MoboReader> Literature > Come Rack! Come Rope!

   Chapter 38 No.38

Come Rack! Come Rope! By Robert Hugh Benson Characters: 5645

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


Marjorie found it curious, even to herself, how the press that faced the foot of the two beds where she and Alice slept side by side, became associated in her mind with the thought of Robin; and she began to perceive that it was largely with the thought of him in her intention that the idea had first presented itself of having the cell constructed at all. It was not that in her deliberate mind she conceived that he would be hunted, that he would fly here, that she would save him; but rather in that strange realm of consciousness which is called sometimes the Imagination, and sometimes by other names-that inner shadow-show on which move figures cast by the two worlds-she perceived him in this place….

It was in the following winter that she was reminded of him by other means than those of his letters.

* * * * *

The summer and autumn had passed tranquilly enough, so far as this outlying corner of England was concerned. News filtered through of the stirring world outside, and especially was there conveyed to her, through Alice for the most part, news that concerned the fortunes of Catholics. Politics, except in this connection, meant little enough to such as her. She heard, indeed, from time to time vague rumours of fighting, and of foreign Powers; and thought now and again of Spain, as of a country that might yet be, in God's hand, an instrument for the restoring of God's cause in England; she had heard, too, in this year, of one more rumour of the Queen's marriage with the Duke d'Alen?on, and then of its final rupture. But these matters were aloof from her; rather she pondered such things as the execution of two more priests at York in August, Mr. Lacy and Mr. Kirkman, and of a third, Mr. Thompson, in November at the same place. It was on such affairs as these that she pondered as she went about her household business, or sat in the chamber upstairs with Mistress Alice; and it was of these things that she talked with the few priests that came and went from time to time in their circuits about Derbyshire. It was a life of quietness and monotony inconceivable by those who live in towns. Its sole incident lay in that life which is called Interior….

It was soon after the New Year that she met the squire of Matstead face to face.

* * * * *

She and Alice, with Janet and a man riding behind, were on their way back from Derby, where they had gone for their monthly shopping. They had slept at Dethick, and had had news there of Mr. Anthony, who was again in the south on one of his mysterious missions, and started again soon after dawn next day to reach home, if they could, for dinner.

She knew Alice now for what she was-a woman of astounding dullness, of sterling character, and of a complete inability to understand any shades or tones of character or thought that

were not her own, and yet a friend in a thousand, of an immovable stability and loyalty, one of no words at all, who dwelt in the midst of a steady kind of light which knew no dawn nor sunset. The girl entertained herself sometimes with conceiving of her friend confronted with the rack, let us say, or the gallows; and perceived that she knew with exactness what her behaviour would be: She would do all that was required of her with out speeches or protest; she would place herself in the required positions, with a faint smile, unwavering; she would suffer or die with the same tranquil steadiness as that in which she lived; and, best of all, she would not be aware, even for an instant, that anything in her behaviour was in the least admirable or exceptional. She resembled, to Marjorie's mind, that for which a strong and well-built arm-chair stands in relation to the body: it is the same always, supporting and sustaining always, and cannot even be imagined as anything else.

* * * * *

It was a brilliant frosty day, as they rode over the rutted track between hedges that served for a road, that ran, for the most part, a field or two away from the black waters of the Derwent. The birches stood about them like frozen feathers; the vast chestnuts towered overhead, motionless in the motionless air. As they came towards Matstead, and, at last, rode up the street, naturally enough Marjorie again began to think of Robin. As they came near where the track turned the corner beneath the churchyard wall, where once Robin had watched, himself unseen, the three riders go by, she had to attend to her horse, who slipped once or twice on the paved causeway. Then as she lifted her head again, she saw, not three yards from her, and on a level with her own face, the face of the squire looking at her from over the wall.

She had not seen him, except once in Derby, a year or two before, and that at a distance, since Robin had left England; and at the sight she started so violently, in some manner jerking the reins that she held, that her horse, tired with the long ride of the day before, slipped once again, and came down all asprawl on the stones, fortunately throwing her clear of his struggling feet. She was up in a moment, but again sank down, aware that her foot was in some way bruised or twisted.

There was a clatter of hoofs behind her as the servants rode up; a child or two ran up the street, and when, at last, on Janet's arm, she rose again to her feet, it was to see the squire staring at her, with his hands clasped behind his back.

"Bring the ladies up to the house," he said abruptly to the man; and then, taking the rein of the girl's horse that had struggled up again, he led the way, without another word, without even turning his head, round to the way that ran up to his gates.

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares