Chapter 138063287

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Chapter NumberXCII
Chapter TitleTREVELYAN DISCOURSES ON LIFE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138063287
Full Date1870-03-05
Page Number5
Corrections0
Word Count3528
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleHe Knew He Was Right
article text

Chapibb' XCIt.

TEEVELYAK DISCOURSES OK LIFE.

, Stanbury made his journoy without pause or hindrance till he reached Florence, and as ;the train for Siena made ^ necessary that he should remain there for four or five hours, ho

I went to an urn, and dressed and washed mm

and bad a meal, andwas thendrivento 0—?*?*'—house. H® found Che American

^home, aqd^fwu receiv^ with

or^piWng^wafT^revSyan.j They went

o MraSpiudiuffs roopvand Hugh was

ier (fiat she pad seen Mrs. Trevelyan <once isincelie|c niece's marriage,' and (batthen she ,had .r«®PMented het.lmslband as being very feehle/Hogh. in the miast pfhis troubles, Was amused by a second and s third, perhapi by . a fourth, inference bo, " Lady Peter porougfc";'ma. gpalding's ' latest tidings its to the Trevelyans had been received through "Lady/Peterborough" from Nora, atowley. "Lady Peterborough" .was at the present moment at Naples, bat , was expected to pass north through Florence |n a day or two. They, the Spaldings

Florence in this themselves, were kept in

very hot weather by thi3 circumstance. They were going up to the Tyrolese moun tains for. a few weeks as soon as "Lady Peterborough" should have left them for England. '' Lady Peterborough" would have been, so happy to make Sir. Stanfiury's acquaintance, and to have heard something direct from her friend Nora. Then Mrs.

Spalding smiled archly, showing thereby that she knew all abont Hugh Stanbury and his relation to Nora Rowley. From all which, and in accordance with the teaching which we got, alas, now many years ago, from a great master on the subject we must conclude that poor, dear Mrs. Spalding was a snob. Nevertheless, with all deference to the memory of that great master, we think that Mrs, Spalding's allusions to the success iu life achieved by her niece were natural and altogether pardonable: and that reticence on the subject,—a calculated determination to abstain from mentioning a triumph which

giust have been very dear to her,—would

ave betrayed ou the whole a condition of

mind lower than that which she exhibited. While rank, wealth, and money are held to be good things by all around us, let them be acknowledged as such. It is natural that a mother should be as proud 'k when her daughter marries an Earl's heir as when her son becomes Senior Wrangler; and when we meet a lady in Mrs. Spalding's condition who purposely abstains from mentioning the name of her titled daughter, we shall he disposed to judge harshly of the secret workings of that lady's thoughts on the subject We prefer the ex hibition, which we feel to be natural. Mr. Spalding got our friend by the button-hole, and was making him a speech on the perilous conditionin which Mrs. Trevelyan was placed; but Stanbury, urged by the circumstances of his position, pulled out his watch, pleaded the hour, and escaped^

' He fonnd Mrs.; Trevelyan waiting for him at the station at Siena. He would hardly have known, her,—not from, any alteration that was physically personal 4iP herself, not 'that she had become older in faoe, or thin, or grey, or sickly,'—but that the trouble of her fife bad robbed her for the time of that bright ness of apparel, of that pride of feminine gear, of .that sheen of high-bred womanly bearing, with which our wives and daughters are so careful to invest themselves. She knew herself to be a wretched woman, whose work in life now was to watch over a poor prostrate wretch, and who had thrown behind her all ideas of grace and beauty. It was not quickly that this condition had come upon her. . She had been unhappy at Nuncombe Patney; but .unhappiness had not then told upon the outward woman. She had been more wretched istill at Saint Diddulph's. and all the outward circumstguces of life in her ancle's parsonage had been very wearisome to her; but she had striven against it all, and the sheen and out ward brightness had still been there. After that her child had been taken from her, and the days which she had passed in Manchester street had been very grievousbut even yet shehadnotgiven way. It was not tQl her child had been brought back to her, and she had seen the life her husband was living, that her anger,—hot anger,—had been changed to pity, and that with pity Ipve had returned, it was not till this point had come in her sad life that her dress became always black and sombre, that a veil habitually covered her face, that a bonnet took the place of the jaunty hat that she had whrn, and the

prettinesses of her life were lain aside. "It

is very good of you to come," she Said; "very good. I hardly knew what tcFfib, I was so wretched, Qn the day that X "out be was so bad that I was obliged to do something." Stanbury, of course, inquired after Trevelyau's health, as tbey were being driven up to Mrs. Trevelyan's loagiugs. On the day ou which she bad sent the telegram her husband had again been furiously angry with her. Sue had interfered, or had endeavoured to inter fere, in some arrangements as to his health and comfort, mid he had turned upon her

with an order that the child should be at once sent back to him, and that: she should immediately quit Siena. '' When I said that Louey could hot be sent,—and who could send a child into such keeping ?—he told me that I was the basest liar that ever broke a promise, and the vilest traitor that had ever returned evil for good. I was never to come to him again,—never; and the gate of the house would be closed against me if I ap peared there."

On the next day she had gone again, how ever, and had seen him, and had visited him on everyday since. Nothing further had been said about (be child, and ne had now become almost too weaktyr violent anger. "I told bim you were coming, and though he would not say so, I think he is glad of it. He ex pects you to-morrow."

"I will go this evening, if he will let me."

" Not to-night I think he goes to bed al most as the sun sets. I am never there myself after four or five in the afternoon. I told him that you should be there to-morrow,— alone. I have hired a little carriage, and you can take it He said specially that I was not to come with you. Papa goes cer tainly on next Saturday T" It was a Saturday now,—this daj^ cn which Stanbury had ar rived at Siena.

" He leaves town on Friday."

"You must make him believe that. Do not tell him suddenly, but bring it in by degrees.

He thinks that I am deceiving him. . He J would go back if he knew that papa; were \ gone." . I

They spept a long evening together, .and , Stanbury learned all that Mrs, Trevelyan could tell him of her husband's state. There was no doubt, she scud, that his reason was affected; but she thought the state of his mind was diseased in a ratio the reverse of that of his body, and that when he wa^sWeak est iu health, then were hw ideas "the .most clear and rational. He never p'ow mentioned Colonel Osborne's name, but- would refer to the affairs of the last two years aS tupOgfithey had been governed by an inexorable Fate,Which had utterly destroyed Ms hapfjlneSs Wlthoht any fault on his part.' " You ttSV^ 'sure," she said, ''that 1 nevWaobuwi fdm. Even when he says terrible thtngTCCf iOfc,—when he does,—I never exqufemra&t-Idonot think I should > answer a word.if jheculled me the vilefct thine on earth.*' Before they parted for the night many questions Wetebf course asked about Nora, and Hugh described the

___

''Yes,, justasi

"A^'whim isit i— ^vjg .. | ^ j

Etknow where sbem^Jb) yhea^

ive London.-- I think she will Tint M

haaM . when the Glascock people retold (g

What an episode In life—to 8° end seo the place when it might all now have been

here." i

"I suppose I ought to fed dreadful* ashamed of myself for having marred row promotion," said Hugh.

" Nora is sacha singular girlso firm. so headstrong, so good, and so self-reliant, that she will do as well with a poor man as sho would have done with a rich. Shall I confess to you that I did wish that she should ao* cept Mr. Glascock, and that J pressed it on her very strongly? You will not be angry

with me?"

" I am only the more proud of her;—and of myself."

" When she was told of all that he had to give in the way of wealth and Tank, she took the bit between her teeth and would not be turned an inch. Of course she was in love."

" I hope she may never regret itthat is all."

" She must change her nature first. Every* thing she sees there will make her stronger m her choice. With all her girlish ways, aha is like a rock. Nothing can move her.

Early on the next morning he started alono for CasalungB) having first, however, seen Mrs. Irevelyan. He took out with him cer tain little tuingB for the sick man's table

as to which, however, he was cautioned to say not a word to the sick man himself. And it was arranged that he should endeavour to fix a day for Trevelyan's return to England. That was to be tbeone object in view. H wo could get him to England," she said, "he and I would, at any rate, be together, and gradu ally he would be taught to submit himself to advice." Before ten in the morning, Stan bury was walking up the hill to the houses and wondering at the dreary, hot, hopeless desolation of the spot It seemed to him that no one could live alone in such a place, in snch weather, without being driven to mad ness. The soil was parched and dusty, as though no drop of rain had fallen there for months. The lizards, glancing in and out of the broken walls, added to the appearance of heat The vegetation itself was of a faded

Lid taken'the &esh colour out of it There

was a noise of grasshoppers and a hum of flies in the air, hardly audible, but all giving evi dence of the heat Not a human voice was to be heard, not the sound of a human foot, and there was no shelter; but the sun blazed down full upon everything. He took off bis bat arid rubbed his head with bis handker chief as he btruck the door with his stick. Oh God, to what misery had a little folly brought two human beings who had had every blessing that the world could give within their reabhl

In a few minutes he was conducted through the house, and found Treveljwt seated in a chair under the verandah which looked down upon the olive trees. He did not even get up from his seat, but pot out his left liana ana welcomed, his old friend. "Stanbury," he said, "I am glad to see yon. —for aula lang eyne's sake.; When I found out *his retreat, I did not mean to have friends round me here. I wantedto toy what solitude wasand, by heaven. I've tried it!" He was dressed in a bright Italian dressing gown, or woollen paleItalian, as having been bought in Italy, though, doubtless, it had come from France,—and obi his feet he had green worked slippers, and on his head a brocaded cap. He had made but little ptherpre*

His long dishevelled hair came down over his neck and his beard covered his face. . Beneath his dressing-gown he .had on a night-shirt, and drawers, and was as dirty in appearance as he was gaudy in colours. "Sit down and let us two moralise." he said. "I spend my life here doing nothing,—nothing,—nothing; while you cudgel your brain from day to day to mislead the British public. Which of us two is taking the nearest road to the devil ?"

Stanbury seated himself in.a second arm chair, which there was there in the verandah, and looked as. earefally as he dared to do at his friend. There coula be no mistake of the restless gleam of that eye. And then the affected air of ease, and the would-be cynic ism, and the pretence of false motives, all told the same story. "They used to tell us," stud Stanbury, "that idleness is the root of all

evil."

" They have been telling us since the world began so many lies, that I for one have de termined never to believe anything again. Labour leads-to greed, and greed to selfish ness, and selfishness to treachery, arid treach ery straight to the devil—straight to thedeviL Ha, my friend, all your leading articles won't lead you out of that What's the news ? Who's alive? Who dead? Who in? ' Who out? What thiuk you of a man' who has not seen a newspaper for two months ; and who holds no conversation with the' world further than is needed for the cooking of Ids polenta and the cooling of his .modest wine flask?"

" You see your wife sometimes," said Stan bury.

" My wife! Now, my friend, let us drop that subject Of all topics of talk it is the most distressing to man In general, and I own that I am no exception to the iot. Wives, Stanbury, are an evil, more or less necessary to humanity, and £ own to being one who has not escaped. The world must be populated, though for what reason oue does not see. I have helped,—to the extent of one male bantling; and if you are one who

consider pt^latioif desirable, I will express my regret rottf! should have done no more."

It was very difficult to foroe Trevelyan out of this humoor, and it was not till Scanbory had risen apparently bo take his leave that he found it possibly to say a word as to his mission there. " Don't yop think you would be hap pier at homel'^tCa asked."

" Whereto my home, Sir Knight of the midnight pun ?

"Englandis your home, Trevelyan."

" No, Sit; England was my home once; but I have taken the liberty accorded to me by my Creator of choosing a new cOjmtry. Italyis now my nation, and Casaluuga is my

home."

"^Every tie you hare in the wo^ld iainEng

" I have no tie, sir; .no tie anywhere, It has been my study to untie ell the ties; and, by Jove, I have suooeeded. Look at me here. I have got rid of the trammels pretty wellhaven't Ihave unshackled myself, and thrown off the paddings,, and the wrappings, and ,th6 sffftddliitf clothes1,1 hftVB got na or the conventionalities, and oan took Nature straight in the faoe. I dtart even want the Dolly Record, Stanton* Tfchutol that." " vs&i "

Stanbmy; paced the length of tiie terraee,

the blaze of the sun, in ordptt^ne might

think how to address this philosopher. "Hero

yoa beard," be said at last, '' that I am Roiog to marry yow sister-in-law, Nora Rowley?"

* "Tnim. ,tbem tfSfl jk two' ttjote'JpJJ-griWn

fools ip l^e;wotM'cerbritilE abfi wobaoly an iffEiwty oFyfltmgrfpbla comlugafterwatds.. Excuse me, Stanbury, but-thisaolitade is apt tp.ro ate ow plain-spoken.*'

*?•" JL gofrSirMaiinadnkc's sanction the day

•?- :

yoagot 'the sanction of an illiterate, rgnoftnt. self-sufficient, and most contempt ible old. man; and much good may it do

yon;";

wfre.t him he what he may, I Was glad to ltfHftfck-, Most probably I shall never 6ee htm akttin: He sails from Southampton for the Mandarinson this day week."

,'.'Qp.do<js. does he? May the devil sail ajdiigvcitb him. That is all I say. And does mytnucb * respected and e ver-to-be-belo ved mcHher-in-laW sail with him ?"

? "They all Teturn together, —except Nora." ' "Who remains to comfort you. I hope Tod ffiay be comforted. That is alL Don't bfe 'too particnlar. Let her choose her own friends, and go her own gait, and have her own way, and do you be blind and deaf and dumb and properly submissive, aud it may be that she'll give you your breakfast and dinner in .your own bouse,—so long as your hours don't interfere with her pleasures. If she should even urge you beside yourself by her vanity, Tolly, and disobedience,—so that at last you are driven to express your feeling,— no doubt she will come to you after a while aind tell you with the sweetest condescension that she forgives yon. When she has been ont of. your house for a twelvemonth or more, she will offer to come hack to you, aud to forget every thing,—on condition that yon will do exactly as she bids

yon for the future." This attempt at satire, so fatuons, so plain,

so fal-e, together with the would-be jaunty

- -;e^ manner of the speaker, who, however, fail

repeatedly in his utterances from sheer physical exhaustion, was excessively painfal to Stanbury. What can one do at any time with a madman? "I mentioned my mar riage," said he, "to prove my right to have mi additional interest in your wife's happi

ness."

"you are quite welcome, whether you marfy the one or notwelcome to take any interest yon please. I have got beyond alt that, Stanbury: yes, by Jove, a long way beyond all that"

" Youhavenot got beyond loving your wife, and your cbild. Trevelyan ?"

" Upon my word, yes ;—I think I have. There may be a grain of weakness left yon know. Bnt what have yon to do with my love formywife?"

"I was thinking more just now of her love for you. There she is at Siena. You cannot mean that she should remainibere? "

"Certainly not What the deuce is dime to keep her there?"' •

"Conie with her then to England."

.""Why should I go to England with her? Because you bid ine, or because she wishes ft, -nor simply because England is the most

rnntriT.i-oij God-forgotten, and siupidcouiitry on "the face of the globe? I know ho other' reason for going to England. Will you take a glass of wine, Stanbury?" Hugh declined thcoffer. "You will hxeuse me, continued Treveiyan; "I always take a glass of "wine at tins hour." Then he rose fromhls chair, and helped himself from a cupboard that was near at hand. Stanbury, wptching him as be filled his glass,-could see mat his lags were hardly strong enough to cany Mm. 'And Stanbury saw, moreover, that the unfortunate man took two glasses out; of .the bottle. "Goto England indeed. I do not thihk much of this country; but it is, at any rate, better than England.

Hugh perceived that he could do nothing more on the present occasion. Having heard so much of Treveiyan's debility, he had been astonished to hem the man Bpeak with so much volubility and attempts at high-flown spirit Before be had taken the wfne he had almost sunk into his (hair, bat still he had continued to speak with the same fluent would-be cynicism. " I will come and see you again, "said Hugh, getting up to take his

"You might as well save your trouble, Stanbury; out you can come if you please, you know. If you should find yourself locked out you went be angry. A hermit such as I am must not assume privileges."

"I won't be angry," said Hugh, good humouredly.

"I can smell what you are come about," said Treveiyan. "Yon and my wife want to take roe away from here among you, and I think it best to stay here. 1 I don't want much for myself, and why should I not live toe-? My wife can remain at Siena if she pleases, or she can go to England if she pleases. She must give me the same liberty; —the same liberty,—the same liberty." After this he fell a-coughing violently, and Stanbury thought it better to leave him. ' He had been at Casalunga about two hours, and did not seem as yet to have done any good. He had been astonished both by Trevelvan's weakness, and by his strength; fay his folly, and by his sharpness. Hitherto he could see no way for his future sister-in-law out of her

troubles.

Yfhen he was with her at Siena, he described what had taken Mace with all the accuracy in his power. "He has intermittent days,

said Emily. " To-morrow he will be in quite another frame of mind,—melancholy, silent perhaps, and self-reproachful. We will both go to-morrow, and we shall find probably Hint he has forgotten altogether what has pabsed to-day between you and him."

' So their plans for the morrow were formed.