Chapter V.—The Meeting.

Strange and not so happy was the meal in the morning.1
Edith spake no word, but quickly rose and departed.2
Sad and pale for one who once would charm with her laughter3
Many a morn from gloom, she wore the veil of her anger.4
Berthold, he, too, rose, and was unwilling to linger5
With the two, whose eyes were not the eyes of a lover ;6
Lest, if she were blamed, or even named, in her absence,7
He should seem untrue, or seem to side with the others.8
Grave and stern was the rector, and little sign of forgiveness9
In his look you read, and little sign of emotion.10
Mary Trevor knew it would be hard for his nature11
First to bend and yield : and she was wounded for Edith :12
But if parent err, yea, if to wrong and injustice,13
Still the child does well to suffer all and be silent.14
Leave her now,” she said, “ so changed and blind with her passion :15
She has never shown a spirit wrong and unruly.16
Nay, another sun will scarce go down on her anger :17
Soon, remembering all, she will be troubled and sorry :18
She will see the wrong, and will be fain to be pardoned.19
You will pardon her, Edmund ?”  His lips were pale, as he answer’d ;20
Twitch’d and trembled, saying, “ Gladly I will forgive her ;21
Ask of her forgiveness for the wrong that I did her.”22
Low the sister bent, in silence, hiding her wonder ;23
Stoop’d and touch’d his brow with lips that sign’d benediction.24
Edith, will she find, so much a novice in passion,25
Stranger eyes so bright, if she discover the letter ?26
Be the child of-old, with Berthold changed to a lover ;27
With a sire too glad to cancel all and forgive her ?28
Had she known ! but known !  She is away in the woodland.29
On the hill-top grew the pines in silence together ;30
Grand trunks, straight and tall, that flushed blood-red in the sunset ;31
Yet the sun, in splendour flashing down from the zenith,32
Could not pierce the dense and twisted screen of their branches :33
They, that rock’d in storm, and madly howl’d in the winter,34
Now were calm and still, or only sway’d in a whisper.35
Sweet the gloom and coolness, as in a mighty cathedral.36
Black below the spurs, and wither’d leaves and the pine-cones,37
Yielded neath the foot, as softly laid as a carpet.38
Here a road wound down to warmth and day, and, descending,39
On each hand laid bare the dull red wall of the sandstone ;40
Silent, now, forlorn, cut long ago to the quarry ;41
By woodcutters used, or still at times by a huntsman.42
Steep the winding road: a little way from the summit,—43
Where the winds would lull on rudest days, and the roaring44
Of the pines in storm seem but a song, in the distance,—45
On the left, the stone, scoop’d out and worn to a cavern,46
Made a dripping well. The trickling drops of the water,47
Oozing through the roof, were shaped to pearls in the darkness ;48
Then, unseen, they fell, to gather fair in a basin,49
Pure and clear as twilight, after rain, in the autumn,50
Drop fell after drop, with solemn cadence and mournful ;51
Long and charm’d you listened, yet still the ear would be startled.52
Smooth and moist the cave with matted green of the mosses :53
While, in rocky cleft, and by the sway of the ripple,54
Campions throve, and ferns, and fairy leaves of the cranesbill.55
Brooding Edith sat, upon a stone by the entrance.56
Many a morning here, a book her silent companion,57
She had dream’d and stay’d, her spirit tranquil and happy ;58
Pleased with linnet’s song, pleased with the sound of the water,59
With a fern, or flower. Now, that is over, for ever.60
Youth, outworn, inverts his mystic wand o’er the dreamland :61
All is fled, like dreams; and youth is fled, and the glamour.62
Love, a lord more strong, rules in the throne of the other.63
Dull is reason’s ear : now love and anger together64
Scare the brooding peace, the morning calm of her spirit,65
As the winds swoop down on sleeping tar in the mountains.66
She remembers her father, she remembers her cousin ;67
Darkly feels she wrong’d them in the rage of her answer :68
Yet they seem as dreams of long ago and forgotten ;69
But as leaves that fall on restless whirl of a torrent.70
Anger hot with love, and love aflame with the anger :—71
Is it love in a day ?”  It is a strange fascination.72
Here, with alien foot, amid the gloom of the pinewood,—73
Foulque Alphonse Dubois,—why is it, now, that he wanders ?74
What would he, then, here ?  What in his brain is he planning,75
Full of evil schemes, and ever ready for mischief ?76
Dewy dawn of a life, you haunt him now with your beauty :77
He is charm’d with the grace and guileless eyes of a maiden.78
There are some who love to pluck the flower by the wayside ;79
Love to wear the flower a little while for their pleasure :80
Careless who may pine to miss it there in the shadow :81
When its sweetness tires, but little pained if it wither.82
He is vex’d and cross’d, who is not wont to be thwarted :83
Used to have his will, though it be sordid and evil.84
Can he well be plotting ill and harm for the damsel,85
Since he leaves cre mom the English hall and his kinsfolk ?86
It is but a sigh, a wish, a fancy to meet her,87
Once, ere all grow dark, that lures him over the upland.88
Foulque Dubois, as a god, who beats the woods for a dryad,89
Stroll’d and toy’d an hour, and then grew tired and impatient :90
At the wood dove fired, in leafy elms by the quarry ;91
Vex’d, he scarce knew why, to hear the sound of its cooing :92
Seem’d for sign to take it, when the bird, as an arrow,93
Through the green tree-tops fled to the gloom of the forest.94
By the lane he turn’d. What weaves the snare, that entices95
Us to ill we would, but know not how to accomplish ?96
Is it chance, ill-luck? No, but the Father in Heaven,97
Shaping good and evil, to mould the souls of his children.98
Step by step he came : she, with a strange divination,99
Heard his foot draw near. Each drop that fell in the cave :100
Made her cheek grow pale, and flush again with the colour101
Of a new-blown rose. She was as maiden, the demons102
Wall in chambers of dreams, in mediæval romances.103
He, as one well pleased, who meets a friend unexpected,104
Stay’d his foot, to greet her ; and soon was standing beside her.105
As one inly glad, awhile in silence beholding,—106
Musing, lean’d on his gun,—the heighten’d charm of her beauty,107
Low he laugh’d, to note the little fect, and the colour108
Of her cheek, sunbrown’d as nut of hazel in autumn;109
Till her lids dropp’d down, abash’d, and she would have risen :110
Then his eye read all, the dream, the joy, and the passion.111
Nay, not yet,” he whisper’d, and she in silence obey’d him.112