Ian Maclaren.

Afterwards and other stories online

. (page 1 of 19)
Online LibraryIan MaclarenAfterwards and other stories → online text (page 1 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project
to make the world's books discoverable online.

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover.

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the
publisher to a library and finally to you.

Usage guidelines

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for
personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it.

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About Google Book Search

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web

at http : //books . google . com/|


by Google







by Google


by Google


by Google

Afterwards » ♦
And Other Stories


by Google


Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush

Crown 8vo, gilt top, 6s.

The Days of Auld Lang Syne

Crown 8vo, gilt top, 6s,

Kate Carnegie and those Ministers

Crown 8vo. gilt top, 6s,

A Doctor of the Old School

With numerous Illustrations. Qoth, gilt edges,
21. 6d,

Rabbi Saunderson

Twelve Illustrations by A. S. BoTD. Cloth,
gilt edges, as. 6d.

Ian Maclaren Year Book

Daily Reading^ from the Writings of Ian
Maclaren. Cloth, y, 6d.

9jt Paternoster Row, E.C


by Google

and Other Stories ti* by
-r Ian Maclaren j/t jgt a»

Third Edition . . .
Completing Twentieth
Thousand. . •

London : Hodder & Stoughton
27 Paternoster Row -^ -^ 1898


by Google

Mmtir mmd Tmnmr Tk* Selwetd PritUb^ Wtrks Pfmu mnd Undm

•• -: c\


by Google

Lady Grainger-Stewart







by Google


by Google












by Google







AN EVANGELIST .... ... 399







by Google



by Google


by Google



He received the tel^^m in a garden where he
was gazing on a vision of blue, set in the fronds
of a palm, and listening to the song of the fishers,
as it floated across the bay.

''You look so utterly satisfied,'' said his hostess,
in the high, clear voice of Englishwomen, ''that
I know you are tasting the luxury of a contrast
The Riviera is charming in December; imagine
London, and Cannes. is Paradise."

As he smiled assent in the grateful laziness of
a hard-worked man, his mind was stung with the
remembrance of a young wife swathed in the
dreary fog, who, above all things, loved the open
air and the shining of the sun.

Her plea was that Bertie would weary alone,
and that she hated travelling, but it came to him
quite suddenly that this was always the pro-


by Google


gramme of their holidays — some Mediterranean
villa, full of clever people, for him, and the awful
dulness of that Bloomsbury street for her; on he
went North to a shooting-lodge, where he told his
best stories in the smoking-room, after a long day
on the purple heather ; and she did her best for
Bertie at some watering-place, much frequented on
account of its railway facilities and economical
lodgings. Letters of invitation had generally a
polite reference to his wife — " If Mrs. Trevor can
accompany you I shall be still more delighted " —
but it was understood that she would not accept

" We have quite a grudge against Mrs. Trevor,
because she will never come with her husband ;
there is some beautiful child who monopolises
her," his hostess would explain on his arrival ; and
Trevor allowed it to be understood that his wife
was quite devoted to Bertie, and would be miser-
able without him.

When he left the room, it was explained : •* Mrs.
Trevor is a hopelessly quiet person, what is called
a *good wife,' you know."

**The only time she dined with us, Tottie
Fribbyl — he was a Theosophist then, it'd two years


by Google


ago^-was too amusing for words, and told us what
incarnation he was going through.

"Mrs. Trevor, I believe, had never heard of
Theosophy, and looked quite horrified at the idea
of poor Tottie's incarnation.

" ' Isn't it profane to use such words ? ' she said
to me. So I changed to skirt dancing, and would
you believe me, she had never seen it?

"What can you do with a woman like that?
Nothing remains but religion and the nursery.
Why do clever men marry those impossible
women ? "

Trevor was gradually given to understand, as
by an atmosphere, that he was a brilliant man
wedded to a dull wife, and there were hours —
his worst hours — when he agreed.

Cara mia^ cara mia^ sang the sailors ; and his
wife's face in its perfect refinement and sweet
beauty suddenly replaced the Mediterranean.

Had he belittled his wife, with her wealth of
sacrifice and delicate nature, beside women in
spectacles who wrote on the bondage of marriage,
and leaders of fashion who could talk of every-
thing from horse-racing to palmistry?


by Google


He had only glanced at her last letter; now
he read it carefully: —

"The flowers were lovely, and it was so mindful
of you to send them, just like my husband. Bertie
and I amused ourselves arranging and rearranging
them in glasses, till we had made our tea-table
lovely. But I was just one little bit disappointed
not to get a letter — ^you see how exacting I am,
sir. I waited for every post, and Bertie said, ' Has
father's letter come yet ? ' When one is on holi-
day, writing letters is an awful bore; but please
just a line to Bertie and me. We have a map
of the Riviera, and found out all the places you
have visited in the yacht ; and we tried to im-
agine you sailing on that azure sea, and landing
among those silver olives. I am so grateful to
every one for being kind to you, and I hope you
will enjoy yourself to the full Bertie is a little
stronger, I'm sure; his cheeks were quite rosy
to-day for him. It was his birthday on Wednes-
day, and I gave him a little treat The sun was
shining 'brightly in the forenoon, and we had a
walk in the Gardens, and made believe that it


by Google


was Italy I Then we went to Oxford Street, and
Bertie chose a regiment of soldiers for his birthday
present He wished some guns so much that I
allowed him to have them as a present from you«
They only cost one-and*sixpence, and I thought
you would like him to have something. Jane and
he had a splendid game of hide-and-seek in the
evening, and my couch was the den, so you see
we have our own gaiety in Bloomsbury,

'' Don't look sulky at this long scribble and say,
'What nonsense women write I ' for it is almost the
same as speaking to you, and I shall imagine the
letter all the way till you open it in the sun«

''So smile and kiss my name, for this comes
with my heart's love from

"Your devoted wife,

" Maud Trevor.

"P.S. — Don't be alarmed because I have to rest;
the doctor does not think that there is any danger,
and I'll take great care."

"A telegram," It was the shattering of a
dream. "How wicked of some horrid person.


by Google


Business ought not to be allowed to enter Para-
dise. Let's hope it's pleasure ; perhaps some one
has won a lot of money at Monte Carlo, and
wishes us to celebrate the affair.

"Whom is it for? Oh! Mr. Edward Trevor;
then it's a brief by telegraph, I suppose. Some
millionaire's will case, and the Attorney-General
can't manage it alone. What a man he is, to
have briefs in holiday time.

"There it is, but remember, before you open
it, that you are bound to remain here over Christ-
mas at any rate, and help us with our theatricals.
My husband declares that a successful barrister
must be a born actor." . . .

An hour later Trevor was in the Paris express,
and for thirty hours he prayed one petition, that
she might live till he arrived. He used to have
a berth in the Wagon Lit as a matter of course,
and had begun to complain about the champagne
in the dining-car, but the thought of comfort made
him wince on this journey, and he twice changed
his carriage, once when an English party would
not cease from badinage that mocked his ears,
and again because a woman had brown eyes with


by Google


her expression of dog-like faithfulness. The dark-
ness of the night after that sunlit garden, and the
monotonous roar of the train, and the face of
smiling France covered with snow, and the yeasty
waters of the Channel, and the moaning of the
wind, filled his heart with dread.

Will that procession of luggage at Dover never
come to an end ? A French seaman — ^a fellow
with earrings and a merry face — appears and re-
appears with maddening r^ularity, each time with
a larger trunk. One had X. Y. on it in big white
letters. Why not Z. also ? Who could have such
a name ? That is a lady's box, black and brown,
plastered with hotel labels. Some bride, perhaps
^ . . they are carrying the luggage over his
heart Have they no mercy?

The last piece is in, and the sailors make a
merry group at the top of the gangway. They
look like Bretons, and that fellow is laughing
again — ^some story about a little child ; he can
just hear Ma petite. . . •

"Guard, is this train never to start? We're
half-an-hour late already."

" Italian mail very heavy, sir ; still bringing up


by Google


bags ; so many people at Riviera in winter, writ-
ing home to their friends." . . .

How cruel every one is! He had not written
for ten days. Something always happened, an
engagement of pleasure. There was a half-
finished letter; he had left it to join a Monte
Carlo party.

" Writing letters — ^home, of course, to that idol-
ised wife. It's beautiful, and you are an example
to us all ; but Mrs. Trevor will excuse descrip-
tions of scenery; she knows you are enjoying

Had she been expecting that letter from post
to post, calculating the hour of each delivery,
identifying the postman's feet in that quiet street;^
holding her breath when he rang, stretching her
hand for a letter, to let it drop unopened, and
bury her face in the pillow? Had she died
waiting for a letter that never came? Those
letters that he wrote from the Northern Circuit in
that first sweet year, a letter a day, and one day
two— it had given him a day's advantage over her.
Careful letters, too, though written between cases,
with bits of description and amusing scenes.


by Google


Some little sameness towards the end, but she
never complained of that, and even said those
words were the best And that trick he phiyed
— ^the thought of the postman must have brought
it up— how pleasant it was, and what a success!
He would be his own letter one day, and take
her by surprise. "A letter, ma'am," tlie girl said
—quite a homely girl, who shared their little joys
and anxieties — and then he showed his face with
apologies for intrusioa The flush of love in her
face, will it be like that to-night, or . • .
What can be keeping the train now? Is this a
conspiracy to torment a miserable man ?

He thrusts his head out of the window in
despair, and sees the guard trying to find a com-
partment for a family that had mistaken their

The husband is explaining, with English gar-
rulity, all the station hearing, what an inconveni-
ence it would have been had they gone in the
Holbom Viaduct carriages.

" Half an hour's longer drive, you know, and
if s very important we should get home in time ;
we are expected • . ."


by Google


For what? Dinner, most Hkely. What did it
matter when they got home, to-day or next year ?
Yet he used to be angry if he were made late
for dinner. They come into his compartment,
and explain the situation at great length, while
he pretends to listen.

A husband and wife returning from a month
in Italy, full of their experiences : the Comiche
Road, the palaces of Genoa, the pictures in the
Pitti, St Peter's at Rome. Her first visit to the
Continent, evidently ; it reminded them of a cer-
tain tour round the Lakes in '80, and she with-
drew her hand from her husband's as the train
came out from the tunnel. They were not smart
people — very pronounced middle-class — but they
were lovers, after fifteen years.

They forgot him, who was staring on the bleak
landscape with white, pinched face.

" How kind to take me this trip. I know how
much you denied yourself, but it has made me
young again," and she said " Edward." Were all
these coincidences arranged? had his purgatorio
begun already?

"Have you seen the Globes sir? Bosworth,


by Google


M.P. for Pedlington, has been made a judge, and
there's to be a keen contest

"Trevor, I see, is named as the Tory candi-
date — a clever fellow, I've heard. Do you know
about him? he's got on quicker than any man
of his years.

'"Some say that it's his manner; he's such a
good sort, the juries cannot resist him, a man
told me — a kind heart goes for something even
in a lawyer. Would you like to look, • . .

" Very sorry ; would you take a drop of brandy ?
No? The passage was a little rough, and you
don't look quite up to the mark."

Then they left him in peace, and he drank his
cup to the dregs.

It was for Pedlington he had been working and
saving, for a seat meant society and the bench,
perhaps. . • . What did it matter now?

She was to come and sit within the cage
when he made his first speech, and hear all the

"Of course it will be a success, for you do
everything well, and your wifie will be the proudest
woman in London.


by Google


" Sir Edward Trevor, M.P. I know if s foolish,
but it's the foolishness of love, dear, so don't look
cross ; you are everything to me, and no one loves
you as I do."

What are they slowing for now? There's no
station. Did ever train drag like this one?

Off again, thank God ... if she only
were conscious, and he could ask her to forgive
his selfishness.

At last, and the train glides into Victoria. No,
he had nothing to declare; would they let him
go, or they might keep his luggage altogether.

Some vision was ever coming up, and now he
saw her kneeling on the floor and packing that
portmanteau, the droop of her figure, her thin
white hands.

He was so busy that she did these offices for
him — ^tried to buckle the straps even ; but he
insisted on doing that It gave him half an
hour longer at the Club. What a brute he had
Deen. ...

"Do anything you like with my things. I'll
come to-morrow • • • as fast as you can


by Google


Huddled in a corner of the hansom so that you
might have thought he slept, this man was calcu-
lating every foot of the way, gloating over a long
stretch of open, glistening asphalt, hating unto
murder the immovable drivers whose huge vans
blocked his passage. If they had known, there
was no living man but would have made room
for him . . . but he had not known himself.
. . . Only one word to tell her he knew now.

As the hansom turned into the street he bent
forward, straining his eyes to catch the first
glimpse of home. Had it been day-time the
blinds would have told their tale; now it was
the light he watched.

Dark on the upper floors; no sick light burn-
ing . . . have mercy . . . then the blood
came back to his heart with a rush. How could
he have forgotten?

Their room was at the back for quietness, and
it might still be well. Some one had been watch-
ing, for the door was instantly opened, but he
could not see the servant's face.

A doctor came forward and beckoned him to
go into the study. . . .


by Google


It seemed as if his whole nature had been
smitten with insensibility, for he knew everything
without words, and yet he heard the driver de-
manding his fare, and noticed that the doctor
had been reading the evening paper while he
waited ; he saw the paragraph about that seat

What work those doctors have to do. * • •

'* It was an hour ago ... we were amazed
that she lived so long ; with any other woman it
would have been this morning ; but she was de-
termined to live till you came home.

" It was not exactly will-power, for she was
the gentlest patient I ever had ; it was " — the
doctor hesitated — a peremptory Scotchman hiding
a heart of fire beneath a coating of ice — " it was
simply love."

When the doctor had folded up the evening
paper, and laid it on a side table, which took
some time, he sat down opposite that fixed, hag-
gard face, which had not yet been softened by a

"Yes, rU tell you everything if you desire
me ; perhaps it will relieve your mind ; and
Mrs. Trevor said you would wish to know, and


by Google


I must be here to receive you. Her patience and
thoughtfulness were marvellous.

"I attend many very clever and charming
women, but I tell you, Mr. Trevor, not one has
so impressed me as your wife. Her self-forget-
fulness passed words ; she thought of every one
except herself; why, one of the last things she
did was to give directions about your room ; she
was afraid you might feel the change from the
Riviera. But that is by the way, and these
things are not my business.

" From the beginning I was alarmed, and ui^ed
that you should be sent for ; but she pledged me
not to write ; you needed your holiday, she said,
and it must not be darkened with anxiety.

"She spoke every day about your devotion
and unselfishness ; how you wished her to go with
you, but she had to stay with the boy. . . .

**The turn for the worse? it was yesterday
morning, and I had Sir Reginald at once. We
s^eed that recovery was hopeless, and I tele-
graphed to you without delay.

"We also consulted whether she ought to be
told, and Sir Reginald said, 'Certainly; that

A. 2


by Google


woman has no fear, for she never thinks of her-
self, and she will want to leave messages.'

" ' If we can only keep her alive till to-morrow
afternoon/ he said, and you will like to remember
that everything known to the best man in London
was done. Sir Reginald came back himself un-
asked to-day, because he remembered a restora-
tive that might sustain the failing strength. She
thanked him so sweetly that he was quite shaken ;
the fact is, that both of us would soon have played
the fool. But I ought not to trouble you with
these trifles at this time, only as you wanted to
know all. ...

"Yes, she understood what we thought before
I spoke, and only asked when you would arrive.
'I want to say "Good-bye," and then I will be
ready,' but perhaps. . • .

"*Tell you everything?' That is what I am
trying to do, and I was here nearly all day, for I
had hoped we might manage to fulfil her wish.

" No, she did not speak much, for we enjoined
silence and rest as the only chance; but she had
your photograph on her pillow, and some flowers
you had sent


by Google


"They were withered, and the nurse removed
them when she was sleeping; but she missed
them, and we had to put them in her hands. *My
husband was so thoughtful.'

" This is too much for you, I see ; it is simply
torture. Wait till to-morrow. . . .

" Well, if you insist Expecting a letter . . .
yes ... let me recollect . . . No, I am
not hiding anything, but you must not let this
get upon your mind.

"We would have deceived her, but she knew
the hour of the Continental mails, and could detect
the postman's ring. Once a letter came, and she
insisted iipon seeing it in case of any mistake.
But it was only an invitation for you, I think, to
some country house.

"It can't be helped now, and you ought not
to vex yourself; but I believe a letter would have
done more for her than . . . What am I say-
ing now?

"As she grew weaker she counted the hours,
and I left her at four full of hope. * Two hours
more and he'll be here,' and by that time she
had your telegram in her hand.


by Google


<' When I came back the change had come, and
she said, ' It's not God's will ; bring Bertie.'
' " So she kissed him, and said something to him,
but we did not listen. After the nurse had carried
him out — for he was weeping bitterly, poor little
chap — she whispered to me to get a sheet of paper
' and sit down by her bedside. ... I think it
would be better . . . very well, I will tell you

" I wrote what she dictated with her last breath,
and I promised you would receive it from her
own hand, and so you will. She turned her face
to the door and lay quite still till about six,
when I heard her say your name very softly, and
a minute afterwards she was gone, without pain
or struggle." . . .

She lay as she had died, waiting for his coming,
and the smile with which she had said his name
was still on her face. It was the first time she
did not colour with joy at his coming, that her
hand was cold to his touch. He kissed her, but
his heart was numbed, and he could not weep.

Then he took her letter and read it beside that


by Google


" Dearest, —

"They tell me now that I shall not live
to see you come in and to cast my arms once
more round your neck before we part Be kind
to Bertie, and remember that he is delicate and
shy. He will miss me, and you will be patient
with him for my sake. Give him my watch, and

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryIan MaclarenAfterwards and other stories → online text (page 1 of 19)