Imágenes de páginas




prone in abject admiration, grace, of the most wonderful and of their state I took note fairness I have ever seen, and with some measure of pride. also the most surprising harsh

Not so had Polly Evans's ness of expression. I have all mother been regarded ; not so my life been hearing of my was even Lady Adelaide, the mother's beauty, and have heard Catholic peeress who came to that when the Empress Eubenediction Sunday, re- genie's bust was exposed at the garded, though she had the Dublin Exhibition, the general haughty upper lip and inscrut- cry was that my mother had able gaze of sensational fiction. . been the sculptor's model, so

How to paint her, as she singular and striking was the stood thus valorously free to the resemblance between these two raking sunbeams that showed women of Scottish blood. But out the mild white bloom and then and then only, in one brief rose-leaf pink of her long, full flash, did I seize the insistent visage ? She

her claim of that beauty always abundant fair hair a black lace closed to my hostile glance. bonnet, trimmed with mauve Then and then only was I comflowers and a white aigrette, pelled, by the sheer splendour and the long train of her white of the vision, to own that the alpaca gown lay upon the grass

mother who did not love me was like a queen's robe. I remember the handsomest creature I had my admiration of the thousand ever beheld. little flounces, black-edged, that The other episode connected ran in shimmering lines up to with her visit that has stamped her rounded waist. She was itself upon memory is typical of in half mourning for my grand- her rare method of imparting mother, whose existence I had knowledge to the infant mind. forgotten all about, and brave We were driving in a fly through and becoming, it must be ad- the rose-smelling country, and mitted, were those weeds of it transpired, as we approached mitigated grief.

a railway-station, that we were proached, she turned her fine going to visit Shakespeare's and finished visage, with the grave. “Who is Shakespeare ?” long delicate and cruel nostrils, I flippantly asked, looking at and the thin delicate red lips, my sister, who sat beside my to me, and her cold blue glance, mother. falling upon my anxious and Pif-paf! a blow on the ear distrustful face, turned my heart sent sparks flying before my to stone. I felt as Amy Robsart, eyes, and rolled my hat to the my favourite heroine, must have ground. Two years inhabiting felt when she encountered the a sacred county and not to have gaze of royal Elizabeth. Eliza- heard of the poet's name! a beth, handsome, tall, and stately, child of hers, the most learned with long sloping shoulders and of women, so ignorant and so full bust, not the Elizabeth of unlettered ! Thus was I made history; an Empress Eugenie acquainted with the name of without her feminine charm and Shakespeare, and with stinging

As I ap

cheek and humiliated and stif are kissed and cried over after a fened little heart, is it surpris- week's absence. I am stunned ing that I remember nothing by an unmerited blow when I else of that visit to his tomb? rashly open my lips after a two Indeed it was part of my pride years' separation.

And yet I to look at nothing, to note noth- preserve my belief in maternal ing, but walk about that day love as a blessing that exists in full-eyed sullen silence. for others, born under a more

My mother had not seen me fortunate star, though the for two years.

This was the bounty of nature did not remeasure of maternal tenderness serve a stray beam to brighten she had treasured up for me in the way for that miserable little that interval, and so royally waif I was those long, long meted out to me. Other children years ago.


The most vivid remembrance a reassuring smile, nods, and of my first return to Ireland drawls out cheerily: “ Aisy, is the sharp sensation of ugly now, aisy. Sure an' 'twill be sound conveyed in the flat Dub- all the same in a hundred years.' lin drawl. I have never since When at last your trunks are been able to surmount this un discovered in the disorderly heap, just antipathy to the accent he volunteers, with the same of my native town. The in- suggestion of indifferent indultolerable length of the syllables, gence : “I suppose 'twill be a the exaggerated roundness of cab or a cyar you'll be wanting the vowel sounds, the weight next." By implication you are and roll of the eternal r's—it is made to understand that the all like the garlic of Provence, cab or the cyar is another exmore seizing than captivating. orbitant demand on your part,

And then the squalor, the and that properly speaking you mysterious ugliness of the North should shoulder your trunk yourWall ! The air of affronted self and march off contentedly leisure that greets you on all to your inn or lodging or palace. sides. A filthy porter slouches “If ye loike, I'll lift it on to the over to you, with an indulgent, cab for you,” he adds, goodquizzical look in his kindly eyes. naturedly. “Is it a porther ye'll be want There are travellers whom ing ?” he asks, in suppressed these odd ways of Erin amuse; wonderment at any such un others there are who are exreasonable need on your part. asperated to the verge of inWhen he has sufficiently re- sanity by them. But they covered from the shock, he amply explain the lamentable lounges in among the boxes, condition of the island and the heroically resolved to make a imperturbable good-humour of joke of his martyrdom. He the least troubled and least meets your irritated glance with ambitious of races. The porter's

philosophy resumes the philo- ardour of my satisfaction in sophy of the land : “Aisy, now, seeing them all again, and of aisy. Sure an’ 'twill be all the appearing in their midst as a trasame in a hundred years." velled personage, was damped.

With patience and good “How odd you all talk,” I humour on your side, and much remember remarking at tea, voluble sympathy and informa- and being promptly crushed : tion on that of your driver, you “It's you with your horrid are sure to arrive somewhere, English accent that talks odd.” even from such remote latitudes Still, in spite of this slight as that of the North Wall and skirmish, they were glad enough the Pigeon - house.

You are to see me. The quaint little jerked over two lock - bridges, booby of Kildare, whom they and you thank your stars with had bullied to their liking, had reason that the discoloured and grown into a lean, delicate, and malodorous waters of the Liffey resolute fiend, prepared to meet have not closed over you and every blow by a buffet, every your luggage. The catastrophe injustice by passionate revolt. would find your driver phleg- I no longer needed Mrs Clement's matic and philosophic, with a submissive protection. I had twinkle in his eye above the tasted the glory of independent infamous depths of mire that fight, and henceforth my torsuffocated you, assuring you mentors were entitled to some that when a man is ass enough meed of pity, though justice bids to travel he must take the con me, in recording my iniquities, sequences of his folly. For Erin to remember that their misforand Iberia, moist shamrock and tunes were merited and earned flaunting carnation, meet in with exceeding rigour. their conviction that the sage The first thrill of home-comsits at home and smokes his ing, that inexplicable vibration pipe or twangs his guitar in of memory's chord, which so leisure, while the fool alone early marks the development of courts the perils of foreign high- the creature, and signifies the ways.

sharp division of past and preAs soon as the hall - door sent, ran like a flame through opened, and I stood with my all my body when the noise foot upon the first step of the of Mrs Clement's big bunch familiar stairs, a chorus of of keys, rattling below stairs, young voices shouted my name reached me through the open in glee. “An-gel-a! ” drawing-room door. How flat and strange and in

Clement is downharmonious sounded that first stairs !” I shouted joyously, and greeting of my name in ears instantly the band of blondattuned to accents shriller and headed scamps carried me off more thin! The English Angela in triumph. was quick and clear; but the Into whose hands has that long-drawn Dublin Angela set sombre town-house of my paall my teeth on an edge, and rents passed ? Heaven grant the such was the shock that the children that play there are

66 Mrs

were over

happier than ever I was; but

I always found some if the old store-room, with the strange connection between the big linen-presses, and the long abortive, sickly cowslips and china-press with upper doors of primroses Mrs Clement cultiwire-screen, the long table and vated on her terrace in wooden square mahogany and leather boxes and those magic linesarm-chairs and sofa, gives to

“ From you have I been absent in the the occupants to-day half the

spring, pleasure it always gave me, When proud-pied April, dressed in all they are not to be pitied what

his trim,

Hath put a spirit of youth in everyever their fate.

thing." The wide window looked out upon a hideous little street, but What can it be that poetry in front there was a stone ter- says to children, since they can race, with two huge eagles, neither understand the rhythm,

ere Mrs Clement kept pots nor metre, nor beauty, nor sentiof plants and flowers that, alas! ment of it? And the child who never bloomed, watered she them (as I was then) is susceptible to never so sedulously; and above the charm of poetry that sweeps the terraces, if you ignored the through the infinite, weeps with sordid street, the sunset traced delicious emotion without the all its fairest and rarest effects ghost of an idea why. I was upon the broad arch of heaven but a child of nine, when my that spanned the street opening. sister in response to my prayer, Those Irish skies ! you must with my cheek still stinging go to Italy and Greece to find from that blow along the Warhues as heavenly. How many wick road, opened the fairyland a sorrow unsuspected, that filled of Shakespeare to me.

With a me with such intensity of de- rapture I would I now could spair as only childhood can feel, feel, I thrilled to the glamour has been smoothed by that mys- of the moonlight scene of the terious slip of sky between two “Merchant.” We never went dull rows of houses, against to bed without rehearsing it, which in the liquid summer of each in turn being Jessica or blue dusk the eagles, with all Lorenzo. I only remember one the lovely significance of a ro- other sensation as passionate mantic image, were sketched in and vivid and absorbing, my sculptured stone. I dried my first hearing of the Moonlight eyes to dream of lands where Sonata, also at an age when it eagles flew as common as spar was perfectly impossible that I

I cannot now tell why should understand more than a but I remember well that I mouse or a linnet a particle of grew to associate that distant its beauty or meaning.

Yet glimpse of heaven from the old there they stand out in extrastore-room with the isle of Pros- ordinary relief from a confusion pero and Miranda. And when of childish impressions, two disI learnt the Sonnets—which I tinct moments of inexplicable knew by heart, as well as “The ecstasy, the reveries of Lorenzo Tempest” and “The Merchant and Jessica and the impassioned of Venice" before the holidays utterance of the master's soul in


the divinest of sound played, noise? Go to sleep instantly, possibly not well, by my eldest or I'll come in and whip you all sister's governess in a soft sum round.” mer twilight so long ago.

A sudden scamper of whiteMeanwhile I have left Mrs robed limbs, and in a twinkling Clement, excited and pathetic, four heads are hidden under the holding my thin little visage in sheets. Silence down the corthe cup of her folded palms. ridors, silence throughout the She was just as faded and fair high old house; only the breathand melancholy as ever, and the ing of night, and .four little same young man's head showed heads are again bobbing over in the brooch frame on the un the pillows. changed black silk gown. She “Oh, I say, Angela, we didn't kissed me several times, and tell you, there's a new baby upstroked my hair, and expressed stairs. Susanna ! Did you ever amazement at the change in me. hear of such a name? EveryAnd while she, dear kindly soul, body has pretty names but us. was only thinking of me, there Birdie was so jealous when it was I, volatile little rascal, look- came, because nurse said her ing around me, delighted to see nose would be out of joint, that again the beautiful big red-and- she tried to smash its head with white cups, and smell the spices a poker one day.

She was of the cupboard. Has tea, have caught in time.” bread - and - milk, ever tasted And so there was. Another again as these modest luxuries lamentable little girl born into tasted in those beautiful cups ? this improvident dolorous vale of The very remembrance of them Irish misery. Elsewhere boys brings the water of envy to the are born in plenty. In Ireland, mouth of age.

I forget the —the very wretchedest land on miseries of childhood only to earth for. woman, the one spot recall the pleasure I took in of the globe where no provision that warm and rich pottery, is made for her, and where and the brilliant effect of bowls parents consider themselves as and plates and cups upon the exempt of all duty, of tendermorning and evening damask. ness, of justice in her regard,

And that first night at home, where her lot as daughter, wife, four little girls sleeping together and old maid bears no resemin two large beds, three night- blance to the ideal of civilisadressed forms perched on a single tion, - a dozen girls are born bed, while I, the stranger re

for one boy. The parents moan, turned from abroad, mimicked and being fatalists as well as Mr Parker for their shrieking Catholics, reflect that it is the delight, and held my night will of God, as if they were not dress high up on either side in the least responsible; and to perform the famous curtsey while they assure you that they of Queen Anne. And then have not wherewith to fill an a furious shout outside extra mouth, which is inevitably the landing, and my mother's true, they continue to produce voice

their twelve, fifteen, or twenty “What's the meaning of that infants with alarming and in


« AnteriorContinuar »