« 上一頁繼續 »
“ The brazen jade!” thought Grif- Griffith could not very well understand, fith. “But how divinely beautiful !” it seemed to him so disproportionate. And he became as agitated as she was It softened him, however, and he falcalm -- in appearance. For need I say tered out, “ Ay, father, that is how it all her calmness was put on ? Defensive began. Would to heaven it had stopped armor made for her by her pride and there." her sex.
Francis resumed. “ This false step The voice of Father Francis now led to consequences you never dreamed rose, solid, grave, and too impressive of; for one of your romantic notions to be interrupted.
is, that a priest is an angel. I have • My daughter, and you who are her known you, in former times, try to take husband and my friend, I am here to me for an angel : then would I throw do justice between you both, with God's cold water on your folly by calling help ; and to show you both your lustily for chines of beef and mugs of faults. Catharine Gaunt, you began ale. But I suppose Leonard thought the mischief, by encouraging another himself an angel too; and the upshot man to interfere between you and your was, he fell in love with his neighbor's husband in things secular."
wife." “ But, father, he was my director, my “ And she with him,” groaned Grifpriest.”
fith. “My daughter, do you believe, with “ Not so," said Francis ; "but perthe Protestants, that marriage is a haps she was nearer it than she mere civil contract; or do you holdthinks." with us, that is one of the holy sacra- “ Prove that,” said Mrs. Gaunt, “and ments ?"
I'll fall on my knees to him before Can
you ask me ?” murmured Kate, you.” reproachfully.
Francis smiled, and proceeded. “To “Well, then, those whom God and be sure, from the moment you discovthe whole Church have in holy sacra- ered Leonard was in love with you, ment united, what right hath a single you drew back, and conducted yourself priest to disunite in heart, and make with prudence and propriety. Read the wife false to any part whatever of these letters, sir, and tell me what you that most holy vow? I hear, and not think of them." from you, that Leonard did set you He handed them to Griffith. Grif. against your husband's friends, with- fith's hand trembled visibly as he took drew you from society, and sent him them. abroad alone. In one word, he robbed “Stay,” said Father Francis ; " your your husband of his companion and his better way will be to read the whole friend. The sin was Leonard's ; but correspondence according to the dates. the fault was yours. You were five Begin with this of Mrs. Gaunt's." years older than Leonard, and a wo- Griffith read the letter in an audible man of sense and experience; he but a whisper. boy by comparison. What right had Mrs. Gaunt listened with all her you to surrender your understanding, in a matter of this kind, to a poor silly priest, fresh from his seminary, and as “ Dear FATHER AND FRIEND, manifestly without a grain of common The words you spoke to me to-day adsense as he was full of piety ? "
mit but one meaning; you are jealous This remonstrance produced rather of my husband. a striking effect on both those who “ Then you must be – how can I heard it. Mrs. Gaunt seemed much write it ? — almost in love with me. struck with it. She leaned back in her “So then my poor husband was chair, and put her hand to her brow wiser than I. He saw a rival in you : with a sort of despairing gesture that and he has one.
“I am deeply, deeply shocked. I stay, and, with God's help and the ought to be very angry too; but, think- saints', overcome this unhappy weaking of your solitary condition, and all ness. If I fail, it will indeed be time the good you have done to my soul, my for me to go, and never again see the heart has no place for aught but pity. angelic face of my daughter and my Only, as I am in my senses, and you benefactress.” are not, you must now obey me, as Griffith laid down the letter. He heretofore I have obeyed you. You was somewhat softened by it, and said, must seek another sphere of duty, with- gently, “ I cannot understand it. This out delay.
is not the letter of a thorough bad man “ These seem harsh words from me neither." to you. You will live to see they are “ No," said Father Francis, coldly, kind ones.
“ 't is the letter of a self-deceiver ; and “ Write me one line, and no more, there is no more dangerous man to to say you will be ruled by me in this. himself and others than your self-de
“ God and the saints have you in ceiver. But now let us see whether he their holy keeping. So prays your af- can throw dust in her eyes, as well as fectionate and
his own." And he handed him Kate's “Sorrowful daughter and true friend, reply. “CATHARINE GAUNT.” The first word of it was, “ You de
ceive yourself.” The writer then in“ Poor soul !” said Griffith. “Said sisted, quietly, that he owed it to himI not that women are not wicked, but self, to her, and to her husband, whose weak? Who would think that after happiness he was destroying, to leave this he could get the better of her good the place at her request. resolves, the villain !
“ Either you must go, or 1,” said “Now read his reply,”, said Father she : “and pray let it be you. Also, Francis.
this place is unworthy of your high “Ay,” said Griffith. “ So this is gifts : and I love you, in my way, the his one word of reply, is it? three way I mean to love you when we meet pages closely writ, — the villain, o again — in heaven ; and I labor your the villain !"
advancement to a sphere more worthy “ Read the villain's letter," said of you." Francis, calmly.
The letter was very humble and pa- I wish space permitted me to lay the thetic, -- the reply of a good, though whole correspondence before the readerring man, who owned that in a mo- er ; but I must confine myself to its ment of weakness he had been be- general purport. trayed into a feeling inconsistent with It proceeded in this way: the priest, his holy profession. He begged his humble, eloquent, pathetic ; but gently, correspondent, however, not to judge yet pertinaciously, clinging to the place : him quite so hardly. He reminded her the lady, gentle, wise, and firm, detachof his solitary life, his natural melan- ing with her soft fingers, first one hand, choly, and assured her that all men in then another, of the poor priest's, till at his condition had moments when they last he was driven to the sorry excuse envied those whose bosoms had part- that he had no money to travel with,
“Such a cry of anguish,” said nor place to go to.
was once wrung from a maiden “I can't understand it," said Grifqueen, maugre all her pride. The fith. “ Are these letters all forged, or Queen of Scots hath a son ; and I am are there two Kate Gaunts ? the one but a barren stock.” He went on to that wrote these prudent letters, and say that prayer and vigilance united do the one I caught upon this very priest's much. “Do not despair so soon of arm. Perdition !” me. Flight is not cure : let me rather Mrs. Gaunt started to her feet.
“ Methinks 't is time for me to leave her on that priest's arm, springing the room,” said she, scarlet.
along like a greyhound.” He buried "Gently, my good friends; one thing his head in his hands, and groaned at a time,” said Francis. “Sit thou aloud. down, impetuous. The letters, sir, Francis turned to Mrs. Gaunt, and - what think you of them ?"
said, a little severely, “How do you ac“ I see no harm in them,” said Grif- count for that ?" fith.
“I'll tell you, Father,” said Kate, “No harm! Is that all ? But I say “ because you love me. I do not these are very remarkable letters, sir : speak to you, sir : for you never loved and they show us that a woman may
me." be innocent and unsuspicious, and so “ I could give thee the lie,” said seem foolish, yet may be wise for all Griffith, in a trembling voice ; “but 't is that. In her early communication with not worth while. Know, sir, that withLeonard,
in twenty-four hours after I caught
her with that villain, I lay a-dying for “At Wisdom's gate Suspicion slept ; And thought no ill where no ill seemed.'
her sake ; and lost my wits ; and, when
I came to, they were a-making my But, you see, suspicion being once shroud in the very room where I lay. aroused, wisdom was not to be lulled No matter ; no matter ; I never loved nor blinded. But that is not all: these her.” letters breathe a spirit of Christian “ Alas! poor soul !” sighed Kate. charity; of true, and rare, and exalted “Would I had died ere I brought thee piety. Tender are they, without pas- to that!” And, with this, they both sion; wise, yet not cold ; full of con- began to cry at the same moment. jugal love, and of filial pity for an err- “ Ay, poor fools,” said Father Franing father, whom she leads, for his cis, softly; “neither of ye loved t good, with firm yet dutiful hand. Trust other ; that is plain. So now sit you to my great experience: doubt the there, and let us have your explanachastity of snow rather than hers who tion ; for you must own appearances could write these pure and exquisite are strong against you." lines. My good friend, you heard me Mrs. Gaunt drew her stool to Franrebuke and sneer at this poor lady for cis's knee ; and addressing herself to being too innocent and unsuspicious of him alone, explained as follows : man's frailty : now hear me own to you .“I saw Father Leonard was giving that I could no more have written these way, and only wanted one good push, angelic letters than a barn-door fowl after a manner. Well, you know I could soar to the mansions of the saints had got him, by my friends, a good in heaven.”
place in Ireland : and I had money by This unexpected tribute took Mrs. me for his journey; so, when my husGaunt's heart by storm ; she threw her band talked of going to the fair, I arms round Father Francis's neck, and thought, O, if I could but get this wept upon his shoulder.
settled to his mind before he comes " Ah!” she sobbed, “ you are the on- back!! So I wrote a line to Leonard. ly one left that loves me.”
You can read it if you like. 'T is dated She could not understand justice the 30th of September, I suppose." praising her: it must be love.
“I will,” said Francis, and read this “Ay,” said Griffith, in a broken out: voice, “ she writes like an angel: she speaks like an angel : she looks like an “ DEAR Father AND FRIEND, angel. My heart says she is an angel. You have fought the good fight, and But my eyes have shown me she is conquered. Now, therefore, I will see naught. I left her, unable to walk, by you once more, and thank you for my her way of it; I came back and found husband (he is so unhappy), and put the money for your journey into your Griffith, pale as ashes, had his hand hand myself
, - your journey to Ireland. on his brow, and his eyes were fixed You are the Duke of Leinster's chape with horror and remorse. lain ; for I have accepted that place for “Something tells me she has spoken you. Let me see you to-morrow in the the truth,” he said, in
the truth," he said, in a quavering Grove, for a few minutes, at high noon. voice. Then, with concentrated horGod bless you.
ror, “ But if so - O God, what have I CATHARINE GAUNT." done ? - What shall I do?"
Mrs. Gaunt extended her arms to“Well, father,” said Mrs. Gaunt, “'t wards him across the priest. is true that I could only walk two or “Why, fall at thy wife's knees and three times across the room. But, ask her to forgive thee." alack, you know what women are : ex- Griffith obeyed: he fell on his citement gives us strength. With knees, and Mrs. Gaunt leaned her head thinking that our unhappiness was at on Francis's shoulder, and gave her an end, — that, when he should come hand across him to her remorse-strickback from the fair, I should fling my en husband. arm round his neck, and tell him I had Neither spoke, nor desired to speak; removed the cause of his misery, and and even Father Francis sat silent, and so of mine, - I seemed to have wings; enjoyed that sweet glow which someand I did walk with Leonard, and times blesses the peacemaker, even in talked with rapture of the good he was this world of wrangles and jars. to do in Ireland, and how he was to be But the good soul had ridden hard, a mitred abbot one day (for he is a and the neglected meats emitted sagreat man), and poor little me be proud vory odors; and by and by he said dryof him ; and how we were all to be hap- ly, “I wonder whether that fat pullet py together in heaven, where is no tastes as well as it smells : can you tell marrying nor giving in marriage. This me, Squire ?"
our discourse ; and I was just “O, inhospitable wretch that I am!” putting the purse into his hands, and said Mrs. Gaunt: “I thought but of bidding him God-speed, when he for my own heart.” wbom I fought against my woman's " And forgot the stomach of your unnature, and took this trying task upon spiritual father. But, my dear, you are me — broke in upon us, with the face pale, you tremble.” of a fiend ; trampled on the poor, good “ 'T is nothing, sir: I shall soon be priest, that deserved veneration and better. Sit you down and sup: I will consolation from him, of all men ; and return anon." raised his hand to me; and was not She retired, not to make a fuss; but man enough to kill me after all ; but her heart palpitated violently, and she called me ask him what he called had to sit down on the stairs.
see if he dares to say it again Ryder, who was prowling about, before you ; and then ran away, like found her there, and fetched her hartsa coward as he is, from the lady he horn. had defiled with his rude tongue, and Mrs. Gaunt got better ; but felt so the heart he had broken. Forgive languid, and also hysterical, that she him ? that I never will, - never, retired to her own room for the night, never."
attended by the faithful Ryder, to “Who asked you to forgive him ? " whom she confided that a reconciliation said the shrewd priest.' “Your own had taken place, and, to celebrate it, heart. Come, look at him."
gave her a dress she had only worn a “Not I,” said she, irresolutely. year. This does not sound queenly to Then, still more feebly : “ He is you ladies ; but know that a week's naught to me.” And so stole a look wear tells far more on the flimsy trash at him.
you wear now-a-days, than a year did
on the glorious silks of Lyons Mrs. Griffith tossed and turned in his bed, Gaunt put on; thick as broadcloth, and spent a stormy night. His mind and embroidered so cunningly by the was in a confused whirl, and his heart loom, that it would pass for rarest distracted. The wife he had loved so needle-work. Besides, in those days, tenderly proved to be the very reverse silk was silk.
of all he had lately thought her! She As Ryder left her, she asked, “Where was pure as snow, and had always loved is master to lie to-night ?”
him; loved him now, and only wanted Mrs. Gaunt was not pleased at this a good excuse to take him to her arms question being put to her. She would again. But Mercy Vint !- his wise, have preferred to leave that to Grif- his benefactress! a woman as chaste fith. And, as she was a singular as Kate, as strict in life and morals, – mixture of frankness and finesse, I be- what was to become of her? How lieve she had retired to her own room could he tell her she was not his wife? partly to test Griffith's heart. If he how reveal to her her own calamity, was as sincere as she was, he would and his treason ? And, on the other not be content with a public reconcilia- hand, desert her without a word ! and tion.
leave her hoping, fearing, pining, all But the question being put to her her life! Affection, humanity, gratiplump, and by one of her own sex, she tude, alike forbade it. colored faintly, and said, “Why, is He came down in the morning, pale there not a bed in his room ? " for him, and worn with the inward “O yes, madam.”
struggle. “ Then see it be well aired. Put Naturally there was a restraint bedown all the things before the fire ; and tween him and Mrs. Gaunt; and only then tell me : I 'll come and see. The short sentences passed between them. feather-bed, mind, as well as the sheets He saw the peacemaker off, and and blankets."
then wandered all over the premises, Ryder executed all this with zeal. and the past came nearer, and the presShe did more ; though Griffith and ent seemed to retire into the backFrancis sat up very late, she sat up ground. too; and, on the gentlemen leaving the He wandered about like one in a supper-room, she met them both, with dream; and was so self-absorbed, that bed-candles, in a delightful cap, and he did not see Mrs. Gaunt coming toundertook, with cordial smiles, to show wards him, with observant eyes. them both their chambers.
She met him full; he started like a “Tread softly on the landing, an if it guilty thing. please you, gentlemen. My mistress “Are you afraid of me ? ” said she, hath been unwell ; but she is in a fine sweetly. sleep now, by the blessing, and I would ** No, my dear, not exactly ; and yet not have her disturbed.”
I am: afraid, or ashamed, or both." Good, faithful, single-hearted Ryder! “You need not. I said I forgive you ;
Father Francis went to bed thought and you know I am not one that does ful. There was something about Grif- things by halves.” fith he did not like : the man every “ You are an angel !” said he, warmnow and then broke out into boisterous ly: “but” (suddenly relapsing into deraptures, and presently relapsed into spondency) “ we shall never be happy moody thoughtfulness. Francis almost together again.” feared that his cure was only temporary. She sighed. “Say not so. Time
In the morning, before he left, he and sweet recollections may heal even drew Mrs. Gaunt aside, and told her this wound by degrees.” his misgivings. She replied that she “God grant it,” said he, despairthought she knew what was amiss, and ingly. would soon set that right.
“And, though we can't be lovers