strangers might have been pleasurable to Elgar. His faith
in her was perfect, and jealousy of the ignobler kind came
not near him. But he felt that she was taking refuge from
the dulness of her home ; he imagined people speaking of
him as " the husband of Mrs. Elgar ; " it exasperated him to
think of her talking with clever men who must necessarily
suggest comparisons to her.
He himself was not the kind of man who shines in com-
pany. He had never been trained to social usages, and he
could not feel at ease in any drawing-room but his own. The
Bohemiauism of his early life had even given him a positive
distaste for social obligations and formalities. Among men
of his own way of thinking, he could talk vigorously, and as
a rule keep the lead in conversation ; but where restraint in
phrase was needful, he easily became flaccid, and the feeling
that he did not show to advantage filled him with disgust.
So there was little chance of his ever winning that sort of
reputation which would have enabled him to accompany his
wife into society without the galling sense of playing an
In the matter of Mrs. Travis, he was conscious of his own
arbitrariness, but, having once committed himself to a point
of view, he could not withdraw from it. He had to find fault
with his wife and her society, and here was an obvious re-
source. Its very obviousness should, of course, have warned
him away, but his reason for attacking Mrs. Travis had an
298 THE EMANCIPATED.
intimate connection wifh the general causes of his dis-
content. Disguise it how he might, he was simply in the
position of a husband who fears that his authority over his
wife is weakening. Mrs. Travis, as he knew, was a rebel
against her own husband — no matter the cause. She would
fill Cecily's mind with sympathetic indignation ; the effect
would be to make Cecily more resolute in independence.
Added to this, there was, in truth, something of that conflict
between theoretical and practical morality of which his wife
spoke. It developed in the course of argument ; he recognized
that, whilst having all confidence in Cecily, he could not
reconcile himself to her associating with a woman whose
conduct was under discussion. The more he felt his incon-
sistency, the more arbitrary he was compelled to be. Motives
confused themselves and harassed him. In his present mood,
the danger of such a state of things was greater than he knew,
and of quite another kind than Cecily was prepared for.
" What is all this about Mrs. Travis ? " inquired Mrs.
Lessiugham, with a smile, when she came to visit Cecily.
Eeuben was out, and the ladies sat alone in the drawing-
Cecily explained what had happened, but in simple terms,
and without meaning to show that any difference of opinion
had arisen between her and Eeuben.
" Tou have heard of it from Mrs. Travis herself ? " she
asked, in conclusion.
" Yes. She expressed no resentment, however ; spoke as
if she thought it a little odd, that was all. But what has
Eeuben got into his head ? "
" It seems he has heard unpleasant rumours about her."
"Then why didn't he come and speak to me? She is
absolutely blameless : I can answer for it. Her husband is the
kind of man Did you ever read Fielding's * Amelia ' ? To
be sure ; well, you understand. I much doubt whether she
is wise in leaving him ; ten to one, she'll go back again, and
MULTUM IN PARVO. 299
tliat is more demoralizing than putting up with the other in-
dignity. She has a very small income of her own, and what
is her life to be ? Surely you are the last people who should
abandon her. That is the kind of thing that makes such a
woman desperate. She seems to have made a sort of appeal
to you. I am but moderately in her confidence, and I believe
she hasn't one bosom friend. It's most fortunate that
Keuben took such a whim. Send him to me, will you ? "
Cecily made known this request to her husband, and there
followed another long dialogue between them, the only re-
sult of which was to increase their mutual coldness. Cecily
proposed that they should at once leave town, instead of
waiting for the end of the season ; in this way all their
ditficulties would be obviated. Elgar declined the proposal ;
he had no desire to spoil her social pleasures,
" That is already done, past help," Cecily rejoined, with
the first note of bitterness. " I no longer care to visit, nor
to receive guests."
" I noticed the other day your ingenuity in revenging
" I say nothing but the simple truth. Had you rather I
went out and enjoyed myself without any reference to your
wishes ? "
" From the first you made up your mind to misunderstand
me," said Eeuben, with the common evasion of one who can-
not defend his course,
Cecily brought the dispute to an end by her silence. The
next morning Reuben went to see Mrs. Lessingham, and
heard what she had to say about Mrs. Travis,
" What is your evidence against her ? " she inquired, after
a little banter.
" Some one who knows Travis very well assured me that
the fault was not all on his side."
" Of course. It is more to the point to hear what those
have to say who know his wife. Surely you acted with extra-
300 THE EMANCIPATED.
With characteristic weakness, Elgar defended himself by
detailing the course of events. It was not he who had been
precipitate, but Cecily ; he was never more annoyed than
when he heard of that foolish letter.
" Go home and persuade her to write another," said Mrs.
Lessiugham. " Let her confess that there was a misunder-
standing. I am sure Mrs. Travis will accept it. She has a
curious character ; very sensitive, and very impulsive, but
essentially trustful and wai'm-hearted. You should have
heard the pathetic surprise with which she told me of Cecily's
"I should rather have imagined her speaking con-
" It would have been excusable," replied the other, with a
laugh. " And very likely that would have been her tone
had it concerned any one else. But she has a liking for
Cecily. Go home, and get this foolish mistake remedied,
there's a good boy."
Elgar left the house and walked eastward, into Praed
Street. As he walked, he grew less and less inclined to go
home at once. He could not resolve how to act. It would
be a satisfaction to have done with discord, but he had no
mind to submit to Cecily and entreat her to a peace.
He walked on, across Edgware Road, into Marylebone
Road, absorbed in his thoughts. Their complexion became
darker. He found a perverse satisfaction in picturing
Cecily's unhappiness. Let her suffer a little ; she was
causing Mm uneasiness enough. The probability was that
she derided his recent behaviour ; it had doubtless sunk
him still more in her estimation. The only way to recover
his lost ^''round was to be as open with her as formerly, to
confess all his weaknesses and foolish motives ; but his will
resisted. He felt coldly towards her; she was no longer
the woman he loved and worshipj^ed, but one who had
asserted a suj^eriority of mind and character, and behttled
him to himself. He was tired of her society — the simplQ
MULTUM IN PARVO, %oi
formula wliicli sufficiently explains so many domestic
He would have luucli somewhere in town ; then see
whether he felt disposed to go home or not.
In the afternoon he loitered about the Strand, looking at
portraits in shop-windows and at the theatre-doors. Home
was more, instead of less, repugnant to him. He wanted to
postpone decision ; but if he returned to Cecily, it would be
necessary to say something, and in his present mood he
would be sure to make matters worse, for he felt quarrel-
some. How absurd it was for two people, just because they
were married, to live perpetually within sight of each other !
Wasn't it Godwin who, on marrying, made an arrangement
that he and his wife should inhabit separate abodes, and be
together only when they wished ? The only rational plan,
that. Should he take train and go out of town for a few
days ? If only he had some one for company ; but it was
wearisome to spend the time in solitude.
To aggravate his dulness, the sky had clouded over, and
presently it began to rain. He had no umbrella. Quite
unable to determine whither he should go if he took a cab,
he turned aside to the shelter of an archway. Some one
was already standing there, but in his abstraction he did
not know whether it was man or woman, until a little cough,
twice or thi'ice repeated, made him turn his eyes. Then he
saw that his companion was a girl of a,bout five-and-twenty,
with a pretty, good-natured face, whicli wore an embarrassed
smile. He gazed at her with a look of surprised recognition.
" Well, it really is you ! " she exclaimed, laughing and
" And it is really yo^^ ! "
They shook hands, again examining each other.
" I thought you didn't mean to know me."
" I hadn't once looked at you. But you have changed a
" Not mora than you have, I'm sure."
302 THE EMANCIPATED.
" And what care you doing ? You look tnucli more cteer-
ful than you used to."
, " I can't say the same o£ you."
" Have you been in London all the time ? "
" Oh no. Two years ago I went back to Liverpool, and
had a j^lace there for nearly six months. But I got tired of
it. In a few days I'm going to Brighton ; I've got a place
in a restaurant. Quite time, too ; I've had nothing for
" I've often thought about you," said Elgar, after a pause.
" But you never came to see how I was getting on."
" Oh, I supposed you were married long since."
She laughed, and shook her head.
" You are, though, I suppose ? " she asked.
" Not I ! "
They talked with increasing friendliness until the rain
stopped, then walked away together in the direction of the
About dinner-time, Cecily received a telegram. It was
from her husband, and informed her that he had left town
with a friend for a day or two.
This was the first instance of such a proceeding on Eeuben's
part. For a moment, it astonished her. Which of his friends
could it be ? But when the surprise had passed, she reflected
more on his reasons for absenting himself, and believed that
she understood them. He wished to punish her ; he thought
she would be anxious about him, and so come to adopt a
different demeanour when he returned. Ever so slight a
suspicion of another kind occurred to her once or twice, but
she had no difficulty in dismissing it. No ; this was merely
one of his tactics in the conflict that had begun between them.
And his absence was a relief. She too wanted to think
for a while, undisturbed. When she had seen the child in
bed and asleep, she moved about the house with a strange
sense of freedom, seeming to breathe more naturally than
for several days. She went to the piano, and played some
MULTUM IN PARVO. 303
favourite pieces, among thein one which she had learnt long
ago in Paris. It gave her a curiously keen pleasure, like a
revival of her girlhood ; she lingered over it, and nursed the
impression. Then she read a little — not continuously, but
dipping into familiar books. It was holiday with her.
And when she lay down to rest, the sense of being alone was
stUl grateful. Sleep came very soon, and she did not stir
On the third day Elgar returned, at noon. She heard the
cab that brought him. He lingered in the hall, opened the
library door ; then came to the drawing-room, humming an
air. His look was as different as could be from that she
had last seen on his face ; he came towards her with his
pleasantest smile, and first kissed her hand, then embraced
her in the old way.
" Tou haven't been anxious about me, Ciss ? "
" Not at all," she replied quietly, rather permitting his
cvTesses than encouraging them.
" Some one I hadn't met for several years. He was going
doAvn to Brighton, and persuaded me to accompany him. I
didn't write because — well, I thought it would be better if
we kept quite apart for a day or two. Things were getting
wrong, weren't they ? "
" I'm afraid so. But how are they improved P "
" Why, I had a talk with your aunt about Mrs. Travis.
I quite believe I was misled by that fellow that talked
scandal. She seems very much to bo pitied, and I'm really
sorry that I caused you to break with her."
Cecily watched him as he spoke, and he avoided her eyes.
He was holding her hands and fondling them ; now he bent
and put them to his lips. She said nothing.
" Suppose you write to her, Ciss, and say that I made a
fool of myself. You're quite at liberty to do so. Tell her
exactly how it was, and ask her to forgive us."
She did not answer immediately.
" Will you do that ? "
3o4 THE EMANCIPATED.
"I feel ashamed to. I know very well how 1 should
receive such a letter."
" Oh, you ! But every oue hasn't your superb arrogance ! "
He laughed. " And it's hard to imagine you in such a
" I hope so."
" Aunt tells me that the poor woman has very few
" It's very unlikely that she will ever make one of me. I
don't see how it is possible, after this."
" But write the letter, just to make things simpler if you
meet anywhere. As a piece of justice, too."
Not that day, but the following, Cecily decided herself to
write. She could only frame her excuse in the way Eeuben
had suggested ; necessarily the blame lay on him. The
composition cost her a long time, though it was only two
pages of note-paper ; and when it was despatched, she
could not think without hot cheeks of its recipient reading
it. She did not greatly care for Mrs. Travis's intimacy, but
she did desire to remove from herself the imputation of
There came an answer in a day or two.
" I was surprised that you (or Mr. Elgar) should so
readily believe ill of me, but I am accustomed to such
judgments, and no longer resent them. A wife is always in
the wrong ; when a woman marries, she should prepare her-
self for this. Or rather, her friends should prepare her, as
she has always been kept in celestial ignorance by their
care. Pray let us forget what has happened. I won't
renew my request to be allowed to visit you ; if that is to
be, it will somehow come to pass naturally, in the course of
time. If we meet at Mrs. Lessingham's, please let us speak
not a word of this affair. I hate scenes."
In a week's time, the Elgars' life had resumed the course
it held before that interruption — with the exception that
MULTUM IN PARVO. 305
Keuben, as often as it was possible, avoided accompanying
his wife when she went from home. His own engagements
multiplied, and twice before the e-nd of July he spent
Saturday and Sunday out of town. Cecily made no close
inquiries conceruiug his employment of his time ; on their
meeting again, he always gave her an account of what he
had been doing, and she readily accepted it. For she had
now abandoned all hope of his doing serious work ; she
never spoke a word which hinted regret at his mode of
life. They were on placid terms, and she had no such faith
in anything better as would justify her in endangering the
It became necessary at length to discuss what they should
do with themselves during the autumn. Mrs. Lessingham
was going with friends to the Pyrenees. The Delphs would
take a short holiday in Sussex ; Irene could not sjjare much
time from her work.
" I don't care to be away long myself," Reuben said,
when Cecilv mentioned this. "I feel as if I should be
able to get on with my Puritanic pursuits again when we
Cecily looked at him, to see if he spoke in earnest. In
spite of his jesting tone, he seemed to be serious, for he was
pacing the floor, his head bent as if in meditation.
" Make your own plans," was her reply, " But we won't
go into Cornwall, I think."
" No, not this year."
They spent a month at Eastbourne. Some agreeable
people whom they were accustomed to meet at Mrs. Lessing-
ham' s had a house there, and supplied them with society.
Towards the end of the month, Reuben grew restless and
uncertain of temper ; he wandered on the downs by himself,
and when at homo kept silence. The child, too, was con-
stantly ailing, and its cry irritated him.
" The fact of the matter is," lie exclaimed one evening,
"I don't feel altogether well! I ought to have had more
3o6 THE EMANCIPATED.
change tlian tliis. If I go back and settle to work, I shall
" What kind of change do you wish for ? " Cecily asked.
"I should have hked to take a ramble in Germany, or
Norway — some new part. But nothing of that is possible.
Clarence makes slaves of us."
\ Cecily reflected.
" There's no reason why he should hinder you from
" Oh, I can't leave you alone," he returned impatiently.
"I think you miglat, for a few weeks — if you feel it
necessary. I don't think Clarence ought to leave the
seaside till the middle of September. The Eobinsons will
be here still, you know."
He muttered and grumbled, but in the end proposed that
he should go over by one of the Harwich boats, and take
what course happened to att^-act him. ' Cecily assented, and
in a few houi'S he was ready to bid her good-bye. She had
said that it wasn't worth while going with him to the
station, and when he gave her the kiss at starting she kept
"You're not sorry to get rid of me," he said, with a
" I don't wish you to stay at the expense of your health."
" I hope Clarence mayn't damage yours. These sleepless
nights are telling on you."
" Go. You'll miss the train."
He looked back from the door, but Cecily had turned away.
He was absent for more than six weeks, during which he
wrote frequently from various out-of-the-way places on the
Ehine. On returning, he found Cecily in London, very
anxious about the child, and herself looking very ill. He,
on the other hand, was robust and in excellent spirits ; in a
day or two he began to go regularly to the British Museum
— to say, at all events, that he went there. And so time
passed to the year's end.
MULTUM IN PARVO. 307
One night in January Eeuben went to the theatre. He
left Cecily sitting in the bedroom, by the fireside, with
Clarence on her lap. For several weeks the child had been
so ill that Cecily seldom quitted it.
Three hours later she was sitting in the same position,
still bent forward, the child still on her lap. But no move-
ment, no cry ever claimed her attention. Tears had stained
her face, but they no longer fell. Holding a waxen httle
hand that would never again caress hei", she gazed at the
dying fire as though striving to read her destiny.
The English artist had finished his work, and the dirty
little inn at Psestum would to-day lose its solitary guest.
This morning he rose much later than usual, and strolled
out idly into the spring sunshine, a rug thrown over his
shouldei'. Often plucking a flower or a leaf, and seeming to
examine it with close thoughtfulness, he made a long circuit
by the old walls ; now and then he paused to take a view of
the temples, always with eye of grave meditation. At one
elevated point, he stood for several minutes looking along
the road to Salerno.
March rains had brought the vegetation into luxurious
life ; fern, acanthus, brambles, and all the densely inter-
mingled growths that cover the gi-ound about the ruins,
spread forth their innumerable tints of green. Between
shore and mountains, the wide plain smiled in its desolation.
At length he went up into the Temple of Neptune, spread
the rug on a spot where he had been accustomed, each day at
uoon, to eat his salame and drin'c his Calabrian wino, and
3o8 THE EMANCIPATED.
seated himself against a column. Here he could enjoy a
view from both ends of the ruin. In the one direction it
was only a narrow strip of sea, with the barren coast below,
and the cloudless sky above it ; in the other, a purple valley,
rising far away on the flank of the Apennines ; both pictures
set between Doric pillars. He lit a cigar, and with a smile
of contented thought abandoned himseK to the delicious
warmth, the restful silence. Within reach of his hand was
a fern that had shot up between the massive stones ; he
gently caressed its fronds, as though it were a sentient crea-
ture. Or his eyes dwelt upon the huge column just in front
of him — now scanning its superb proportions, now enjoying
the hue of the sunny-golden travertine, now observing the
myriad crevices of its time-eaten surface, the petrified forms
of vegetable growth, the little pink snails that housed within
It was not an artistic impulse only that had brought
Mallard to Italy, after three years of work under northern
skies. He wished to convince himself that his freedom was
proof against memories revived on the very ground where
he had suffered so intensely. He had put aside repeated
invitations from the Spences, because of the doubt whether
he could trust himself within sight of the Mediterranean.
Liberty from oppressive thought he had long recovered ; tlie
old zeal for labour was so strong in him that he found it
difficult to imagine the mood in which he had bidden good-
bye to his life's purposes. But there was always the danger
lest that witch of the south should again overcome his will
and lull him into impotence of vain regret. For such a long
time he had believed that Italy was for ever closed against
him, that the old delights were henceforth converted into a
pain which memory must avoid. At length he resolved to
answer his friends' summons, and meet them on their return
from Sicily. They had wished to have him •ndth them in
Greece, but always his departure was postponed ; habits of
AT P^STUM, 309
solitude and characteristic diffidence kept him aloof as long
Evidently, his health was sound enough. He had loitered
about the familiar places in Naples ; he took the road by
Pompeii to Sorrento, and over the hills to Anialfi ; and at
each step he could smile with contemptuous pity for the self
which he had outlived. More than that. When he came
hither three years ago, it was with the intention of doing
certain definite work ; this purpose he now at last fulfilled,
thus completing his revenge upon the by-gone obstacles, and
reinstating himself in his own good opinion, as a man who
did that which he set himself to do. At Amalii he had made
a number of studies which would be useful ; at Psestum he
had worked towards a picture, such a one as had from the
first been in his mind. Yes, he was a sound man once more.
Tempestuous love is for boys, who have still to know them-
selves, and for poets, who can turn their suffering into song.
But to him it meant only hindrance. Because he had been
a prey to frantic desires, did he look upon earth's beauty
with a clearer eye, or was his hand endowed with subtler
craft ? He saw no reason to suppose it. The misery of
those first months of northern exile — his battling with fierce
winds on sea and moorland and mountain, his grim vigils
under stormy stars — had it given him new strength ? Of
body, perhaps ; otherwise, he might have spent the time with
decidedly more of satisfaction and profit.
Let it bs accepted as one of the unavoidable ills of humanity
— something that has to be gone through, like measles.
But it had come disagreeably late. No doubt ho had to
thank the monastic habits of his life that it assailed him
with such violence. That he had endured it, therein lay the
happy assurance that it would not again trouble him.
If it be true that love ever hai it in its power to make or
mar a man, this love that he had experienced was assuredly
not of such quality. From the first his reason had opposed
it, and now that it was all over he tried to rejoice at the
310 THE EMANCIPATED.
circumstauces which had made his desire vain. Herein he
went a littl3 beyond sincerity; yet there were arguments
which, at all events, fortified his wish to see that everything
was well. It was not mere perversity that in the beginning-
had warned him against thinking of Cecily as a possible wife
for him. Had she betrayed the least inclination to love hun,
such considerations would have gone to the winds ; he would
have called the gods to witness that the one perfect woman
on the earth was his. But the fact of her passionate self-
surrender to Eeuben Elgar, did it not prove that the possi-
bilities of her nature were quite other than those which could
have assured liis happiness ? To be sure, so young a girl is
liable to wretched errors — but of that he would take no