MoboReader > Young Adult > The Story of Bawn

   Chapter 14 THE MINIATURE

The Story of Bawn By Katharine Tynan Characters: 6633

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

As we jogged along in the evening coolness and sweetness, we came upon Sir Arthur Ardaragh with little Robin on his shoulder. The boy shouted with joy when he saw me; and when I had stopped the phaeton he called down from his height about the picnic tea father and he had had in the fields, his little fat hand upon his father's neck while he told it.

"Robin often won't eat a good tea in the nursery," his father explained. "I think he wants other little boys to make him eat; he eats a famous tea when we have it together out-of-doors and travel a distance before we have it."

"I never want other boys, dada," Robin said, "when I have you. You are better than a brother even."

"Have you been to see Sybil?" Sir Arthur asked, recapturing the young gentleman and lifting him again to his shoulder.

To my annoyance, I felt my cheeks grow red, but his kind, serious eyes showed no knowledge of it. I wished they were not so far away, those eyes, so absorbed with books and dead and gone people and dead languages. I wished they were nearer home, took more obvious thought for the pretty young wife whom I had sometimes imagined to be jealous of her husband's absorption in his studies.

"I called, but I did not see Lady Ardaragh," I said.

"Ah, I suppose she had gone out. Well, good-bye, Miss Devereux. Remember me kindly to Lord and Lady St. Leger."

A day or two later I heard my godmother mention to Lady St. Leger, when I was not supposed to be listening, that some one had seen Anthony Cardew. He had passed a night at Brosna, and he was off somewhere to the South Seas-on some romantic, treasure-hunting expedition which he had been asked to join.

"Will he never settle down?" my grandmother asked in a whisper. I noticed that they always whispered when they mentioned the name of Cardew, on account of my grandfather, no doubt, for he would always have it that Irene Cardew had been the cause of the tragedy which had resulted in Jasper Tuite's death and Uncle Luke's exile, and he hated her and Brosna and all the Cardews on her account.

"He shows no sign of it," my godmother answered. "I have little cause to love the Cardews, but Anthony is a fine fellow. It is a thousand pities that his life must be sacrificed to the memory of a woman who was always beyond his reach, even while she lived."

Perhaps if they had talked more openly I should have been less interested in the Cardews; but the mystery which hung about Brosna and its owners for me had had the effect as I grew up of stimulating my curiosity about them. And now that I knew I did not feel called upon to hate them. Even if Irene Cardew had played fast and loose between Jasper Tuite and Uncle Luke there was no reason for hating her brother, who must have been but a boy at the time. I wondered if Irene had been like her brother Anthony, had worn in her delicacy the look of a rapier, a flame, of something bright and upstanding and alive with energy.

Since I might meet Richard Dawson and had no hope of meeting Anthony Cardew, I walked much those days within our own walls, which gave me space enough for Aghadoe park-walls are four miles in length.

But most often I found myself taking the path that led to the postern gate as though the place had some pleasant, dreamy association for me.

One day I h

ad the whim to creep again within the little glade where Anthony Cardew had come to my help. It was now all hung about with wild roses and woodbine and was very sweet, and far overhead the trees met in a light, springing roof of green, more beautiful than any cathedral.

It had grown dark, and as I stood in the glade the rain pattered on the leaves overhead, but not a drop reached me. There were harebells and saxifrage in the moss, and underneath the bushes there was scented woodruff, and there was also sweet wild thyme. I thought I would make a summer drawing-room of the place, which none should know of beside myself, and should bring my books there and my needlework and embroidery, and spend long hours there alone or with a dog's companionship which is better than solitude.

The shower passed away over the hills, and the sun shone out. It sparkled here and there where a raindrop hung on a leaf and it suffused the glade with a warm, golden glow.

Suddenly something sparkled that was not a raindrop, something in the moss and undergrowth at the entrance to the glade. I wondered I had not seen it before, but it was the first time I had entered the glade since Anthony Cardew had been there.

I picked up the shining thing with great eagerness and found it to be a miniature set about with brilliants. My foot struck against something which proved to be a leather case in which the miniature, no doubt, had lain. As it fell the case must have opened, and that was a lucky thing, for if the miniature had remained in the case it might have lain there till the day of judgment. It was the mere accident of the stones sparkling that had caught my eye.

I stood with the miniature in my hand and stared at it, and it began to dawn upon me why Anthony Cardew had thought me a ghost. The face was far, far more beautiful than mine could ever be, yet it was strangely like the face that looked at me from the glass every morning when I did my hair.

To be sure, mine, I thought, was a poor simple, common face beside the face in the miniature with its wonderful expression. I have heard my grandmother say that the fair beauties of the South are the most beautiful of all, as beautiful as they are rare; and the original of the miniature had an opulent, golden beauty which we of the cold North could never attain. Perhaps the beauty might even have been over-opulent if sorrow and sadness had not given the face an air like a crowned martyr in heaven. So sweet it was, so gentle, so full of spiritual light, that I felt I could worship the owner of such a face.

Then I noticed the grand-ducal crown in diamonds at the top of the miniature, and it came to me that this was the portrait of the lady Anthony Cardew had served with a passionate devotion. No wonder I felt aflame for her, although I was only a girl; and I thought that so Mary Stuart must have looked to have left love of her alive in the world to this day.

I thought of how much the loss must have meant to Anthony Cardew, and cast wildly about in my mind for any means of letting him know that it was safe. But I could find none; and I could only hope that presently I should learn his whereabouts. I put the miniature into my breast for greater safety, and felt it warm there, as though a heart had been alive in it.

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