Frank Frankfort Moore.

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it exists at all.

" I was not in such straits as that," said Byron.
He thought it better not to go into particulars.
He had noticed that the fat coachman was
slumbering on the box, and that the gentleman
was once more yawning, not angrily, as before,
only with polite weariness.

The golden girl saw her father fingering the
handle of the coach door. She took Byron's
hand, saying:



56 Love Alone Is Lord

"There is only one thing to be done. We are
your kinspeople, the Chaworths of Annesley. It
is only a short way to the Hall. You will come
with us. We can provide you with a more com-
fortable bed than you will find on any roadside,
and send you to to your destination during the
day. Is not that our best plan, papa?"

" What you please, what you please, my dear ;
any plan that means a move towards our beds is
the best plan," replied the gentleman wearily.
He had plainly reached that stage of weariness
which means indifference to the most preposter-
ous suggestions, if only they do not exclude an
immediate repose.

Byron himself was not very far removed from
this stage; but even if he had been sufficiently
alert to be able to protest his unwillingness to
put any one to any trouble on his account, there
would still have remained in the circumstances
in which he found himself a sufficient counter-
weight to any mere considerations of politeness.
He had looked into Mary Chaworth's face. He
was in her hands. She could have led him any-
where even back to his mother.

"How kind you are!" he muttered. "But I
am unfit

He glanced at the satin and lace of the ladies'
dresses they were both in evening toilet, with
satin-hooded wraps and then at his own rent
raggedness.

" In the name of Heaven enter the coach," said



Love Alone Is Lord 57

Mr. Chaworth, thrusting his phrase forward so as
to obstruct the boy's excuses. If they were to
begin the fencer's play of punctilio, they might be
on the roadside for half an hour. Mr. Chaworth
felt that his daughter would have done well to
remain asleep among the cushions of the coach,
instead of sending her eyes abroad into the dawn
in search of casual occupants of ditch dormitories.
But she had discovered a kinsman who could not
be neglected that was the worst of it; young
Byron, confound him! could not be left in his
ditch. The most elemental principles of hos-
pitality drat them! insisted on his rescuing a
cousin from so deplorable a position.

But to stand on punctilio punctilio at five
o'clock in the morning.

"Get in get in get into the coach!" cried the
gentleman, and Byron, breathless before this
pitchfork hospitality, went headlong into the
vehicle after the ladies. He fancied that he saw
a meaning twitch of the eyebrow on the part of
the footman who was at the handle of the door in
the direction of one who stood just behind Mr.
Chaworth. The twitch suggested "What next?"

But within the coach all was cushioned courtesy
no scrupulous drawing aside of silk skirts to
avoid the assault of his boots. No avoidance of
the unsavoury grass that still clung to him, but
without sufficient tenacity, through his contact
with the roadside bank. He was helped by
friendly gloved hands when he stumbled over a



58 Love Alone Is Lord

twisted mat on the floor, and then he found him-
self among the cushions opposite to the girl.

She hoped that he remembered having met her
long ago how long ago was it? he was only a
child it must have been a long time ago four
or five years.

"In the name of Heaven, child, cease your
chatter," cried her father, when. the coachman
had awakened, and the horses began to scent
their stables. " What, are we to be fully aroused
for the day before we have quite composed our-
selves for the night? Cannot you see that Byron
has no mind to pit his voice against the clatter
of the high road? Give him an opportunity to
recover himself from the effects of your sudden
pounce upon him."

The girl lifted up her hands in a very pretty
posture of protest.

" Dear Cousin Byron, do you really think of me
as a hawk, and of yourself as a leveret on the
roadside?" she asked.

But her cousin could only blush in the corner
of his seat. His mind was not blushing, however ;
he saw the girl's exquisite hair shining between
the outlines of her face and the quilted lining of
her hood it was like the aureole of a Madonna;
and his lips were parted to tell her that the bird
which she appeared to him to be when he had
opened his eyes and seen her stooping over him
was not a hawk, but a dove, silver white, with
floss of gold on its shapely head ; but his eyes fell,



Love Alone Is Lord 59

and his lips closed, biting a sigh in twain. He
could not speak.

" The boy has sense," said Mr. Chaworth. " We
shall be at home in ten minutes. Let us spend
the time in composing ourselves."

" I have been doing nothing else since the last
dance, dear papa," said the girl.

"The last dance?" murmured her father.
"With you there is no last dance; your life is
one perpetual dance. When you are not patting
the measure with your feet, you are singing the
theme with your voice."

" Is that all? " said she with a pout. " Ah, my
dear papa, if you could but see my heart."

"Jigs, my dear, jumping jigs, that is the
measure to which your heart dances. The linnet
is its jig-maker."

"Thank you, sir; I am quite content. I was
afraid that you were going to suggest the jay or
the woodpecker," said she.

"They are too regular for you, miss; but I
might have thought of the owl or the night- jar;
they are birds of the night, needing no sleep, and
fancying that no one else needs any. That is my
last word."

He put himself back among his cushions and
closed his eyes, while the girl made the daintiest
mock of him imaginable.

Byron listened to their exchange of phrases,
with envy of the man's position that entitled him
to provoke the girl to respond. During their



60 Love Alone Is Lord

thistledown archery he had opened up before him
a vision of a relationship more delightful than any
he had thought possible to exist. The pretty
tyranny of the girl, before which the father bent
his head with a submission that had in it some-
thing of humour, as well as pride; her fearless
raillery of him, and his good-humoured replies,
were a revelation to the boy of the happiness
which could exist in a family.

He had never before had such an experience as
this. He had a very faint recollection of his
father (though it grew as time went on, and he
heard more about him), but he had had the
amplest experience of his mother to confirm him
in his remembrance of a bickering in their Scotch
lodgings, which ended in the departure of his
father and the exultant clamour of his mother.
He knew what was his mother's nature. It had
caused him to look forward to his return to her
house for his holidays with trepidation. It had
compelled him to leave his house at Southwell six
hours before. His experience of domesticity had
led him to think of it only in the light of an end-
less brawl. But now he saw the daughter's face
opposite him, and saw that the smile which had
brightened it all the time that she was playing
with words as with snowballs with her father,
had not yet faded from it; he glanced furtively
at the face of the gentleman beside her, and he
saw that he too was smiling, though with closed
eyes. In his own there were tears at this glimpse



Love Alone Is Lord 61

into a world in which he had no part in which
he could have no part.

He lost something by confining his observation
to those two faces ; he should have looked at the
elderly lady who sat beside her daughter. She
was looking at him. He would have seen in her
eyes something sweeter, tenderer, deeper than he
found in the expression which lingered upon the
faces of the father and the daughter.

But what he saw gave him a thought which
never quite left him the thought that he had
missed something in life that something, which
his quick understanding told him was nearest to
the Divine in life, could never be his. It never
was his; and, lacking it, he attained only un-
happiness and immortality.



CHAPTER VI

" \j\7E have five hours till breakfast time; how

VV shall we put in the time?" cried Mary
Chaworth, when she was standing under the dome
of the entrance to Annesley Hall. Her mother
had given instructions to a servant regarding a
room for Byron, and her father was refreshing
himself at a table on which decanters stood. The
moment that the girl spoke he laid down his glass
and raised his hands.

" She means it too, egad! " he cried. " She is
ready for another dance one that will last till
breakfast time. Leave her side, my Lord Byron,
she is dangerous, I tell you."

"I have it," said Mary. "Cousin Byron will
give us a full account of his adventures since the
evening. Can you compress the tale into the
space of four hours, Cousin?"

" Not to do justice to the theme," said Byron;
he could not remain shy when such a girl was
rallying him and had called him cousin. " JEneas
took some days over his story, did he not? and
yet he had only to relate how Troy was captured."

"His story took some days in the telling, and
I '11 swear that I took several months learning to
read it," said Mr. Chaworth.

62



Love Alone Is Lord 63

" He told it in poetry, and embellished it, I am
sure," said Mary.

"We shall put Byron into the Swan Room,"
said Mrs. Chaworth, when she had conferred with
the housekeeper hastily summoned at a door
under the gallery, half hidden among swinging
tapestry. He prepared to follow Mr. Chaworth's
servant, who carried a lighted candle which looked
official, but absurd, for it was now broad daylight.

" Lud! I had quite forgot that you were starv-
ing," said Mr. Chaworth, laying his hand on the
boy's shoulder. " You cannot go to bed without
refreshing yourself."

But Byron affirmed that he had had an ex-
cellent supper only a few hours before. Everyone
looked at him incredulously.

"I' faith, in that case you were not so badly
treated as I supposed," said Mr. Chaworth. " They
let you enter Newstead after all."

Byron shook his head.

"I believe that his adventures would be more
interesting than those of ^Eneas that such a fuss
was made about," said Mary. "Tell me if you
supped after the manner of King Nebuchad-
nezzar, in the fields, or under the beeches with
the squirrels?"

"He will tell us all after breakfast to-day,"
said Mrs. Chaworth.

He began to feel himself something of a hero
standing among these pleasant people who showed
such interest in his welfare. He cherished the



64 Love Alone Is Lord

mystery of his supping place, shaking his head at
every question that was put to him. He felt
himself of some importance, until on his way to
the staircase he faced a long mirror at the back
of a jardiniere. He started, blushed scarlet, and
then burst into a laugh.

"A guy who was there to tell me that I was
such a guy ? " he cried. " To think of your taking
me into the coach in such a state! I knew, of
course, that I was not exactly a dandy, but on
the other hand oh, a chimney-sweep ! And none
of you laughed! not even at this jacket!"

" Nay, we had not the heart to laugh at what
was plainly so near its end," said Mary Chaworth.
" I saw at a glance that it would last you to the
end of our journey, if the horses were rapid."

She put a daintily poised forefinger and thumb
upon one of the sleeves he saw at once how like
her hand was to a white dove descending upon
his shoulder, fluttering for a moment with a
fastidious droop before alighting and toyed
with one of the rents. I

"The envious Casca," she said, and Byron
laughed.

"That were to assume that I am Caesar," said
he.

" Ay, but ' dead and turned to clay ' clay 't is
on your jacket, sir, and I protest that it is pretty
equally distributed over your body."

"So I perceive," said he. "And yet you did
not laugh you were able to recognise me lying



Love Alone Is Lord 65

on the ditch side! I shall never forget your
condescension. ' '

Mr. Chaworth was becoming impatient, to say
nothing of the major-domo with the official
candlestick.

" I think that it would be well to defer com-
pliments for an hour or two," said he. "You
will find that the blackbirds are not generous in
the amount of sleep they allow to you at this hour
of the morning."

He was half-way up the first flight of stairs to
where it branched off to right and left of the
gallery before Byron had said his good-nights to
Mrs. Chaworth and Mary.

The room to which he was conducted bore
along the whole length of one of its sides a fine
tapestry illustrating the story of Leda. The
shutters were closed and candles were lighted in
sconces on the wall, though their illumination
seemed pale and sickly where the daylight
streamed into the room through the slit where
the folds of the shutters barely met. Byron,
when he found himself alone, blew out the candles
and opened the shutters and one of the windows,
so that the room was flooded with sunshine, and
the notes of the blackbirds and thrushes.

He seated himself at the window and indulged
in a revel of thoughts. They came upon him with
a rush, these thoughts with the sound of win-
nowing wings, with the clash of music, with
bursts of sunshine. They sang in his ears the



66 Love Alone Is Lord

magic songs of Ariel ; they carried him away with
them, supported on their wings, and left him
breathless and fevered in strange places. They
filled him with the yearnings of youth, the passion
of man. They fired his brain with the ardour of
a soldier, the ardour of an orator. They led him
up to the snow-peaks of mountains, down into
the shadowy folds of valleys; then on to the sea
the sea that taught him to sing of the pleasure
of the pathless wilds, the rapture of the lonely
shore and then brought him to stray beside the
still waters that reflected his star the star of
love. He was left standing by that tranquil
deep and the only light of his life was that which
was shed by that star.

At other times this strange thraldom of thought
had taken possession of him, driving him away
from all the associations of boyhood, and leaving
him most frequently in the depths of a wilder-
ness, with a passionate, but undefined, yearning
in his heart. He could not understand what this
force was, or what it meant, or why he alone
should be subjected to it. He had shyly asked
one or two of his schoolfellows what it meant, and
they had laughed at him even the most sympa-
thetic. That was why he had felt that he only
was made to suffer this thraldom. What did it
mean, he wondered. How was it that to him and
him only the sea was articulate! How was it
that into his ear only the mountains spoke this
message? How was it that solitude became an



Love Alone Is Lord 67

oratorio to be heard by him only in all its move-
ments of splendour, and rapture, and tenderness,
and devotion? How was it that he only could
hear the passionate whisper of the Evening Star?

He did not know what the voice was that
called* to him mysteriously the voice which it
seemed called to him alone. He could not under-
stand that it was laid on him to interpret all that
he heard for the benefit of the rest of the world
who could not hear; and this was why he had a
constant feeling of a longing unsatisfied, a pas-
sionate vague yearnftig that seemed to him as
vain as it was vague.

Once or twice he felt himself on the verge of
comprehension of the great secret. It was when
he had read to him the story of the life of some
of the prophets of the Bible. These men who
looked at the things of Nature around them and
interpreted between them and the rest of the
world must surely have had moments such as his
mysterious moments. And the poets he had
found in many great poems the very thoughts
that had come to him at times. The poets had
made their revelations to the world he felt that
to him they were no revelations; he had known
them, felt them, before he had had a chance of
reading the poets' songs. Still he never enter-
tained the thought that he was a poet, or if the
possibility ever occurred to him, it did not dwell
with him.

But now as he sat at the open window and



68 Love Alone Is Lord

allowed himself to be carried away by those
tumultuous thoughts of his he had a feeling of
such hopefulness as had never before been his
companion in those wild, vague, unsatisfying ex-
cursions of his. He had a sense of a sympathetic
ear being at hand, the ear of one who could listen
and understand, one who would not merely
stare and laugh as other people had done, chilling
him into an abashed silence. He had a feeling
that the girl whose face he had seen looking down
upon his face when he had opened his eyes in the
early dawn would be able to tell him why it was
that he had that strange yearning at heart every
time that he saw a lark spring from a meadow
and float to the very heaven, as it seemed, upon
the music of its own making. Why was it that
he felt that that bird sank to the earth again
apparently satisfied, while he had come back
from his fancy's flight with that yearning still
upon him? Why was it that he never heard the
lark without envy? Why was it that he could
never leave the woods in which a nightingale was
singing without feeling that somehow the night-
ingale knew the secret of his longings, that it had
somehow solved the mystery which he failed to
understand?

Would she sympathise with him if he were to
tell her that now and again a strange wistful long-
ing to be able to sing took possession of him to
sing aloud what he felt on standing beside the
sea, on sitting amid the populous loneliness of the



Love Alone Is Lord 69

green woods, on looking at the Star of Love which
he loved to see hanging like a torch in the blue
evening skies above a solitary mountain peak?

He had a hope that she would understand
these things which were a mystery to himself,
and would, he knew, seem more mysterious still
to any of his few friends whom he might approach
when his heart was full. The mere dwelling upon
the possibility of being able to talk to her, face
to face, to tell her his dreams, his fancies, his
longings, made him feel less lonely and less like
one who is wandering in darkness and in doubt.
So much joy came to him in anticipation it was
not surprising that he should be led to ask himself
if being with her was not the object of all his long-
ings in the woods and by the sea. Was this the
interpretation of the longing of the lark which it
uttered in passionate song this feeling which had
now taken possession of him and brought him hap-
piness because it brought him hope? Was this
feeling the theme of the nightingale? Was it the
lack of this sympathy that had driven him forth
from the cold companionship of his life up to the
moment when he had looked up to heaven and
had seen it seeing her face above his own?

He could feel his heart beating tumultuously as
a man's heart beats when on the threshold of the
greatest mystery of life. He was in a fever of
excited thought. He began pacing his room in-
termittently, making a dash in one direction and
then stopping suddenly; walking slowly with his



To Love Alone Is Lord

hands behind his head, and his head bent ; stand-
ing at the open window drinking in the cool morn-
ing air, every breath of which was vibrant with
song, and after a few moments that seemed
passive, turning back to the room to stare at the
glimmering god in the form of a swan in the
tapestry of the wall, and at the white limbs of
Leda.

Back again from the tapestry to his pacing of
the room; but not for long. Passing the great
bed with its tent-like drapery he looked at it for
a moment and then flung himself down upon the
satin coverlet, weeping passionately, he knew not
why.

He actually fell asleep in this position and re-
mained sleeping for some time. He awoke sud-
denly and looked up as if dazed.

"She is here she is here under the same
roof, and, having seen her, I shall never be with-
out her again in the world. I shall never be
lonely again while I live," he said in a whisper.

He sprang from the bed and stood in the middle
of the room as if he had heard a sudden voice
speaking to him commanding him. With one
hand pressed against his forehead he stumbled to
a table where there was a Dresden china inkstand
with a case of quills beside it, and a box of writing-
paper. He threw himself into the nearest chair,
caught up a pen, dipped it, and began to scrawl
feverishly. Scarcely pausing for an instant to
find a word, he wrote and wrote for some minutes



Love Alone Is Lord 71

till the pen dropped from his fingers. Then he
caught up the paper and read what he had written
he read in a whisper as if the page revealed a
secret to him, and to him only.

i.

There be none of Beauty's daughters

With a magic like to thee,
And like music on the waters

Is thy sweet voice to me ;
When, as if its sound were causing
The charmed ocean's pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lull'd winds seem dreaming.

ii.

When the midnight moon is weaving

Her bright chain o'er the deep,
Whose breast is gently heaving

As an infant's asleep:
So the spirit bows before thee,
To listen and adore thee,
With a full and soft emotion
Like the swell of summer's ocean.

He read. The paper dropped from his fingers.
He lay back in the chair and laughed. He was
still laughing while he undressed himself; but
before he went asleep his pillow was wet with
tears.

The secret had been revealed to him; not
without tears.



CHAPTER VII

AND yet the first thought that came to him
when he next awoke was that he should
have to dress himself in an intolerably ragged
suit of clothes. He had vivid recollections of the
result of his glance at the mirror in the hall when
going to the stairs. And that was when everyone
was sleepy, so that it scarcely mattered how he
was dressed. But now the sunshine was stream-
ing into the room, and in those clothes, he would
look like a gipsy vagrant.

In another moment, however, he had a sense
of happiness; tempered only by a slight mis-
giving. He remembered writing something
verses there lay the sheet of manuscript on the
floor, just where it had fallen, at the foot of the
chair, on which he had thrown his clothes; and
the thought that now came to him was: "How
will it stand the ordeal of the sunshine?" He
was mindful of the sense of passionate delight,
the sense of glory achieved, of the vague longing
satisfied, that had been his when he had written
those lines; but would they stand the stress of
being read in the sunlight? Would he find that
they were doggerel, or that he was a poet?

He turned his head away from the paper on the

72



Love Alone Is Lord 73

floor, so that he would not be tempted to try to
read a line that he had written. He had not the
courage to get out of bed and read the page from
first to last. And the moment that he turned
his face^to the wall, the thought that came to him
was:

"Whether I have written poetry or doggerel,
I shall see her within the hour."

Forthwith the thought of her and the thought
of his achievement became so joined in his mind
that they seemed to be, not two thoughts, but one.
One seemed to be incomplete without the other.
The two combined gave him the delight as of a
search rewarded by the finding of a pearl of great
price. The poetry had come only because he had
been thinking of her. She had filled all his
thoughts, and the poetry which had flowed from
him had come from that fountain of thought
which was She.

The poetry was part of her. The inspiration
had come from her.

It was this thought that gave him courage, and
helped to banish his misgivings. The poetry
could not but contain some element of worth,
when she had been the origin of it.

He got out of bed and picked up the sheet of
paper, and read the lines. They sounded quite
new to him. While he remembered writing them
all, he had no recollection of any single line.

A great joy came to him, making the blood
flow more rapidly in his veins, and burn in his



74 Love Alone Is Lord

face. It seemed to him that, not only was the
poetry his own, but that the girl was his own also,
so closely had the two become associated in his
mind. He felt that he had suddenly entered upon
a heritage of a value that could not be reckoned
by man. And so he had.

And he had been so nearly missing it all! He
had set out from his mother's house at Southwell
with the intention of entering into possession of
his inheritance at Newstead, and when its doors



Online LibraryFrank Frankfort MooreLove alone is lord → online text (page 4 of 28)