The question of settlements was opened seriously between Martin Disney and his future brother-in-law, early on the[Pg 287] following morning. Hulbert wanted to settle all the money he had in the world upon Allegra."Oh, one always sighs for the past! How can one help feeling sorry that it should be gone—so much of our lives and of ourselves gone for ever?"
"Have you any idea of the cause of his unhappiness?"She was a schooner of two hundred and fifty tons, built for speed, and with a rakish rig. She had cost, with her fittings, her extra silk sails for racing, more money than Lostwithiel cared to remember; but he loved her as a man loves his mistress, and if she were costly and exacting, she was no worse than other mistresses, and she was true as steel, which they are not always; and so he felt that he had money's worth in her. He showed her to Isola one evening from the promontory above the harbour, where she met him in the autumn sundown. Her work at the butcher's and the grocer's being done, she had gone up to that airy height by Point Neptune to refresh herself with a long look seaward before she went back to her home in the valley. Lostwithiel took her away from the Point, and made her look down into the harbour.
"That, of course, is a distinct outrage, for which you may obtain redress, if you can find out who did it.""This quiet life suited her wonderfully well for the first month or so, but we are no longer making any headway. You had better try a gayer place—a little more life and movement."
"But you have the right to be angry. I ought not to have doubted. I ought to have believed your word against all the world; but that man raised a doubting devil in me. I was mad with fears and suspicions, wild and unreasonable—as I suppose jealousy generally is. I had never been jealous before. Great God! what a fearful passion it is when a man gives himself up to it. I frightened you by my vehemence, and then your scared looks frightened me. I mistook fear for guilt. Isola, my beloved, let me hear the truth from your own lips—the assurance—the certainty," he cried with impassioned fervour, getting up and going over to her, looking down into the pale, upturned face with those dark, earnest eyes which always seemed to search the mysteries of her heart. "Let there be no shadow of uncertainty or distrust between us. I have heard from your sister that you were with her when you said you were. That is much. It settles for that vile cad's insinuated slander; but it is not enough. Let the assurance come to me from your lips—from yours alone. Tell me—by the God who will judge us both some day—Are you my own true wife?"The agent had proved himself worthy of trust, and had chosen the lodging for Colonel Disney's family with taste and discretion. It was a first floor over a jeweller's shop in a short street behind the Piazza di Spagna, and under the Pincian Gardens. There were not too many stairs for Isola to ascend when she came in from her drive or walk. The gardens were close at hand, and all around there were trees and flowers, and an atmosphere of verdure and retirement in the midst of the great cosmopolitan city.
At last she heard him come with one of the sailors, and she could make out from their whispering talk that they were going to force open the door. Then she started up in a fury, and went and flung herself against the cedar panels.
"You have a duty to do for your sister," she said, when her husband felt compunction at leaving her. "Think of all she has done for us, her devotion, her unselfishness. The least we can do is to help her to be happy with her lover; and all the burden of that duty has fallen upon you. I think you ought to be called Colonel Gooseberry."
"I don't know about being frightened, but he was certainly carrying too much canvas. I told him so this morning.""Good night," said Isola. "I'm afraid that I shall be very late."
"And yet her card is almost full. People have been very officious. Here is a poor little waltz—number seven. May I have that, and number eleven, and number——"
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Yet, in spite of his seven and forty years, in spite of his deficiencies, his homeliness, that young heart had gone out to him. She loved him, and his lot was full. There was nothing more upon God's earth that he could desire, were it not a miracle, and that the mother he had so fondly loved might be given back to him, to share his happiness, to make the third in a trinity of trusting love. Since that could not be, there was nothing left for him to yearn for.
"He asked if he might write to me, and I told him no," Allegra said, rather dolefully, one morning, as they sat a little way from the well, Allegra engaged in painting a brown-skinned peasant girl of ten years old, whom she had met carrying olives the night before, and had forthwith engaged as a model. "I said it would never do for us to begin the folly of engaged lovers, who write to each other about nothing, sometimes twice a day. He has been wonderfully obedient: yet I think he ought to have written once or twice in two months. He ought to have known that though I told him not to write, I should be very anxious to hear from him."详情
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