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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Sheila in London
By William Black (1841–1898)
 
From ‘A Princess of Thule’

SHE asked if they were lords who owned those beautiful houses built up on the hill, and half-smothered among lilacs and ash-trees and rowan-trees and ivy.  1
  “My darling,” Lavender had said to her, “if your papa were to come and live here, he could buy half a dozen of these cottages, gardens and all. They are mostly the property of well-to-do shopkeepers. If this little place takes your fancy, what will you say when you go South—when you see Wimbledon and Richmond and Kew, with their grand old commons and trees? Why, you could hide Oban in a corner of Richmond Park!”  2
  “And my papa has seen all these places?”  3
  “Yes. Don’t you think it strange he should have seen them all, and known he could live in any of them, and then gone away back to Borva?”  4
  “But what would the poor people have done if he had never gone back?”  5
  “Oh, some one else would have taken his place.”  6
  “And then, if he were living here, or in London, he might have got tired, and he might have wished to go back to the Lewis and see all the people he knew; and then he would come among them like a stranger, and have no house to go to.”  7
  Then Lavender said, quite gently:—  8
  “Do you think, Sheila, you will ever tire of living in the South?”  9
  The girl looked up quickly, and said with a sort of surprised questioning in her eyes:—  10
  “No, not with you. But then we shall often go to the Lewis?”  11
  “Oh, yes,” her husband said, “as often as we can conveniently. But it will take some time at first, you know, before you get to know all my friends, who are to be your friends, and before you get properly fitted with your social circle. That will take you a long time, Sheila, and you may have many annoyances or embarrassments to encounter; but you won’t be very much afraid, my girl?”  12
  Sheila merely looked up to him; there was no fear in the frank, brave eyes.  13
  The first large town she saw struck a cold chill to her heart. On a wet and dismal afternoon they sailed into Greenock. A heavy smoke hung about the black building-yards and the dirty quays; the narrow and squalid streets were filled with mud, and only the poorer sections of the population waded through the mire or hung disconsolately about the corners of the thoroughfares. A gloomier picture could not well be conceived; and Sheila, chilled with the long and wet sail and bewildered by the noise and bustle of the harbor, was driven to the hotel with a sore heart and a downcast face.  14
  “This is not like London, Frank?” she said, pretty nearly ready to cry with disappointment.  15
  “This? No. Well, it is like a part of London, certainly, but not the part you will live in.”  16
  “But how can we live in the one place without passing the other and being made miserable by it? There was no part of Oban like this.”  17
  “Why, you will live miles away from the docks and quays of London. You might live for a lifetime in London without ever knowing it had a harbor. Don’t you be afraid, Sheila. You will live in a district where there are far finer houses than any you saw in Oban, and far finer trees; and within a few minutes’ walk you will find great gardens and parks, with lakes in them and wild fowls, and you will be able to teach the boys about how to set the helm and the sails when they are launching their small boats.”  18
  “I should like that,” said Sheila, her face brightening.  19
  “Perhaps you would like a boat yourself?”  20
  “Yes,” she said, frankly. “If there were not many people there, we might go out sometimes in the evening—”  21
  Her husband laughed and took her hand: “You don’t understand, Sheila. The boats the boys have are little things a foot or two long—like the one in your papa’s bedroom in Borva. But many of the boys would be greatly obliged to you if you would teach them how to manage the sails properly, for sometimes dreadful shipwrecks occur.”  22
  “You must bring them to our house. I am very fond of little boys, when they begin to forget to be shy, and let you become acquainted with them.”  23
  “Well,” said Lavender, “I don’t know many of the boys who sail boats in the Serpentine: you will have to make their acquaintance yourself. But I know one boy whom I must bring to the house. He is a German-Jew boy, who is going to be another Mendelssohn, his friends say. He is a pretty boy, with ruddy-brown hair, big black eyes, and a fine forehead; and he really sings and plays delightfully. But you know, Sheila, you must not treat him as a boy, for he is over fourteen, I should think; and if you were to kiss him—”  24
  “He might be angry,” said Sheila, with perfect simplicity.  25
  “I might,” said Lavender; and then, noticing that she seemed a little surprised, he merely patted her head and bade her go and get ready for dinner.  26
  Then came the great climax of Sheila’s southward journey—her arrival in London. She was all anxiety to see her future home; and as luck would have it, there was a fair spring morning shining over the city. For a couple of hours before, she had sat and looked out of the carriage-window as the train whirled rapidly through the scarcely awakened country, and she had seen the soft and beautiful landscapes of the South lit up by the early sunlight. How the bright little villages shone, with here and there a gilt weathercock glittering on the spire of some small gray church, while as yet in many valleys a pale gray mist lay along the bed of the level streams or clung to the dense woods on the upland heights! Which was the more beautiful—the sharp, clear picture, with its brilliant colors and its awakening life, or the more mystic landscape over which was still drawn the tender veil of the morning haze? She could not tell. She only knew that England, as she then saw it, seemed a great country that was very beautiful, that had few inhabitants, and that was still and sleepy and bathed in sunshine. How happy must the people be who lived in those quiet green valleys by the side of slow and smooth rivers, and amid great woods and avenues of stately trees, the like of which she had not imagined even in her dreams!  27
  But from the moment that they got out at Euston Square she seemed a trifle bewildered, and could only do implicitly as her husband bade her—clinging to his hand, for the most part, as if to make sure of guidance. She did indeed glance somewhat nervously at the hansom into which Lavender put her, apparently asking how such a tall and narrow two-wheeled vehicle could be prevented toppling over. But when he, having sent on all their luggage by a respectable old four-wheeler, got into the hansom beside her, and put his hand inside her arm, and bade her be of good cheer that she should have such a pleasant morning to welcome her to London, she said “Yes,” mechanically, and only looked out in a wistful fashion at the great houses and trees of Euston Square, the mighty and roaring stream of omnibuses, the droves of strangers, mostly clad in black, as if they were going to church, and the pale blue smoke that seemed to mix with the sunshine and make it cold and distant.  28
  They were in no hurry, these two, on that still morning; and so, to impress Sheila all at once with a sense of the greatness and grandeur of London, he made the cabman cut down by Park Crescent and Portland Place to Regent Circus. Then they went along Oxford Street; and there were crowded omnibuses taking young men into the city, while all the pavements were busy with hurrying passers-by. What multitudes of unknown faces, unknown to her and unknown to each other! These people did not speak: they only hurried on, each intent upon his own affairs, caring nothing, apparently, for the din around them, and looking so strange and sad in their black clothes in the pale and misty sunlight.  29
  “You are in a trance, Sheila,” he said.  30
  She did not answer. Surely she had wandered into some magical city, for now the houses on one side of the way suddenly ceased, and she saw before her a great and undulating extent of green, with a border of beautiful flowers, and with groups of trees that met the sky all along the southern horizon. Did the green and beautiful country she had seen, shoot in thus into the heart of the town, or was there another city far away on the other side of the trees? The place was almost as deserted as those still valleys she had passed by in the morning. Here in the street there was the roar of a passing crowd; but there was a long and almost deserted stretch of park, with winding roads and umbrageous trees, on which the wan sunlight fell from between loose masses of half-golden cloud.  31
  Then they passed Kensington Gardens, and there were more people walking down the broad highways between the elms.  32
  “You are getting nearly home now, Sheila,” he said. “And you will be able to come and walk in these avenues whenever you please.”  33
  Was this, then, her home? this section of a barrack-row of dwellings, all alike in steps, pillars, doors, and windows? When she got inside, the servant who had opened the door bobbed a courtesy to her: should she shake hands with her and say. “And are you ferry well?” But at this moment Lavender came running up the steps, playfully hurried her into the house and up the stairs, and led her into her own drawing-room. “Well, darling, what do you think of your home, now that you see it?”  34
  Sheila looked around timidly. It was not a big room, but it was a palace in height and grandeur and color compared with that little museum in Borva in which Sheila’s piano stood. It was all so strange and beautiful—the split pomegranates and quaint leaves on the upper part of the walls, and underneath a dull slate-color where the pictures hung; the curious painting on the frames of the mirrors; the brilliant curtains, with their stiff and formal patterns. It was not very much like a home as yet; it was more like a picture that had been carefully planned and executed; but she knew how he had thought of pleasing her in choosing these things, and without saying a word she took his hand and kissed it. And then she went to one of the three tall French windows and looked out on the square. There, between the trees, was a space of beautiful soft green; and some children dressed in bright dresses, and attended by a governess in sober black, had just begun to play croquet. An elderly lady with a small white dog was walking along one of the graveled paths. An old man was pruning some bushes.  35
  “It is very still and quiet here,” said Sheila. “I was afraid we should have to live in that terrible noise always.”  36
  “I hope you won’t find it dull, my darling,” he said.  37
  “Dull, when you are here?”  38
  “But I cannot always be here, you know.”  39
  She looked up.  40
  “You see, a man is so much in the way if he is dawdling about a house all day long. You would begin to regard me as a nuisance, Sheila, and would be for sending me to play croquet with those young Carruthers, merely that you might get the rooms dusted. Besides, you know I couldn’t work here: I must have a studio of some sort—in the neighborhood, of course. And then you will give me your orders in the morning as to when I am to come round for luncheon or dinner.”  41
  “And you will be alone all day at your work?”  42
  “Yes.”  43
  “Then I will come and sit with you, my poor boy,” she said.  44
  “Much work I should do in that case!” he said. “But we’ll see. In the mean time go up-stairs and get your things off; that young person below has breakfast ready, I dare say.”  45
  “But you have not shown me yet where Mr. Ingram lives,” said Sheila before she went to the door.  46
  “Oh, that is miles away. You have only seen a little bit of London yet. Ingram lives about as far away from here as the distance you have just come, but in another direction.”  47
  “It is like a world made of houses,” said Sheila, “and all filled with strangers. But you will take me to see Mr. Ingram?”  48
  “By-and-by, yes. But he is sure to drop in on you as soon as he fancies you are settled in your new home.”  49
  And here at last was Mr. Ingram come; and the mere sound of his voice seemed to carry her back to Borva, so that in talking to him and waiting on him as of old, she would scarcely have been surprised if her father had walked in to say that a coaster was making for the harbor, or that Duncan was going over to Stornoway, and Sheila would have to give him commissions.  50
  Her husband did not take the same interest in the social and political affairs of Borva that Mr. Ingram did. Lavender had made a pretense of assisting Sheila in her work among the poor people, but the effort was a hopeless failure. He could not remember the name of the family that wanted a new boat, and was visibly impatient when Sheila would sit down to write out for some aged crone a letter to her grandson in Canada. Now Ingram, for the mere sake of occupation, had qualified himself during his various visits to Lewis, so that he might have become the home minister of the King of Borva; and Sheila was glad to have one attentive listener as she described all the wonderful things that had happened in the island since the previous summer.  51
  But Ingram had got a full and complete holiday on which to come up and see Sheila; and he had brought with him the wild and startling proposal that in order that she should take her first plunge into the pleasures of civilized life, her husband and herself should drive down to Richmond and dine at the Star and Garter.  52
  “What is that?” said Sheila.  53
  “My dear girl,” said her husband, seriously, “your ignorance is something fearful to contemplate. It is quite bewildering. How can a person who does not know what the Star and Garter is, be told what the Star and Garter is?”  54
  “But I am willing to go and see,” said Sheila.  55
  “Then I must look after getting a brougham,” said Lavender, rising.  56
  “A brougham on such a day as this?” exclaimed Ingram. “Nonsense! Get an open trap of some sort; and Sheila, just to please me, will put on that very blue dress she used to wear in Borva, and the hat and the white feather, if she has got them.”  57
  “Perhaps you would like me to put on a sealskin cap and a red handkerchief instead of a collar,” observed Lavender, calmly.  58
  “You may do as you please. Sheila and I are going to dine at the Star and Garter.”  59
  “May I put on that blue dress?” said the girl, going up to her husband.  60
  “Yes, of course, if you like,” said Lavender meekly, going off to order the carriage, and wondering by what route he could drive those two maniacs down to Richmond so that none of his friends should see them.  61
  When he came back again, bringing with him a landau which could be shut up for the homeward journey at night, he had to confess that no costume seemed to suit Sheila so well as the rough sailor dress; and he was so pleased with her appearance that he consented at once to let Bras go with them in the carriage, on condition that Sheila should be responsible for him. Indeed, after the first shiver of driving away from the square was over, he forgot that there was much unusual about the look of this odd pleasure party. If you had told him eighteen months before that on a bright day in May, just as people were going home from the Park for luncheon, he would go for a drive in a hired trap with one horse, his companions being a man with a brown wide-awake, a girl dressed as though she were the owner of a yacht, and an immense deerhound, and that in this fashion he would dare to drive up to the Star and Garter and order dinner, he would have bet five hundred to one that such a thing would never occur so long as he preserved his senses. But somehow he did not mind much. He was very much at home with those two people beside him; the day was bright and fresh; the horse went a good pace; and once they were over Hammersmith Bridge and out among fields and trees, the country looked exceedingly pretty, and all the beauty of it was mirrored in Sheila’s eyes.  62
  “I can’t quite make you out in that dress, Sheila,” he said. “I am not sure whether it is real and business-like or a theatrical costume. I have seen girls on Ryde Pier with something of the same sort on, only a good deal more pronounced, you know, and they looked like sham yachtsmen; and I have seen stewardesses wearing that color and texture of cloth—”  63
  “But why not leave it as it is,” said Ingram—“a solitary costume produced by certain conditions of climate and duties, acting in conjunction with a natural taste for harmonious coloring and simple form? That dress, I will maintain, sprang as naturally from the salt sea as Aphrodite did; and the man who suspects artifice in it, or invention, has had his mind perverted by the skepticism of modern society.”  64
  “Is my dress so very wonderful?” said Sheila, with a grave complacence. “I am pleased that the Lewis has produced such a fine thing, and perhaps you would like me to tell you its history. It was my papa bought a piece of blue serge in Stornoway: it cost three shillings sixpence a yard, and a dressmaker in Stornoway cut it for me, and I made it myself. That is all the history of the wonderful dress.”  65
  Suddenly Sheila seized her husband’s arm. They had got down to the river by Mortlake; and there, on the broad bosom of the stream, a long and slender boat was shooting by, pulled by four oarsmen clad in white flannel.  66
  “How can they go out in such a boat?” said Sheila, with great alarm visible in her eyes. “It is scarcely a boat at all; and if they touch a rock, or if the wind catches them—”  67
  “Don’t be frightened, Sheila,” said her husband. “They are quite safe. There are no rocks in our rivers, and the wind does not give us squalls here like those on Loch Roag. You will see hundreds of those boats by and by, and perhaps you yourself will go out in one.”  68
  “Oh, never, never!” she said, almost with a shudder.  69
  “Why, if the people here heard you they would not know how brave a sailor you are. You are not afraid to go out at night by yourself on the sea, and you won’t go on a smooth inland river—”  70
  “But those boats: if you touch them they must go over.”  71
  She seemed glad to get away from the river. She could not be persuaded of the safety of the slender craft of the Thames; and indeed, for some time after seemed so strangely depressed that Lavender begged and prayed of her to tell him what was the matter. It was simple enough. She had heard him speak of his boating adventures. Was it in such boats as that she had just seen? and might he not be some day going out in one of them and an accident—the breaking of an oar, a gust of wind—  72
  There was nothing for it but to reassure her by a solemn promise that in no circumstances whatever would he, Lavender, go into a boat without her express permission, whereupon Sheila was as grateful to him as though he had dowered her with a kingdom.  73
  This was not the Richmond Hill of her fancy—this spacious height; with its great mansions, its magnificent elms, and its view of all the westward and wooded country, with the blue-white streak of the river winding through the green foliage. Where was the farm? The famous Lass of Richmond Hill must have lived on a farm; but here surely were the houses of great lords and nobles, which had apparently been there for years and years. And was this really a hotel that they stopped at—this great building that she could only compare to Stornoway Castle?  74
  “Now, Sheila,” said Lavender, after they had ordered dinner and gone out, “mind you keep a tight hold on that leash, for Bras will see strange things in the Park.”  75
  “It is I who will see strange things,” she said; and the prophecy was amply fulfilled. For as they went along the broad path, and came better into view of the splendid undulation of woodland and pasture and fern, when on the one hand they saw the Thames far below them flowing through the green and spacious valley, and on the other hand caught some dusky glimpse of the far white houses of London, it seemed to her that she had got into a new world, and that this world was far more beautiful than the great city she had left. She did not care so much for the famous view from the hill. She had cast one quick look to the horizon, with one throb of expectation that the sea might be there. There was no sea there—only the faint blue of long lines of country, apparently without limit. Moreover, over the western landscape a faint haze prevailed, that increased in the distance and softened down the more distant woods into a sober gray. That great extent of wooded plain, lying sleepily in its pale mists, was not so cheerful as the scene around her, where the sunlight was sharp and clear, the air fresh, the trees flooded with a pure and bright color. Here indeed was a cheerful and beautiful world, and she was full of curiosity to know all about it and its strange features. What was the name of this tree? and how did it differ from that? Were not these rabbits over by the fence? and did rabbits live in the midst of trees and bushes? What sort of wood was the fence made of? and was it not terribly expensive to have such a protection? Could not he tell the cost of a wooden fence? Why did they not use wire netting? Was not that a loch away down there? and what was its name? A loch without a name! Did the salmon come up to it? and did any sea-birds ever come inland and build their nests on its margin?  76
  “O, Bras, you must come and look at the loch. It is a long time since you will see a loch.”  77
  And away she went through the thick bracken, holding on to the swaying leash that held the galloping greyhound, and running swiftly as though she had been making down for the shore to get out the Maighdean-mhara.  78
  “Sheila,” called her husband, “don’t be foolish!”  79
  “Sheila,” called Ingram, “have pity on an old man!”  80
  Suddenly she stopped. A brace of partridges had sprung up at some distance, and with a wild whirr of their wings were now directing their low and rapid flight toward the bottom of the valley.  81
  “What birds are those?” she said peremptorily.  82
  She took no notice of the fact that her companions were pretty nearly too blown to speak. There was a brisk life and color in her face, and all her attention was absorbed in watching the flight of the birds. Lavender fancied he saw in the fixed and keen look something of old Mackenzie’s gray eye: it was not the first trace of a likeness to her father he had seen.  83
  “You bad girl!” he said, “they are partridges.”  84
  She paid no heed to this reproach, for what were those other things over there underneath the trees? Bras had pricked up his ears, and there was a strange excitement in his look and in his trembling frame.  85
  “Deer!” she cried, with her eyes as fixed as were those of the dog beside her.  86
  “Well,” said her husband calmly, “what although they are deer?”  87
  “But Bras—” she said; and with that she caught the leash with both her hands.  88
  “Bras won’t mind them if you keep him quiet. I suppose you can manage him better than I can. I wish we had brought a whip.”  89
  “I would rather let him kill every deer in the Park than touch him with a whip,” said Sheila proudly.  90
  “You fearful creature, you don’t know what you say. That is high treason. If George Ranger heard you, he would have you hanged in front of the Star and Garter.”  91
  “Who is George Ranger?” said Sheila with an air as if she had said, “Do you know that I am the daughter of the King of Borva, and whoever touches me will have to answer to my papa, who is not afraid of any George Ranger?”  92
  “He is a great lord who hangs all persons who disturb the deer in this Park.”  93
  “But why do they not go away?” said Sheila impatiently. “I have never seen any deer so stupid. It is their own fault if they are disturbed: why do they remain so near to people and to houses?”  94
  “My dear child, if Bras wasn’t here you would probably find some of those deer coming up to see if you had any bits of sugar or pieces of bread about your pockets.”  95
  “Then they are like sheep—they are not like deer,” she said with some contempt. “If I could only tell Bras that it is sheep he will be looking at, he would not look any more. And so small they are! They are as small as the roe, but they have horns as big as many of the red-deer. Do people eat them?”  96
  “I suppose so.”  97
  “And what will they cost?”  98
  “I am sure I can’t tell you.”  99
  “Are they as good as the roe or the big deer?”  100
  “I don’t know that either. I don’t think I ever ate fallow-deer. But you know they are not kept here for that purpose. A great many gentlemen in this country keep a lot of them in their parks merely to look pretty. They cost a great deal more than they produce.”  101
  “They must eat up a great deal of fine grass,” said Sheila almost sorrowfully. “It is a beautiful ground for sheep—no rushes, no peat moss, only fine good grass and dry land. I should like my papa to see all this beautiful ground.”  102
  “I fancy he has seen it.”  103
  “Was my papa here?”  104
  “I think he said so.”  105
  “And did he see those deer?”  106
  “Doubtless.”  107
  “He never told me of them.”  108
  By this time they had pretty nearly got down to the little lake, and Bras had been alternately coaxed and threatened into a quiescent mood.  109
  Sheila evidently expected to hear a flapping of sea-fowls’ wings when they got near the margin; and looked all round for the first sudden dart from the banks. But a dead silence prevailed; and as there were neither fish nor birds to watch, she went along to a wooden bench and sat down there, one of her companions on each hand. It was a pretty scene that lay before her—the small stretch of water ruffled with the wind, but showing a dash of blue sky here and there—the trees in the inclosure beyond, clad in their summer foliage, the smooth greensward shining in the afternoon sunlight. Here at least was absolute quiet after the roar of London; and it was somewhat wistfully that she asked her husband how far this place was from her home, and whether, when he was at work, she could not come down here by herself.  110
  “Certainly,” he said, never dreaming that she would think of doing such a thing.  111
  By-and-by they returned to the hotel; and while they sat at dinner a great fire of sunset spread over the west; and the far woods became of a rich purple, streaked here and there with lines of pale white mist. The river caught the glow of the crimson clouds above, and shone duskily red amid the dark green of the trees. Deeper and deeper grew the color of the sun as it sank to the horizon, until it disappeared behind one low bar of purple cloud; and then the wild glow in the west slowly faded away; the river became pallid and indistinct; the white mists over the distant woods seemed to grow denser; and then, as here and there a lamp was lit far down in the valley, one or two pale stars appeared in the sky overhead, and the night came on apace.  112
  “It is so strange,” Sheila said, “to find the darkness coming on, and not to hear the sound of the waves. I wonder if it is a fine night at Borva.”  113
  Her husband went over to her and led her back to the table, where the candles, shining over the white cloth and the colored glasses, offered a more cheerful picture than the darkening landscape outside. They were in a private room; so that when dinner was over, Sheila was allowed to amuse herself with the fruit, while her two companions lit their cigars. Where was the quaint old piano now; and the glass of hot whisky and water; and the ‘Lament of Monaltrie,’ or ‘Love in thine eyes forever plays’? It seemed, but for the greatness of the room, to be a repetition of one of those evenings at Borva that now belonged to a far-off past. Here was Sheila, not minding the smoke, listening to Ingram as of old, and sometimes saying something in that sweetly inflected speech of hers; here was Ingram, talking, as it were, out of a brown study, and morosely objecting to pretty nearly everything Lavender said, but always ready to prove Sheila right; and Lavender himself, as unlike a married man as ever, talking impatiently, impetuously, and wildly, except at such times as he said something to his young wife, and then some brief smile and look, or some pat on the hand, said more than words. But where, Sheila may have thought, was the one wanting to complete the group? Has he gone down to Borvabost to see about the cargoes of fish to be sent off in the morning? Perhaps he is talking to Duncan outside about the cleaning of the guns, or making up cartridges in the kitchen. When Sheila’s attention wandered away from the talk of her companions, she could not help listening for the sound of the waves; and as there was no such message coming to her from the great wooded plain without, her fancy took her away across that mighty country she had traveled through, and carried her up to the island of Loch Roag, until she almost fancied she could smell the peat-smoke in the night air, and listen to the sea, and hear her father pacing up and down the gravel outside the house, perhaps thinking of her as she was thinking of him.  114
  This little excursion to Richmond was long remembered by those three. It was the last of their meetings before Sheila was ushered into the big world to busy herself with new occupations and cares. It was a pleasant little journey throughout; for as they got into the landau to drive back to town, the moon was shining high up in the southern heavens, and the air was mild and fresh, so that they had the carriage opened, and Sheila, well wrapped up, lay and looked around her with a strange wonder and joy as they drove underneath the shadow of the trees and out again into the clear sheen of the night. They saw the river, too, flowing smoothly and palely down between its dark banks; and somehow here the silence checked them, and they hummed no more those duets they used to sing up at Borva. Of what were they thinking, then, as they drove through the clear night along the lonely road? Lavender at least was rejoicing at his great good fortune that he had secured for ever to himself the true-hearted girl who now sat opposite to him, with the moonlight touching her face and hair; and he was laughing to himself at the notion that he did not properly appreciate her or understand her or perceive her real character. If not he, who then? Had he not watched every turn of her disposition, every expression of her wishes, every grace of her manner and look of her eyes? and was he not overjoyed to find that the more he knew of her the more he loved her? Marriage had increased rather than diminished the mystery and wonder he had woven about her. He was more her lover now than he had been before his marriage. Who could see in her eyes what he saw? Elderly folks can look at a girl’s eyes, and see that they are brown or blue or green, as the case may be; but the lover looks at them and sees in them the magic mirror of a hundred possible worlds. How can he fathom the sea of dreams that lies there, or tell what strange fancies and reminiscences may be involved in an absent look? Is she thinking of starlit nights on some distant lake, or of the old bygone days on the hills? All her former life is told there, and yet but half told, and he longs to become possessed of all the beautiful past that she has seen. Here is a constant mystery to him, and there is a singular and wistful attraction for him in those still deeps where the thoughts and dreams of an innocent soul lie but half revealed. He does not see those things in the eyes of women he is not in love with; but when in after years he is carelessly regarding this or the other woman, some chance look, some brief and sudden turn of expression, will recall to him, as with a stroke of lightning, all the old wonder-time, and his heart will go nigh to breaking to think that he has grown old, and that he has forgotten so much, and that the fair, wild days of romance and longing are passed away forever.  115
 
 
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