Monica: A Novel, Volume 3 (of 3)
“Torwood’s Trust,” “The Last of the Dacres,”“Ruthven of Ruthven,” Etc.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
WARD AND DOWNEY,
12, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C.
KELLY AND CO., GATE STREET, LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS,
|CHAPTER THE TWENTY-THIRD.||PAGE|
|CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FOURTH.|
|CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FIFTH.|
|CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SIXTH.|
|CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SEVENTH.|
|CHAPTER THE TWENTY-EIGHTH.|
|CHAPTER THE TWENTY-NINTH.|
|“As We Forgive”||124[vi]|
|CHAPTER THE THIRTIETH.|
|CHAPTER THE THIRTY-FIRST.|
|CHAPTER THE THIRTY-SECOND.|
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-THIRD.
“Beatrice, I believe my words are comingtrue, after all. I begin to think you aregetting tired of Trevlyn already.”
It was Monica who spoke thus. Shehad surprised Beatrice alone in the boudoirat dusk one afternoon, sitting in anattitude of listless dejection, with theundoubted brightness of unshed tears inher eyes.
But the girl looked up quickly, tryingto regain all her usual animation, thoughthe attempt was not a marked success, andMonica sat down beside her, and laid onehand upon hers in a sort of mute caress.
“You are not happy with us, Beatrice,I see it more and more plainly every day.You have grown pale since you came here,and your spirits vary every hour, but theydo not improve, and you are often sad. Ithink Trevlyn cannot suit you. I think Ishall have to prescribe change of air andscene, and a meeting later on in some otherplace.”
Monica spoke with a sort of gravegentleness, that indicated a tenderness shecould not well express more clearly. Foranswer, Beatrice suddenly flung herselfon her knees before her hostess, buryingher face in her hands.
“Oh, don’t send me away, Monica!Don’t send me away! I could not bear it—indeedI could not! I am miserable—I amwretched company. I don’t wonder youare tired of me; but ah! don’t send meaway from you, and from Trevlyn. Ithink I shall die if you do. Oh, why is theworld such a hard, cruel place?”
Monica was startled at this sudden outburst,for since the day following herarrival Beatrice had showed herself unusuallyreserved. She had been distraite,absorbed, fitful in her moods, but neveronce expansive; therefore, this unexpectedimpulse towards confidence was the moresurprising.
“Beatrice,” she said gently, “I did notmean to distress you. You know howvery, very welcome you are to stay withus. But you are unhappy; you are farmore unhappy than when you came.”
Beatrice shook her head vehemently atthis point, but Monica continued in thesame quiet way. “You are unhappy, youare restless and miserable. Beatrice,answer me frankly, would you be happy ifTom Pendrill were not here? He hasalready outstayed his original time, and wecould quite easily get rid of him if hispresence is a trouble to you. We neverstand on ceremony with Tom, andRandolph could manage it in a moment.”
Beatrice lifted a pale, startled face.
“Tom Pendrill?” she repeated, almostsharply. “What has he got to do with it?What makes you bring in his name? Whatdo you know about—about——?” Shestopped suddenly.
“I know nothing except what I see formyself—nothing but what your face andhis tell me. It is easy to see that youhave known each other before, and underrather exceptional circumstances, perhaps.Do you think it escapes me, that feverishgaiety of yours whenever he is near—gaietythat is expended in laughing, chatting,flirting, perhaps, with the other guests,but is never by any chance directed tohim? Do you think I do not notice howquickly that affectation of high spiritsevaporates when he is gone; how manyfits of sad musing follow in its wake?How is it you two never talk to oneanother? never exchange anything beyondthe most frigid commonplaces? It is notyour way to be so distant and so cool,Beatrice. There must be a reason. Tellme truly, would you not be happier if TomPendrill were to go back to St. Maws?”
But Beatrice shook her head again, andheaved a long, shuddering sigh.
“Oh, no, no!” she said. “Don’t sendhim away. Nothing really matters now;nothing can do either good or harm. Lethim stay. I think his heart is made of ice.He does not care; why should I? It isnothing but my folly and weakness, only itbrings it all back so bitterly—all my pride,and self-will, and stubbornness. Well, Ihave suffered for it now.”
It was plain that a confession washovering on Beatrice’s lips; that she wasanxious at last to unburden herself of hersecret. Monica helped her by asking adirect question.
“Were you engaged to him once?”
“No—no! not quite. I had not gotquite so far as that. I might havebeen. He asked me to be his wife, and I—I——”She paused, and then went onmore coherently.
“I will tell you all about it. It wasyears ago, when I was barely eighteen—agay, giddy girl, just ‘out,’ full of fun, verywild and saucy, and thoroughly spoiled bypersistent petting and indulgence. I wasthe only daughter of the house, andbelieved that Lady Beatrice Wentworthwas a being of vast importance. Well, Isuppose people spoiled us because we wereorphans. We were all more or less spoiled,and I think it was the ruin of my eldestbrother. He was at Oxford at the time Iam speaking of; and I was taken to Commemorationby some gay friends ofours, who had brothers and sons atOxford.
“It was there I met Tom Pendrill. Hewas the ‘chum’ of one of the undergraduatesons of my chaperon, and he wasa great man just then. He had distinguishedhimself tremendously in theschools, I know—had taken a double-first,or something, and other things beside. Hewas quite a lion in his own set, and I heardan immense deal in his praise, and wastremendously impressed, quite convincedthat there was not such another man in theworld. He was almost always in ourparty, and he took a great deal of notice ofme. He gave us breakfast in his rooms,and I sat next him, and helped to do thehonours of the table. You can’t think howproud I was at being singled out by him,how delighted I was to walk by his side,listening to his words of wisdom, howelevated I often felt, how taken out ofmyself into quite a new world of thoughtand feeling.”
Beatrice paused. A smile—half sad,half bitter—played for a moment over herface; then she took up the thread of hernarrative.
“I need not go into the subject of myfeelings. I was very young, and all theglamour of youth and inexperience wasupon me. I had never, in all my life,come across a man in the least like him—soclever, so witty, so cultured, and withal withso strong a personality. He was not silentand cynical, as he is now, but full of lifeand sparkle, of brilliance and humour. Iwas dazzled and captivated. I believedthere had never been such a man inthe world before. He was my ideal, myhero; and he seemed to court me, whichwas the most wonderful thing of all.
“You know what young girls are like?No, perhaps you don’t, and I will avoidgeneralities, and speak only of myself.Just because he captivated me so much—myfancy, my intellect, my heart—justbecause I began to feel his power growingso strongly upon me, I grew shy,frightened, restive. I was very wilful andcapricious. I wanted him to admire me,and I was proud that he seemed to do so;but I did not in the least want to acknowledgehis power over me. I wasfrightened at it. I tried to ignore it—tokeep it off.
“So, in a kind of foolish defiance andmistrust of myself, I began flirtingtremendously with a silly young marquis,whom I heartily despised and disliked. Ionly favoured him when Tom Pendrill waspresent, for I wanted to make him jealous,and to feel my power over him. Coquetryis born in some women, I believe; I amsure it was born in me. I did not meanany harm. I never cared a bit for thecreature. I cared for no one but the manI affected now to be tired of. But rumoursgot about. I suppose it would have beena very good match for me. People said Iwas going to marry the cub, and I onlylaughed when I heard the report. I wasyoung, vain, and foolish enough to feelrather flattered than otherwise.”
She paused a moment, with another ofthose bitter-sweet smiles, and went on veryquietly:
“Why are girls so badly brought up?I was not bad at heart; but I was vain andfrivolous. I loved to inflict pain of a kindupon others, till I played once too oftenwith edge-tools, and have suffered for itever since. Of course, Tom Pendrill heardthese reports, and, of course, they angeredhim deeply; for I had given him everyencouragement. He did not know thecomplex workings of a woman’s heart, herwild struggles for supremacy before she canbe content to yield herself up for ever awilling sacrifice. He did not understand;how should he? I did not either till it wastoo late.
“I saw him once more alone. We werewalking by the river one moonlight night.He was unlike himself—silent, moody,imperious. All of a sudden it burst out.He asked me almost fiercely if I would behis wife—he almost claimed my promise ashis right—said that I owed him thatreparation for destroying his peace ofmind. How my heart leapt as I heardthose words. A torrent of love seemed tosurge over me. I was terrified at thedepth of feeling he had stirred up.I struggled with a sort of fury againstbeing carried away by it, against betrayingmyself too unreservedly. I don’t rememberwhat I said; I was terribly agitated. Ibelieve in my confusion and bewildermentI said something disgusting about my rankand his—the difference between us. Thenhe cast that odious marquis in my teeth,supposed that the report he had heard wastrue, that I was going to sell myself for thereversion of a ducal coronet, since Ithought so much of rank. I was furious;all the more furious because I had broughtit on myself, though, had he but known it,it was ungenerous to take me at a disadvantage,and cast my words back at melike that—words spoken without the leastconsideration or intention. But, right orwrong, he did it, and I answered back withmore vehemence than before. I don’tknow what I said, but it was enough forhim, at any rate. He turned upon me—Ithink he almost cursed me—not in words,but in the cruel scorn expressed in his faceand in his voice. Ah! it hurts me evennow. Then he left me without anotherword, without a sign or sound of farewell—leftme standing alone by that river. Inever saw him again till we met in yourdrawing-room that night.”
Beatrice paused; Monica had taken herhand in token of sympathy, but she didnot speak.
“Of course, at first I thought he wouldcome back. I never dreamed he wouldbelieve I had really led him on, onlyto reject him with contempt, when once hedared to speak his heart to me. We hadquarrelled; and I was very miserable,knowing how foolish I had been; but Inever, never believed for a moment that hewould take that quarrel as final.
“Two wretched days of suspense followed.Then I heard that he had left Oxfordthe morning after our interview by theriver, and I knew that all was over betweenus. That is the story of my life, Monica;it does not sound much to tell, but it meansa good deal to me. I have never lovedanyone else—I do not think I ever shall.”
Monica was silent.
“Neither has he.”
Beatrice’s eyes were full of a