Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

me."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“Did he ?” and again the slight Alush | news of his progress, and all he was came to her cheek. “So it does,” she doing and learning, she listened with a added quickly. “It — yes, it distracts strong effort of self-repression and

forced interest which the boy could not “ There is no reason, is there,” he comprehend, and which made him asked gently, “ that he should not work secretly unhappy. They had been in in another studio? I mean, of course, such perfect sympathy, and yet in this, if he learned he would have to learn in which it would have seemed that his under some one."

mother could have entered more fully “Of course,” Mrs. Palgrave replied than in any former interest of his coldly.

young life, she would take no part ! “Oh, forgive me!” he said bitterly, But Heaton, whose praise was hard perfectly construing her tone. “I to win, spoke highly of Geraid, expressknow I have no right - I know I am ing great hopes of him; and at length presuming! It is none of my busi-a day came on which it was made ness ; and I am impertinent

known to Mrs. Palgrave that Gerald “No, no, no, you are not,” she said, had a subject of his own imagining with quickly changing mood, speaking which Heaton thought him competent with impetuous vehemence “you are to enter upon, and that he was about to not. You are good , kind — everything set up the supports and work out the that is good, as you always are to me. plans in a studio of his own. Even Do — will you, George ? — you who then she would not come to see his have done so much everything - for studio, nor did she wish the subject of me, - will you do this too ? Find out his first original work to be told to her. from the boy — try him see if he “Do it all by yourself," she had said can be any good. And if he has any to Gerald, by way of putting him off. bent that way, arrange it arrange it “Do not tell me a word about it until it for me. Will you ?

Arrange for har- is finished ; then on the day on which ing him taught, and so on. I cannot." you tell me it is finished, let me go to • You cannot ! Florence, what do the studio and find it complete."

Gerald was, perforce, content with “Oh, I cannot — don't ask me why! this, and pictured it to himself as his Aud yet I love him with all my heart mother's pretty affectionate fancy. and soul. Only, manage this for me So the two worked away in their

as you ever have managed my diffi- separate studios, Heaton coming often culties - and spare to ask me why I to Gerald's help, and speaking to him beg this of you."

of the form of Phidias, the weight and She seemed strangely moved so dignity of Michael Angelo, the grace of deeply that the tears stood in her great Praxiteles; and as Gerald drank in all dark eyes. Heaton had the tenderness the inspiration, his own conception to forbear from further questions, only took shape. By slow degrees, out of promising to do as she wished. But the shapelessness of the lump of clay, for days and weeks and months her it grew to the semblance of living mood was a source of wonder to him ; form. It was with him day and night for even when Gerald's school-time was - had full possession of his dreams finished, and he was making arrange- even — was ever between him and all ments for the boy's instruction in the sights of sense.

He worked upon it studio of a friend — into all which Ger- with a fury of creation which made him ald entered with enthusiasm - Mrs. regardless of cold hands and feet and Palgrave would listen to no discussion burning head, and of meal-times and of the plans. She had left all to bedtime. It seemed, vampire-like, to Heaton, -the good angel of her life, be sucking the life-blood from him she said, with a short laugh, when the while he gave it life, and he grew pale subject was mentioned between them. and hollow-eyed, hut still he was susAnd when Gerald came to her with 'tained by the fever of creation. Once

you mean ?"

a

[ocr errors]

or twice his mother was moved to rea- | the day of battle before the peaceson with him on his excess of zeal ; but strings were broken. She laid the though it was sweet to him to hear her book upon her knee, with her finger at speak on this subject, which sometimes the page which she was reading, and seemed to him to lie like a dead thing mused. And in her musing a queer between them, he could not obey. She, fancy came to her overwrought mind. too, was ill, though she would not ad. For it seemed to her that the key upon mit it — torn by an inward struggle. the clock began to hum with a weird

At length there came a day when he song of battle even as the Wrath of burst into her studio with a fush of Sigurd had done.

The fancy grew triumph on his face, and a look of upon her as she fought against it, until fierce joy in his eyes.

the whole room was filled with the " It is done!” he cried. “ It is fin- eerie, hateful humming. She threw ished! There is the key, mother. Go down the book and covered her ears and see it before it gets dark.”

with her hands, but still the pagan He would not go with her. His song rang home to her with a force that thoughts were in a turmoil as he rushed grew and grew till it seemed to fill the out again into the still, frosty evening. world. She could resist its appeal no The setting sun hung like a great red longer. She mounted quickly on the ruby in the haze. He laughed to it as chair again, seized upon the key, and he sang it good-night. He was almost hurriedly putting on her things, went like a madman with delight. “I don't swiftly through the streets to Gerald's believe it – I don't believe it,” he kept studio. saying to himself aloud, " what Heaton At the door she stood with parted tells me, that soon I shall grow dissatis- lips and wide eyes agaze. “Ah,” she tied with it and hate it. I think it is exclaimed, with a snatching of the good, good, good. I believe in it.” breath, her involuntary tribute of admi

ration to Gerald's beautiful work. But

it was no loving admiration, rather it MRS. PALGRAVE remained starding was of the nature of the tribute which as he had left her, with the key of the the wife of Antony might have paid studio in her hand. The blood came the fatal loveliness of Cleopatra. She hotly to her face as she gazed at the gazed at the beautiful figure with an innocent little steel thing with the fas- intensity of admiration which grew and cination of horror which harassed Mac- grew, and as her admiration grew her beth's vision of the dagger. Her hate grew with it, until she could bear pulses throbbed fiercely through her the sight of the thing no longer. Her worn nervous frame, and her breath mind was filled with pagan stories of came thickly. Then moving like one the fierce vengeance of white-armed in a dream, she climbed upon a chair, Signy and Brynhild. The blood rushed and, reaching to her full height, placed to her white, set face, the world grew the key on the top of the old clock upon red before her eyes, as when the berthe mantelpiece.

serk fit came upon the fighters of whom She sighed with relief, as one who the saga told, and, with a cry that was has gained the victory in a hard fight fraught with insanity, she rushed like a with self, and threw herself in her arm- mad thing upon the clay statue and chair. “ I dare not go and see it - I fought it, dragging this way and that dare not," she murmured. “Especially till it bowed itself and fell crashing to alone."

the floor. After the first cry she had Then she sat and began to read. fought in silence, but now, as her foe The book she was reading was one of fell, she gave another cry, strangely the old mythical sagas of the Scandi- different, which had in it more of a sob navian gods and heroes. She read of than of triumph, and falling forward, the wondrous sword of Sigurd — Odin's lay senseless, with her dark head pilgift, named the Wrath – which rang in lowed upon the white shoulder of clay.

V.

VI.

It was his professional duty to humor Now that his beautiful work was fin- people. ished, Gerald could not bear to be long " What is it, then ?" Gerald asked. away from it. It attracted him mag- “ I should say it was prolonged men. netically ; and while his heart sang to tal strain culminating in a crisis,” the him a song of triumph he returned doctor said ; “that is, unless you want from his walk, almost running, to his it in Latin." studio. There was yet a glimpse of “No, thanks, that will do. I wonder daylight by which he might see the fair where it struck her." god of his handiwork. He gave a glad For nearly a week Mrs. Palgrave lay call to his mother, as the studio door between coma and delirium, but the yielded to his hand, showing that she temperature did not rise to a great was still there.

height. At length Gerald had the joy On the threshold his word died on his of seeing her look forth from her pillos lips unfinished. His feet froze to the with serene intelligence in her dark ground. His heart stood still in the eyes. All day she said very little, but revulsion of feeling. He stared wildly lay thinking, as it seemed as though through the dimness of the studio. some trouble still weighed upon her. His lips opened with uncertain sounds. In the evening, when she and Gerald Then he went feebly forward. The were alone together, she stretched out beautiful form which he had left so her poor, thin hand to him. nobly posed, now lay a shattered ghost “ Tell me," she said, “ is it true, or upon the floor.

Upon the white heap is it all an ugly dream ? ' as ghostly and unlifelike — lay the " What, mother ?" black-draped figure of his mother prone, " What I have dreamed about your her head pillowed on the clay.

statue that - that it is broken." “My God !” Gerald exclaimed, and Gerald paused a moment. “ Yes, for a full minute stood helpless — mother," he then said. “ By bad luck stunned. Then the need of action it is true. It fell on you as you were roused him. He approached his moth- looking at it, and brought you to the er, but she neither spoke nor moved. ground. Don't you remember? I did She was deeply unconscious.

not support it properly." Gerald rushed from the studio for “Oh, yes,” she said, with a cry of help.

pain in her voice. “It is true, then. When he had borne a hand in carry-Oh!” She groaned, and turned her ing his mother home, and was await- head down on the pillow from him. ing, down-stairs, the doctor's verdict, “ But no, Gerald," she resumed, in a he mused or walked up and down the voice firm with purpose.

6 You are little room by intervals. A fever of wrong. It did not fall on me." mental and physical restlessness pur- “ Yes it did," he said quickly and sued him.

vehemently. “It fell on you as you “ It is grave, but she will recover, were looking at it. We know it did the doctor said, when he came down. George Heaton and I.”

" Where did it strike her ?Gerald “ No, my boy, there you are wrong, asked.

both of you. It did not fall on me. I "Strike her! Nothing struck her." pushed it - pushed, dragged, ever so “

“ Yes, it did,” Gerald declared fierce- hard, to pull it down." ly. 66 The statue fell on her and car- " Mother!" ried her down with it."

There was a dead pause ; the mother, - She has suffered no serious blow with her head down on the pillow, listhat I can discover," the doctor re- tening agonizedly for her son's verdict peated.

on her sin — the son wandering in " It must have been a heavy blow - search of charity among his lost faiths. it was a big thing."

“I know," he said quickly ; then, The doctor shrugged his shoulders. '“You destroyed it. Yes, you were

[ocr errors]

VII.

me.

here you

quite right, because it was not good ; as Flaubert did to the early work of Bal- MORE than a month elapsed before zac."

Mrs. Palgrave was able to leave her He listened with intense eagerness room, and many months before she for an affirmation. But a negative had altogether recovered from her nercame, with a pitiful cry from the poor, vous crisis. During this while Gerald sinful woman on the bed.

was unremitting in his kind tenderness “No, no, no, my dear, generous and care. It was only on his mother's boy," she cried ; “ you cannot spare earnest entreaty that he could be pre

It was I who dragged down your vailed on to spend a few hours of each beautiful conception and destroyed it. day in the studio. Mrs. Palgrave, so I could not bear it. Oh, Gerald," and soon as she was able to make the necas she spoke the tears came cours- essary arrangements, dismissed her ing off her face like rain — "oh, Ger- workmen and shut up her studio altoald, if you knew how I had fought gether, declaring that she did not mean you would pity me. But no — I ought to touch clay again. Nor, though both to ask no pity. I deserve none. For Gerald and George Heaton endeavored years I have been trying to tight out to combat her decision, could they of my heart the jealousy of this great shake it. But it was her earnest hope genius which God has given you. For that some day Gerald would take posthat has always been the cross of my session of the studio in which she had life — since I took up the modelling worked, and would use it as his own. that I could do nothing great; and In the mean time, however, Gerald had

Oh, Gerald ! and I again entered upon an original concepcould not bear it. The life you had tion — an entirely new one, having created was so good, so glorious, I nothing in it akin to that one which could not bear it. I murdered it. Oh, had been so cruelly destroyed. His Goil forgive me, forgive me, forgive mother longer to question him of it,

, me !"

but she could not bring herself to open Mother, mother, mother !” Gerald the subject to him, and Gerald forbore cried, with a world of pity and love. it. - Oh, don't, don't, don't, please. I As the weeks went on, and Mrs. forgive you, dearest, if there is any- Palgrave gained strength, Gerald grew thing to forgive. George Heaton is to spend more and more time in the right. I should have been dissatisfied, studio, till at length he was working as and hated the thing long ago if it had steadily and eagerly as of old. His lived."

eagerness grew and grew as his subject “ Gerald,” said his mother, "please approached completion, and again the don't say any more. You will kill me fierce fever and delight were with him. if you are so generous. Even at the Again he worked on regardless of cold first, when George said you had genius, and hunger and sleep, and the fire I could not bear you to learn, but I burnell in his hollow eyes, ever brighter fought down my jealousy so far as to and brighter, till the glorious day of ask him to see about your learning. the accomplished triumph, when he But when I saw the beautiful thing, could cry aloud in his joy, “ It is perand how good it was, then I could not fect !” endure it, and a fearful impulse took Then he hurried home along the Oh, Gerald !"

streets, seeing nothing but the splendid " Mother, mother," he said, and he clay which he had made live, brushing bent and found the poor, sorely pen- against passers-by and begging no paritent face on the pillow, and caressed dons, till he came to his mother's house it again and again. Mother, let us and said, “It is finished, mother — at never speak of it between us again. last. Here is the key. Will you go It is done, gone, buried.”

and see it? I must go for a walk." VOL. LXXXIII. 4299

me.

LIVING AGE.

Mrs. Palgrave grew pale, and treni- | was when any in her hearing spoke of bled in the intensity of her joy.

hier sou having received from her a " What !” she exclaimed in amaze- portion of his inspiration in his art, or ment. " Will you trust me with it - in any way suggested a comparison teafter

tween his genius and her own. " Trust you, mother !" he interrupted with quick earnestness,- -" with

my life!"

“ Gerald, Gerald, you are too good to

From The Nineteenth Century.

THE LIVES AND LOVES OF NORTH me — you are too good.” Then a blind

AMERICAN BIRDS.1 ing mist came over her eyes as she threw her arms about his neck and

TIe more intimately we become rained on him her kisses and her bless- acquainted with that vast realm the

animal kingdom, the more we ings.

are Gerald went for a long, long walk. amazed and delighted by the wonderful His excitement was less delirious, more

variety and beauty of its countless eleassured of success, than at the com

ments; and at the same time, amidst pletion of his first great work. He the infinite diversity of form, structure, could bear to be away from it a while,

and modes of life which distinguish the and he would do nothing to make his several divisions of that kingdom, it is mother think that he had a suspicion very difficult, if not impossible, to deof her. At length he turned home- termine which of them offers to the

student material at once the most interwards, but, passing the studio, thought he would look in, on the chance that esting and attractive. Probably if the she had not yet left it.

general reader" were appealed to for The door was unlocked. Again, as

a decision, and the subject were put to after the completion of his first work, a

the vote of a thousand of such, there cry broke from him as he stood on the would be a large majority in favor of threshold, but a cry of most different

that class of vertebrata consisting of tenor. The noble figure that he had

birds. The present writer would cercreated rose aloft in the studio, with tainly form one of that majority; and the afternoon summer sun bearing full as the Smithsonian Institution has reupon it, and before it his mother knelt, cently presented to the public an espewith rapt eyes, as if to the image of a

cially valuable and instructive volume

on the “Life Histories of North Amergod. “Why, mother!” he exclaimed.

ican Birds,” le gladly avails himself of “My boy,' she answered, rising

it to present to his readers a few of the from her knees, “I was thanking God most salient and impressive facts ob

servable in the life and loves of these for his great gift to you of your genius,

birds. and for his great gift to me of you."

Gerald was too inoved to speak. “ But you have made a better thing lover," and probably no phase in the

Emerson says "all mankind loves a in God's eyes than that statue. You

lives of the birds to which we are about have made, I hope and trust, a good woman of one who was a very jealous,

to advert is at once so curious, so interselfish, wicked one !"

esting, and so full of instruction conMrs. Palgrave held to her determina- cerning their nature and instincts, and tion never again to touch clay. People especially so abounding with evidence praised her as a woman whose own

of the large amount of human nature talent and power were sacrificed to the 1 Life Histories of North American Birus, with

special reference to their Breeding, Habits, and genius of her son.

Others, less kindly, Egys. twelve lithographic plates. By said that her nature had lost something Charles Bendire, Captain United States Army of its fire ; but if ever, in these latter (retireil). Honorary Curator of the Department of days, that quick temper to which she of the American Ornithologists' Uniou. Washing

Oology. United States National Museum, Menuber had been prone was seen to glow, it ton, 1892.

ܕܕ

With

« ZurückWeiter »