Frank Frankfort Moore.

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For the second time since morning his heart
cried out :

"She is here she is here she has come back to

He knew that it was she who was approaching,
crossing the grass, the moonlight weaving its films
of silver with the white of her dress, making it

Love Alone Is Lord 495

luminous exquisitely transparent, like the gar-
ment of a ghost.

He rose and waved his hand to her. Her face
was turned directly toward him and he thought
that she could not fail to notice him. Still she
moved along the grass, making no sign of having
seen him. He was surprised; she was still ap-
proaching him and he waved to her again. Look-
ing straight in front of her he felt that she could
not avoid seeing him, but her arms remained by
her sides. She made no response to his signal.

It was not until she had come close to where
he stood that he became aware of the truth. She
was in the oblivious condition in which he had
once before seen her she was asleep. She wore
a loose dressing-robe of white, loose at the throat,
exposing part of her neck and shoulders; over
which her hair streamed almost down to her
waist, the moonlight burnishing its gold until it
glowed like a flame. Her robe was unfastened
at the lower part so that every step exposed her
feet and ankles, and he saw that she was wearing
slippers. It was plain that she had not risen
from her bed under the influence of her somnam-
bulism; she had been sitting up in a chair with
her dressing-robe around her, and thus she had
gone forth into the moonlight.

She slipped past him and her garment almost
brushed his knees. He could not awake her.
allowed her to pass him, and he followed her at
short distance. She walked straight to the hall

496 Love Alone Is Lord

door it was open as he had left it when he had
come out and when she entered the porch he
was only a yard or two behind her. A light had
by his instructions been left burning in the hall
before the servants had gone to bed ; by its light
he saw her go up the staircase to the first lobby.
She stood there for a short time, the moonlight
streaming through the painted glass of the coat
of arms on the high window, making chains of
shadowy rubies and emeralds and sapphires, which
it flung upon her neck and over her shoulders
while she paused for a few moments. He stood
at the foot of the stairs watching her, and he was
more amazed than ever when he saw her turn
and go up the short flight of steps leading to the
room where her grandfather had died by the hand
of the fifth Lord Byron. He recollected that he
had told her casually of how he had visited
this room, but he had certainly not told her
where that room was situated or how it was

But he saw her open the door and pass through
into the darkness. He hurried up the stairs to
the lobby, but he was too fearful of the conse-
quences of awaking her suddenly to venture upon
the steps to the room; he was clumsy upon his
feet, and there were no banisters along these steps.
He could only stand at the foot and listen. He
did so, breathlessly.

She entered and he heard her speaking in a
low voice just as she had spoken long ago when

Love Alone Is Lord 497

standing opposite the picture in the hall at Annes-
ley. Her voice was so low that he could not hear
a sentence that came from her. It sounded like
a prayer. It was as if she had met someone in
that room face to face and was imploring him in
an earnest whisper to grant a petition that she
offered to him. Scarcely a word could he hear
distinctly, but he remembered all that he had
overheard her say when opposite the picture of
the man who had been killed in that room ; and
he wondered if she was making a petition to the
man by whom he had been killed.

Before many minutes had passed she reap-
peared at the door, descended the stairs, and went
forth once more into the moonlight. He followed
her at a distance, across the grass and among the
trees of the park. He had never left Newstead
by the way she was now taking, but it appeared
that she was well acquainted with its course, for
she walked quickly along without stopping to
consider what turn to take at any time; and he
found that it was quite a short way to Annesley
by this route. He followed her up to the very
door of the house and watched her enter and
close the door.

He returned slowly to Newstead, more aston-
ished than he had ever been since that night when
he had seen her walking in her sleep on the stair-
case at Annesley. He could not understand how
it was possible for her to go all the way through
the park without waking how it was possible for

49 8 Love Alone Is Lord

her to go directly to that room, although no one
except himself had visited it for years.

He had not succeeded in seeing any further into
the mystery by the time he reached Newstead
and passed through the open door and on to his

She came to him shortly after noon. She
looked neither tired nor sleepless. He gazed into
her face, but failed to see on its features any
trace of weariness. Her eyes were bright. She
seemed almost exultant. He thought of what she
had said about the slave and his shackles.

"Mine mine my own at last!" he whispered
while he took her to his arms. "Is there any-
thing that can part us now, my beloved? I con-
fess that when you left me yesterday I felt
doubtful. I told you that I mistrusted Fate;
but now "

" If the children are once with us I shall have
no misgiving," said she.

"They will be with us in a couple of hours,"
said he.

And then, while the carriage was being made
ready, they talked over their arrangements for
their flight. They would stay in London for a
week or two until their preparations for the long
journey to the East were complete. Then they
would leave England until Mr. Musters obtained
the divorce which he was almost certain to apply
for. Byron in his own mind ridiculed the notion

Love Alone Is Lord 499

of Lady Caroline throwing herself away upon such
a man as Musters. He felt certain that a woman
who had shown herself to be ambitious almost
to a point of madness, would only laugh when
Musters assumed that she was greatly in earnest.
She was fooling the man just as she had fooled
other men.

He did not, however, think it necessary to ex-
press his views on this point to Mary. He talked
to her about her children until the carriage which
was to bring them from Southwell was at the door.
They both seemed to feel the exhilarating in-
fluence of the drive along the road to the village.
He held her hand while they talked madly of the
birds, the wildflowers, the scents of the orchards,
the glory and gladness of the meadows. It was
not merely exhilaration that they experienced
it was intoxication. Everything in the world
seemed made for lovers this day, and they felt
that there had never been lovers in the world
before this day.

They laughed at the awkward courtships of the
rustics sitting under the hedges of the hay fields
after their midday meals; they laughed at the
love-making quarrels of the birds in the straggling
boughs that overhung the road ; they laughed at
the youth in the market cart who sat with his arm
about the waist of the young woman on the
uneasy seat by his side it seemed to be good to
laugh in such a world it seemed that the whole
world was made for laughter.

500 Love Alone Is Lord

A couple of miles on their way they met a
great wain of hay pausing by the roadside. It
had been badly packed and one of the ropes
meant to secure the load had slackened, so that
a hundredweight of the load had escaped. Byron
asked the men if they needed another hand to help
them. They touched their hats and said they
had made the load secure. A couple of miles
farther on still they saw in the distance another

"It is blocking up the whole road; we shall
have difficulty passing it," said Byron, looking
ahead, leaning over the carriage.

"There is quite a crowd that is what makes
the road seem impassable," said Mary, looking out
at the other side.

" There 's a horse down and the fields must be
left without labourers ; they all seem to be crowd-
ing around the vehicle," said Byron.

As they got closer to the scene, he cried out:

"Good heavens! I recognise the queer shape
of that new machine that Vince got built for him-
self. There are no other shafts like those in the
county; and his horse showed temper the first
time he was put between them. Vince was un-
certain; he would not let me ride with him. I
hope he is not killed."

"Some one is lying on the side of the bank,"
said Mary. " That is the doctor's phaeton ; he is
oh, Byron Byron, something has happened
something dreadful! O my God! 'tis my hus-

Love Alone Is Lord 501

band he is killed! he is killed! look at his face!
Death death!"

The crowd that occupied the full breadth of the
road parted as the carriage drove up. Byron took
in the personnel of the group beside the doctor.
Lady Caroline Lamb stood there, pale and dishev-
elled, holding a smelling-bottle to her nose ; at a
little distance Vince stood in his shirt sleeves.
One of his arms was bandaged. On the side of
the bank lay Mr. Musters, his face looking amaz-
ing in its whiteness there was something awful
about the pallor of the face that had never been
seen otherwise than rubicund. It was like a fool-
ish caricature of the face of Mr. Musters; the
caricaturist had been grimly ironical, and had
made it white as marble.

But what was most horrible about it was the
stare that was in the eyes. The eyes were open
and there was a curious fixity in their stare. His
mouth was twisted, showing some of his teeth.

She was kneeling beside him in a moment.
Byron turned away. He could not bear to see
her beside him again, even though the man was

He looked around for an explanation of the
accident. The open chaise that stood in the
middle of the road, with half the hood and one of
the panels torn away, was Musters 's, and the
vehicle with the long shafts one of them smashed
was the one which Vince had had built for him-
self. He knew so much, but no more. An accident

502 Love Alone Is Lord

had happened, but he could not even hazard a
guess as to its nature or origin. There was Lady
Caroline standing apart from everyone with her
smelling-bottle. How did she come to be in the
accident ? If she had been driving in the chaise
with Mr. Musters, how was it that she had es-
caped unhurt?

And Vince how was it that Vince had his arm

Lady Caroline came quickly toward him with
uplifted hands and a pallid face.

He crossed the road to Vince.

"It is very sad very sad; he is not dead,"
said Vince.

"Do one's eyes stare like his if one is not
dead?" said Byron. "How did it happen?"

" He is not dead I shall never forgive myself ;
it was my fault," said Vince. "My horse in the
new machine bolted with me. We ran down the
chaise with Lady Caroline and Mr. Musters on
the back seat. The brute I allude to the horse
fairly charged the chaise with those two long
shafts like lances ; one of them went through the
leather of the hood and struck the man on the
spine. That is how he comes to be lying there
speechless and with staring eyes : he is paralysed,
the doctor told us. We sent one of the men for
the doctor. He is an intelligent man the in-
telligence of a physician is not always intelligible.
He examined Mr. Musters and says that he may
live that is, be kept alive for a number of years,

Love Alone Is Lord 503

but he will never have the use of his legs he may
never be able to speak again. He may get into
the way of cursing with his eyes. He is a man
of resource."

" You are a callous wretch, and if you are never
able to use your arm again you will only have
got part of your deserts," said Byron. "Is your
arm broken?"

"No. I saved it by knocking the coachman
off the box," said Vince. "You are right, my
lord; no punishment could be adequate to what
I deserve. I am a melancholy bungler."

He turned away from the man without another
word, and watched Mary still kneeling by the
side of the man who had made her life one of
perpetual bitterness for her, and there lay the
husband with that horrible stare of the living-
dead in his eyes.

The doctor was now leaning over her speaking
in her ear. She raised her head and apparently
answered his question. The doctor hastened to

"Mrs. Musters tells me that the carriage is
yours, my lord," he said. "We need such a con-
veyance to carry Mr. Musters home, and beg
leave of your lordship

"Make use of it by all means," said Byron.
"He is paralysed, I hear, but he will live."

" Sensation has gone from one side and all the
lower part of his body: the shaft just missed
killing him by half an inch," said the doctor.

504 Love Alone Is Lord

"So that he will continue within half an inch
of death so long as he breathes," said Byron.

"Your lordship puts it very neatly," said the
doctor, with genuine appreciation of an apt defini-
tion. " Half an inch off death all his life excel-
lent. But if Lord Byron, our greatest master of
language, failed, where should we look Oh, Mrs.
Musters, his lordship has had the kindness to place
his carriage at the disposal of our unfortunate
sufferer. We shall lose no time thank you, my

He went off, leaving Mary by the side of Byron.
She gave him her hand.

" It was not to be," she said, in a low voice.

" No ; it was not to be now; but "

" Dear Byron my own true love, you will have
to bear the blow that has fallen on us both," said
she. " It will be hard for you."

"But for you, Mary?"

" It will not be so hard for me. I have been so
made the sport of Fate that another buffet is of
no account. I thought that at last at last
some happiness was to come into my life ; but it
was not to be. Good-bye, my dear love. When
I say good-bye to you I have said farewell to
happiness for ever."

" For ever? What do you mean? You cannot
mean that it is your intention to give up the rest
of your life to him to be his nurse attendant
to a man who is more than half dead?"

"Let us walk up the road away from these

Love Alone Is Lord 505

people," she said, and they went on side by side
a short way.

"Dear Byron," she said her voice shook, the
tears were overflowing her eyes. "Dear Byron,
think of it all, and you will see as clearly as I do
that no choice is left for me in this matter. I
must stay by my poor husband now, so long as I
live so long as he lives. What would you think
of a woman who would leave her husband after so
terrible a thing had happened to him? Do you
fancy that you would ever be happy with such a
woman as that? I know what would be on your
mind every time you saw me, and I should be
worthy only of the contempt in which you would
hold me."

"But with him with him!" he cried. "Oh,
my love, your life will be like his more than half
death more than half death!"

" It will be my life the lot that it is the will of
Heaven for me to bear. I bow my head to the
cross that Heaven tells me I must bear. Perhaps
it is my punishment for my presumption in as-
suming that I knew in what direction my happi-
ness lay. Dear Byron, I feel that I am saying
good-bye to you on the brink of the grave. So
long as I live I shall not cease to think of you
and to pray for you out of the darkness of my
living grave. Good-bye good-bye.

He did not say a word. He bowed his head
down to her hand. He kissed it and left it wet
with his tears.

506 Love Alone Is Lord

The doctor beckoned to her from the carriage.
She walked without faltering to the vehicle across
the cushions of which her husband lay. The sig-
nal was given and the horses began to move.

She never looked back.

One by one the people of the little crowd that
had been about the carriage melted away; but
Byron remained standing where Mary had left
him. He watched the carriage pass away into
the distance slowly as if it were a coach of the

He stood there on the empty, silent road until
there was nothing of it to be seen. He knew that
with it his hope of happiness had disappeared

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