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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



*0 Pacific Avi

LONG BEACH;
CALIFORNIA !



Love for an Hour
Is Love Forever



New York
Dodd, Mead and Company




COPYRIGHT, 1891,

BY
ROBERT BONNER'S SONS

All Rights Reserved



LH



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER PAGP

I. " WHO RIDES BY WITH ROYAL AIR t" i

II. " TAKE CARE, MY LAD, TAKE CARE! " 14

III. THE SQUIRE AND THE SPINNER 28

VI. MARRYING AND PROMISE OF MARRIAGE 46

V. A HAPPY HOUR 65

VI. " IT HAS TO BE BORNE " 84

VII. THE HOUSE OF DEATH 98

VIII. LOVE'S DESPAIR 117

IX. LOVE TIED IN A KNOT 139

X. AT LAST GOD BRINGS THE TARDY BLESSING. ... 160

XI. FORTUNATE GOLD AND SORROWFUL LOVE 183

XII. HOPE AND Two SAD WOMEN 204

XIII. MARTHA LEIGH ATTAINS UNTO PEACE 229

XIV. "THEY WHO LOVE SHOW THEIR LOVE." 251

XV. IN SEARCH OF LOVE 272

XVI. AND Now LOVE SANG!... .. 284



2061823



LOVE FOR AN HOUR IS LOVE
FOREVER.



CHAPTER I.

"WHO RIDES BY WITH ROYAL AIR?"
" Who rides by with royal air? "

" Though fate may frown, and death may sever,
Love for an hour is love forever."

FJETWEEN the leaves of an old romance I found
JL) one day the shadow of a lily and a song. The lily
grew forty years ago, the song was sung as it was gath-
ered. The flower is nearly dust, the words have nearly
faded away, but the story they keep is unforgotten.
For in becoming " Life " it made itself eternal.

Before the flower bloomed, before the song had found
a voice, Francesca Atherton had dreamed of love, as
saints dream of heaven wonderful, mystical, far off
an object both of fervent desire and of wistful fear and
uncertainty. For her young life had been peopled from
noble books, and it was in their pages she had met her
friends and companions men, romantically honorable
and loyal ; women, faithful in love, even unto death



2 LOVE FOR AN HOUR.

both alike doing nobly with this life, because they held
it as the gage for life eternal.

And Francesca believed these shadowy forms to be
portraits of the people whom she would one day meet in
the world. No one told her differently. Her aunt the
still beautiful Loida Vyner held the same opinion ; for
she had only made little holiday visits into the world,
and she was quite ignorant of all that was mean or self-
ish in the pomps and vanities she took no part in.
Gentle and romantic, carrying in her heart the " hush "
of a great sorrow, Miss Vyner had brought up her
motherless niece in that sweet, pious simplicity which
makes a woman not only charming in good fortune but
patient and strong in the days of calamity.

In this exquisite schooling of a young soul Squire
Atherton had little part. He distrusted himself entirely
where Francesca was concerned. He would have taken
a son to the kennels and the ferret hutches, made him
wise in stable lore, and taught him all the mysteries of
woodcraft. The little maid, even at nine years old,
puzzled him. Her eyes, full of solemn wonder, gave
him an uncomfortable sense of incompetency. Her
liand had but to clasp his finger, and he felt under an
irresistible authority.' And when her small face lay
against his large, sunbrowned cheek, he had neither
wish nor will of his own, to speak of.

" She is just a little lady! God love her! " he said to
his sister-in-law, " and she must have a lady to guide
her. As for me, Loida, thou knows, I would lay my
hands under her feet." And Loida, looking up at the
man standing firm as an oak before her massive, tall,
tough, fearless felt all the wonderful surrender in this



*WHO RIDES BY WITH ROYAL AIR?" 3

free expression of love, and of love's service "/ would
lay my hands tinder her feet."

If this was the squire's feeling when Francesca was
nine years old, when she was nineteen it was ten years
stronger. For he had then begun to realize that his
child had become a woman, and that the high park
walls of Atherton Court would not much longer keep
away from her whatever Fate was waiting.

" And I'll tell thee what, Loida," he said one day, as
they sat talking, "if anything goes wrong with Fran-
cesca, the world will be just four bare walls to me."

As he spoke he rose and went to the window. The
leaded sashes were open, and a robin-redbreast, singing
on an ivy branch, was almost in the room. The squire
chirruped to the bird, but kept his eyes upon his daugh-
ter. She was coming slowly up the low stone steps of
the terrace, lifting slightly her long white dress with one
hand, and scattering wheat with the other to the many
colored pigeons, who paced and plumed and bridled
their opal necks, and " coo, coo, coo'd " around her
feet.

He called to her, because he wished to hear her
voice ; and she let the wheat fall from her hand and
lifted her hat with a joyous upward movement.

" Where have you been, Francesca ? " he asked.

" I went to the south walls, to ask the apricots if they
were ripe. And one like roses and amber told me
to try it."

" Was it good, dearie ? "

" It was like sunshine and wine and musk-roses and
one of your kisses, dear father." She was by this
time at the open window, and she sent the compliment



4 LOVE FOR AN HOUR.

straight to his heart, with a smile as ravishing as love
and beauty could make it.

" Eh! but thy words are like music. I don't wonder
the very birds love to hear them. Robin was singing till
you came ; now, like a wise bird, he is listening to thee."

" I have just been listening to the starlings. They
have been holding a large public meeting. Do you
think, father, that they are addicted to politics f No,
it must have been a religious meeting. It was extremely
orderly. There is a starling who lives in the east gable ;
he is quite a religious bird. I have often seen him on
the topmost stone of the highest chimney gaze on the
green earth and up at the blue sky, and then clap his
wings softly, to the most joyful song you can imagine.
He was singing to God, I am sure he was."

" I wouldn't wonder, dearie."

" Father, I walked through the park to the great
gates. And I saw two gentlemen go past them. One
was old, and one was young; that is, one was much
older than the other; and they looked so happy, out
there, in the world. I wished I was a man even an
old man if I could only go riding up and down, as my
fancy led me."

"I'll warrant it was their business, and not their
fancy, that led them into this bit of country, Francesca.
Why-a! They be coming here, my little lady. Go
tell your Aunt Loida. They will need a bite and sup,
whoever they be."

And she heard, as she went away, the trample of
horses' feet, and the sound of men's voices, and that
little flurry of formal welcome that marks the unex-
pected yet not unwelcome visitor. For visitors were



"WHO RIDES BY WITH ROYAL AIR?" 5

rare at Atherton Court, and the squire was glad to talk
to those who brought to him for awhile the atmosphere
of the busy world.

To Francesca their coming was also a little event.
She felt a kind of personal interest in these strangers,
she had seen them before any one in the house ; and
she was pleased when the ostler took away their horses.

"They are going to stay to dinner," she mentally
commented, "and I wonder what I shall put on!" It
was a delightful uncertainty to her ; she opened first one
and then another of the wide drawers in her ambry ;
and stood looking down at their contents. The scent
of lavender stole softly out of them, and mingled with
the sweet air of the room. And the sunshine fell on
several pale-colored gowns, pink and amber, and blue
and white. She could not tell which one was the pret-
tiest, but it was quite an important question to settle ;
because a stranger was such a rarity. One of these
might be a lord or a lover ; might be the prince of all
her fairylike love-dreams.

In the twinkling of an eye a girl's bright glance can
see a great deal ; and Francesca in a moment's space,
from out of the green shadows in which she stood, had
noticed the tall, graceful man who held his bridle so
lightly, and who turned a handsome, dark face toward
the dim beech alley, through which he must have seen
her sauntering.

The dresses, crisp and fresh with the clear starching
now gone out of use, lay across the snowy counterpane.
She considered their claims with a divided heart ; none
pleased her above all others. " I shall have to shut my
eyes and take what fortune sends me," she said, with



6 LOVE FOR AN HOUR.

a low laugh of satisfaction. " We have to do that about
many other things, I am sure."

Then she lifted her watch, and saw that it was only
a little after eleven. " And dinner will not be served
until two perhaps until half -past two ; for Ann Pierson
will have to make a syllabub, of course. She thinks
visitors come to Atherton to eat her syllabubs."

This primitive toilet divination was obviated by the
decision of Aunt Loida, who immediately on entering
the room perceived the dilemma, and met it.

" I would wear the pink muslin, Frances," she said.
" It is sheerer and smarter ; and you can go to the gar-
den when you are dressed, and get some myrtle-leaves
and white clematis. And black lace mitts, my dear.
Be sure of the black lace mitts! They give an air of
modesty to a young girl. They say to a gentleman :
' The tips of my fingers only, sir.' "

Francesca looked, with a smile, at the tips of her fin-
gers, and said :

" If you please, aunt, for whom am I to wear pink
muslin, and white clematis, and the limiting black
mitts ? "

" Our visitors are Mr. Stephen Leigh and his son."

" I never heard of them before. Did you ? I hope
they have not come about money. Every one now
seems to come about money."

" They are very rich, and we owe them nothing. Mr.
Leigh is a loom-lord. He lives to make woolen cloth.
But that is neither here nor there. The younger man is
extremely handsome, and, and I am sure, Frances,
you will be careful. I mean, dear you will not let
him make any impression you know what I mean."



"WHO RIDES BY WITH ROYAL AIR?" 7

" Indeed, Aunt Loida, I do not know what you
mean."

" Young people sometimes fancy they have fallen in
love, when they have not."

" Why should you warn me about falling in love ?
Have I ever done such a thing? Is it a common trans-
gression of mine? How many opportunities have I
had to be so imprudent ? Is ' imprudent ' the word ?
Or should I use a stronger one ? "

" I see that I have been unwise in speaking to you,
Francesca."

" You should not have spoken on this subject. I am
nearly nineteen years old, Aunt Loida."

"It is such an important subject! O Francesca,
such a fateful subject ! It makes or mars human lives
in a few moments. I am ' one of those who know,' my
dear."

Miss Vyner's still face flushed, and she dropped her
eyes upon her gray silk dress and smoothed out a fanci-
ful crease.

It was the first approach to confidence ever given,
and Francesca went to her aunt's side and took her
hand. Some vague tradition of Loida Vyner's disap-
pointment in love had floated into her consciousness
almost imperceptibly, but the idea had always been
pale, remote, and without much meaning. At this mo-
ment she had a revelation that troubled and restrained
her, and a spell of sadness fell between the two women.

It lingered in the room after Miss Vyner had left it,
and Francesca was a little impatient of the feeling. She
began to sing softly, but ere she was aware her voice
had slipped into a monotonous air, full of old world sad*



8 LOVE f-'OK AN HOUR.

ness. Then she broke it off suddenly, and, in a quiet
hurry, finished her toilet. For once she forgot to take
a little pleasure in her own beauty to watch in the two
long mirrors the graceful sweep of pink muslin across
the dark oak floor ; to notice the gleam of her white
arms and throat ; the heavy braids of her nut-brown
hair; the rose-like tints of her face, and the sparkling
lights of her large gray eyes. But it was only one
o'clock, and she could go to the garden and get flow-
ers, and do all these things in that final five minutes be-
fore dinner.

As she passed through the hall, she heard her father
talking. His voice had an argumentative ring ; it was
clear and positive.

" Now I know what these people have come for," she
said to herself ; " politics. I dare say this Stephen Leigh
is a Radical, for father never talks that way but when
somebody is saying something against the Conservative
government." As soon as she had settled the visit upon
a political basis, her spirits rose ; the decision put away
some unacknowledged money care.

With a light step she went down the terrace into the
pleasant stretch of odorous shrubs and blossoming
flowers. Here there were all kinds of shady alleys;
rose hedges shut in some, and the laburnums' rain of
gold and the climbing honeysuckle others ; and lower
down toward the steps of the second terrace there was
a thick screen of white clematis. It covered also a
little summer-house overlooking the steps and the hilly
sward in which they were set ; and lower down, the
place of summer fruits. The desire to enter the summer-
house was irresistible. It was so cool, and then the



"WHO RIDES BY WITH ROYAL AIR?" g

light was so green there, and her pink dress made such
a charming glow in its dim shadow. She spread it out
with an obvious childlike pride in the contrast.

Oh, the stillness! Oh, the sweet smell of growing
wood ; of the soil ; of the flowers ; of the ripening fruit !
Youth has a sensuous hunger for such alluring odors,
and Francesca sat and closed her eyes, the better to
enjoy them. The chair was her father's chair ; it was
large and soft ; the air was the noontide air, it was
warm and sleepy ; her soul was in the mood of a truant,
and it slipped away into the land of dreams.

She awakened suddenly, as if she had been sharply
called. All the lower space of the fruit garden was
full of sweetest melody :

" I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls."

That was very like what she had been dreaming. She
rose quickly to her feet, a warm crimson wave rushed
over her throat and face, her eyes grew larger and
darker, she parted the clematis vines and looked through
them.

A young man was slowly walking between the plum
and the apricot standards, and singing as he walked.
His voice had magic in it. The tender, ringing tones,
now sharp and clear, then soft and lingering, came float-
ing up the terrace and went straight to her heart. She
had heard the first verse of the song in her sleep never
before and the second verse had an insinuating famil-
iarity she could not resist.

The singer came slowly onward, taking the terrace-
steps with a charming deliberation. He held an apri-
cot, and he threw it lightly from one hand to the other,



10 LOVE FOR AN HOUR.

making the act as rhythmical and graceful as the melody
he sang to the movement. He was bare-headed, slender
and talJ, and carried himself with a royal air. As he
came closer, she saw that he was very handsome ; that
his mouth was sweet and smiling ; that his clothes had
the gloss of fashion. He stood a moment on the top-
most step ; stood in the sunshine singing, serenely glad,
and wearing the look of a man who had always lived
in the sunniest places of human happiness.

Francesca would have fled, but flight was now im-
possible. She could only tremble with fear and shame,
only reflect that he would be sure to think she had
come there purposely to watch him. She forgot even
to sit down, and thus give the idea, at least, of indiffer-
ence. Putting together the parted vines, she stood very
upright, facing the leafy entrance. Her left hand was
dropped, her right hand grasped the back of the large
chair. Pinker than her muslin gown was her face ; her
eyes shone like stars ; her manner expressed forcibly the
confusion of a soul surprised in its very citadel.

For a moment the singer and the listener looked
straight into each other's eyes. Something impelled
them to this recognizance. Then Francesca said :

" I am Miss Atherton."

And the stranger said :

" I am Lancelot Leigh."

And she gave him just the tips of her fingers, and
they went through the garden together. And the white
clematis were never gathered, which was a fortunate
thing, for the free flowers of the gadding vine hold no
love-spell in their wide-open' cups. There was one hour
before dinner, and love for an hour is love forever if



"WHO RIDES BY WITH ROYAL AIR?" II

it be true love. These two souls had just found each
other, and they had so much to say, and seemed to
choose such unmeaning words that any one not of the
faculty of love would have been puzzled at their satis-
faction. A few syllables and a glance a glance and a
flower one step at a time, and the touch of their hands
these simple vehicles of understanding held a meas-
ureless contentment. And when they took the terraced
steps together, the tips of their fingers had a language
all their own mystically sweet as the influences of the
Pleiades, mystically binding as the virtues of Orion.
They were talking of names at the time, and he said,
softly :

" I am called Lancelot."

She answered :

" I am called Francesca."

He repeated the word slowly "Francesca! " and
every letter was vivid as light, and the name went to
his brain like wine.

What did it matter to them that they were late to
dinner, and that the squire, with a slow dignity that
was almost a reproof, told them so ? What did it mat-
ter that he looked annoyed, and Aunt Loida anxious,
and that the conversation was confined to the elder
gentlemen, and was painfully political. The great
point was that dinner would so soon be over, and that
they must then learn for the first time how hard it is to
spell the word "parting." Francesca could make no
attempt to do it. She turned white, and remained
dumb. Lancelot touched her fingers again, and said,
"Good-night;" and, if his eyes lied not, said many
sweeter words.



12 LOVE FOR AN HOUR.

Francesca did not doubt them. All of love, and of
love's confession that sprung from their beautiful depths,
she implicitly believed. And, though it was yet a secret
between their happy souls, she was certain the hour for
its translation into mortal language would come would
surely come.

As soon as his visitors were out of sight, the squire
gave way to his natural temper. He turned sharply
round, went into his parlor, and filled a fresh " yard of
clay " with his strongest tobacco. Miss Vyner let him
puff some of his annoyance into smoke ere she asked
the irritating question :

" What is the matter with you, Rashleigh ? You act
as if you were vexed at something."

" I am vexed at something. Whatever does thou
think of a cotton-mill near Atherton ? "

" A mill ! W T hy, Rashleigh ! Never ! "

" That is what brought Stephen Leigh to my house.
He was sure he could buy me over ; he thought I would
sell him Atherton Dingle ; he talked about ' water-power '
as if water-power was God Almighty."

" You would not sell the Dingle ? "

" Not for gold. And nobody shall make gold out of
its silver water and nodding bluebells if I can stop
them. Why-a! there isn't a tree in Atherton would not
whisper ' Shame! ' to me if I sold Atherton Dingle for a
mill village."

" He must have been a little trying to you."

" He was very trying. But thou may be sure I gave
him some words that had more strength than grace in
them."

" I should not wonder if you did."



" WHO RIDES BY WITH ROYAL AIR?" 13

As this moment Francesca came into the room, and
the squire, having had a taste of sympathy, longed for
more. He turned to his daughter with an air of injury :

" Whatever dost thou think brought the Leighs here,
Francesca? "

" Politics, I suppose."

"My joy! Thou art wrong this time. They want
me to sell the Dingle."

He expected to see her face flame and to hear her
passionately protest. She only looked with curiosity
and interest in his face, and so waited for further infor-
mation.

"Yes, joy! They wanted to build a mill there a
great ugly cotton-mill ! "

"Would not that be a good thing, father?"

If she had struck him, the squire could scarcely have
been more angry and amazed.

" If thou hast no more sense and feeling than to
speak in such a way as that, I had better hold my peace
to thee."

" But mills make money, father, and some of our
people are very poor."

"Poor! Not they! Thou should see the squalid,
murmuring poverty of a mill village. The poor in our
farm villages are decent. They don't live in cellars and
alleys. They have their cottages on the fell-side, and
a garden-plot, and a hive of bees, and a few sheep, and
they go to church, and serve God, and do their duty.
But if thou, Francesca a lady of the land art going
to side with mill-men and such like, I may as well slip
into my coffin and be done with everything!"



CHAPTER II.
"TAKE CARE, MY LAD, TAKE CARE!"

" Lovers have said these things before,
Lovers will say them evermore."

" Don't thee marry for money,
But go where money lies."

QTEPHEN LEIGH was the owner of the great mill
O at Little Garsby, a village that lay among the In-
gleton Falls, on the borders of what was once the lone-
liest and loveliest portion of the West Riding. But
steam had found out its abundance of water and ready
facilities, and gradually its hills and valleys had been
blotched with mills and all its sparkling waters made to
toil and spin.

The Leighs were sons and daughters of the soil;
strong, individual, elemental men and women, whose
prejudices were convictions, and whose opinions, likes,
and dislikes, being self-evolved, were in reality a part of
each existence, and not to be surrendered except with
the life of which they were the expression.

For many centuries the Leighs had lived at Leigh
Farm, a large, rambling, gray stone house, covered
with trained fruit trees. The branches framed the low,
wide windows of lozenge-shaped glass ; and the house
stood in a pleasant garden, and was surrounded by
meadows and cornfields. Stephen Leigh had made



"TAKE CARE, MY LAD, TAKE CARE!" 15

some fine additions to it, but the old English character
of the house had been preserved ; and even the interior
decorations, though handsome and costly, sustained in a
satisfactory manner the ancient character which belonged
to the place.

Until the middle of the present century, the Leighs
had been farmers, and were known far and wide as
great horsemen

' ' Shrewd Yorkshire tykes,
Who, dealing in horseflesh,
Had never their likes."

Stephen's father had begun weaving in a small way, and
with but a half-heart. Stephen threw all his faculties
into the business, and he had made himself a rich and
influential man. Unfortunately, the possession of more
money than his business required developed in him a
passion for investment and speculation that kept his
more legitimate gains in constant danger and his wife
Martha in perpetual fear and irritation.

" We are rich people living night and day on the varry
edge of ruin," was her frequent statement of their posi-
tion.

This conviction made her go about her beautiful
home with a soured and angry heart, for Leigh Farm
was the very apple of her eye. She was a cousin of
Stephen's ; her mother had been a daughter of the
house, and her own life had never consciously been
spent outside its walls. From garret to cellar it was
crowded with the belongings and the associations of her
people.

That they were out of this world did not weaken their



1 6 LOVE FOR AN HOUR.

influence over her. She spoke of the rooms Seth Leigh
had built in Queen Anne's reign just as she spoke of
those her husband had built in Queen Victoria's reign ;
and Cicely Leigh, who one hundred years before had
shot a man discovered in the act of setting fire to her
hay-ricks, was as real a person to Martha as was her own
husband or son. She often went about her work talking
to the shade of the valiant Cicely as if she was present ;
discussing with her the circumstances which led to the
crime, and fully exonerating her for taking so fatal a
reprisal.

The rooms that had been Cicely Leigh's were now
Martha's ; and the handsome resolute face of her ances-
tress followed her from them, and went with her about
her daily duties, and was a familiar to Martha Leigh's
imagination ; though imagination was the quality which,
above all others, she despised, being consciously the
most practical and material of women ; being uncon-
sciously highly imaginative, and disposed to let her im-
agination work upon such spiritual instincts as she pos-
sessed.

She had married Stephen because he was a Leigh and
the inheritor of the old house which she so dearly loved.


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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrLove for an hour is love forever → online text (page 1 of 20)