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Armorel of Lyonesse By Walter Besant Characters: 32020

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

It was a day in midwinter. Over the adjacent island of Great Britain there was either a yellow fog, or a white fog, or a black fog. Perhaps there was no fog at all, but a black east wind, or there was melting snow, or there was cold sleet and rain: whatever there was, to be out of doors brought no joy, and the early darkness was tolerable because it closed and hid and put away the day. In the archipelago of Scilly, the sky was bright and clear: the sea was blue, except in the shallow places, where it was a light transparent green: the waves danced and sparkled: round the ledges of the rocks the white foam rolled and leaped: the sunshine was warm: the air was fresh. The girls stood on the northern carn of Samson. They had been on the island now for eight months. For the greater part of that time they were alone. Only in the summer Archie came to pay them a visit. His play was accepted: it would probably be brought out in January, perhaps not till later, according to the success of the piece then running. Meantime, he had got introductions, thanks to Armorel's evening, and now found work enough to keep him going on one or two journals, where his occasional papers-the papers of a young and clever man feeling his way to style-were taken and published. And he was, of course, writing another play: he was in love with another heroine-happy, if he knew his own happiness, in starting on that rare career in which a man is always in love, and blamelessly, even with the knowledge of his wife, with a succession of the loveliest and most delightful damsels-country girls and princesses-lasses of the city and of the milking path-Dolly and Molly and stately Kate, and the Duchess of Dainty Device. As yet, he had only lost his heart to two and was now raving over the second of his sweethearts. One such youth I have known and followed as he passed from the Twenties to the Thirties-to the Forties-even to the Fifties. He has always loved one girl after the other. He knows not how life can exist unless a man is in love: he is a mere slave and votary of Love: yet never with a goddess of the earth. He loves an image-a simulacrum-a phantom: and he looks on with joy and satisfaction-yea! the tears of happiness rise to his eyes when he sees that phantom at the last, after many cruel delays, fondly embraced-not by himself-but by another phantom. Happy lover! so to have lost the substance, yet to be satisfied with the shadow!

Except for Archie's visit they had no guests all through the summer. The holiday visitors mostly arrive at Hugh Town, sail across to Tresco Gardens and back, some the same day, some the next day, thinking they have seen Scilly. None of them land on Samson. Few there are who sail about the Outer Islands where Armorel mostly loved to steer her boat. The two girls spent the whole time alone with each other for company. I do not know whether the literature of the country will be enriched by Effie's sojourn in Lyonesse, but one hopes. At least, she lost her pale cheeks and thin form: she put on roses, and she filled out: she became almost as strong as Armorel, almost as dexterous with the sheet, and almost as handy with the oar. But of verses I fear that few came to her. With the best intentions, with piles of books, these two maidens idled away the summer, basking on the headlands, lying among the fern, walking over the downs of Bryher and St. Martin's, sailing in and out among the channels, bathing in Porth Bay, or off the lonely beach of Ganilly in the Eastern group. Always something to see or something to do. Once they ventured to sail by themselves-a parlous voyage, but the day was calm-all the way round Bishop's Rock and back: another time they sailed-but this time they took Peter-among the Dogs of Scilly, climbed up on Black Rosevean, and stood on Gorregan with the cruel teeth. Once, on a very calm day in July, they even threaded the narrow channel between the twin rocks known together as the Scilly. Always there was something new to do or to see. So the morning and the afternoon passed away, and there was nothing left but tea and a little music, and a stroll in the moonlight or beneath the stars, and a talk together, and so to bed: and if there came a rainy day, the cakes to make and the puddings to compose! A happy, lazy, idle, profitable time!

'We have been six months here and more, Effie,' said Armorel. They were sitting in the sunshine in the sheltered orchard, among the wrinkled and twisted old apple-trees. 'What next? When shall we think of going back to London? We must not stay here altogether, lest we rust. We will go back-shall we?-as soon as the short, dark days are over, and we will make a new departure somehow, but in what direction I do not quite know. Shall we travel? Shall we cultivate society? What shall we do?'

'We will go back to London as soon as Archie's play is produced. Dear Armorel, I do not want ever to go away. I should like to stay here with you always and always. It has been a time of peace and quiet. Never before have I known such peace and such quiet. But we must go. We must go while the spell of the place is still upon us. Perhaps if we were to stay too long-Nature does not expect us to outstay her welcome-not that her welcome is exhausted yet-but if we go away, shall we ever come back? And, if so, will it be quite the same?'

'Nothing ever returns,' said Armorel the sage. 'We shall go away and we shall come back again, and there will be changes. Everything changes daily. The very music of the sea changes from day to day; but it is always music. My old grandmother in the great chair used to hold her hand to her ear-so-to catch the lapping of the waves and the washing of the tide among the rocks. It was the music that she had known all her life. But the tune was different-the words of the song in her head were different-the key was changed-but always the music. Oh, my dear! I never tire of this music. We will go away, Effie; we must not stay too long here, lest we fall in love with solitude and renounce the world. But we will come back and hear the same music again, with a new song. We must go back.' She sighed. 'Eight months. We must go and see Archie's play. Archie! It will be a proud and glorious day for him, if it succeeds. It must succeed. And not a word or a sign all this time from Roland! What is he doing? Why--' She stopped.

Effie laid a hand on hers.

'You have been restless for some days, Armorel,' she said.

'Yes-yes. I do not doubt him. No-no-he has returned to himself. He can never-never again-I do not doubt him.' She sprang to her feet. 'Oh, Effie! I do not doubt, but sometimes I fear. What do I fear? Why, I know there may be failure, but there can never again be disgrace.'

'You think of him so much, Armorel,' said Effie, with a touch of jealousy.

'I cannot think of him too much.' She looked out upon the sunlit sea at their feet, talking as one who talks to herself. 'How can I think of him too much? I have thought of him every day for five years-every day. I love him, Effie. How can you think too much of the man you love? Suppose I were to hear that he had failed again. That would make no difference. Suppose he were to sink low-low-deep down among the worst of men-that would make no difference. I love the man as he may be-as he shall be-by the help of God, if not in this world, then in the world to come! I love him, Effie!'

She stopped because her voice choked with a sob. The strength of her passion-not for nothing was the Castilian invader wrecked upon Scilly!-frightened the other girl. She had never dreamed of such a passion; yet she knew that Armorel thought continually of this man. She did not dare to speak. She looked on with clasped hands, in silence.

Armorel softened again. The tumult of her heart subsided. She turned to Effie and kissed her.

'Forgive me, dear: you know now-but you have guessed already. Let us say no more. But I must see him soon. I must go to see him if he cannot come to see me. Let us go over the hill. This little orchard is like a hothouse this morning.'

When they reached the top of the hill they saw the steamer from Penzance rounding Bar Point on St. Mary's and coming through the North Channel.

'They have had a fine passage,' said Armorel. 'The boat must have done it in three hours. I wonder if she brings anything for us. It is too early for the magazines. I wrote for those books, but I doubt if there has been time. And I wrote to Philippa, but I do not expect a letter in reply by this post.'

'And I wrote to Archie, but I do not know whether I shall get a letter to-day. Suppose there should come a visitor?'

'Few visitors come to Scilly in the winter-and none to Samson. We are alone on our desert island, Effie. See, the steamer is entering the port: the tide is low: she cannot get alongside the quay. It is such a fine day that it is a pity we did not sail over this morning and meet the steamer. There goes the steam-launch from Tresco.'

It is quite a mile from Samson to the quay of Hugh Town; but the air was so clear that Armorel, whose eyes were as good as any ordinary field-glass, could plainly make out the agitation and bustle on the quay caused by the arrival of the steamer.

'The boat always carries my thoughts back to London,' said Armorel. 'And we have been talking about London, have we not? When I was a child the boat came into the Road out of the Unknown, and next day went back to the Unknown. What was the other side like? I filled it up with the vague splendour of a child's imagination. The Unknown to me was like the sunrise or the sunset. Well ... now I know. The poets say that knowledge makes us no happier. I think they are quite wrong. It is always better to know everything, even though it's little joy-

To feel that Heaven is farther off

Than when one was a boy.

'There is a boat,' she went on, after a while. 'She is putting out from the port. I wonder what boat it is. Perhaps she is going to Bryher-or to St. Martin's-or to St. Agnes. It is not the lighthouse boat. She is sailing as if for Samson; but she cannot be coming here. What a lovely breeze! She would be here in a quarter of an hour. I suppose she must be going to Tresco. See what comes of living on a desert island. We are actually speculating about the voyage of a sailing-boat across the Road! Effie, we are little better than village gossips. You shall marry Mr. Paul Pry.'

'She looks very pretty,' said Effie, 'heeling over with the wind, wherever she is going.'

'They are steering south of Green Island,' said Armorel. 'That is very odd. If she had been making for Bryher or Tresco she would leave Green Island on the lee and steer up the channel past Puffin. I really believe that she is coming to Samson. I expect there is a parcel for us. Let us run down to the beach, Effie. We shall get there just in time.'

They ran down the hill. As the boatman lowered the sail and the boat grounded on the firm white sand of the beach, the girls arrived. The boat brought, however, no packet--

'Oh!' cried Effie. 'It is Roland Lee!'

It was none other than that young man of whom they had been speaking. Armorel changed colour: she blushed a rosy red: then she recovered quickly and stepped forward, as Roland leaped out upon the sand. 'Welcome back to Samson!' she said, giving him her hand with her old frankness. 'We expected you to come, but we did not know when.'

'May I stay?' he murmured, taking her hand and looking into her face.

'You know-yourself,' she replied.

He made answer by shouldering his portmanteau. 'No new road has been made, I suppose,' he said. 'Shall I go first? How well I remember the way over the hill! Samson has changed little since I was here last.'

He led the way, all laughing and chatting as if his visit was expected, and as if it were the most natural thing in the world and the most common thing to run down to the beach and meet a morning caller from London Town. But Effie, who was as observant as a poet ought to be, saw how Roland kept looking round as he led, as if he would be still catching sight of Armorel.

'Come, Dorcas,' cried Armorel, when they arrived at the house. 'Come, Chessun-here is Mr. Roland Lee. You have not forgotten Mr. Lee. He has come to stay with us again.' The serving-women came out and shook hands with him in friendly fashion. Forgotten Mr. Lee? Why, he was the only young man who had been seen at Holy Farm since Armorel's brothers were drowned-victims to the relentless wrath of those execrable rubies.

'You shall have your old room,' said Dorcas. 'Chessun will air the bed for you and light a fire to warm the room. Well, Mr. Lee, you are not much altered. Your beard is grown, and you're a bit stouter. Not much changed. You're married yet?'

'Not yet, Dorcas.'

'Armorel, she's a woman now. When you left her she was little better than a child. I say she's improved, but perhaps you wish she was a child again?'

'Indeed, no,' said Roland.

Everything was quite commonplace. There was not the least romance about the return of the wanderer. It was half-past two. He had had nothing to eat since breakfast, and after three hours and more upon the sea one is naturally hungry. Chessun laid the cloth and put the cold beef-cold boiled beef-upon the table. Pickles were also produced-a pickled walnut is not a romantic object. The young man was madly in love: he had come all the way from town on purpose to explain and dilate upon that wonderful accident: yet he took a pickled walnut. Nay, he was in a famishing condition, and he tackled the beef and beer-that old Brown George full of the home-brewed with a head of foam like the head of a venerable bishop-as if he was not in love at all. And Armorel sat opposite to him at the table talking to him about the voyage and his studio and whether he had furnished it, and all kinds of things, and Chessun hovered over him suggesting more pickles. And he laughed, and Armorel laughed-why not? They were both as happy as they could be. But Effie wondered how Armorel, whose heart was so full, whose soul was so charged and heavy with love, could laugh thus gaily and talk thus idly.

After luncheon, which of course was, in Samson fashion, dinner, Roland got up and stood in the square window, looking out to sea. Armorel stood beside him.

'I remember standing here,' he said, 'one morning five years ago. A great deal has happened since then.'

'A great deal. We are older-we know more of the world.'

'We are stronger, Armorel'-their eyes met-'else I should not be here.'

It was quite natural that Armorel should put on her jacket and take her hat, and that they should go out together. Effie took her seat in the window and lay in the sunshine, a book neglected in her lap. Armorel had got her lover back. She loved him. Oh! she loved him. So heavenly is the contemplation of human love that Effie found it more soothing than the words of wisdom in her book, more full of comfort than any printed page. Human love, she knew well, would never fall to her lot: all the more should she meditate on love in others. Well, she has her compensations: while others act she looks on: while others feel, she will tell the world, in her verse, what and how they feel: to be loved is the chief and crowning blessing for a woman, but such as Effie have their consolations.

She looked up, and saw old Dorcas standing in the door.

'They have gone out in the boat,' she said. 'When I saw him coming over the hill I said to Chessun, "He's come again. He's come for Armorel at last." I always knew he would. And now they've gone out in the boat to be quite alone. Is he worth her, Miss Effie? Is he worth my girl?'

'If he is not she will make him worth her. But nobody could be worth Armorel. Are you sure you are not mistaken, Dorcas?'

'No-no-no, I am not mistaken. The love-light is in his eyes, and the answering love in hers. I know the child. She loved

him six years ago. She is as steadfast as the compass. She can never change. Once love always love, and no other love. She has thought about him ever since. Why did she go away and leave us alone without her for five long years? She wanted to learn things so as to make herself fit for him. As if he would care what things she knew if only he loved her! 'Twas the beautiful maid he would love, with her soft heart and her tender voice and her steadfast ways-not what she knew.'

'Oh! but, Dorcas, perhaps-you are not quite sure-we do not know-one may be mistaken.'

'You may be mistaken, Miss Effie. As for me, I've been married for five-and-fifty years. A woman of my age is never mistaken. I saw the love-light in his eyes, and I saw the answering love in hers. And I know my own girl that I've nursed and brought up since the cruel sea swallowed up her father and her mother and her brothers. No, Miss Effie, I know what I can see.'

One does not, as a rule, go in a small open boat upon the water in December, even in Scilly, whose winter hath nor frost nor snow. But these two young people quite naturally, and without so much as asking whether it was summer or winter, got into the boat. Roland took the oars-Armorel sat in the stern. They put out from Samson what time the midwinter sun was sinking low. The tide was rising fast, and the wind was from the south-east. When they were clear of Green Island, Roland hoisted the sail.

'I have a fancy,' he said, 'to sail out to Round Island and to see Camber Rock again, this first day of my return. Shall we have time? We can let the sun go down: there will be light enough yet for an hour. You can steer the craft in the dark, Armorel. You are captain of this boat, and I am your crew. You can steer me safely home, even on the darkest night-in the blackest time,' he added, with a deeper meaning than lay in his simple words.

The sail caught the breeze, and the boat heeled over. Roland sat holding the rope while Armorel steered. Neither spoke. They sailed up New Grinsey Channel between Tresco and Bryher, past Hangman's Island, past Cromwell's Castle. They sailed right through beyond the rocks and ledges outlying Tresco, outside Menovawr, the great triple rock, with his two narrow channels, and so to the north of Round Island. The sky was aflame: the waters were splendid with the colours of the west. They rounded the island. Then Roland lowered the sail and put out the oars. 'We must row now,' he said. 'How glorious it all is! I am back again. Nine short months ago-you remember, Armorel?-how could I have hoped to come here again-to sail with you in your boat?'

'Yet you are here,' she said simply.

'I have so much to say, and I could not say it, except in the boat.'

'Yes, Roland.'

'First of all, I have sold that picture. It is not a great price that I have taken. But I have sold it. You will be pleased to hear that. Next, I have two commissions, at a better price. Don't believe, Armorel, that I am thinking about nothing but money. The first step towards success, remember, is to be self-supporting. Well-I have taken that first step. I have also obtained some work on an illustrated paper. That keeps me going. I have regained my lost position-and more-more, Armorel. The way is open to me at last: everything is open to me now if I can force myself to the front.'

'No man can ask for more, can he?'

'No. He cannot. As for the time, Armorel, the horrible, shameful time--'

'Roland, you said you would not come here until the shame of that time belonged altogether to the past.'

'It does: it does: yet the memory lingers-sometimes, at night, I think of it-and I am abased.'

'We cannot forget-I suppose we can never forget. That is the burden which we lay upon ourselves. Oh! we must all walk humbly, because we have all fallen so far short of the best, and because we cannot forget.'

'But-to be forgiven. That also is so hard.'

'Oh! Roland, you mistake. We can always forgive those we love-yes-everything-everything-until seventy times seven. How can we love if we cannot forgive? The difficulty is to forgive ourselves. We shall do that when we have risen high enough to understand how great a thing is the soul-I don't know how to put what I wish to say. Once I read in a book that there was a soul who wished-who would not?-to enter into heaven. The doors were wide open: the hands of the angels were held out in love and welcome: but the soul shrank back. "I cannot enter," he said, "I cannot forgive myself." You must learn to forgive yourself, Roland. As for those who love you, they ask for nothing more than to see your foot upon the upward slope.'

'It is there, Armorel. Twice you have saved me: once from death by drowning: once from a worse death still-the second death. Twice your arms have been stretched out to save me from destruction.'

They were silent again. The boat rocked gently in the water: the setting sun upon Armorel's face lent her cheek a warmer, softer glow, and lit her eyes, which were suffused with tears. Roland, sitting in his place, started up and dipped the oars again.

'It is nearly half-tide now,' he said. 'Let us row through the Camber Pass. I want to see that dark ravine again. It is the place I painted with you-you of the present, not of the past-in it. I have sold the picture, but I have a copy. Now I have two paintings, with you in each. One hangs in the studio, and the other in my own room, so that by night as well as by day I feel that my guardian angel is always with me.'

Through the narrow ravine between Camber Rock and Round Island the water races and boils and roars when the tide runs strongly. Now, it was flowing gently-almost still. The sun was so low that the rock on the east side was obscured by the great mass of Round Island: the channel was quite dark. The dipping of the oars echoed along the black walls of rock; but overhead there was the soft and glowing sky, and in the light blue already appeared two or three stars.

'A strange thing has happened to me, Armorel,' Roland said, speaking low, as if in a church-'a very strange and wonderful thing. It is a thing which connects me with you and with your people and with the Island of Samson. You remember the story told us one evening-the evening before I left you-by the Ancient Lady?'

'Of course. She told that story so often, and I used to suffer such agonies of shame that my ancestor should act so basely, and such terrors in thinking of the fate of his soul, that I am not likely to forget the story.'

'You remember that she mistook me for Robert Fletcher?'

'Yes; I remember.'

'She was not so very far wrong, Armorel; because, you see, I am Robert Fletcher's great-grandson.'

'Oh! Roland! Is it possible?'

'I suppose that there may have been some resemblance. She forgot the present, and was carried back in imagination to the past, eighty years ago.'

'Oh! And you did not know?'

'If you think of it, Armorel, very few middle-class people are able to tell the maiden name of their grandmother. We do not keep our genealogies, as we should.'

'Then how did you find it out?'

'Mr. Jagenal, your lawyer, found it out. He sent for me and proved it quite clearly. Robert Fletcher left three daughters. The eldest died unmarried: the second and third married. I am the grandson of the second daughter who went to Australia. Now, which is very odd, the only grandson of the third daughter is a man whose name you may remember. They call him Alec Feilding. He is at once a painter, a poet, a novelist, and is about to become, I hear, a dramatist. He is my own cousin. This is strange, is it not?'

'Oh! It is wonderful.'

'Mr. Jagenal, at the same time, made me a communication. He was instructed, he said, by you. Therefore, you know the nature of the communication.'

'He gave you the rubies.'

'Yes. He gave them to me. I have brought them back. They are in my pocket. I restore them to you, Armorel.' He drew forth the packet-the case of shagreen-and laid it in Armorel's lap.

'Keep them. I will not have them. Let me never see them.' She gave them back to him quickly. 'Keep them out of my sight, Roland. They are horrible things. They bring disaster and destruction.'

'You will not have them? You positively refuse to have them? Then I can keep them to myself. Why-that is brave!' He opened the case and unrolled the silken wrapper.

'See, Armorel, the pretty things! They sparkle in the dying light. Do you know that they are worth many thousands? You have given me a fortune. I am rich at last. What is there in the world to compare with being rich? Now I can buy anything I want. The Way of Wealth is the Way of Pleasure. What did I tell you? My feet were dragged into that way as if with ropes: now they can go dancing of their own accord-no need to drag them. They fly-they trip-they have wings. What is art?-what is work?-what is the soul?-nothing! Here'-he took up a handful of the stones and dropped them back again-'here, Armorel, is what will purchase pleasure-solid comfort! I shall live in ease and sloth: I shall do nothing: I shall feast every day: everybody will call me a great painter because I am rich. Oh, I have a splendid vision of the days to come, when I have turned these glittering things into cash! Farewell drudgery-I am rich! Farewell disappointment-I am rich! Farewell servitude-I am rich! Farewell work and struggle-I am rich! Why should I care any more for Art? I am rich, Armorel! I am rich!'

'That is not all you are going to say about the rubies, Roland. Come to the conclusion.'

'Not quite all. In the old days I flung away everything for the Way of Wealth and the Way of Pleasure-as I thought. Good Heavens! What Wealth came to me? What Pleasure? Well, Armorel, in your presence I now throw away the wealth. Since you will not have it, I will not.'

He seized the case as if he would throw it overboard. She leaned forward eagerly and stopped him.

'Will you really do this, Roland? Stop a moment. Think. It is a great sacrifice. You might use that wealth for all kinds of good and useful things. You could command the making of beautiful things: you could help yourself in your Art: you could travel and study-you could do a great deal, you know, with all this money. Think, before you do what can never be undone.'

Roland, for reply, laid the rubies again in her lap. It was as if one should bring a Trespass offering and lay it upon the altar. The case was open, and the light was still strong enough overhead for the rubies to be seen in a glittering heap.

He took them up again. 'Do you consent, Armorel?'

She bowed her head.

He took a handful of the stones and dropped them in the water. There was a little splash, and the precious stones, the fortune of Robert Fletcher, the gems of the Burmah mines, dropped like a shower upon the surface. They were, as we know, nothing but bits of paste and glass, but this he did not know. And therefore the Trespass offering was rich and precious. Then he took the silken kerchief which had wrapped them and threw the rest away, as one throws into the sea a handful of pebbles picked up on the beach.

'So,' he said, 'that is done. And now I am poor again. You shall keep the empty case, Armorel, if you like.'

'No-no. I do not want even the case. I want never to be reminded again of the rubies and the story of Robert Fletcher.' Roland dipped the oars again, and with two or three vigorous strokes pulled the boat out of the dark channel-the tomb of his wealth-into the open water beyond. There in the dying light the puffins swam and dived, and the sea-gulls screamed as they flew overhead, and on the edge of the rocks the shags stood in meditative rows.

* * *

Far away in the studio of the poet-painter-the cleverest man in London-sat two who were uneasy with the same gnawing anxiety. Roland Lee-they knew by this time-had the rubies. When would the discovery be made? When would there be an inquiry? What would come out? As the time goes on this anxiety will grow less, but it will never wholly vanish. It will change perhaps into curiosity as to what has been done with those bits of glass and paste. Why has not Roland found out? He must have given them to his wife, and she must have kept them locked up. Some day it will be discovered that they are valueless. But then it will be far too late for any inquiry. As yet they do not speak to each other of the thing. It is too recent. Roland Lee has but just acquired his fortune: he is still gloating over the stones: he is building castles in the air: he is planning his future. When he finds out the truth about them-what will happen then?

* * *

'I have had a bad dream of temptation with rubies, Armorel. Temptation harder than you would believe. How calm is the sea to-night! How warm the air! The last light of the west lies on your cheek, and-Armorel! Oh! Armorel!'

* * *

It was nearly six o'clock, long after dark, when the two came home. They walked over the hill hand in hand. They entered the room hand in hand, their faces grave and solemn. I know not what things had been said between them, but they were things quite sacred. Only the lighter things-the things of the surface-the things that everybody expects-can be set down concerning love. The tears stood in Armorel's eyes. And, as if Effie had not been in the room at all, she held out both her hands for her lover to take, and when he bent his head she raised her face to meet his lips.

'You have come back to me, Roland,' she said. 'You have grown so tall-so tall-grown to your full height. Welcome home!'

* * *

At seven the door opened and the serving-folk came in. First marched Justinian, bowed and bent, but still active. Then Dorcas, also bowed and bent, but active. Then Chessun. Effie turned down the lamp.

Dorcas stood for a moment, while Chessun placed the chairs, gazing upon Roland, who stood erect as a soldier surveyed by his captain.

'You have got a good face,' she said, 'if a loving face is a good face. If you love her you will make her happy. If she loves you your lot is happy. If you deserve her, you are not far from the Kingdom of Heaven.'

'Your words, Dorcas,' he replied, 'are of good omen.'

'Chessun shall make a posset to-night,' she said. 'If ever a posset was made, one shall be made to-night-a sherry posset! I remember the posset for your mother, Armorel, and for your grandmother, the first day she came here with her sweetheart. A sherry posset you shall have-hot and strong!'

The old man sat down and threw small lumps of coal upon the fire. Then the flames leaped up, and the red light played about the room and showed the golden torque round Armorel's neck and played upon her glowing face as she took her fiddle and stood up in the old place to play to them in the old fashion.

Dorcas sat opposite her husband. At her left hand, Chessun with her spinning-wheel. It was all-except for the Ancient Lady and the hooded chair-all exactly as Roland remembered it nearly six years before. Yet, as Armorel said, though outside there was the music of the waves and within the music of her violin-the music was set to other words and arranged for another key. Between himself of that time and of the present, how great a gulf!

Armorel finished tuning, and looked towards her master.

'"Dissembling Love"!' he commanded. ''Tis a moving piece, and you play it rarely, "Dissembling Love"!'

Spottiswoode & Co. Printers, New-street Square, London.

Transcriber's Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been repaired. Hyphenation inconsistencies have been standardized to most frequently used.

Illustrations were moved to the text which they illustrated, and page references within their original captions have been removed.

Original used single quotation marks for normal conversation, and double quotation marks for quoted/titled material within conversations. This has been retained.

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