Frank Frankfort Moore.

Love alone is lord online

. (page 27 of 28)
Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreLove alone is lord → online text (page 27 of 28)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

never forgive myself if I failed to speak to you
directly from the depths of my heart. I know
what is in my heart now, and I know that I shall
ever love you and you only. Ah, my love, there
is still time for happiness in our life. Come to
me stay with me."

"And I trusted you I trusted you," she cried
piteously. "You force me to fly as you did
before, but this is for the last time. I shall never
trust you again."

She spoke with passionate vehemence, facing
him with dignity. There was scorn in her first
sentences; but in her last there was tenderness
and sorrow. She bowed her head when she had
spoken, and after a pause of only a second or
two she walked to the door.

Love Alone Is Lord 477

Byron made no move. He stood there watch-
ing her, the fervour of his last words still shaking
him. His face was more than ever like that of a
marble statue. He watched her open the door
and pass through into the hall without so much
as glancing back to him.

He threw himself into a chair and bowed his
face down to his hands.

He had only been seated a few seconds when
he heard the sound of the door being quickly
opened. He raised his head. She stood there-
at the door which she had closed. She was
deathly pale trembling one hand pressed
against her side.

He was on his feet. For an instant the glorious
thought overwhelmed him :

"She has come back to me site has come back

It was only for an instant.
"He is here my husband he has just en-
tered I heard his voice he is coming hither."

She gave a quick glance round the room. She
fled for a door at the farther end. It was fast-
ened, but the key was in the lock. She turned
it, opened the door, and slipped through, closing
it behind her.

" Of course he '11 see me I '11 take devilish good
care that he sees me. Don't trouble yourself in-
venting lies, my good man. The fellow in the hall
said the drawing-room. This is the door. I know
the house better than you do. Ha ! here we are. "

47 8 Love Alone Is Lord

It was the loud voice of Mr. Musters that
drowned the protestations of the butler. His
voice sounded like the tramping of horses' hoofs
on stone. The door was flung open and he
stalked into the drawing-room with a loud guffaw,
pointing his riding whip at Byron, with a shout of,

" I knew it ; of course he is in here ! "

Byron had seated himself at the moment of
Mary's disappearance. He had not helped her to
escape. He could not understand the cause for
her trepidation. Only when a woman has been
living for some time in the house with her hus-
band without speaking to him, she would scarcely
care to be discovered by him in another man's
house that was the thought which passed
through Byron's mind at the moment; and he
felt that his duty to Mary compelled him to act
in accordance with her wishes. He knew that
the room beyond the door through which she had
gone communicated with the hall, so that she
could leave the house when she pleased; but it
would be necessary for him to detain Musters for
some time to allow of her getting out of the
grounds of Newstead.

He rose at the entrance of Musters, saying :

" This is a surprise ; to what am I indebted for
the honour of

Musters gave the door a prod with his riding
whip and it shut with a bang; then he advanced
with a swagger toward Byron, saying:

" I want to have a chat with you, Byron, about

Love Alone Is Lord 479

Lady Caroline Lamb. Now, you know that you
have behaved bad cursedly bad to that lady
you can't deny it."

"Then I suppose I had better not make the
attempt to do so, Mr. Musters," he said quietly.

"You had much better not," said Musters
threateningly. "Upon my soul, you behaved
scurvily I never heard of anything much worse."

"Then I find that I have a wider experience
than you, Mr. Musters. Shall I give you an ex-
ample of what I call more scurvy treatment of a
lady?" cried Byron.

" I did not come here to discuss the niceties of
blackguardism, let me tell you," said the other.

"No? By the way, what did you come here
for, Mr. Musters?"

" I wonder you are not ashamed of yourself I
do, really, Byron. If it was any ordinary lady
one should n't so much mind, but Lady Caroline
a lady whose beauty and accomplishments a
fair, tender-hearted young creature an innocent
child. Oh, I am ashamed of you, Byron ; I am
ashamed of you, upon my soul."

"How far would your feeling carry you, Mr.

" How far ? What do you mean ? "

" If you come with me I '11 take you to the room
in which my predecessor in this house fought his
duel with that Mr. Chaworth whose picture hangs
in the hall at Annesley. Lord Byron killed his
adversary. Would you care to visit that room

480 Love Alone Is Lord

with me, Mr. Musters? I might be able to show
you not only where the deed was done, but how
it was done."

Musters laughed.

"Keep cool keep cool, my lad," he said.
" Don't fly out upon me like that. Sink me if you
are not a young fire-eater. If I thought for a
second that you had a suspicion of my courage, I
would take you at your word; but I know that
whatever you may think of me, you don't doubt
my courage."

"I certainly do not; I saw you entertaining
Mrs. Ramsden as a guest, and now I understand
that you are championing Lady Caroline Lamb,"
said Byron.

"Don't speak of the two in the same breath,"
said Musters confidentially. "The one I only
meant to do her a kindness ; the painters and the
plasterers had made her house unfit to dwell in.
I invited her to Annesley out of pure benevolence ;
but she turned out a hussy it served me right."

"That is precisely the opinion that I formed
on this point. I am so glad that we agree there,"
said Byron.

"Don't ever mention her name to me again,
But the other ah, that brings us back to the
point. You know that you behaved very badly
to her, Byron oh, yes, you can't deny it."

"Look here, Mr. Musters," cried Byron. "I
have heard that statement twice from you. I do
not wish to hear it again. I refuse to discuss the

Love Alone Is Lord 481

matter with you further. If she has constituted

you her champion "

"She left it entirely to my own discretion,"
said Musters. "She is an angel a poor, ill-
treated saint, sir. I do not know how you had
the heart to but there is no use in talking over
her wrongs, her husband he did not know the
treasure that he had found."

" Other husbands have shown themselves to be
equally dense, Mr. Musters," said Byron.

"What do you mean by that?" asked Musters.
" I mean to say that you you, married to the
best, the noblest woman who lives, have made
her life a hell to her," cried Byron. "You
have humiliated her in her own house as few
women have ever been humiliated. You have

insulted "

"Has she constituted you her champion?"
laughed Musters.

"Every man who has a heart in his body
should be her champion, every woman should feel
that you have insulted her sex by your treatment
of Mary Chaworth, ' ' cried Byron. He had sprung
from his chair and spoken with passionate vehe-
mence, getting closer and closer to the other until
at last he was standing over him with clenched

Mr. Musters did not move. He sat there looking
up at the handle of his riding whip, but without
making any suggestion of an intention to use it.
"We have come to the point sooner than I

482 Love Alone Is Lord

expected," he said, without any show of anger or
even irritation. " I promised Lady Caroline that
I would well, it does n't matter what I pro-
mised; something quite different was on my
mind. You can make reparation; you can do
us both a good turn."

" I want to have nothing to do with either you
or her," said Byron, crossing the room with his
hands behind him.

"A man is as God made him," said Musters.
"Can I help it if I am indifferent to-day to a
woman who attracted me yesterday ? So far as I
can see that is how everything of our sex was
made by nature. I can't see that in this way
a man differs from the rest of creation. It is
that accursed thing called marriage that turns
out of doors all of nature that we possess the
endowment of God, mind you, and makes us
sinners. I don't blame Mary, but, by heaven, I
don't blame myself no, by God, not that I" He
snapped his fingers, getting upon his feet. " I 'm
sick of the bonds of marriage, Byron."

" Bonds ? They did not fetter you to any great
extent, so far as I can learn, Mr. Musters," said
Byron, turning round from the window out of
which he had been looking with his back turned
to Mr. Musters.

"I want to free myself altogether," said Mus-
ters. "Turn round, man, and listen to me like
a Christian. Are you aware that it is you and
not I whom Mary loves?"

Love Alone Is Lord 483

Byron did not need to be further exhorted to
give all his attention to what the man was saying.
He had turned round in a moment, grasping the
edge of one of the curtains so spasmodically as
almost to jerk it off its ring.

" You say that I that I " he began in a

husky voice.

" No ; I said that she I asked you if you knew
that she has loved you for years."

' ' How could I know that ? How could you know

"I found it out by accident some years after
we were married. You have never heard that she
walks in her sleep?"

Byron was silent.

" It is the truth. I found her one night in the
drawing-room it was past midnight. I heard
the sound of the piano and her voice; she was
singing. I went down-stairs and found her seated
at the piano, singing that song you may have
heard it The Minstrel Boy to the War is Gone.
When she had ended it she rose and picked up a
miniature portrait of you it was done from the
picture which your mother had of you, and was
always in its case on one of the tables she
fondled it in her hands, speaking to you, calling
you her minstrel boy, and then getting frightened
for you imploring someone not to kill you, and
saying that she loved you. ... I watched
her for some time. She never awoke, but went
up-stairs to her room."

484 Love Alone Is Lord

He paused and looked at Byron, who was still
clutching at the curtain; his lips were parted
with excitement, his eyes gleaming.

"Well well?" he said, in a tone of whispered

"Well? That is all there is to tell," said Mus-
ters. "Don't think that I felt jealous of you.
Oh, no; even then I was past feeling jealous of

"Why have you come to me with this story?"
said Byron. " Why have you told me that that
you suppose she has more than her natural feel-
ing for me her cousin? "

"I have told you because I think that you
should know exactly how we stand," said Mus-
ters. Then he smiled rather uneasily, adding:

"She is still an attractive woman, Byron
there are scores of men who would think her
beautiful. I should n't wonder if you yourself

. anyhow, it is no harm to know.
Oh, I am not jealous, I give you my word; in
fact, I have often said to myself, 'Why the
mischief did she not marry Byron in the first

" In the first instance ? Is it possible that you
suggest . . . can it be that I am wrong in
interpreting your tone ? . . ."

" I suggest nothing ; I only say that if you had
married her long ago we might all have been
happier to-day."

"That is true whatever you mean to say, be

Love Alone Is Lord 485

assured that that is true. But now it is too

Mr. Musters jumped up from his chair in a
second. He went close to Byron and looked into
his face.

"Is it f " he said in a whisper, and down came
the curtain with a startling sweep under the force
of the sudden wrench given to it by Byron.

Musters took a step or two back, laughing
curiously. Then he turned and went to the door
by which he had entered.

" Stay where you are, Mr. Musters," said Byron
in a low voice. "You have said something so
strange so frightful "

"Don't be a fool," cried Musters in a loud,
irritated tone. " Don't be a fool. I took you for
a man who had seen the world, and who knew
how to take a hint when offered in a friendly
spirit. Hearken to this, my friend ; I 'm going off
with Caroline Lamb and 't is unlikely that I shall
ever see my wife again. She does n't care a snap
^of her fingers for me, but she is desperately in love
with you. That 's the whole case. It rests with
you to to oh, curse it, how much plainer do
you look for a man to be? A man of the world?
By my soul, you should be back in the second
form at Harrow. Oh, be hanged to you for a

He sprang at the handle of the door and
stamped into the hall, banging the door behind
him. Byron heard his voice saying a word or

486 Love Alone Is Lord

two of abuse to the footman as he left the

Byron seated himself slowly on the sofa. He
felt curiously dazed. It took him some time to
recover himself; and then his thought framed
itself into his whisper :

" Thank God that she shall never know the man
to whom she is married!"

That was his first thought; whatever might
happen she would be spared the supreme humilia-
tion which was the import of her husband's words.

He heard a sound down the room. Mary stood

"Merciful heaven! you surely you went
through the door. I saw you go into the other
room," he cried.

"You forgot the second door," she said. "It
is locked. I was compelled to stand in the space
-the thickness of the wall between the two

" But you did not hear

" I heard everything perhaps not but enough
enough more than enough."

She went toward him unsteadily. She had to
catch at the back of a chair once the edge of a
table. She had stretched out her arms toward
him like a child learning to walk she would have
fallen on the floor if he had not rushed forward
and caught her in his arms.

"Byron," she murmured weakly, "you were
right I was wrong. I should have gone to you.

Love Alone Is Lord 487

I come to you now, if you will take me. We
shall never be separated now."
" My dear one ! my Mary ! "
His arms were about her. There was silence
save for the sound of their breathing their
mingled breathing the duet in unison in which
passion alone is audible.

She separated herself from him in a moment,
with a cry of, "The children! my children!"

" They shall be with you once again, dearest
they shall come here," said Byron. "Into their
life also happiness shall enter."

" I must have them with me at once to-day,"
she said.

"Why should you not?" he said. "You said
they were only so far away as Southwell. We
shall drive there when you please. Is there any
need to be precipitate, considering you are
afraid that perhaps, when he finds that you are
no longer at his mercy, he may try to keep your
children from you, in spite of the words which
you overheard him speak in this room?"

"I am afraid. I could never feel safe unless
they were beside me. His moods change from
day to day from hour to hour."

"But he hates the children and they detest
him, although you have tried to teach them that
it is their duty to love him. When love has to be
taught as a duty, it ceases to be love."

"Ah, I remember days when he seemed to love
them. He has played with them for hours that

Love Alone Is Lord

was long ago oh, it seems so long ago that I can
scarcely think now that I ever knew such a time.
I shall have them with me now forever."

" None shall make them or you afraid, my be-
loved one. My Mary, let this be my first service
for you. We shall go together to Southwell and
bring them back with us. Why pause for an
hour? I shall order a carriage at once."

"Ah, that is what I hoped that is what I
longed to suggest. You understand better than
anyone what is in my heart, dear Byron. With
my children away from me I should never know
an hour's happiness an hour's security."

"They are my children, Mary."

She was in his arms again.

But there were details to be talked over. She
must go away with him. Of course, he saw that
it would be impossible for her to take up her
residence at Newstead. What would her friends
do when they met her out driving with him on the
roads? It would be intolerable to meet her old
acquaintances if once she were to leave Annesley.
No matter how deeply everyone might sympathise
with her, knowing something of the character of
her husband, she would none the less be shunned
the moment that she forsook her home.

But they did not discuss for a moment the pos-
sibility of remaining at Newstead.

"O for the wings of a dove!" she cried. "The
wings of a dove to fly away and be at rest! I

Love Alone Is Lord 489

feel that that is what I long for most-rest-rest

have not known it for years. I feel as a poor

slave must feel who has worn his shackles riveted

-soldered-on to his limbs for years, when a

day comes on which they are broken severed

from his life forever. Rest I seem to want

nothing else just now."

" Poor slave ! " said Byron. " Your fetters have
been heavy their iron entered your soul. How
have you survived the galling of the shackles?
But now your day of freedom has come and the
sun will never set upon it. Dear one, when I
was among the islands of the coast of Greece I
thought of you every day. They are the love-
liest that are to be found in any sea. They can-
not be described by words."
She smiled.

" What," she cried, " ' Those Edens of the East-
ern wave'?"

"I never felt the poverty of my rhymes so
strongly as when I had made an attempt to de-
scribe one of the islands of Greece, ' ' said he. " One
would need a pen plucked from a wing of a bird
of paradise, dipped into the sea of sunset hues, to
write the glories of the least of them. I thought
of you daily nightly when new islets sprang
from the waters beside us ; and my one thought
was, ' What happiness to be here with her rest-
ing here with her forever!' Dearest, I seemed to
see the embodiment of Rest looking out from
every orange grove beckoning from every myrtle

49 Love Alone Is Lord

brake standing with golden sandals on the
golden sand just where the ripples breaking
whispered, 'Hush!' Dearest, that figure beckons
to us now. We will not refuse to put out our
hands to her, greeting her with loving words.
Rest? Do we want anything better in the

"How did I ever resist you before?" she cried.
"Ah, what a picture you draw for me! I can
hear the nightingales ; I can taste the perfume of
the orange and citron. O for the wings of a dove ! ' '

When they came back to earth dropping lei-
surely down, with all the delicacy of a sea bird
descending to rest on the waters they agreed that
it would be tempting Fate to make any delay in
their flight. That night, he pleaded; but she
showed him that that would be impossible. He
did not want her to leave Newstead.

"I am afraid," he said. "I am afraid that
something will happen and so interfere with our
plans. I have had experience of such like slips
of the cup from the lip. It looks as if Heaven
grudged us such happiness as ours will be."

" Do not say 'will be,' say is as our happiness
is," she cried. "Ah, do not doubt me, Byron.
Do not fancy that I shall change my mind. I
shall be with you to-morrow and ever afterwards. "

He let her go reluctantly. He was willing
enough to trust her; but he had a great distrust
of Fate. He had had his confidence in Fate
rudely shaken on that day when he had first been

Love Alone Is Lord 49 i

with Mary on the knoll, and she had pointed
with her riding whip to the man who was coming
up to them, saying :

"That is the man whom I have promised to

He had never quite trusted Fate since that day.
He had always found it better to be a little ahead
of Fate, so to speak to insist on cash payments,
as it were, and no running up of bills which might
never be met.

But she had gone ; he had found it impossible
to keep her. He would have liked to order
horses to be put into a carriage and galloped off
with her to his " Eden of the Eastern wave " in
hot blood both of them; but the islands of his
archipelago were far; and even to reach London
required a score of horses.

He, too, began to long for the wings of a dove-
He had a good many orders to give to his man.
At first he would not encumber himself with
much luggage; a few portmanteaus would be
sufficient; the remainder would have to be sent
after him to London. He would be in London for
at least a week. He hoped to hear from his
solicitor that the sale of Newstead had been car-
ried through. If so, he would indeed be free.

When he had perfected his arrangements, he
had nothing to do but to await the morrow and
all that it would bring to him.

He could only look forward to happiness. He

49 2 Love Alone Is Lord

had no misgiving that would come to lay a chill
finger upon his warm anticipations. He had no
thought except of satisfaction at the result of the
incidents of the day. His conscience, so far from
reproaching him, gave him lavish commendation.
He was rescuing a good woman from the intoler-
able thraldom of a brutal husband. He was con-
ferring happiness upon her in place of the horrible
torture to which she had been subjected. He
knew what it must have been for her to live with
such a man a man who could make in cold blood
the proposal that had come from him. And what
must have been the feelings of the wife who over-
heard her husband make such a suggestion to
another man?

Byron had ample knowledge of the effect that
overhearing those words had upon her; but he
felt in his heart that he would be ready to forego
all the advantages that the incident brought to
himself if he could have spared her the horrible

But she had heard and suffered in silence, and
he, Byron, was to spend his life in the endeavour
to wipe from her memory those words which she
had overheard her husband speak. He had made
up his mind to that. He felt that his life would
be well spent if he succeeded in achieving so much.

With the coming of night there came to him
the thoughts that come only with night. He
went, as usual, out of doors and on to his favour-
ite stone bench on the bank above the fish-pond.

Love Alone Is Lord 493

It was almost midnight, and the majestic tran-
quillity of a summer moon within a day or two
of being full overhung the world. It was inspir-
ingstrengthening. He breathed of the moon-
light and its spirit entered his spirit, bringing
with it all the stately influence of the night. The
living silences of nature around him conveyed
their ennobling impression to him; and he sat
there thinking what their life should be when they
came together. Poetry they would be living
poetry breathing of it drinking of it such deep
and glorious draughts as he was drinking of the

But he would show the world that all the poetry
which he had yet written was but the uncertain
prattling of a child compared to what he could do.
The world would be rilled with the fame of his
poetry as the world was filled with the moon-
light. And it would all be noble. He had writ-
ten some ignoble lines in the past ; but he would
never write any in the future. How could he
have an ignoble thought with her beside him?
He would put his pen into her hand and bid her
draw it across every line, every word that did
not tend to give help and strength to the heart
of men. He saw now clearly of what a power in
the world he was master. Once or twice he knew
that he had blown the true note through the
trumpet that had been set to his lips; in the
future it would not be merely a solitary note of
truth that would come from him : he would ring

494 Love Alone Is Lord

out a strain so true, so majestic, that all the
sleeping world would wake and listen.

He sat there in the influence of the moonlight
until midnight was long past. He leaned his head
upon his hand, looking into the broad water at
his feet. The moon was not high enough in the
sky to cast her silver shield on the surface of that
mirror so that he could see it from where he sat ;
but the moonlight that saturated the air was
spread like a film of satin gauze over the var-
nished leaves of the water-lilies, and every tree
on the bank was inverted in the water. He could
count their leaves.

While he sat there dreamily gazing, he became
aware of a moving reflection among all the mo-
tionless pictures in the water. It slipped from
tree to tree something whiter than the moon-
lighta figure; he saw it clearly one moment
where the trees were more straggling. He raised
his eyes quickly to the trees themselves, and he
fancied that he saw a movement of something
white among the long shadows on the grass. In
another moment it had come out from the trees
and appeared in the full moonlight.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 27

Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreLove alone is lord → online text (page 27 of 28)