult to
believe that she was the same person who had
appeared ten minutes before in all the disorder of
her gallop in the Park.

She played to perfection the part of the young
matron devoted to her children, encouraging their
prattle and participating in it in a more childish
voice than that which came from either of them.
She stopped half-way across the great drawing-
room to fasten the little boy's shoe, kneeling on
the carpet to do so, and then taking advantage of
the proximity of her head to his, to put her arms
about him and hug him. It was a pretty picture
of innocence that Lady Melbourne's guests were
allowed. They were touched. In an instant the
recollection of the many silly and absurd things
that she had done during the previous year or two
was swept away nay, some of them allowed the
act to be prospective as well as retrospective in
its force; it swept out of their minds the foolish
things which she was still to do.

"These are my protectors," said Lady Caroline,
laying a hand on each golden head and then look-
ing up ecstatically. "Unless I were flanked on
every side by innocence, how should I be able to
face all the wickedness which which visits my
mamma?"



Love Alone Is Lord 247

She looked round the semicircle with Rogers
at one end and Byron at the other, and then
turned her eyes innocently upon Lady Mel-
bourne.

"Wickedness resorts to Melbourne House just
as gout goes to Harrogate," said Moore.

"And usually with better results," said Rogers,
mildly.

"Virtue and innocence are to some palates as
nauseous as a sulphur spa," said Lady Caroline.
She was looking gravely at Byron.

"Did your ladyship address me?" he enquired.

"Certainly not; I am well aware that your
lordship has had no time to analyse the bene-
ficent elements which I named," she replied.

"True, madam," he said. "But that is be-
cause I have had so few chances of coming in
contact with them in my walk through life."

"I hope you will be a frequent visitor at
Melbourne House, my lord," said she.

" That is very kind of you," said he. " Do you
suggest that I bring with me test glasses and an
apothecary's balance?"

" I wish to have a serious talk with you, Lord
Byron," said she, taking a step toward a seat in
the window.

"With your protectors?" he asked, glancing
round. She had relinquished her children to Lady
Melbourne and Moore. Her last three remarks
had been addressed to Byron only.

" Mr. Moore is going to sing for them," she said.



248 Love Alone Is Lord

" We can talk seriously while he is singing. I hope
that he will not compel my tears."

"What would it matter? Everyone would
fancy that you were weeping with the seriousness
of our conversation. By the way, this is our first
conversation, is it not?"

"I seem to have known you for a long time,"
said she. " My soul do you believe in the com-
munion of souls, Lord Byron?"

"My creed is made up of one clause only and
that is it," he replied.

" And yet you ran away from me at Lady Hol-
land's," said she, with a pout of reproach.

" I saw from the beach when the morning was shining
A bark o'er the waters rode gloriously on,"

came the exquisite voice of Moore from the piano
at which Lady Melbourne was sitting. The two
children were standing at a little distance, look-
ing with large eyes of wonder at the sentimental
expression at which the little Irishman aimed
when singing his melodies, but which he never
quite achieved owing to the unhappy tilt of his
nose.

" Did I not do well to run away ? " asked Byron,
playing at seriousness as seriously as she. " You
must remember that you laughed. I have often
wondered why you laughed."

She became more serious than ever sadly seri-
ous this time, while she said,



Love Alone Is Lord 249

"I have wondered, too. It would have been
much better for me if I had wept."

"Do women weep because men are fools?" he
said, in a voice so low that the pathos of Mr.
Moore's song was not interfered with. "No, I
rather think that women and the devil laugh
together."

" Had you been a fool before you came upon me
at the side of that screen?"

" I think that I was a fool until I saw you."

"And after?"

" God knows what after."

"Ah! God and the one who laughs with men
at women."

" But we were talking of a woman laughing.
That drove me away."

" What did that mean foolishness or wisdom? "

"It meant discretion. Do you include that
under the head of wisdom or of foolishness? "

" The woman who confesses to a man is not dis-
creet. But I will confess to you, throwing discre-
tion to the winds."

"As usual."

"You have been listening to tales. But
if you were wise enough to run away the first
time, I was wise enough to do so the second
time."

"And yet here we are together now."

"That is an interruption. I am confessing.
Do you know why I ran away ? I wished to make
an entry in my diary. I hastened home for this



250 Love Alone Is Lord

purpose and I wrote about you, 'Byron is mad,
bad, and dangerous to know."

"It is you who have been listening to tales.
But I acknowledge the accuracy of the words. I
know that I have been mad for what was the
day of Lady Holland's reception? 'bad'? well,
I am a man ; ' dangerous ' ? again, I am a man.
Shall I go away ? There can be no danger if I go
away at once."

" It is too late. I have read Childe Harold. I
believe that I was the first woman in the world
to read it. Mr. Rogers lent me his copy long
before the poem was published. Do not blame
him. I insisted on getting it. I was the first
woman in the world to read it. Think of that!
Whatever may happen whatever the future may
have in store for me, no power in existence can
alter that : I was the first woman in the world to
read Childe Harold."

" If I had known that you lived in the world I
would never have written it."

She put her hands before her eyes and shud-
dered. She did not speak. She was wise enough to
refrain from the attempt to interpret her shudder.

" But I did not know it, and I show my ignor-
ance of your existence in every line," said the poet.

Her hands fell from her face, she turned her eyes
upon him, brilliant with feeling at first, and then
gradually lapsing into languor half-closed
smouldering alluring the eyes that a single
whisper will close.



Love Alone Is Lord 251

"You will write another poem to tell me in
every line that you know me my heart my
soul? " she said, in a voice of twilight sudden and
soft a dreamy pause between each of its latter
words.

"I cannot say what I will write," said he, be-
coming curiously reserved, both in voice and man-
ner, as was his wont at times. " My writing is not
in my own hands. Would I not best show that
I have been by your side, by refraining from ever
writing again?"

" No, no ; do not say that. If I thought it pos-
sible that I should have such an influence upon
you I would curse the hour that I came across
your path," she cried, grasping his hand that lay
upon the embroidery of the cushion upon which
he was leaning. "No, no; I should never for-
give myself never never. I wish you to come
to me to learn all about woman of what she is
capable when she loves of what sacrifices of
what devotion. You will come to me?"

" I have come to you," he said, in a lower tone
than all the low tones in which he had yet spoken.

She raised her eyes to his without moving her
head, and after allowing him to look into her
depths of blueness, turned them quickly down to
her demurely folded hands upon her lap. Her
dark lashes fell half-way down her cheeks.

Mr. Moore was singing a patriotic song to the
children they were becoming a little tired of his
singing. The boy was lying on his back on the



252 Love Alone Is Lord

hearth rug, kicking up his legs ; the girl was tast-
ing the succulent qualities of Mr. Rogers 's watch.
Mr. Moore, in the attitude of the patriot one
hand thrust into the bosom of his coat, the other
clenched by his side, was singing with passion :

"Where's the slave so lowly,

Condemned to chains unholy,
Who, could he burst his bonds at first,
Would pine beneath them slowly?"



CHAPTER VII

HE had begun by fooling and before he ended
he had gained wisdom; and the only way
by which a man can acquire wisdom is by making
a fool of himself.

That is what everyone said he was doing ; only
they put it in another way ; they said that he was
being made a fool of by Lady Caroline Lamb.
Whether wisdom comes more rapidly to a man
who is made a fool of than to a man who makes a
fool of himself cannot be decided except by the
consideration of many cases where the contribu-
tory forces of folly making for wisdom in the
end are duly authenticated.

It was his nature to be attracted to the unusual.
He detested everything that was normal every-
thing that was safe. He was against the govern-
ment from the government of the universe down
to the government of the university. That was
why they were glad to see the last of him and his
bears and bull-dogs at Cambridge. He railed
against all authority, including that which made
him an author.

He had no illusions in regard to Lady Caroline
Lamb. Whatever she was no one could deny
that she was unusual. It was because she was

253



254 Love Alone Is Lord

reported never to have done anything like other
people she had even refused to be married like
other women that Byron was attracted to her.
Most women, no matter how greatly they may
long to become the exponents of the uncommon,
make it a point to be scrupulously commonplace
in the matter of marriage, but this beautiful rebel
was so consistent in her aspirations as to make
the ceremony of her marriage the most uncere-
monious ever recorded, although a bishop stood
at the altar rails.

She was worth all the insipid young women in
town, Byron perceived, the moment that he heard
how she had left Lady Holland's reception when
she knew that he had gone away ; and he had been
quite content to set his friends and hers chattering
when he had followed her example at the West-
morelands' a few days later. There was nothing
insipid about her even her lisp and her lapse
into sentiment at Melbourne House had impressed
him as being a fine sort of satire upon current in-
sipidity. She interested him greatly, and he
found himself thinking all the day. He had met
nothing like her in his life, and he was glad that
he had promised to breakfast with her the next
morning. She was a wife and a mother. So she
was safeguarded so he was safeguarded.

That was how he thought yes, at times. But
the very fact of his thinking of safeguards sug-
gested the risk which made safeguards, if not
necessary, at least well, safeguards. That was



Love Alone Is Lord 255

what made his intimacy with her adventurous, and
to him whatever was adventurous was fascinating.

He went to breakfast with her. Her children
were present, and again she called them her pro-
tectors. That told him that she also had been
thinking of safeguards, and incidentally of risks.
But he found himself in a more delightful situa-
tion than any he had ever occupied. It was so
charmingly domestic. He took the greatest de-
light in the children, and they responded and were
never tiresome, only because he was untiring in
amusing them. And soon he found himself talk-
ing to her just as he talked to them. When he
began it, by accident, she laughed.

"Why should you change your language; I
feel that these dear things are really older than I
am," she cried. "They ask you questions which
I am not wise enough to ask."

"You are wise enough to refrain from asking


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Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreLove alone is lord → online text (page 14 of 28)