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over both faces. She gave the gentlemen flowers, and listened to Mrs.
Rawdon's chatter, and said in reply she knew not what. A swift and
exquisite excitement had followed her surprise. Feelings she could
not voice were beating at her lips, and yet she knew that without her
conscious will she had expressed her astonishment and pleasure. It
was, indeed, doubtful whether any after speech or explanation would as
clearly satisfy both hearts as did that momentary flash from soul to
soul of mutual remembrance and interest.

"I thought I'd give you a surprise," said Mrs. Rawdon delightedly. "You
didn't know the Tyrrel-Rawdons had a branch in America, did you? We are
a bit proud of them, I can tell you that."

And, indeed, the motherly lady had some reason. John Thomas was a
handsome youth of symmetrical bone and flesh and well-developed muscle.
He had clear, steady, humorous eyes; a manner frank and independent,
not to be put upon; and yet Ethel divined, though she could not have
declared, the "want" in his appearance - that all-overish grace and
elasticity which comes only from the development of the brain and
nervous system. His face was also marred by the seal of commonness which
trade impresses on so many men, the result of the subjection of the
intellect to the will, and of the impossibility of grasping things
except as they relate to self. In this respect the American cousin was
his antipodes. His whole body had a psychical expression - slim,
elastic, alert. Over his bright gray eyes the eyelids drew themselves
horizontally, showing his dexterity and acuteness of mind; indeed, his
whole expression and mien

"Were, as are the eagle's keen,
All the man was aquiline."


These personal characteristics taking some minutes to describe were
almost an instantaneous revelation to Ethel, for what the soul sees it
sees in a flash of understanding. But at that time she only answered her
impressions without any inquiry concerning them. She was absorbed by the
personal presence of the men, and all that was lovely and lovable in her
nature responded to their admiration.

As they strolled together through a flowery alley, she made them pass
their hands through the thyme and lavender, and listen to a bird singing
its verses, loud and then soft, in the scented air above them. They
came out where the purple plums and golden apricots were beginning to
brighten a southern wall, and there, moodily walking by himself, they
met Mostyn face to face. An angry flash and movement interpreted his
annoyance, but he immediately recovered himself, and met Ethel and his
late political opponent with polite equanimity. But a decided constraint
fell on the happy party, and Ethel was relieved to hear the first
tones of the great bell swing out from its lofty tower the call to the
dining-room.

As far as Mostyn was concerned, this first malapropos meeting indicated
the whole evening. His heart was beating quickly to some sense of defeat
which he did not take the trouble to analyze. He only saw the man who
had shattered his political hopes and wasted his money in possession
also of what he thought he might rightly consider his place at Ethel's
side. He had once contemplated making Ethel his bride, and though the
matrimonial idea had collapsed as completely as the political one, the
envious, selfish misery of the "dog in the manger" was eating at his
heartstrings. He did not want Ethel; but oh, how he hated the thought of
either John Thomas or that American Raw-don winning her! His seat at the
dinner-table also annoyed him. It was far enough from the objects of
his resentment to prevent him hearing or interfering in their merry
conversation; and he told himself with passionate indignation that Ethel
had never once in all their intercourse been so beautiful and bright as
she revealed herself that evening to those two Rawdon youths - one a mere
loom-master, the other an American whom no one knew anything about.

The long, bewitching hours of the glorious evening added fuel to the
flame of his anger. He could only procure from Ethel the promise of one
unimportant dance at the close of her programme; and the American had
three dances, and the mere loom-man two. And though he attempted to
restore his self-complacency by devoting his whole attentions to the
only titled young ladies in the room, he had throughout the evening
a sense of being snubbed, and of being a person no longer of much
importance at Rawdon Court. And the reasoning of wounded self-love is a
singular process. Mostyn was quite oblivious of any personal cause for
the change; he attributed it entirely to the Squire's ingratitude.

"I did the Squire a good turn when he needed it, and of course he hates
me for the obligation; and as for the Judge and his fine daughter, they
interfered with my business - did me a great wrong - and they are only
illustrating the old saying, 'Since I wronged you I never liked you.'"
After indulging such thoughts awhile, he resolved to escort the ladies
Aurelia and Isolde Danvers to Danvers Castle, and leave Miss Ethel to
find a partner for her last dance, a decision that favored John Thomas,
greatly relieved Ethel, and bestowed upon himself that most irritating
of all punishments, a self-inflicted disappointment.

This evening was the inauguration of a period of undimmed delight. In it
the Tyrrel-Rawdons concluded a firm and affectionate alliance with the
elder branch at the Court, and one day after a happy family dinner
John Thomas made the startling proposal that "the portrait of the
disinherited, disowned Tyrrel should be restored to its place in the
family gallery." He said he had "just walked through it, and noticed
that the spot was still vacant, and I think surely," he added, "the
young man's father must have meant to recall him home some day, but
perhaps death took him unawares."

"Died in the hunting-field," murmured the Squire.

John Thomas bowed his head to the remark, and proceeded, "So perhaps,
Squire, it may be in your heart to forgive the dead, and bring back the
poor lad's picture to its place. They who sin for love aren't so bad,
sir, as they who sin for money. I never heard worse of Tyrrel Rawdon
than that he loved a poor woman instead of a rich woman - and married
her. Those that have gone before us into the next life, I should think
are good friends together; and I wouldn't wonder if we might even make
them happier there if we conclude to forget all old wrongs and live
together here - as Rawdons ought to live - like one family."

"I am of your opinion, John Thomas," said the Squire, rising, and as he
did so he looked at the Judge, who immediately indorsed the proposal.
One after the other rose with sweet and strong assent, until there was
only Tyrrel Rawdon's voice lacking. But when all had spoken he rose
also, and said:

"I am Tyrrel Rawdon's direct descendant, and I speak for him when I say
to-day, 'Make room for me among my kindred!' He that loves much may be
forgiven much."

Then the housekeeper was called, and they went slowly, with soft words,
up to the third story of the house. And the room unused for a century
was flung wide open; the shutters were unbarred, and the sunshine
flooded it; and there amid his fishing tackle, guns, and whips, and
faded ballads upon the wall, and books of wood lore and botany, and
dress suits of velvet and satin, and hunting suits of scarlet - all faded
and falling to pieces - stood the picture of Tyrrel Rawdon, with its face
turned to the wall. The Squire made a motion to his descendant, and the
young American tenderly turned it to the light. There was no decay on
those painted lineaments. The almost boyish face, with its loving eyes
and laughing mouth, was still twenty-four years old; and with a look of
pride and affection the Squire lifted the picture and placed it in the
hands of the Tyrrel Rawdon of the day.

The hanging of the picture in its old place was a silent and tender
little ceremony, and after it the party separated. Mrs. Rawdon went
with Ruth to rest a little. She said "she had a headache," and she also
wanted a good womanly talk over the affair. The Squire, Judge Rawdon,
Mr. Nicholas Rawdon, and John Thomas returned to the dining-room to
drink a bottle of such mild Madeira as can only now be found in the
cellars of old county magnates, and Ethel and Tyrrel Rawdon strolled
into the garden. There had not been in either mind any intention of
leaving the party, but as they passed through the hall Tyrrel saw
Ethel's garden hat and white parasol lying on a table, and, impelled by
some sudden and unreasoned instinct, he offered them to her. Not a word
of request was spoken; it was the eager, passionate command of his
eyes she obeyed. And for a few minutes they were speechless, then so
intensely conscious that words stumbled and were lame, and they managed
only syllables at a time. But he took her hand, and they came by sunny
alleys of boxwood to a great plane tree, bearing at wondrous height
a mighty wealth of branches. A bank of soft, green turf encircled its
roots, and they sat down in the trembling shadows. It was in the midst
of the herb garden; beds of mint and thyme, rosemary and marjoram,
basil, lavender, and other fragrant plants were around, and close at
hand a little city of straw skeps peopled by golden brown bees; From
these skeps came a delicious aroma of riced flowers and virgin wax. It
was a new Garden of Eden, in which life was sweet as perfume and pure as
prayer. Nothing stirred the green, sunny afternoon but the murmur of the
bees, and the sleepy twittering of the birds in the plane branches. An
inexpressible peace swept like the breath of heaven through the odorous
places. They sat down sighing for very happiness. The silence became too
eloquent. At length it was almost unendurable, and Ethel said softly:

"How still it is!"

Tyrrel looked at her steadily with beaming eyes. Then he took from his
pocket a little purse of woven gold and opal-tinted beads, and held it
in his open hand for her to see, watching the bright blush that spread
over her face, and the faint, glad smile that parted her lips.

"You understand?"

"Yes. It is mine."

"It was yours. It is now mine."

"How did you get it?"

"I bought it from the old man you gave it to."

"Oh! Then you know him? How is that?"

"The hotel people sent a porter home with him lest he should be robbed.
Next day I made inquiries, and this porter told me where he lived. I
went there and bought this purse from him. I knew some day it would
bring me to you. I have carried it over my heart ever since."

"So you noticed me?"

"I saw you all the time I was singing. I have never forgotten you since
that hour."

"What made you sing?"

"Compassion, fate, an urgent impulse; perhaps, indeed, your piteous
face - I saw it first."

"Really?"

"I saw it first. I saw it all the time I was singing. When you dropped
this purse my soul met yours in a moment's greeting. It was a promise.
I knew I should meet you again. I have loved you ever since. I wanted
to tell you so the hour we met. It has been hard to keep my secret so
long."

"It was my secret also."

"I love you beyond all words. My life is in your hands. You can make me
the gladdest of mortals. You can send me away forever."

"Oh, no, I could not! I could not do that!" The rest escapes words; but
thus it was that on this day of days these two came by God's grace to
each other.

For all things come by fate to flower,
At their unconquerable hour.

And the very atmosphere of such bliss is diffusive; it seemed as if all
the living creatures around understood. In the thick, green branches
the birds began to twitter the secret, and certainly the wise, wise bees
knew also, in some occult way, of the love and joy that had just been
revealed. A wonderful humming and buzzing filled the hives, and the
air vibrated with the movement of wings. Some influence more swift and
secret than the birds of the air carried the matter further, for it
finally reached Royal, the Squire's favorite collie, who came sauntering
down the alley, pushed his nose twice under Ethel's elbow, and then with
a significant look backward, advised the lovers to follow him to the
house.

When they finally accepted his invitation, they found Mrs. Rawdon
drinking a cup of tea with Ruth in the hall. Ethel joined them with
affected high spirits and random explanations and excuses, but both
women no-ticed her radiant face and exulting air. "The garden is such a
heavenly place," she said ecstatically, and Mrs Rawdon remarked, as she
rose and put her cup on the table, "Girls need chaperons in gardens if
they need them anywhere. I made Nicholas Rawdon a promise in Mossgill
Garden I've had to spend all my life since trying to keep."

"Tyrrel and I have been sitting under the plane tree watching the bees.
They are such busy, sensible creatures."

"They are that," answered Mrs. Rawdon. "If you knew all about them you
would wonder a bit. My father had a great many; he studied their ways
and used to laugh at the ladies of the hive being so like the ladies of
the world. You see the young lady bees are just as inexperienced as a
schoolgirl. They get lost in the flowers, and are often so overtaken and
reckless, that the night finds them far from the hive, heavy with
pollen and chilled with cold. Sometimes father would lift one of these
imprudent young things, carry it home, and try to get it admitted. He
never could manage it. The lady bees acted just as women are apt to do
when other women GO where they don't go, or DO as they don't do."

"But this is interesting," said Ruth. "Pray, how did the ladies of the
hive behave to the culprit?"

"They came out and felt her all over, turned her round and round, and
then pushed her out of their community. There was always a deal of
buzzing about the poor, silly thing, and I shouldn't wonder if their
stings were busy too. Bees are ill-natured as they can be. Well, well,
I don't blame anyone for sitting in the garden such a day as this; only,
as I was saying, gardens have been very dangerous places for women as
far as I know."

Ruth laughed softly. "I shall take a chaperon with me, then, when I go
into the garden."

"I would, dearie. There's the Judge; he's a very suitable,
sedate-looking one but you never can tell. The first woman found in a
garden and a tree had plenty of sorrow for herself and every woman that
has lived after her. I wish Nicholas and John Thomas would come. I'll
warrant they're talking what they call politics."

Politics was precisely the subject which had been occupying them, for
when Tyrrel entered the dining-room, the Squire, Judge Rawdon, and
Mr. Nicholas Rawdon were all standing, evidently just finishing a
Conservative argument against the Radical opinions of John Thomas. The
young man was still sitting, but he rose with smiling good-humor as
Tyrrel entered.

"Here is Cousin Tyrrel," he cried; "he will tell you that you may call
a government anything you like radical, conservative, republican,
democratic, socialistic, but if it isn't a CHEAP government, it isn't a
good government; and there won't be a cheap government in England till
poor men have a deal to say about making laws and voting taxes."

"Is that the kind of stuff you talk to our hands, John Thomas? No wonder
they are neither to hold nor to bind."

They were in the hall as John Thomas finished his political creed, and
in a few minutes the adieux were said, and the wonderful day was over.
It had been a wonderful day for all, but perhaps no one was sorry for a
pause in life - a pause in which they might rest and try to realize what
it had brought and what it had taken away. The Squire went at once to
his room, and Ethel looked at Ruth inquiringly. She seemed exhausted,
and was out of sympathy with all her surroundings.

"What enormous vitality these Yorkshire women must have!" she said
almost crossly. "Mrs. Rawdon has been talking incessantly for six hours.
She has felt all she said. She has frequently risen and walked about.
She has used all sorts of actions to emphasize her words, and she is as
fresh as if she had just taken her morning bath. How do the men stand
them?"

"Because they are just as vital. John Thomas will overlook and scold
and order his thousand hands all day, talk even his mother down while he
eats his dinner, and then lecture or lead his Musical Union, or conduct
a poor man's concert, or go to 'the Weaver's Union,' and what he calls
'threep them' for two or three hours that labor is ruining capital,
and killing the goose that lays golden eggs for them. Oh, they are a
wonderful race, Ruth!"

"I really can't discuss them now, Ethel."

"Don't you want to know what Tyrrel said to me this afternoon?"

"My dear, I know. Lovers have said such things before, and lovers will
say them evermore. You shall tell me in the morning. I thought he looked
distrait and bored with our company."

Indeed, Tyrrel was so remarkably quiet that John Thomas also noticed his
mood, and as they sat smoking in Tyrrel's room, he resolved to find out
the reason, and with his usual directness asked:

"What do you think of Ethel Rawdon, Tyrrel."

"I think she is the most beautiful woman I ever saw. She has also the
most sincere nature, and her high spirit is sweetly tempered by her
affectionate heart."

"I am glad you know so much about her. Look here, Cousin Tyrrel, I
fancied to-night you were a bit jealous of me. It is easy to see you are
in love, and I've no doubt you were thinking of the days when you would
be thousands of miles away, and I should have the ground clear and so
on, eh?"

"Suppose I was, cousin, what then?"

"You would be worrying for nothing. I don't want to marry Ethel Rawdon.
If I did, you would have to be on the ground all the time, and then I
should best you; but I picked out my wife two years ago, and if we are
both alive and well, we are going to be married next Christmas."

"I am delighted. I - - "

"I thought you would be."

"Who is the young lady?"

"Miss Lucy Watson. Her father is the Independent minister. He is a
gentleman, though his salary is less than we give our overseer. And he
is a great scholar. So is Lucy. She finished her course at college this
summer, and with high honors. Bless you, Tyrrel, she knows far more
than I do about everything but warps and looms and such like. I admire a
clever woman, and I'm proud of Lucy."

"Where is she now?"

"Well, she was a bit done up with so much study, and so she went to
Scarborough for a few weeks. She has an aunt there. The sea breezes and
salt water soon made her fit for anything. She may be home very soon
now. Then, Tyrrel, you'll see a beauty - face like a rose, hair brown as
a nut, eyes that make your heart go galloping, the most enticing mouth,
the prettiest figure, and she loves me with all her heart. When she says
'John Thomas, dear one,' I tremble with pleasure, and when she lets me
kiss her sweet mouth, I really don't know where I am. What would you say
if a girl whispered, 'I love you, and nobody but you,' and gave you a
kiss that was like - like wine and roses? Now what would you say?"

"I know as little as you do what I would say. It's a situation to make a
man coin new words. I suppose your family are pleased."

"Well, I never thought about my family till I had Lucy's word. Then I
told mother. She knew Lucy all through. Mother has a great respect for
Independents, and though father sulked a bit at first, mother had it
out with him one night, and when mother has father quiet in their room
father comes to see things just as she wants him. I suppose that's the
way with wives. Lucy will be just like that. She's got a sharp little
temper, too. She'll let me have a bit of it, no doubt, now and then."

"Will you like that?"

"I wouldn't care a farthing for a wife without a bit of temper. There
would be no fun in living with a woman of that kind. My father would
droop and pine if mother didn't spur him on now and then. And he likes
it. Don't I know? I've seen mother snappy and awkward with him all
breakfast time, tossing her head, and rattling the china, and declaring
she was worn out with men that let all the good bargains pass them;
perhaps making fun of us because we couldn't manage to get along without
strikes. She had no strikes with her hands, she'd like to see her women
stand up and talk to her about shorter hours, and so on; and father
would look at me sly-like, and as we walked to the mill together he'd
laugh contentedly and say, 'Your mother was quite refreshing this
morning, John Thomas. She has keyed me up to a right pitch. When
Jonathan Arkroyd comes about that wool he sold us I'll be all ready
for him.' So you see I'm not against a sharp temper. I like women as
Tennyson says English girls are, 'roses set round with little wilful
thorns,' eh?"

Unusual as this conversation was, its general tone was assumed by Ethel
in her confidential talk with Ruth the following day. Of course, Ruth
was not at all surprised at the news Ethel brought her, for though the
lovers had been individually sure they had betrayed their secret to
no one, it had really been an open one to Ruth since the hour of their
meeting. She was sincerely ardent in her praises of Tyrrel Rawdon,
but - and there is always a but - she wondered if Ethel had "noticed what
a quick temper he had."

"Oh, yes," answered Ethel, "I should not like him not to have a quick
temper. I expect my husband to stand up at a moment's notice for either
mine or his own rights or opinions."

And in the afternoon when all preliminaries had been settled and
approved, Judge Rawdon expressed himself in the same manner to Ruth.
"Yes," he said, in reply to her timid suggestion of temper, "you
can strike fire anywhere with him if you try it, but he has it under
control. Besides, Ethel is just as quick to flame up. It will be Rawdon
against Rawdon, and Ethel's weapons are of finer, keener steel than
Tyrrel's. Ethel will hold her own. It is best so."

"How did the Squire feel about such a marriage?"

"He was quite overcome with delight. Nothing was said to Tyrrel about
Ethel having bought the reversion of Rawdon Manor, for things have been
harder to get into proper shape than I thought they would be, and it may
be another month before all is finally settled; but the Squire has the
secret satisfaction, and he was much affected by the certainty of a
Rawdon at Rawdon Court after him. He declined to think of it in any
other way but 'providential,' and of course I let him take all the
satisfaction he could out of the idea. Ever since he heard of the
engagement he has been at the organ singing the One Hundred and Third
Psalm."

"He is the dearest and noblest of men. How soon shall we go home now?"

"In about a month. Are you tired of England?"

"I shall be glad to see America again. There was a letter from Dora this
morning. They sail on the twenty-third."

"Do you know anything of Mostyn?"

"Since he wrote us a polite farewell we have heard nothing."

"Do you think he went to America?"

"I cannot tell. When he bid us good-by he made no statement as to his
destination; he merely said 'he was leaving England on business.'"

"Well, Ruth, we shall sail as soon as I am satisfied all is right. There
is a little delay about some leases and other matters. In the meantime
the lovers are in Paradise wherever we locate them."

And in Paradise they dwelt for another four weeks. The ancient garden
had doubtless many a dream of love to keep, but none sweeter or truer
than the idyl of Tyrrel and Ethel Rawdon. They were never weary of
rehearsing it; every incident of its growth had been charming and
romantic, and, as they believed, appointed from afar. As the sum-mer
waxed hotter the beautiful place took on an appearance of royal color
and splendor, and the air was languid with the perfume of the clove
carnations and tall white August lilies. Fluted dahlias, scarlet
poppies, and all the flowers that exhale their spice in the last hot
days of August burned incense for them. Their very hair was laden with
odor, their fingers flower-sweet, their minds took on the many colors of
their exquisite surroundings.

And it was part of this drama of love and scent and color that they
should see it slowly assume the more ethereal loveliness of September,
and watch the subtle amber rays shine through the thinning boughs, and
feel that all nature was becoming idealized. The birds were then mostly
silent. They had left their best notes on the hawthorns and among the
roses; but the crickets made a cheerful chirrup, and the great brown


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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Man Between, an International Romance → online text (page 9 of 14)