The appeal to Authority. 173
was out of tlie question. Would she pass her life without
that experience ? One thing could be affirmed with
certainty ; if she lost her heart to a man, it would not be to
a Puritan. He could conceive her being attracted by a
strong and somewhat rude fellow, a despiser of convention-
alities, without religion, a man of brains and blood; one
whose look could overwhelm her with tumultuous scorn, and
whose hand, if need be, could crush her life out at a bl-jw.
Why not, however, a highly polished gentleman, critical,
keen of speech, deeply read, brilliant in conversation, at
once man of the world and scholar ? Might not that type
have power over her ? In a degree, but not so decidedly as
the intellectual brute.
Pshaw ! what brain-sickness was this ! What was he
fallen to ! Yet it did what nothing else would, amused him
for a few minutes in his pain. He recurred to it several
times, and always successfully.
Sunday came. This evening would see Elgar back again.
No doubt of his return had yet entered his mind.
Whether Eeuben would in reality settle to some kind of
work was a diffecent question ; but of course he would come
back, if it were only to say that he had kept his promise, but
found he must set off again to some place or other. Mallard
dreaded his coming. News of some kind he would bring,
and Mallard's need was of silence. If he indeed remained
here, the old irritation would revive and go on from day to
day. Impossible that they should live together long.
It was pretty certain by what train he would journey from
Naples to Salerno ; easy, therefore, to calculate the px-obable
liour of his arrival at Amalfi. When that hour drew near,
Mallard set out to walk a short distance along the road, to
meet him. Unlike the Sorrento side of the promontory, the
mountains here rise sudd(.'nly and boldly out of the sea, tower-
ing to craggy eminences, moulded and cleft into infinite
variety of slope and precipice, bastion and gorge. Cut upon
the declivity, often at vast sheer height above the beach, tho
iU ^^^ EMANCIPATED. ,
road follows the curving of the liills. Now and then it
makes a deep loop inland, on the sides of an impassable
chasm ; and set in each of these recesses is a little town,
white-gleaming amid its orchard verdure, with quaint and
many-coloured campanile, with the semblance of a remote
time. Far up on the heights are other gleaming sj^ecks,
villages which seem utterly beyond the traffic of man, soli-
tary for ever in sun or mountain mist.
Mallard paid little hoed to the things about him ; he
walked on and on, watching for a vehicle, listening for the
tread of horses. Sometimes he could see the white road-
track miles away, and he strained his eyes in observing it.
Twice or thrice he was deceived ; a carriage came towards
him, and with agitation he waited to see its occu2:>ants, only
to be disappointed by sti-ange faces.
There are few things more pathetic than persistency in
hope due to ignorance of something that has befallen beyond
our ken. It is one of those instances of the irony inherent
in human fate which move at once to tears and bitter
laughter ; the waste of emotion, the involuntary folly, the
cruel deception caused by limit of faculties ā how they con-
centrate into an hour or a day the essence of life itself !
He walked on and on ; as well do this as go back and
loiter fretfully at the hotel. He got as far as the Capo
d' Orso, the headland half-way between Amalfi and Salei-no,
and there sat down by the wayside to rest. From this point
Salerno was first visible, in the far distance, between the
sea and the purple Apennines.
Either Elgar was not coming, or he had lingered long
between the two portions of his journey.
Mallard turned back ; if the carriage came, it would over-
take him. He plodded slowly, the evening falling around
him in still loveliness, fragrance from the groves of orange
and lemon spread on every motion of the air.
And if he did not come ? That must have some strange
meaning. In any case, he must surely write. And ten to
THE APPEAL TO AUTHORITY. 175
one his letter would be a lie. What was to be expected of
him but a he ?
Monday, Tuesday, and now "WednesJ.ay morning. Hither-
to not even a letter.
When it was clear that Elgar had disregarded his promise,
and, for whatever reason, did not even seek to justify or
excuse himself, there came upon Mallard a strong mood of
scorn, which for some hours enabled him to act as though
all his anxiety were at an end. He set himself a piece of
work ; a flash of the familiar energy traversed his mind.
He believed that at length his degradation was over, and
that, come what might, he could now face it sturdily. Mere
self-deception, of course. The sun veiled itself, and hope
was as far as ever.
Never before had he utterly lost the power of working.
lu every struggle he had speedily overcome, and found in
work the one unfaiUug resoui'ce. If he were robbed of this,
what stay had life for liim henceforth ? He could not try
to persuade himself that his suffering would pass, sooner or
later, and time grant him convalescence ; the blackness
ahead was too profound. He fell again into torpor, and let
the days go as they would ; he cared not.
But this morning brought him a letter. At the first
glance he was surprised by a handwriting which was not
Elgar's ; recollecting himself, he knew it for that of Mrs.
" Dear Me. Mallard, ā
" It grieves me to be obliged to send you disquieting
news so soon after your departure from Naples, but I think
you will agree with me that I have no choice but to write of
something that has this morning come to my knowledge.
You have no taste for roundabout phrases, so I will say at
once in plain words that Cecily and Mr. Elgar have some-
how contrived to fall in love with each other ā or to imagine
176 THE EMANCIPATED.
that they have done so, which, as regards results, unfortu-
nately amounts to the same thing. I cannot learn by what
process it came about, but I am assured by Cecily, in words
of becoming vagueness, that they plighted troth, or some-
thing of the kind, yesterday at Pompeii. There was a party
of four : Mr. and Mrs. Bradshaw, Cecily, and Mrs. Baske.
At Pompeii they were unexpectedly (so I am told) joined
by Mr. Elgar ā notwithstanding that he had taken leave of
us on Saturday, with the information that he was about to
return to you at Amalfi, and there devote himself to literary
work of some indefinite kind. Perhaps you have in the
meantime heard from him. This morning Cecily received a
letter, in which he made peremptory request for an inter-
view; she showed this to me. My duty was plain. I
declared the interview impossible, and Cecily gave way on
condition that I saw Mr. Elgar, told him why she herself
did not appear, and forthwith wrote to you. Our young
gentleman was disconcerted when he found that his visit
was to be wasted on my uninteresting self. I sent him
about his business ā only that, unhappily, he has none ā
bidding him wait till we had heard from you.
" I fancy this will be as disagreeable to you as it is to me.
The poor child is in a sad state, much disposed, I fear, to
regard me as her ruthless enemy, and like to fall ill if she
be kept long in idle suspense. Do you think it worth while
to come to Naples ? It is very annoying that your time
ehould be wasted by foolish children. I had given Cecily
credit for more sense. For my own part, I cannot think
with patience of her marrying Mr. Elgar ; or rather, I can-
not think of it without dread. We must save her from
becoming wise through bitter sorrow, if it can in any way be
managed. I hope and trust that nothing may happen to
prevent your receiving this letter to-morrow, for I am very
uneasy, and not likely to become less so as time goes on.
" Believe me, dear Mr. Mallard,
" Sincerely yours,
^' " Edith Lessingham."
THE APPEAL TO AUTHORITY. 177
At S3veu o'clock in the evening, Mallard was in Naples.
He did not go to Casa Eolandi, but took a room in one of
the musty hotels which overlook the port. When he felt
sure that Mrs. Gluck's guests must have dined, he pre-
sented himself at the house and sent his name to Mrs.
She took his hand with warm welcome.
" Thank you for coming so promptly. I have been getting
into such a state of nervousness. Cecily keeps her room,
and looks ill ; I have several times been on the point of
sending for the doctor, though it seemed absurd."
Mallard seated himself without invitation ; indeed, he had
a difficulty in standing.
" Hasn't she been out to-day ? " he asked, in a voice which
might have signified selfish indifference.
" JSTor yesterday. Mrs. Spence was here this morning, but
Cecily would not see her. I made excuses, and of course
said nothing of what was going on. 1 asked the child if she
would like to see Mrs. Baske, but she refused."
Mallard sat as if he had nothing to say, looking vaguely
about the room,
" Have you heard from Mr. Elgar ? " Mrs. Lessingham in.
" No. I know nothing about him. I haven't been to
Casa Eolandi, lest I should meet him. It was better to see
" You were not prepared for this news ? "
" His failure to return made me speculate, of course. I
suppose they have met several times at Mrs. Baske's ? "
" That at once occurred to me, but Cecily assures me that
is not so. There is a mystery. I have no idea how they saw
each other privately at Pompeii on Monday. But, between
ourselves, Mr. Mallard, I can't help suspecting that he had
learnt from his sister the particulars of the excursion."
" You tliink it not uiipossible that Mrs. Baske connived at
their meeting in that way ? "
1 78 THE EMANCIPATED.
" One doesn't like to use words of that kind, but '*
" I suj)pose one must use the word that expresses one's
meaning," said Mallard, bluntly. " But I didn't think Mrs.
Baske was likely to aid her brother for such a purpose.
Have you any reason to think the contrary ? "
" None that would carry any weight."
Mallai'd pausi3d; then, with a restless movement on his
chair exclaimed :
"But what has this to do with the matter? What has
happened has happened, and there's an end of it. The
question is, what ought to be done now ? I don't see that
we can treat Miss Doran like a child."
Mrs. Lessingham looked at him. She was resting one arm
on a table by which she sat, and supporting her forehead
with her hand.
"You propose that things should take their natural
course ? "
" They will, whether I propose it or not."
" And if our next information is that they desire to be
married as soon as conveniently may be ? "
" That is another matter. They will have no consent of
mine to anything of the kind."
" You relieve me."
Mallard looked at her frowningly.
" Miss Doran," he continued, "will not marry Elgar with
my consent until she be one-and-twenty. Then, of course,
she may do as she likes."
" You will see Mr. Elgar, and make this clear to him ? "
"Very clear indeed," was the grim reply. "As for any-
thing else, why, what can we do P If they insist upon it, I
suppose they must see each other ā of course, under reason-
able restrictions. You cannot make yourself a duenna of
melodrama, Mrs. Lessingham."
" Scarcely. But I think our stay at Naples may rea-
sonably be shortened ā unless, of course, Mr. Elgar
THE APPEAL TO AUTHORITY, 179
" You take it for granted, I see, that Miss Doran will be
guided by our judgment," said Mallard, after musing on the
" I have no fear of that," replied Mrs. Lessingham with
confidence, " if it is made to appear only a question of post-
ponement. This will be a trifle compared with my task of
yesterday morning. You can scarcely imagine how astonished
she was at the first hint of opposition."
"I can imagine it very well," said the other, in his throat.
" What else could be expected after " He checked himself
on the point of saying something that would have revealed
his opinion of Mrs. Lessingham' s "system" ā his opinion
accentuated by unreasoning bitterness. " From all we
know of her," were the words he substituted.
" She is more like her father than I had supposed," said
Mrs. Lessingham, meditatively.
Mallard stood up.
" You will let her know that I have been here ? "
" She has expressed no wish to see me ? "
" None. I had better report to her simply that you have
no objection to Mr. Elgar's visits."
" That is all I would say at present. I shall see Elgar to-
night. He is still at Casa Eolandi, I take it ? "
"That was the address on his letter."
" Then, good-night. By-the-bye, I had better give you my
address." He wrote it on a leaf in his pocket-book. " I will
see you again in a day or two, when things have begun to
" It's too bad that you should have this trouble, Mr
" I don't pretend to like it, but there's no help."
And he left Mrs. Lessingham to make her comment on his
Yes, Signer Elgar was in his chamber ; he had entered
i8o THE EMANCIPATED.
but a quai ter of an hour since. Tlie signor seemed not quite
well, unhapi^ily ā said Olimpia, the domestic, in her chopped
Neapolitan. Mallard vouchsafed no reply. He knocked
sharply at the big solid door. There was a cry of
" Avanti ! " and he entered.
Elgar advanced a few steps. He did not affect to smile,
but looked directly at his visitor, who ā as if all the pain of
the interview were on him rather than the other ā cast down
"I was expecting you," said Reuben, without offering his
" So was I you ā three days ago."
" Sit down, and let us talk. I'm ashamed of myself.
Mallard! I ought at all events to have written."
*' One would have thought so."
'ā¢ Have you seen Mrs. Lessingham ? "
" Then you understand everything. I repeat that I am
ashamed of my behaviour to you. For days ā since last
Saturday ā I have been little better than a madman. On
Saturday I went to say good-bye to Mrs. Lessingham and
her niece ; it was hona fide, Mallard."
"In your sense of the phrase. Go on."
" I tell you, I then meant to leave Naples," pursued Elgar,
who had repeated this so often to himself, by way of pallia-
tion, that he had come to think it true. " It was not my
fault that I couldn't when that visit was over. It happened
that I saw Miss Doran alone ā sat talking with her till her
Mrs. Lessingham had made no mention of this little
matter. Hearing of it, Mallard ejaculated mentally,
" Idiot ! "
" It was all over with me. I broke faith with you ā as I
should have done with any man ; as I should have done if
the lives of a hundred people had depended on my coming.
I didn't write, because I preferred not to write lies, and if I
THE APPEAL TO AUTHORITY. l8l
had told tte truth, I knew you would come at once. To he
sure, silence might have had the same result, hut I had to
risk something, and I risked that."
" I marvel at your disinclination to he."
"What do you mean by saying that ?" broke out Elgar,
with natural warmth.
" I mean simply what I say. Go on."
" After all, Mallard, I don't quite know why you should
take this tone with me. If a man falls in love, he thinks of
nothing but how to gain his end ; I should think even you
can take that for granted. [My broken promise is a trifle
in view of what caused it."
" Again, in yoxir view. In mine it is by no means a trifle.
It distinguishes you from honourable men, that's all ; a point
of some moment, I should think, when your character is ex-
pressly under discussion."
" You mean, of course, that I am not worthy of Cecily. I
can't grant any such conclusion."
" Let us leave that aside for the present," said Mallard.
" Will you tell me how it came to pass that you met Miss
Doran and her companions at Pompeii ? "
Elgar hesitated ; whereupon the other added quickly :
" If it was with Miss Doran's anticipation, I want no
" No, it wasn't."
Their looks met.
" By chance, then, of course ? " said Mallard, sourly.
Elgar spoke on an impulse, leaning forward.
"Look, I won't lie to you. Miriam told me they were
going. I met her that morning, when I was slinking about,
and I compelled her to give me her help ā sorely against her
will. Don't think ill of her for it. Mallard. I frightened
her by my violent manner. I haven't seen her since ; she
can't know what the result has been. None of them at
Pompeii suspected ā only a moment of privacy ; there's no
need to say any more about it."
1 82 THE EMANCIPATED.
Mallard mused over this revelation. He felt inclined to
scorn Elgar for making it. It affected him curiously, and
at once took a place among his imaginings of Miriam.
''You shall promise me that you won't betray your
knowledge of this," added Reuben. "At all events, not
now. Promise me that. Your word is to be trusted, I
"It's very unlikely that I should think of touching on the
matter to your sister. I shall make no promise."
" Have you seen Cecily herself ? " Elgar asked, leaving the
point aside in. his eagerness to come to what concerned him
" I have waited for your permission to visit her. Do you
mean to refuse it ? "
"No. If you call to-morrow morning, you will be
admitted. Mrs. Lessingham is willing that you should see
her niece in private."
" Hearty thanks for that, Mallard ! We haven't shaken
hands yet, you remember. Forgive me for treating you so
He held out his hand cordially, and Mallard could not
refuse it, though he would rather have thrust his fingers
among red coals than feel that hot pressure.
" I believe I can be grateful," pursued Elgar, in a voice
that quivered with transport. " I will do my best to prove
" Let us speak of things more to the point. What result
do you foresee of this meeting to-morrow ? "
The other hesitated.
" I shall ask Cecily when she will marry me."
" You may do so, of course, but the answer cannot depend
upon herself alone."
" What delay do you think necessary ? "
" Until she is of age, and her own mistress," replied
Mallard, with quiet decision.
THE APPEAL TO AUTHORITY. 183
" Impossible ! What need is there to wait all that
time ? "
"Why, there is this need, Elgar," returned the other,
more vigorously than he had yet spoken. " There is need
that you should prove to those who desire Miss Doran's
welfare that you are something more than a young fellow
fresh from a life of waste and idleness and everything that
demonstrates or tends to untrustworthiness. It seems to me
that a couple of years or so is not an over-long time for this,
all things considered."
Elgar kept silent.
" You would have seen nothing objectionable in immedia,te
marriage ? " said Mallard.
" It is useless to pretend that I should."
" Not even from the point of view of Mrs. Lessingham
and myseK ? "
" You yourself have never spoken plainly about such
things in my hearing ; but I find you in most things a man
of your time. And it doesn't seem to me that Mrs. Lessing-
ham is exactly conventional in her views."
" You imagine yourself worthy of such a wife at present ? "
" Plainly, I do. It would be the merest hypocrisy if I
said anything else. If Cecily loves me, my love for her is at
least as strong. If we are equal in that, what else matters ?
I am not going to cry Peccavi about the past. I have lived,
and you know what that means in my language. In what
am I inferior as a man to Cecily as a woman ? Would you
have me snivel, and talk about my impurity and her angelic
qualities ? You know that you would despise me if I did ā
or any other man who used the same empty old phrases."
"I grant you that," rciilied Mallard, deliberately. "I
believe I am no more superstitious with regard to these
questions than you are, and I want to hear no cant. Let us
take it on more open ground. Were Cecily Doran my
daughter, I would resist her marrying you to the utmost of
my power ā not simply because you have lived laxly, but
i84 The emancipated.
"because of iny conviction that the part of your life is to be
a pattern of the whole. I have no faith in you ā no faith in
your sense of honour, in your stability, not even in your
mercy. Your wife will be, sooner or later, one of the
unhappiest of women. Thinking of you in this way, and
being in the place of a parent to Cecily, am I doing my duty
or not in insisting that she shall not marry you hastily, that
even in her own despite she shall have time to study you and
herself, that she shall only take the irrevocable stej) when
she clearly knows that it is done on her own responsibility ?
You may urge what you like ; I am not so foolish as to
suppose you capable of consideration for others in your
present state of mind. I, however, shall defend myself
from the girl's reproaches in after-years. There will be no
marriage until she is twenty-one."
A silence of some duration followed. Elgar sat with bent
head, twisting his moustaches. At length :
" I believe you are right. Mallard. Not in your judgment
of me, but in your practical resolve."
Mallard examined him from under his eyebrows.
" You are prepared to wait ? " he asked, in an uncertain
" Prepared, no. But I grant the force of your arguments.
I will try to bring myself to patience."
Mallard sat unmoving. His legs were crossed, and he
held his soft felt hat crushed together in both his hands.
Elgar glanced at him once or twice, expecting him to speak,
but the other was mute.
" Your judgment of me," Elgar resumed, " is harsh and
unfounded. J don't know how you have formed it. You
know nothing of what it means to me to love such a girl as
Cecily. Here I have found my rest. It supplies me with
no new qualities, but it strengthens those I have. You
picture me being unfaithful to Cecily ā deserting her,
becoming brutal to her ? There must be a strange prejudice
in your mind to excite such images." He examined
THE APPEAL TO AUTHORITY. 185
Mallard's face. " Some day I will remind you of your
Mallard regarded him, and spoke at length, in a strangely
jarring, discordant voice.
" I said that hastily. I make no prophecies. I wished to
say that those seemed to me the probabilities."
'* Thank you for the small mercy, at all events," said
Elgar, with a laugh,
" What do you intend to do? " Mallard proceeded to ask,
changing his position.
" I can make no plans yet. I have pretended to only too
often. You have no objection to my remaining here ? "
" You must take your own course ā with the understand-
ing to which we have come."
" I wish I could make you look more cheerful. Mallard.
I owe it to you, for you have given me more gladness than I
" You can do it."
" How ? "
" Sae her to-morrow morning, and then go back to
England, and make yourself some kind of reputable
*' Not yet. That is asking too much. Not so soon."
" As you please. We understand each other on the main
" Yes. Are you going back to Amalfi ? "
" I don't know."
They talked for a few minutes more, in short sentences of
this kind, but did not advance beyond the stage of mutual
forbearance. Mallard lingered, as though not sure that he
had fulfilled his mission. In the end he went away
i86 THE EMANCIPATED.
ON THE HEIGHTS.
In vain, at eacli meal, did Clifford Marsli await Cecily's
appearance. A trifling indisposition kept her to her room,
was Mrs. Lessingham's reply to sympathetic inquiries. Mr.
and Mrs. Bradshaw, who were seriously making their
preparations for journeying northward, held private talk
concerning the young lady, and felt they would like to stay
a week longer, just to see if their suspicions would be con-
firmed. Mrs. Denyer found it difficult to assume the
becoming air when she put civil questions to Mrs. Lessing-
ham, for she was now assured that to Miss Doran was
attributable the alarming state of things between Clifford
and Madeline ; Marsh would never have been so intractable
but for this new element in the situation. Madeline herself
on the other hand, was a model of magnanimity ; in
Cliiford's very hearing, she spoke of Cecily with tender con-
cern, and then walked past her recreant admirer with her
fair head in a pose of conscious grace.
Even Mr. Musselwhite, at the close of the second day,
grew aware that the table lacked one of its ornaments. It
was his habit now ā a new habit came as a blessing of
Providence to Mr. Musselwhite ā on passing into the
drawing-room after dinner, to glance towards a certain