Frank Frankfort Moore.

Love alone is lord online

. (page 24 of 28)
Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreLove alone is lord → online text (page 24 of 28)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

candles had not yet been lighted, so that the room
was in twilight. She was standing at the window
where they had stood together an hour before.
She turned round quickly at his entrance, and he
saw that there was a frightened look in her eye.
That expression went to his heart.

" My poor Mary, what you must have suffered ! "
he said when he had come behind her, and she
had turned her eyes again to the cedar which
raised arms of benediction to the blackbirds and
thrushes of the lawn.

"Suffered suffered! That is nothing suffer-
ing means nothing to me. But the children the
children!" she said.

"It is pitiful pitiful and your own house,
too ! the house was yours, not his, and yet

"He never went so far as this before," she
cried. " I have no doubt that he invited you to
dinner to-day believing that if you were present
in the room I should not have the courage to
leave it."

" He does not know you even yet, Mary. Did
you look for me to remain by your side?"

422 Love Alone Is Lord

" No, no ; I knew that you stayed in the room
to prevent him from following me, from further
insulting me, and to save me from seeing him
insult you as well."

"You know me, Mary, better than he knows
you. I felt sure that he would have followed us
and perhaps turned me out of the house, giving
me no chance of seeing you. I went back to the
room and even succeeded in making myself
pleasant to them. My poor Mary! . . . But
what can the man mean? Does he suppose that
you will submit to her staying under your roof?"

"She brought a load of trunks with her he
ordered them to be taken up to a room."

"Monstrous! Could anyone believe it possible
that a man and married to you married to
you! What will you do, Mary? He cannot
think it possible that you will be content to
remain here?"

She walked away from him and threw herself
down on a sofa the very sofa on which he had
sat while she was singing her song for him long
ago. She stared out straight before her.

" It has been going on for years," she said in a
low voice. She seemed to be talking to herself,
unaware of his presence. " I wonder if it was my
fault at first. I wonder if I was to blame in any
way. When I made the discovery at first should
I have given him to understand? . . . but I
hoped to win him back to me. I had so much
confidence in myself in the power of my affec-

Love Alone Is Lord 423

tion for him I really believe that I was fond of
him . . . and the child ... I thought that
when our little girl was born . . . but he be-
came worse ; he hated the child and then I hated
him I hated the man who was my husband."

She laid her head down upon the cushion and
he knew that she was weeping.

What could he say? He longed to say some-
thing to comfort her; but he knew that this was
not the moment to make the attempt. What
words that he could say would comfort her? He
stood with his hands behind him in the silence.
The little rustle of something of silk that she
wore was the only sound in the room.

Suddenly, before he knew it, she was on her

"The children must go," she said, decisively.
" Whatever happens the children shall not remain
in this house. He dare not interfere. Oh, I need
not think of his interfering that is the last thing
that he would do. He will be glad of it."

" And you you what about yourself, my dear
Mary ? " he said, with all the tenderness of feeling
that was in his heart for her.

" Oh, what does it matter about me?" she said.
"My life is over."

"For God's sake, do not say that," he cried.
" I cannot bear to hear you say that. I shall kill
him I shall kill him. He has killed you, and
shall kill him I swear it!"

"Hush oh, hush! Will you make my task

424 Love Alone Is Lord

more difficult for me, Byron? You would not do
that, I know."

"Am I to stand by I, a man, inactive a mere
looker-on while that man who has made your life
a wreck who has robbed me "

" Oh, Byron, I implore of you "

" Forgive me, Mary ; I am selfish ; I think only
of myself of the happiness which might have
been mine. I tell you that "

The dining-room door had been opened for a
few moments. The sound of loud laughter
reached them in the drawing-room. He struck
the top of a chair with his fist.

" I cannot stand it," he said. " I cannot stand
here feeling that I am powerless."

He took a resolute step toward the door.

She caught him by the arm.

" For my sake, Byron can you not bear it for
my sake? When I can bear it, why should not
you?" she said.

He caught the hand that was on his sleeve in
both his own and stood looking into her face, that
looked up to his. So he stood for more than a

"Good-bye," he said, suddenly. "I cannot
stay here any longer. I cannot command my-
self. It will be best for you if I leave you now.

"You are right," she said. "You must go. I
know that you are leaving me because you love
me, Byron, and because you will help me as you

Love Alone Is Lord 425

would any wretched woman who is foolish enough
to believe that there are other considerations in
life besides her own happiness. Kiss me, my
Byron, and go away to help me to help me!"

She put her face the tears were glistening on
her cheeks in the dim summer twilight of the room
up to his, and it was she who kissed him she
kissed him twice.

"Only tell me how to help you," he said, in a
passionless voice. " Only tell me. You must not
do anything without telling me. Promise me
that, Mary."

"I promise you. You are, I think, my only
friend, and now you are going from me," she said,
and for a moment he felt that she was asking him
to stay.

" Listen to me," he said. " Every day at noon
I shall ride to the knoll where we parted. I shall
wait there for you to come to me to tell me all
that you have to tell. Come to me when you
have made up your mind come to me and tell
me how I can help you. That shall be my one
aim in life to help you."

"I will come I promise you that, my one
friend my one dear friend."

Then it was that he kissed her, with a hand on
each side of her head.

He hurried from the room and sent a servant to
go to the stables and order his carriage.


HE could not go to bed. He knew that he
would get no sleep, for he felt more excited
than he had for years. The night was an ex-
quisite one, of soft summer starlight and sweet
scents of dewy grass. May was a maiden placing
her cool hand trustfully in the warm hand of her
lover, June, and partaking of some of the glow
that came from him. Streaks of the faint blue of
the western sky appeared above the black line
of the yew hedge, but the blue darkened over-
head and in the east the stars were alight. The
only sounds of the night came from the breathing
of the trees the soft breathing of an air through
the foliage of May, very different from the crisp,
restless rustle of October.

He strolled down to the brink of the pond.
The little splash of a water-rat stirred up the sur-
face in ripples large enough to sway the floating
leaves of the water-plants, as he seated himself
on a carved stone bench above the sloping bank.
He had much to think about, but his thoughts
came upon him in a mob, not a procession.

Mixed with the recollection of how she had
kissed him came a confused rush of emotions, and
he found that his eyes were full of tears of pity


Love Alone Is Lord 427

for the unhappiness of the woman who had offered
her lips to his own. How could he ever have
fancied even for a moment that he loved any
other woman than this during the years that had
passed since they parted? That was the wonder
to him. How could he ever have fancied that he
could be happy with any other woman? He felt
that all other women were but shadowy; she was
the only one who was real. He looked into the
water that lay before him and saw upon its flat
surface the reflection of many stars, and then he
turned his eyes to the heaven and saw the eternal
ones shining above him. That was it: he had
passed his life looking down instead of up.

And she loved him of that he had now no
doubt. . . . And she had told him that her
life was over . . . and she had only missed by
a month or two the chance of being made happy
by him. Oh! if they had only met before the
delusion of her love for that man who had spoilt
her life had come upon her, what happiness
would have been his, and hers and hers; for
he would have compassed her with his love. He
would have had no thought but of love for her.
What a life would theirs have been. What poetry
he would have written! His poetry would have
been thrilled through and through with the breath
of this great life until the lines would themselves
have breathed and lived. The man who had been
with him in this place a few days before had said
that suffering only gave immortality to a poem.

428 Love Alone Is Lord

That was a He. With her by his side he would
have written poetry that would have reached the
heart of men, the soul of women; not such as
had come from him not poetry that filled the
heart of men with doubts, the soul of women
with despair. He could only write what was in
his own heart, what was in his own soul: doubt
in the one, despair in the other.

But with her . . .

The tumult of his passion of thought flung him
about as a wrecked ship is flung about in the
eddies of a whirlpool, with a single sail still tatter-
ing about the ragged, splintered end of the broken
mast. He was surged about on the thought of
what might have been, and then whirled down
into a gulf of remorse at his lightness of love
during the years that had passed. How could he
ever have been attracted by such faces as had
flitted past him? It was no wonder he felt that
disaster had overtaken and wrecked him : he had
steered his course, not by the one guiding star of
his heaven, but by the fitful reflection of the faint
stars of the water.

An hour had passed before the thought came to
him, the torn sail of a thought, that sent him to
his feet in a moment as though a sudden noise had
burst upon him close at hand, 7s it all too late ?

Why should it be too late for them to hope for
happiness? Why should they think of their lives
as wrecked beyond hope of being saved? They
were both young and they loved each other; in

Love Alone Is Lord 429

the name of heaven what else was there in life
that they needed for happiness? Youth and pas-
sion why, there is nothing else in the world
worth talking about. Nature hoots in derision at
everything else. All her schemes and plans begin
and end in these two precious possessions. All
her care is for the maintenance of the two; and
these two belonged to Mary and to himself.
Great heavens ! why should they think of unhap-
piness so long as they possessed all that nature
holds best in the world? He resumed his simile
of the wreck it had never left his mind: a wreck?
It was like assuming that a ship was wrecked
because a bucketful of water had splashed over
her bows.

In the force of this thought Despair gave place,
not merely to Hope, but to Certainty. His soul
was sensible of a tropical sunrise: darkness one
moment, the next a flood of light striking to the
highest heaven above him, filling all the world
with the glow of a new-born day. He saw it all
clearly now: she had only to come to him and
her shattered life would be renewed.

The force of that thought swept all reason be-
fore it. It never so much as occurred to him
that the woman might not look at the matter
from his point of view the point of view of the
man who lived before civilisation came into exist-
ence to correct the ambitions of nature. It did
not occur to him that she might consider as a
barrier to their happiness the circumstance of her

430 Love Alone Is Lord

being the wife of the man who had brought all
unhappiness into her life. But after an hour of
exultation the exultation of the man who is con-
scious of the possession of the two grand gifts of
nature he began to feel a cold ringer of doubt
laid upon his heart. She might not be willing
such is the second nature which woman has ac-
quired in place of the old nature of the original
woman to rush into the embrace of happiness,
simply because she was a wife.

Would she ? Then under the influence of that
original nature with which men have not parted
in exchange for civilisation and its restrictions,
he felt that he must force her to accept the happi-
ness from which she shrank. But she had not
yet shrunk from it. He had not yet made the
proposition to her. He would make it without

The stars in the western sky had begun to look
timid in the dawn before he went indoors and on
to his bedroom, and the sun was shining above
the tree tops before he fell asleep. By that time
he had lost a good deal of the confidence which
he had felt in his ability to force her to walk in
the path that he would point out to her the
path leading to a tower, a stronghold of happi-
ness ; he had begun to think of the best means of
persuading her. She loved him, of that he was
assured ; then how would it be possible for her to
avoid seeing clearly that it was right in the sight
of Heaven that was how to put the matter to a

Love Alone Is Lord 431

woman for her to go to him and away from the
man whom she hated?

Oh, he had no trouble about the arguments.
They came to him quite pat, and he thought that
he was the first man to whom they had occurred ;
but yet he was unable to convince himself that
they would have force with Mary Chaworth.

When he rose, without taking any breakfast,
he ordered his horse to be saddled and he rode to
the knoll where he had agreed with her they
should meet when she had made up her mind
what she should do to save herself and her
children. When he was riding along the gentle
slopes he was asking himself if she would have
the courage to come to him, saying that she had
made up her mind to go away with him. The
bare thought of so remote a possibility brought
before his eyes a vision of that island of the
archipelago that he knew so well. He saw it once
again, with its green-clad crags, its plumed palms,
its latticed vines, its cerulean sea, and its turquoise
sky. That was where he would take her; there
life for both of them would begin, and the spectral
past that hovered over them with cold fingers
ready to chill them would be blown away with
the spectral mists that the first breath of morning
dispersed from the ridges of the slopes of that
island which glowed in his sea of dreams.

She was not at the knoll. He rode about the
hill for an hour, but still she did not appear.
He remained for nearly another hour in the

43 2 Love Alone Is Lord

shadow of the trees, looking out over the land-
scape which he remembered so well, and his un-
easiness became impatience. It was not until he
had returned to Newstead that his imagination
began to suggest to him the many reasons there
might be for her failing to reach the knoll at the
hour that he had named to her. As a matter of
course, he was led to blame her husband for her
absence. A picture came before him of the brutal
husband giving orders for her horse to be taken
back to the stables when she was at the point of
mounting of his forcing her into the house and
locking her in her room. He was equal to any
gross piece of brutal oppression, Byron was con-
vinced. Mary would certainly adhere to her
resolution to give no countenance to the presence
at the Hall of that creature with the plumed hat
and the high complexion; and that would make
the man furious.

This might well be, he reflected; and then he
brought himself into the picture of his imagina-
tion. Would it not be possible for him to ride
by night to Annesley Hall and rescue the wife
from her imprisonment carry her off with him
out of reach of the husband's fury? He sat for
hours thinking out plans for her relief suggested
by his restless imagination. He knew himself to
be not merely a dreamer of poet's dreams, but a
man of resource and ready action a man who
could hold his own with sword or pistol against
any other ; and he had come to think of Mary as

Love Alone Is Lord 433

his own, whom he longed to hold against the
violence of her husband.

These visions of romance were very vivid while
they lasted, but they gave place to others of a
more sober and rational hue. He felt that it was
quite possible that Mary herself had regretted
making the promise to meet him on the hill
that she had come to the conclusion that he could
not be of help to her, but rather the reverse;
therefore she would think herself entitled to be-
lieve that, as the reason for the act had disap-
peared, she was under no obligation to keep her

This idea tortured him for hours, and it was
not until his clearness of vision (such as it was)
was restored by the approach of the equable dark-
ness of the night that he became tranquil, per-
ceiving as he did that, as only a single night had
passed since she had agreed to meet him, it was
unreasonable for him to assume that she should
have come to him so soon. He had told her that
he would ride to the knoll every day in the hope
that she would come to him; only one day had
gone by ; he would go the next day and the next ;
he would be patient as she had been patient, and
even though she did not come to him he would
not think of her as failing him.

On the third day a day of clouds and still
ness in the air he found her waiting for him on
horseback. Of course, her first words were of

the children.


434 Love Alone Is Lord

"I have sent them away," she said. "They
have gone to Southwell, to the house of my dear-
est friend, Mrs. Sunbury. There they will be safe.
He knows nothing of them he will not miss them.
I do not think that he has seen them for weeks."

" And you, " he said ; " you cannot mean to stay
in the house with him with her ?"

"I have not left my own rooms," she said.
"He came to me yesterday with angry upbraid-
ings, wild talk about insulting his guest, de-
manding an explanation from me, declaring that
the suggestion that that woman was other than
a most charming and virtuous lady was a gross
slander upon her, and bidding me appear at
dinner in the evening."

"And you never answered him," said Byron.

" I did not need to tell you," she said. " I did
not even tell him that I would not go down to
dinner. He knew that I would not do so, and he
had not the courage to pay me another visit."

"You must not stay any longer in the house
with him. It is not possible that you intend to
do so," said he.

"I have been thinking over that," she said,
"and I have resigned myself to stay. Only by
my staying is it possible to avoid an open scandal. "

" What, do you not think that your remaining
in that house is a greater scandal than your going
away would be?" he cried. "Heavens! is it pos-
sible that you are ready to take your place in that
house as as Mary, I tell you that it is impos-

Love Alone Is Lord 435

sible. Oh, my dear one, the ordeal would kill
you. I already see a great change in you within
the few days that have passed since this thing
happened. Think of it, Mary, you, living alone
and apart in that house, separated from your
children for how long how long?"

"It will not be for very long: he is fickle,"
she replied.

" And when he holds up his finger you are ready
to return to him?"

" No, no I saw long ago that that was impos-
sible; but oh, what is left for me to do? tell
me that."

"I will tell you, Mary: let me be the one to
save you from the fate that awaits you in that
house. You know that I love you you know
that you love me come to me, my dear love
the one love of my life come to me and for-
get that you were ever the slave of that man's

" Oh, Byron dear Byron, if you love me
"Come to me, dearest, I have been thinking
out the whole matter, and I know in what direc-
tion our happiness lies. We have both suffered,
you and I but what have my sufferings been
compared to yours ? but our life together will be
such as will make us forget everything of the
cruel past. We shall fly from this country we
shall begin life anew ah, dearest, it will be like
going into another world from earth to heaven
nay, from hell to heaven."

43 6 Love Alone Is Lord

He had leaned forward from his saddle and
caught one of her hands. His face was close to
hers, his eyes were looking into hers, but she was
looking vaguely, dreamily across the slope of the
landscape. Her hand was limp in his. She did
not seem to hear his words.

" Think of what your life will be if you remain
here," he cried. " Can anyone doubt what it will
be so long as that man lives? Humiliation
worse a degradation that neither God nor nature
can ask a woman to submit to. Infamous ! And
your children do you fancy that this will be the
last of his freaks ? I tell you, Mary, that you will
be culpable in the judgment of heaven and earth
if you remain in that house with that man who
has treated you with a baseness that relieves
you from every obligation to him. I want to
save you from this, my dearest oh, I shall save

Then she turned and looked at him. There
was no suggestion of a reproach in her expression.

"My dear love," she said, "long ago when you
were a boy you made me love you; every day
you were with me that love increased all the
years that we have been separated my love for
you has been growing until now now it is so
great that it gives me power to resist the temp-
tation that is offered to me to do you a great

"A great wrong?" he cried. "Mary, I swear
to you that only by your coming to me, joining

Love Alone Is Lord 43 7

your life with mine, can I be saved from falling
back into the depths in which I once found

" No ; you will never fell back into those depths,
dear, because you have heard me say that I love
you and that I shall continue loving you," she
said, with tenderness in every tone tenderness
and tears. " I know that if I loved you any less
than I do now I would not hesitate to gain my
happiness at the cost of yours."

" They are not separate our happiness is but

"I have thought it out, Byron. You are not
an ordinary man. You are the head of a great
house. You are more than that you are a great
poet. A splendid career is within your grasp,
and it is because I love you I refuse I refuse to
be a weight round your neck I refuse oh, God,
I cannot I cannot

She bowed her head down until her cheek was
against her horse's neck, moaning. He laid his
hand upon her bridle ; in a second she had straight-
ened herself upon her saddle. She snatched the
bridle from his hand, and with a sudden jerk
pulled round her horse's head and sent him for-
ward with a leap. Before Byron knew what she
was doing, she was galloping madly across the
fields. She was a mile away before he under-
stood that she had succeeded in resisting the
temptation by the simplest means possible by
flying from it. When she had broken down in

43 8 Love Alone Is Lord

her resistance to him in words, he felt sure that
she was coming with him, and yet through the
moment's strength that had come to her, she was
now two miles away a faint moving speck in the
distance of meadow-land and woodland.

"Oh, God! what a woman I have lost!" he

He remained motionless where she had left him
for another hour. He had a vague half -belief , a
faint illogical impression, that she would return
to him if only he waited long enough. It was the
result of a shadowy survival of early man's know-
ledge of his own importance in relation to the
woman. She had acknowledged the temptation
which he had put before her ; had she waited for
him to say another sentence, she would have
yielded; he was certain of that, and she had
shown him that she also was certain of it. But
she had a moment's strength given to her and she
had used it to save herself in the conclusive way
of the original woman : she had not resumed the
thread of her argument with the man; she had
yielded to the true feminine instinct to save her-
self by flight, and she had saved herself.

Not quite understanding her he remained on
his horse waiting in the force of his instinct for
something that his reason assured him was an
impossibility. He should have known that she
was kneeling at the window of her room which
commanded a distant view of the diadem of trees
at the knoll, thanking Heaven for giving her that

Love Alone Is Lord 439

moment's strength which she had used to flee
from the temptation that had come to her

Was there in his secret heart a sensation of

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 24 26 27 28

Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreLove alone is lord → online text (page 24 of 28)