|Newspaper Title||The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||Longstaff's Marriage|
Hates aatt flrfches. 1V0NGSTAFFS MABB1AGE. ICoadMkd.) She often, however, heard from her, and Diana, figured in the toam gossip that ns *-— *™~'y wafted to her rural home. She aometiineB figured strangely — as a rattung eoocette, who carried an flirtations by the hondred and broke hearts by the dozen. This had nut been Diana's fbemer cnararpT, and Agatha fonnd matter for meditation in the change. Bot tile young lady's own letters ?aid Hltie at her admirers and displayed no trophies. They came very fitfully, sometimes at tbe nte of a dmen a month, sod sometimes not at *n ; out they were usually of a serious and abstract cast and contained the anchor's opinions upon Ine, death; religion, and nmnortantjr. Mntresa of her actions and of - IH'*^J fortune, it might nave been expected liiat news would come in UuataorUiy form of Diana's at last accepting one of her nunonred lovers. Such news in fact came, and it was apparently famils'Ui Illy, ^nasmnch as it uniimlnl from tin yumg lady herself. She wlutexoAgat&athatshewas to be married, and AjP^faa wnww*^f»**Jy congratulated her aponlKr happiness. Then Diana wrote back gat though das was to be married sbe was not at all happy ; and she shortly afterward added (hat she had broken off her projected union and tint her felicity was smaller than ever. Poor Agatha was sorely perplexed and found it * comfort that a mania after tiiis her friend should have sent her a peremptory commons to conw to her. She tmnwfliatHy obeyed. Aiming, after a long journey, at tie dwelling of her young hostess, the saw Diana at the farther end of her drawing-room, iriih her tart turned, looking out of the window. She gently approached her friend and then Diana tamed. Se had her two hands laid upon her cheeks and her eyes were sad; her face and attitude suggested something that Agatha had seen before and kept the memory of. WhOe ?IhiIiwmI In i i'ii illi i inin mlii ii ii hoar it was just so she had stood for that last moment before pots- Mr. Loogstaft ** wil you. coow abroad with me again?' Dransasked. ' 1 am very 3V 'Dearest, what is tire matter?' Agatha ofced. -?I dont know; I believe I am dying. They ten me this place is had for me ; that I nmat hsreioialaer climate ; (sat I most more about. Will you take care of me? I dull be nry easy to tike care of now.' ftfatr^j far all answer, embraced her afresh, and aa soon after this as possible tile two fpa»i»|jai flllilllll I li TT™'* fgp Europe. &ljSS Godingh«d lent bersdf the more fredy to this m$t**i** m 1W wwnpm'ntw appearance eeemed ? i1i'iii'C conformation of her words. Not, ™»j— J that die Iooteiaaifeixewe«; dying, but in tibe two yeazs that had elapsed since Oxbt separation she had wasted and faded. She htolked more than two yean older and the hffHusey of her beauty was dimmed. She ms nale and languid, and ehe moved more
?lowly than when she seemed a goddess tnadmg the forest leaves. Tbe betvotzfal statue had grown human and taken on some of the imperfections of innoamty. And yet the doctors by do means affirmed that she had a mortal milady, and when one of them was aaked by an mynwtaTe matron why be had XBCOtnmended this young lady to cross the seas, he replied with a smile that it was a principle in iris system, to prescribe the remedies that At present the Eair travellers had no mis atdvenbms. The broken charm had removed jfe—lf ; the heavens smiled opon them and their postillions treated them like princesses. Diana, too. had completely recovered her native placidity ; she was the gesifest, the most docile, the most reasonable of women. She was silent and snbdaed as was natural in an invalid ; though in one important particular her demeanonr was certainly at variance with the idea of debility, Sbe (dished movement much more than the rest, end -eonflCBzit change of place became tbe I*w of her daya. Sfae wished to see all the places tiiatsbehadnot seen before, and all the old ones over again.
'If I am really dying,' she said, smiling softly, 'I most leave my farewell cards everywhere.** So she lived in a great open carnage, leaning hack in it and looking right and left, at everyttiing she passed. On her former journey to Europe she had seen but little of Pjigianrij and now she would visit the whole of thifi famooE island. So she roQed for weeks through the beantxfnl English land scape, past meadows and hedge-rows, over the avenues of great estates, and nnder the walla of castles and abbey*. For the English Itarliti and manors the 'Sails' and 'Courts,' yhs» had an especial *«itwtr^tjYm. and infa th-* grounds of snen as were open to appreciative tourists she made a point of penetrating. Here she stayed her carriage beneath the oaks and beeches, aod eat for an hoar at at a tune littering^ nightingales and watching browsing jtwmr. Sbe never fi»l*J to Tisai- a residence tiiatlayou her road, and as soon as she arrived she mqmred pmicti&oasly whether there were any fine country-seats in the Ddghboorhood. In this tashioa she spent a whole summer. Through the autumn she continued to wander ZBsfieasIy ; ahe niiuig«:T. on the continent, a hundred watering-places and travellers' morn. Hie beginning of the winter bond her in Sane, where she confessed to extreme fatigue and determined to seek repose. 'I sal weary, weary,' she said to her fwnnanion. 'I didn't know how weary I was. I fed like sinking down in ttuo City of Best, and resting here forever.' She took* lodging in an old palace, where her chamber was bun* wnfe ancient tapestries, and her drawing-room decorated with the. arms of a pope. Bens, giving way to her fatigue, she ceased to wander. Hie only Oungshe did was b- go everyday to St. Peter's. She vent nowhere else. She at at her
window all day with a big book in her lap. winch sns never read, ftwaiisj oat into a Boman garden at a. fountain pUabing into a wsedy alcove, am} half-a-dosau aynsphs la mottled marble. Sometimes she told her companion that ahe was napnaer ttns war then she had ever been,-inth« way and ingoing to St. Peter's. In the great church she had often spent tte whjMe afternoon. Sbe had a servant behind her; carrying a stooL He placed her stool against a marble nOastsr, and she tat there for a long time, looking op into the airy hollow of tbe dome and ever the peopled pavement. She noticed every one who passed her, but ftfif1**. fingering beside her, felt less it liberty, she hardly knew why, to nrarauu* a sportive commentary on tlie people about them than sbe had felt when they eat upon the shore at Nice. One day Agatils lett her and strolled about the church herself. The ecclesiastical life of Borne had not ?hrapjnpw to nVs present smaB ness, and in one corner or another of St. Peter's, laere was always some point of worship. Agatha found her entertainment, and was absent for half an hour. When she came back, she found her companions pbuse deserted, and she sat down on the empty stool to await her reappearance. Some tame «J»p--J and she wandered away in quest of her. She found her at last; near one of the side-alters; but she was not alone. A gentleman stood before her whom she appeared just to have encountered. Her face was very pale, and if s expression led AgsUia to look stzaightway at the stranger. Then she saw he was no stranger ; he Was Reginald Longsta£ He, too, evidently had been much wtr'diH, but he was already recovering himself. &£ stood very gronely an i'***'J longer; then he silently bowed to Die two ladies and tarned away. Agatha feU at first as if she had seen a ghost ; but the impression was immediately corrected by the fact that Mr. Loqgstsff's aspect was very nmdi less ghostly than it had been in life. He looked like a strong man ; He held himself upright and had a flush of colour. What Agatha saw in Diana's ;sce was not surpiisc ; it was a pale radiance which she waited a moment to give a nme to. Diana put out her hand«nd laid it in her arm, and ler touch helped tgaths to know what it was that her face yiisMHwl. Then she felt too Chat this knowledge itself was not a surprise ; she ~-*y*A to have been waiting for it. She lookBd si her friebd again and Diana was Uuuumi. vuna mnsnsa ana Decsme moce beantifnl yet. Agatha led her back to her seat near the marble pOister^ 'So yon were right,*1 eaid Agatha presently. ' Ho would, after aB, have got weJL* Diana wonld net ait down ; she motioned to her servant to bring away the stool, and cautioned to move toward the door. She said nothiog until she stood without, in tbe great Snare of the colonades and fountains. Then e spoke: 'I am right now, hot I was wrong tihen. He got well because I refused him. I gave him a hart that cured htm.*' the great dnwing'fooni of tshe arms of the pope, a remarkable conversation took place between the two friends. Diana wept and bid her face ; but her tears and her shame were gratuitous. .Agatha felt, as t have already said, that she had already finessed all the unexplained, aod it was ztee&ess for her companion to tell her tint three weeks' after sbe had refused BfginaM Loogstaff abe insanely loved him. It was needles that Bianx should confess that his image had. never been ought of her mind, that she believed he was still among the living, and that she had come back to Europe with a desperate hope of meeting bim. It was in this hope that sbe wandered from town to town and ooticed ail the passers ; and it was in this hope that sLe lingered is so maoy English parks* She knew her love was very strange ; she ctrald only eay it had consumed her. It had all j meditation. Or rather, she supposed, it had been there always since sbe had first saw him. and the revulsion from displeasure to pity, aterehe left his bedside, had brought it out. And with it cune the faith .feat fat had indeed got weU, both of bis malady and of bis own passion. This was her ponisbinest! And then die spoke with a divine simplicity which Agatha, weeping a little too, wished that, if | this possibility mm. a fac^ the yonnz man might have heard. ' I am so glad he it well and strong. And that be looks so handsome and so gooi!' And she presently added, 'Of course he has got well only to hate me. He wishes never to see me again. Very good. I have bad my wish ; t have seen him once more. That was what I wanted sod I can die It seemed in fact, as if she were going to die She went no more to St. Peter's, and exposed herself to no more encounters with Mr. LongstaK She sat at her window and looked out at tile mottied dryads and the cypresses, or wandered about her quarter of the palace with a vaguely smiling resignation. Agatha watched her wits a sadness Oat was less submissive. This too was sometinng ttai she had heard of, that she had read of in poetry and fable, but that she never supposed she should see ; — her companion was dying of love! Agatha pandered many things and resolved npon several. The first of One latter was sendme for the doctor. This personage came, and Diana let bimlookat her through his spectacles, and bold her white wnst He announced that she was iD, and she muled and said she knew it; and then he gave her a little phial of gold-coloured fluid which he hade her to drink. He recommended her to remain in Borne, as the dinute exactly suited her complaint Agatha's second desire was to see HrTXoogstaC who had appealed to her, she reflected, in the day of fab own tribulation, and whom she therefore had a, right to approach at present. She disbefieved too, Oat sVe tausion which Jed ten to take that extraordinary etep at Nice was extinct; sash Bastions a* that never died. H he had
made no further attempt to cee Diana it was because be beneved 4&st she Wat scat aa odd as when cbe tamed sway from his dejSh,bed. a, lawful earissnWbto*lnrn how from' that death-bed he bad riser, again into Mooning On this last point, all emddafeau left some thing unexplained. Agatha went to St. Peter's, fselmganre. that sooner or later she should encounter him there. At the end of a jiininaijia.tfllii jfme and wyV** -to- bee a* Diana bad said, he was now extremely hand some, slid be loolDed pariaculaoy good. He was a Mooning, gallant, quiet voonc Kaeuah II-...I1, ,.,,,. ff.i ' -? ? J ?.laljlll ? ? ? w BEDHSBHL DC SneUlfH. ?imCTl CSBuBCTBEBen, but Us Banner to Agatha, expressed the higbat eonrideotion. ^ 'You nunt think me* dreadful imposter,* hesaUL^Tepjpavely. 'Brt I «w dfing-or ' And by what miracle did you recover V fie wss- silent a moment, and then he Said: -I suppose it was by tbe miracle tt wounded pride !' Then she noticed that be asked nothing about Diaaa; and presently ?he felt that she knew she was thinking of this. 'The strangest part of ft,' he added, 'was that wnenZ came back to etrengSi. what had gone before bed become as s simple dream. And what happened to me hare tbe other day.- he went on, 'faded to make it a reality againr *.p»tjf. liwrlrffl ?& »»»— » amomsnt in w^mwt'T, ud saw again that he was handsome and kind; tnd then dropping a sign over tbe wonoerfnl mystery of things, she toned BUensV away. bat evening, Duni said td her: 'I know Oat yon have seen him !' Agatka came to her and kaasl her. 'And I am nothing to him BOmf 'My own dearest—' mnrnmrBd AgsJha Diana had drunk the little phial of g-Jd- coloured Gquid ; but after tnis, sbe ceased to ?rander about the palace; sbe never left her room. The old doctor was with her constauMy now. ud Ik costumed to say that the air of Rome was very good for her complaint. Agatha wab&ed her in helpless radnea.; ehe saw her fadmg and sinking, and yet sbe was nnaU* to comfort her. She tried it oe» by nying hard things about Mr. Longstaff, in pointing out that be had not been hononrahle; rising herein to a snblhne hypocrisy, for. on Outlast occasion at St, Peter's, tte poor fid bad fdt a renewed personal sAnmtioo*-«n. arrichrning of a private flame; she saw nothing but Ids good looks and his kind '^matdH be wsnt^wfaat *d he mem, sfter all?' she ingenuously murmnred, leaning over Diana's tot*. ' Why sbosU he have been wounded at what you said? It would have been part of the bargain that be should not get wdL Did be mean to take an unfair advantage — to make you fan wife under false pretences? When yon put your finger on tile weak spot; why ehould he resent H? So, it was not honourable.'' Diana smued sadly! ahe had no false shame now, and he spoke tins tilings* H it concerned another person. ' He would have counted on my forjdvittg him!' she said. A littie wfaue after ttgs ahe began to sink more rapidly. Then she caBeu her friend to her and ssntsbnply: 'Send for him!' And as Agatha looked perplexed sad distressed, she added, 'I know he is ?tul in Home.' Agatha at Srst mat* lost where to find him, but *m«M*g the *' i— fil u of the papal dispensation, was tbe fact Oat tbe pontifical police could (instantly help you to lay yam band npon any sojoumer in tbe Eternal Citv. Mr. Longstair had a passport m detention by the government, and this document formed a basis of instruction to the servant whom Agatha sent to investigate tbe authorities. Toe servant came hack with the news that be had seen Hie distinguished stranger, who woold wait upon the ladies at tbe hour they had proposed. When this hour came and Mr. LongBtaff was announced. Diana said to her companion that she most remain with her. It was an afternoon in spring; the high windows in the palace^arden were open, and the room was filled witb great sheaves and stacks of the abradant Bonnm flowers. Diana sat in a deep arm-chair. It was certainly a dMwmlfr p-^ffi^|M for Reginald Lonsbit He stopped on tbe thresh hold and looked awhile at tfae woman to whom he bad made his extraordinary offer ; then, pale and agitated, be advanced rapidly toward her. He wasevidenfly shocked at tie state in which be found her ; he took her hand, and, bending over it, raised it to bis lips. She fixed her eyes on him a littie. and smiled s little. ' It is I who am dying, now.' sbe said. ''And now I want to ask something of «on — to ask what yon s*ked of me. ' He stared, and a deep flnsh of colour came into his face; he hesitated for an appreciable moment. Then lowering fatt bead with a movement of aaamt he Hsnrri her hand again. -Come back tMunw.' sbe said ; 'that is all I ssk of you.** He looked at her again for a while in slessix: then he abruptly tamed and left her. She sent for the English clergyman and told him that she was a dying woman, and that she wanted tbe marriage service read bends her conch. Tbe clergyman, too. looked at fast; mrmOing ; bnt he cimiimtnd to humour so tendedy romantic a whim and Bade an sjipuinUnent for the afternoon of the morrow. Diana was very amnquiL She sat motijoleaj, with her eyes dosed. Agatha wandered about, arranging and re-«Tsnging the flowers. On the morrow abe enramtorsd Mr. Long staff in one of the outer rooms: be bad esnu before his time. She made this objection to ins being admitted; but be answered that be knew be was early and bad some with intention ; be wasted to spend tbe nteveasng iMSfwiAlnsptMsuselivstefc. Sa he want in sad sat down by bar couch again, and Agatha, leaving tbeaa alone, an knew a***
passed between them. At the end of the boor tbe clergyman aTrimd, and lead the marriage service to tbem, pronouncing tbe nuptial Messing, while Agatha stood by as a TanTiV If I i aifT wait tbrsamfa all Una with a solemn, is-jjubk face, saw. Agatha, observing him, said to herself that one must at leaatdo him tbe justice to admit that be was performing pnnct3-onaly what bor«nr demanded. When tbe clergyman bad Kane be asked Diana when be nrigSt sea her again. ''Sever!' snesaid, with berattangs smile. And^sbe added— 'I shall not ttse long 'He kissed her face, bat be was obliged to leave her. He gave Agatha aa anxious look sail he wished to say something to her, but sbe preferred not to hstn to him. After tUs Dbuu sank rapidly. The next day Esginald Lnigdaff came tuck snd insisted npon anehsj; *£why shouM sbe die?' be asked. 'I want bertolrre.' 'Have you forgiven herT' said Hfjrrris 'She sand me f be cried. Diana consented to see him once snore; , tbere were two doctoss in sllfmlaiaas now» I and they also had consented. Heksettdowa beside her bed and asked her to Inc. Batatas feebly shook her head. 'U wonM be wromj of ms,' ahe ssad. Later, when be came back once nan, Agatha told him she was Eons. He stood wondering, with tears in Ms cyss. 'IdonHnnderEtand.'-beasid. -Did aba lovenjeornotr 'She loved yon,' said Agxtbs, 'more than she believed yon could now Ian her; and it seemed to her that, when sbe bad anal her moment of happiness, to leave yon at liberty sra* tbe tsnderat way aha eonU abasr it r-Senbao't MmtUg.