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a man whom nobody for years had taken seriously. Mr Logan had suddenly taken up his cause, and pressed it hotly and injudiciously, filling Susie with consternation and indignant distress. The minister had naturally employed the most unpalatable arguments. He had bidden her to remember that her time was running short, that she had probably outstayed her market, that a wooer was not to be found by every dykeside, and that at her age it was no longer possible to pick and choose, but to take what you could get. Exasperated by all this, Susie had rushed to her friend to ask what was the inter
pretation of it. But the appearance of Robert had driven every other thought out of her mind, and now again, more than ever, his story, the danger he was in, the reason why his return was not published abroad and rejoiced in. To Susie's simple and straightforward mind this was the only point in the whole matter that was to be deplored. She found no fault with Robbie's appearance, with his midday sleep, with the failure of his career-even with the ill company and dreadful associations of which Mrs Ogilvy's faltering story had told her. She was ready to wipe all that record out with one tear of tenderness and pity. He had been led away; he had come back. That he had come back was enough to atone for all the rest. But there should be no secret, no concealing of him, no silence as to this great event. She accepted the bond, but it was heavy on her soul, and went home, her mind full of Robert, only vexed and discouraged that she must not speak of Robert, forgetting every other trouble and all the changes that seemed to threaten herself. Me! who is caring about me? Susie said to herself proudly, as Mrs Ogilvy said it. These
women scorned fate when it was but themselves that were threatened by it.
When she was gone, Mrs Ogilvy continued for a while to walk quietly up and down the little platform before the door of her peaceful house. She had almost given up her evenings out of doors since Robert's return, but to-night her heart was soothed, her fears were calmed. Susie could do nothing to clear up the situation. Yet to have unbosomed herself to Susie had done her good. The burden which was so heavy on herself, which was Robbie in his own person, the most intimate of all, did not affect Susie. She was willing to take him back as at the same point where he had dropped from her ken. There was no criticism in her eyes or her mind,-nothing like that dreadful criticism, that anguish of consciousness which perceived all his shortcomings, all the loss that had happened to him in his dismal way through the world, which was in his mother's mind. That Susie did not perceive these things was a precious balm to Mrs Ogilvy's wounds. It was her exacting imagination that was in fault, perhaps nothing else or little else. If Susie were pleased, why should she, who ought to be less clear-sighted than Susie, be so far from pleased? Nothing could have so comforted her as did this. She was calmed to the bottom of her heart. Robbie would be very late to-night, she knew; but what harm was there in that, if it was an amusement to him, poor laddie ? He had no variety now in his life, he that had been accustomed to so much. She heard Andrew come clanking round from the back - garden with his pails and his watering-pots. She had not assisted at the watering of the flowers, not since the day of Rob
bie's return, but she did so this calm evening in the causeless relief of her spirit. "But I would not be so particular," she said, "Andrew; for it will rain before the morning, or else I am mistaken." "It's very easy, mem, to be mistaken in the weather," said Andrew ; "I've thought that for a week past." "That is true; it has been a byordinary dry season," his mistress said. "Just the ruin of the country," said the man. "Oh," cried she, "you are never content!”
But she was content that night, or as nearly content as it was possible to be with such a profound disturbance and trouble in her being. She had her chair brought out, and her cushion and footstool, her stocking and her book, as in the old days, which had been so short a time before and yet seemed so far off. It was not so fine a night as it had usually been, she thought then. The light had not that opal tint, that silvery pearl-like radiance. There was a shadow as of a cloud in it, and the sky, though showing no broken lines of vapour, was grey and a little heavy, charged with the rain which seemed gathering after long drought over the longing country. Esk, running low, wanted the rain, and so did the thirsty trees, too great to be watered like the flowers, which had begun to have a dusty look. But in the meantime the evening was warm, very warm and very still, waiting for the opening up of the fountains in the skies. Mrs Ogilvy sat there musing, almost as she had mused of old only instead of the wistful longing and desire in her heart then, she had now an ever-present ache, the sense of a deep wound, the only partially stilled and always quivering tremor of a great fear. Considering that these things were, however, and could not be put away, she was very calm.
She had been sitting here for some time, reading a little of her book, knitting a great deal of her stocking, which did not interfere with her reading, thinking a great deal, sometimes dropping the knitting into her lap to think the more, to pray a little-one running into the other almost unconsciously— when she suddenly heard behind her a movement in the hedge. It was a high holly hedge, as has been already said, very well trimmed, and impenetrable, almost as high as a man. When a man walked up the slope from the road, only his hat, or if he were a tall man, his head, could be seen over it. The hedge ran round on the right hand side to the wall of the house, shutting out the garden, which lay on the other slope, as on the left it encircled the little platform, with its grass-plot and flower-borders and modest carriage-drive in front of the Hewan. It was in the garden behind that green wall that the sound was, which a month ago would not have disturbed her, which was probably only Janet going to the well or Andrew putting his watering-cans away. Mrs Ogilvy, however, more easily startled now, looked round quickly, but saw nothing. The light was stealing away, the rain was near; it was that rather than the evening which made the atmosphere so dim. The noise had made her heart beat a little, though she felt sure it was nothing; it made her think of going in, though she could still with a slight effort see to read. It was foolish to be disturbed by such a trifle. She had never been frightened before: a step, a sound at the gate, had been used, before Robert came back, to awaken her to life and expectation, to a constantly disappointed but never extinguished hope. That, however, was all over now but at this noise and rustle
among the bushes, which was not a footstep or like any one coming, her heart stirred in her, like a bird in the dark, with terror. She was frightened for any noise. This was one of the great differences that had arisen in herself.
She turned, however, again, with some resolution, to her former occupations. It was not light enough to see the page with the book lying open on her knee. She took it in her hand, and read a little. It was one of those books which, for my own part, I do not relish, of which you are supposed to be able to read a little bit at a time. She addressed herself to it with more attention than usual, in order to dissipate her own foolish thirl of excitement and the disturbance within her. She read the words carefully, but I fear that, as is usual in such cases, the meaning did not enter very clearly into her mind. attention was busy, behind her back as it were, listening, listening for a renewal of the sound. But there was none. Then through her reading she began to think that, as soon as she had quite mastered herself, she would go in at her leisure, and quite quietly, crying upon Janet to bring in her chair and her footstool; and then would call Andrew to shut the windows and bar the door, as Robbie wished. Perhaps a man understood the dangers better, and it was well in any case to do what he wished. She would have liked to rise from her seat at once, and go in hurriedly and do this, but would not allow herself, partly because she felt it would be foolish, as there could be no danger, and partly because she would not allow herself to be supposed to be afraid, supposing that
there was. She sat on, therefore, and read, with less and less consciousness of anything but the words that were before her eyes.
When suddenly there came almost close by her side, immediately behind her, the sound as of some one suddenly alighting with feet close together, with wonderfully little noise, yet a slight sound of the gravel disturbed: and turning suddenly round, she saw a tall figure against the waning light, which had evidently vaulted over the hedge, in which there was a slight thrill of movement from the shock. He was looking at his finger, which seemed, from the action, to have been pricked with the holly. Her heart gave a great leap, and then became quiet again. There was something unfamiliar, somehow, in the attitude and air; but yet no doubt it was her son-who else could it be?-who had made a short cut by the garden, as he had done many a time in his boyhood. Nobody but he could have known of this short cut. All this ran through her mind, the terror and the reassurance in one breath, as she started up hastily from her chair, crying, "Robbie! my dear, what a fright you have given What made you come that
He came towards her slowly, examining his finger, on which she saw a drop of blood; then enveloping it leisurely in the handkerchief which he took from his pocket, "I've got a devil of a prick from that dashed holly," he said.
And then she saw that he was not her son. Taller, straighter, of a colourless fairness, a strange voice, a strange aspect. Not Robbie, not Robbie! whoever he was.
The scene is laid in a desert island, supposed to be out of the beaten track: a foreground of coral strand; a background of feathery palm; a sound of surf.
SCENE I.-POET'S GRANDDAUGHTER discovered sitting damp and di shevelled, drawing off her gants de Suède, to dry them in the sun.
Poet's Granddaughter. Well, I was certain that mounting wave would roll me shoreward soon, and here I am. But I must quote no more; no more poetry or even poetastery for me. Let me forget that there is such a thing. What I have gone through all these years (for I don't mind admitting on a desert island, where there's no one to hear, that I'm no chicken), what I have suffered, from the fact of having a poet for my grandfather! Grand old man, still alive, still writing poetry. How tired I used to get of the Society jargon, "Oh, let me introduce you to Miss Blank, granddaughter of the poet Blank, you know." "Ah! really, how interesting! I daresay you write poetry yourself now, don't you?" I was expected to lisp in numbers in the nursery. But I didn't; and let me say once for all that Í detest poetry, always did-can't make head or tail of it, never could. I am Al at tennis, and I can ride across country, and I a splendid swimmer, or I shouldn't be here; but poetry, bah! and intellectual forebears!
what a nuisance they are! man used to be pitied long ago if he hadn't a grandfather. I think he's to be envied. I have been heavily handicapped by mine all these years. There was no living him down. Metaphorically speaking, he has clung round my neck like the Old Man of the Sea. I could stand it no longer, so I have put myself out of reach of civilisation, have kissed my hand to sweetness and light, made my curtsey to culture, to "Shakespeare and the musical glasses,' and here I am, ready to descend to any level of primeval unintellectuality. I pine to dig for "pignuts," and to tear the native oyster from its bed, and forget my ancestors.
Enter NOVELIST'S NIECE, young,
smart, chic, fin-de-siècle.
Novelist's Niece. Dear me, I had no idea the island was inhabited. I got the P. & O. steamer to drop me out with my box in the dingy, and to land me on this island, which isn't marked in the chart. I left my trunk on the other side of the
N. N. The wear and tear of social life-the demands made on one the treadmill of Fashion the rush, the roar, and the rattle; but chiefly because I have an aunt a witty aunt, Madame Bonmot. I daresay you have heard of her; every one has. She has written an amusing Society novel, and her conversation bristles with epigrams. Now, I have no sense of humournone-I never said a witty thing in my life; but because Madame Bonmot happens to be my aunt, I am credited with brilliancy, and find myself looked upon as a sort of Court jester or chartered buffoon. If I utter a feeble platitude about the weather, I hear voices saying, "How like Madame Bonmot!" When I enter a room, I am conscious of a suppressed titter running through the company, ready to break into a laugh. People prepare to listen to my brilliant sallies, my ready repartees and witticisms, and prepare in vain. I want to be smart, up to date, but not witty or humorous. The near kinship of Madame Bonmot, however, condemns me to an inheritance of wit and humour; and to escape from this I have forsworn everything, and have come to this island "to toss with tangle and with shells," and to return to primitive savage ways. Savages have no sense of humour, have they? or, at best, it's only very elementary. They do mimic, I'm afraidand I am so tired of imitations of self and friends; but savages don't do it for fun, that's one comfort. Heigho! how jolly it is to find a place where you may be as dull as
ditch-water! You never heard of my aunt Madame Bonmot, did you?
P. G. Never; don't be the least alarmed. Did you ever hear of the poet Blank? I'm his granddaughter, and I am fleeing from society solely on account of his undying name and fame, and from the horrible intellectual atmosphere of his home. People won't forget that I am his granddaughter, and he's only a poet. Now if he were a prize-fighter there might be something to be proud of. Muscle I admire; brute force I adore. But intellect, that miserable abnormal development of simple animal instinct!-what a waste the use of intelligence has been, and is! And how ineffably sad it is to reflect that the glorious savage, who once ran wild, is now degraded through centuries of mismanagement into the literary man to be met with in any London drawing-room! It is simply preposterous!
N. N. I never heard of your grandfather, so we are quits. It's rather odd, isn't it, that we should both have come to this island to escape from an ancestor? I feel better already. Don't you? There's nothing so depressing as being thought brilliant. Now, if my aunt had only been smart and chic, I should have been proud of the connection. But to be racy and humorous, and clever and witty, it bores me. I like to take things au grand sérieux, even to the hang of a skirt. You may wonder why I have come to a desert island if I'm a slave to Fashion; but I have a trunk full of things with me, and
P. G. Oh, you won't want them. We must divest ourselves of
N. N. Not of clothing!
P. G. Not exactly, but of modern ideas.