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But that is a woman's life to love and to forgive.
My poor mother did both to excess."

He struck a light and applied it to a candle on
the table of the room into which Byron, following
him, had groped his way. It was a small apart-
ment, but it held some rare bits of furniture, and
the walls were covered with tapestry pictures.
The table was laid as if for supper, with every
evidence of refinement. There were a white


38 Love Alone Is Lord

chicken, a green salad, an abundance of fruit, and
a bottle of white wine.

"There is enough for two," said the host, sur-
veying the table. Byron was doing the same;
and then he gave a turn that caused him to face
the candle. The boy started, and was at the
point of crying out, for it might have been his
own father who was standing there, so close was
the likeness between the man and the picture of
the boy's father which had hung over the mantel-
piece of his mother's lodgings. It had been
painted when they were in France, and, although
Byron professed to have a recollection of his
father, it was chiefly from the picture that he
knew what manner of man he was. And that
picture was now animate before his eyes.

Mr. Vince saw the start that he gave, and

" Yes," he said, " I have been told at home and
abroad that I bore a remarkable resemblance to
the man who was called 'Mad Jack' by his as-
sociates. The likeness brought me nothing but
trouble, not only that trouble which takes the form
of figures on a sheet of paper with a tot, but also
that which takes the form of an enraged husband
or a hasty brother. Never mind, I would rather
be taken for Mad Jack than for a good man. Fix
your attention to the table, Lord Byron; your
father never failed in his duty to himself in that
respect, whatever his shortcomings in other di-
rections may have been."

Love Alone Is Lord 39

Byron was conscious of a little sting now and
again when he heard his father referred to with
the slights of one to whom mockery seemed to
come easily. But he was hungry. He looked at
the table.

" You could not have expected a visitor, at such
an hour," he said. "But there is certainly
enough for two, even when one of the two has
such a hunger as mine."

"It is true that I did not expect a visitor,"
said Vince. " Though I admit that I might have
looked for a distinguished visitor considering the
portent of the stars. You saw that extraordinary
thing to-night. I went up to the highest ground
to watch the display, neglecting my supper. It
was on my return through the grounds that I
caught a faint glimpse of you. Thank Heaven
that I was able to bring about a cessation of hos-
tilities before greater damage was done. And
now in the name of reason will you tell me what
impulses led you to attempt to take Newstead by
storm to-night?"

Byron was eating of the meat and drinking of
the wine before him. In the satisfaction which
he was beginning to feel, he was losing something
of the sense of humiliation which had been with
him, when he had found Newstead closed against
him. After his second tumbler of wine, he could
even think of the matter in the light of a diverting

"I suppose that I am something of a fool," he

40 Love Alone Is Lord

said. " I wonder, as you have heard so much of
our family and its history, if you know anything
of my mother."

"Nothing save that she had a fortune and a
temper. Your father dissipated the former and
fled from the latter. Has she found that you are
his heir-at-law ? ' '

Byron did not at once appreciate the drift of
the question. When he did so, he reddened.

" I am answered," said Vince. " If you had in-
herited her temper you would have run a knife
into me for my insolence."

"I am not hurt," said Byron. "You told me
what my father had done. It was his example
that I was following to-night."

" In the running away ? "

" In the running away. She provoked me be-
yond endurance. It would seem as if she took a
pleasure in doing so."

"Not a pleasure a duty. A Scotch mother
assumes the role of Providence. She visits the
sins of the father upon the children. She is pay-
ing back her Mad Jack through you. And so you
ran away?"

" Not on my own two legs as you can suppose.
I meant to ride up to the door of Newstead and
assert my right to enter. My design was frus-
trated by my horse. I had been watching that
marvellous display of meteors. You saw the
large one?"

"And heard it, too."

Love Alone Is Lord 41

"So did my horse. I had run away from my
mother, and now my horse ran away with me.
He tore through a belt of trees. It was their
boughs that left me in tatters. We must have
gone over miles at that rush. It was only brought
to an end by the gate at the bottom of the last
field. I was sent flying over his head and into the
boughs of a tree on the other side of the wall.
That, you will say, was a true Byron episode."

"To become the meteor of a moment, yes.
To escape death by a hair's breadth, yes."

" To make a headlong entrance upon a heritage
and to find that, after all, another man was in
possession, that, I think, is not out of keeping
with the family traditions."

" I agree with you, and I know more of the
family traditions than you, my Lord Byron.
The Byrons never could do anything like other
people. They were always original, and to be
original is to be hated. It was the lucky ones
of the name who were hated. The others were
loved. I have been wondering what your fate
will be. Will you find the love that women will
fling at you a blessing or a curse? Will the
women come to find a curse in your acceptance
of their love? Is this the way to talk to a boy?
But I am not talking to a boy. Your father was
a full-fledged libertine when he was a year older
than you are to-day, and he had destroyed the
happiness of more than one home before he was
twenty. He had run away with another man's

42 Love Alone Is Lord

wife before he ceased to be legally an infant, and
he had dissipated most of his fortune within two
years. Do you want to know something of the
Berkeley s of Stratton, from whom you are de-
scended? You will find it epitomised in the life
of your grand-uncle. He did not, however, run
away with another man's wife. It was his own
wife who saved her life by running away from
him. What turn will the family frenzy take in
your case, my lord? That is a question which I
may live to see answered. Will you be Byron the
Bad or Byron the Mad? Will you strike out
some original course of wickedness for yourself
or be content to go to perdition on the old well-
trodden track laid down by your ancestors? I
suppose they found it cheaper in the long run to
make a straight road to perdition for family use.
They must have begun it early, for the more re-
cent members of the family travelled on it with
delightful smoothness and rapidity, whether they
went down to Avernus in the family chariot or,
like commoners, on foot. However you may
travel, my lord, take my advice and don't let our
patron Beelzebub know that a Byron with a graft
of the Gordon frenzy is at hand, or you will find
yourself bombarded by a heavier blunderbuss
than was used against you to-night. He will have
some compassion on the souls in his charge."

Byron had sprung from his chair. His face had
become whiter as the man proceeded with his
speech. When it came to an end the boy found

Love Alone Is Lord 43

himself with his fingers straining round the handle
of a knife. He looked at the blade, and then
flung the knife into a corner of the room. He
pointed a quivering finger at the man who had
been speaking, but he could not himself speak for
some time, so strongly moved was he. Then he
cried, still pointing his finger at the man :

"You are he you are he you are the devil
himself to speak to me as you have spoken. You
are part of this night of weirdness and wonder. It
was all read to me years ago the stars that fell
from heaven portents of the spirit that mocks
and lures to destruction. You appeared by my
side out of the blackness and you took the sem-
blance of my father in this room."

"That proves it the semblance of an angel of
light," cried the man throwing himself back in his
chair with roars of laughter.

" I have eaten and drunk with you, but that
does not bind me to you," continued the boy when
he had recovered from the interruption. "Bind
me to you, if you have the power. Try your
spells upon me if you are all powerful. I defy

The man was clearly amused. He lay back
smiling curiously, interestedly.

" It is a page from one of our modern stories of
gloom," he said. "The proud hero defies the
mysterious stranger. But the defiant youth pays
his humble servant too high a compliment, and in
doing so treats Lucifer somewhat scurvily. What !

44 Love Alone Is Lord

to suggest that the Prince of Darkness would put
himself to the trouble of coming for a Byron and
of failing to know that Byron would go to him as
fast as his legs and his appetites would carry him !
Fie, my lord ! Lucifer is no fool, whatever he may
be. You traduce the patron of our house."

He was still leaning back in his chair smiling
while he fingered the stem of a wine-glass. Sud-
denly he straightened himself ; he leaned forward,
and with his eyes fixed on the boy's face his smile

"Lord Byron," he said, in a measured way,
"whatever people may say of you in the days to
come, when you have your liberty, you will always
have my sympathy, for I know that your destiny
is not in your own hands. Just as a man's body
inherits the strength and the weakness of his
parents, so does his nature. He can no more
change the nature that has been transmitted to
him than one can gather figs from thistles, grapes
from thorns. The Byrons are thistles and the
Berkeleys are thorns, and they will never be
otherwise. The fools of the world lift up their
hands in blame of both. That is their folly. Does
any moral blame attach to a thorn bush in that
it does not produce grapes, or to the thistle
perhaps in your case the Scotch Gordons are
symbolised by the thistle?"

Crash went the table, with the glass and china
that it bore. Byron had put both his hands down
to it and overthrown it in the direction of the

Love Alone Is Lord 45

man, who was leaning an elbow on the cloth while
lifting a lecturing finger at the boy. Crash went
the table, and crash went his chair behind him,
as he turned round in a fury and went to the door,
amid the roars of laughter of the man. He
turned for a moment and looked back. The man
was lying in his chair holding up a wine-glass that
he had saved from the wreck of the table.

"I was wrong! I was wrong!" he cried. "I
find that it is possible to save a unit from the de-
struction of a whole brittle family. Take cour-
age, Byron! Take courage !"

But Byron had shut the door with a bang, and
was already outside the cottage, and making his
way by the light of an exquisite dawn to the
path which glimmered among the trees. He still
heard faintly the laughter of the man whom he
had left in the room. Before he had gone far, he
looked back. He failed to see the cottage. It
had disappeared as completely as if it had been
drawn by a pencil of mist upon the slate-dark
background of trees.

He wiped his forehead, standing his ground.
His first shock was succeeded by a feeling of ex-
ultation. He felt that he had got the better of
a powerful adversary, that he had succeeded in
freeing himself from a bondage that other people
had found unrelaxing; and he had done this
without the aid of any of those texts or the
crossing of the air with any of those symbols
which had been found necessary by the heroes

46 Love Alone Is Lord

of the stories which he had read of similar mys-
terious encounters.

"I defied him," he muttered. "I defied him
and I hurled his mocking words back at him! I
showed him I feared him not, and it was not in
his power to lure me to return to him. Ha, I
showed him that I was his master, not he mine!
and here I stand still, not fleeing from him,
should he not be satisfied with the result of our
meeting. I stand I defy him."

He had his back against a tree, and he was
shaking his fist in the direction, or what he
fancied was the direction, of the grove that had
surrounded that mysterious cottage. From the
days of his childhood by the side of his Scotch
nurse, his imagination had been appealed to by
the superstitious and the supernatural. All those
elements of the religion of so many of the people in
whose midst his childhood was passed, were as-
similated by him until they had become part of his
life. Among a people who talked of second sight
and who burnt witches in batches; who looked
daily for the realisation of the lurid pictures of
the Apocalypse; whose religion materialised the
Spirit of Evil and cherished the result as fer-
vently as it did its incarnation of the Divine
such an imagination as Byron possessed was ever
active. He could not but believe in the reality
of the Demon and the Dragon whose visitations
were whispered about in every chimney-corner
in Aberdeen. When to the oral evidence of the

Love Alone Is Lord 47

existence of these things there were added many
excursions into the supernatural which appeared
in the sombre pages of the most popular of those
English romancers who proceeded the sunburst
of Scott, all of which he read with avidity, the
seriousness of the impression produced upon his
receptive mind by the incidents of the night may
be taken for granted.

For the time he overlooked the fact that the
figure which had appeared by his side out of
the blackness had been addressed by name by
the very practical caretakers of Newstead. It was
long before his exultation at having faced and
escaped from the artful Archfiend himself de-
creased. He remained leaning against the tree
in the dawn, asking himself what he had been
expected to do when he had yielded to the
Tempter's lure and had partaken of supper in
that mysterious cottage. Was he to have used
the knife against himself in response to the
taunts of the Tempter? Was he to have taken
the customary oath to assign his soul to the
Pit in exchange for some immediate material

He put the question aside as unnecessary in
the circumstances, though undeniably interesting
from certain standpoints. Whatever the incident
of the temptation had been, he had resisted it.
He had saved his soul alive, and the baffled Fiend
had probably found it prudent, though he was
not certain on this "point, to vanish in a flame the

48 Love Alone Is Lord

moment his back was turned, while the cottage
which had been conjured out of the black air of
the night had doubtless vanished into the grey
air of the dawn.

He felt glad to lean for some time longer
against his tree. The truth was that he felt
deadly tired. He had walked more during the
night than he had ever done within the same
time, and his deformed foot could now barely
support him. The night had been an exciting
one, from the moment that he had quarrelled
with his mother at dusk and had sought to free
himself from her thraldom. He had witnessed
a miracle in the skies such as he had never heard
of being seen before on earth, and he had been
several times in jeopardy of his life. If a branch
of the trees through which his runaway horse had
crashed, had struck him on the head it would have
killed him, and if the animal had stopped less
suddenly at the gate he would have been thrown
head foremost against the wall and his brains
would have been scattered upon the road.

Then there was the comical crisis of the pouting,
pursed mouth of the blunderbuss comical, but
on the verge of a tragedy. The ridiculous mouth
of the thing looking out of the window was open
like a yokel's in expectancy of a comedy, but the
thing might have witnessed a tragedy.

And then came this last.

He remembered how the flame from the candle
had illuminated the face, showing how like it was

Love Alone Is Lord 49

to the picture which hung over the mantelpiece
in his mother's house. He had seen her stand
before it railing against the man whose likeness
it was, the scamp who had reduced her to beg-
gary, and then wailing before it, calling him her
beautiful husband, the darling of her life. It
was undoubtedly a devil's trick that appearing
with the features of his father.

Suddenly a cold thought came to him it was
a dreadful possibility ; but he had heard a Scotch
story of the curse laid upon an evil "light o'
love" that was the Scotch name for him his
disembodied spirit finding no rest, but forced to
wander in awful disquiet from place to place,
appearing to those whom he had known in life,
and ever being the precursor of misfortune. Peo-
ple had not been reticent in his presence on the
subject of the delinquencies of his father; and
his mother had been the least reticent of all.
Could it be possible that his light-o'-love father
was undergoing the penalty assigned to his type,
that his latest visit was to the inheritance of
his son?

With the terror of this question upon him, he
moved away from the shadowy trees in the
direction of the carriage drive, which was now
fully apparent in the dawn. By the time he had
painfully worked his way to the entrance gates,
the world was fitfully awake. There was the au-
tumn twittering of a robin on an elm, the quick,
silent flight of a blackbird from the shrubbery,

50 Love Alone Is Lord

the scamper of a hare through the undergrowth,
the crowing of innumerable cocks from far and
near, the shrill shriek of peacocks, and the con-
stant cawing of the rooks, flying in slow, waver-
ing flocks from the trees to the fields.

He stood at one of the pillars of the gates, look-
ing over the broad country in front of him, and
at the broad road running to right and left. It
was a wretched moment for him. All the sense
of exultation which had been with him a short
time before had departed, giving place to a con-
sciousness of humiliation. It was humiliating for
the owner of the demesne behind him, and the
broad fields facing him, to stand outside those
gates, not knowing whether he should take the
road to the left or the road to the right. It was
all the same to him which direction he took.

He had not gone more than half a mile before
he was exhausted. He seated himself on the
brink of the dusty green bank at the roadside to
wait for the first vehicle that might come up.
His vigil was not a long one. In five minutes he
was asleep.


WHEN he next opened his eyes, he found
people bending over him women and a
man. The former were interested and sympa-
thetic, the latter was peevish and protesting. A
coach, with four big horses and a coachman to
match, stood in the middle of the road.

But Byron was oblivious of all save only the
face which was looking into his own. That face
made a complete heaven for his eyes. It seemed
to him at that moment (and ever after) that he
had never had a delight in life that was not some-
how associated with that face. He could see that
the eyes were of the darkest blue of a pansy, and
that the hair which showed under the hood of
the blue satin cloak and at the clasp under her
chin, where a couple of little rings eddied into light,
was like yellow silk the yellow, not of cowslips,
nor of primroses, nor yet of gold ; it was brighter
than these; it was the yellow of moonlight
quivering upon the swaying of the sea.

And her lips were parted, and her hand was
holding one of his.

"For Heaven's sake, child, resume your place
in the coach," came the petulant, peevish voice
of the man. He was elderly. He spoke before


52 Love Alone Is Lord

he had quite completed a yawn, and he yawned
before he had quite completed his sentence. " For
the Lord's sake, why all this pother about a
gipsy's brat? Can you doubt that he is aught
else? Look at his jacket the cast-off garment
of a young gentleman. Was there ever such a
girl? Lord! I sleep on my legs. Madam, will
you exercise your authority over her, if you have
any; I protest that I have none."

" Mary, my dear, do you think that it is wise? "
said the elderly lady with sweet, silver-haired
meekness. She was doing her best to obey her
husband without prejudice to the sympathy she
felt for her daughter's investigations, and her own
interest in the newly awakened boy.

"Of course, it is wise; ask the vicar," said the

"Of course, to be charitable, but on the
present occasion he has certainly the loveliest
eyes," said the mother.

" Loveliest fiddlesticks ! ' ' cried the man. ' ' Lord !
if every wayside adventurer had good eyes, every
woman would become his good Samaritan!"

" I 'm perfectly certain that he is young Byron,
I said so at first," cried the girl, looking up.

"Ask him if he is Lord Byron," suggested the

"The way to turn a plain vagabond into an
impostor," said the man. "Oh, ask him, by all
means. You are Lord Byron, my little man, is 't
not so?"

Love Alone Is Lord 53

Byron was by this time fully awake. He got
upon his feet, and in the act caught sight of his
tatters they were not improved by being rolled
in the ditch. He hung his head, blushing with
shames-all the more vividly when he saw the
condition of his hands. The blood had congealed
in their scratches.

The first step that he took caused the elder lady
to exclaim:

"Ah, 'tis indeed young Byron!"

Her daughter made a little motion with her
hand, and looked meaningly at her mother.

"My poor boy! how did you come here?" she
asked quickly. " I knew at once that you were
Byron. That was why we stopped the coach.
Of course you are Byron."

"Oh, of course quite as a matter of course,"
said her father. "Think of a good tale to ac-
count for your having made your bed in a ditch,
my little man. You did it from choice, I am
sure, my lord."

Byron looked at him without a word.

"You have been thrown from your horse; tell
us how it happened," cried the girl.

"Highwaymen. You know that you were
warned only a week ago, my dear," said her
mother, turning to the man, a tone of triumph
in her voice.

" For Heaven's sake, give the lad a crown, and
send him back to his caravan," was the reply.

" Don't mind papa," said the girl. " He is fast

54 Love Alone Is Lord

asleep ; he is only talking in his dreams ; that was
ever his way. Just tell us that you are Lord
Byron, and all will be well."

" I fancied that even in my present state I bore
with me a token that could not be misread," said
the boy, looking at his foot. " I am Lord Byron;
but I did not ask you to stop your coach to pity
me, or to insult me. I have the honour to wish
you good-morning."

He bowed and put up his hand to remove his
cap. He seemed surprised and mortified that no
cap was on his head.

The elderly gentleman raised his eyebrows.

"By the Lord Harry!" he exclaimed, and now
he raised his hands. He crossed the road from the
coach door, at which he had been standing, to the
boy, saying quite genially.

" How i' the name of Heaven? my unfortunate
lad! Now, who could have guessed? I dare
swear that you thought me an insolent vulgarian
for my remark. But could you see yourself!
Is 't possible that you passed the night in the
on the roadside. 'Fore Gad! 't is not possible!"

He spoke in the manner of the eighteenth cen-
tury, and it sounded old-fashioned, even in the
first ten years of the nineteenth. It suggested
leisure and deliberation; it had nothing of the
bustle of the pantaloons which were just coming
into vogue.

"I lost my horse," said Byron, making a bold
attempt to take a short cut through his ad-

Love Alone Is Lord 55

ventures of the night. " He bolted with me and
killed himself at a gate." All the party looked
across the ditch into the field. "No, not here
at the other side of the grounds, I think it must
have been."

"And you were hurt? You must have been
hurt, or you would have been able to walk up to
the house," said the elder lady.

"No, I was not hurt. I was thrown among
trees, and escaped with a scratch or two. I have
been at the house. I did not know it had been let
to strangers . I found the doors closed in my face. ' '

"Lord Grey de Ruthen is your tenant, and he
has been out of the country for the past six
months," said the gentleman.

" So that you were forced to pass the night on
the roadside? Oh, my boy! you must be starv-
ing," cried the elder of the ladies. The younger
was equally compassionate. Among women all
ages are compassionate. With men, it exists
only during the first few years of fatherhood, when

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