The guests of hercules

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TheProjectGutenbergEBookofTheGuestsOfHercules,by C N WilliamsonandA M Williamson ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith almostnorestrictionswhatsoever Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.org Title:TheGuestsOfHercules Author:C N WilliamsonandA M Williamson Illustrator:M LeoneBrackerandArthurH Buckland ReleaseDate:October18,2006[EBook#19569] Language:English ***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTHEGUESTSOFHERCULES*** ProducedbyChrisNash,SuzanneShellandtheOnline DistributedProofreadingTeamathttp://www.pgdp.net BooksbyC N andA M WILLIAMSON Frontispiece TitlePage Dedication ListofIllustrations I XI XXI XXXI II XII XXII XXXII III XIII XXIII XXXIII IV XIV XXIV XXXIV V XV XXV XXXV VI XVI XXVI XXXVI VII XVII XXVII XXXVII VIII IX X XVIII XIX XX XXVIII XXXVIII XXIX XXXIX XXX TheEnd Transcriber'sNotes BooksbyC N andA M WILLIAMSON THEGOLDENSILENCE THEMOTORMAID LORDLOVELANDDISCOVERSAMERICA SETINSILVER THELIGHTNINGCONDUCTOR THEPRINCESSPASSES MYFRIENDTHECHAUFFEUR LADYBETTYACROSSTHEWATER ROSEMARYINSEARCHOFAFATHER THEPRINCESSVIRGINIA THECAROFDESTINY THECHAPERON "Marywasagoddessonagoldenpinnacle Thiswaslife;thewineoflife" "MARYWASAGODDESSONAGOLDENPINNACLE THISWASLIFE;THEWINEOFLIFE" THE GuestsofHercules BY C N andA M WILLIAMSON anchorornament ILLUSTRATEDBY M LEONEBRACKER&ARTHURH BUCKLAND GARDENCITYNEWYORK DOUBLEDAY,PAGE&COMPANY 1912 Copyright,1912,by C N &A M WILLIAMSON Allrightsreserved,includingthatof translationintoForeignLanguages, includingtheScandinavian TO THELORDOFTHEGARDEN ILLUSTRATIONS "Marywasagoddessonagoldenpinnacle Thiswaslife;the wineoflife" Frontispiece FACINGPAGE MaryGrant 22 "'Ican'tpromise!'sheexclaimed 'I'veneverwantedtomarry.'" 286 "'ItwasFatebroughtyou—togiveyoutome Doyouregretit?'" 398 I THEGUESTSOFHERCULES Long shadows of late afternoon lay straight and thin across the garden path; shadows of beech trees that ranged themselves in an undeviating line, like an innerwallwithintheconventwallofbrick;andthesoaringtreeswereveryold, asoldperhapsastheconventitself,whosestonehadthesamesofttintsoffaded redandbrownastheautumnleaveswhichsparselyjewelledthebeeches'silver Atallgirlinthehabitofanovicewalkedthepathalone,movingslowlyacross the stripes of sunlight and shadow which inlaid the gravel with equal bars of blackandreddishgold Therewasasmellofautumnonthewindlessair,bitter yetsweet;thescentofdyingleaves,andfadingflowerslothtoperish,ofroseberriesthathadusurpedtheplaceofroses,ofchrysanthemumschilledbyfrost, ofmoistearthdeprivedofsun,andofthegreenmoss-likefilmovergrowingall thetrunksoftheoldbeechtrees Thenovicewassayinggoodbyetotheconvent garden, and the long straight path under the wall, where every day for many yearsshehadwalked,springandsummer,autumnandwinter;daysofrain,days of sun, days of boisterous wind, days of white feathery snow—all the days throughwhichshehadpassed,onherwayfromchildhoodtowomanhood Best of all, she had loved the garden and her favourite path in spring, when vague hopes likedreamsstirredin herblood,whenitseemedthatshecouldhear the whisperofthesapintheveinsofthetrees,andthecrispstirofthebudsasthey unfolded She wished that she could have been going out of the garden in the brightnessandfragranceofspring Theyoungbeautyoftheworldwouldhave been a good omen for the happiness of her new life The sorrowful incense of Nature indecay castaspellofsadnessoverher,evenoffear,lestafterallshe weredoingawrongthing,makingamistakewhichcouldneverbeamended Thespiritofthepastlaidahanduponherheart Ghostsofsweetdaysgonelong agobeckonedherbacktothelandofvanishedhours Thegardenwasthegarden ofthepast;forhere,withinthehighwallsdrapedinfloweringcreepersandivy oldashistory,past,present,andfuturewereallasone,andhadbeensoformany a tranquil generation of calm-faced, dark-veiled women Suddenly a great homesicknessfelluponthenovicelikeanironweight Shelongedtorushinto thehouse,toflingherselfatReverendMother'sfeet,andcryoutthatshewanted totakebackherdecision,thatshewantedeverythingtobeasithadbeenbefore Butitwastoolatetochange Whatwasdone,wasdone Deliberately,shehadgivenupherhome,andallthekindwomenwhohadmade theplacehomeforher,fromthetimewhenshewasachildeightyearsolduntil now, when she was twenty-four Sixteen years! It was a lifetime Memories of her child-world before convent days were more like dreams than memories of realthingsthathadbefallenher,MaryGrant Andyet,onthisherlastdayinthe convent, recollections of the first were crystal clear, as they never had been in theyearsthatlaybetween Her father had brought her a long way, in a train Something dreadful had happened,whichhadmadehimstoplovingher Shecouldnotguesswhat,for shehaddonenothingwrongsofarassheknew:butafewdaysbefore,hernurse, akindoldwomanofacomfortablefatness,hadputherintoaroomwhereher father was and gently shut the door, leaving the two alone together Mary had gone to him expecting a kiss, for he was always kind, though she did not feel that she knew him well—only a little better, perhaps, than the radiant young motherwhomsheseldomsawformorethanfiveminutesatatime Butinstead of kissing her as usual, he had turned upon her a look of dislike, almost of horror,whichoftencametoherafterward,indreams Takingthelittlegirlbythe shouldernotungently,butverycoldly,andasifhewereinagreathurrytoberid ofher,hepushedratherthanledhertothedoor Openingit,hecalledthenurse, inasharp,displeasedvoice "Idon'twantthechild,"hesaid "Ican'thaveher here Don't bring her to me again without being asked." Then the kind, fat old woman had caught Mary in her arms and carriedherupstairs, athing thathad nothappenedforyears Andinthenurserythegoodcreaturehadcriedoverthe "poor bairn" a good deal, mumbling strange things which Mary could not understand But a few words had lingered in her memory, something about its beingcruelandunjusttovisitthesinsofothersoninnocentbabies Afewdays afterward Mary's father, very thin and strange-looking, with hard lines in his handsomebrownface,tookherwithhimonajourney,afternursehadkissedher many times with streaming tears At last they had got out of the train into a carriage, and driven a long way At evening they had come to a tall, beautiful gateway,whichhadcarvedstoneanimalsonhighpillarsateitherside Thatwas thegateoftheConventofSaintUrsula-of-the-Lake,thegateofMary'shome-tobe:andinabig,bareparlour,withlongwindowsandapolishedoakfloorthat reflected curious white birds and dragons of an escutcheon on the ceiling, ReverendMotherhadreceivedthem ShehadtakenMaryonherlap;andwhen, after much talk about school and years to come, the child's father had gone, shadowy,dark-robedwomenhadglidedsoftlyintotheroom Theyhadcrowded roundthelittlegirl,likechildrenroundanewdoll,pettingandmurmuringover her:andshehadbeengivencakeandmilk,andwonderfulpreservedfruit,such asshehadnevertasted Someofthosedearwomenhadgonesincethen,notasshewasgoing,outinto an unknown, maybe disappointing, world, but to a place where happinesswas certain,accordingtotheirfaith Maryhadnotforgottenoneofthekindfaces— andallthosewhoremainedsheloveddearly;yetshewasleavingthemto-day Alreadyitwastime Shehadwishedtocomeoutintothegardenaloneforthis lastwalk,andtowearthehabitofhernovitiate,thoughshehadvoluntarilygiven uptherighttoitforever Shemustgoinanddressfortheworld,asshehadnot dressedforyearswhichseemedtwicetheirreallength Shemustgoin,andbid them all goodbye—Reverend Mother, and the nuns, and novices, and the schoolgirls,ofwhosenumbershehadoncebeen She stood still, looking toward the far end of the path, her back turned toward thegrayfaceoftheconvent "Goodbye, dear old sundial, that has told so many of my hours," she said "Goodbye,sweetrose-treesthatIplanted,andalltheothersI'velovedsolong Goodbye,dearlaurelbushes,thatknowmythoughts Goodbye,everything." Herarmshungathersides,lostinthefoldsofherveil Slowlytearsfilledher eyes,butdidnotfalluntiladelicatesoundoflight-runningfeetongrassmade her start, and wink the tears away They rolled down her white cheeks in four bright drops, which she hastily dried with the back of her hand; and no more tearsfollowed Whenshewassureofherself,sheturnedandsawagirlrunning toherfromthehouse,apretty,brown-hairedgirlinabluedressthatlookedvery frivolousandworldlyincontrasttoMary'shabit Butthebushesandthesundial, andthefadingflowersthattapestriedtheivyontheoldwall,wereusedtosuch frivolities Generationsofschoolgirls,taughtandguardedbytheSistersofSaint Ursula-of-the-Lake,hadplayedandwhisperedsecretsalongthisgardenpath "Dearest Mary!" exclaimed the girl in blue "I begged them to let me come to youjustforafewminutes—alasttalk Doyoumind?" Maryhadwantedtobealone,butsuddenlyshewasgladthat,afterall,thisgirl waswithher "Youcallme'Mary'!"shesaid "HowstrangeitseemstobeMary again—almostwrong,and—frightening." "But you're not Sister Rose any longer," the girl in blue answered "There's nothingremoteaboutyounow You'remydearoldchum,justasyouusedtobe AndwillyoupleasebegintobefrivolousbycallingmePeter?" Marysmiled,andtworounddimplesshowedthemselvesinthecheeksstillwet withtears Sheandthisgirl,fouryearsyoungerthanherself,hadbeguntolove each other dearly in school days, when Mary Grant was nineteen, and Mary Maxwellfifteen TheyhadgoneonlovingeachotherdearlytilltheelderMary wastwenty-one,andtheyoungerseventeen ThenMollyMaxwell—whonamed herself "Peter Pan" because she hated the thought of growing up—had to go backtoherhomeinAmericaand"comeout,"topleaseherfather,whowasby birth a Scotsman, but who had made his money in New York After three gay seasons she had begged to return for six months to school, and see her friend Mary Grant—Sister Rose—before the final vows were taken Also she had wishedtoseeanotherMary,whohadbeenalmostequallyherfriend("thethree Maries"theyhadalwaysbeencalled,or"theQueen'sMaries");butthethirdof the three Maries had disappeared, and about her going there was a mystery whichReverendMotherdidnotwishtohavebroken "Peter," Sister Rose echoed obediently, as the younger girl clasped her arm, makingherwalkslowlytowardthesundialatthefarendofthepath "It does sound good to hear you call me that again," Molly Maxwell said "You'vebeensostiffanddifferentsinceIcamebackandfoundyouturnedinto SisterRose OftenI'vebeensorryIcame Andnow,whenI'vegotthreemonths stilltostay,you'regoingtoleaveme Ifonlyyoucouldhavewaited,tochange yourmind!" "If I had waited, I couldn't have changed it at all," Sister Rose reminded her "Youknow——" "Yes,Iknow Itwastheeleventhhour Anotherweek,andyouwouldhavetaken yourvows Oh,Idon'tmeanwhatIsaid,dear I'mgladyou'regoing—thankful Youhadn'tthevocation Itwouldhavekilledyou." "No Forheretheymakeithardfornovicesonpurpose,sothattheymayknow theworstthereistoexpect,andbesurethey'restrongenoughinbodyandheart Iwasn'tfit IfearedIwasn't——" "Youweren't—thatis,yourbodyandheartarefittedforadifferentlife You'llbe happy,veryhappy." "Iwonder?"Marysaid,inawhisper "Ofcourseyouwill You'lltellmesowhenwemeetagain,outinmyworldthat will be your world, too I wish I were going with you now, and I could, of course OnlyIhadtobegthepatersohardtoletmecomehere,I'dbeashamed to cable him, that I wanted to get away before the six months were up He wouldn'tunderstandhowdifferenteverythingisbecauseI'mgoingtoloseyou." "Inaway,youwouldhavelostmeif—ifI'dstayed,and—everythinghadbeen asIexpected." "I know They've let you be with me more as a novice than you could be as a professednun Still,you'dhavebeenunderthesameroof Icouldhaveseenyou often ButIamglad I'mnotthinkingofmyself Andwe'llmeetjustassoonas we can, when my time's up here Father's coming back to his dear native Fifeshire to fetch me, and I'll make him take me to you, wherever you are, or elseyou'llvisitme;betterstill Butitseemsalongtimetowait,forIreallydid come back here to be a 'parlour boarder,' a heap more to see you than for any otherreason And,besides,there'sanotherthing OnlyIhardlyknowhowtosay it,orwhetherIdaresayitatall." Sister Rose looked suddenly anxious, as if she were afraid of something that might follow "What is it?" she asked quickly, almost sharply "You must tell me." "Why,it'snothingtotell—exactly It'sonlythis:I'mworried I'mgladyou'renot goingtobeanunallyourlife,dear;delighted—enchanted You'regivenbackto me But—IworrybecauseIcan'thelpfeelingthatI'vegotsomethingtodowith thechangingofyourmindsosuddenly;thatifeveryoushouldregretanything— notthatyouwill,butifyoushould—youmightblameme,hateme,perhaps." "I never shall either, whatever happens," the novice said, earnestly and gravely Shedidnotlookatherfriendasshespoke,thoughtheyweresonearly of the same height as they walked, their arms linked together, that they could gazestraightintooneanother'seyes Instead,shelookedupatthesky,through the groined gray ceiling of tree-branches, as if offering a vow And seeing her uplifted profile with its pure features and clear curve of dark lashes, Peter thoughthowbeautifulshewas,ofabeautyquiteunearthly,andperhapsunsuited
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