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tesque splashes of curious colour, pinks and
purples, greys and greens, some like bosses of
moss, others resembling gigantic sponges, and
hairy scalps hung up as ghastly trophies. Plaster
had fallen from the ceiling at some distant period,
and a hillock of it lay on the seat of a chair.
Another chair lay overturned on the floor, and a
third leaned up against a bookcase on two legs.
There was a writing-table in a corner and papers
were still on it covered with dust. So dusty and
musty a room he had never been in. The cob-
webs were hanging from the broken ceiling and
the framework of the window as tattered banners
hang among the tombs of a cathedral.

An old coat lay in tatters on the floor beneath
the peg from which it had dropped ; an old pistol
wanting a lock was at his feet, and a flash of his
lantern showed him the missing lock, with the
flint-flake beside it, on the mantel-shelf. It
seemed as if someone had been interrupted in the
act of repairing the pistol and had never returned
to complete his job. On another part of the
mantel-shelf there lay a bronze ornament a
figure of Time with his scythe, which looked as
if it had fallen off an old timepiece. A quill pen
lay beside it.

Byron picked up the figure in the tips of his
fingers and examined it gingerly; when in the
act of laying it down he found that it had been

386 Love Alone Is Lord

used as a paper-weight. The paper which it had
covered made a gleam of white among the grime
of the apartment, like a patch of snow on a newly
ploughed field. He held his lantern to it and
found that it contained writing. Owing to its
having been kept beneath the heavy paper-
weight the caligraphy was clean, and he had no
difficulty in reading the words :

"With this sword in this room I kill'd Mr.
Chaworth of Annesley. Wou'd to God I had a
chaunce of dooing it agen a curs'd rascall, Byron.

" 'Twas about Jenny a slutt."

The sixth Lord Byron read the words which
his predecessor had written doubtless many years
before he had no means of knowing how many
years before. He looked about for the sword to
which the dainty inscription was to be attached,
it did not show any sign of having ever been
attached to the sword, but he failed to find the
interesting weapon. He stood with the paper in
his fingers looking round the gloomy apartment.
Dust, dust, moth and rust, cobweb bannerets,
fitting relics of the knight who had done his kins-
man to death on the floor and then left a boastful
record of his own crime to be read by his successor.

The good knight is dust
And his sword is rust,
And his soul

Byron laughed as he recalled the lines. His
soul the less that was thought about the ultimate

Love Alone Is Lord 387

destiny of the soul of the fifth Lord Byron the
better chance his successor would have of hoping
he was happy. If there was any justice or judg-
ment in heaven or earth he could not be happy.
But was it just that his descendants should bear
the curse of his crimes ?

That was the question which the inheritor of
Newstead asked himself. His imagination was
strong enough to enable him to see by the fantas-
tic illumination of the lantern the light shot out
through the square glasses, but it was broken by
the ironwork, which was consequently thrown on
the walls in thick pillars of shadow, while the
little dome of the roof filled nearly all the ceiling
with gloom the scene which had taken place in
this very room. He remembered all that Mary
had told him about the duel it had been called a
duel between her grandfather and his grand-
father's brother; and the features and figure of
the painting by Gainsborough hanging in the hall
at Annesley was ever vividly before him. He
saw Mr. Chaworth with his sword drawn there
there, at the wall near the table, waiting for the
attack of his crafty antagonist who, knowing the
room, would have taken good care to keep his
back to the light.

It was all over in a few minutes. Mr. Chaworth
was stabbed and lying in a heap just where the
coat that had fallen from the peg in the wall. was
lying it might have been his coat that lay there.
Byron fancied he still saw on the floor, in spite of

388 Love Alone Is Lord

the dust of years, the dark stain left where the
man's life's blood had ebbed away.

There was the sound of the scurrying of rats in
the wainscot and their shrill squeal about the
hearthstone; the muffled hoot of the owls that
had lived for perhaps hundreds of years in the
ivy forest of the old priory, but at intervals there
was a dead silence. He fancied that he could
hear through these silences the gasping of the
man who lay dying on his back on the floor.

And was he he, Byron, who had never so
much as seen the man who had slain his kinsman
in this room was he the inheritor of the re-
sponsibility for this act as well as of the estates
of his predecessor at Newstead? He had been
cradled in the superstition of his Scotch relatives,
and his vivid imagination added force to all the
legends which had been told to him of the effects
of "curses" passed on from generation to genera-
tion of certain families in the Highlands. Re-
membering as he did how narrowly he had escaped
the fate of being overwhelmed by the falling pic-
ture at Annesley, he felt like a man who knows
that he is followed by an inexorable Fate.

Was it not this Fate that had caused him to
learn, when standing at midnight before the pic-
ture of the murdered man, that Mary Chaworth,
whom he loved, loved him, to live in a trance of
delight having heard her confession, only to be
hurled into the depths of disappointment the next
day? Was it not this Fate that had brought him

Love Alone Is Lord 389

back to Newstead to find that he felt for Mary
Chaworth now the same love that had made his
Fool's Paradise in the old days a real Eden? And
to have it suggested to him that she He
caught up his lantern and flung open the door of
this haunted room, and he was conscious of feeling
as one might fancy the good knight felt who
succeeded in freeing himself from the spell cast
upon him by Morgan le Fay. He made up his
mind that he would no longer be bound by these
fantastic imaginings. They had come to him, he
tried to make himself believe, through breathing
the vile airs of the room which had not been
opened for years, and inhaling with the musty
atmosphere the morbid suggestions made by his
imagination, stimulated by the story associated
with the room.

He made up his mind to discard the hints
which he had received from Vince respecting
Mary Chaworth and her husband. He would
show Vince and everyone else that he recognised
the force of the existing fact that Mary Chaworth
was a wife and a mother. He would not even
admit to himself that he loved her still; but if
now and again a thought of his affection came to
him he would show to everyone, even to him-
self, that his love was too true to be otherwise
than disinterested that his love was worship,
true devotion offered to one whose nature was
such as could have no thought that was not pure.

With more than one heroic resolution he went

39 Love Alone Is Lord

to his bed and lay awake railing against Fate that
had condemned him to loneliness that loneliness
which must ever be his, living as he was apart
from Mary Chaworth. But when he awoke in
the morning it was with a sense of having made
certain resolutions to which he would adhere ; his
adherence to them was essential not only to his
own happiness and self-respect, but also to hers.
And before he had finished his meagre break-
fast he was considering his chances of being able
to see her this day. The beauty of the day had
an additional charm imparted to it when he re-
flected that it was quite possible that he might
meet Mary Chaworth before evening. He re-
flected that he had not had this thought since he
had slept under her own roof ; he had gone to his
bed after his experience of her sleep-walking,
thinking :

"7 shall meet her when the morning comes."
How many barren days of his life had passed
since then days when he had no prospect of
seeing her? He marvelled greatly now how he
had found it possible to face such days of barren-
ness, so profitless, so blank. But he would not
deliberately ride out with the intention of meeting
her. He would not go in any direction that she
would be likely to take in driving or riding. He
mounted his horse and rode out through the
gates in exactly the opposite direction to the
Annesley road. He returned after some hours
without having met anyone whom he knew. He

Love Alone Is Lord 391

was aware of a certain feeling of satisfaction
when he reflected upon his self-restraint. It was
as if he had seen Mary Chaworth standing in the
sunlight beckoning to him well, if not beckon-
ing to him, at least awaiting his coming, and still
he had gone in the opposite direction.

But when he had ridden out in this way every
morning during the week when he had changed
his time for riding to the afternoon without his
self-restraint being rewarded by a glimpse of the
lady whom he was trying to avoid yet hoping to
meet, he became greatly dissatisfied with his luck.
He began to have a suspicion that there was
something ostentatious in his repeated attempts
to avoid meeting her ; and after a day or two he
saw clearly that his avoidance of the Annesley
road was a distinct slur upon his own honour, if
not by implication an insult to the lady. Would
not an unprejudiced person say that it was an
absurd piece of presumption for him to think that
there was a certain element of danger an indefin-
ite element of an undefined danger, in riding in
the direction of Annesley?

He discovered that he had been treating both
himself and her very badly; and in the force of
this conviction he turned his horse's head toward
the Hall. He rode past the entrance gates and
on to the turf beyond the boundary wall of the
park, and on by the little track through the
meadow lands, fragrant with the earliest hay
crop, until he reached the mill road leading up the

39 2 Love Alone Is Lord

gentle slope. He stopped below the mill, the ele-
vation of the road allowing of his seeing the roofs
and gables of Annesley Hall and in the distance
Newstead. He was engaged in looking over the
billowy foliage of the great elms, when he heard
a man's voice behind him calling to his dogs.
He glanced round and saw a gentleman on horse-
back with half a dozen dogs, setters and re-
trievers, at his heels. He knew in a moment
that the man was Mr. Musters, although he had
greatly changed during the seven years that had
elapsed since he had seen him by the side of his
wife half an hour after their marriage. His face
had become larger and coarser, especially about
the mouth. There was a sensual curve at the
corners of the lips, and the impression which they
conveyed was heightened by his eyes. He had
been a handsome man long ago, though not with-
out suggestions of those defects which the years
had made prominent, Byron remembered, but he
was sure that there were people who would call
him a handsome man still.

Byron wheeled his horse about, and then Mus-
ters recognised him and greeted him with some
show of cordiality.

" I did n't see you right at first or, of course, I
should have known you," he said. "Your face
has n't changed much," he added, with a critical
glance. "You are as youthful in your looks as
when I saw you I suppose it must be six or
seven years ago; and you are what girls would

Love Alone Is Lord 393

call beautiful. You know that, I'm sure, you
young dog; I hear that you have been playing
havoc among the wenches. Oh, we are not so far
removed from London but that a rumour comes
to us now and again of the notabilities of the
season. You must tell me of your adventures in
that direction."

"You would not find my narrative interest-
ing, Mr. Musters," said Byron. "It certainly
would not be stimulating to a gentleman of your

Musters laughed.

"Oh, yes; I admit that I have had some ex-
perience," he said. "Every man of spirit has
much to go through. The fact is, my boy, there
are too many women everywhere. They can be
had for the whistling. Good working setters are
much less plentiful. There's Clio come along,
Clio, girl, and show yourself" a small black and
white setter trotted up "I had to give ten
golden guineas for her in the autumn. But
wenches I hope you have been doing something
to advantage yourself that's a man's first duty;
when he has made his position secure with a
lady of property, he may go his own way after-
wards and enjoy life as he pleases. With your
advantages you should have no difficulty in get-
ting an heiress at the end of your line. That old
rascal who was in Newstead before you left the
place in a shocking state. I hear that you are
mortgaged up to the estates."

394 Love Alone Is Lord

Byron did not make any response, he only
looked coldly at the man beside him, who hastened
to reassure him.

"Don't think that I blame you," he said,
quickly. "The old reprobate! He cut down
fifteen thousand pounds' worth of trees the best
in the park all your property ! I cannot under-
stand how you managed to keep yourself in
London as a man of your position should. The
only way you can set yourself on your feet is by
marrying an heiress. Lord, sir, a young chap
like you should have no difficulty in that direc-
tion. Mary is the sort of girl that would have
done for you. Eh, what what are you blushing
about? Did you fancy that I was about to ask
you to take her off my hands ? 'T is too late now,
I'm afraid, for you to hope to better yourself in
that way. But that 's the kind of wife you should
think of a couple of good estates all the farms
let, and ready to laugh at all the frame breakers
in Nottingham. Be advised by me. By the way,
someone said t'other day that you had written
something in a newspaper was it a novel or a
copy of verses? hang me if I remember which
it was. But whatever it was, you '11 have to give
it up if you intend to settle among us. That sort
of stuff is not for gentlefolk. You'll find us
exclusive in Nottingham."

"We have a right to be so, have we not, Mr.
Musters?" said Byron, looking smilingly into the
coarse face of the man beside him. " We are the

Love Alone Is Lord 395

flower of the English aristocracy we are all
highly cultivated gentlemen whose names will live
for ever as the patrons of literature and the
devotees of all the arts."

" I 'm glad that you take the right view of the
case," said Musters. "Maybe it was all a flam
about your having written something or other.
People are only too ready to say anything that
will bring discredit upon a good name."

"Even among the gentry of Nottingham? It
seems impossible, Mr. Musters, that a slander
should find its way among the county families."

Mr. Musters had no ear for irony. Few repre-
sentatives of the county families had. He smiled
at Byron for a callow young fool, but he would
not be hard on him.

" When you have lived among us for a year or
two you'll know better," he said. "But I'm
devilish glad to learn that there 's no truth in the
report that you were given to writing things; if
you were, it would prejudice people against you
in the county. You must come and dine with us
some day next week let me see; Tuesday-
would Tuesday suit you? a family affair no one
but yourself; I'll put you up to some of the
tricks of our neighbours. "

" The temptation is too great to be resisted, Mr.
Musters. I have no engagements. Are you sure
that I shall not be inconveniencing you?"

"There is always a dinner laid at the Hail-
that 's all I can say. You'll get I'm sorry that

396 Love Alone Is Lord

I must leave you just now. I'm rather late for
an appointment that I made. Good-bye till
Tuesday. What are those dogs about? Hi-hi!
Flora, Clio, Tom-Tit, Boney!"

He rode off whistling to his dogs, but evermore
glancing rather anxiously, Byron thought, ahead
of him and somewhat to the right, where there
was a dip in the slope beyond the mill road, and a
small plantation of larches. Byron looked in the
same direction after Musters had disappeared
round the curve of the mill road. He saw, after
a short space of time, that Musters had jumped
his horse over the low bank and was trotting
leisurely toward the little plantation.

He fancied he saw something of white moving
about among the trees it might have been a
woman's dress, but it was not impossible that it
should be the black and white setter, or perhaps
a stray sheep newly washed. He was ready to
admit the two last-named possibilities, even
though his doing so made it necessary that he
should believe it possible for the animals to be
walking among branches that hung five feet above
the ground.

After all, it might only have been the miller
with whom Mr. Musters had his appointment
among the larches.

Byron wheeled his horse and rode slowly back
to Newstead.


HE came upon Vince on horseback before he
was within view of the outlying trees of the

" By what luck have you come upon this road? "
Vince inquired. "You went in the other di-
rection every day during the week?"

"Would it not strike you that it was just
because I have been five times in the other
direction I am in this direction to-day?" said

" That would be the reasoning of the gamester,
but I have learned that a man's heart beats inde-
pendently of all systems that the heart of man
has yet devised."

" And that is what brings me here? " said Byron,

"No; that was what brought Mrs. Musters to
Newstead," replied Vince.

Byron was startled and, as usual, he flushed
the second time within an hour.

" What ! Mrs. Musters ? " he cried.

"Driving in her chaise with a pair of horses,
two footmen, her elder little girl, and her governess
a fan-faced pattern of propriety, prudery over-
starched, Sims by name," said Vince.


39 8 Love Alone Is Lord

Byron sat on his horse and was thoughtful for
some moments. Then he said:

"It was a formal visit; but I am sorry that I
missed seeing my cousin. My encountering Mr.
Musters, as I did, does not make up for my

" I had prepared you for him ; a popular man
a hearty manner jovial over his first bottle
petulant over his second a negro over his third,
but, oh, a popular man ! making his friends laugh
and his wife weep, and equally indifferent to both.
He asked you to dinner?"

" How did you know? Were you at the other
side of the hedge ? I begin to think that you are
behind most hedges in the county."

"That is his warm heart. He keeps his heart
over a chafing-dish spirit lamp, and shows it
smoking to strangers. ' How d'ye do ' is his first
word, and 'dinner' is his next, and 'hang you!'
his third. He sometimes forgets his invitations,
and is angry because the strangers whom he bids
to his table ring his hall-door bell. Ha ! you are
thinking that I have opened the door of a room
full of sunlight for you."

"That was, I admit, what dazzled me for a
second or two," said Byron. "You open your
doors too suddenly in the face of one who is
standing in the gloom of the hall, Vince. But I
think we shall find that when the door of that
room of sunshine is opened for me, the portly
figure of Mr. Musters will darken the entrance."

Love Alone Is Lord 399

" His figure is capable of shutting out a good
deal of sunshine," said Vince. " At any rate, you
have promised to dine at his table, whether he is
present or absent. Have you made up your mind
to relax the rigidity of your diet for that evening? "

"I have not thought anything about that,"
replied Byron. " Is Mr. Musters one of those men
who make a fuss over their guests' eating and
drinking? I have heard of duels being fought and
households shattered simply because a guest de-
clined a second bottle of claret."

" There 's another vista flooded with sunset for
you: the prospect of fighting Mr. Musters," said
Vince. "What a pity it seems that the pistol
bullet which would remove so many obstructions
from a path to prosperity should be withheld!"

"Make your mind easy, friend Vince," said
Byron. "I shall not give the man a chance of
complaining. I showed some gentlemen in Lon-
don the other day that I was not the milksop they
took me for. I can drink wine when I please with
the best of them. I am not afraid of Mr. Musters.
By the bye, he was considerate enough to lecture
me to-day on my deportment among the gentry
of the county. It appears that a report got
abroad I have no idea how that I had written
and published something. There is a difference of
opinion as to the shape that my offence assumed
-whether it was a poem in a newspaper or a
pamphlet in prose it had even come to Mr.
Musters's ears. He gave me to understand that

400 Love Alone Is Lord

if there was any truth in the rumour I must be
careful never to repeat the offence. My position
among the gentry would be prejudiced by such
an act."

Vince screwed up his face into an expression
resembling a smile.

"It will be an amusing dinner if your host
should put in an appearance," said he. "What
will your topics of conversation be? and after
you have both finished a bottle or two, and the
restraints of sobriety have vanished, what will
happen then ? Ha ! I would that it were possible
for me to be present ! The material that I should
collect for my comedy of life would be invaluable.
My mouth waters in anticipation of the scene.
I would call the chapter 'The Amalgamation of

But Byron became grave. He assured Mr.
Vince that he need not anticipate any contretemps
at Mr. Musters 's dinner table.

" I flatter myself that I have seen enough of the
world to be able to make myself at home even in
the midst of the least congenial society," said he

"I ask your lordship's pardon," said Vince,
parodying his coldness, but with a very light
touch and no sting of offence. "I quite forgot
for the moment that I was addressing Byron the
traveller Byron the idol of society in town-
Byron, who, it is said, has set a new fashion for
dandy dom. Your lordship's dinner with Mr.

Love Alone Is Lord 401

Musters cannot be other than a function of
mingled vigour and vivacity. You will tell me
of it if you should survive."

" You seem to have at hand so many sources of
information regarding all occurrences, it will, I
am convinced, be quite unnecessary for me to
give you any account of so simple an affair,"
replied Byron.

Having ridden back to Newstead, Byron waved
his hand to his companion and put his horse to a
gallop upon the turf of the park.

He thought more during that evening of the
visit that Mrs. Musters had paid to Newstead
than he did of the invitation which had been
given to him by her husband. He perceived
quite clearly that, although Mary had parted
from him with an abruptness that suggested a
great deal to him, she had come to the same con-
clusion as he had arrived at respecting their rela-
tions. She was determined that they should meet
and associate as cousins, and that they should
both treat the past, now so long distant, as if it
had been nothing more than a dream. She had
visited him with her child in order to make the
first move in this direction, and she looked for
him to return her visit on the same basis of friend-
shipthe informal friendship of kinsfolk. Nothing
could be more satisfactory than the adoption of
such a course, he thought; and it was in this
spirit that he drove to Annesley Hall on the Tues-
day for which Mr. Musters had invited him.

402 Love Alone Is Lord

Once more he stood in the hall face to face with
the picture by the great painter; but he now
gazed at it in surprise, for the expression of the
man's face seemed altogether different from what
his memory told him it had been. His recollec-
tion of it was of a stern man ; there had certainly
been a grave look in his eyes ; but now it seemed
that the face wore a smile.

He was still standing in front of the picture
when Mary appeared. She was coming down the
stairs, and when he turned toward her his memory
went back in a flash to the night when he had
seen her on them moving like a white ghost
through the faint light to make her petition to
the picture. When she came to him now, sending
his memory flying back through the years that
had changed him from a boy to a man, he knew
the truth of his own heart : he looked at her now
as he had looked at her then with the same love
the same adoration. All his resolutions in re-
gard to that friendship which he had cherished

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Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreLove alone is lord → online text (page 22 of 28)