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Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The winning of Lucia : a love story online

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sleeper opened his eyes. They brought him coffee
and then took him upstairs to refresh himself as
much as possible. Then Dixon brought him the
breakfast Dr. Studley thought best, and he ate and
drank and felt his strength returning. And when
he took the Colonel's hand and heard his words of
sympathy and his eyes fell upon Lucia, he felt that
he must speak and relieve the tension of their sus-
pense. Lucia had spent a hard night, but just before
daylight had received the courage and comfort which
comes to the soul who has discovered the way to give
up its little self and find a greater self there. So the
struggle was over for Lucia. She had accepted the
will of God as her will; and though her eyes were
heavy with weeping and sleepless sorrow, the pallor
of her face was transfigured by the light that can
come only from an internal illumination. She sat
beside her father and her head leaned against his
shoulder; but her large eyes — ^tearless and unspeak-
ably sad — questioned Geoffrey and would not be de-
nied. Then the Colonel took the initiatory and
asked, "When did you leave Wick, Geoffrey?"

"We left Wick on Tuesday. We had not in-
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DEATH REDEEMETH LIFE

tended to leave until Thursday night, and we ex-
pected to travel easily, and be in Glasgow on Satur-
day. Then I was at home, and Arthur — ^Arthur
intended to be here on Sunday afternoon."

"You did not hold to this intention?" asked the
Colonel.

•*No," replied GeoflFrey. "A rather singular cir-
cumstance of a supernatural character occurred on
Monday night. Arthur told you about it and I need
not repeat his story, though it was the moving point
of our destiny. He could not forget it. He did not
sleep that night and in the morning said he must go
away. The house had become uncanny and oppres-
sive to him. So after breakfast we paid our host
and took our departure. He said four others had
done the same thing, and scoffed at our 'English ter-
ror of what we could not see.'

"A pleasant journey brought us to Aberdeen on
Wednesday afternoon. Arthur went alone to look
around the town and met an old acquaintance on the
street who told him he must not on any account neg-
lect the sail down the Fife coast. I had no objec-
tion, for I like a ship better than a train, and we went
together to look for a passage. The regular steamers
had left at noon, but there was a carrying steamer
at midnight, and we took passage on her to Glasgow.

"We had a wretched night in many respects, but
the captain was surly in manner and seemed to dis-

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THE WINNING OF LUCIA

like any notice from his passengers. ' On Thursday
morning there was general dissatisfaction among the
passengers and many angry requests for the captain
who never appeared. To my surprise Arthur was
in the wildest spirits. He turned everything into
amusement. His mood was unnatural. Never be-
fore had I seen anything like it. I began to watch
him as a physician watches his patient; really I was
afraid the hallucination of Monday night had un-
settled his mind.

"I was standing by the companion-way musing
miserably when a woman touched me on the arm.
She said, 'I am the stewardess of this wicked old
tub, and I have been watching your friend. You
had better do the same thing.' I turned sharply on
her, and asked, *Why do you say that?'

" *He is fey^^ she answered.

•* ^FeyT I repeated. *Do you mean— drunk?'

" *No, indeed 1 I mean he is fey or close at hand
to something he came into this life to meet. When
he has done it, he will die.'

**About eight o'clock at night, Arthur — ^in spite
of a fear and restlessness that had touched everyone,
fell into a death-like sleep. No noise disturbed him,
he slept as one that had forgotten life, and hour
after hour I watched him. About six in the morn-
ing he was awake, wide awake, more awake than I
ever saw a mortal man.

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" 'Geoffrey/ he said, in a low firm voice, *they are
scuttling the ship/ I saw them as I slept. We must
go and look after the scoundrels,' and he got into
his clothes like a miracle. He never thought of his
valet. I looked at him in amazement. He was a
new man. He was much taller and stronger. His
eyes were like a flame, there was a vivid color in his
cheeks, he walked firmly and rapidly. The inner
man had full control and I saw Arthur Fenwick that
day as the bowmen of Angiers and Agincourt saw
Lancelot Fenwick, when he drove the French before
him, ^gigantic, powerful, his helmet far above all
others, his sword like a flame.'

'*He turned to me at the saloon door and said,
*You will stand at my right hand,' and I answered
*Until death.' We looked at the captain's chair. It
was empty; and we went on deck together. The best
boat was gone, and we could just distinguish the
captain and his confederates on the horizon."

'* 'I am captain on this boat now,' he said, and no

* In the latter half of the nineteenth century the great com-
mercial crime of heavily insuring unseaworthy craft and then
permitting them to go to the bottom, and even helping on this
catastrophe, was so alarmingly common that Samuel PlimsolL
Member of Parliament for l5erby, prepared a law to safeguard
the lives of sailors and passengers; and in 1876 his law was
rendered obligatory. He is remembered as "The Sailors' Friend"
and honored by the 'TlimsoU Mark" on all ships, above which
mark no ship can be laden. The shipwreck here described was
the result of crime, and not of wind and waves ; and my hero,
Geoffrey Gardiner, a few years later worked with Samuel Plim-
soll in Parliament for the passing of the PlimsoU BilL

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one would have denied his words that looked at him.
He sent me for some Fife fishers we had been talk-
ing to the previous day, and he ordered the stew-
ardess to bring to where he stood by the two boats
all the women and children. Very soon there was a
confusion impossible to describe — ^prayers and weep-
ing among the women, cursing and fighting among
the crew, but he stood there putting the women and
children into the boats and felling every man who
attempted to interfere with his work. One he shot,
two or three he threw overboard, and growling and
swearing they were all obliged to obey.

"Four Fife fishers went with the first boat. They
said they knew the coast, and if the weather kept
fine could land their load in a few hours. In the
second boat every woman and child on the sloping
deck of the sinking ship was sent to safety and there
was only then one boat left for the crew and male
passengers. In the midst of a frightful fight for
life, this boat was filled, Dick Idle, being at his mas-
ter's or^r, the last man to enter it. He shouted
through the clamor, *Good-bye, Dickl* and Dick
wept, and said he would stay, but a peremptory 'Go'
sent him in a hurry to the place kept for him.

"This boat took the last hope with it and the few
men remaining on the ship began to seize any spar
or chair or rigging they could find. In these last
moments, Arthur and I were alone. He was smil-

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DEATH REDEEMETH LIFE

ing, though In acute agony, up to the knees in water
and fighting his last fight with the weak physical
heart that had been the delayer and damper and
destroyer of all the days of his life.

*^We had a few sacred moments at the last I
said a word about the marvelous strength he had
suddenly possessed. He said it was not a strength
lying under sinews and muscles, but a strange irre-
sistible force and power that closed round and filled
him even to his finger tips.

"At the last his eyes wore a new, deep look, as if a
veil before them had been rent. The bitterness of
death lay behind him and not before. If he suffered
he smiled and made no complaint. He left love for
all and told me to say to Lucia he died with her in
his thoughts. His last word was her name, but he
could only utter half of it, the other half he took —
into the other world with him.

"The water was now above our knees, but I had
told the Fife men in control of the last boat to stand
by till they saw what would happen to us. I held
him close, but he found a way to pass from me to
God, and when I saw all was over, I slipped over
the gunwale with him clasped in my left arm and
made for the boat. It came to meet me and I laid
the dear dead in it. There was great opposition to
this, and the manager of the boat said he was afraid
it was more than it could carry to shore. Then a

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THE WINNING OF LUCIA

big, heavy Shetlander said: 'Take in the dead man.
His friend and I will trust the sea. We are both
good swimmers/ I had told Dick what to do If
this thing happened — and so we parted.'*

At this point Geoffrey broke down and wept pas-
sionately. The Colonel went to his side and kissed
him tenderly, and Dr. Studley got him a glass of
wine and water. They urged him to rest a while,
but he could not — the urge to dear his heart of all
its lonely sorrow, was too great

"There is not much more," he said, "and jrou must
hear it all. My companion and I were picked up
by a fishing-boat just before dark, and I paid die
fishers to carry me to the land. I had of course lost
nearly all my clothing, but I bought a fisherman's
overcoat, and got to Edinburgh the next day. Here
I was compelled to buy shoes, stockings, clothing
of all kinds, but I reached Fenwick Castle on Satur-
day. Dick had not arrived with Arthur's body and
I waited Sunday and Monday very anxiously. It
came on Tuesday morning. I saw it laid beside his
mother's and started for Abbot's Rest immediately
after the ceremony."

A few moments of intense emotion followed.
Geoffrey wept with uncontrolled passion ; the Colonel
was hardly less affected. Lucia tried to comfort
him, and Dr. Studley whispered words of strength
to the distracted man. But comfort must be self-

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evolved to be of real use. And Geoffrey was not
helped until he told himself with a kind of trium-
phant joy and pride :

"Just like a conquerer he went I Hired on the
wide sea at the eleventh hour, he could tell of thirty-
seven soulsi saved in that last hour I There was no
blank page at the end of his life. It was a fight and
a noble one. The Master has given him the full
day's wage. I do not doubt it."

Now the heart of God is conquered by a cry from
the heart of man, and as they talked together, a
great peace and hope came to each. For it is the
ground we do not tread on that comforts and sup-
ports us —

Nothing before, nothing behind,
The footsteps of Faith
Tread on the seeming void, and find
The rock beneath.

Soon they went out into the September garden. The
hollyhocks, the dahlias and the beauty of flowers
and bronzing ferns were all around, though the trees
were changing or losing their foliage. And they
had no young twigs now, no nests, no secrets. But
there were flodcs bleating on the hills and murmur-
ing bees and cooing doves and the voice of running
waters. And they talked together of that friend of
theirs

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. . . who lives in Go<L
That God, which ever lives and loves,
One God, one law, one element.
And one far-off divine event.
To which the whole creation moves.

This central tract of emotion where life and death
meet is one full of strange comforts, and no one
knew better than Dr. Studley how to find them.
Thus, when the Colonel spoke of the state of death,
he answered calmly: "Ah, my dear friend, but death
is not a state. It is only a road to a state. You
must remember," said the doctor, unconsciously lift-
ing his eyes heavenward, "that if death deprives us
of physical consciousness, it also brings to free de-
velopment those transcendental faculties of which in
dreams and in somnambulism we obtain intimations
but which are hindered in life by our physical organ-
ism. It is thus Paul speaks of the transcendental
faculties of those who have been illuminated by
death, and thus taste of the powers of the world
to come."

So they talked the sorrowful hours away, but
all sorrow finally finds refuge in sleep, and God gives
it to his beloved when the way is too hard or too
long; and they were all comforted in that sleep, so
that the next day they spoke with loving hopeful-
ness of that friend of theirs who lived with God.



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CHAPTER XIII

LOVE HATH EVERLASTING REMEMBRANCE

Hired on the sea at the eleventh hour he took
his full day's wage. There was no blank page at
the end of his Life's Book.

LOVE hath everlasting remembrance," said
the great Jeremy Taylor. Was he right
in such a statement? Yes, if we cast out of
consideration the mere passion of the flesh for the
flesh, and count love to be what it really is, a divine
quality of the soul, coeval with its existence and
sharing in its immortality. The love of a soul for
a soul is the secret of life. It redeems and lifts up.
It enlightens and advances. Indeed, a soul marriage
is the absolute acme of life.

Such marriages occur far more frequently than we
recognize. Why do women cheerfully follow men
into all kinds of perils and deprivations? Why do
they stand by them in sickness and shame and sorrow
and direst poverty? Why do men give up rank,
riches, fame, and all earthly good for some woman,

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THE WINNING OF LUCIA

in whom to the average observer, there is neither
beauty nor any other quality to make her desirable.
How often in the most ordinary daily life do we hear
the following remarks, "Whatever could the man
see in her? She is neither pretty nor clever." And
his answer would be, if he cared to answer at all:
"I have found her whom my soul loveth."

In the city of A a woman, beautiful, rich,

and highly cultivated, married a man whom every-
one declared to be unworthy of love. But she loved
him and stood by him in all the troubles he managed
to get into, paid his debts, nursed him tenderly
through sickness self-induced, and never by word or
look reproached him. People wondered at her and
many blamed and despised such forbearance. Then
a great calamity fell upon the city and this man, far
above all others, rose to the occasion and finally laid
down his life helping those who had no other help
or comfort. And his wife rejoiced, weeping even as
she rejoiced. "None of you knew my husband," she
said. "I only saw the grand inner man, and it was
the inner man I adored. He was worthy of all love.
I knew him the moment we met. We had gone
through life together many times before this life."
This is the love that hath everlasting remem-
brance. It is not to be named with that fierce,
abrupt, fleshly passion, flaming up at the sight of
beauty, and cooling and dying as quickly as it rose.

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LOVERS EVERLASTING REMEMBRANCE

Now Geoffrey's love for Lucia was a soul love. The
moment he saw her, he remembered; not consciously
perhaps, but with a positive claim that even aston-
ished himself. And child as she was, Lucia had a
similar experience. If their marriage had not been
interfered with, it would have quickly followed, yet
such an easy consummation would have deprived
both of the wonderful discipline and experience
which Arthur Fenwick brought them.

For one more year of life they were kept apart
by social customs and many business transactions re-
lating to the large fortune which had been left
Lucia by Lord Fenwick. She was not of age and
Colonel Ragnor and Dr. Studley were made the
guardians of her estate. Many meetings came
naturally from such an association, but both be-
haved exactly as they would have done if Lord Fen-
wick had been present. The fact was that they were
both bound by the traditional year of mourning, per-
haps more so, because he whom they mourned had
himself submitted to its restrictions in a very marked
and painful manner.

So the days and the months followed each other
and Lucia was not unhappy. She had a kind of sol'
emn glory in the death of Arthur Fenwick. She was
proud of his last hour, and thanked God for it 1 All
the newspapers in the land lauded his heroism, his
wonderful strength and courage, and the noble cheer*

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THE WINNING OF LUCIA

fulness with which he died to save others. Upon the
whole, she felt that she deserved some praise fof
having loved so worthily.

But though father and daughter went often to
London on Lucia's business they spent the year vir-
tually at Abbot's Rest. And the Colonel began to
take a great interest in his flocks, to know many by
name, and to be very happy when they answered his
call and followed him. Also a new interest arose
for Lucia. Ann's removal to the Cross Keys placed
on her the oversight of her house and servants, and
she was not ill-pleased at Ann's departure. **She
does not know her place at all, father," she said,
^'and now that I am Arthur's heiress as well as
your daughter, it is not right to be treated like a
child."

Still with all alleviations the year's mourning went
tardily away. Perhaps no one was sorry when it was
over. The Colonel gave the first intimation of it.
He came to breakfast one morning wearing a brown
tweed suit and the woesome band of crepe was re-
moved from his arm. But Lucia did not speak of
the change, only noticing It by her violet dress and
its profusion of white lace trimmings in the evening.
And life went on In its usual grooves and Arthur
Fenwick's memory became like a half-effaced pastel
in their hearts, vague as a shadow, yet tenderly
mournful as if asking to be remembered, but

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LOVE'S EVERLASTING REMEMBRANCE

No word comes from the dead,
Whether at all they be!

and just one word! Oh, what a difference it would
makel We should never forget our dead if we
heard from them. At long intervals their message
might come, but if the surety of it was with us, we
should never forget

This year's experience had made a wonderful dif-
ference in Lucia. The sense of her independence
and of her personal wealth, the necessity of being
compelled to make quick decisions and to look the
stubborn facts of financial matters in the face, had
developed her natural self-reliance and unconscious-
ly added dignity and decision to her manner and
speech.

These qualities were much encouraged by Ann's
departure to her own home, for it compelled Lucia
constantly to decide many household matters that
had hitherto been arranged by Ann. And she soon
began to feel a great pleasure in the sense of owning
and directing her home. Never before had it felt
so dear to her. She looked at the wonderful wealth
and beauty of its materials and rearranged every
room in it. The Colonel was astounded at the
effects she made. In a little while there was a sense
of life all through the house, not only the look of
a splendid apartment, but the feel of home and of
human presence in it

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THE WINNING OF LUCIA

Geoffrey and Dr. StucDey were as mudi amazed
as the Colonel at these changes. '*It is marvelous/*
said Dr. Studley to the Colonel, 'Vhat a devcr
woman can do with chairs and tables, a few pictures
and a little drapery. Upon my word, Lucia has
informed every room with a sense of its obligations
— the dining-room looks like a dining-room. Tired
and hungry men can come into it and feel there is
nothing for them to do but be quiet and refresh them-
selves — nothing they are called upon to notice and
admire. Even the few pictures in it are hung so
low, that no effort is necessary in order to see them.
And everyone has a character referable to its position
string of fine trout by the side of a lovely stream
a cock grouse strutting fearlessly with his nute
on the October hills, for then he is the most beau-
tiful bird in the world, with his bright red comb and
rich dark brown plumage shining in the sun — that's
the kind of picture to see in a dining-room. And
how is it that the moment we now enter the drawing-
room, we think of a Strauss waltz and see lovely
women dancing amid its soft shades and dainty
water-color sketches? And, O Colonel, its changed
sleeping places I What nests of comfort they are I
I declare you can only say that some fairy has walked
through Abbot's Rest, and made all that was incom-
plete, perfect; all that was hard and formal, soft
and easy; all that was commonplace, beautiful''

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LOVERS EVERLASTING REMEMBRANCE

And Geoffrey said the same things to Lucia, only
in a rather different way, for he was in constant fear
of speaking a word too much or going a step too
far. He had been, during the year in which the
Fenwick estate was in settlement, of immense help
to the Colonel going frequently to London and Fen*
wick about various matters relative to the carrying
out of Lord Fenwick's will. One of the greatest dif*
ficulties in this matter related to the sale of the lovely
estate of De Montane. Lord Fenwick had bought
die place intending to give it to Luda as a wedding
present; but at the time of his mother's death, feel*
ing the insecurity of human purposes, he settled it on
her, independent of all personal considerations what-
ever.

The new Lord Fenwick wanted it because, as he
thought, De Montane added a romantic and antique
diaracter to his title. He wished to be not only
Lord of Fenwick but also Lord of Fenwick and De
Montane. He finally offered to buy the estate, but
Lucia would not sell a gift so entirely personal and
her obstinacy on this subject astonished the Colonel.

"Fenwick offers you a good price, Lucia, and — ^^

"I will take no price for it, father.**

"As your guardian, woridng for your interests, I
have a right to insist upon the sale,** he said.

"But you will not exercise your right, dear
father.**

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'Dr. Studlcy, Lucia-



''Thinks there is no harm in my holding it It
will gain in value, he says."

"Lucia, how can it? The hills can indeed be cov-
ered with the little black-faced sheep, but that man-
ner of making it pay entails great outlay and the
hiring of many shepherds who must be looked
after."

"I never thought of such a thing, father. It is
on the west side, extremely picturesque, and almost
overhangs the sea. In a few years I will build a
fine summer hotel on the highest bluff, and rent the
building. Geoffrey saw at once its future value as a
summer resort. He thinks a little town would grad-
ually grow up round the hotel, and the busy happy
place be the finest of all monuments to Arthur. He
is sure Arthur would like this living memorial far,
far better than the most stately marble one in Fen-
wick Church — and I think as he does."

So the effort to buy and to sell De Montane de-
layed the settlement of Lucia's concerns, but in some
way or other the discussion of die subject educated
in Lucia a strong proclivity to decide her own affairs
and a business aptitude quite remarkable. The
great point in this dispute was that Geoffrey stood
by Lucia without rhyme or reason. He saw at the
beginning of the proposition that Lucia considered
It mean and unkind to sell her lover's gift ere he

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LOVERS EVERLASTING REMEMBRANCE

was a year in his grave, and he respected her loyalty
to the dead. Doubtless he argued from it that she
would be equally loyal to himself if he could only
gain her allegiance.

But the Colonel did not approve of the stand he
had taken. ''It is pure selfishness in Geoffrey/' he
said to Dr. Studley. "He has the mercantile in-
stinct. He intends to marry Lucia^f he can get
her — and he, perhaps correctly, foresees the posi-
tive and splendid success of a fine hotel on the De
Montane bluffs round which a town would undoubt-
edly grow — but — ^but — ^*

"But what, Colonel?"

"I don't want my girl to go into business. Let
her live off the land, as her forefathers have done.
Why does Geoffrey stay month after month in your
home. Doctor?"

"He is studying Greek and Latin and a few other
subjects in which I myself take a great interest. His
education was a simple conmiercial one. He is now
endeavoring to make himself more deserving of any
woman he may marry."

"Of Lucia, for instance."

"He certainly has a wonderful affection for
Lucia. Could she do better?"

"She could marry Lothian or Ryecroft. The lat-
ter will be an earl."

"If he lives."

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe winning of Lucia : a love story → online text (page 17 of 19)