« ForrigeFortsæt »
restless battle and struggle. He lesson usually about this hour, and was clever, ambitious, determined, he was waiting for her now. Toand friendless. In twelve years, day, however, he had to wait a spite of his talents, he had risen to quarter of an hour or more before no higher post than this humble one she came. When she did come at of village schoolmaster.
last he was writing, and only raised In the same school at Brent, his head for a moment as he heard three months after the arrival of her step. Mr. Langton, Margaret Morton had “You are late," was all he said. heen appointed mistress. She was “Yes; I was detained a little young to hold such a post, but while at home.”' since her father's death the support She had brought out her books both of her mother and brother had and arranged them before he moved fallen almost entirely upon her; and from his desk. Coming at length this circumstance, when the place in silence, he drew a seat beside became vacant last winter, had her, and took the open book out of given her a strong claim to the ap- her bands. pointment. She had besides been - What have you prepared ?" monitress in the school for some " Those two pages." years; she was a good girl, too, and He began to question her upon clever; everybody liked her, and them forth with. She could ueually before she had occupied her new answer what he asked her readily ; post for a month it became clear that to-day, however, her thoughts were The whole school was of one feeling. evidently wandering. He tried
I say she was clever. In a very more than once to fix her attention, short time Philip Langton dis- but still, in spite of that, the lesson covered that. Presently, moved, I
was ill said. suppose, by some feeling of kind- He put down the book at last. ness, he offered, if she cared for it, “You are not well to-day?” he to help her to advance her studies. asked. Perhaps she too had some ambition, “Oh, yes; I am well,” she said, some desire to be at a future time quickly. more than a village schoolteacher. “What are you thinking of, then? Be that as it may, she accepted his Not of your lesson ?” offer, and she had now been his "No." She hesitated a moment. pupil for six months. He had found "Tell me." her quick, earnest, and trusting: re- “I wanted to speak to you, Mr. paying that trust, he had made Langton,” she said, suddenly. himself to her patient, unwearied, “You were very angry with my and gentle. Master and pupil suit- brother this morning." ed each other.
16 Well?” It was evening, seven o'clock on " You hurt him very much." a June day. The school had long “ I meant to hurt him." been cleared of its throng of chil- " He is very young.” dren; books and slates were put “Young or old, he did wrong." away into their places; the brick There was a panse. Mr. Langfloor was clean swept. At the girls' ton sat forward, leaning his dark room the door was locked, but the face on his hand. boys' room was still open, and alone “ Well?” he said again. at the master's desk stood Mr. Her eyes had fallen. When he Langton, a thin, slight man, with a questioned her they looked back to dark, resolute face, by no means bis face; she began to speak again, prepossessing or handsome. and gradually as she spoke her cheek
He used to give Margaret her flushed hot and bright.
Could you not be a little gen. You are my first love, Margaret. tler with them-a little less angry Will you be my wife ?” with them when they do wrong? I She answered him then. know that they must be punished; “What am I that you should ask I know that Tom deserved to be me this?” she said, in an agitated punished to-day; but—if you could voice. “I am nothing but a poor, be a little gentler! When you are ignorant girl. Oh, no-no-no!" angry every one misunderstands she cried. Your wife must not you. Oh, Mr. Langton!” she cried, be one like me!" "you do not know half of what is "Margaret !” he said. said against you!"
She had not looked up till then, The tears had sprung up into her but at that call, as if its passionate eyes ; her earnest distress had filled tenderness compelled her, she her face with a look almost of pas raised her face. What need was sion.
there to speak again ? By her two “I cannot attend to all the fools' hands be drew her near to him, and tongues in Brent," was his scornful took her in his arms. answer. “ Stand you by me and
II. they may talk as they please.”
"But could you not bear a little They told no one of their engagewith them?” she pleaded timidly. ment, for they knew the outery. that " Mr. Langton, you must not think would on all hands follow its disthat they can do you no harm. covery, and no one suspected it. They can harm you. They are For three months they were both saying already"--the poor girl's happy. voice almost broke down—"they Even in the school during these are saying already that you will not monthis there was improvement. be much longer here."
Margaret's power over Mr. Lang. " Aye? are they saying that ?” ton was very great; one word or and he laughed.
one look from her, one touch of ber She gave him one sad look, and hand, could subdue him in his then dropped her head, and spoke angriest and haughtiest moods; no more. Her clasped hands lay and, rendered pliable by his love on her lap; presently as she sat for her, he strove, and often strove large tears fell down and wet them. successfully, to bend his pride and She never moved: he also sat curb his temper. Thus, for a time, motionless. She thought he did all things went wonderfully well. not know she was weeping, but she But this hollow kind of peace was was wrong there; he was conscious not a thing to last. Margaret could of every tear she shed.
not be always by his side, or in his Quietly watching her, he let the sight; and one day at length, in an silence last for several minutes; uvlucky hour, suddenly, without then bending to her at last, he said warning, the three months' tranthese words:
quillity expired. " If it comes to that-if I am not 66
At last the bitter feeling so long to be here much longer- Margaret, pent up in the breasts of the busy will you let me leave Brent as poor people of Kent broke forth in an as when I came ?”
open quarrel with Mr. Langton. She started as he spoke, but she They were really wrong in the neither replied to him nor raised ground of quarrel and Philip right; her head. He did not withdraw his but Philip, in his indignation, forgot look from her: after a few moments all deference due to them as his emhe spoke again.
ployers, stood up before them as " I have loved no woman before. their equal, and the end of that
day's business was that when the and told her mother nothing. She door of the schoolhouse closed that kept her secret for two years, hearafternoon, it closed forever upon ing from her lover occasionally, but Philip Langton.
not often, and living on her silent He had written the sentence of trust in him. their separation. Margaret knew After these two years were ended, that, but she did not reproach him. one day, a bright summer afterThey met together that evening for noon, Mrs. Morton stood at her the last time, at the foot of a cliff cottage door, shading her eyes from beside the sea, which had witnessed the strong sunlight as she looked many a meeting of theirs before, eagerly towards the schoolhouse, with the calm wide water stretching whence the school-children were from their feet.
coming pouring out and swarming " It must have come, sooner or down the road, and whence preslater," he said. “Do not grieve so ently, with a step that was slower for it, my darling. I was wasting than theirs, came Margaret. Mrs. time here. My going now will Morton's tongue w loosed as she only bring me back to you the drew near. sooner."
“Oh, dear me! what a time that She looked up wistfully to his school does keep you !" she ejacuface,
lated. 6. Such a state I've been in * The future is all so dark,” she all day; my poor head's just worn cried; "we cannot see into it. I out with thinking. Margaret, you feel as if I was holding the last never will guess as long as you live, link of a golden chain; and to- but what do you think the postman night-to-night before I sleep-it brought me here this morning?" will have fallen from me."
" What, mother?” As she spoke “No; it will not have fallen!” he Margaret's whole face flushed. answered, cheerfully. “Your hand “Oh, you may well ask what. I grasping one end, mine holding fast tell you you'll never guess. Why, the other, it will remain stretched he brought a letter from your Uncle out between us until the hour that Tom, in America—who might have I come back. Margaret, I will been dead and buried, for anything work for you; I will struggle for I've known, these five years—and you; I will rise for you. And you," he's sent us money to go out to he cried," wait for ine! for no power, him. Yes-he says we're to go out but the power of God taking my to him, every one of us, and he'll life, shall keep me from coming keep us as long as we live. Why, back.”
Margaret !" Mrs. Morton cried. “I will wait,” she said. “I will Margaret! God bless the girl, wait years and years. If you die are you going to faint ?" before I ever see you again I will
Mother, wait for you till meet in come in and shut the door." heaven."
White and trembling Margaret
passed into the kitchen. She let III.
her mother join her there, and She did wrong to keep their en- grasping her hands tight within her gagement from her mother. Poor own, she began to speak hurriedly, Margaret knew that, and was in a low, constrained, almost hard troubled by the knowledge; but tone. she bad not courage to awaken the “ Mother, I cannot go; I cannot storm of abuse which she knew well leave England,” she said. would fall upon her head should she go, you must go alone. No—nodivulge it, so she let time pass on, don't look like that at me. I
6. If you
have had news, too, to-day. Oh, worked for her, and devoted hermother!" she cried, all hardness self to her, and humored her, and suddenly breaking down as she Mrs. Morton felt that it would be clasped Mrs. Morton's hands upon hard now to do without this filial her breast, “speak gently to me, care; and feeling this, whatever a look kindly on me. Dear mother! generous and noble nature could dear mother! I am going to be least bear to have itself accused of, Philip Langton's wife.”
these things did the mother launch Mrs. Morton stood before her at her daughter's head. She hung daughter, face to face, and caught herself as a dead weight round her by her arins.
Margaret's neck, and then, wring. * You are going to be what ?" ing her hands, called every one to burst from her lips. “Going to be witness how Margaret was about to what?" she cried.
throw her mother off. “I am going to be his wife.” For two days Margaret bore this Her answer came almost trium- persecution almost in silence, sitpliantly now. “I promised him ting hour after hour by her mother's long before he went. He wrote to side, with her poor heart growing me to-day to tell me that he could cold and faint within her. What marry me. And he is coming!" should she do? They were all she cried, the light flashing up into against her mother, brother, her face.
friends; she had no one to take her It was the last flash of gladness part, no one—not a single one-to that lighted that poor face for many utter Philip Langton's name except a day to come. Margaret had told with abuses or reproach. Wbat her secret, and what followed was a should she do? Hour after hour storm of tears and passionate re- for those two weary days the poor proaches so violent as to exhaust girl's desolate passionate question all the small stock of strength that went up to heaven. Mrs. Morton had, and force her, And slowly and relentlessly, as before many hours were over, to her those hours went on the hope that bed, where she lay and sobbed and had been her torch so long paled moaned all night, and by morning and died out. 'She fought for two had worn herself ill enough to days, and then the battle ended, make Margaret unable to leave the When the evening of the second house. Throughout that whole day, day came she knew that she must from morning to night, her daugh- give him up. ter sat beside her, listening to her She must give him up-her love! reproaches and her self-bewailings, her life! She was sitting when the and her passionate entreaties. For struggle ended by her mother's years past, indeed for wellnigh her side, who, worn out with fortywhole life long, Mrs. Morton had eight hours of fretting, was lying been very well aware that her at last with closed eyes and lips. strength lay in her fretful perti- She had lain so for half an hour, nacity, and her deadness to every her thin face shrunk, her pale cheeks other creature's comfort but her hollowed with those two days' ill
In former days she had ruled ness, and for half an hour Margaret her husband by her querulous self- had sat and watched her. Sat in ishness; for years she had ruled the deep silence—the first moments her daughter by the same means: of peace that had been given herselfishness was to her her armor of and watched her as she lay there, proof, and, as she had resorted to sickly and feeble and lonely, till a it in countless straits before, so she conviction rose within her heart resorted to it now. Margaret had that conquered ber-a despairing
hopeless conviction—that she dared few words uttered long before—all not leave her.
the great agony of her heart burst She sat when it had come, and forth. rocked herself to and fro, crouch- "Do you remember," she said, ing her bead, putting out her hands " that evening when we parted, and covering her face, moaning how I told you that I felt as if I over and over again some low, un- had hold of the last link of a chain?” 'intelligible, broken-hearted words. And thenShe never changed sound.or move- " What am I to do?" she broke ment till Mrs. Morton's querulous out wildly. “Oh, my God! what voice broke on her misery. She am I to do? How am I to live all only changed them then to raise her my life long alone? Ob, Philip, help wbite face to her mother, and strive me! Philip, have mercy on me! to utter words which at her first ef- write me one word, or I shall die. fort choked her and would not come. Oh, if I could have seen you once
And when at last, kneeling by the more- -only once more-only once bedside, with her face pressed upon more before I go! All day long-all her outstretched hands, the poor night, as I lie awake, I think of it. girl uttered them, giving her bro- Oh, Philip! write to me-write to ken-hearted promise that she would me and forgive me, or my heart go, for her reward there came this will break."
She had been in her new home “Could you not have said as for a month when the answer to much at the beginning,” Mrs. Mor- that appeal was brought to her. A ton said, “ without doing your best hard and cruel answer. This was to kill me first? But you are still what it said: as you have been all your life- “I trusted all my happiness to thinking of no creature in the world you,
have wrecked it. For except yourself."
this I give you no forgiveness. IV.
From your solemn promise to be
come my wife_from your solemn The promise was given, and from promise to wait for me till I should that time onward she was altogether come and claim you—no power passive. The chief object of every on earth had the right to set you one about her was to hurry her free. You have broken those away before Philip Langton could promises of your own weak choice hear that she was going. She knew and will. Had I been by your this, but she never said a word.
side you had not dared to do this Living as they did they only need- wrong to me. If you had been ed a few days to make their prepa- faithful I would have loved you as rations for departure.
never living man will love you now. She sat, on the last night, in her I would have cherished you as never own room alone. Through all the man will cherish you. You have week poor Langton's unanswered chosen your own lot apart from me. letter had lain upon her heart. To- And lnight she wrote to him.
The letter broke off here. Like one whom sorrow had stun- this last blank desolate line there ned into insensibility, she told him was added nothing but the passionall that had been done; she told ate bitter cry—" Margaret! Marbim of the promise she had given, garet!” almost without one demonstration
V. of emotion. And only then, when all was said, suddenly at some stray A PLEASANT room, with windows thought-the chance fecalling of a opening to a terrace, and beyond,