Thomas Hardy.

Desperate remedies : a novel. In three volumes (Volume 2) online

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himself and Miss Adelaide Hinton would ter-
minate in marriage at the end of the year.



THE EVENTS OF TEN MONTHS. 153

The only occasion on T\-hich her lover of the
idle delicious days at Creston vratering-place
had been seen by Cytherea after the time of
the decisive correspondence, was once in Church,
when he sat in front of her, and beside Miss
Hinton.

The rencontre was quite an accident. Sprin-
grove had come there in the full belief that
Cytherea was away from home with ]\Iiss
Aldclyffe; and he continued ignorant of her
presence throughout the service.

It is at such moments as these, when a sensi-
tive nature writhes under the conception that
its most cherished emotions have been treated
with contumely, that the sphere-descended
Maid, Music, friend of Pleasure at other times,
becomes a positive enemy — racking, bewilder-
ing, unrelenting.

The congregation sang the first Psalm and
came to the verse,

" Like some fair tree whicli, fed by streams,

With timely fruit doth bend,
He still shall flourish, and success

All his designs attend."



154 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

Cytherea's lips did not move, nor did any
sound escape her: but could she help singing
the words in the depths of her, although the man
to whom she applied them sat at her rival's side '?

Perhaps the moral compensation for all a
woman's petty cleverness under thriving con-
ditions is the real nobility that lies in her ex-
treme foolishness at these other times: her
sheer inability to be simply just, her exercise of
an illogical power entirely denied to men in
general — the power not only of kissing, but of
dehghtiog to kiss the rod by a punctilious ob-
servance of the self-immolating doctrines in the
Sermon on the Mount.

As for Edward — a httle like other men of
his temperament, to whom, it is somewhat
humiliating to think, the aberrancy of a given
love is in itself a recommendation, — his senti-
ment, as he looked over his cousin's book, was of
a lower rank, Horatian rather than Psalmodic :

" what lias thou of her, of her
^\Tiose every look did love inspire ;
Whose every breathing- fanned my fire,
And stole me from myself away ! "



THE EVENTS OF TEX MONTHS. loo

Then, without letting him see her, Cytherea
shpt out of Church early, and T\^ent home, the
tones of the organ still hngering in her ears as
she tried bravely to kill a jealous thought that
would nevertheless live: ''My nature is one
capable of more, far more, intense feeling than
hers! She can't appreciate all the sides of him
— she never will! He is more tangible to me
even now, as a thought, than his presence itself
is to her!" She was less noble then.

But she continually repressed her misery
and bitterness of heart till the effort to do so
showed signs of lessening. At length she even
tried to hope that her lost lover and her rival
would love one another very dearly.

The scene and the sentiment dropped into
the past. Meanwhile, Manston continued
visibly before her. He, though quiet and sub-
dued in his bearing for a long time after the
calamity of Kovember, had not simulated a
grief that he did not feel. At first his loss
seemed so to absorb him — though as a startling
change rather than as a heavy sorrow — that he



156 DESrEEATE REMEDIES.

paid Cytherea no attention whatever. His
conduct was uniformly kind and respectful, but
little more. Then, as the date of the catastrophe
grew remoter, he began to wear a dififerent
aspect towards her. He always contrived to
obHterate by his manner all recollection on her
side that she was comparatively more depend-
ent than himself — making much of her woman-
hood, nothing of her situation. Prompt to aid
her whenever occasion offered, and full of
delightful petits soins at all times, he w^as not
officious. In this way he irresistibly won for
himself a position as her friend, and the more
easily, in that he allowed not the faintest
symptom of the old love to be apparent.

Matters stood thus in the middle of the
spring, when the next move on his behalf was
made by Miss Aldclyffe.



§ 2. TJie third of May.

She led Cytherea to a summer-house called
the Fane, built in the private grounds about the



THE EVENTS OF TEX MONTHS. 157

mansion in the form of a Grecian temple: it
overlooked the lake, the island on it, the trees,
and their undisturbed reflection in the smooth
still ^\'ater. Here the old and young maid
halted: here they stood, side by side, mentally
imbibing the scene.

The month was May — the time, morning.
Cuckoos, thrushes, blackbirds, and sparrows,
gave forth a perfect confusion of song and
twitter. The road was spotted white with the
fallen leaves of apple-blossoms, and the spark-
ling grey dew still lingered on the grass and
flowers.

Two swans floated into view in front of the
women, and then crossed the water towards
them.

" They seem to come to us without any will
of their own — quite involuntarily — don't thejV
said Cytherea, looking at the birds' graceful
advance.

" Yes, but if you look narrowly you can see
their hips just beneath the water, working with
the greatest energy."



158 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

" I'd rather not see that, it spoils the idea of
proud indifference to direction which we asso-
ciate w^ith a swan."

" It does ; we'll have ' involuntarily.' Ah,
now this reminds me of something.

'^ Of what r '

" Of a human being who involuntarily comes
towards yourself."

Cytherea looked into Miss Aldclyffe's face ;
her eyes grew round as circles, and lines of
wonderment came visibly upon her counte-
nance. She had not once regarded Manston
as a lover since his wife's sudden appearance
and subsequent death. The death of a wife,
and such a death, was an overwhelming matter
in her ideas of things.

" Is it a man or woman V she said, quite
innocently.

"Mr. Manston," said Miss Aldclyffe,
quietly.

" Mr. Manston attracted by me noiv f " said
Cytherea, standing at gaze.

"Didn't you know it?"



THE EVENTS OF TEN MONTHS. 159

" Certainly I did not. Why, his poor wife
has only been dead six months/'

" Of course he knows that. But loving is
not done by months, or method, or rule, or
nobody would ever have invented sucli a phrase
as ' falling in love.' He does not want his love
to be observed just yet, on the very account
you mention ; but conceal it as he may from
himself and us, it exists definitely — and very
intensely, I assure you."

" I suppose then, that if he can't help it, it is
no harm of him,'' said Cytherea, naively, and
beginning to ponder.

" Of course it isn't — you know that w^ell
enough. She was a great burden and trouble
to him. This may become a great good to you
both."

A rush of feeling at remembering that the
same woman, before Manston's arrival, had just
as frankly advocated Edward's claims, checked
Cytherea's utterance for awhile.

" There, don't look at me like that, for
Heaven's sake ! " said Miss Aldclyffe. " You



IGO DESPERATE EEMEDIES.

could almost kill a person by the force of
reproach you can put into those eyes of yours,
I verily believe/'

Edward once in the young lady's thoughts,
there was no getting rid of him. She wanted
to be alone.

" Do 3"ou want me here 1 " she said.

" Now there, there ; you w^ant to be off, and
have a good cry," said Miss Aldclyffe, taking
her hand. " But you mustn't, my dear. There's
nothing in the past for you to regret. Compare
Mr. Manston's honourable conduct tow^ards his
wife and yourself, with Springrove towards his
betrothed and yourself, and then see which
appears the more worthy of your thoughts.'^



§ 3. From the fourth of May to the twenty'
first of June.

The next stage in Manston's advances
towards her hand w^as a clearly defined court-
ship. She w^as sadly perplexed, and some
contrivance was necessary on his part in order



THE EVENTS OF TEN MONTHS. 161

to meet with her. But it is next to impossible
for an appreciative woman to have a positive re-
pugnance towards an unusually handsome and
talented man, even though she may not bo
incaned to love him. Hence Cytherea was not
so alarmed at the sight of. him as to render a
meeting and conversation with her more than a
matter of difficulty.

Coming and going from Church was his
grand opportunity. Manston was very religious
now. It is commonly said that no man was
ever converted by argument, but there is a
single one which will make any Laodicean
in England, let him be once love-sick, wear
prayer-books and become a zealous Episco-
palian — the argument that his sweetheart can
be seen from his pew.

^lanston introduced into his method a system
of bewitching flattery, everywhere pervasive,
yet too, so transitory and intangible, that, as in
the case of the poet AYordsworth and the Wan-
dering Voice, though she felt it present, she
could never fint.l it. As a foil to heighten its

VOL. II. M



16^ DESPERATE REMEDIES.

effect, lie occasionally spoke philosophically of
the evanescence of female beauty — the worth-
lessness of mere appearance. "Handsome is
that handsome does " he considered a proverb
which should be written on the looking-glass
of every woman in the land. "Your form,
your motions, your heart have won me," he
said, in a tone of playful sadness. " They are
beautiful. But I see these things, and it comes
into my mind that they are doomed, they are
gliding to nothing as I look. Poor eyes, poor
mouth, poor face, poor maiden ! ' Where will
her glories be in twenty years,' I say. * Where
will all of her be in a hundred ? ' Then I think
it is cruel that you should bloom a day, and
fade for ever and ever. It seems hard and sad
that you will die, as ordinarily as I, and be
buried ; be food for roots and worms, be
forgotten and come to earth, and grow up a
mere blade of churchyard-grass and an ivy leaf.
Then, Miss Graye, when I see you are a Lovely
Isothing, I pity you, and the love I feel then is
better and sounder, largei", and more lasting



THE EVENTS OF TEX MONTHS. 163



than that I felt at the beginning." Again an
ardent flash of his handsome eyes.

It was by this route that he ventured on an
indirect declaration and offer of his hand.

She implied in the same indirect manner
that she did not love him enough to accept it.

An actual refusal was more than he had
expected. Cursing himself for what he called
his egregious folly in making himself the slave
of a mere lady's attendant, and for having
given the parish, should they know of her
refusal, a chance of sneering at him — certainly
a ground for thinking: less of his standino; than
before — he went home to the Old House, and
walked indecisively up and down his back yard.
Turning aside, he leant his arms upon the edge
of the rain-water-butt standing in the corner,
and looked into it. The reflection from the
smooth stagnant surface tinged his face with the
greenish shades of Correggio's nudes. Staves
of sunlight slanted down through the still pool,
lighting it up with wonderful distinctness.
Hundreds of thousands of minute living crea-

M 2



164 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

tures sported and tumbled in its depths with
every contortion that gaiety could suggest ;
perfectly happy, though consisting only of a
head, or a tail, or at most a head and a tail, and
all doomed to die within the twenty-four hours.

" D — n my position ! Why shouldn't I be
happy through my little day too 1 Let the
parish sneer at my repulses, let it. Til get her,
if I move heaven and earth to do it ! "

Indeed, the inexperienced Cytherea had,
towards Edward in the first place, and Manston
afterwards, unconsciously adopted bearings that
would have been the very tactics of a profes-
sional fisher of men w4io wished to have them
each successively dangling at her heels. For if
any rule at all can be laid down in a matter
which, for men collectively, is notoriously
beyond regulation, it is that to snub a petted
man, and to pet a snubbed man, is the way to
win in suits of both kinds. Manston with
Springrove's encouragement would have become
indifi'erent. Edward with Manston's repulses
would have sheered off at the cutset, as he did



THE EVENTS OF TEN MONTHS. 165

afterwards. Her supreme indifference added
fuel to Manston's ardour — it completely dis-
armed his pride. The invulnerable Kobody
seemed greater to him than a susceptible
Princess.



§ 4. From the twenty-frst of June to the end
of July,

Cytherea had in the meantime received the
following letter from her brother. It was the
first definite notification of tlie enlargement of
that cloud no bigger than a man's hand w^hich
had for nearly a twelvemonth hung before them
in the distance, and which w^as soon to give a
colour to their whole sky from horizon to
horizon.

' ' Creston. Satu rday.

"Darling Sis,

" I have delayed telling you for a long
time of a little matter w^iich though not one to
be seriously alarmed about, is sufiiciently vexing,
and it would be unfair in me to keep it from



166 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

you any longer. It is that for some time past
I have again been distressed by that lameness
which I first distinctly felt Tvhen we went to
Lewborne Bay, and again w^hen I left Knap-
water that morning early. It is an unusual
pain in my left leg, between the knee and the
ancle. I had just found fresh symptoms of it
when you were here for that half-hour about a
month ago — w^hen you said in fun that I began
to move like an old man. I had a good mind to
tell you then, but fancying it would go off in a
few days, I thought it was not w^orth while.
Since that time it has increased, but I am still
able to w^ork in the ofiice, sitting on the stool.
My great fear is that Mr. G. wdll have some out-
door measuring work for me to do soon, and
that I shall be obliged to dechne. However,
we will hope for the best. How it came, what
was its origin, or what it tends to, I cannot
think. You shall hear again in a day or two, if

it is no better

" Your loving brother,

" Owen."



*THE EVENTS OF TEN MONTHS. 167

This she ans^yerecI, begging to know the
worst, which she could bear, but suspense and
anxiety never. In two days came another
letter from him, of which the subjoined para-
graph is a portion.

''I had quite decided to let you know the
worst, and to assure you that it was the worst
before you wTote to ask it. And again I give
you my w^ord that I will conceal nothing — so
that there will be no excuse whatever for your
wearing yourself out with fears that I am worse
than I say. This morning then, for the first
time, I have been obliged to stay away from
the office. Don't be frightened at this, dear
Cytherea. Eest is all that is wanted, and by
nursing myself now for a week, I may avoid a
sickness of six months."

After a visit from her he wrote again,

" Dr. Chestman has seen me. He said that
the ailment was some sort of rheumatism, and I
am now undergoing proper treatment for its
cure. My leg and foot have been placed in
hot bran, liniments have been apphed, and also



168 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

severe friction with a pad. He says I shall be
as right as ever in a very short time. Directly
I am I shall run up by the train to see you.
Don't trouble to come to me if Miss Aldclyffe
grumbles again about your being away, for I

am going on capitally You shall hear

again at the end of the week."

At the time mentioned came the following :
" I am sorry to tell you, because I know it
will be so disheartening after my last letter,
that I am not so well as I was then, and that
there has been a sort of hitch in the proceed-
ings. After I had been treated for rheumatism
a few days longer, (in which treatment they
pricked the place with a long needle several
times,) I saw that Dr. Chestman was in doubt
about something, and I requested that he would
call in a brother professional man to see me as
well. They consulted together and then told
me that rheumatism was not the disease after
all, but erysipelas. They then began treating
it differently, as became a different matter.
Blisters, flour, and starch, seem to be the



THE EVENTS OF TEX MONTHS. 1G9

order of the day now — medicine, of course,
besides.

" Mr. Gradfield has been in to inquire about
me. He says he has been obliged to get a
clerk in my place, which grieves me very much,
though, of course, it could not be avoided.''

A month passed away ; throughout this
period, Cytherea visited him as often as the
limited time at her command would allows and
wore as cheerful a countenance as the womanly
determination to do nothing which might de-
press him could enable her to wear. Another
letter from him then told her these additional
facts.

" The doctors find they are again on the
wrong tack. They cannot make out what the
disease is. Cytherea ! how I wish they
knew ! This suspense is w^earing me out.
Could not Miss AldclyfFe spare you for a day ?
Do come to me. We will talk about the best
course then. I am sorry to complain, but I
am worn out."

Cytherea went to ]\Iiss Aldclyffe, and told



170 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

her of the melancholy turn her brother's illness
had taken. Miss AldclyfFe at once said that
Cjtherea might go, and offered to do anything
to assist her which lay in her power. Cy-
therea's eyes beamed gratitude as she turned
to leave the room, and hasten to the station.

" Oh, Cytherea," said Miss Aldclyffe, calling
her back ; "just one word. Has Mr. Manston
spoken to you lately *? "

" Yes," said Cytherea, blushing timorously.

" He proposed 1 "

" Yes."

" And you refused him ? "

"Yes."

" Tut, tut ! Now listen to my advice," said
Miss Aldclyffe, emphatically, " and accept him
before he changes his mind. The chance which
he offers you of settling in life is one that may
possibly, probably, not occur again. His position
is good and secure, and the life of his wife would
be a happy one. You may not be sure that
you love him madly ; but suppose you are not
sure 1 My father used to say to me as a child



' THE EVENTS OF TEN MONTHS. 171

when he was teaching me whist, 'When in doubt
win the trick!' That advice is ten times as
valuable to a woman on the subject of matri-
mony. In refusing a man there is always the
risk that you may never get another offer.''

" Why didn't you win the trick when you
were a girl ? " said Cytherea.

" Come, my lady Pert ; I'm not the text,"
said Miss Aldclyffe, her face glowing like fire.

Cytherea laughed stealthily.

"I was about to say," resumed ' ^.s Ald-
clyffe, severely, "that here is Mr. Manston wait-
ing with the tenderest sohcitude for you, and
you overlooking it, as if it were altogether
beneath you. Think how you might benefit
your sick brother if you were Mrs. Manston.
You will please me tery much by giving him
some encouragement. You understand me,
dearr'

Cytherea was silent.

" And," said Miss Aldclyffe still more empha-
tically, " on your promising that you will accept
him some time this year, I will take especial



172 DESPERATE EEMEDIES.

care of your brother. You are listening, Cy-
therea 1 ''

" Yes/' she whispered, leaving the room.

She went to Creston, passed the day with her
brother, and returned to Knapwater wretched
and full of foreboding. Ow.en had looked
startlingly thin and pale — thinner and paler
than ever she had seen him before. The
brother and sister had that day decided that,
notwithstanding the drain upon their slender
resource another medical man should see him.
Time was everything.

Owen told her the result in his next letter.

" The three practitioners between them have
at last hit the nail on the head, I hope. They
probed the place and discovered that the secret
lay in the bone. I underwent an operation for
its removal three days ago, (after taking chloro-
form) . . . Thank God it is over. Though I
am so weak, my spirits are rather better. I
wonder when I shall be at work again '? I asked
the doctors how long it would be first. I said
a month 1 They shook their heads. A year 1



THE EVENTS OF TEN MONTHS. 173

I said. ISTot so long, they said. Six months 1
I inquired. They would not, or could not tell
me. But never mind.

'* Run down, when you have half a day to
spare, for the hours drag on so drearily.
Cytherea you can't think how drearily ! "

She went. Immediately on her departure,
Miss Aldclyffe sent a note to the Old House, to
Manston. On the maiden's return, tired and
sick at heart as usual, she found Manston at the
station awaiting her. He asked politely if he
might accompany her to Knapwater. She
tacitly acquiesced. During their walk he
inquired the particulars of her brother's illness,
and with an irresistible desire to pour out her
trouble to some one, she told him of the length
of time vrhich must elapse before he could be
strong again, and of the lack of comfort in a
lodging-house.

Manston was silent awhile. Then he said
impetuously : " Miss Graye, I will not mince
matters — I love you — you know it. Stratagem
they say is fair in love, and I am compelled to



174 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

adopt it now. Forgive me, for I cannot help it.
Consent to be my wife at any time that may
suit you, any remote day you may name will
satisfy me — and you shall find him well
provided for."

For the first time in her life she truly
dreaded the handsome man at her side who
pleaded thus selfishly, and shrank from the hot
voluptuous nature of his passion for her, which,
disguise it as he might under a quiet .and
polished exterior, at times radiated forth with a
scorching white heat. She perceived how
animal was the love which bargained.

" I do not love you, Mr. Mansion," she replied
coldly.

§ 5. From the first to the twenty-seventh of
August,

The long sunny days of the later summer-
time brought only the same dreary accounts
from Creston, and saw Cytherea paying the
same sad visits.



THE EVENTS OF TEX MONTHS. 175

She grew perceptibly weaker, in body and
in mind. Manston still persisted in his suit,
but with more of his former indirectness, now
that he saw how unexpectedly well she stood
an open attack. His was the system of
Dares at the Sicilian games: —



" He, like a captain who beleaguers round
Some strong-built castle on a rising ground,
Views all the approaches with observing eyes,
This and that other part again he tries,
And more on industry than force relies."



Miss Aldclyflfe made it appear more clearly
than ever that aid to Owen from herself de-
pended entirely upon Cytherea's acceptance of
her steward. Hemmed in and distressed,
Cytherea's answers to his importunities grew
less uniform ; they were firm, or wavering, as
Owen's malady fluctuated. Had a register
of her pitiful oscillations been kept, it would
have rivalled in pathos the diary wherein De '
Quincey tabulates his combat with Opium —
perhaps as noticeable an instance as any in
which a thrilling dramatic power has been



17G DESPERATE REMEDIES.

given to mere numerals. Thus she wearily and
monotonously lived through the month, listen-
ing on Sundays to the well-known round of
chapters narrating the history of Elijah and
Elisha in famine and drought: on week days
to buzzing flies in hot sunny rooms. " So like,
so very like, was day to day." Extreme lassi-
tude seemed all that the world could show her.

Her state was in this wise, when one after-
noon, having been with her brother, she met
the surgeon, and begged him to tell the actual
truth concerning Owen's condition.

The reply was that he feared that the first
operation had not been thorough : that although
the wound had healed, another attempt might
still be necessary, unless nature were left to effect
her own cure. But the time such a self-heal-
ing proceeding w^ould occupy might be ruinous.

"How long would it heV she said.

" It is impossible to say. A year or two,
more or less."

"And suppose he submitted to another
artificial extraction r'



THE EVENTS OF TEN MONTHS. 177

" Then he might be well in four or six
months/'

Now the remainder of his and her posses-
sions, together with a sum he had borrowed,
would not provide him with necessary comforts
for half that time. To combat the misfortune,
there were two courses open : her becoming
betrothed to Manston, or the sending Owen to
the County Hospital.

Thus terrified, driven into a comer, panting
and fluttering about for some loophole of escape,
yet still shrinking from the idea of being
Mansion's wife, the poor little bird endeavoured
to find out from !Miss Aldclvfife whether it was
iikelv Owen would be well treated in the hos-
pital.

" County Hospital ! "' said Miss Aldclyfi'e,
" Why it is only another name for Slaughter


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