Chapter 63620420

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63620420
Full Date1887-01-07
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count2703
IllustratedY
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleRaphael Ruthven: A Fragment
article text ---.----1 " 'Sit down there, Marge, and I will tell you,' replied Ruthven, pointing to a.seat placed in a small arbour near the side path." RAPHAEL RUTHVEN: A Fragment. CHAPTER I. ,: Time turns the old days to derision, Our loves into corpses or wives, And marriage and death and division, Makes barren our lives. -" THE scene was lovely in the extreme, and well merited the encomiums bestowed upon it by Margery Maile, and her old uncle, David Maile, as, after a short stroll through the illuminated gardens of the Royal Botanical Society, they seated themselves at the top end of the broad gravel path, leading from the entrance gates to the conservatory steps. "Adorable Margery Maile," as her friends called her, had never spent a season in London before, in fact, barely a year and a half had elapsed since she arrived from France, a thorough little Frenchwoman in her ways. " Ah ! how are you ? Ochre, come and sit down," said David Maile, as an old gentleman with a hat many sizes too small for him, perched on the back of his head, and funny little grey eyes, came up and sat down, after having been introduced to Margery. " Uncle dear," said Margery, after awhile, breaking in upon the conversation of the two old men in an alarmed tone, as the people who were sitting around suddenly got up and moved away across the green turf to a spot in the direction of which a stampede was being made from all parts of the ground, " Do you think anything serious has happened over there? See what a great crowd is forming under thcuse trees. What can be the cause ? " To her astonishment, before her uncle could respond, Mr. Ochre turned towards her and breaking into a quiet chuckle as he patted Margery on the hand, said, in his sarcastic manner, " Do not be alarmed, dear child, nothing more serious has happened than that a member of the New South Wales Contingent has just arrived at the fête. I believe the one that killed-no, not a man-a goat, and who is in London for a short visit, and is being shown over the gardens. As becomes the lion of the season, he is undergoing the, no doubt to him, novel experience of having his corns trodden upon and being hunted about by a fashionable mob. I can sympathise with him, poor man, as I have undergone the infliction myself. It is a strange fact, Miss Maile," continued the speaker in a moralising tone, " that the majority of those people we see over yonder would, if questioned, one and all deny that their curiosity could ever so get the better of their good breeding as to cause them to behave as. you see they are now doing. Ah ! the centre of attraction is coming this way, unless I am vastly mistaken." "What a splendid fellow!" murmured Margery to herself, as, surrounded by a number of military looking men,' a gallant young fellow, with the glow of health and sunny temper on his frank brow, and gazing with unaffected delight at the brilliant scene, passed by her ; close to his heels came the usual well dressed rabble, pushing and struggling to get a look at him. " At last I have found you, Margery ! Uncle David! How are you both? Enjoying the fine view of this social landscape," said Raphael Ruthven, emerging from behind the row of chairs as he greeted his friends. A look of pleasure, which had been lurking deep down in Margery's blue eyes, seemed to rise to the surface as Raphael clasped her hand. "This is. a surprise, Raphael. When did you return ? I am very glad to see you again," said she. "Yes, what do you mean by springing upon us in this fashion, sir, when you were supposed to be taking the waters somewhere in the Black Forest1?" added David, with a smile. " I only arrived in London this afternoon. After dinner I called at Cobatt Road, heard from the butler that you were here, and came on the off chance of finding you," replied the new comer, seat- ing himself on a chair at that moment vacated. "Mr. Ochre, allow me to introduce you to Mr. Ruthven." The two gentlemen bowed. A wonderfully striking personage to look at was Raphael Ruthven, the leading classical actor on the London stage. It was not so much the mere beauty of the man's face which fascinated people as the genius which shone forth from his dark grey eyes. Though some hypercritics affected to despise it, yet the actor's^greatest charm was undoubtedly his voice. Rich and musical, trained for years by the best masters, it worked in such harmony with the man's expression, that the thought which gave rise to the one seemed to originate the other. Raphael Ruthven's mother, whom he much resembled, had as an authoress ranked among the women of " light and leading " of her day, and, as the legend ran, her marriage with James Ruthven, a comparatively un- known barrister, was the true cause of David Maile's life long celebacy. At the time when all London was talking about this new star in the theatrical firmament, Margery Maile came to town. She met Ruthven for the first time at her uncle's house, and the acquaintance begun under old Maile's roof soon ripened into a warm friendship. As a friend of her own and her uncle's, she entertained a great regard for him, while as an actor the tragedian had no more enthusiastic admirer than the fair Margery. Nothing more. Though they were thrown much together, and had . . . many interests in common, this young girl's heart,:-, remained as whole as the day of. their first meeting ; : the mutual liking they felt one for the other had not on her part deepened into a warmer feeling. It was not so, however, with Raphael Ruthven, accus.T.(,v, tomed to easy conquest over woman, young .and^; old. Margery's manner towards him, frank and operi- ¡ ;. and free from the slightest soupcon of a tender passion, had at first engendered within him a strong feeling of pique. Was he the conqueror of so many hearts to be in his turn defeated? Time would show. Winter changed to sprigg, spring to summer* and the girl's beauty and charm of manner, so different from the entirely English style, to which he had been accustomed, gradually began to assert a . strange mastery over him. All feeling of pique . vanished, and became engulphed in the strong and ardent affection he now -felt for her. Fond of inspiring in others an affection which he did not feel himself, he was at last " hoist by his own petard." A few months before the meeting chronicled in the preceding an attack of fever had neces ' sitated his temporary withdrawal from the stage. When he became convalescent, coinciding with the advice of his medical man, he departed to spend a ' month in the Black Forest. After a very short stay he packed up his trunks and started back, one fine morning, for London, where he arrived on the day of the Botanical Fête, fully determined, come what might, to put his fortune to the test, for He either fears his fate too much, Or Iiis dessert is small, Who fears to put it to the touch To win or lose it all. " By-the-by, Margery, have you seen the great show of the evening, the illuminated lake !" said Ruth- ven, after a slight pause in the conversation, which had been principally sustained by Margery, " if you have not I was going to propose a stroll in that direction." Ruthven offered his arm to Margery, and with a parting wave of the hand away they went. A hand- some couple, truly, and many a backward glance was cast at them as they wended their , way across the green sward. " Raphael, what is the matter with you to-night, are you feeling unwell? You have been so silent," said Margery; and then her tone, changing in an instant, she added, with a charming move, "you have not told me a word about your trip to Wildbady. Ah ! sir, I fear you must have lost your heart at last to some fair Fräulein, eh?" A few steps to the left and they came to a dimly lit gravel path, bordered by thick bushes, overhead long branches of trees spread their canopy of leaves. It was a solitary walk, and Margery hesitated before she followed. She felt a vague feeling of alarm, and would almost have liked to have turned back. They proceeded some distance without speaking, at last Margery broke the silence. " When are you going to reappear, Douglas?" she said, "and in what?" In a slow voice he replied, " It depends on circumstances, Marge-. Perhaps I may never act again." " Never act again !" she exclaimed with astonish- ment, and looking up into his face she saw there, by . the uncertain shadowy light, an expression which for the moment she failed to interpret. In after years how vividly that look came back to her. " Throw away the brilliant career you have before you ! What do you mean ?" J " Sit down there, Marge, and I will tell you/ replied Ruthven, pointing to a seat placed in a smai arbour at the side of the path. She sat down ; he remained standing, gazing longingly at her. " Come, your explanation," said Margery, when , at last her words broke the spell ; and casting him- self on the seat beside her, Raphael took her hand. " Marge, darling, my explanation can be made in three words-I love you !" She could not see his face, but the tremor of his voice and the nervous tightening of his hand on hers, told how deep was his emotion. Margery was so overcome by this sudden and unexpected avowal, that she remained silent. As she made no attempt to withdraw her hand, Ruthven's heart throbbed more steadily, his voice assumed a more assured tone. "Yes, Marge, I- love you ! During my illness your image always haunted me. I went abroad, it followed me wherever I went. I could keep away from you no longer, Marge, and I came back to England. I came here to-night determined to tell you this. My darling ! will you be my wife ?" Withdrawing her hand from his warm grasp. Margery passed it across her forehead, as if awaking from a dream. Now she understood why Ruthven's manner had appeared so strange ; small things, which had been vague and indistinct, now stood out ir sharp, clear outlines. Opening her pale lips she spoke slowly and in a sad voice, " My dear, I arr so sorry for what has happened, you know." " Sorry for what has happened !" he interrupted impetuously. "Do you mean by that, Marge, tha you do not love me ? Am I to understand that you: manner for the last six months, so pregnant witl meaning for me, was only assumed, put on as yoi would put on a pretty gown ? Am I to understanc that you have been consciously playing with rae No, no, I won't believe it," he continued, ina pleading tone, "tell rae it is not true." " Dear boy," replied Margery, ignoring his gestur of contempt as he uttered those two words, " Believ me, I would have made almost any sacrifice if wha has happened to-night could have been prevented I thank you deeply for the honour you have paid me. I do not love you sufficiently to be your wife. Pray hear me," she continued, as Ruthven rose from the seat with a gasp. " You wrong me in what you have just said ; do you not know that I care for you too well as a friend-one moment, Raphael-to wantonly put you to any pain. If aught in my manner has led you to believe that I entertained for you an affection greater than that which I feel, believe me, my dear, I was unconscious of it ? You say you love me. You ask me to be your wife. That I can never be. Remember what uncle David has always said, "An actor should never marry out of his profession." You are wedded to your art, I should be jealous of it ; when I marry I must have no such dangerous rival." "But, Marge, listen to me, I will give it up! God knows, dearly as I love the stage, I love you better, and for your sake I will give it up. You say you care for me as a friend ; marry me, and let the love for me as a husband follow, I will teach it you." The passionate pleading of this man touched her deeply, but she knew her duty well. Rising to her feet, her cheeks wet with tears, she said : " Douglas, I have answered your question, much as it has cost me to do so. Take me back to my uncle." Slowly and silently, they went back through the park from the scenes of their sorrow. God keep those who love not wisely but too well ; for an infinite capacity for loving means also an infinite capacity for suffering. Before the Maile's carriage drove away, Ruthven said good-bye as quietly and gently as ever, but the smile was forced, and his eyes had a weary and shamed look. As he raised his hat in a parting salute, Margery caught one last glimpse of his sad face as a stray gleam of light from .the carriage lamps swept over it. Laying her head on her uncle's shoulder, she burst into a flood of tears, Ruthven kept his word ; before he left England he had a long interview with David Maile, but Margery saw him no more. . ******** A year passed away, but no tidings came of the wanderer. Another year passed away, and then another; still no tidings, where had he gone? At last David Maile received a letter from Australia. The writer had been personally acquainted with Ruthven when in England. " I had been in Sydney about a week," he said in his letter, " when one day, as I was coming out of my hotel, I saw, on the opposite side of die street, a face that seemed strangely familiar to me. I felt sure I knew the man, but could not for the moment give him a name. Crossing over the street, I recognised him as your friend Raphael Ruthven. Having heard of his abrupt departure from London,I was not so surprised to see him as I otherwise should have been. At first he attempted to escape recognition, but seeing that I had already recognised him, he held out his hand as I came up. Poor fellow ! he has sadly changed from what he was three years ago. It appears that after his arrival in New York he took a short engagement at the Planet, under an assumed name, but the old spirit was dead within him, and when his engagement terminated he left for 'Frisco. There he eked out a precarious living by giving old recitations and occasional lessons in elocution ; gradually sinking lower and lower, until ut last he became a pianist at a dancing saloon. How he got here 1 could not discover, where he has gone to I do not know. Had I been able to find him again I would, for your sake, have persuaded him, if possibe, to return with me to England." David Maile's worst fears had been realised ; could Ruthven but have been brought back he might have been saved. Time, the healer of all things, rolled on and took the keen edge off their sorrow with it, but Ruthven's memory still remained green, watered by tears of regret.