PART SIX — BYWAYS
“Cry Kismet! and take heart.
Eros is gone,
Nor may we follow to that loftier air
Olympians breathe. Take heart, and enter where
A lighter Love, vine-crowned, laughs i’ the sun,
Oblivious of tangled webs ill-spun
By ancient wearied weavers, for it may be
His guidance leads to lovers of such as we
And hearts so credulous as to be won.
“Cry Kismet! Put away vain
Of all old sorrows and of all old joys,
And learn that life is never quite amiss
So long as unreflective girls and boys
Remember that young lips were meant to kiss,
And hold that laughter is a seemly noise.”
PAUL VANDERHOFFEN. Egeria Answers.
Patricia sat in the great maple-grove that stands behind Matocton, and pondered over a note from her husband, who was in Lichfield superintending the appearance of the July number of the Lichfield Historical Association’s Quarterly Magazine. Mr. Charteris lay at her feet, glancing rapidly over a lengthy letter, which was from his wife, in Richmond.
The morning mail was just in, and Patricia had despatched Charteris for her letters, on the plea that the woods were too beautiful to leave, and that Matocton, in the unsettled state which marks the end of the week in a house-party, was intolerable.
She, undoubtedly, was partial to the grove, having spent the last ten mornings there. Mr. Charteris had overrated her modest literary abilities so far as to ask her advice in certain details of his new book, which was to appear in the autumn, and they had found a vernal solitude, besides being extremely picturesque, to be conducive to the forming of really matured opinions. Moreover, she was assured that none of the members of the house-party would misunderstand her motives; people were so much less censorious in the country; there was something in the pastoral purity of Nature, seen face to face, which brought out one’s noblest instincts, and put an end to all horrid gossip and scandal-mongering.
Didn’t Mrs. Barry-Smith think so? And what was her real opinion of that rumor about the Hardresses, and was the woman as bad as people said she was? Thus had Patricia spoken in the privacy of her chamber, at that hour when ladies do up their hair for the night, and discourse of mysteries. It is at this time they are said to babble out their hearts to one another; and so, beyond doubt, this must have been the real state of the case.
As Patricia admitted, she had given up bridge and taken to literature only during the past year. She might more honestly have said within the last two weeks. In any event, she now conversed of authors with a fitful persistence like that of an ill-regulated machine. Her comments were delightfully frank and original, as she had an unusually good memory. Of two books she was apt to prefer the one with the wider margin, and she was becoming sufficiently familiar with a number of poets to quote them inaccurately.