Elizabeth Stoddard.

The Morgesons; a novel online

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I take them ! "

" Certainly," said Desmond, " I ll pay for them."

" It is Ben in black lead," said Fanny.

We laughed.

At dusk Ben and Veronica drove up. Desmond was seated
in the window. Ben fixed his eyes upon him, without stop

We ran out, and called to him.

"Old fellow," said Desmond, "willing or not, I have

Ben s face was a study ; so many emotions assailed him
that my heart was wrung with pity.

" Give her to me," Desmond continued in a touching
voice. " You are her oldest friend, and have aright."

" She was always yours," he answered. " To contend with
her was folly."

Veronica took hold of Ben s chin and raised his head to
look into his face. " What dreams have you had ?"

But he made no reply to her. We were all silent for a
moment, then he said, " Was I wrong, Des. ?"

" No, no."

"While, I was saying to myself, in behalf of Veronica,


whose calm face baffled me, " Enigma, Sphinx " ; she turned
to Desmond, holding out her right arm, and said, " You
are the man I saw in my dream."

" And you are like the Virgin I made an offering to, only
not quite so bedizened." He took her extended hand and
kissed it.

Ben threw the reins with a sudden dash toward Manuel,
who was standing by, and jumped down.

" Have tea with me," I asked, " and music, too. Verry,
will you play for Desmond ? "

She took his arm, and entered the house.

"Friend," I said to Ben, vho lingered by the door, "to
contend with me was not folly, unless it has kept you
from contending with yourself. Tell me how is it with
you ?"

" Cassandra, the jaws cf hell are open. If you are satis
fied with the end, I must be."

After I was married, I went to Belem. But Mrs. Somers
never forgave me ; and Mr. Somers liked Desmond no better
than he had in former times. Neither did Adelaide and
Ann ever consider the marriage in any light but that of a
misalliance. Nor did they recognize any change in him.
It might be permanent, but it was no less an aberration
which they mistrusted. The ground plan of the Bellevue
Pickersgill character could not be altered.

In a short time after we were married we went to Europe
and stayed two years.

These last words I write in the summer time at our house
in Surrey, for Desmond likes to be here at this season, and I
write in my old chamber. Before its windows rolls the blue
summer sea. Its beauty wears a relentless aspect to me
now ; its eternal monotone expresses no pity, no compassion.

Veronica is lying on the floor watching her year-old baby.
It smiles continually, but never cries, never moves, except
when it is moved. Her face, thin and melancholy, is still
calm and lovely. But her eyes go no more in quest of some
thing beyond. A wall of darkness lies before her, which
she will not penetrate. Aunt Merce sits near me with her
knitting. When I look at her I think how long it is since
mother went, and wonder whether death is not a welcome


idea to those who have died. Aunt Merce looks at Verry
and the child with a sorrowful countenance, exchanges a
glance with me, shakes her head. If Verry speaks to her, she
answers cheerfully, and tries to conceal the grief which she
feels when she sees the mother and child together.

Ben has been dead six months. Only Desmond and I
were with him in his last moments. When he sprang from
his bed, staggered backwards, and fell dead, ve clung to
gether with faint hearts, and mutely questioned each other.

" God is the Ruler," he said at last. " Otherwise let this
mad world crush us now."


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Online LibraryElizabeth StoddardThe Morgesons; a novel → online text (page 24 of 24)