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- The Maid of Maiden Lane - 40/44 -
"'Tis hard for love, and harder perhaps for anger to wait. For I am in a passion of wrath at Van Ariens. I long to be near him. Oh what suffering his envy and hatred have caused others!"
"And himself also. Be sure of that, or he had not tried to find some ease in a kind of confession. Doctor Roslyn will tell you that it is an eternal law, that wherever sin is, sorrow will answer it."
"The man is hateful to me."
"He has done a thing that makes him hateful; but perhaps for all that, he has been so miserable about it, as to have the pity of the Uncondemning One. I hear your father coming. I am sure you will have his sympathy in all things."
She left the room as the Earl entered it. He was in unusually high spirits. Some political news had delighted him, and without noticing his son's excitement he said--
"The Commons have taken things in their own hands, George. I said they would. They listen to the King and the Lords very respectfully, and then obey themselves. Most of the men in the Lower House are unfit to enter it."
"Well, sir, the Lords as a rule send them there--you have sent three of them yourself--and unfit men in public places, suppose prior unfitness in those who have the places to dispose of. But the government is not interesting. I have something else, father, to think about."
"Indeed, I think the government is extremely interesting. It is very like three horses arranged in tandem fashion--first, you know, the King, a little out of the reach of the whip; then the Lords follow the King, and the Commons are in the shafts, a more ignoble position, but yet--as we see to-day, possessing a special power of upsetting the coach."
"Father, I have very important news from America. Will you listen to it?"
"Yes, if you will tell it to me straight, and not blunder about your meaning." "Sir, I have just discovered that a letter sent to me more than two years ago, has been knowingly and purposely detained from me."
"A man into whose hands it fell by misdirection."
"Did the letter contain means of identifying it, as belonging to you?"
"Then the man is outside your recognition. You might as well go to the Bridewell, and seek a second among its riff-raff of scoundrels. Tell me shortly whom it concerns."
"Oh indeed! Are we to have that subject opened again?"
His face darkened, and George, with an impetuosity that permitted no interruption, told the whole story. As he proceeded the Earl became interested, then sympathetic. He looked with moist eyes at the youth so dear to him, and saw that his heart was filled with the energy and tenderness of his love. His handsome face, his piercingly bright eyes, his courteous, but obstinately masterful manner, his almost boyish passion of anger and impatience, his tall, serious figure, erect, as if ready for opposition; even that sentiment of deadly steel, of being impatient to toss his sheath from his sword, pleased very much the elder man; and won both his respect and his admiration. He felt that his son had rights all his own, and that he must cheerfully and generously allow them.
"George," he answered, "you have won my approval. You have shown me that you can suffer and be faithful, and the girl able to inspire such an affection, must be worthy of it. What do you wish to do?"
"I am going to America by the next packet."
"Sit down, then we can talk without feeling that every word is a last word, and full of hurry and therefore of unreason. You desire to see Miss Moran without delay, that is very natural."
"Yes, sir. I am impatient also to get my letter."
"I think that of no importance."
"What would you have done in my case, and at my age, father?"
"Something extremely foolish. I should have killed the man, or been killed by him. I hope that you have more sense. Society does not now compel you to answer insult with murder. The noble not caring of the spirit, is beyond the mere passion of the animal. What does Annie say?"
"Annie is an angel. I walk far below her--and I hate the man who has so wronged--Cornelia. I think, sir, you must also hate him."
"I hate nobody. God send, that I may be treated the same. George, you have flashed your sword only in a noble quarrel, will you now stain it with the blood of a man below your anger or consideration? You have had your follies, and I have smiled at them; knowing well, that a man who has no follies in his youth, will have in his maturity no power. But now you have come of age, not only in years but in suffering cheerfully endured and well outlived; so I may talk to you as a man, and not command you as a father."
"What do you wish me to do, sir?"
"I advise you to write to Miss Moran at once. Tell her you are more anxious now to redeem your promise, than ever you were before. Say to her that I already look upon her as a dear daughter, and am taking immediate steps to settle upon you the American Manor, and also such New York property as will provide for the maintenance of your family in the state becoming your order and your expectations. Tell her that my lawyers will go to this business to-morrow, and that as soon as the deeds are in your hand, you will come and ask for the interview with Doctor Moran, so long and cruelly delayed."
"My dear father! How wise and kind you are!"
"It is my desire to be so, George. You cannot, after this unfortunate delay, go to Doctor Moran without the proofs of your ability to take care of his daughter's future."
"How soon can this business be accomplished?"
"In about three weeks, I should think. But wait your full time, and do not go without the credentials of your position. This three or four weeks is necessary to bring to perfection the waiting of two years."
"I will take your advice, sir. I thank you for your generosity."
"All that I have is yours, George. And you can write to this dear girl every day in the interim. Go now and tell her what I say. I had other dreams for you as you know--they are over now--I have awakened."
"Dear Annie!" ejaculated George.
"Dear Annie!" replied the Earl with a sigh. "She is one of the daughters of God, I am not worthy to call her mine; but I have sat at her feet, and learned how to love, and how to forgive, and how to bear disappointment. I will tell you, that when Colonel Saye insulted me last year, and I felt for my sword and would have sent him a letter on its point--Annie stepped before him. 'Forget, and go on, dear uncle,' she said; and I did so with a proud, sore heart at first, but quite cheerfully in a week or two; and at the last Hunt dinner he came to me with open hand, and we ate and drank together, and are now firm friends. Yet, but for Annie, one of us might be dead; and the other flying like Cain exiled and miserable. Think of these things, George. The good of being a son, is to be able to profit from your father's mistakes."
They parted with a handclasp that went to both hearts, and as Hyde passed his mother's loom, he went in, and told her all that happened to him, She listened with a smile and a heartache. She knew now that the time had come to say "farewell" to the boy who had made her life for twenty-seven years. "He must marry like the rest of the world, and go away from her," and only mothers know what supreme self-sacrifice a pleasant acquiescence in this event implies. But she bravely put down all the clamouring selfishness of her long sweet care and affection, and said cheerfully--
"Very much to my liking is Cornelia Moran, She is world-like and heaven- like, and her good heart and sweet nature every one knows. A loving wife and a noble mother she will make, and if I must lose thee, my Joris, there is no girl in America that I like better to have thee."
"Never will you lose me, mother."
"Ah then! that is what all sons say. The common lot, I look for nothing better. But see now! I give thee up cheerfully. If God please, I shall see thy sons and daughters; and thy father has been anxious about the Hydes. He would not have a stranger here--nor would I. Our hope is in thee and thy sweet wife, and very glad am I that thy wife is to be Cornelia Moran."
And even after Joris had left her she smiled, though the tears dropped down upon her work. She thought of the presents she would send her daughter, and she told herself that Cornelia was an American, and that she had made for her, with her own hands and brain, a lovely home wherein HER memory must always dwell. Indeed she let her thoughts go far forward to see, and to listen to the happy boys and girls who might run and shout gleefully through the fair large rooms, and the sweet shady gardens her skill and taste had ordered and planted. Thus her generosity made her a partaker of her children's happiness, and whoever partakes of a pleasure has his share of it, and comes into contact--not only with the happiness--but with the other partakers of that happiness--a divine kind of interest for generous deeds, which we may all appropriate.
Nothing is more contagious than joy, and Hyde was now a living joy through all the house. His voice had caught a new tone, his feet a more buoyant step, he carried himself like a man expectant of some glorious heritage. So eager, so ardent, so ready to be happy, he inspired every one with his buoyant gladness of heart. He could at least talk to Cornelia with his pen every day, yes, every hour if he desired; and if it had been possible to transfer in a letter his own light-heartedness, the words he wrote would have shone upon the paper.
The next morning Mary Damer called. She knew that a letter from Cornelia was possible, and she knew also that it would really be as fateful to herself, as to Hyde. If, as she suspected, it was Rem Van Ariens who had detained the misdirected letter, there was only one conceivable result as regarded herself. She, an upright, honourable English girl, loving
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