this, at all events."
" You are a silly, empty-headed girl ! " retorted her
mother, with swelling bosom and reddening face. " You
have quarrelled on some simpleton's question, no doubt. Ho
will accept his step-father's offer ; we know that well enough.
He ought to have done so a year ago, and our difiiculties
would have been lightened. Your father means what he
Bays ? "
Si THE EMANCIPATED.
" Wolf ! " cried Barbara, petulantly.
" Well, I can see that tlie wolf has come at last, in good
earnest. My girl, yoii'll have to become more serious-
Barbara, you at all events, cannot afford to trifle."
"lam no trifler ! " cried the enthusiast for Italian unity
" Let us have proof of that, then." Mrs. Denyer looked
at her meaningly.
" Mother," said Zillah, earnestly, " do let me write to Mrs.
Stonehouse, and beg her to find me a place as nursery
governess. I can manage that, I feel sure."
" I'll think about it, dear. But, Madeline, I insist on your
putting an end to this ridiculous state of things. You will
order him to take the position offered."
" Mother, I can do nothing of the kind. If necessary, I'll
go for a governess as well."
Thereupon Zillah wept, protesting that such desecration
was impossible. The scene j)rolonged itself to midnight. On
the morrow, with the exception of Mrs. Denyer's resolve to
subdue Marsh, all was forgotteu, and the Denyer family pur-
sued their old course, putting off decided action until there
should come another cry of " Wolf ! "
But for the aid of his wife's more sympathetic insight,
Edward Spence would have continued to interpret Miriam's
cheerless frame of mind as a mere result of impatience at
being removed from the familiar scenes of her religious
activity, and of disquietude amid uncongenial surroundings.
" A Puritan at Naj)les" â€” that was the phrase which repre-
MIRIAM'S BROTHER. 55
Bented lier to liis imagination ; his liking for the picturesque
and suggestive led him to regard her solely in that light. No
strain of modern humanitarianism complicated Miriam's
character. One had not to take into account a possible
melancholy produced by the contrast between her life of ease
in the South, and the squalor of laborious multitudes under
a sky of mill-smoke and English fog. Of the new philan.
thropy she spoke, if at all, with angry scorn, holding it to be
based on rationalism, radicalism, positivism,^or whatsoevei-
name embodied the conflict between the children of this
world and the children of light. Far from Miriam any desire
to abolish the misery which was among the divinely-
appointed conditions of this preliminary existence. No ; she
was uncomfortable, and content that others should be so, for
discomfort's sake. It fretted her that the Sunday in Naples
could not be as universally dolorous as it was at Bartles. It
revolted her to hear happy voices in a country abandoned to
" Whenever I see her looking at old Vesuvius," said
Spence to Eleanor, his eye twinkling, " I feel sure that she
muses on the possibility of another tremendous outbreak.
She regards him in a friendly way ; he is the minister of
Eleanor's discernment was not long in bringing her to a
modification of this estimate.
" I am convinced, Ned, that her thoughts are not so con-
stantly at Bartles as we imagine. In any case, I begin to
understand what she suffers from most. It is want of occu-
pation for her mind. She is crushed with ennuis
" This is irreverence. As well attribute ennui to the
Proj^het Jeremiah meditating woes to come."
" I allow you your joke, but I am right for all that. She
has nothing to think about that pi'ofoundly interests her;
her books are all but as sapless to her as to you or me. She
is sinking into melancholia."
" But, my dear girl, the chapel ! "
56 THE EMANCIPATED
"â– SLe only pretends to think of it. Miriam is becoming a
hypocrite j I have noted several little signs of it since Cecily
came. She posesâ€” and in wretchedness. Please to recollect
that her age is four-and-twenty."
" I do so frequently, and marvel at human nature."
" I do so, and without marvelling at all, for I see human
nature justifying itself. I'll tell you what I am going to do,
I shall propose to her to begin and read Dante."
" The ' Inferno.' Why, yes."
" And I shall craftily introduce to her attention one or
two wicked and worldly little books, such as, ' The Improvi-
Batore,' and the ' Golden Treasury,' and so on. Any such
attempts at first would have been premature ; but I think
the time has come."
Miriam knew no language but her own, and Eleanor by
no means purposed inviting her to a course of grammar and
exercise. She herself, with her husband's assistance, had
learned to read Italian in the only rational way for mature-
minded persons â€” simply taking the text and a close transla-
tion, and glancing from time to time at a skeleton accidence.
This, of course, will not do in the case of fools, but Miriam
Baske, all appearances notwithstanding, did not belong to
that category. On hearing her cousin's proposition, she at
first smiled coldly ; but she did not reject it, and in a day or
two they had made a fair beginning of the ' Inferno.' Such
a beginning, indeed, as surprised Eleanor, who was not yet
made aware that Miriam worked at the book in private with
feverish energy â€” drank at the fountain like one perishing of
thirst. Andersen's exquisite story was not so readily ac-
cepted, yet this too before long showed a book-marker. And
Miriam's countenance brightened ; she could not conceal this
effect. Her step was a little lighter, and her speech became
A relapse was to be expected ; it came at the bidding of
sirocco. One morning the heavens lowered, grey, rolling ;
it might have been England. Vesiivius, heavily laden at
MIRIAM'S BROTHER 57
first witli a cloud like tliat on Olympus wlieu the gods are
wrathful, by degrees passed from vision, withdrew its form
into I'ecesses of dun mists. The angry blue of Capri faded
upon a troubled blending of sea and sky ; everywhere the
horizon contracted and grew mournful ; rain began to fall.
Miriam sank as the heavens darkened. The strength of
which she had lately been conscious forsook her ; all her
body was oppressed with languor, her mind miserably void.
No book made appeal to her, and the sight of those which
she had brought from home was intolerable. She lay upon
a couch, her limbs torpid, burdensome. Eleanor's compauy
was worse than useless.
" Please leave me alone," she said at length. "The sound
of your voice irritates me."
An hour went by, and no one disturbed her mood. Her
languor was on the confines of sleep, when a knock at the
door caused her to stir impatiently and half raise herself. It
was her maid who entered, holding a note.
" A gentleman has called, ma'am. He wished me to give
Miriam glanced at the address, and at once stood up, only
her pale face witnessing the lack of energy of a moment
" Is he waiting ? "
" Yes, ma'am."
The note was of two or three lines : â€” " Will you let me
see you ? Of course I mean alone. It's a long time since
we saAv each other. â€” R. E."
" I will see him in this room."
The footstep of the maid as she came back along the tiled
corridor was accompanied by one much heavier. Miriam
kept her eyes turned to the door; her look was of pained
expectancy and of sternness. She stood close by the
window, as if purposely drawing as far away as possible.
The visitor was introduced, and the door closed behind
58 THE EMANCIPATED.
He too, stood still, as far from Miriam as might be. His
age seemed to be seven- or eiglit-and-twenty, and the cast of
bis features so strongly resembled Miriam's that there was no
doubt of his being her brother. Yet he had more beatity as
a man than she as a woman. Her traits were in him deve-
loped so as to lose severity and attain a kind of vigour, which
at first sight promised a rich and generous nature ; his
excellent forehead and dark imaginative eyes indicated a
mind anything but likely to bear the trammels in which
Miriam had grown up. In the attitude with which he
waited for his sister to speak there was both pride and
shame ; his look fell before hers, but the constrained smile
on his lips was one of self-esteem at issue with adversity.
He wore the dress of a gentleman, but it was disorderly.
His light overcoat hung unbuttoned, and in his hand he
crushed tosjether a hat of soft felt.
"Why have you come to see me, Eeuben?" Miriam
asked at length, speaking with difficulty and in an offended
" Why shouldn't I, Miriam ? " he returned quietly, step-
iiig nearer to her. " Till a few days ago I knew nothing of
the illness you have had, or I should, at all events, have
written. When I heard you had come to Naples, I â€” well,
I followed. I might as well be here as anywhere else, and I
felt a wish to see you."
" Why should you wish to see me ? What does it matter
to you whether I am well or ill ? "
" Yes, it matters, though of course you find it hard to
" Very, when I remember the words with which you last
parted from me. If I was hateful to you then, how am I
less so now ? "
" A man in anger, and especially one of my nature, often
Bays more than he means. It was never you that were hate-
ful to me, though your beliefs and your circumstances might
madden me into saying such a thing."
MIRIAM'S BROTHER. 59
" My beliefs, as I told you then, are a part of myself â€” are
She said it with irritable insistence â€” an accent which
would doubtless have been significant in the ears of Eleanor
" I don't wish to speak of that. Have you recovered your
health, Miriam ? "
" I am better."
He came nearer again, throwing his hat aside.
" Will you let me sit down ? I've had a long journey in
third-class, and I feel tired. Such weather as this doesn't
help to make me cheerful. I imagined Naples with a
rather different sky."
Miriam motioned towards a chair, and looked drearily
from the window at the dreary sea. Neither spoke again
for two or three minutes. Eeubeii Elgar surveyed the room,
" What is it you want of me ? " Miriam asked, facing him
" Want ? You hint that I have come to ask you for
money ? '
" I shouldn't have thought it impossible. If you were in
need â€” you spoke of a third-class journey â€” I am, at all events,
the natiiral person for your thoughts to turn to."
Reuben laughed dispiritedly.
" No, no, Miriam ; I haven't quite got to that. You are
the very last person I should think of in such a case."
" Why ? "
" Simply because I am not quite so contemptible as you
think me. I don't cjuarrel with my sister, and come back
after some years to make it up just because I want to
make a demand on her purse."
" You haven't accustomed me to credit you with high
" No. And I have never succeeded in making you under-
stand me. I suppose it's hopeless that you ever wiU. We are
60 THE EMANCIPATED.
too different. You regard me as a vulgar reprobate, wlio by
some odd freak of nature happens to be akin to you. I can
picture so well what your imagination makes of me. All the
instances of debauchery and general blackguardism that the
commerce of life has forced upon your knowledge go
towards completing the ideal. It's a pity, I have always
felt that you and I might have been a great deal to each
other if you had had a reasonable education. I remember
you as a child rebelling against the idiocies of your training,
before your brain and soul had utterly yielded ; then you
were my sister, and even then, if it had been possible, I would
have dragged you away and saved you."
" I thank Heaven," said Miriam, " that my childhood was
in other hands than yours ! "
" Yes ; and it is very bitter to me to hear you say so."
Miriam kept silence, but looked at him less disdain-
" I suppose," he said, " the people you are staying with
have much the same horror of my name as you have."
" You speak as loosely as you think. The Spences can
scarcely respect you."
" You purpose remaining with them all the winter? "
â€¢' It is quite uncertain. With what intentions have you
come here ? Do you wish me to speak of you to the Spences
He still kept looking about the room. Perhaps upon him
too the baleful southern wind was exercising its influence,
for he sat listlessly when he was not speaking, and had a
" You may speak of me or not, as you like. I don't see
that anything's to be gained by my meeting them ; but I'll
do just as you please."
" You mean to stay in Naples ? "
" A short ti Die. I've never been here before, and, as I
said, I may as well be here as anywhere else."
" When did you last see Mr. Mallard ? "
MIRIAM'S BROTHER. 6i
â™¦' Mallard ? Why, what makes you speak of him ? "
" You made his acquaiiatance, I think, not long after you
last saw me."
" Ha ! I understand. That was why he sought me out.
You and your friends sent him to me as a companion likely
to ' do me good.'"
" I knew nothing of Mr. Mallard then â€” nothing person-
ally. But he doesn't seem to be the kind of man whose
interest you would i-esent."
" Then you know him ? " Eeuben asked, in a tone of some
" He is in Naples at present."
" I'm delighted to hear it. Mallai-d is an excellent fellow,
in his own way. Somehow I've lost lost sight of him for a
long time. He's painting here, I suj^pose ? Where can I
find him ? "
" I don't know his address, but I can at once get it for
you. You are sure that he will welcome you ? "
" Why not ? Have you spoken to him about me ? "
" No," Miriam replied distantly.
" Why shouldn't he welcome me, then ? We were very
good friends. Do you attribute to him such judgments as
your own ? "
His way of speaking was subject to abrupt changes.
When, as in this instance, he broke forth impulsively, there
was a corresponding gleam in his fine eyes and a nervous
tension in all his frame. His voice had an extraordinary
power of conveying scornful passion ; at such moments he
seemed to reveal a profound and strong nature.
" I am very slightly acquainted with Mr. Mallard," Miriam
answered, with the cold austerity which was the counterpart
in her of Reuben's fiery impulsiveness, " but I understand
that he is considered trustworthy and honourable by people
of like character."
Elgar rose from his chair, and in doing so aU but flung it
62 THE EMANCIPATED.
" Trustworthy and honourable ! Whj, so is many a
greengrocer. How the artist would be flattered to hear this
estimate of his personality ! The honourable Mallard ! I
must tell him that."
" You will not dare to repeat words from my lips ! " ex-
claimed Miriam, sternly. " You have sunk lower even than
" What limit, then, did you put to my debasement ? In
what direction had I still a scrap of trustworthiness and
honour left ? "
" Tell me that yourself, instead of talking to no purpose
in this frenzied way. Why do you come here, if you only
wish to renew our old differences ? "
" You were the first to do so."
"Can I pretend to be friendly with you, Eeuben?
What word of penitence have you spoken? In what
have you amended yourself? Is not every other sen-
tence you speak a defence of yourself and scorn upon
me ? "
" And what right have you to judge me ? Of course I
defend myself, and as scornfully as you like, when I am
despised and condemned by one who knows as little of me
as the first stranger I pass on the road. Cannot you come
forward with a face like a sister's, and leave my faults for
my own conscience ? You judge me ! What do you, with
your nun's experiences, your heart chilled, youi* paltry view
of the world through a chapel window, know of a man
whose passions boil in him like the fire in yonder mountain ?
I should subdue my passions. Excellent text for a copy-
book in a girls' school ! I should be another man than I
am ; I should remould myself ; I should cool my brain with
doctrine. With a bullet, if you like ; say that, and you will
tell the truth. But with the truth you have nothing to do ;
too long ago you were taught that you must never face that.
Do you deal as truthfully with youi'self as I with my own
heart ? I wonder, I wonder."
MIRIAM'S BROTHER. 63
Miriam's eyes had fallen. She stood quite motionless,
with a face of suffering.
" You want me to confess my sins ? " Eeuben continued,
walking about in uncontrollable excitement. "What is
your chapel formula? Find one comprehensive enough,
and let me repeat it after you ; only mind that it includes
hypocrisy, for the sake of the confession. I tell you I am
conscious of no sins. Of follies, of ignorances, of miseries^
as many as you please. And to what account should they
all go ? Was I so admirably guided in childhood and boy-
hood that my subsequent life is not to be explained ? It
succeeded in your case, my poor sister. Oh, nobly ! Don't
be afraid that I shall outrage you by saying all I think.
But just think of me as a result of Jewish education applied
to an English lad, and one whose temjDerament was plain
enough to eyes of ordinary penetration. My very name !
Tour name, too ! You it has made a Jew in soul ; upon me
it weighs like a curse as often as I think of it. It symbolizes
all that is making my life a brutal failure â€” a failure â€” a
failure ! "
He threw himself upon the couch and became silent, his
strength at an end, even his countenance exhausted of
vitality, looking haggard and almost ignoble. Miriam
stirred at length, for the first time, and gazed steadily at
" Reuben, let us have an end of this," she said, in a voice
half choked. " Stay or go as you will ; but I shall utter no
more reproaches. You must make of your life Avhat you
can. As you say, I don't understand you. Perhaps the
mere fact of my being a woman is enough to make that
impossible. Only don't throw your scorn at me for
believing what you can't believe. Talk quietly ; avoid those
subjects ; tell me, if you wish to, what you are doiug or
think of doing."
"You should have spoken like this earlier, Miriam. It
would have spared my memory its most wretched burden."
64 THE EMANCIPATED.
" You know quite well that I valued your affection, and
that it had no little importance in my life. Instead of still
having my sister, I had only the memory of her anger and
injustice, and of my own cursed temper."
" I had no influence for good."
"Perhaps not in the common sense of the words I
am not going to talk humbug about a woman's power
to make a man angelic ; that will do for third-rate novels
and plays. But I shouldn't have thrown myself away
as I have done if you had cared to know what I was
" Did I not care, "Reuben ? "
" If so, you thought it was your duty not to ishow it.
Tou thought harshness was the only proper treatment for a
case such as mine. I had had too much of that."
" What did you mean just now by speaking as though you
were poor ? "
" I have been poor for a long time â€” poor compared with
what I was. Most of my money has gone â€” on the fool's
way. I haven't come hei-e to lament over it. It's one of
my rules never, if I can help it, to think of the past. What
has been, has been ; and what will be, will be. When I
fume and rage like an idiot, that's only the blood in me
getting the better of the brain ; an example of the fault
that always wrecks me. Do you think I cannot see myself ?
Just now, I couldn't keep back the insensate words â€” insen-
sate because useless â€” but I judged myself all the time as
distinctly as I do now it's over."
"Your money gone, Eeubeu?" murmured his sister, in
" You might have foreseen that. Come and sit down by
me, Miriam. I am tired and wretched. Where is the sun '?
Surely one may have sunshine at Naples ! "
He was now idly fi-etful. Miriam seated herself at his
side, and he took her hand.
MIRIAM'S BROTHER. 65
"Itliouglit you might perhaps receive me like this at
first. I came only with tkat hope. I wish you looked
better, Miriam, How do you employ yourself here ? "
" I am much out of doors. I get stronger."
"You spoke of old Mallard. I'm glad he is here, really
glad. You know, Mallard's a fellow of no slight account j I
should think you might even like him."
" But yourself, Eeuben ? "
" No, no ; let me rest a little. I'm sick and tired of
myself. Let's talk of old MaUard. And what's become of
little Cecily Doran ? "
" She is here â€” with her aunt."
" She here too ! By Jove ! Well, of course, I shall have
nothing to do with them. Mallard still acting as her
guardian, I suppose. Eather a joke, that. I never could
get him to speak on the subject. But I feel glad you know
him. He's a solid fellow, tremendously conscientious ; just
the things you would like in a man, no doubt. Have you
seen any of his paintings ? "
Miriam shook her head absently, unable to find voice for
the topic, which was remote from her thoughts.
" He's done fine things, great things. I shall look him up,
and we'll drink a'bottle of wine together."
He kept stroking Miriam's hand, a white hand with blue
veinsâ€” a strong hand, though so delicately fashioned. The
touch of the wedding-ring again gave a new direction to his
" After this, shall you go back to that horrible hole ia
Lancashire ? "
" I hope to go back home, certainly."
"Home, home!" he muttered, impatiently. "It has
made you ill, poor girl. Stay in Italy a long time, now you
are once here. For you to be here at all seems a miracle ;
it gives me hopes."
Miriam did not reser.t this, in word at all events. She
Wi^s submitting again to physical oppression; her head
66 THE EMANCIPATED,
drooped, and her abstracted gaze was veiled with despondent
lassitude. Eeuben talked idly, in loose sentences.
"Do you think of me as old or young, Miriam?" he
asked, when both had kept silence for a while.
" I no longer think of you as older than myself."
" That is natural. I imagined that. In one way I am
old enough, but in another I am only just beginning my life,
and have all my energies fresh. I shall do something yet ;
can you believe it ? "
"Do what?" she asked, wearily.
" Oh, I have plans ; all sorts of plans."
He joined his hands together behind his head, and began
to stir with a revival of mental energy.
" But plans of what sort ? "
" There is only one dix'ection open to me. My law has of
course gone to â€” to limbo ; it was always an absurdity.
Most of my money has gone the same way, and I'm not
6orry for it. If I had never had anything, I should have
Â«et desperately to work long ago. Now I am bound to
work, and you will see the results. Of course, in our days,
there's only one road for a man like me. I shall go in for
Miriam hstened, but made no comment.
" My life hitherto has not been wasted," Elgar pursued,
leaning forward with a new light on his countenance. " I
have been gaining experience. Do you understand ? Few
men at my age have seen more of life â€” the kind of life that
is useful as literaiy material. It's only quite of late that I
have begun to appreciate this, to see all the possibilities that
are in myself. It has taken all this time to outgrow the
miserable misdirection of my boyhood, and to become a man
of my time. Thank the fates, I no longer live in the Pen-
tateuch, but at the latter end of the nineteenth century.
Many a lad has to work this dehverance for himself nowa-
days. I don't wish to speak unkindly any more, Miriam,
but I must tell you plain facts. Some fellows free them-
MIRIAM'S BROTHER. 67
selves by dint of hard study. lu my case that was made
impossible by all sorts of reasons â€” temperament mainly, as
yon know. I was always a rebel against my fetters ; I had
not to learn that liberty was desirable, but how to obtain it,
and what use to make of it. All the disorder through
which I have gone was a struggle towards self-knowledge
and understanding of my time. You and others are wildly
in error in calling it dissipation, profligacy, recklessness, and
so on. You at least, Miriam, ought to have judged me more
truly ; you, at all events, should not have classed me with
His eyes were now agleam, and the beauty of his coun-
tenance fully manifest. He held his head in a pose of
superb confidence. There was too much real force in his
features to make this seem a demonstration of idle vanity.
Miriam regarded him, and continued to do so.
" To be sure, my powers are in your eyes valueless," he