“Is it?” say I, sadly, “I do not know; I seem to have such a great deal of time for thinking now; this house is so extraordinarily silent! did you never notice it?—of course it is large, and we are only two people in it, but at home it never seemed to me so deadly quiet, even when I was alone in the house.”
“Were you ever alone?” he asks, with a smile. He is thinking of the noisy multitude that are connected in his memory with my father’s mansion; that, during all his experience of it, have filled its rooms and passages with the hubbub of their strong-lunged jollity.
“Yes, I have been,” I reply; “not often, of course! but several times, when the boys were away, and father and mother and Barbara had gone out to dinner; of course it seemed still and dumb, but not—” (shuddering a little)—“not so aggressively loudly silent as this does!”
He looks at me, with a sort of remorseful pain.
“It is very dull for you!” he says, compassionately; “shut up in endless duet, with a person treble your age! I ought to have thought of that; in a month or so, we shall be going to London, that will amuse you, will not it? and till then, is there any one that you would like to have asked here?—any friend of your own?—any companion of your own age?”
“No,” reply I, despondently, staring out of the window, “I have no friends.”
“The boys, then?” speaking with a sudden assurance of tone, as one that has certainly hit upon a pleasant suggestion.
I shake my head.
“I could not have Bobby and the Brat, if I would, and I would not have Algy if I could!” I reply with curt dejection.
Again I shake my head. Not even Barbara will I allow to witness the failure of my dreams, the downfall of my high castles, the sterility of my Promised Land.
“No, I will not have Barbara!” I answer; “last time that she was here—” but I cannot finish my sentence. I break away weeping.
“I think you hardly know the tender
Of ‘Trust me not at all or all in all!’”
There are some wounds, O, my friends, that Time, by himself, with no clever physician to help him, will surely cure. You all know that, do not you? some wounds that he will lay his cool ointment on, and by-and-by they are well. Among such, are the departures hence of those we have strongly loved, and to whom we have always been, as much as in us lay, tender and good. But there are others that he only worsens— yawning gaps that he but widens; as if one were to put one’s fingers in a great rent, and tear it asunder. And of these last is mine.