With this high commendation, Lieutenant Ogilvie left, and made his way upstairs to Mrs. Ross’s box. Apparently he was well received there, for he did not make his appearance again at the beginning of the next act, nor, indeed, until it was nearly over.
The dream-world opens again; and now it is a beautiful garden, close by the ruins of an old abbey, and fine ladies are walking about there. But what does he care for these marionettes uttering meaningless phrases? They have no more interest for him than the sham ruins, so long as that one bright, speaking, pathetic face is absent; and the story they are carrying forward is for him no story at all, for he takes no heed of its details in his anxious watching for her appearance. The sides of this garden are mysteriously divided: by which avenue shall she approach? Suddenly he hears the low voice—she comes nearer. Now let the world laugh again! But, alas! when she does appear, it is in the company of her lover, and it is only to bid him good-by. Why does the coward hind take her at her word? A stick, a stone, a wave of the cold sea, would be more responsive to that deep and tremulous voice, which has now no longer any of the art of a wilful coquetry about it, but is altogether as self-revealing as the generous abandonment of her eyes. The poor cipher! he is not the man to woo and win and carry off this noble woman, the unutterable soul surrender of whose look has the courage of despair in it. He bids her farewell. The tailor’s dummy retires. And she? in her agony, is there no one to comfort her? They have demanded his sacrifice in the name of duty, and she has consented: ought not that to be enough to comfort her? then other people appear from other parts of the garden, and there is a Babel of tongues. He hears nothing; but he follows that sad face, until he could imagine that he listened to the throbbing of her aching heart.
And then, as the phantasms of the stage come and go, and fortune plays many pranks with these puppets, the piece draws near to an end. And now as it appears, everything is reversed, and it is the poor lover who is in grievous trouble, while she is restored to the proud position of her coquetries and wilful graces again, with all her friends smiling around her, and life lying fair before her. She meets him by accident. Suffering gives him a certain sort of dignity: but how is one to retain patience with the blindness of this insufferable ass? Don’t you see, man—don’t you see that she is waiting to throw herself into your arms? and you, you poor ninny, are giving yourself airs, and doing the grand heroic! And then the shy coquetry comes in again. The pathetic eyes are full of a grave compassion, if he must really never see her more. The cat plays with the poor mouse, and pretends that really the tender thing is gone away at last. He will take this half of a broken sixpence back: it was given in happier times. If ever he should