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you, of which I have spoken. By and by, they came thicker and faster, and in a shape to compel my consideration. I began to understand that the possible heir of Bergan Hall possessed an immense advantage over the humble physician, although it might be well to keep a hold on the latter until the former was secure, and his inheritance certain. By way of two strings to the bow, there might be two secret engagements: I commenced an investigation. I traced the reports which I have mentioned back to their source
“You did !" interrupted Astra, with indignation that she could no longer repress. “Instead of sending these foul slanders back down the throats which invented them, you
She stopped, choked by her bitter sense of indignity and wrong.
"Took the pains to verify them," rejoined Doctor Remy, coolly finishing her sentence. “Every accusation was established in the mouths of several witnesses. Arling himself had spoken frankly, as well as lightly, of his engagement to more than one person.”
"It is false, and you know it!" exclaimed Astra. "Mr. Arling is incapable of such baseness."
“Never mind defending him," said Doctor Remy, with a curl of the lip. “What have you to say for, yourself?"
Astra walked to the door, and Aung it wide open. “I have that to say,” she replied, turning upon him with a look of ineffable scorn, and a queenly gesture of dismissal. “ Go!”
Doctor Remy stood for a moment irresolute, with an unwonted flush of shame rising to his brow. The climax had not only come sooner than he anticipated, but in an unexpectedly embarrassing shape-a shape that gave him a sudden, startling perception of the vileness of the task which he had set himself to do. Naturally, he was inclined to be angry with Astra for the action to which he owed this moment of self-recognition ; yet, on the whole, it was the most bewitching thing that he had ever seen her do. Never had she attracted him so strongly as while she thus stood pointing him to the door. Her free and noble attitude, the wonderful vividness of her expression, the maidenly dignity of her tacit refusal to descend for one moment to his level, and discuss with him the points that he had raised, thrilled him with involuntary admiration. It irked him to think that he must needs give her up. Was there really no way to keep her, and at the same time win Bergan Hall? He sent his thoughts back over the road which they had trodden so often during the past fortnight, and decided once more that the risk was too great. He must persevere in the course upon which he had entered. Nor did a little present mortification matter, in comparison with hopeful progress. Astra was only helping him forward in the way that he wished to go. How easily the affections and passions of others became the puppets of his will.
Nevertheless, it was not without a softened, almost regretful, tone that he finally said
“If I go, Astra, you understand that our engagement is at an end."
“Our engagement !" repeated Astra, looking at him with a kind of scornful amaze. “How dare you insult me thus? I was never engaged to younever!"
Doctor Remy stood aghast. For one moment he believed that her senses were taking leave of her.
“Never!" repeated Astra, with proud emphasis. “I was engaged," she went on, after a moment, in an altered and tremulous tone, “to A Max, a calm, wise, noble man, not a monster, nor a piece of mechanism. I was engaged to an earnest seeker after truth, a courageous grappler with problems that other men shunned, an honest speaker of his own thoughts and moulder of his own opinions—a man who, though he might be temporarily led astray by the very excess of his virtues of candour, boldness, and integrity, would be sure to come right in the end. He is dead, or he never lived, except in my imagination ; requiescat in pace. But to you-a body without a soul, an intellect without a heart, a will without a faith, a kind of human beast of prey, intent on nothing but the gratification of his own selfish ends-to you I was never pledged. I would as soon have bound myself to a corpse or a calculating machine."
“This is plain talk, Astra," said Doctor Remy, growing pale with anger and mortification. “If you were not a woman, it would be easier to answer it."
" It is not only plain talk, but plain sight," replied Astra. “The scales have fallen from my eyes ; at last, I see you as you are. The most that can be said for you, as well as in excuse for my late infatuation (for I would not seem altogether despicable in my own eyes), is that great and rich capabilities have been miserably perverted in your person. A grand soul has somehow been strangled within you. Some hidden canker, beginning I know not when nor where, but to which your surgeon's knowledge ought to have impelled you long ago to put the surgeon's knife, has slowly eaten out everything that was sound and good in your moral system, and left nothing but rottenness. And it is now too late for remedy. If it were not, if there were any hope that I could help to save you by clinging to you, I think I have the strength and courage to do it. As it is, I should only corrupt myself. Indeed, I fear it will be long ere I get rid of the virus of doubt and captious. ness which, I find, you have already introduced into my mind, and of which that figure” (she pointed to the statue of clay) “is the legitimate outcome. You have given a bias to my mode of thought, which has already shaken my faith to its foundations, and might, in time (but for the scathing commentary of your life upon your opinions) have destroyed it. Leave me now. We have done with each other.”
Perhaps Doctor Remy's good angel, absent from his side for many years, hovered at that moment above his head, with a wistful, almost a hopeful, face. For at last the strong man was visibly affected. Some chance word of Astra's had found a joint in his iron armour, and penetrated Mrs. Lyte, who entered soon afterwards, instantly discovered the fallen statue, and connected it, though not without a degree of surprise, with her daughter's woebegone face. For Astra had been wont to bear disaster with more fortitude! Still, this was the largest work tbat she had yet undertaken; besides, she had seemed so far from well of late. Mrs. Lyte's heart thrilled with motherly sympathy.
“I am so sorry!" she said, pityingly. “Is it an utter ruin?"
“Utter," replied Astra, with dreary emphasis." But never mind about it now. What has happened to distress
to the living flesh. His lip trembled, it may have been with an unshaped prayer to Astra to make that effort to save him, of which she had declared herself capable; it may have been with a sudden perception of the barrenness of his life, and the valuelessness of its ends, disposing him, for a moment, to try whether any richer realities were to be reaped from an unselfish human affection and an unquestioning heavenly faith.
But not thus easily and quickly was the whole bent of a life to be changed, not thus the holding of the cords of evil to be loosed. Suddenly, between him and Astra, rose a vision of Bergan Hall, with its immense revenues, its ancient and aristocratic prestige, the vast power and influence that it would impart to capable hands, the abundant means and leisure that it would allow for scientific pursuits. For if Doctor Remy lived for anything besides himself, it was for science. He had managed to persuade himself that the interests of the two were identical. He had embodied his selfishness, as it were, in a theory, for the development, confirmation, and proclamation of which he believed that he desired leisure and wealth, far more than for himself ; and through which he meant to be a benefactor to his race, as well as to wreathe his own name with undying laurels. On the one hand, then, was this wide prospect of wealth, freedom, usefulness, and fame; on the other, Astra, and a life of restrictions and limitations, narrowed down to the daily necessity of daily bread. Quickly he made his choice. The angel spread his white wings, and flew upward, never to return!
Doctor Remy turned to Astra, and held out his hand. “Let us part friends,” said he.
“Not so," replied Astra; “ let us part—as we are to remain---strangers. No need to mock the sacred past with the commonplace civilities of ordinary intercourse. The relation that once existed between us is simply dead, not changed into something else."
“ As you will," returned Doctor Remy, after a pause. • At least let me wish you a short mourning and a bright thereafter. Adieu.”
He went out as he spoke, closing the door behind him. In his excitement, he used more force than he was aware of, and it fell to with a clangour that reverberated loudly through the large, uncarpeted room, and jarred painfully upon Astra's nerves. She shivered, and her eyes fell upon the clay figure. Apparently, it was trembling with sympathetic emotion; it even bent toward her, as if suddenly endued with life; for one moment, the old fable of Pygmalion seemed coming true, in her modern experience. Then the limbs gave way, the trunk fell forward, down went Bearer and Child together, the faces of each giving her one last, distorted look of malign meaning, ere they crushed into fragments on the platform.
“It is not the only ruin that he has left behind him," murmured Astra to herself, with a sad and bitter smile.
Mrs. Lyte put the letter into Astra's hand.
“Read that,” said she, “and see what you can make of it."
It was not without difficulty, under the pressure of her own misery, that Astra made herself comprehend the purport of the document before her, through the disguise of the legal terms wherein it had duly been couched by the lawyer employed by Major Bergan. With enlightenment, however, strange to say, came a quick sense of relief. Here, at least, was a necessity for action; and the trouble which is attended by that is never so great as one which calls only for patient endurance. Besides, how glad would she be to leave Berganton at this juncture, to escape at once from its curiosity, its sympathy, or its censure, to be spared the pain of meeting Doctor Remy's altered face. and the irksomeness of going on with the old life, in the old scene, after it had lost all the old colour and substance. Her face brightened so much, as she looked up from the letter, that Mrs. Lyte gave a sigh of relief.
“ Then it is not so bad as I thought,” said she.
Astra's heart smote her for her selfishness. She reflected what grief it would cause her mother to be thrust out from the home endeared to her by so many and sacred associations. Her face fell, and her heart sank again. Covering her eyes with her hands, she burst into a sudden passion of tears—a softer agony than had shåken her before, but still so plainly an agony disproportionate to the occasion, that Mrs. Lyte's eyes suddenly opened to the perception of some hitherto unsuspected sorrow. She put her arms round her daughter, and drew her head on to her bosom, as in the days of her childhood.
“What is it, darling ?” she asked.
The soft tone, the affectionate touch, the motherly sympathy, were irresistible. Before she well knew what she was doing, Astra was pouring forth all her sad story. "Oh, mother!" she moaned, as
finished, “if we could only go away-just for a time, at least, until I have recovered myself a little! If we could only go at once, too, without explanations or farewells !"
“We will, my child,” returned Mrs. Lyte, soothingly; “that is, if I can manage it."
Then followed a long consultation.
LETTERS ON POLITENESS AND ETIQUETTE.
cult studies in the art of manners, and that is, the art of growing old. Women need to study this art much more than men, though there are many men who would be the better for taking a few quiet hints on the subject. A man is old, at least, ten years later than our sex, and his old age does not make the same difference in him that it does in us. Men have ambition left, and that invades their heart, soul and brain, fills up their time, satisfies their self-love, procures them all the emotions they can desire in this world. We have only devotion, religion, left, if our sentiments survive our youth ; or reason, if, more favoured, we consent to take life as it is, and to see things in their true light.
Youth is the most exquisite gift that God gives us. To it belong all charms and every illusion. It gilds with its warm rays the days that flow under its reign. The habit of youth is a sweet one; it costs us much to lose it, and we only feel its price when it has fled. Many women dread the growing old, and only prepare themselves for it by their dread, whereas, they ought rather to prepare for it by reflection. We ought to watch over ourselves so as to clear the sad passage with dignity, and not to leave behind us the trail of ridicule.
The limits where youth ceases and age begins are difficult to assign, and they are not the same for everyone. I know some women who are old at twenty-five, and I have been with others who remained young at forty. But we must never count upon remaining young so long, and we ought so to use the days of grace that Providence grants us that we may not be surprised when the change comes, the change that comes quickly when it does come.
One of the most cruel situations in life is to be old before perceiving it.
A Frenchwoman, speaking of one of these situations, says, “ Formerly I was much in society with a woman I pitied much. She was scarcely thirty-two; she had been married at fifteen, had a daughter at sixteen, and was a widow before she was twenty. Rather handsome than pretty, her beauty ought to have kept, but it faded like a flower. Her hair grew white, her brilliant complexion faded, she grew fat, she was in fact completely “on the shelf," and had no idea of the fact. We inhabited the same house, saw the same society, and almost always went out together. Her daughter was
one of the most charming girls I ever knew. I was a few years older than she was, though very young still, but I could not have been the daughter of her mother. She dressed herself like her daughter, sat with us and waited for the partners, who, alas ! did not come. She said sometimes,
bad temperedly, “How is it that you are always dancing, and I seldom get a chance?'
“Sometimes while she was thus mounting guard over our handkerchiefs and bouquets, she would be obliged to hear compliments about her pretty daughter. But nothing opened her eyes, and she still wore garlands of roses in her gauze dress. One day she asked a maid who was doing her hair how old she thought her. The maid answered as though she were paying a compliment, 'Madame does not look to be more than forty-five.' The girl evidently thought she was taking off ten years then. Although an intelligent woman, she would never see that, and persisted in accepting nothing but the register of her birth. She was young in years, young in heart, young in mind ; but with all that, she was old, older than many women of fifty."
Thus much in order to show that it is impossible to fix a time when age begins, and that you must judge for yourself. There are many ways of doing it. The first is to look at oneself, and take one's mirror for a friend, and not a flatterer. After thirty the study should be begun. It ought to be made, not in the interest of coquetry, but in that of the seemliness and dignity of
The symptoms are easy to recognize in the people who surround us, even in the case where the mirror deceives us, they will not deceive us.
If you go into society, you will soon see if your success diminishes. The most virtuous woman in the world knows perfectly well when she is admired; she cannot be offended at any admiration that is only shown by respect. In the street even, a woman guesses if the passers look at her with pleasure.
my dear,” said a very beautiful woman to me once, “I see I must give in; when I pass, no one turns now.'
Mothers have no part or lot in what I am saying now; they find the measure of their beauty in their tenderness. From the moment that their children are grown up, they forget themselves in their children; there is no longer any question about shining—the only question is the happiness and future of their offspring.
When, therefore, you see that admiration and homage diminish around you, know that the moment approaches. You have amongst your“ friends,” too, some one who, in a moment of expansion, will let escape the words "you were.” That you were
ought to enlighten you completely; look out for it, it is a landmark; look out for the women too; when they no longer fear you, they will seek you more. All these harbingers of the evil moment should be observed. When you are nearly sure of your
fact, put on all your armour of courage, take counsel with yourself, and cut into the quick.
Everything in you and round you must then change -not suddenly, as if by an impulse of despair, but skilfully, in order that the change may be so insensible that no one shall know when it began.
Accept age at once, and in good faith ; put aside all ridiculous pretensions, and be persuaded that, instead of taking years from you, they only add to those you really possess.
Renounce compliments and homages; abandon them before they abandon you ; make yourself out older than you are; do not wait to be forced to resign ; resign before any one thinks you ought. Leave off dancing when invitations get fewer. If people are astonished at it, so much the better.
If you do not go into society, it is much easier ; the abdication is less painful, and the task lighter. Take care to gain in affection and tenderness what you lose in praises. Your husband, your children, all those you live with, will cherish you so much the more as you make their lives pleasant.
As the horizon closes in, the heart ought to enlarge. We ought to give to it all that youth leaves, and it leaves really the best part of us. If happiness is not so intense, it is more certain, more durable, and augments as we approach our end. Then comes, for the best of us, the age of true piety—piety that is severe towards itself and indulgent to others.
After beauty is gone, soul and mind remain, and they can procure pleasures of which no idea can be formed till they are tasted. The goodness of nature is infinite; it spreads itself over the smallest details, and gives to the end of the day all the beauty of the dawn.
When once your decision is taken, everything ought to tend to this end. Renounce the idea of pleasing, renounce it frankly, or rather try to captivate those who approach you by a charm that nothing can take from you, and which will only grow with the years. Serenity of soul shines out on the face, and lends it a second beauty, whose seduction is irresistible. I know nothing more adorable than an old woman. Good, spirituelle, gracious, one cannot help loving her. She is sought for, the mind finds what it wants with her, her company was an education. She knows what youth is ignorant of, she tells what she has seen and felt, and her counsels are as agreeable as they are useful. I remember an old lady of nearly eighty for whose company I would have left that of any young person; she enjoyed and appreciated a joke, and often made one herself; she was as eagerly interested in politics as any Member of Parliament, and there was no question in the world of literature that left her indifferent. One day there was a question in her society about a quotation, which some one had raised as to where it came from. She turned to me, and said, “ Please reach down the third volume of Pope from that shelf.” I did so, and she immediately found the passage, the
reference to which had been forgotten by her young friends.
Women split, as I have told you, on two contrary rocks in this question of old age : they either abandon all care of themselves en jetant la manche après la coignée, or they dress themselves in a youthful fashion; and in trying to look younger only succeed in making themselves look older than they really are. The one is almost as blameable as the other.
If we lose our good looks nothing can bring them back; affectation and coquetry only recal to mind their loss, and state it. Still complete discouragement is as much out of place and almost as ridiculous. Old age is never very pleasant to look at-why make it more repulsive? My old lady of eighty used to say, “Each year makes me a year more careful !”
An old lady ought to be scrupulously neat, she ought even to carry it to exaggeration, whilst avoiding youthful dress. There is no need to blush for white hairs; show them, if only from coquetry; never dress up in one of those frightful wigs, nor dye your hair, everything like that adds ten years to your age.
Many people insist that old ladies should avoid light colours; I am not of that opinion, if there is no restrospective intention in the choice. If you like pink, wear pink, not in profusion, but enough to brighten ; do not condemn yourself to black and brown, if they make you feel doleful. The greatest charms of old age are gaiety, indulgence, kind
An old lady can rejoice the eyes by an agreeable aspect, rejoice the mind by her souvenirs, and rejoice the heart by her own. A woman's heart may be eternally young, and give her great pleasures if she knows how to direct it, if she knows how to place her tenderness so that it shall give her back what she gives, if she offers to her family, to her friends, the ardour of sentiment that time respects in certain privileged natures. Keep yourself from all paints and powders, as from fire; you can gain nothing by them in beauty, on the contrary, they will make you lose all respect and consideration; and, in short, will make you ridiculous. You will be the butt of women's jokes, and men will fly from you, they will fear your extravagant pretensions, and you will be left alone. I know a striking example of this.
Two women of the same age have chosen two different paths-one has determined to remain young in spite of years and her looking-glass: she paints her face, she dyes her hair, she wears long dresses, and she places herself among the dancers and expects partners.
The other wears her age frankly: she neither affects severity nor carelessness, she likes laughing, she likes to dress herself comfortably and to her own taste, without consulting fashion; her mind has kept every liberty, her memory all its charm; she surrounds herself with youth, she adores beauty-of which the other is jealous. Always scrupulously neat and elegant, she avoids subterfuges, and has recourse to no artifice, neither cosmetics nor colours are ever seen on her toilet-table.
The first resembles an old painted doll, a plaything for the public. The other seems to be ten years younger than she really is. In society, the former is left to herself, and the latter is surrounded. Young men and women come to her with confidence and pleasure, sure
of being welcomed with a smile or a hand affectionately held out.
The choice really lies between these two models. I think the choice is not doubtful, and that no woman of sense will hesitate.
his wife. “You are not well, I am afraid !” she said, when they were in the carriage that was to convey them home.
“I am not sick, but I have had much to think of and to do lately, and I may look somewhat jaded," he answered. “You left Eunice well, you say?"
“Quite well, thank you! You have overworked yourself in getting the house ready for me. You should have left that for me to do."
“ It was not necessary. As it is, you will find much room for alteration and improvement, I doubt not. You were fortunate in meeting with a pleasant escort on your journey. Are you much fatigued?"
“No, but my head aches a little," turning her face to the window.
She was disappointed in her reception. The parting from Eunice had been a grievous trial ; the journey filled with mournful thoughts of the past that now lay so very far behind her. In turning her back upon her parents' graves and her birthplace, she seemed to have parted company for ever with the blithe girl who had been born and had grown up to woman's estate, careless and joyous as the swallows that had for a century built their nests in the belfry of the church tower. She had almost forgotten how Jessie Kirke felt and acted. Yet she was thankful that in the midst of melancholy and dazement, her appointed way lay clear and open before her; that she had still a sure staff on which to lean—the hope and resolve that she would do her duty bravely and well in the sphere for which her marriage-vow had set her apart. It was indicative of the generous temper and sound sense that never failed to assert themselves when the momentary tumult of passion had passed, which neither her faults nor the influence of the tempter had warped, that she had never, for one moment, blamed Roy for hurrying forward their marriage. They were "troth-plight," as her Scottish ancestors would have put it. She had said, “If you insist upon the fulfilment of my promise, I will submit to your decision.”
And she had not said it idly. He had taken her at her word, as he had the right to do, and by that pledge she would abide.
Lonely and tired, the sight of Roy's face in the crowd
of strangers upon the platform of the Hamilton station had cheered her heart like a cordial. She forgot that he was her husband; remembered him only as a noble and faithful friend in whose presence she would be no longer solitary and sad. She was even conscious of a proud sense of proprietorship in the fine-looking, dignified man who was the first to enter the car when it stoppeda consciousness that Aushed her cheeks faintly, and quickened her pulses, as she introduced him to the gentleman who had acted as her escort and heard his wellchosen words of acknowledgment for the favour done him. He had not kissed her then she supposed because there were so many looking on; but after taking his place beside her in the carriage, he might surely tell her that her coming gave him joy; repeat something of the rapturous anticipations that had overflowed his heart in writing his last letter, received by her the night before. His face was very pale, his eyes abstracted, his voice constrained. Anything more unlike the Roy she had known in Dundee could hardly be imagined, without changing the identity of the man. It was not surprising that a qualm of home-sickness weakened her heroic resolutions ; put to flight her dreams of forgetting her unhappiness in the sustained effort to be and do all he wished.
Roy saw the struggle and surmised, in part, the cause of it; but what could he say to assuage or encourage ? The caresses and fond words with which he had sought to console her in the earlier days of her desolation must, he now saw in the lurid light shed upon his honeymoon by that terrible letter, have aggravated her sufferings.
Professing to be her protector, he had played the part of a brutal ravisher; had torn her-shrinking and crying out against the loathed union she felt would“ be a sina fearful sin,” from her free, happy girl-life, and bound her, soul and body, in fetters more hateful and enduring than manacles of steel. After the first shock of horror and of grief, he forgot the wrong he had sustained in his overmastering compassion for her. And he could not free her! Loving her better than he did his own happiness and life, he was powerless to ensure her peace of mind by restoring her to liberty. Had he been other than the true Christian and true man he was, the distracting anguish of that conviction would have driven him to