Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

5 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

- IMONKS-LYONNESS. -------"'--


MONKS-LYONNESS. BY CECIL ADAIR, Author of "Maid of the Moon/lower, "Quadrille Court" 6-v. Synopsis of Preceding Chapters. THE opening scene of the story is placed abroad, and we are first intro- duced to Elinor Masham, a lady who, while a nurse in a South African war hos- pital, has nursed Laurence Darcy back to life. She loves Darcy, who has much regard for her but does not marry her because he is not sure that a young woman of fisher-folk class, whom he mar- ried when young and left, is still alive. Staying at the hotel are Sir Fergus Danecourt and Lady Danecourt. The former is old and ill, and the latter young and handsome, and Sir Fergus is her guardian. He dies from an overdose sf medicine, which he took of his own accord. Lady Danecourt and her brother, who is now Sir Robert Dane- court, return to England with the body. Meanwhile the reader has already been introduced to Lady Charles Vasseleur, her daughter, Joy, and Canon Conni- ston of Monks-Lyonness, in the west of England. Lady Vasseleur has just; bought Penstock Priory. She turns out to be a friend of the Canon's childhood, knowa to him then as Deborah Chester- ton.' She is told by the Canon yf his son, who, after getting into trouble, ran away years before. One of the Canon's girl parishioners vanished at the same time, and he hoped he had married her. Elinor Masham, in London, engages a young woman-Lois Enderby, a Breton to read to her, and takes her down to the West to stay at the farm of the Penruddocks. Later on we are introduced to Captain Dermot Vasseleur and Joy riding together, and the captain tells Joy that he loves a woman he saw in South Africa devoting her- self 'to nursing the sick and wounded. It turns out to be Miss Elinor Masham, whom he saw nursing Laurence Darcy. Presently they come to a garden of the Penruddock farm, where Lois Enderby is reading to Elinor Masham. The captain recognises her and tells his sister so, and thinks she is probably Mrs. Darcy now. Next, Joy is coming from Monks-Lyonness Church and overtakes Lois Enderby and tells her that Captain Dermot Vasseleur would like to see the lady she-had noticed her reading to. In a short time Captain Dermot Vasseleur once more makes the acquaintance of Elinor Masham. Next, Canon Conniston is introduced to Lois, and then to Miss Masham. Dermot and Joy depart. The Canon asks particulars of Miss Masham as to Darcy. The Canon tells her the story of his missing son. Is Darcy his son? He thinks he sees a likeness in Lois to his son. Roderic and Alicia Danecourt are at Canterbury, and decide to motor West. They take up quarters at Monkshollow Farm, close to Monks-Lyonness. Darcy visits them. He acknowledges then that iis father is Canon Conniston. CHAPTER XIV. (continued). THERE was in Laurence's manner towards Alicia a very chivalrous, old-world charm of bearing, a nameless homage which must win its way, surely, to any woman's heart. Elinor recalled in the past how her own had been captivated by just such graces of speech and manner, when those two seemed to have life before them and the world for their plaything. Now she felt herself to be ageing, whilst age seemed unable to touch him. And yet at this moment her youth throbbed through her with suggestions of renovated vigour. Her thirty odd years were nothing, as age counts now! If only her bodily strength revived, who would think of her as old? Laurence was years older— and yet how young! And how he smiled upon her to-day! She was pleasing him—and he showed it. It made her glad-gloriously glad. It was easy—far more easy than she had guessed possible-for her to talk tenderly and sweetly to Alicia, who seemed to appeal to her in some nameless way for friendship and tenderness. I have not had many women friends in my life," she said once, when Laurence moved over to replenish cups. It made me happy when Captain Darcy told me you were here. I remembered your kindness to me—in that sad place. It was great happiness to think I might meet you again here in the dear loveliness of England." If a stab of pain went through Elinor's Leart, her face gave no sign. Indeed, it was with an impulsive gesture rather foreign to her that she bent towards Alicia and took one of the slender, jewelled hands, for shevorestill the pearls and diamonds and one splendid opal that her husband had always loved to see upon her fingers. "My friends always think, so far, too highly of me," she said in a low voice. It often shames me almost to pain. But I would like to be your friend—if you would be mine. But do not begin with the error of thinking highly of mé. Let me take from the first the lowest room—lest perhaps I be abased and ashamed in the days to come." Alicia's smile was full of a shadowed sweetness. Ah, but that could never be! Yet take what place you will. Only let me call you friend. You see it is so restful for me when my friend knows all! You were there. You heard everything. In the future I shall always be confronted in any fresh friendships by the question--If they knew, what might they think-or just guess at?' You understand—you who think no ill." Elinor pressed the hand she held, but made no attempt at speech. She was glad that Laurence returned at this moment, bright-eyed and debonair. My old father, Elinor, is he not going lo jwaua? I hoped he would. s j "1 also; but it is not to be. lie has judged differently. You must, seek him-in his own home, Laurence, which in a sense is yours. Perhaps he is right. It should be in measure a sacred meeting. For :iim it will be one fraught with many emotions. He has only loving thoughts for you, and •onginjs for your return. But you must j go to him, Laurence." The man raised his shoulders in a well- remembered half-whimsical fashion. How like the dear old boy He ref uses the light and easy way. He wants the orthodox stage-set scene of the prodigal's return. I fear, however, that the music and dancing and the fatted calf will be missing—to say nothing of the elder brother, with whom I always feel a lot more sympathy than is usually accorded to him. Why should the returning rip be belauded and feasted as though he had achieved some wonderful record? Elinor attempted no revly. It was Alicia who very softly said, after a pause: Surely it was the repentance-humhle and sincere—which reinstated him afresh. That is the comfort for the world of sinners. Joy over the one who repents. And the Father who receives each one reads the very heart." Then her deep shadow-haunted eyes looked straight at him as she asked Captain Darcy-you are going to your father. But is it with repentance? CHAPTER XV. FATHER AND SON. ELINOR'S guests seemed visibly loth to go. The evening lights were lovely. The bird- music about them tlie same. Elinor'^ ex- pression was more restful than it bad been earlier in the day, albeit her own msi stent question had received no answer. She saw Laurence Darcy and Alicia Dane- court together. She was aware of the subtle intimacy which existed between them; yet sfie could not divine if this went beyond the limits of a chivalrous friend- ship on his side, and a grateful acknow- ledgment on hers of championship and aid proffered in a time of need. For this after- noon, at least, it had seemed to Elinor as though her one-time lover, who only the day previously had almost repudiated the prospect of marriage for .himself, was veering once more towards herself. His eyes were constantly seeking hers; he would flash her his most kindling, if some- times whimsical, smiles; she knew the blissful sensation, so familiar in the past, Of his dependence upon and irust in her. And presently when he and she were mo- monturjly parted from the others, he spoke. I must go, of course. I suppose I had better get it over. But if only you knew how I dislike the prospect! Not my old father—don't think that! I want to see ¡ him again and be reconciled; but I simply hate going there. Perhaps that is why it is so good for you to go, Laurence," she told him, with an illuminating smile. "I tried to arrange it differently for you; but it was not to be. But do not put off the ordeal longer. For both your sakes it will be better over. I will do what I can for you. Lois shall take you to Monks-Lyonness by the short cut. Talk to her—she is rather. a bewitching little her own way —and go fresh from her freshness to your old home. Perhaps Sir Roderic would like to go with you and see the ruins. Lois will love to show them. And Lady Danecourt can stay with me till they return." Good thought! Excellent! We'll all go together to the place. And tell me, Elinor, who is this little Lois of yours? And where did you pick her up? I don't know why it is, but I have an idea that I have met her before; but yet it seems un- likely. She is o young. But something about her eyes, and that charming way her hair grows. "Yes, does it not? And her voice is a delight to we,. I do not think you can ever have met. She comes from a conventual life in France. We found each other through an advertisement only. But though the engagement was sudden and rather indefinite, I do not think we either of us want to part company yet." I would not if I were you. I call it luck to have pitched upon -siiclr a treasure, considering what the modern twentieth century produces in the way of its youth- ful womanhood! Lois, name and all, is like a survival from the days of the past. Let her be our guide and cicerone by all means! She shall conduct us to Monks- Lyonness; and then I must take my courage in both hands, and make my way to the old home and my father. Shall I look in on my way back and tell you all the tale? "Ah, do, Laurence, do!" she mur- mured, unless indeed you remain there with him." I shall not do that just immediately. Later, perhaps, it may be suggested. But I am Roderic Danecourt's guest now, and shall remain with them for some days longer—perhaps another week. We may tour perhaps later together, especially if Lady Danecourt prefers to remain anchored at the farm. Youf presence so near will be a great help to us all. How history repeats itself! When I am in any hole or corner, it is towards Elinor my 'I thoughts fly to help me out!" and his smile sent thrills of pure rapture through her heart. So, the walkers started forth, with en- thusiasm on Roderic's part, willing pleasure on that of Lois, and a kind of whimsical resignation on that of Laurence. There was something of the eternal boy about him which Elinor thought utterly fascinating as he turned towards Lois in leaving to say I suppose you know by this'time that I am Canon Cormiston's vagrant son! I was brought up at Monks-Lyonness, and know its every stick, and stone. but i was not a great credit to the place, so I ran away and kept away. And now I'm going back to make my peace. I suppose humble pie is a very healthy dish; but I'm not clear that it is very appeti sing! Lois was perplexed by this attractive, yet by no means admirable, person, accord- ing to her simple standards. She had asked Sir Roderic some questions about him, when they strolled the orchard to- gether. He could not tell her much, and all he said was favourable to his friend; yet Lois had strong convictions that her dear lady had suffered on his account. And seeing them together had perplexed her afresh. What was the strong tie be- tween them which had withstood the passage of time and many vicissitudes? Laurence tolked of Elinor as they walked through the delicious bv-ways, which Lois knew so well, towards their goal. Just so, it seemed to the girl, that a lover might talk of his lady. Yet if a lover, why not husband and wife long since? Why did Prynne purse her lips and utter cryptic phrases in speaking of her lady's past life and of this man in particular? Lois was learning that the world was a strange, big place, full of surprises and puzzles. As she walked with her light, elastic tread, be- tween these two tall, handsome men she was conscious of widening horizons to her own life. As they talked, sometimes to her, sometimes one to another, veils seemed lifted for a moment, giving her glimpses into regions hitherto remote, and falling again before she had visualised what lay there. Both of them asked her questions, seemed to listen eagerly for her replies. She told them very simply of her life close to the French convent, and her training by the sweet sisters, and her half-formed wish after the cloistered life, hindered by some instinctive recoil from some of the beliefs and fetters which would be imposed. Hut of her reason for being here at Monks- Lyonness, other than as' Miss Masham's companion, she spoke not a word. Some instinct of reticence hindered her from in- truding anything of her own private affairs in to the conversation. She was beginning b. muse and to wonder a good deal anent, that packet of papers which she might one day hand ,to Canon Conniston. But she felt in no haste to do this, and certainly she must not name such a matter to his, son. And how very, very strange that this Captain Darcy should be in reality that lost son! Of course, she had heard of the handsome young Laurence from the fisher- folk and peasants. Just to think that she was walking now beside him, back to his father's house! And then, suddenly, they' emerged through a tunnel of greenery, and the shining sea and the old abbey, bathed in mystic radiance, lay before them at the foot of the slope. Rich, mellow lights caused the whole place to glow, and colour shot forth in rainbow hues from that ancient garden, in which an old man walked slowly, head bent and hands behind him. There is your father, Captain Darcy- waiting for you," spoke Lois, with some- thing gently authoritative in her voice and gesture. Go to him! Canon Conniston was truly waiting. He had not dared to reckon upon the coming of his son. Yet that son was near. So much he knew. All this long day his thoughts had been with that past in which a graceful child and gallant boy had made the sunshine of the home. He had looked over some packets of childish and school- boy letters, written to the 'mother, and always preserved. It had seemed to him as though something in the winning, if wayward, personality of his son lingered still about the old house to which he was now so near. Now he was out in the shining of the evening light. The evensong in the abbey had been recited to the few worshippers who came to keep the last hour of the day; and now he was alone amongst his flowers in the glamour of the westering light-and all in a moment he knew himself not alone. Laurence had come! They stood facing each other for an ap- preciable term of time. Two tall men, finely proportioned, strangely alike at this tense moment; the old face seeming to re- gain some of the fire and glow of youth, the young one to assume some of the grav- ings of age. It was Laurence who spoke first, a sudden smile sweeping over his face-that brought" back the glamour and the radiance of boy- hood. He threw out his arms and gripped the old man by the shoulders, swaying gently as he did so in a fashion which brought back the tall lad Laurence and his ways as perhaps nothing else could have done. Dad !-the bad halfpenny turned up again! Have you any use for it here? My boy, you are welcome—home! Laurence kissed his father, as the lad Laurence had seldom done. His -resonant voice sounded in a full-throated laugh. Dad, it is good to see you again! I can't think why I funked it so badly." The old eyes, still bright and keen, were studying the well-loved face to which for so many long and weary years he had been a stranger. He searched it to see what was written there, and instinctively heaved a sigh of relief. For though lines had been traced there suggestive of self-will, hardihood, defiance, perhaps of codes which found favour in the world at large, there was neither vice nor sensuality written there, and the brilliant golden- hazel eyes met his fearlessly, and with that charm of expression which caused so much of the recent years to drop away, leaving him as it almost seemed with the Laurence of the past, before estrangement had set in. My boy !—if your dear mother had only lived to see this dail Ah! spoke Laurence, drawing a quick breath, a tell me of her—my mother." I will show you where she lies. Per- haps through the goodness of God she may be permitted to see us there together— where, she lifes at rest." It was as he stood bareheaded beside his mother's peaceful grave that Laurence said quite simply and without apparent effort i VVNE-II l'weui.awatY wiul L1-J.JLI:1tJ ..L '.1.1. n 'L, I married her in London at once. I never wronged her. She was ready and willing. We both thought in those days the world well lost." a Yet your married life did not last long, Laurence, if I have heard truth." H It did not. Nor do I absolve myself from blame in the matter. Yet, if you were to know all, I think you would under- stand that I was not all to blame in this." Can you not tell me all the truth, my son. I am your father. I have suffered." "In flunking me perhaps more un- worthy than I am? Well, I will tell you the truth as far as I can recollect, when the episodes lie so far back. We had some happy weeks in London, then in Paris, then wandering through Italy. I was' thinking all the while of educating my beautiful child-wife, so as to make her fit for any station. She had great capacity for assimilation; she was intelligent, though uneducated in our sense of the term. Per- haps I wearied her, or the change,of en- vironment was too sudden and violent. A great nostalgia took hold of her. She was pining for the sea and the winds and the grey skies of the North. At length I took her to Brittany, settled her there, and made visits to Paris alone. She did not seem to mind short spells of loneliness. But once when I got back I found her mother-suddenly made a widow—estab- lished with Annie in our sea-girt home." Ah, I remember I Caleb Polwen was lost at sea in an autumnal gale a few months after his only child's disappear- ance. A few weeks after the funeral his wife vanished from the place, without farewells of any kind." > That was like her—a strange, dour woman, silent and sibyl-like. Yet Annie was absolutely devoted to her. I marvel now that she ever consented to come away with me." Many wondered that; but young blood. Of Mrs. Polwen I knew little. She attended the Methodist chapel; she would not regard herself as one of my flock; and after the loss of her child, and the sinister rumours, you may guess that she kept far away from any chance en- counter with me. She was a stranger to Monks-Lvonriess, although she had by that time lived here long. Caleb had married her from < foreign parts,' as we Cornish folk speak of other counties of England. She never rioted here, I think. When her husband died she disappeared. I under- stand now where she went to." Yes. Annie must have written to say where she was, though she had promised not to do so for a year. I understand better now why she felt she needed her mother with her. And I think the mother resolved from the first to part us. She worked for it whether she knew it or not. Annie slipped more and more away from me. I was not wanted by either. Both were glad to see me go, and cared nothing if I returned. At last I grew impatient of it all. It was not marriage—it was a purgatorial mockery. I left a substantial sum of money for them in a local bank, with instructions; and I went away with the intention never to return. I never did return save after a long space of years. Then it was to find that Annie had died in giving birth to a still-born child. That melancholy and tragic episode, with all its futile pain, was ended. I have no wish to acquit myself of blame, but I do not think the blame was all on my side." Silently father and son retraced their steps towards the old home. At the gate Canon Conniston paused, faced his com- panion, and asked a simple yet searching question—asked it almost as one who has the right to know: Why did you not marry that sweet woman—Miss Masham? "God knows! spoke Laurence with sudden vehemence. Have you heard that tale? H I have heard a little. I have divined more. Laurence, I think that she loves you; and am very sure that you must have loved her once." H I did—I would have married her—I longed to do so. But a spectre stood in our path. When it was laid I had grown older—more selfish perhaps—more experi- enced certainly. I cannot tell you just how it was with me; but she was ill, and I felt my ardour cooling. Fetters were re- pugnant. I wanted her friendship-I shall always want it. I cannot visualise life without it; nor shall I need to do so. Always she will be my friend. But I do not think we shall ever marry. Father, let me say it once to you, in this hour of reunion and unveiling of secret things. I do not think that I am the man to make her life a happy one. And I have learned to love (hopelessly, very likely) another woman." a Ah! That was the only word spoken by the father. Did you speak of this, sir, as my home? he asked as they neared the arched door. Most certainly, my son-if you will have it so. Your father's house will always be open as your home, until you make one for yourself, as one day I trust you may." Ah—I wonder! How often I wonder. Father, my wandering life has at least taught me one thing. Without love—and that the one, great, unmistakable love which there can be no doubting—there could be no home for me anywhere in this world." They looked one at the other, sudden sympathetic understanding asserting itself between them. Almost wistfully the father spoke: "And have Yol:My boy—have you ex- perienced—such love? Ah--who knows?" he answered, with a note of bitterness in his voice. U Per- haps I have found a treasure which never can be mine—nor do I deserve that it ever should. Perhaps I am one of those wrho, having played and dallied and trifled with love through the best years of my young manhood, may chance to find myself a stranded derelict on life's shores, to reap the harvest of husks which I have sown." (Te be continued.) j

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