时间:2020-02-29 21:43:12 作者:潮流合伙人 浏览量:23094

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“Your testimony can avail naught, for my protector here is a native Persian who knows nothing of the mountain passes of Greece,” said Persephone in a voice that rang clearly as a bell through the great hall. A death-like stillness pervaded the cella; nought was heard but the sharp intake of Ephialtes’ breath, then from his lips there burst in stentorian tones: “If this be true, a Persian in our midst is as deserving of death as a traitor! Friends will you allow him even so much as to touch the Persephone of the Mysteries?”


We spent the morning merrily, I paying for a bottle of wine for him and Mr. O'Rourke, and Angus and I readily agreed to wait over the day that we might enjoy their company, as the Captain was on his way north and Mr. O'Rourke was not yet ready for Rome. Luigi we sent off to enjoy himself after his own fashion.

The next morning, mother, who wasn’t used to such disturbance, was ill, and I was kept pretty busy tending on her for two or three days. Faith had insisted on going home the first thing after breakfast, and in that time I heard no more of anybody,——for father was out with the night-tides, and, except to ask how mother did, and if I’d seen the stray from the Lobblelyese again, was too tired for talking when he came back. That had been——let me see——on a Monday, I think,——yes, on a Monday; and Thursday evening, as in-doors had begun to tell on me, and mother was so much improved, I thought I’d run out for a walk along the sea-wall. The sunset was creeping round everything, and lying in great sheets on the broad, still river, the children were frolicking in the water, and all was so gay, and the air was so sweet, that I went lingering along farther than I’d meant, and by and by who should I see but a couple[137] sauntering toward me at my own gait, and one of them was Faith. She had on a muslin with little roses blushing all over it, and she floated along in it as if she were in a pink cloud, and she’d snatched a vine of the tender young woodbine as she went, and, throwing it round her shoulders, held the two ends in one hand like a ribbon, while with the other she swung her white sunbonnet. She laughed, and shook her head at me, and there, large as life, under the dark braids dangled my coral ear-rings, that she’d adopted without leave or license. She’d been down to the lower landing to meet Dan,——a thing she’d done before——I don’t know when,——and was walking up with Mr. Gabriel while Dan stayed behind to see to things. I kept them talking, and Mr. Gabriel was sparkling with fun, for he’d got to feeling acquainted, and it had put him in high spirits to get ashore at this hour, though he liked the sea, and we were all laughing, when Dan came up. Now I must confess I hadn’t fancied Mr. Gabriel over and above; I suppose my first impression had hardened into a prejudice; and after I’d fathomed the meaning of Faith’s fine feathers I liked him less than ever. But when Dan came up, he joined right in, gay and hearty, and liking his new acquaintance so much, that, thinks I, he must know best, and I’ll let him look out for his interests himself. It would ’a’ been no use, though, for Dan to pretend to beat the Frenchman at his own weapons,——and I don’t know that I should have cared to have him. The older I grow, the less I think of your mere intellect; throw learning out of the scales, and give me a great, warm heart,——like Dan’s.

"Aha!" Nef rejoiced, pouring them each another drink. "You justify my trust, Lee. You perceive that I speak not merely if-ly, philosophically, but as a man of action, leashed only by temporary practicality." He leaned back in his chair and regarded Hartford more as a sculptor might regard a recent product than a father a son, with uncritical approval. "Where were you born, Lee?"

“Nay,” she said with a tremulous smile, “I have not to learn now that the father of my children was fit to be trusted with a girl’s mind—more, perhaps, than their mother—and the world together.” She shook off this subject, which was too germane to the whole matter, with a little tremulous movement of her head and hands. “We must not enter on that,” she said. “Though I am only a woman of the world, it might be too much for me. Discussion must be for another time. But we may be friends.”

“They won’t give their names, sir, but they says as it’s very important.”

“But that poor woman——”

“Twelve months, next Tuesday,” returned the Master.

Your sketch of me is very kindly; the fault you find in me is not a fault. Jesus, Shakespeare, Napoleon—all the 45greatest men have known their own value and insisted on it—perhaps because they have all come to their own and their own received them not. When you have done great work you feel it is not yours, but given to you; you are only a reed shaken in the wind; you can judge it as if it had nothing to do with you. Moreover, you see that this failure to recognise greatness is the capital sin of all time, the sin against the Holy Ghost which He said could never be forgiven. Modesty is the fig-leaf of mediocrity—don’t let us talk of it. Remember how Whistler scourged it.




Somewhere, just at the threshold of his senses, there was something like a voice. He could not quite hear it, but it was there. He sat as still as he could, listening; it remained elusive.


“And the necklace was heavily insured. . . .”


“I say—Leila!” he finally remonstrated.


Next morning she went out between the early coffee and the mid-day breakfast to do some little household business, on which, in consideration that she was English and not bound by the laws that are so hard and fast with Italian girls, Mariuccia consented to let her go alone. It was very seldom that Mr Waring went out or indeed was visible at that hour, the expedition of the former day being very exceptional. Frances went down to the shops to do her little commissions for Mariuccia. She even investigated the Savona pots of which Tasie had spoken. In her circumstances, it was scarcely possible not to be more or less of a collector. There is nobody in these regions who does not go about with eyes open to anything there may be to “pick up.” And after this she walked back through the olive woods, by those distracting little terraces which lead the stranger so constantly out of his way, but are quite simple to those who are to the manner born—until she reached once more the broad piece of unshadowed road which leads up to the old town. At the spot at which she and her father had met the English family yesterday,{v1-52} she made a momentary pause, recalling all the circumstances of the meeting, and what the stranger had said—“A fellow that stuck by you all through.” All through what? she asked herself. As she paused to make this little question, to which there was no response, she heard a sound of voices coming from the upper side of the wood, where the slopes rose high into more and more olive gardens. “Don’t hurry along so; I’m coming,” some one said. Frances looked up, and her heart jumped into her mouth as she perceived that it was once more the English family whom she was about to meet on the same spot.


“Don’t do that,” she gasped, “if it should come open now——”


I was a young light-weight jockey then who had won his spurs in more than one hotly-contested field, and to-day am perhaps the only living turfman who witnessed this great match, for nearly sixty years have passed since then; yet in memory’s mirror, I can see that fearful finish as distinctly as my young eyes saw it that day. I can see two horses half-way down the stretch coming as true and even as two arrows from one bow. I can see two outstretched necks and heads, a sorrel and a brown, a blaze and a star. I can see their powerful haunches gathered under them and drive them forward as if they were shot from the mouth of a cannon. I can see the hard-trained muscles playing beneath their thin skins like oiled machinery, and as they come nearer and nearer I see their ears lying back and their bloodshot eyes gleaming with the light of the battle and undying courage. I hear their labored breathing and can see the red flush up their widely-distended nostrils glowing like heated furnaces. I can see Johnny Hartman, pale as death, riding as if for his life, drive the merciless steel again and again in the panting sides of Duane, and at each time the blood spurting from the wounds. I can see the black face of Cornelius, drawn as if in mortal agony, his lips parted, his white teeth shining and his eyes fixed on the finishing point only a few yards away. I can see him swing the cowhide, already crimsoned with the royal blood of Boston, high over his head and bring it down on the quivering flank of his horse, then, quick as lightning, lift him with the bit. I can see the great son of Timoleon crouch lower to the ground, gather his powerful quarters further under him and make the final rush just as Cornelius lifts him, and I can see the golden head and white nose cross the wire in front of the bronze and the star. Boston wins, but only by a head. Then the pent-up excitement broke forth. “Boston wins!” “Boston wins!” was the shout. Yes, he had won, but could he do so again? This was only a heat apiece. Another heat was necessary to decide the race, and in the peerless brown stallion he had found a foeman well worthy of his steel, and one that had shown him he could take his measure in any part of the four miles. Both horses had been fearfully punished and were dreadfully distressed, and so were the riders. Of the two latter Hartman was much the freshest, for after weighing out Cornelius had to be rubbed out, drenched with brandy and altogether requiring almost as much attention as his horse. But he would have died in the saddle rather than have relinquished his mount, and when they were called for the last heat he came out with his bloody whip, looking as determined as ever.

. . .