He watched her closely as she spoke, watched her with his hand upon hers, which was cold as ice. He had heard such words before from the early doomed, but they had been accompanied by religious exaltation; they had been the outpouring of a faith that saw the gates of heaven opened and the Son of man sitting in glory—of a love that longed to be with God. Here there was no sign of hope or exaltation. There were only the tokens of despair.He started on his voyage of discovery, with the warm, comfortable shawl which he had bought for his mother's old servant hanging over his arm. It was a small disappointment amidst the infinite delight of his home-coming, but when he bought the shawl he had fancied himself putting it round Tabitha's ample shoulders in the little housekeeper's room at the Angler's Nest, a room that was just large enough to hold a linen cupboard, a Pembroke table, a comfortable armchair, and Tabitha, who seemed bigger than all the furniture put together.She was enraptured with his gifts. Her face lighted up like the face of a child, and she ran from one object to the other in a confused gladness, scarcely able to look at one thing at a time.
"Now, Allegra," said her brother, emptying the ashes out of his pipe, "are you ready to go home?"
The two sisters were married on the same day to husbands who were their seniors by more than twenty years in one instance, by thirty years in the other. Daniel Hazelrigg had passed his jubilee birthday when he led Miss Manwaring to the altar; but he was a fine-looking man, straight and tall, like his bride, with a ruddy complexion and iron-grey moustache, and an air and bearing that savoured rather of the mess-room than the city. He had been on the Stock Exchange ever since he came of age; but he had made it the study of his life not to look city or to talk city. Nothing could tempt him to expatiate upon the money market outside his office. He would talk sport, travel, politics—even literature, of which he knew very little—but not stocks and shares, Nicaraguas, or Reading and Philadelphias, Mexican Street Railways, or Patagonian Building Society."Really, now," said Mr. Crowther, "you surprise me, for I have always fancied there was a screw loose there."
"When he went home two years ago he gave me to understand he was going to settle down at the Mount, and spend the rest of his days in peace and respectability," said Captain Hulbert. "Yet, very soon afterwards, he and his yacht were off again like the Flying Dutchman, and the next I heard of him was at Leghorn, and six months later he was coasting off Algiers; and the following spring he was in South America; and the Vendetta was laid up at Marseilles, where he begged me to go and look after her, and take her to myself until such time as he should want her again. I was with him for a few days at Leghorn, where he seemed ill and out of spirits. I don't think you can have used him over well in this part of the world, Mrs. Disney," he added, half in jest. "I fancy some of you must have snubbed him severely, or his tenants must have worried him by their complaints and exactions. I could not get him to talk about his life at the Mount. He seemed to have taken a disgust for the old home."
"Will she go—will she stay—go—stay—go—stay?" he muttered, as the petals fluttered to the ground.
"It's a fine night; I'd rather walk," he said.
"I would like to be married in Kamtchatka, or Nova Zembla—or the worst of those places whose very names suggest uncomfortableness. There is no dismallest corner of the earth which Allegra could not glorify and make dear.[Pg 277] But, as you suggest, Rome is classic—Rome is medi?val—Rome is Roman Catholic. It would be a new sensation for a plain man like me to be married in Rome. I suppose it could not be managed in St. Peter's?"
"Good-bye, Tabby. Stay, there's one favour you can do me. Get me a good cook. The woman we have at present would be a blight upon the happiest home in Christendom.""I have grown up to match my name," she said; "if I had been christened Penserosa I might have been quite a different person."
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Her only answer was to bend her head down to kiss the hands that clasped her own.
MY FROLIC FALCON, WITH BRIGHT EYES.详情
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