BETA

Edith.


Part II.—Chapter II.—Over Sea.(Continued.)

Lingering, ’mid the shells. The lisp of waves that are quiet.1
Sea-beat rocks, fantastic, with all the wear of the ages,2
Sunset. Glamour. Stars. The mystic murmurs of nature.3
Unresolved resolve, and nigh-won goal of his wishes.4
Morning. Jingling bells. Is it for bells he is happy ?5
Crack the whip: away !  It is a wild fascination.6
Little bells, ring gaily ! ring, O bells of the horses !7
Ring, o’er long-back’d hills, and ring in many a hollow :8
Bells, to him too sweet !  The heart beats loud in his bosom.9
Noon : they climb the steep. It is the hill of the Doctor,10
Oft so well recall’d in the friendly bar of the Heron.11
He is here : yea, me !  Thus reason panders to folly.12
They,—but folly’s foils ; sea-longing, smile of the landscape ;13
Misery’s haunted eyes, the music’s lingering sadness.14
He is here : yea, me !  Thus folly parleys with reason,15
Fool ! if he should meet her !— what is it then he is seeking ?16
Does he know ? does he ask ?  His look is fever’d and restless;17
On, through square and street he wanders hither and thither.18
Every woman’s face strikes through his soul, as he wanders,19
Indefinable hope and indefinable terror.20
Is she changed ?  Will tears rise in her eyes to behold him ?21
Will she be alone ?  Will she go by as a stranger ?22
Will the ancient wrong flush up again in her forehead ?23
Will she, looking sad, with looks that crave his forgiveness,24
Press his hand, and ask him “ how are all in the village ?”25
Is she dead ?— What dreams ! what dreams in dreams! but she comes not.26
Daylight wanes apace, as he stands alone on the terrace27
Of the people’s garden, anigh the boughs of the lindens.28
Far beneath the tide is dropping low in the river.29
Sounds of hoofs, far off, come up to him from the valley :30
Or some damsel’s song, or vesper bell ; or the whistle31
Of a bird. More still, more sweet for all, is the silence.32
Clear and calm is the air ; and o’er the stream and the ocean,33
Dazzling eyes, too sad, the light, of many a colour,34
Gleams and burns and dies. You seem to hear in the stillness35
Waves lap Mount St. Michel, but that is only a fancy.36
Look again, all changes : thick are falling the shadows37
O’er the new-leaved woods, that stretch away, in their beauty,38
Far as eye can wander, hiding many a château.39
One shows yet, aflame with gold in every window ;40
Strange his eye should note it: even now it is darken’d.41
Near the gardener stole :— Saw you, Sir, now, in your journeys,42
Many a scene like that ?”  Then, he,— “ not many a sweeter43
Would you see, young man, if you should journey for ever.”44
Who might live,” said Berthold, “up yonder, there, in the château?”45
Since his eye had mark’d it. Then, as he carelessly noted46
Women, there, below, who spread the nets of the boatmen47
On the small stream’s marge, scarce he remember’d his question.48
But his face grew hot, and his lips were pallid and quiver’d,49
As he heard once more the hated name of the Frenchman.50
Leastways, his the chateau,” said the gardener, eyeing51
But the dense dew falling : “though I say that he lives there,52
That he scarcely does. They stay awhile, in the summer,53
Wife and he, sometimes, to make a change for the children.54
He is southern blood, and he lives away by the Garonne ;55
Like a prince, they tell me.” The old man, ready to chatter56
Till the stars grew bright, stared in amaze, when the stranger57
Forced a cold “ good even,” and slunk away from the garden.58
Is she well ?  Is she happy ?”  She is well : she is happy.59
What then, now ?— Nay, weeping ?  Nay, is there more, in the future,60
He would fain unravel ?  The while the stars in the heavens61
Moved in mystic dance to the celestial music,62
He, with love-led feet, about the shadowy mansion63
Moved ; and saw the blinds drawn as for death, and the faces64
Of shy phantom children peer, and round by the laurels65
White skirts glance and flee ; and still at times, in the darkness,66
Rang and died away the mocking semblance of laughter.67
Morn : he will be gone. Why linger more ?  It is over.68
Nay, return !  No more his feet are eager to wander69
In the pleasant land. And nothing, now, that he looks on,70
Will to him bring joy. Has he a thought ?  it is only71
To be still again in the little house of the curate,72
Where his dog will miss him. Hill and wandering river,73
Tinkling rill and wood. He leans, forlorn, in the twilight,74
By the blasted keep, that dreams of glittering battle,75
While the Vire, impatient, roars below in the valley,76
By its mills, as when, beside it, many a chorus77
Roar’d, more loud, for you, and died in many an echo,78
Jolly Basselin. Night, with its wildering phantoms :79
Fleckless morn, again. All as before : and the falling 80
Of the dark : and Caen ; and spires, and bells ; and the jostle81
Of the thronging folk : but he forlorn. And the breaking,82
Like tale told too often, of golden day : and the steamer83
Down the Orne : and nets ; and sunny sea ; and the headlands.84
So the Seine-mouth bar, and the little harbour of Honfleur.85