« 이전계속 »
such babies they were. In some queer
afresh how Roger was both supported way, it made an impression.” It was and handicapped.
Wonderful Aunt almost as if she were apologizing for Miriam! Roger's vagaries.
We stood, the three of us, looking at "As if I cared a hang, dear!” His tone the stars for a moment before starting was the Letitia tone again, pure and down the trail. A faint radiance in the full—the tone he kept for her. Then east showed that the moon was on her I heard it sunk to a whisper. “For me, way to us. How I wish we had waited you are forever and forever in white.'' for her-defied the world, the flesh, and I don't think Mrs. Twining heard. She the devil; prolonged that moment, and had turned her head away from them. seen her rise!
But we did not. We Though we longed for the moon, she plunged into the forest on our downward did not rise, and Letitia bravely made path—I in front, like a link-boy; Letitia ready to go. A little breeze had sprung and Roger (the darlings!), hand in hand, up from the forest, and the scent of
behind me. My heart was very light ginger struggled with the frangipani in over the little matter of creeds; they our nostrils. The stars were very clear. were so beautiful, those two, together. We were all loath, in our own way, I That, of course, was the devil getting think, to let the moment go. Far down well down to his part-my lightness of the tree-smothered slope to the east, a heart, I mean. native voice rose through our silence, The next day was, as it were, the last; piercing it with melancholy song-some and I hardly know how to chronicle it late farer from a feast, winding up a for you. I will at least leave out every green trail to his village.
irrelevant thing, though it was packed, “Your father comes back to-mor wilfully, with irrelevancies. The native row?" It was Aunt Miriam who asked boy who came running to Roger at dawn, it, her hands on the girl's shoulders. because his father was dying; the snake
“By ten in the morning, he said.” I killed after breakfast in the garden;
Aunt Miriam kissed her good-night. the sudden shower that came drench"I'll go down and see him, and fetch ingly down and delayed Mrs. Twining's you back with me, if he'll let me." expedition to the town—all those things "You?
And why not I?” Roger were irrelevant, though they figured in broke in.
the general irritation of our hearts. “You'll be busy, my dear, in the Personally, I could hardly wait for the morning. Your work-your calling- old ex-chief to die, leaving Roger free, your sacred task-must come first of all. or until Aunt Miriam should return, Your people mustn't think you put even leading Letitia as a bride. I could not Letitia” -she kissed the girl,"before read; it was too wet to stroll; I was of them. Of course you will see Professor no use to any human being. The time Quayle—but I must see him, too. Your seemed very long before Mrs. Twining uncle would have wished it done in that came back from her unusual journeyway." There was no gainsaying her gray as wood-ash, and without Letitia. tone.
Roger had not yet returned. "Can't I bring father up to you?" She faced me as I met her at the steps, Even Letitia knew that Mrs. Twining then flung up her hands above her noble never left the Mission.
head, and passed by me without speak“My dear, I stand in my husband's ing. Inside the house I heard one low place. I must go to him for Roger. groan. I rushed to her, for I was And you children must start at once. It frightened. “Take care of Roger. Keep is late, I'm afraid. Good-night.” She him away from me,” she said, in a voice clasped the girl to her, then kissed Roger. that sounded rusty with age, and passed and went into the house.
on toher own room. I heard thekey turn. I was privately anàused that Mrs. When Roger did come back, an hour Twining's conservatism should.choose'to ater, exhausted and eager, I could not take, in this instance, so European a help himLetitia had not come. His form. The gesture didn't "go with, aunt was locked in her own room, and a her, but her firmness did, ans. I saw terrible silence brooded over the scene.
Even Loo seemed to be performing his words were wrung from him: "Letitia tasks in a vacuum, for I had neither seen never knew until to-day that she was an nor heard him.
orphan, that she had been adopted. Roger got admittance to Mrs. Twin- I'm older. I remembered her, you see, ing's room, and I spent the longest half without realizing. You must go to her hour I have ever lived, while I waited and talk to her. I am going off to be for him on the headland amid the cocoa alone.” And he turned from me toward palms, looking out to sea.
the forest. Just once he looked back: waited.” I had no knowledge of “Don't be afraid; I'll be back in a few whether he would come to me; but there hours. Not to lunch. I don't want I could be either reached or avoided, and any.” He disappeared among the huge even a madman would know that I was breadfruit-trees. discreetly out of earshot of the house. I didn't go to Letitia. I would in
Finally Roger stood before me, in time, I thought, if Roger insisted; but white from head to foot-even his face not now, not until I had some notion of and his hands were white as the linen what to say. I felt, too, that I must not he wore. I held out my hand; he took leave at once.
I did not wish to go it, and with sudden violence pulled me farther away from Roger, or farther to my feet. The devil had got in his away from Mrs. Twining. Each pulled work.
me with invisible cords, as though I “Has she told you?"
were their defender. When I could “Nothing." —
I was trembling-phys- think of ten words I could say to Letitia ically, I mean. But the young athlete Quayle without touching on raw before me stood like a rock.
wound, I would go. Just then I could “Will you go down at once and see
not stir. Letitia?"
Al sense of time left me. In my re“For God's sake, go yourself!" I did treat I was blind to the sun that might not know what was the matter, but I felt have told me how the hours were passsure that neither man nor woman, ing. Forward and back, forward and neither science nor creed, could with- back, I went in my dreary mind, from stand Roger Twining when he looked one impossible course of action to anlike that.
other. All through those hours I grew “She lied to me last night."
at once more inert and more ashamed of “Who? What?"
my inertia. My will rose with great Miriam. About Mabel gasps to lift me from where I sat; then Cheyne."
fell back paralyzed before this or that “Mabel Cheyne?” I had forgotten clear perception of my helplessness. It the name. I tried to pull my hand from was the heat of early afternoon, penehis, to get far enough away from him trating my high palm roof, that drove to focus him, to define his aberration. me back at last to the house. But his hand was
a trap for mine. Luncheon lay on the table, untasted “There was no Mabel Cheyne." and undisturbed, hardened into a dis“What of it?”
gusting effigy of food. Mrs. Twining “Letitia is my sister."
met me in another room. Her face was I sank back so suddenly that, involun drawn and twisted, as though she had tarily, he let me go. There was nothing had a “stroke,” but she spoke clearly: to add to that statement; no need to
“Where is Roger?” trace its birth and growth from Aunt I shrugged my shoulders vaguely. Miriam's sudden fear, the night before, “Safe-off there, somewhere alone." to the corroboration she had received “Go and find him." that morning from Professor Quayle. This seemed to be just the urge I No need to assemble the evidence; it neerled. I started off obediently. She had been assembled, put together, with must have divined that I knew, for as I tense accuracy, by two suffering, gray. left the porch she said, in a very low haired people that morning, voice:
Roger Twining had no great desire for “I knew there was a little sister, speech, I could see. But a few more chocgli until to-day I never knew who
took her. But when Roger remembered, The girl shook her head very sadly, last night, I suddenly grew afraid. Just and smiled more sadly still. “May I sit for an instant they looked alike. So I down?” And she went to the rock where lied.”
she had sat drinking from the cup he I walked slowly, hardly directing my held. footsteps, except that of course I went If I had not been able to obey Roger's the way I had seen Roger go. My feet earlier command to go and talk to dragged; but by this time my brain was Letitia Quayle, I could still less talk to blessedly numb, and I was no longer her there, before him. afraid to present myself with my errand silence, to go up the trail down which undone. I had lost the sense of faith the white figure had just come. lessness to duty.
"Don't go.” She stopped me. “Roger I found him at last beside the musical and I don't mind. And I'd rather you waterfall, in the deep-shaded, vine-hung would hear what I have to say. It's ravine. He had wandered back to that
Come, Roger, sit down." scene of passionate innocence, and now She placed me, by her tone, where sat by the pool where, a few days before, they had always tacitly placed me in I had seen her drink from the cup
he held. the days now so diabolically reproduced. He did not question me as I sat down I was again their faithful fool." She did beside him; in silence, in our respective not touch him, but she beckoned him to ways, we pieced together the rent frag sit near her. To my surprise, he sank ments of that most beautiful dream. down in the exact spot she pointed to. We must both have been very tired, for I drew off to a little distance, my heart Twining did not speak at all and I found near to breaking my eyes drowsily closing to match that “Father means to take me away on blessed anæsthesia of the spirit. The the Rarotonga to-morrow,
she said, only sounds I heard were the unchanging “and of course he didn't think I'd want sounds of Nature, and the remembered to see you again. But I had to say goodvoices of my two friends at play in Eden. bye, didn't I?” I saw the green dazzle of leaves, the ten She tucked her feet up under her like der vividness of blossoms, and, now and a little girl, and, like a little girl, began then, moving as by right among those plaiting the fronds of a fern. Roger still natural sweetnesses, the white figure of had not spoken. I did not wonder. Letitia. I must almost have dreamed How could he speak to a child like that of in earnest, for during a little space of the dark things that lay between them? time I recaptured the unrecapturable. What words could he use? And as I It was as it had been, and we were looked once more, stealthily, at him, my happy, out of the world.
pity gushed out afresh; for he, too, Finally Roger stirred violently, and I seemed unready for life, a beautiful shook myself awake to see him standing, young body with soul scarce budded. . with that face of rock, beside me, star Yet if he had been the unformed lad I ing. Just for a moment I thought it was felt him, he would have stretched out a dream come true, for, though the his hand and taken hers—as of old. things about me were sharp with reality, “It is good-bye, Roger dear, I supLetitia stood there before us in the flesh, pose." She had thrown off her hat, and and spoke—the same white Letitia who now she bent her head so low over her had come to us laughing from behind frond-weaving that I could not see the a palm-tree.
little peak of hair. “And never again, "I ran away,” she said, very quietly. until we are very old. . " Oh, how “Father doesn't know. I thought you softly her words came, scarce audible would be here. So I came, straight. above the waterfall!“I didn't know
She smiled at me-wonderful child!- anything could hurt so. But we're hurt and held out her hand to Roger. The together. That's one thing, isn't it?" blood came back into his face, but he did “Yes, that's one thing. It was the not take her hand. He folded his arms first time he had spoken, but his voice instead, and bent his dark eyes on the struck the very note of hers. I turned ground.
my head away.
“You won't even take my hand, will one is real but you—the rest is just you?" she went on, in her gentle, won what people get out of books!” dering tone.
She had flung her head back as she He shook his head.
spoke, and I saw her face unforgettably I got up softly, meaning to leave them there before me-changed as her voice
to lose myself, at least, just beyond in was changed, the face of a woman hard the trail. I could not endure to be there. beset, tragic with passion, beautiful with A terrible altar was slowly being raised utter unconsciousness of self. The rite by that secret waterfall; terrible as the was being accomplished before me. I altar that legend said had once abided in stood, rooted. that spot. It was not meant for me to Then Roger Twining did a strange see the rearing of that sacrificial stone. thing. He leaneu to her and passed his
But Letitia held me with a gesture of shaking hand over her beautiful, ageless her little hand. “No, you must not go. face as you would pass your hand over We must not be alone. I ran away. . a mask. She closed her eyes to his touch, It wouldn't be fair."
bending forward in complete docility, “Then you must come with me." I When he took his hand knew only that this poignancy must not her eyes and smiled up at him as she had be prolonged.
smiled of old. The face that had leaped "I will.” And she got up, flinging her out at us as from an immemorial dark fronds away. "Good-bye, Roger." She myth was gone, and there again stood did not hold out her hand. He stood the fresh apparition of the forest. five paces away from her, his leaden eyes “Good-bye, Letitia. Malcolm will still seeking the ground.
take you back. Good-bye, dear.” And “Not just my hand-once?” she Roger grew young again before my eyes, pleaded with him.
a boy, biting his lips not to cry. And again he shook his head.
“Good-bye!” Her voice chimed in “Because it is good-bye.”
with his, and I led her away from the Nothing broke the silence.
storied spot. Before the bushes closed Then suddenly she moved to his side over us I looked back once. Roger was -close to him, although she did not lying face down on the ground, his shoultouch him. I heard her voice change ders heaving. Letitia's eyes inquired of utterly. I saw her face Aush, and her mine. eyes draw his unwilling eyes to her. “He's all right, dear," I soothed "Because-listen, Roger—if you choose, her. “I'll take care of him. It's just I'll stay forever. I don't understand hell for a little. Don't look back. Don't anything. I don't believe anything, and do anything that would be cruel to him." nothing they say makes any difference. I spoke as to a child, and like a child I love you better than the whole world, she followed me unquestioningly, up the or what you call God, or anything. No trail.