Mr. Colfox sometimes dropped in of an evening, on parish business of course, took a cup of coffee, listened while Allegra played one of Mozart’s sonatas or sang a song by Gluck or Haydn or Handel. Mr. Colfox was not one of the advanced people who despise Mozart or Handel. Nor did he look down upon Haydn. Indeed, he sat and stroked his thin legs with a sheepish appreciation, wrinkling up his loose trousers, and showing a large amount of stocking, while Allegra sang “My mother bids me bind my hair,” in her clear, strong mezzo-soprano, which was of infinite use to him in his choir.
He told everybody that Martin Disney’s was an ideal household—a home into which it was a privilege to be admitted.
“I feel as if I never knew the beauty of domestic life till I knew the Angler’s Nest,” he said one evening 佛山桑拿浴服务价格 after dinner at Glenaveril, when he and the village doctor had accepted one of Mr. Crowther’s pressing invitations to what he called “pot-luck,” the pot-luck of the man whose spirit burns within him at the thought of his hundred-guinea cook, and whose pride is most intolerable when it apes humility.
“Really, now,” said Mr. Crowther, “you surprise me, for I have always fancied there was a screw loose there.”
“What does that expression imply, Mr. Crowther?” asked the curate, coldly.
“Oh, I don’t know! Nothing specific: only one’s notion of an ideal home doesn’t generally take the shape of a beautiful girl of twenty married to a man of forty-five. The disparity is just twice as much as it ought to be.”
“Upon my soul,” cried the curate, “I don’t believe that wedded love is affected by any difference of years. Desdemona 佛山桑拿一条龙酒店 loved Othello, who was a man of mature age——”
“And black,” interrupted Mr. Crowther, with a coarse laugh. “Well, let us be thankful that Colonel Disney is not a nigger; and that there is so much the less danger of a burst-up at the Angler’s Nest. And now, Baynham, with regard to this footpath across the wood, who the deuce will be injured if I shut it up?”
“A good many people, and the people I think you would least like to injure,” answered the doctor, sturdily. “Old people, and feeble, ailing people, who find the walk to church quite far enough even with the help of that short cut.”
“Short cut be hanged!” cried Mr. Crowther, helping himself to a bumper of port, and passing on the decanter with hospitable emphasis. “It can’t make a difference of a hundred yards.”
“It does make a difference of over a quarter of a mile—and 佛山桑拿男人加油站 the proof is that everybody uses it, and that it goes by the name of the Church path. I wouldn’t try to stop it, if I were you, Mr. Crowther. You are a popular man in the parish, for you—well, you have spent a heap of money in this place, and you subscribe liberally to all our charities and what not; but, I don’t mind telling you, if you were to try and shut off that old footpath across your wood, you’d be about the most unpopular man within a radius of ten miles.”
“Don’t talk about trying to shut it off, man,” said Mr. Crowther, arrogantly. “If I choose to lock the gates to-morrow, I shall do it, and ask nobody’s leave. The wood is my wood, and there’s no clause in my title-deeds as to any right of way through it; and I don’t see why I am to have my hazel bushes pulled about, and my chestnut trees damaged by a pack of idle boys, under the pretence of church-going. There’s the Queen’s highway for ’em, d—n ’em!” cried Mr. Crowther, growing more insolent, as he gulped his fifth glass
of Sandemann. “If that ain’t good[Pg 141] enough, let ’em go to the Ranters’ Chapel at the other end of the village.”
“I thought you were a staunch Conservative, Mr. Crowther, and an upholder of Church and State,” said Mr. Colfox. “Am I to believe my ears when I hear you advocating the Ranters’ Chapel?”
“It’s good enough for such rabble as that, sir. What does it matter where they go?”
“Prosecute the boys for trespass, if you like,” said the doctor; “though I doubt if you’ll get a magistrate to impose more than a nominal fine for the offence of taking a handful of nuts in a wood that has been open ever since I began to walk, and heaven knows how many years before; but let the old gaffers and goodies creep to church by the shortest path that can take them there. They’ll have to travel by the Queen’s highway later, when they go to the churchyard—but then they’ll be carried.
Don’t interfere with the privileges of the poor, Mr. Crowther. No one ever did that yet and went scot free. There’s always somebody to take up the cudgels for them.”
“I don’t care a doit for anybody’s cudgels, Baynham. I shall have a look at my title-deeds to-morrow; and if there’s no stipulation about the right of way, you’ll find the gates locked next Sunday morning.”
Sunday morning came, and the gates at each end of the old footpath were still open, and nothing had come of Mr. Crowther’s threat. Tho gates had stood open so long, and were so old and rotten, their lower timbers so embedded in the soft, oozy soil, so entangled and overgrown with foxglove and fern, so encrusted with moss and lichen, that it is doubtful if anybody could have closed them. They seemed as much rooted in the ground as the great brown fir trunks which rose in rugged majesty beside them.
“WHERE THE COLD SEA RAVES.”
In the keen, fresh October afternoons, there was no walk Allegra loved better than the walk to Neptune Point, and higher up by winding footpaths to the Rashleigh Mausoleum, fitting sepulchre for a race born and bred in the breath of the sea; a stately tomb perched on a rocky pinnacle at the end of a promontory, like a sea-bird’s nest overhanging the wave.
Allegra was in raptures with that strange resting-place.
“I like it ever so much better than your Cockneyfied cemetery,” she exclaimed. “Think how grand it must be to lie for ever within the sound of the sea—the terrible, inscrutable sea, whose anger means death—the calm, summer sea, whose waves come dancing up the sands like laughing water. I wonder whether the Rashleighs would let me have a little grave of my own somewhere among these crags and hillocks—a modest little grave, hidden under wild foliage, which nobody would ever notice? Only I should hear the sea just as well as they do in their marble tomb.”
“Oh, Allegra, how can you talk so lightly of death?” said Isola, shocked at this levity. “To me it is always dreadful to think of—and yet it must come.”
“Poor child!” said Allegra, with infinite pity, putting her arm round her sister-in-law’s slighter figure, as they stood by the railing of the Mausoleum, in the loveliness of an October sunset.
The sun had just gone down, veiled in autumnal haze, and behind the long ridge of waters beyond the Dodman there glowed the deep crimson of the western sky. Eastward above the Polruan hills the moon moved slowly upward, amidst dark masses of cloud which melted and rolled away before her on-coming, till all the sky became of one dark azure. The two girls went down the hill in silence, Allegra holding[Pg 143] Isola’s arm, linked with her own, steadying those weaker footsteps with the strength of her own firm movements. The difference between the two in physical force was no less marked than the difference in their mental characteristics, and Allegra’s love for her sister-in-law was tempered with a tender compassion for something so much weaker than herself.
“Poor child!” she repeated, as they moved slowly down the steep, narrow path, “and do you really shudder at the thought of death? I don’t. I have only a vast curiosity. Do you remember that definition of Sir Thomas Browne’s which Martin read to us once—’Death is the Lucina of life.’ Death only opens the door of the hidden worlds which are waiting for all of us to discover. It is only an appalling name for a new birth. I love to dream about the infinite possibilities of the future—just as a boy might dream of the time when he should become a man. Look, look, Isa, there’s a yacht coming in! Isn’t it a lovely sight?”
It was a long, narrow vessel, with all her canvas spread, gleaming with a silvery whiteness in the moonlight. Slowly and with majestic motion she swept round towards Neptune Point and the mouth of the harbour. There was only the lightest wind, and the waves were breaking gently on the rocks at the base of the promontory—a night as calm and fair as June.
“Look!” repeated Allegra, “isn’t she lovely? like a fairy boat. Whose yacht can she be, I wonder? She looks like a racer, doesn’t she?”
Isola did not answer. She had seen such a yacht two years ago; had seen such a long, narrow hull lying in the harbour under repairs; had seen the same craft sailing out to Mevagissey on a trial trip in the wintry sunlight. Doubtless there were many yachts in this world of just the same build and character.
They stood at an angle of the hill-path looking up the river, and saw the yacht take in her canvas as she came into the haven under the hill; that sheltered harbour, with its[Pg 144] two rivers cleaving the hills asunder, one winding away to the right towards Lerrin, the other to the left towards Trelasco and Lostwithiel. It looked so perfect a place of shelter, so utterly safe from tempest or foul weather; and yet there were seasons when a fierce wind from the great Atlantic came sweeping 佛山桑拿飞机网0757d up the deep valleys, and all the angry spirits of the ocean seemed at war in that narrow gorge. To-night the atmosphere was unusually calm, and Isola could hear the sailors singing at their work.
Slowly, slowly the two young women went down the hill, Allegra full of speculation and wonderment about the unknown vessel, Isola curiously silent. As they neared the hotel a man landed from a dinghy, and came briskly up the slippery causeway—a tall, slim figure in the vivid moonlight, loose limbed, loosely clad, moving with easiest motion.
Isola turned sick at the sight of him. She stopped, helplessly, hopelessly, and stood staring straight before her, watching him as he came nearer and nearer, nearer and nearer—like some awful figure in a nightmare dream, when the feet of the dreamer seem frozen to the ground, and flesh and blood 佛山桑拿会所全套 seem changed to ice and stone.
He came nearer, looked at them, and passed them by—passed as one who knew them not, and was but faintly curious about them. He passed and walked quickly up towards the Point, with the rapid swinging movements of one who was glad to tread the solid earth.
No, it was not Lostwithiel. She had thought at first that no one else could look so like him at so short a distance; no one else could have that tall, slender figure, and easy, buoyant walk. But the face she saw in the moonlight was not his. It was like, but not the same: darker, with larger features, a face of less delicacy and distinction; but oh, God! how like the eyes that had looked at her, with that brief glance of casual inspection, were to those other eyes that had poured their passionate story into her own that unforgotten night when 佛山夜网狼女 she sat out the after-supper waltzes in the ante-room at the Talbot. She could not have believed that any man[Pg 145] living could so recall the man whose name she never spoke of her own free will.
There were some sailors standing about at the top of the steep little bit of road leading down to the granite causeway, and their voices sounded fresh and clear in the still evening, mixed with the rippling rush of the water as it came running up the stones. The moonlight shone full upon one of the men as he stood with his face towards the sea, and Isola read the name upon the front of his jersey.
“Vendetta,” cried Allegra, quick to observe the name. “Why, is not that Lord Lostwithiel’s yacht?”
“Yes—I think so,” faltered Isola.
“Then that must have been Lord Lostwithiel who passed as just now; and yet you would have 佛山桑拿会所上门 known him, wouldn’t you?”