Diana tempest

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Ngày đăng: 15/03/2020, 11:04

DianaTempest byMaryCholmondeley Chapter1 ‘Lapiredesmesalliancesestcelleducoeur.’ ColonelTempestandhisminiatureten-year-oldreplicaofhimselfhadmade themselvesascomfortableascircumstanceswouldpermitinoppositecornersof thesmokingcarriage ItwasachillymorninginApril,andtheboyhadwrapped himselfinhistravellingrug,andturneduphislittlecollar,anddrawnhissoft littletravellingcapoverhiseyesinexact,thoughunconscious,imitationofhis father ColonelTempestlookedathimnowandthenwithpaternalcomplacency Itiscertainlyasatisfactiontoseeourselvesrepeatedinourchildren Wefeelthat thetypewillnotbelost Eachneweditionofourselveslessensanaturalfearlest aworkofvalueandimportanceshouldlapseoutofprint ColonelTempestatfortywasstillveryhandsome,andmust,asayoungman, havepossessedgreatbeautybeforethecharacterhadhadtimetoassertitselfin theface—beforeselfishnesshadlearnedtolookoutofthecleargrayeyes,anda weakself-indulgenceandirresolutionhadloosenedthewell-cutlips ColonelTempest,asarule,tooklifeveryeasily Ifhehadfitsofuncontrolled passionnowandthen,theywerequicklyover Ifhisfeelingsweretouched,that wasquicklyovertoo Buttodayhisfacewasclouded Hehadtriedtheusual antidotesforanimpendingattackofwhathewouldhavecalled‘theblues,’by whichhemeantanyspeciesofreflectioncalculatedtogivehimthatpassing annoyancewhichwasthedeepestformofemotionofwhichhewascapable But PunchandtheSportingTimes,andeventhecomicFrenchpaperwhichArchie mightnotlookat,werepowerlesstodistracthimto-day Atlasthetossedthe latteroutofthewindowtocorruptthemoralsoftrespassersontheline,and,asit was,afterall,lesstroubletoyieldthantoresistsettledhimselfinhiscorner,and gavewaytoaseriesofgloomyandanxiousreflections Hewasbentonamissionofimportancetohisoldhome,toseehisbrother,who wasdying Hismindalwaysrecoiledinstinctivelyfromthethoughtofdeath,and turnedquicklytosomethingelse Itwasfourteenyearssincehehadbeenat Overleigh,fourteenyearssincethateventhadtakenplacewhichhadlefta deadlyenmityofsilenceandestrangementbetweenhisbrotherandhimselfever since Andithadallbeenaboutawoman ItseemedextraordinarytoColonel Tempest,ashelookedback,thataquarrelwhichhadledtosuchserious consequences—whichhad,asheremembered,spoilthisownlife—shouldhave comefromsoslightacause Itwaslikelosingthesightofaneyebecauseafly hadcommittedtrespassinit Aman’smentalrankmaygenerallybedetermined byhisestimateofwoman Ifhestandslowheconsidersher—Heavenhelpher! —suchanoneashimself Ifheclimbshighhetakeshisidealofheralongwith him,and,tokeepitsafe,placesitabovehimself ColonelTempestpursuedthereflectionssuggestedbyanuntaxedintellectof averagecalibrewhichhebelievedtobeprofound Ameregirl!Howmenthrew upeverythingforwomen!Whatfoolsmenwerewhentheywereyoung!After all,whenhecametothinkofit,therehadbeensomeexcuseforhim (There generallywas.)Howbeautifulshehadbeenwithherpaleexquisiteface,andher innocenteyes,andacertainshydignityandprideofbearingpeculiartoherself! Yes,anyothermanwouldhavedonethesameinhisplace Thelatterargument hadhadgreatweightwithColonelTempestthroughlife Hecouldnothelpitif shewereengagedtohisbrother Itwasasmuchherfaultashisowniftheyfell inlovewitheachother Shewasseventeenandhewasseven-and-twenty,butit isalwaysthewomanwho‘hasthegreatersin.’ Heremembered,withsomethinglikecomplacency,theviolentlove-makingof thefortnightthatfollowed,hershyadorationofherbeautifuleagerlover Then camethescruples,theflight,thewhitecottagebytheThames,themarriageat thelocalregistrar’soffice Whatafood openeditwouldraiseawhirlwind ‘AndArchie,’saidColonelTempestquerulously—‘Ioughttohaveheardfrom himtoo IfJohntoldhimthesamedaythathewrotetome,weoughttohave heardfromArchiethismorning IshouldhaveimaginedthatthoughArchiedid notgivehisfatherathoughtwhenhewaspoor,hemighthavethoughthim worthyofalittleconsiderationnow.’ ‘Ifthatisthemotiveyouwouldhavegivenhimifhehadwritten,itisjustas wellhehasnot,’saidDi;butshewonderedathissilencenevertheless Butshedidnotwonderlong Sheleftherfatherbusilywritingtoanimaginarylawyer,forhehadneitherthe namenoraddressofJohn’s,andonthelandingmetaservantbringingatelegram toherroom Shetookitupstairs,andthoughitwasaddressedtoherfather, openedit Shehadnoapprehensionofevil Theoldareafraidoftelegrams,but theyounghavemadethemcommon,andhavewornouttheirprestige ThetelegramwasfromJohn,merelystatingthatArchiehadbeentakenseriously ill Di’sheartgavealeapofthankfulnessthatherfatherhadbeensparedthisfurther shock ButArchie?Seriouslyill ShewasindignantatJohn’svaguestatement Whatdidseriouslyillmean?Whycouldnothesaywhatwasthematter?And howcouldshekeepthefactofhisillnessfromherfather?Oughtshetogoat oncetoArchie?Seriouslyill Howlikeamantosendatelegramofthatkind! ShewouldtelegraphatoncetoJohnforparticulars,andgoorstayaccordingas thedoctorthoughtshecouldorcouldnotsafelyleaveherfather Diputonher walkingthings,andranouttothepost-officeroundthecorner,whereshe despatchedaperemptorytelegramtoJohn;andthen,seeingtherewasnoone elsetoadviseher,hurriedtothedoctor’shousecloseathand Forawonderhe wasin Foragreaterstill,hislastpatientwalkedoutasshewalkedin The doctor,withthequicknessofhiskind,sawthedifficulty,andcaughtuphishatto accompanyher ‘Youshallgotoyourbrotherifyoucan,’wastheonlystatementtowhichhe wouldcommithimselfduringthetwominutes’walkintherain—thetwo minuteswhichsealedColonelTempest’sfate Nooneknewexactlyhowithappened Perhapsthehallporterhadgonetohis dinner,andthelittleboywhotookhisplaceforhalfanhourbroughtupthe telegramtothepersontowhomitwasaddressed Nooneknewafterwardshow ithadhappened Itdidhappen,thatwasall ColonelTempesthadthepinkpaperinhishandasthedoctorandDienteredthe room Hewaslaughingsoftlytohimself ‘Archieisdead,’hesaid,chuckling ‘ThatiswhatJohnwouldlikemetobelieve ButIknowbetter ItisJohnthatisdead ItisJohnwhohadtobesnuffedout Swaynesaidso,andheknew AndJohnsaysit’sArchie,andhewillwrite Ha, ha!Weknowbetter,eh,doctor?eh,Di?John’sdead Eight-and-twentyyearsold hewas;buthe’sdeadatlast Hewon’twriteanymore Hewon’tspendmy moneyanymore Hewon’tkeepmeoutanymore.’ ColonelTempestdroppedonhisknees Theonlyprayerheknewrosetohislips: ‘Forwhatwearegoingtoreceive,theLordmakeustrulythankful.’ Foranawfuldayandnightthefierceflameofdeliriumleapedandfell,andever leapedagain WithsetfaceDistoodhourafterhourintheblastofthefurnace, tilldoctorandnursemarvelledathercourageandendurance OntheeveningoftheseconddayJohncame HehadwrittentotellColonel Tempestofhiscoming,buttheletterhadnotbeenopened Thedoctor,thinkinghewasDi’sbrother,broughthimintothesickroom,too crowdedwithfearfulimagesforhispresencetobenoticedbythesickman ‘Johnisdead,’thehigh-pitchedterriblevoicewassaying ‘Blunderingfools! Firsttherewastherailway,butGoodwinsavedhim;damnhisofficiousness! Andthentherewasthefire Theynearlyhadhimthattime Howgrayhelooked! Burnttoashes Bandageduptotheeyes Buthegotbetter Andthenthe carnival Theymuffeditagain Oh,Lord,howslowtheywere!But’—thevoice sanktoafrightfulwhisper—‘theygothiminParis Idon’tknowhowtheydidit —it’sasecret;buttheytrappedhimatlast.’ SuddenlytheglassyeyeslookedwithhorrifiedmomentaryrecognitionatJohn ‘Risenfromthedead,’continuedthevoice ‘Iknewhewouldgetupagain I alwayssaidhewould;andhehas Youcan’tkillJohn There’snogravedeep enoughtoholdhim Lookathimwithhisheadoutnow,andtheearthuponhis hair Weoughttohaveputamonumentoverhimtokeephimdown He’sgetting up ItellyouIdidnotdoit Thegrave’snotbigenough Swaynedugitforhim whenhewasalittleboy—alittleboyatschool.’ DiturnedhercolourlessfacetoJohn,andsmiledathim,asoneontherack mightsmileatafriendtoshowthattheanguishisnotunbearable Shefeltno surpriseatseeinghim Shewaspastsurprise Shehadforgottenthatshehadever doubtedhislove Insilencehetookthehandsheheldouttowardshim,andkeptitinastrong gentleclaspthatwasmorecomfortthananywords Hourafterhourtheywatchedandministeredtogether,andhourbyhourthelamp oflifeflaredgrimlylowandlower Andafterhehadtoldeverything— everything,everythingthathehadconcealedinlife—afterJohnandDihad heard,inawedcompassionandforgiveness,everywordoftheguiltysecret whichhehadkeptunderlockandkeysomanyyears,atlastthetideof remembranceebbedawayandlifewithit Didheknowtheminthequiethoursthatfollowed?Didherecognisethem? Theybentoverhim Theyspoketohimgently,tenderly Didheunderstand? Theyneverknew Andso,inthegrayofanAprilmorning,poorColonelTempest,unconsciousof death,whichhadhadsomanyterrorsforhiminlife,driftedtranquillyuponits tidefromthehumancompassionthatwatchedbyhimhere,totheInfinitePity beyond Conclusion ‘Wheretherearetwaseekingtherewillbeafinding’ AfterJohnhadtakenDibacktoLondonhereturnedtoBrighton,andfrom thencetoOverleigh,toarrangeforthedoublefuneral Hehadnotremembered tomentionthathewascoming,andintheduskofawetafternoonhewalkedup bywayofthewood,andlethimselfinatthelittleposterninthewall Hehadnot thoughtheshouldreturntoOverleighagain,yetherehewasoncemoreinthe dimgallery,withitsfaintscentofpot-pourri,hishandashepassedstirringit fromlonghabit Thepicturescranedthroughthetwilighttolookathim Hestolequietlyupstairsandalongthegarretgallery Thenurserydoorwasopen AglowoflightfellonMitty’sfigure Whatwasshedoing? Johnstoppedshortandlookedather,and,withasuddenrecollectionasofsome previousexistence,understood Mittywaspacking Twolargewhitegroceryboxeswerealreadyclosedand cordedinonecorner Johnsaw‘BestCubes’printedonthem,anditdawned uponhisslowmasculineconsciousnessthatthoseboxeswerepartofMitty’s luggage Mittywasstandinginthemiddleoftheroom,holdingatarm’slengthalittlered flanneldressing-gown,whichknockedtwentyyearsoffJohn’sageashelooked ‘Ishalltakeit,’shesaidhalfaloud ‘It’sworeasthinasthinbehind;thatandthe opensocksasI’vemendedandbetter-be-mended;’andshethrustthemboth hastily,asifforfearsheshouldrepent,intoatinbox,outofwhichthebattered headofJohn’soldhorseprotruded Iftherewasonethingcertaininthisworld,itwasthattheNoah’sarkwouldnot goinunlessthehorsecameout Mittytriedmanyways,andwascontemplating themwitharmsakimbowhenJohncamein Sheshowednosurpriseatseeinghim,andwithastonishmentJohnrealizedthat itwasonlysixdayssincehehadleftOverleigh Itwasactuallynotyetaweek sincethatfar-distantafternoon,separatedfromthepresentbysuchachasm, whenhehadlainonhisfaceintheheather,andthedeeppassionsofyouthhad renthimandlethimgo HereatOverleightimestopped Hecamebacktwenty yearsolder,andthealmanaconhiswriting-tablemarkedsixdays Johnmadethenecessaryarrangementsforthefuneraltotakeplaceatmidnight, accordingtotheTempestcustom,whichheknewColonelTempestwouldhave beenthelasttowaive HewrotetotellDiwhathehadsettled,togetherwiththe hourandthedate Hedarednotadvisehernottobepresent,butheremembered thevastconcourseofpeoplewhohadassembledathisfather’sfuneraltoseethe torchlightprocession,andhehopedshewouldnotcome ButMrs Courtenaywrotebackthathergranddaughterwasfixedinher determinationtobepresent,thatshehadreluctantlyconsentedtoit,andwould accompanyherherself SheaddedinapostscriptthatnodoubtJohnwould arrangeforthemtostaythenightatOverleigh,andtheyshouldreturntoLondon thenextday Thenightofthefuneralwasexceedingdarkandstill;sostillthatmany, watchingfromadistanceonMoat-hill,heardthevoicesaying,‘Iamthe resurrectionandthelife,saiththeLord:hethatbelievethinMe,thoughhewere dead,yetshallhelive.’ Andagain— ‘Webroughtnothingintothisworld,anditiscertainwecancarrynothingout.’ Thenightwassocalmthatthetorchesburneduprightandunwavering,castinga steadfastlightonchurchandgraveyardandtiltedtombstones,onthecrowded darknessoutside,andonthewornfacesofamanandwomanwhostoodtogether betweentwoopengraves JohnandDiexchangednowordastheydrovehome Therewerelightsandafire inthemusic-room,andshewentinthere,andbeganabsentlytotakeoffherhat andlongcrepeveil Mrs Courtenayhadgonetobed JohnfollowedDiwithacandleinhishand Heofferedittoher,butshedidnot takeit ‘Itisgoodbyeaswellasgood-night,’hesaid,holdingouthishand ‘Imustleave hereveryearlytomorrow.’ Ditooknonoticeofhisoutstretchedhand Shewaslookingintothefire ‘Youmustrest,’hesaidgently,tryingtorecallhertoherself Aswifttremorpassedoverherface ‘Youareright,’shesaid,inalowvoice ‘Iwillrest—whenIhavehadfive minutes’talkwithyou.’ Johnshutthedoor,andcamebacktothefireside Hebelievedheknewwhatwas coming,andhisfacehardened ItwasbittertohimthatDithoughtitworthwhile tospeaktohimonthesubject Sheoughttohaveknownhimbetter Shefacedhimwithdifficulty,butwithouthesitation Theylookedeachotherin theeyes ‘YouaregoingtoLondonearlytoseeyourlawyer,’shesaid,‘onthesubjectthat youwrotetofatherabout.’ ‘Iam.’ ‘ThatiswhyImustspeaktoyoutonight Idarenotwait.’Hereyesfellbefore thesternintentnessofhis Hervoicefalteredamoment,andthenwenton:‘John, don’tgo Itisnotnecessary Don’tgrievemebyleavingOverleigh,or— changingyourname.’ AgreatbitternesswelledupinJohn’sheartagainstthewomanheloved—the bitternesswhichsoonerorlaterfewmenescape,ofrealizinghowfeebleisa woman’sperceptionofwhatishonourableordishonourableinaman ‘Ah,Di,’hesaid,‘youareverygenerous Butdonotletusspeakofitagain Suchathingcouldnotbe.’ Hetookherhand,butshewithdrewitinstantly ‘John,’shesaidwithdignity,‘youmisunderstandme Itwouldbeapoorkindof generosityinmetoofferwhatitisimpossibleforyoutoaccept Youwoundme bythinkingIcoulddosuchathing Ionlymeanttoaskyoutokeepyourpresent nameandhomeforalittlewhile,until—theybothwillbecomeyoursagainby right—thedaywhen—youmarryme.’ AbeautifulcolourhadmountedtoDi’sface John’sbecamewhiteasdeath ‘Doyouloveme?’hesaidhoarsely,shakingfromheadtofoot ‘Yes,’shereplied,tremblingasmuchashe Heheldherinhisarms Thesteadfastheartthatunderstoodandlovedhimbeat againsthisown ‘Di!’hestammered—‘Di!’ Andtheyweptandclungtogetherliketwochildren Postscript Mitty’spackingwasneverfinished—why,shedidnotunderstand ButJohn, whohelpedhertorearrangeherthings,understood,andthatwasenoughforher Formanyspringsandspringcleaningsthehorse-chestnutbudspeeredinatthe nurserywindowsandfoundherstillwithin IthinkthewishesofMitty’sheart allcametopass,andthatsheloved‘MissDinah’;but,nevertheless,Ibelieve that,totheendoflife,sheneverquiteceasedtoregretthelittlekitchenthatJohn hadspokenof,whereshewouldhavemade‘rockbuns’forherlamb,andwaited onhim‘handandfoot.’
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